Game 36: End of the Homestand

(Al Bello/Getty)
(Al Bello/Getty)

The long homestand comes to an end today, and so far things have gone very well. The Yankees have won six of nine and today they can make it seven of ten. That didn’t seem possible two weeks ago, huh? The Yankees have already banked series wins over the high scoring Red Sox and the defending champion Royals. Now they have to win a series against the first place White Sox. Here is the ChiSox’s lineup and here is the Yanks’ lineup:

  1. CF Jacoby Ellsbury
  2. LF Brett Gardner
  3. DH Carlos Beltran
  4. 1B Mark Teixeira
  5. C Brian McCann
  6. 2B Starlin Castro
  7. RF Dustin Ackley
  8. SS Didi Gregorius
  9. 3B Ronald Torreyes
    RHP Masahiro Tanaka

It is cool, cloudy, and really windy in New York today. I don’t know if that means balls will be flying out of the park or dying in the air. I guess we’ll find out. Today’s game will begin a little after 1pm ET, and you can watch on WPIX locally and MLB Network nationally. Enjoy the game.

Injury Updates: CC Sabathia (groin) threw 45 pitches in a simulated game and had no problem. Joe Girardi said Sabathia will start Friday, when he is eligible to come off the DL … Alex Rodriguez (hamstring) has been doing some light running and continues to hit off a tee and in the batting cage. The hope is he will be ready to be activated when eligible Thursday.

Cobbling together some random thoughts

(Elsa/Getty)
(Elsa/Getty)

State of the Union

It’s mid-May and I’m still not entirely sure what to make of this Yankees’ season. Logic tells me that I may have overrated this team in the offseason. Emotion tells me that it’s still early enough that they can make a run. But then I think, “What would that run be to?” I’ve harped on this point a lot recently, but I think the roster and the team are at the point where missing the playoffs and getting a higher-end draft pick might make more sense. If that happens, I hope there is a sell-off of assets. Neither one of these things is likely to happen as that’s just now how the Yankees operate. But with some solid core pieces in place for next year–Didi Gregorius, Starlin Castro, Dellin Betances, Brian McCann, (a hopefully healthy) Greg Bird, Brett Gardner–a high draft pick and some prospect rewards for tradeable assets could go a long way in securing the team’s future just a little bit more.

The McCannibal

Speaking of Brian McCann, he represents a bit of a contradiction in my mind. I generally disliked the post-2013 spending spree that brought in McCann and his free agent classmates Jacoby Ellsbury and Carlos Beltran. But that dislike has a lot more to do with Taco and Carlos than it does with McCann. McCann has been quietly very good with the Yankees. Since joining the team, he leads all catchers in home runs with 53. He’s also fourth in fWAR (6.0), behind leader Buster Posey (12.2); Jonathan Lucroy (8.2); and Russell Martin (7.8). The team may have been disappointing in that stretch, but McCann is not among the reasons for disappointment.

(Elsa/Getty)
(Elsa/Getty)

The Gary Sanchez Thing

Obviously, Gary Sanchez was sent back down thanks to the roster crunch created by Luis Severino‘s sudden injury. It seemed he was only going to be up for two days to face Chris Sale and Jose Quintana anyway, but it still felt like a tease. And isn’t that so fitting for Gary Sanchez’s career? This has nothing to do with Sanchez’s personality or even his performance, which has always been good. I remember reading about him on this very site way back when; he’s 23, but it seems like he’s been around forever–because he has. When is his time finally going to come? Will it be next year? The year after? I still have faith that this guy can and will contribute to the Yankees, but I’m finding it so hard to see a spot for him unless the Yankees really commit to platooning him and McCann next year. That could actually be a good way to ease him in. Then, if/when Alex Rodriguez retires, Sanchez can take the lion’s share of the catching duties while McCann sees more time at DH, and maybe even first.

Sanchez. (Presswire)
Sanchez. (Presswire)

Speaking of prospects…

I’m a fan of Brian Cashman‘s. I think he’s done a really great job in running this team; it’s hard to argue with about 20 straight winning seasons and only two non-playoff seasons, three if you don’t like to count the play-in game. But where do we draw his line of responsibility, so to speak, for the Yankees’ general failure with regards to developing players? No, that’s not all in his hands, but he’s still in charge. This isn’t to say the Yankees have been a total bust with regards to prospects–just look at the Chicago White Sox’s roster for proof of that. But the lack of big-time contributions from homegrown players is shocking. Of course, a team shouldn’t have homegrown players simply for the sake of having them, but something more than Brett Gardner and Dellin Betances would be nice, no?

DotF: Estrada’s two homers help Charleston to a win

Donnie Collins had a story on RHP Conor Mullee recently. Turns out he didn’t have three Tommy John surgeries. He had one Tommy John, then needed two additional surgeries because the new ligament did not graft to the bone properly. So technically Mullee only needed his UCL replaced once. But still, the guy missed more than three years total because his elbow wouldn’t hold together. Rough. Mullee was called up earlier today and that is pretty damn awesome.

Also, in the wake of today’s roster moves, LHP Dietrich Enns and RHP Eric Ruth were bumped up from Double-A Trenton to Triple-A Scranton, per Josh Norris and Shane Hennigan. Enns is going to start tomorrow. Ruth may only be in Triple-A temporarily. Enns could be there for good.

Triple-A Scranton (3-2 win over Indianapolis)

  • CF Ben Gamel: 0-3, 1 R, 1 BB, 2 K
  • RF Aaron Judge: 1-4, 2 K
  • LF Jake Cave: 0-4, 2 K — threw a runner out at the plate
  • DH Nick Swisher: 0-2, 1 RBI, 2 K — in a 4-for-28 (.143) slump
  • RHP Eric Ruth: 6 IP, 6 H, 2 R, 2 ER, 1 BB, 7 K, 1 HB, 3/4 GB/FB — 61 of 90 pitches were strikes (68%) … he made two spot starts here last season, so this wasn’t his Triple-A debut
  • LHP Tyler Olson: 1.2 IP, 3 H, 0 R, 0 ER, 0 BB, 1 K, 2/1 GB/FB — 18 of 28 pitches were strikes (64%)
  • RHP Anthony Swarzak: 1.1 IP, 1 H, 0 R, 0 ER, 0 BB, 3 K — 13 of 16 pitches were strikes (81%) … I’m pretty surprised they’re not keeping him stretched out as a starter given all the injuries, but, as always, I’m sure there’s a reason for it

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Saturday Open Thread

Can you believe it’s already been 20 years since Doc Gooden’s no-hitter? Good gravy does the time fly. We’re all old and going to die soon. Look at the lineup he faced that day. Golly. I was a bit too young to fully appreciate Gooden’s peak with the Mets, though I do remember a lot of the Mets fans in my family being pretty bummed when Doc threw his no-hitter with the Yankees. The Mets still hadn’t had a no-hitter in their history at that point.

Anyway, here is the open thread for the rest of the day. The Mets are playing tonight, FOX Sports 1 is showing the Twins and Indians this afternoon, and MLB Network will air some regional games later tonight. There’s also some NBA playoff action going on right now, though, sadly, there are no NBA or NHL playoff games today. Talk about those games, this afternoon’s win, or anything else right here.

Saved by the Big Three: Bullpen carries Yankees to a 2-1 win over White Sox

Now that’s how you rebound. The Yankees suffered a tough loss Friday night and they lost Luis Severino to an arm injury as well, but they shook it off, came to the park Saturday, and beat a really good pitcher. The final score was 2-1 Yankees. They’ve won six of nine on the homestand.

(Al Bello/Getty)
(Al Bello/Getty)

Two Unlikely Runs
The Yankees built two runs out of nothing in the second inning. Jose Quintana got two quick outs to start the inning and was ahead in the count 0-2 on Chase Headley, so the odds of scoring were really low. Headley was able to battle back to work a walk, then Aaron Hicks drove him in with a loud double over Adam Eaton in right field. Headley’s slide into home was hardly textbook — it was more of a flop than a slide — but hey, whatever works.

Didi Gregorius was able to plate Hicks with a ground ball single through the right side to give his team a 2-0 lead. The Yankees caught a really tough break when Austin Romine‘s line drive into the right-center field gap hopped over the wall for a ground rule double, forcing Gregorius to stop at third. He was going to score pretty easily. Replays showed Didi was just about to round third as the ball was hopping over the fence.

I know I’m going to sound like a homer, but I feel like that’s one of those plays where the runner should be allowed to score from first on the ground rule double. Gregorius was running on contact with two outs and the ball was just still in the field of play as he approached third. Plays like this aren’t going to be made reviewable — instant replay is for black and white plays (fair or foul, safe or out, etc.), not judgment calls — but the umpires can use a little common sense, right? Whatever.

(Al Bello/Getty)
(Al Bello/Getty)

Ivan The (Ground) Baller
Ivan Nova has given the Yankees a really nice lift in his two starts so far. Last time out he held the Royals to one run in 4.2 innings while on a pitch count, then, on Saturday, he limited the White Sox to one run in 5.2 innings. The run came on a solo homer by Todd Frazier and it was pretty much Nova’s only mistake of the game. He left a first pitch fastball up and Frazier smacked it into the first row in left field. It sounded like it was going to go about 15 rows back. It happens.

Nova recorded 17 outs Saturday and 13 were on the ground, and only two of the final 14 batters he faced hit the ball out of the infield. Those two were Frazier’s homer and a stranded double by Brett Lawrie. Nova got quick outs too. Twelve of the 22 plate appearances against him were over within three pitches. One run, four hits, one walk, two strikeouts, 13 grounders, two fly balls? Pretty excellent.

Because he was so efficient, Nova threw only 74 pitches in his 5.2 innings, but Joe Girardi opted to go to his big three relievers with the Yankees up by one. I was actually surprised Girardi let Nova face Frazier in that sixth inning after he went deep last time up. Ivan walked him to put the tying run on base — Nova threw him two nice curveballs, but Frazier spit on them for balls, they were good pitches — and that was end of his day. You done good, Ivan.

(Jim McIsaac/Getty)
(Jim McIsaac/Getty)

Saved By The Big Three
The Yankees had some chances to tack on runs but just couldn’t do it. Most notably, Gregorius led off the fifth with the double, and the team stranded him with a line out and two strikeouts. Romine hit a ball awfully hard to right field, but Eaton reeled it in with a nice sliding catch. Romine has been hitting lasers all over the field lately. How about that?

So, with the one-run lead and ten outs to go, Girardi went to Dellin Betances with the tying run on first. Betances struck out Melky Cabrera to end the sixth and then he struck out the side in the seventh. That’ll work. Andrew Miller came in for the eighth and struck out two in a scoreless frame. Jose Abreu took two ridiculously hopeless swings to strike out to end the inning. The tying run was on base at the time. Miller wrecked him.

The ninth inning went to Aroldis Chapman and he fanned two in a perfect inning. PitchFX says he topped out at 102.5 mph. Frazier was the first hitter Chapman faced. Kinda cool. They were teammates with the Reds all those years. Betances, Miller, and Chapman combined to strike out eight of eleven batters faced. Miller allowed a single and a fielder’s choice in the eighth. Cut him.

(Al Bello/Getty)
(Al Bello/Getty)

Leftovers
The 7-8-9 hitters (Hicks, Gregorius, Romine) went a combined 5-for-9 (.555) with three doubles. Didi went 3-for-3 with a double against Quintana, which is hella impressive. Meanwhile, the top six hitters went combined 0-for-19 with two walks and five strikeouts. Yuck. Headley and Carlos Beltran drew the walks. The bottom of the lineup carried them against Quintana.

Just for the record, I was totally on board with pulling Nova after only 74 pitches. Like I said, I didn’t even think he would face Frazier. The back-end relievers were rested, the Yankees had a chance to steal a game against a great pitcher, and they have their ace going Sunday. Good time to max out the big three relievers for ten outs.

Jacoby Ellsbury, who has been out a week with a hip problem, returned to the field in the eighth inning. He took over in center and Hicks slid over to right for defense. He wasn’t tested because the bullpen was striking everyone out.

Box Score, WPA Graph & Standings
The box score and updated standings are at ESPN and the video highlights are at MLB.com. Make sure you click on over to our Bullpen Workload and Announcer Standings pages as well. Here’s the ol’ win probably graph:


Source: FanGraphs

Up Next
The Yankees and White Sox will wrap up this series with the rubber game Sunday afternoon. Masahiro Tanaka and former Oriole Miguel Gonzalez will be on the bump. The Check out RAB Tickets if you want to catch the final game of the homestand live at the ballpark.

Game 35: A New Day

(Elsa/Getty)
(Elsa/Getty)

Last night’s game went about as poorly as possible. Not only did the Yankees lose the game itself, they also lost Luis Severino to an arm injury and taxed their bullpen. Getting humbled by Chris Sale was no fun either. Today is a new day though. The Yankees have to continue to dig themselves out of this hole, and they’ll have to do it against another tough pitcher in Jose Quintana this afternoon. Here is the White Sox’s lineup and here is the Yankees’ lineup:

  1. LF Brett Gardner
  2. 2B Starlin Castro
  3. 1B Mark Teixeira
  4. RF Carlos Beltran
  5. C Brian McCann
  6. 3B Chase Headley
  7. CF Aaron Hicks
  8. SS Didi Gregorius
  9. DH Austin Romine
    RHP Ivan Nova

It’s a bit cloudy in New York today and there is rain in the forecast a little later on. Nothing that should impact the game unless it goes long or into extra innings. This afternoon’s game is going to start a bit after 1pm ET and you can watch on YES. Enjoy.

Injury Updates: Jacoby Ellsbury (hip) is available today and the plan is to have him in tomorrow’s starting lineup … Severino (triceps) will make at least one minor league rehab start, according to Brian Cashman. Cashman also seemed to indicate Severino is not guaranteed a rotation spot once he’s healthy.

Roster Moves: As expected, the Yankees called up Chad Green today. They also called up Conor Mullee, which is pretty awesome. The 28-year-old has had his elbow rebuilt three times and now he gets affordable health care for life. Awesome. To make room on the 25-man roster, Severino was placed on the 15-day DL and Gary Sanchez was sent down to Triple-A. I assumed the Sanchez call-up was a short-term thing, but not this short-term. Whatevs. Greg Bird and Bryan Mitchell were transferred to the 60-day DL to clear 40-man spots for Green and Mullee.

Yankees acquire J.R. Graham from Twins

(Joe Robbins/Getty)
(Joe Robbins/Getty)

The Yankees have acquired right-hander J.R. Graham from the Twins for cash or a player to be named later, the team announced. He’s been optioned to Double-A Trenton. Mason Williams was transferred to the 60-day DL to clear a 40-man roster spot.

Graham, 26, stuck with the Twins as a Rule 5 Draft pick from the Braves last year. He has a 5.10 ERA (4.63 FIP) in 65.1 career big league innings, all with Minnesota since the start of last season. Graham is a mid-90s fastball guy with a mid-80s slider that is his go-to offspeed pitch. He also has a changeup. Here’s some video.

Fun fact: Graham wears old school stirrups on the mound because his mother is legally blind, and they help her pick him out on the field. That’s sweet.

The Yankees have been hit hard by upper level pitching injuries early this year. A quick list of the walking wounded: Luis Severino (triceps), CC Sabathia (groin), Bryan Mitchell (toe), Nick Rumbelow (Tommy John surgery), Branden Pinder (Tommy John surgery), Jacob Lindgren (elbow), Tyler Cloyd (elbow), Kyle Haynes (lat), and Vinnie Pestano (unknown). Yeesh.

The Twins designated Graham for assignment a few days ago as part of a roster shake-up and the Yankees picked him up to help cover for all those injuries. He’s a warm body for depth. That’s all. I wouldn’t be surprised to see the team pick up a few more scrap heap arms in the coming weeks.