Double-A Trenton opens the Eastern League Championship Series against the Harrisburg Senators (Nationals) tomorrow night in Trenton. I believe LHP Nik Turley will get the ball in the first game of the best-of-five series, but don’t hold me to that. The Thunder are the Yankees’ only minor league affiliate still playing. Here are some more minor league notes:
- RHP Chris Bootcheck was granted his release after opting out of his contract, reports Chris Cotillo. The Yankees technically controlled his rights for another two or three weeks even though Triple-A Scranton’s season ended last week. Bootcheck, 34, was the RailRiders’ most reliable starter this year, pitching to a 3.69 ERA (4.20 FIP) in 136.2 innings across 23 starts (and one relief appearance). He made a one-inning cameo with the big league team back in June.
- The Yankees have re-signed RHP Joel De La Cruz to a minor league contract, according to Matt Eddy. The 23-year-old had a very strong season with High-A Tampa, throwing 85 innings of 3.28 ERA (2.85 FIP) ball. His strikeout (7.73 K/9 and 21.0 K%) and walk (2.86 BB/9 and 7.8 BB%) rates were good but not great. De La Cruz is a prospect but not a standout. He was rumored to be one of the names involved in the Alfonso Soriano trade before Corey Black went to the Cubs.
Despite yesterday’s walk-off win, the first four games of this incredibly important eleven-game stretch have been a disaster. The Yankees are now off to Baltimore for another four-game series after four nightmarish games against the Red Sox in Yankee Stadium. Needless to say, they can’t afford to get smacked around like that again. This is a huge series for both teams.
What Have They Done Lately?
The Orioles lost yesterday but otherwise took three of four from the White Sox over the weekend. They lost two of three in three straight series prior to that, all against teams in the playoff hunt (Red Sox, Yankees, Indians). Manager Buck Showalter’s team comes into this series with a 76-66 record and a +45 run differential, two back of the Rays and one up on the Yankees in the second wildcard race.
Although they aren’t as deep and relentless as the Boston lineup, the Orioles are one of the best offensive teams in baseball with an average of 4.7 runs per game and a team 102 wRC+. It is a lineup full of hackers through, with a team 6.7% walk rate that is the lowest in the AL. You don’t need to attack the zone to beat them. Baltimore’s only two injured position players are OF Nolan Reimold (51 wRC+) and former Yankee OF/1B Steve Pearce (92 wRC+). Neither will return this series.
Showalter’s lineup revolves around three guys: 1B Chris Davis (173 wRC+), CF Adam Jones (125 wRC+), and 3B Manny Machado (108 wRC+). Davis has only hit two homeruns in his last 16 games, but don’t let that fool you. He can go deep at a moment’s notice. DH Danny Valencia (163 wRC+ in limited time) has done some mighty fine platoon work while SS J.J. Hardy (103 wRC+) and OF Nate McLouth (103 wRC+) have been solid as well. OF Mike Morse (86 wRC+ overall) hasn’t done a whole lot since coming over from the Mariners.
Neither OF Nick Markakis (84 wRC+) nor C Matt Wieters (87 wRC+) is hitting like expected. 2B Brian Roberts (83 wRC+) and UTIL Wilson Betemit (-100 wRC+ in very limited time) have part-tie roles. The Orioles didn’t screw around with September call-ups; Showalter has a nine-man bench that includes C Chris Snyder, C Steve Clevenger, IF Alexi Casilla, IF Ryan Flaherty, IF Jonathan Schoop, OF Henry Urrutia, and former Yankee OF Chris Dickerson. The O’s lead baseball (by a lot) with 197 homers.
Starting Pitching Matchups
Monday: LHP CC Sabathia vs. RHP Chris Tillman
Tillman, 25, was an undeserving All-Star (over Hiroki Kuroda) because of his sexy win-loss record earlier this summer, but he has been legitimately above-average in the second half (3.26 ERA and 3.77 FIP) after a blah first half (3.95 ERA and 4.94 FIP). He’s sitting on a 3.71 ERA (4.53 FIP) overall in 28 starts this year with good but not great strikeout (7.53 K/9 and 20.3 K%) and walk (3.24 BB/9 and 8.7 BB%) rates and awful ground ball (38.7%) and homer (1.41 HR/9 and 14.0% HR/FB) rates. Tillman works primarily off a low-90s four-seamer but will also mix in the occasional low-90s cutter. A low-80s changeup and mid-70s curveball are his top two offspeed pitches, though he’ll also throw a handful of mid-80s sliders in each start. He doesn’t have much of a platoon split this year. The Yankees have seen plenty of Tillman over the years and they usually crush him. He’s had one good (two runs in six innings) and one not so good (five runs in 5.1 innings) start against New York this year.
Tuesday: RHP Ivan Nova vs. RHP Miguel Gonzalez
The 29-year-old Gonzalez has been decent (3.98 ERA and 4.41 FIP) in 24 starts (and two relief appearances) this year after breaking out with a 3.25 ERA (4.38 FIP) in his big league debut last summer. He is getting a few more grounders (40.1%) in 2013 but otherwise his peripherals are almost entirely unchanged: 6.43 K/9 (17.1 K%), 2.88 BB/9 (7.7 BB%), and 1.22 HR/9 (11.6% HR/FB). Gonzalez uses low-90s two and four-seamers to set up his wipeout low-to-mid-80s split-changeup hybrid, which is a true put-away pitch. He’ll also throw mid-80s sliders and upper-70s curves. He doesn’t have a platoon split thanks to the split-change. Gonzalez completely dominated the Yankees up until last weekend, when they hung seven runs on him in four innings. Their approach in that game seemed to be to swing early in the count to prevent him from using the split-change, so we’ll see if that’s how they attack this time around.
Wednesday: LHP Andy Pettitte vs. RHP Scott Feldman
Feldman, 30, has been a nice little pickup for the Orioles and solid (3.54 ERA and 3.76 FIP) in 26 starts overall this season. He’s all about getting grounders (49.9%) and limiting walks (2.53 BB/9 and 6.8 BB%) and homers (0.79 HR/9 and 9.3% HR/FB). Strikeouts (6.46 K/9 and 17.3 K%) aren’t really his thing. Feldman is basically a three-pitch pitcher: low-90s sinker, upper-80s cutter, and mid-70s curveball. He doesn’t use his mid-80s changeup all that often and like most of his rotation mates, he doesn’t have a platoon split. Feldman held the Yankees to one run in seven innings last time out and they’ve faced him a bunch of times in recent years while he was with the Rangers.
Thursday: LHP David Huff vs. LHP Wei-Yin Chen
An oblique injury has limited Chen, 28, to just 19 starts this season. He’s been rock solid (3.82 ERA and 4.04 FIP) with a good walk rate (2.65 BB/9 and 7.2 BB%) and tolerable homer rate (1.01 HR/9 and 8.9% HR/FB). The Taiwanese-born southpaw has seen both his strikeout (6.32 K/9 and 17.2 K%) and ground ball (33.9%) totals drop big time this year. Chen’s five-pitch arsenal includes low-90s two and four-seamers, a mid-80s changeup, a low-80s slider, and a low-70s curveball. He doesn’t use the curve all that much but will throw the other four pitches regularly. Chen has a nice-sized platoon split — he’s held lefties to a .268 wOBA while righties have tagged him for a .331 wOBA — and the Yankees got to him for three runs and five walks in four laborious innings last weekend.
None of Showalter’s core late-game relievers were used yesterday but all have worked a lot of late. Closer RHP Jim Johnson (3.73 FIP) has pitched three of the last five days, RHP Tommy Hunter (3.70 FIP) has appeared twice in the last four days, and RHP Darren O’Day (3.62 FIP) threw two innings on Saturday. Opening Day starter RHP Jason Hammel (5.07 FIP) is working out of the bullpen now following an elbow strain. He threw two innings yesterday.
LHP Brian Matusz (3.07 FIP) is the team’s go-to southpaw while RHP Kevin Gausman (4.56 FIP) handles long relief assignments. RHP Francisco Rodriguez (3.71 FIP), LHP Troy Patton (4.48 FIP), and LHP T.J. McFarland (3.72 FIP) get the call in the middle innings. Again, the Orioles didn’t screw around with September call-ups. They’re carrying an eleven-man bullpen at the moment. RHP Steve Johnson and RHP Josh Stinson fill out the rest of the reliever staff.
The Yankees have a bullpen mess on their hands right now. Mariano Rivera threw two innings and 35 pitches yesterday. Both David Robertson (shoulder) and Boone Logan (biceps, forearm) are out with injuries. Shawn Kelley threw an inning yesterday after missing a week with a triceps problem. There are currently 13 relievers on the roster, but fewer than that are actually available tonight and even fewer are actually trustworthy. Like I said, a bullpen mess. Check out out Bullpen Workload page for the usage details and then check out Camden Chat for the latest on the O’s.
Via Ben Balder (subs. req’d): The Yankees were one of five teams with scouts on hand to watch right-hander Masahiro Tanaka make his most recent start for the Rakuten Golden Eagles over the weekend. The Braves, Diamondbacks, Mariners, and Red Sox were also in attendance. We recently heard the Yankees have had assistant GM Billy Eppler and special assignment scout Don Wakamatsu watch the righty.
Tanaka, 24, threw 128 pitches while striking out eleven and allowing two runs in the complete game win. “After lacking the typical crispness on his pitches in his previous outing, Tanaka returned to the mound on Friday with a swing-and-miss fastball and excellent splitter against the Fighters,” wrote Badler, who said Tanaka was sitting 90-94 with his fastball and 84-89 with the splitter. He also threw some sliders, though it is clearly his third pitch. Here are highlights from the game (Andruw Jones sighting!).
The Golden Eagles are expected to post Tanaka this winter and although the Yankees haven’t been all that aggressive on big money international players in recent years, they are clearly doing their homework. They’re going to need pitching this winter one way or the other and Tanaka could be a fit. He is the best pitcher in Japan but is not another Yu Darvish, and in fact there are concerns his fastball is too flat despite good velocity. Tanaka has a 1.24 ERA this year with an excellent walk rate (1.3 BB/9 and 3.9 BB%)) but just an okay strikeout rate (7.7 K/9 and 22.1 K%). · (38) ·
Monday: Stewart has some strained ligaments on the top of the foot. He thinks it happened when he tried to get out of the way of the pitch that hit him. “I was able to get through it, get [Hiroki Kuroda] through the game, and that’s what we were trying to do … Get that done and get somebody else in there,” said Stewart to Chad Jennings. There is no fracture and he is likely to miss just a few games rather than a few weeks.
Sunday: Chris Stewart left this afternoon’s game in the sixth inning after being hit by a pitch in the left foot in the third inning. The Yankees are calling it a bruise and are sending him for precautionary x-rays. Stay tuned for updates, etc. · (21) ·
Record Last Week: 4-3 (50 RS, 47 RA)
Season Record: 76-67 (592 RS, 594 RA, 71-72 pythag. record), 10.0 GB ALE/2.5 GB WC
Opponents This Week: @ Orioles (four games, Mon. to Thurs.), @ Red Sox (three games, Fri. to Sun.)
Top stories from last week:
- The week started with three games against the last place White Sox. The Yankees blew them out on Labor Day before mounting a late comeback for a win the next day. They survived a late rally to complete the sweep.
- The Red Sox came to town for a four-game weekend set starting Thursday, and they took the opener following the Yankees’ big comeback. The bullpen blew up on both Friday and Saturday before New York managed a walk-off win yesterday.
- Injury Updates: Derek Jeter (ankle) is day-to-day with more lingering soreness. David Robertson (shoulder) is day-to-day with tendinitis. Boone Logan (biceps, elbow) received a cortisone shot and hopes to be available by Friday. Shawn Kelley (triceps) dealt with some inflammation has since returned to the bullpen. David Phelps (forearm) has started playing catch. Kevin Youkilis (back) is hitting off a tee and soft toss. Chris Stewart (foot) went for x-rays after being hit by a pitch. Michael Pineda (shoulder) is still just throwing bullpens. Zoilo Almonte (ankle) has started a minor league rehab assignment.
- Phil Hughes was moved into the bullpen with David Huff taking his spot in the rotation. The Yankees called up both Matt Daley and Jim Miller to help the bullpen. Corban Joseph and Vidal Nuno were placed on the 60-day DL to clear 40-man roster spots.
- Joe Girardi may ask Mariano Rivera to reconsider retirement.
- Alex Rodriguez‘s appeal hearing will begin on September 30th.
Please take a second to answer the poll below and give us an idea of how confident you are in the team. You can view the interactive Fan Confidence Graph anytime via the nav bar above, or by clicking here. Thanks in advance for voting.
Given the team's current roster construction, farm system, management, etc., how confident are you in the Yankees' overall future?
Given the team's current roster construction, farm system, management, etc., how confident are you in the Yankees' overall future?
Do you know what is completely ridiculous? Despite Sunday’s walk-off win over the Red Sox, the Yankees got absolutely demolished these last four days — every one of New York’s flaws were not-so-gently exposed by a clearly superior Boston team — and yet, they did not lose any ground in the second wildcard race. They came into the four-game series three back in the loss column, and that’s exactly where they sit right now. They’re lucky the Rays forgot how to win out on the West Coast.
I’m not sure what positive can be taken from Sunday’s game other than the actual win in the standings. Hiroki Kuroda had his best start in about a month, holding the Red Sox to two runs in six tough innings. He threw a season-high 117 pitches and really had to battle. Boston wore him out. I guess a non-disaster start is a positive. Shawn Kelley rebounded from a triceps issue throw a scoreless inning, but he did put the tying run at third base in the process. Robinson Cano stayed hot with three hits, including the big two-out, two-run double in the fifth inning. Ichiro Suzuki and Alex Rodriguez also had two hits apiece. Ichiro scored the walk-off run on a wild pitch (!), which felt like the only possible way that run was coming in to score.
Now, the bad news: Mariano Rivera blew another save, his seventh of the year and fifth in his last eleven save chances. It was another location mistake, the kind we aren’t used to seeing from Mo, and Will Middlebrooks took advantage with a game-tying solo homer out into the short porch. Considering the magnitude of both this game and every game left this year, I thought Joe Girardi was absolutely right to send Rivera out for two innings. He’ll have the rest of his life to rest in a few weeks and it just didn’t work out. Should the Yankees replace Mo at closer given his recent struggles? No way, especially not with David Robertson out with a shoulder issue. His recent blow save-itis is (very) troubling, but there’s no one on this team I’d rather have out there with a one-run lead in the ninth. Not in a million years.
I think all the recent base-running mistakes and ill-timed bunts are an indication the Yankees, or at least some of them, are pressing given the tight race and all of that. I mean, Mark freaking Reynolds tried to lay down a sacrifice bunt with two on and no outs in the second inning against Jon Lester, a left-handed pitcher. Curtis Granderson tried to bunt for a base hit to beat the shift against a right-hander in the early innings a) with two outs and no one on, and b) with two on and no outs in recent days as well. More than a few players — Alfonso Soriano on Thursday night, most egregiously — have run into outs on the bases. A little “don’t try to do too much, stick to your game, blah blah blah” reminder might be in order.
Sorry I don’t have a more detailed recap, but I was busy running around for most of the day and mostly Gameday’d it on my phone. Considering how awful the first three games of the series went, I can’t say I was heartbroken over missing this one despite the win. MLB.com has the box score and video highlights, FanGraphs some other stats, and ESPN the updated standings. Like I said, the Yankees remain three games back of the Rays in the loss column for that second wildcard spot. Both the Indians and Rays are one game up on New York as well. Cool Standings gives the Yankees a 10.1% chance to make the postseason with 19 games to go. CC Sabathia and Chris Tillman open the four-game set in Baltimore on Monday night.
7:30pm: Logan received a cortisone shot yesterday and hopes to be available by Friday. Like I said, Cabral’s going to get a few chances to show what he can do.
11:00am: Yesterday’s MRI revealed inflammation in Boone Logan’s left arm, but not in his elbow. He left Friday’s game with tightness in his biceps, near his elbow. “He’ll probably be on that three days off (plan) and we’ll go from there,” said Joe Girardi. This is your chance to shine, Cesar Cabral. · (3) ·
Here is your open thread for this lovely evening. The ESPN Sunday Night Game is a pretty good one, the Dodgers at the Reds (Kershaw vs. Bailey). The late NFL game is the Giants at the Cowboys. Plenty to talk about tonight. Anything goes here, so have at it.
Via Stephen Marcus: Alex Rodriguez’s appeal will begin on September 30th, the day after the end of the regular season. Andrew Marchand says the hearing will be delayed if the Yankees manage to qualify for the postseason. MLB officials, A-Rod’s legal team, and arbitrator Frederic Horowitz had a preliminary meeting last week.
Rodriguez, 38, was suspended a record 211 games for ties to Biogenesis last month. He was the only one of the 13 players to appeal their ban, but he was also the only one to receive more than the typical 50-game suspension for first-time offenders. The hearing is expected to take several days and a ruling is not expected until November or December. A-Rod is allowed to play during the appeal and came into Sunday’s game hitting .275/.368/.441 (124 wRC+) with four homers in 28 games since coming off the DL. · (7) ·
Nothing that happens this afternoon will erase with ass-whooping the Yankees have taken these last three days. The only positives to take are 1) the Rays keep losing and are still only three games up for the second wildcard spot in the loss column, and 2) the Bombers did score at least eight runs in each of the last three games. They just need someone to actually get a few outs without giving up monster homers and putting two guys on base each inning. Here’s the lineup that will face left-hander Jon Lester:
- RF Ichiro Suzuki
- DH Vernon Wells
- LF Alfonso Soriano
- 2B Robinson Cano
- 3B Alex Rodriguez
- 1B Mark Reynolds
- CF Curtis Granderson
- SS Eduardo Nunez
- C Austin Romine
And on the mound is right-hander Hiroki Kuroda. If there was ever a time to get over that wall, this is it.
Gorgeous weather in New York today with no rain expected. Perfect baseball weather. First pitch is scheduled for 1:05pm ET and can be seen on YES locally and TBS nationally. Enjoy, or at least try to.