Introducing the Yankees’ All-Revenge team

(Getty Images)
(Getty Images)

Plenty of players throughout baseball, but particularly in the American League East, develop the reputation as Yankee killers. Certain guys just play especially well when opposite the pinstripes. Howie Kendrick with the Angels comes to mind. So does the mysterious contributions of Pedro Ciriaco with the Red Sox.

But there is a special breed of Yankee killer: The former Yankee turned Yankee killer. The group I call the All-Revenge team. The guys who the Yankees let go, trade or otherwise give up on and have turned into a thorn in their sides, a few meetings a year.

So I unveil the All-Revenge lineup, former Yankees who have turned their former employers into a most despised adversary. (Note: I chose to use only active players and focused on players who have performed well vs. NYY since leaving the team).

C: Russell Martin

Why does Martin make the team? Martin is perhaps the most obvious thanks to the 2015 division race. He left the Yankees after the team chose to let him walk and instead go with Chris Stewart and Francisco Cervelli as his immediate replacements. When Martin came back to the AL in 2015 and was in a race with the Yankees, he was ready to pounce.

Over the course of 16 games (13 starts) in 2015, he hit .300/.362/.660 vs. NYY, hitting five home runs with a whopping 18 RBI. Particularly stinging was a two-homer game in September followed up by a go-ahead walk in the 11th inning the next day. He followed that up with four homers, nine RBI and a much more modest .207/.319/.431 line in 2016. He also tried to fight Gary Sanchez last September and extract his pound of flesh from the Yankees. The Bombers held him in check this series, but he’s been a menace in the past.

Signature game: The two-home run game vs. the Yankees on Sept. 11, 2015 was a masterpiece for Martin. He singled home a run to knock Luis Severino out of the game, hit a solo home run off Andrew Bailey and then hit a two-run shot off Chasen Shreve that all but finished off the Yankees. Honorable mention goes to his two-homer game last Aug. 16, which included a go-ahead homer in the eighth inning off Adam Warren. I’ll take the first one because of the division race implications.

1B: Steve Pearce

Why does Pearce make the team? Pearce has played for every team in the AL East except the Red Sox and he has more home runs against the Yankees (10) than any other team except the Rays (10). Pearce has a solid .293/.397/.579 line vs. the Yankees, a tOPS+ of 152, which indicates he’s much better against the Yankees than vs. other teams.

The Yankees gave Pearce just 30 PA in 2012, and he’s had 148 PA to pay them back over the last four years, picking up 34 hits, 14 of which have gone for extra bases. Five of his 25 career HBP are from Yankees pitching. He does special damage at Yankee Stadium with seven home runs with a .338/.419/.692 mark.

Signature game: Pearce has a plentiful number of performances for this list. He had a go-ahead homer off Adam Warren in an Orioles win on Sept. 9, 2015. He almost single-handedly beat the Yankees with a three-hit game last Aug. 28 with a home run and two-run single off CC Sabathia and Warren, respectively. (Man, Warren’s getting beat down in these games). His four-hit, two-homer game Tuesday would be a surefire winner if the Jays had won.

But his most clutch anti-Yankee moment came Sept. 14, 2014, again with the Orioles. With the O’s trailing 2-1 in the ninth inning at Camden Yards on Sunday Night Baseball, Pearce lined a game-tying double off David Robertson. He’d come home to score on a walk-off double from All-Revenge team honorable mention Kelly Johnson.

(Getty Images)
(Getty Images)

2B: Robinson Cano

Why does Cano make the team? Cano leads the rest of the All-Revenge team infield, which has had less experience facing the Yankees, having done so only in the last three seasons. However, Cano did quick work to get onto this list. He’s batting .324/.377/.479 vs. his former squad and has three home runs. His batting average jumps up to .363 when you take out his 3-for-16 struggles against Masahiro Tanaka

Signature game: His highest Win Probability Added in his first two seasons with the Mariners came against the Yankees. He had two two-run homers against Michael Pineda on July 18, 2015, knocking in all four runs during the Mariners’ 4-3 win over the Yankees. Both home runs came with the game tied and one-upped his former squad.

3B: Yangervis Solarte

Why does Solarte make the team? The No. 1 reason Solarte is here? There aren’t many third basemen to work with. Thanks to Alex Rodriguez for holding down the position for so long. Solarte still made a big impact in his three games vs. the Yankees last July. Six hits in 10 at-bats with two walks, a home run and two doubles. Batting .600 with a 1.767 OPS against a team, even in one series, still has merit.

Signature game: Even though the Padres lost, 6-3, Solarte had one of his four career four-hit games last July 3, scoring two runs and hitting a solo shot. Solarte turns 30 this July, so there’s a solid chance he gets more games to get further revenge for the Yankees trading him.

(Getty Images)
(Getty Images)

SS: Eduardo Nunez

Why does Nunez make the team? Again, a lack of shortstops. But Nunez has still performed well. 15 hits in 48 at-bats vs. the Yankees. Only two extra-base hits, but one went for a home run. All of his 14 games against the Yankees were with the Twins, and now he’s playing a bevy of positions for the Giants.

Signature game: Nunez had a clutch double off the bench in 2014 but it came with the Twins already leading and Matt Daley in the game. He also had a two-hit game with a home run last June. But his top anti-Yankee moment came in a game where he went 1 for 4 with a walk in 2015. On Aug. 17, his one hit was lined off Bryan Mitchell‘s face, ending the rookie’s night early and turning the game into a bullpen affair. I get wanting revenge, but that was ugly!

Getting reacquainted (Getty Images)
Getting reacquainted (Getty Images)

OF: Melky Cabrera

Why does Cabrera make the team? If Martin isn’t the captain of the All-Revenge squad, Melky would do just fine in the role. He’s batting .302/.350/.527 in 198 plate appearances against his former club. He’s actually played more seasons out of NY (8) than with the Yankees (5) at this point. In 2014 alone, he faced the Yankees 15 times, had hits in all but two games and racked up six multi-hit games.

Signature game: Cabrera’s first ever series against the Yankees came in 2011 with the Royals and he helped KC win the series in the clincher on May 12 with a two-hit night. Both his hits went for extra bases, including an RBI double (before getting picked off second) and a home run off Ivan Nova in a 11-5 Royals win.

OF: Curtis Granderson

Why does Granderson make the team? Granderson is the one player on this list with experience playing vs. the Yankees both before and after coming to the Bronx. He had four HR and 15 extra-base hits vs. the Yankees during his Tigers days (not including the ’06 playoffs). He’s 12 for 46 with four home runs and eight walks since joining the Mets.

Signature game: In his second game vs. the Yankees since moving crosstown, Granderson came through big time. He went 2 for 3 with two walks, a home run, three RBI and two runs scored. This game (May 13, 2014) was highlighted by both Vidal Nuno and Zack Wheeler exiting early and Daisuke Matsuzaka outdueling Alfredo Aceves in the battle of the bullpens. 2014 was a weird time.

P.S. If I was willing to include pre-Yankee days, this is the obvious winner.

OF: Austin Jackson

Why does Jackson make the team? Capping off the list is a player who never actually played for the Yankees. Jackson was a top prospect but was traded for the man above him on this team, never giving him a chance to don the pinstripes. In 158 plate appearances over 37 games against his ex-organization, he has a respectable .289/.361/.444 batting line with nine doubles, two triples and three home runs. Not to mention five stolen bases. In classic Jackson fashion though, he does have 48 strikeouts.

Signature game: Flash back to mid-August 2013, when Jackson was center fielder for the AL Central-winning Tigers. He led off an Aug. 10 game vs. Phil Hughes with a triple and scored, then later hit a solo dinger in the top of the fifth, helping knock Hughes out of the game. The Tigers would go on to win 9-3 after Jackson drew a walk and scored later in the game.

Disagree with a player making the team? Have someone else in mind? Or suggestions about current pitchers who have made good on their sweet sweet revenge against the Yankees? Let me know. The All-Revenge team can change series to series with one or two standout performances or with a trade. But for now, this is the lineup that prevails.

Yankeemetrics: Rising Legend of Aaron Judge (May 1-3)

(AP)
(AP)

Blue Jays at home in the Bronx
Looking to get back on track after dropping the final game of their weekend set against Baltimore, the Yankees were hardly thrilled to see the Blue Jays as the next opponent on their homestand this week.

After beating the Yankees 7-1 on Monday night, Toronto improved to 13-7 in the Bronx since the start of the 2015 season, the only visiting team with double-digit wins at Yankee Stadium over the last three years.

Luis Severino was coming off the finest performance of his career — seven shutout innings vs. Boston last week – but he produced his worst outing of the season on Tuesday, an unsurprising result given the opponent. Severino entered the game with a 5.89 ERA vs. the Blue Jays, his highest against any team he’d faced more than once, and that mark grew to 6.38 after he allowed five runs in 5 2/3 innings.

The Yankees were down only a run through five frames, but the Blue Jays broke the game open with a three-run sixth inning that included the rare 2-RBI sacrifice fly, on an acrobatic catch by Jacoby Ellsbury near the wall.

This was just the fifth time since the statistic was first tracked in 1954 that the Yankees had surrendered a multi-RBI sac fly in a game. The others: Sept. 16, 2014 vs Rays (also the last time it happened in MLB and also involving Ellsbury); July 24, 1990 vs Rangers; May 15, 1983 vs White Sox; July 9, 1961 vs Red Sox.

(AP)
(AP)

Aaron Judge, probably human?
The Yankees first losing streak since the opening week of the season ended nearly as quickly as it began thanks to an easy 11-5 win on Tuesday night, snapping their mini-two-game skid.

The Bronx Bombers lived up to their famous nickname, scoring those 11 runs on 16 hits, including five homers. This was their second five-homer game in 2017 (also on April 28 against Baltimore), making it the first season in franchise history that the Yankees produced multiple five-homer games within the team’s first 25 contests.

The homer barrage was led by the starting outfielders, with Aaron Hicks contributing a solo shot while Aaron Judge and Brett Gardner belted two homers each. It was just the second time in the last 50 years that two Yankee flycatchers each hit multiple homers in the same game. The only other instance was when Mel Hall and Jesse Barfield went deep twice on May 27, 1991 against the Red Sox.

(Newsday)
(Newsday)

It was Gardner’s second multi-homer game in the past four games, a notable feat considering that Gardner had only two multi-homer performances on his ledger in his first 1,085 career games.

Even more improbable is the fact that G.G.B.G. had yet to record his first RBI this season prior to the start of this power outburst on April 29 – in fact, his 76 plate appearances through April 28 were the most by any zero-RBI player in MLB.

Despite the huge contributions up and down the lineup in this game – six players had multiple hits and five players drove in at least one run – of course it was Judge that stole the show with his 11th and 12th home runs of the season.

Judge’s first one in the third inning was a 337-foot wall-scraper that just made it over the fence in right field, the shortest home run he’s hit so far in his career. The second one was a moonshot with a launch angle of 38.7 degrees, the highest for any home run he’s hit so far in his career.

After Tuesday’s two-homer, four-RBI night, Judge’s numbers reached historical proportions for a player this early into the season. He is the:

  • Third Yankee ever to hit at least 12 homers in the team’s first 25 contests, joining A-Rod (14 in 2007) and Babe Ruth (12 in 1921). Notably, A-Rod finished that 2007 MVP season with an MLB-best 54 homers while the Great Bambino led the majors with 59 homers in 1921.
  • Second player in MLB history at the age of 25 or younger to compile at least 12 homers and 25 RBI within the team’s first 25 games of the season. The other was Eric Davis in 1987, who went on to have an All-Star campaign with 37 homers and 100 RBI for the Reds.

Judge also etched his name in the record books with his singular performance at the plate on Tuesday night. He is the:

  • Third Yankee right fielder to have at least two homers, two walks and four RBIs in a game, a list that also includes a couple franchise legends in Dave Winfield (1985) and Joe DiMaggio (1936).
  • Youngest Yankee (at the age of 25 years, 6 days) with a multi-home run, multi-walk game since a 24-year-old Mickey Mantle in 1956.
(USA Today Sports)
(USA Today Sports)

Judge re-writes record books, again
No deficit is too big for this team, which celebrated yet another improbable come-from-behind victory on Wednesday night. Down 4-0 before they came to bat in the first inning and 6-3 after two frames, the Yankees rallied to win 8-6 and reclaim sole possession of first place in the AL East. This was their fifth comeback win when trailing by at least three runs this season, matching the Cubs and Astros for the most in the majors.

Matt Holliday got the scoring started early, crushing a three-run, 446-foot bomb in the first inning. It was the 300th career home run for the 37-year-old veteran, a milestone blast that confirms Holliday as one of the game’s rare sluggers with an elite hit tool: He is one of three active players to have at least 300 homers and a .300 career batting average, along with Albert Pujols and Miguel Cabrera.

Aaron Judge added to his ever-growing legend with his 13th dinger of the season in the third inning. The unprecedented 435-foot blast to dead-center made the 25-year-old power-hitting cyborg the youngest player in major-league history to hit at least 13 homers within the team’s first 26 games.

Looking for another impressive #AaronJudgeFact? Here’s the short list of right-handed batters since 1950 to match Judge’s 13 homers within the season’s first 26 games: Nelson Cruz (2015), A-Rod (2007), Pujols (2006), Mark McGwire (1992), Mike Schmidt (1976) and Willie Mays (1964).

Thoughts before the Yankees begin a five-game NL road trip

(Presswire)
(Presswire)

The Yankees have an off-day today and it’s a good off-day because they won yesterday. It’s always nice to spend an off-day riding the high of a win, especially a come-from-behind win like last night’s. This team sure is fun, isn’t it? Anyway, I have some thoughts on things, so let’s get to ’em.

1. I know we spend a lot of time talking about Aaron Judge, but this can’t be said enough: he looks like a completely different player this season. Two recent at-bats really drove home that point for me. The first was last Friday night, in the ninth inning of that huge comeback win against the Orioles. Starlin Castro had already tied the game when Judge stepped to the plate with two outs and the bases empty. Judge hit two home runs earlier in the game, and with the score tied and two outs in the bottom of the ninth, it can be real easy to go into hero mode and try to hit a walk-off homer. Instead, he remained patient and took the five-pitch walk because the pitcher didn’t give him anything to hit. The other at-bat came in the seventh inning Tuesday night. Judge fell behind in the count 0-2 to Jason Grilli, worked it back to 3-2, fouled off four two-strike pitches until he got something he could punish, then clocked a three-run homer. Last season Judge was close to an automatic strikeout in two-strike counts. Now he’s spitting on pitcher’s pitches, working counts, and hammering the pitches he should hammer. Love this guy so much. It’s hard to believe he’s turned into this after what we saw last year.

2. As great as Judge as been — and he’s been awesome — the story so far this season has been more about the veterans than the rookies. The Yankees are where they are despite getting basically nothing from Greg Bird and Gary Sanchez, mostly because veterans like Castro, Chase Headley, Jacoby Ellsbury, and Matt Holliday have started the season well. Holliday is new to the team, but the other three guys were with the Yankees last season and they all underperformed. Now they’re big time contributors. I wonder how much of that, if any, has to do with the farm system being so strong. The veterans saw all the talented young players in Spring Training, the Gleyber Torreses and Clint Fraziers and Dustin Fowlers and everyone else, and it pushed them to be better. Think about it. Castro has already been traded away by one rebuilding team. Now he’s with the Yankees and sees what a kid like Gleyber can do? It can be easy to think that kid is coming for your job. Players always say they worry only about their game and things they can control, but it’s human nature to look over your shoulder a bit. Perhaps a byproduct of this total awesome farm system is the prospects pushing the veterans to be better. That’d be neat.

3. Boy, the Red Sox aren’t nearly as scary offensively without David Ortiz, are they? It was really noticeable when the Yankees played those two games up in Fenway Park last week. Don’t get me wrong, guys like Mookie Betts and Hanley Ramirez are dangerous hitters, but Ortiz changed the entire dynamic of that offense. In the past I was always aware of where the Red Sox were in the lineup and kinda do the math to see how far away Ortiz was, and what the situation could be when he got to the plate. Know what I mean? The Red Sox are still a very talented team. Without Ortiz though, there’s just a very different feel to their lineup. That big scary bat who tormented the Yankees for more than a decade isn’t there anymore. And if I feel this way, I imagine the pitchers and Joe Girardi and everyone else with the Yankees feels the same way too. How could you not? Ortiz was an undeniable presence not just in the batter’s box, but even in the on-deck circle. You knew where his lineup spot was at all times. It’s nice not to have to worry about that anymore.

4. Not so bold prediction: we’re going to hear rumors about the Yankees looking for a left-handed reliever at some in next few weeks. They looked for another bullpen lefty pretty much all winter, took a flier on Jon Niese that hasn’t really worked out — Niese is still in Extended Spring Training building arm strength — and now Tommy Layne is getting knocked around. Left-handed hitters are 5-for-13 (.385) with two walks (.429) against him. Small sample size, yeah, but journeymen like Layne usually don’t get the benefit of waiting for their numbers to correct. There’s a reason he’s been with four organizations the last six years. The Yankees still have Chasen Shreve on the roster and some non-40-man roster southpaws like Tyler Webb and Jason Gurka stashed in Triple-A, so they have (less than stellar) options to cycle through. Maybe they’ll get lucky with one of them. My guess is they’ll look outside the organization for lefty relief help before long. Who will they target? I have no idea. I expect it to be a small move though. Nothing exciting that requires giving up good prospects.

5. You can’t win a postseason spot in April, but you sure can lose one, and that’s pretty much what happened to the Yankees last season. They went 8-14 in April and never really recovered. And, in the long run, it was the best thing for them because it led to the trade deadline sell-off. This year the opposite has happened. The Yankees are off to a great start, and while there is still a long way to go this season, their early season success has had a real impact on their playoff odds. From FanGraphs:

postseason-odds-050317

The Yankees have gone from a 15.9% chance to play in October on Opening Day to 57.7% following last night’s win. That’s a jump of 41.8 percentage points in basically a month. That’s a huge increase. By no means are postseason odds the be all, end all. At the end of the day, no one knows anything in this game, so why buy into the postseason odds? The point is the great start has significantly improved the Yankees’ chances of playing in October, whether it’s 41.8 percentage points or some other number. The improvement is real. The Yankees have helped themselves quite a bit these first four weeks or so.

6. And finally, it’s fun to feel like the Yankees truly have a homefield advantage again. That’s how I feel, anyway. The Yankees were 48-33 at home last season — that record surprised me — despite a just okay +23 run differential. In 2014 they were 43-38 with a -22 run differential at home. In 2013 it was 46-35 and a -14 run differential. So far this season the Yankees are 12-4 at home and have outscored their opponents by 38 runs. That’s more like it. I want the Yankees to dominate at home. Opposing pitchers should be terrified to pitch in Yankee Stadium. The Yankees have kicked some serious butt at home early this year because of the power in their lineup and because their bullpen makes leads stand up. That wasn’t always the case the last few years, especially that part about the power.

Bullpen, offense pick up Sabathia for come-from-behind 8-6 win over Blue Jays

Is this team not awesome? This team is awesome. The Yankees erased a four-run deficit Wednesday night for an 8-6 win over the Blue Jays in the series finale. Just keep winning series, baby. That’s the name of the game. The Yankees are now 17-9 with a +45 run differential through the first 26 games of the season. Last year they were 9-17 with a -28 run differential through 26 games. Also, the Yankees are now 92-70 in their last 162 games. YUP.

(Rich Schultz/Getty)
(Rich Schultz/Getty)

Strugglin’ Sabathia
CC Sabathia started his season with three very good starts, allowing four runs (three earned) total in 18.1 innings. He’s since followed those three very good starts with three very bad starts. Four runs in five innings against the Pirates, seven runs in 5.2 innings against the Orioles, and now six runs in four innings against the Blue Jays. It hasn’t all been bad luck either, even though Sabathia seems to have a knack for giving up ground balls with eyes.

The Blue Jays struck for four runs in the first inning Wednesday night, putting the Yankees in an early hole. The first two runners reached base and Sabathia nearly escaped the inning unscathed, but Justin Smoak was able to punch a ball back up the middle for a two-out RBI single. Fine. Whatever. One run isn’t the end of the world. But Sabathia couldn’t stop the bleeding. He served up a three-run home run to Steve Pearce, the next batter. Six batters into the game, the Yankees were down 4-0.

In the second inning Sabathia allowed two more runs, including one on a bases loaded walk to Russell Martin. He had runners on the corners with one out and Jose Bautista down 0-2 in the count, but he walked him. Sabathia had a 2-2 count on Martin after that and walked him too. The put-away pitch just wasn’t there. He threw 44 pitches in the first two innings and only one resulted in a swing and a miss. The Blue Jays looked mighty comfortable in the box.

To Sabathia’s credit, he settled down a bit and got through the third and fourth inning scoreless. He was removed from the game after starting the fifth inning with a walk and a single. (Adam Warren escaped that jam.) The final tally for Sabathia is six runs on seven hits and four walks in four innings plus two batters. He did strike out five. His location was really poor early on. There were lots of pitches over the plate. At least Sabathia was able to figure out it for a few innings there, but yeah, this is three bad starts in a row. No mas, CC.

(Rich Schultz/Getty)
(Rich Schultz/Getty)

Answering Back
Trailing 4-0 before you bat is daunting! The Yankees have Fighting Spirit though. They put three runs on the board in the bottom of the first inning to answer right back. Single (Brett Gardner), walk (Aaron Hicks), three-run home run (Matt Holliday) is how Marcus Stroman, who is really short and went back to college to get his degree while rehabbing his torn ACL two years ago (just in case you hadn’t heard), started his evening. The home run was the 300th of Holliday’s career. Congrats to him.

The Yankees put two on with one out in the second inning, but were unable to score. Then, in the third, Starlin Castro planted a single into center field and Aaron Judge clobbered his Planet Earth leading 13th home run of the season. No player at any level of professional baseball has more home runs than Judge in 2017. This one landed in Monument Park and had the crack of a no-doubt home run. You can close your eyes and tell when this guy goes deep just based on the sound. That two-run home run got the Yankees to within 6-5.

Luck Biagini Tonight
Oblique/lat tightness forced Stroman out of the game after three innings, which meant the Yankees were going to get plenty of cracks against Toronto’s shoddy bullpen. And for a few innings there, they wasted a bunch of prime scoring opportunities. Runners on first and second with one out in the fourth? Holliday bangs into a double play. Bases loaded with two outs in the sixth? Kyle Higashioka stared at strike three. Sucks.

It wasn’t until the seventh inning that the Yankees rallied to both tie the game and take the lead. It all started with a Joe Girardi ejection. Home plate umpire Bill Welke had a pretty generous strike zone all night — Gardner, Hicks, and Holliday all struck out looking on borderline pitches in the sixth — and Girardi snapped after Castro took a pitch inside and off the plate for the called strike. He gave Welke the business and was ejected.

After the ejection, the strike zone did truly seem to tighten up. Welke was no longer calling those borderline pitches strikes, and the Yankees took advantage. Judge started the rally with a one-out single to left, and Chase Headley really made things interesting with a double into the right field corner. Now the Yankees had runners on second and third with only one out. An out could have tied the game.

The strikeout prone Chris Carter came to the plate, and rather than strike out, he dunked a broken bat bloop over the shortstop’s head into shallow left field to tie the game. Carter’s been piling up singles lately. What’s up with that? Didi Gregorius pinch-hit for Ronald Torreyes and gave the Yankees the lead with an infield single. It was a chopper back to Biagini, who looked home before throwing to first. That hesitation was long enough for Didi to beat it out, giving the Yankees a 7-6 lead. Hicks stretched the lead to 8-6 with a bases loaded walk. The strike zone plot of the Hicks walk, via Brooks Baseball:

aaron-hicks-walk

Yep, the strike zone definitely tightened up after Girardi’s ejection. A bloop tied the game, an infield single gave the Yankees the lead, and a bases loaded walk plated an insurance run. That had to be the most annoying game-losing rally to watch as a Blue Jays fan. I, personally, loved it.

The Unsung Heroes
Big ups to the bullpen. The Yankees have an off-day Thursday, so Girardi didn’t have to hold back. Warren replaced Sabathia in that fifth inning and escaped the two-on, no-out jam with a fly ball, a strikeout, and a ground ball. Usually you’d expect Warren to remain in the game in that situation, but he was warming up alongside Sabathia since the second inning. He wasted a lot of bullets in the bullpen, hence only one inning of work.

Tyler Clippard got five outs — he put two on with one out in the sixth, then escaped in part by blowing a fastball by Bautista — before giving way to Dellin Betances, who got four outs. Aroldis Chapman closed it out in the ninth and ended the game in the best way possible: by striking out Martin twice. Martin swung and missed at a pitch that hit him, but the umpires incorrectly ruled it a foul ball and the at-bat continued. Chapman struck him out again anyway. Perfect.

All told the four relievers combined to allow one hit and one walk (both by Clippard) in five scoreless innings of work. They struck out six. Great, great work by the bullpen. They held the Blue Jays down and gave the offense a chance to get back in the game. Sabathia needed a pick-me-up after that four-run first inning and he got it from the bullpen and the offense. What a satisfying win.

(Rich Schultz/Getty)
(Rich Schultz/Getty)

Leftovers
Judge went 3-for-5 with the home run and is now hitting .330/.433/.818 (240 wRC+). That’ll do, kid. The Yankees are a perfect 11-0 when Judge homers this year, and he’s also the youngest player in baseball history to hit 13 home runs in his team’s first 26 games. If you’ve read RAB long enough, you know I’ve been a Judge believer for a long time. Never in a million years did I expect this.

As for the rest of the offense, Gardner had two hits and two walks to raise his season batting line to .247/.354/.435 (124 wRC+). Remember when everyone wanted to put him on a rocket to the sun? Good times. Hicks drew three walks and is up to .288/.433/.615 (190 wRC+) on the year. Castro had two hits and it dropped his batting line from .360/.402/.550 (169 wRC+) to .362/.402/.543 (167 wRC+). Love this offense. It’s fun to know they’re never truly out of a game.

The Yankees showed some emotion in this one! Girardi got ejected, Sabathia let out a roar after striking out Bautista to end the fourth inning, and Gardner went all Paul O’Neill on a trash can after striking out looking on one of Welke’s borderline strikes in the seventh inning. The Yankees can be pretty uptight at times. It’s good to see some emotion every once in a while.

And finally, with Gary Sanchez expected to come off the disabled list Friday, this game was Higashioka’s last chance to get his first MLB hit before being sent down to Triple-A. He went 0-for-3 with a walk, two strikeouts, and a tough luck line drive at the third baseman. Keep your chin up, Higgy. You’ll get the first big league knock soon.

Box Score, WPA Graph & Standings
For the box score and updated standings, go to ESPN. MLB.com has the video highlights. We have a Bullpen Workload page, which you may or may not find useful. Here’s the comeback probability graph:


Source: FanGraphs

Up Next
An off-day and a six-game five-game road trip through Chicago and Cincinnati. The Yankees will get a breather Thursday before opening their weekend series with the defending World Series champion Cubs — it will never not be weird typing that — on Friday afternoon. That’s a 2:20pm ET start because that’s how they roll at Wrigley Field. Gonna be kinda cool to see Starlin back at his old stomping grounds. Michael Pineda and Kyle Hendricks are Friday’s scheduled starters.

DotF: Sanchez continues rehab; Culver homers twice, Frazier once in Scranton’s blowout win

A few roster moves, per Matt Kardos and Nick Flammia: IF Abi Avelino was bumped up from Double-A Trenton to Triple-A Scranton, IF Vince Conde was moved up from High-A Tampa to Trenton, and RHP Zack Littell rejoined Tampa from Extended Spring Training. That’s all one big chain reaction to Rob Refsnyder getting called up.

Triple-A Scranton (13-0 win over Lehigh Valley)

  • SS Tyler Wade: 0-5, 1 BB, 1 K
  • C Gary Sanchez: 1-4, 1 K — played seven innings behind the plate again, as scheduled … he’s going to DH tomorrow, and if all goes well, the expectation is he’ll join the Yankees in Chicago for Friday’s series opener against the Cubs
  • LF Dustin Fowler: 2-6, 1 R, 1 K
  • RF Clint Frazier: 2-4, 3 R, 1 2B, 1 HR, 2 RBI, 2 BB, 2 K — 11-for-39 (.282) with three doubles and three homers in his last ten games, so he’s starting to come around
  • CF Mason Williams: 3-5, 2 R, 2 RBI, 1 SB — 10-for-28 (.357) in his last eight games
  • 1B Cito Culver: 2-3, 3 , 2 HR, 3 RBI, 2 BB, 1 K — he has five homers in his last seven games, including two two-homer games … he hit four homers in 117 total games last year
  • LHP Daniel Camarena: 6 IP, 3 H, 0 R, 0 ER, 2 BB, 5 K, 1 HB, 4/4 GB/FB — 58 of 100 pitches were strikes … 1.91 ERA and a 23/4 K/BB  in 28.1 total innings this year
  • LHP Tyler Webb: 2 IP, 1 H, 0 R, 0 ER, 0 BB, 3 K, 3/0 GB/FB — 20 of 27 pitches were strikes (75%)

[Read more…]

Game 26: Just Keep Winning Series

(Elsa/Getty)
(Elsa/Getty)

Know what I love about the 2017 Yankees? Besides almost everything? They don’t take losing lightly. The Yankees are in the middle of a 15-5 stretch, and following three of those losses, they won the next game by at least six runs. They come back the next day and take out all their frustration on the other team. That’s what happened last night.

Tonight’s rubber game against the Blue Jays is an important game for the “just keep winning series” crowd, of which I am an active member. There’s an off-day tomorrow, so Joe Girardi can be aggressive with his bullpen usage tonight. Win the series, enjoy the off-day, then hit the road. Sounds like a good plan to me. Here is the Blue Jays’ lineup and here is the Yankees’ lineup:

  1. LF Brett Gardner
  2. CF Aaron Hicks
  3. DH Matt Holliday
  4. 2B Starlin Castro
  5. RF Aaron Judge
  6. 3B Chase Headley
  7. 1B Chris Carter
  8. SS Ronald Torreyes
  9. C Kyle Higashioka
    LHP CC Sabathia

Just a gorgeous day in New York today. One of those skip work and go play outside days. It’s clear and cool tonight, and not nearly as windy as last night. I don’t think we’re going to see any pop-ups get blown over the wall in this one. Tonight’s game will begin at 7:05pm ET and you can watch on YES locally and ESPN nationally. Enjoy the game.

Awards!: Earlier today Judge was named the AL Rookie of the Month. Pretty cool. The big guy hit .303/.411/.750 (216 wRC+) with ten home runs in April. Judge is the first Yankee to win AL Rookie of the Month since … Gary Sanchez last August. Duh.

Early Returns on Some Former Yankees

(Jason Miller/Getty)
(Jason Miller/Getty)

One of the most frequently asked questions early in the season revolves around former Yankees. There is some measure of comfort to be had from seeing an ex-Yankee struggle in another team’s uniform, while there is an equally bothersome annoyance when those players perform well. We want to know that the Yankees made the right decision in either trading the player or letting him walk; or, at the very least, that they received back more than they sent away. The pratfalls of small sample sizes are well-known, but it is never too early to check-in on these players.

For today’s post, I’m going with any players that have been moved since the Yankees waved the white flag last season. If you would like to see any players added to this list going forward, let us know in the comments.

Johnny Barbato, Pirates – 3.2 IP, 2 H, 2 BB, 1 K, 2.45 ERA, 4.11 FIP

The Yankees dealt Barbato to the Pirates two weeks ago, and received … basically nothing in return. This came on the heels of him being designated for assignment to make room for Jordan Montgomery, and there are still plenty of shuttle arms sitting at Triple-A, so it wasn’t surprising to see him moved.

Carlos Beltran, Astros – .250/.287/.354, 10 R, 2 HR, 8 RBI, 0 SB, 81 wRC+ (101 PA)

Beltran has spent most of his time at designated hitter this season, which is unquestionably his best position nowadays. He has made five starts in left, though, as a means to get Evan Gattis’ bat into the lineup at DH. The Astros will live with his defense in left, though, as that means that they have one of the the best hitting lineups in baseball for that particular game.

Ben Gamel, Mariners – .227/.346/.409, 4 R, 1 HR, 3 RBI, 0 SB, 120 wRC+ (27 PA)

An injury to Mitch Haniger opened the door for Gamel to play everyday, and he has made the most of it thus far. Haniger isn’t slated to return until the end of the month, so this is probably the best opportunity that Gamel has had to demonstrate his worth at the big league level to date.

Nick Goody, Indians – 9.0 IP, 2 H, 3 BB, 9 K, 0.00 ERA, 2.34 FIP

Terry Francona has utilized Goody as a right-handed specialist this year, and it has worked wonders thus far. He was particularly good on Sunday, when he entered the game with the bases loaded and nobody out, and escaped the inning without allowing a run by picking up a swinging strikeout and inducing a double play.

Brian McCann, Astros – .278/.369/.417, 10 R, 3 HR, 13 RBI, 0 SB, 122 wRC+ (84 PA)

The Astros are making a serious effort to keep McCann healthy and rested, as the 33-year-old catcher has already sat for six games (though, having Gattis’ bat on the bench helps that decision along), and started at DH once. He has rewarded them with a strong start to the season, which includes a dramatically sliced strikeout rate (from 20.1% last year to 12.5% this year) and an improved walk rate (up 2.8 percentage points).

Andrew Miller, Indians – 11.2 IP, 7 H, 4 BB, 16 K, 0.00 ERA, 1.55 FIP

Miller was dominant throughout his second-half with the Indians last season, including a magnificent 2016 postseason (1.40 ERA and 41.1 K% in 19.1 IP). He has continued his brilliance in 2017, as Francona continues to utilize him as a ‘bullpen ace’ instead of a traditional closer. It’s difficult to quibble with the return (Clint Frazier, Justus Sheffield, and more), but I miss Miller more than anyone else on this list – and it isn’t particularly close.

Ivan Nova, Pirates – 36.0 IP, 26 H, 1 BB, 22 K, 1.50 ERA, 2.69 FIP

Nova has walked 4 batters in 100.2 IP with the Pirates. Over that time, 247 pitchers have thrown at least 30 IP, and only Roberto Osuna and Dan Otero have walked fewer batters at three apiece. Those two have combined to throw 67.2 IP in that stretch. Among pitchers with 80 IP or more, only Carlos Carrasco is within 10 walks of Nova (he has walked 13 batters in 86.1 IP).

Blake Parker, Angels – 12.1 IP, 9 H, 4 BB, 21 K, 2.19 ERA, 0.58 FIP

Parker is currently second among relievers in WAR, tied with Kenley Jansen and Chris Devenski. It’s only May 3, and it’s obviously unsustainable – but it’s intriguing nonetheless. Angels fans are already discussing how good Parker was before injuries set-in in 2014 (he had a 143 ERA+ and 10.7 K/9 in 46.1 IP in 2013), and he was better with the Yankees than his final numbers indicate, thanks to a 0.1 IP, 4 ER affair on September 23.

James Pazos, Mariners – 12.0 IP, 10 H, 6 BB, 14 K, 3.00 ERA, 2.42 FIP

The Yankees viewed Pazos as a lefty specialist, and understandably so as he’s strictly a fastball/slider guy. The Mariners have used him as a traditional middle reliever, though, and the results of been quite good so far. It is worth noting that righties are hitting .290 against Pazos, so a correction may be forthcoming.

Anthony Swarzak, White Sox – 13.1 IP, 3 H, 1 BB, 15 K, 0.00 ERA, 0.98 FIP

Would it be wrong to give the Yankees some semblance of credit for Goody, Parker, Pazos, and Swarzak all pitching so well in 2017? After all, they were members of the team’s Scranton/Wilkes-Barre shuttle last year; that may be a bit unfair, considering that they have been far better away from the pinstripes. Swarzak is also one of three former Yankees (Tommy Kahnle and David Robertson are the others) pitching quite well out of the White Sox bullpen this year.

Luis Torrens, Padres – .083/.154/.083, 0 R, 0 HR, 1 RBI, 0 SB, -28 wRC+ (13 PA)

The 21-year-old Torrens was selected by the Padres in the Rule 5 Draft, and the expectation was that he’d be returned to the Yankees by the end of Spring Training. After all, he had played exactly zero games above Single-A, and there was no indication that he would be ready to play at the highest-level. That didn’t happen, though, and Torrens is riding the Padres bench as the team’s third-string catcher. Whether this helps or hurts his development is an interesting question, as Torrens was (or is) a solid catching prospect.

Kirby Yates, Padres – 2.1 IP, 3 H, 1 BB, 1 K, 7.71 ERA, 14.59 FIP

The Padres are Yates’ second organization of the young season, as he was waived by the Angels after just one appearance. In defense of the Angels, it was an awful appearance – he allowed a two-run home run to Kevin Pillar (which plated an inherited runner) and a solo shot to Justin Smoak, with two additional Blue Jays taking him to the warning track.