Nova’s return coming at just the right time for the Yanks


Nothing is set in stone yet, but all signs point to Ivan Nova rejoining the Yankees after making his second minor league rehab start with Triple-A Scranton later today. The Yankees do need to see how he feels after that start, how his arm bounces back, all that stuff, but so far his rehab has gone very well and by all indications Nova will be activated off the DL very soon.

“We’re pretty encouraged with where he’s at right now. The sink on his fastball, his changeup, his curveball, we’re pretty encouraged. I didn’t say he would be ready after (today). I said we would evaluate him,’’ said Joe Girardi to George King earlier this week. “I think you evaluate where he is after each start, how built up he is. He should be able to give you 90 pitches the next time, 85 to 90 pitches, and then you just look at his stuff.”

Fitting Nova back onto the roster is one of those problems that isn’t a problem because there’s no such thing as too much pitching. The Yankees don’t have an obvious candidate to take out of the rotation because the five guys in the rotation have been pretty good for a few weeks now. The easy move would be sticking Adam Warren back in the bullpen, especially now that Andrew Miller is on the DL, but man, he’s been so good as a starter of late. I’d hate to see them pull the plug on Warren in the rotation when he’s pitching so well.

There’s also the six-man rotation option, which the Yankees have been talking about since before Spring Training and might now have the necessary pieces to pull it off. We weren’t even sure if they had five viable starters back in March. Remember that? Four of their five starters have been league average-ish or better and the fifth has a massive contract that ensures he’ll remain in the rotation until his arm falls off. Like it or not, CC Sabathia is not losing his rotation spot to Nova.

The Yankees started a stretch of 20 games in 20 days yesterday, and they’ve already skipped Michael Pineda once this season to control his innings. Warren’s innings have to be monitored as well and, as good as he’s been, the Yankees still have to be careful with Masahiro Tanaka. Giving him an extra day whenever possible is a good idea, and now the Yankees can possibly do that thanks to Nova’s return.

“We know that we’re going to need to insert a starter somewhere. We know that,” said Girardi to Chad Jennings earlier this week when asked about using a sixth starter to give the other starters extra rest during this stretch of 20 games in 20 days. “Do you do it twice? Maybe. Maybe we have to do it twice. We just have to see how the guys are doing and how they’re responding.”

Assuming Nova comes back well and a six-man rotation is a viable strategy during this stretch of games, the only concern would be making it work with the roster. The Yankees aren’t going to shed a reliever and use a six-man bullpen, everything they’ve done over the last few years shows they prefer having extra arms, which means a three-man bench. A backup catcher (John Ryan Murphy), a backup infielder (Brendan Ryan), and a backup outfielder (Garrett Jones or Mason Williams).

Williams has minor league options, Jones doesn’t, and that’s pretty much the deciding factor there. The Yankees don’t figure to cut Jones for Williams no matter how well Williams performs in the next week or so before Nova returns. Jones has started hitting of late after that brutal April. A three-man bench is less than ideal, though it might only be temporary until the Yankees get through these next 20 days.

“We just know we have a number of different guys that we’ve got to find ways to protect,” said Brian Cashman to Maria Guardado. “There’s other avenues to do it. If everybody’s healthy, you could always play with a six-man rotation, if Nova’s back and everyone’s in line. But we’re just trying to find ways to manage it properly so everybody keeps that full tank of gas and doesn’t have fatigue set in too easily, because when fatigue sets in, injuries can happen.”

Either way, Nova’s return is imminent and that’s a positive. The Yankees have some workloads to control this year and having him around to chew up innings will come in handy. And if the Yankees do stick Warren in the bullpen to replace Miller, as unfair as that would be, they have Nova ready to step in to the rotation spot. The rotation hasn’t been a weakness, but Nova’s return comes at a very convenient time for the Yankees. He gives them some options going forward, including a six-man rotation.

“There’s no strict plan as much as find ways at times to give people blows is basically what we’re going to try to do,” added Cashman. “But how we’re going to do it, we’re not sure just yet.”

O’s rough up Big Mike, bury Yankees 11-3 in series opener

Source: FanGraphs

Remember when the Yankees had the bases loaded with no outs in the first inning? That was fun. Then they scored zero runs and that was less fun. The Yankees couldn’t get out of their own way in Friday night’s series opening 11-3 beatdown by the Orioles. Oy vey. It’s Friday night, so let’s recap with bullpen points:

  • Well-Rested: Somewhat predictably, Michael Pineda‘s command was a big issue in his first start in eleven days. He walked the first batter of the game, struggled to throw strikes all night, and couldn’t get his slider to behave like he wanted. The result: six runs (five earned) on nine hits and two walks in 4.1 innings. No, his defense didn’t help him much, but Big Mike was giving up loud contact all night. He was not sharp at all. Lose the battle, win the war. The Yankees have to watch Pineda’s workload this year.
  • Mason Arrives: On the bright side, Mason Williams made his MLB debut in style, clubbing a no-doubt two-run home run in his second at-bat. Here’s the homer and here’s his mom talking about it. Williams was then lifted for a pinch-hitter in his next at-bat because platoon splits rule everything around me. Alex Rodriguez and Mark Teixeira each had two hits, which was cool, but the Yankees went 2-for-12 with runners in scoring position, which is less cool. They left the bases loaded twice.
  • Offensive Defense: The Yankees have not played up to expectations defensively this season and this might have been their worst game yet. They were charged with only two errors (Chase Headley and Teixeira) but it could have easily been more. Brett Gardner and Carlos Beltran let a ball fall between, Beltran again came up short on a foul pop-up, Williams misread a line drive and let it sail over his head, Brendan Ryan muffed a ground ball, Teixeira couldn’t get the ball out of his glove to complete a 3-1 put out … it was ugly.
  • Leftovers: Headley was charged with his career-high 14th error and left the game feeling nauseous after taking a ball to the groin. No joke … Teixeira’s error was his first in 109 games … Jacob Lindgren allowed his third homer in seven big league innings after allowing none in his minor league career … Esmil Rogers allowed four runs (one earned) and was dropped from the 40-man roster after the game … A-Rod is now six hits away from 3,000 … did I mention the Yankees had the bases with no outs in the first and didn’t score?

Here are the box score, video highlights, updated standings, Bullpen Workload page, and Announcer Standings page. CC Sabathia and Bud Norris will be the pitching matchup in the second game of the series Saturday night.

DotF: Refsnyder goes deep, benches clear in Scranton’s win

The Yankees have signed UMass Lowell OF/RHP Geoff DeGroot as an undrafted free agent, according to Justin Soderberg. DeGroot both pitched and played the outfield in college, but I don’t know what he’ll do as a pro. He hit 274/.369/.319 this spring and had a 4.74 ERA with a 22/10 K/BB in 47.1 innings.

Also, UTIL Jonathan Galvez was released from the Triple-A Scranton roster, according to Chad Jennings. IF Ali Castillo was called up from Double-A Trenton to fill the roster spot.

Triple-A Scranton (13-3 win over Rochester)

  • CF Ben Gamel: 2-4, 2 R, 1 RBI, 1 BB — threw a runner out at second
  • LF Jose Pirela: 3-4, 3 R, 1 2B, 1 RBI, 1 K
  • DH Rob Refsnyder: 4-5, 2 R, 1 2B, 1 HR, 4 RBI, 1 K — second homer in his last six games after hitting two homers in his first 50 games
  • C Austin Romine: 0-0, 1 HBP — left the game after taking a pitch to the head in the first inning … the benches cleared after that
  • RF Ramon Flores: 1-5, 1 R, 1 2B, 1 RBI, 1 K
  • LHP Jose DePaula: 5.2 IP, 7 H, 2 R, 2 ER, 1 BB, 2 K, 1 HB, 6/6 GB/FB — 51 of 77 pitches were strikes (66%)
  • RHP Nick Rumbelow: 1 IP, zeroes, 2/1 GB/FB — half of his 12 pitches were strikes … he and manager Dave Miley were ejected for an unknown reason

[Read more…]

Yankees outright Esmil Rogers off 40-man roster


10:58pm: Chad Jennings says Rogers has already cleared waivers, which means the move has been in the works for a while. It’s now up to Esmil whether he wants to report to Triple-A or elect free agency.

10:48pm: Following tonight’s game, the Yankees outrighted Esmil Rogers off the 40-man roster, the team announced. Joe Girardi said they’re hopeful he will clear waivers and accept the assignment to Triple-A Scranton so he can work on some things and stay with the organization.

Rogers, 29, has a 6.27 ERA (4.65 FIP) in 33 innings this season. He allowed four runs (one earned) in two innings tonight, though, to be fair, his defense didn’t help him out much. Still, just two of Esmil’s last eleven appearances have been scoreless. Two of eleven! That’s bad.

Chris Capuano will take over as the long man now, I assume. Prior to tonight’s game we heard the recently acquired Sergio Santos was a candidate to be added to the roster this weekend, and I guess he’ll join the team and replace Rogers tomorrow.

Update: Chase Headley leaves game with groin injury

10:42pm: Headley left the game because he felt nauseous after the shot the groin, Joe Girardi told reporters. Yup. He’s day-to-day.

8:47pm: Chase Headley left tonight’s game with an injury, apparently. Headley whiffed while attempting to field a ground ball in the third inning and the ball hit him right in the biscuits, though he did stay in to complete that inning plus one more after that. The Yankees haven’t provided any sort of update yet.

The Yankees do not have a backup third baseman, so losing Headley would be really bad, errors or no errors. Alex Rodriguez is the full-time DH now, which means either Brendan Ryan, Gregorio Petit, Jose Pirela, or mostly likely Stephen Drew would get the nod at third if Headley has to miss any time. Hopefully not.

Game 60: Big Mike in Baltimore


Following a ten-day hiatus, Big Mike returns to the mound tonight in Baltimore. The Yankees took advantage of their recent off-days by skipping Michael Pineda‘s last start in an effort to control his workload. He’s already thrown 70.1 innings this season, just six fewer than last year. Pineda threw only 124.2 innings from 2012-14 due to his shoulder surgery, and in his only full MLB season in 2011, he topped out at 171 innings. The Yankees have to do what they can to keep him healthy.

The seven-game winning streak was snapped on Wednesday, but the Yankees have still won eleven of their last 15 games overall, which is awesome. It’s easy to forget how the club rallied from behind Wednesday before two of the last three relievers in the bullpen gave the game away in the late innings. The Yankees are playing pretty well right now. This should be a fun road series against the also hot Orioles. Here is Baltimore’s lineup and here is New York’s lineup:

  1. LF Brett Gardner
  2. 3B Chase Headley
  3. DH Alex Rodriguez
  4. 1B Mark Teixeira
  5. C Brian McCann
  6. RF Carlos Beltran
  7. SS Didi Gregorius
  8. 2B Stephen Drew
  9. CF Mason Williams
    RHP Michael Pineda

It has been crazy hot in Baltimore all day. There is some rain in the forecast tonight, nothing too heavy, but it is expected to arrive a little before first pitch. I suppose that means this game may start in a short delay. We’ll see. Tonight’s game will begin at 7:05pm ET and can be seen on YES. Enjoy.

Roster Move: Gregorio Petit (hand) was activated off the 15-day DL and optioned to Triple-A Scranton, the Yankees announced. That was expected … Marly Rivera says the recently signed Sergio Santos is in Baltimore and may be activated this weekend. That is unexpected.

Injury Updates: Jacoby Ellsbury (knee) ran again today and continues to progress. He will join the team on their trip to Miami this coming week, then stay behind in Tampa to continue his rehab.

6/12 to 6/14 Series Preview: Baltimore Orioles


The Yankees start their annual stretch of 20 games in 20 days — every team does the 20-in-20 thing once a year — this evening at Camden Yards. They’re in Baltimore to start a three-game weekend series with the Orioles. The O’s took two of three from the Yankees at Camden Yards in April while the Yankees took three of four from the Orioles at Yankee Stadium in May.

What Have The O’s Done Lately?

The Orioles just swept the Red Sox and have won four straight games and six of their last seven, so they’re on a hot streak. Baltimore is 29-30 with a +4 run differential overall, good for fourth place in the AL East. They’re four games back of the Yankees, who have a two-game division lead over the second place Rays.

Offense & Defense

With an average of 4.10 runs per game and a team 98 wRC+, manager Buck Showalter has basically an average MLB offense at his disposal. They do hit a fair amount of home runs (65, seventh most in MLB) but struggle to get on base (.308, tenth worst). Their only injured position player is Yankees killer IF Jonathan Schoop, who will miss another month or so with a knee injury. Hard to believe the Yankees are catching a break when a guy with a career 72 wRC+ will miss the series. Schoop straight up kills them.

Davis. (Presswire)
Davis. (Presswire)

As always, Baltimore’s lineup is anchored by OF Adam Jones (141 wRC+), who is simply one of the best players in the game. Yeah, he never walks (4.6%), but he does everything else. Such a good player. UTIL Jimmy Paredes (120 wRC+) has predictably cooled down following his insane start, though 3B Manny Machado (121 wRC+) and 1B Chris Davis (113 wRC+) have been productive all year. Davis will strike out a ton (33.2%), but, if you make a mistake, he’s going to flick his wrists and hit it a mile. Unreal power.

SS J.J. Hardy (38 wRC+), OF Travis Snider (93 wRC+), OF Delmon Young (90 wRC+), and 2B Ryan Flaherty (119 wRC+) are playing every day — yes, Young is the everyday right fielder now — while UTIL Steve Pearce (75 wRC+) has had his playing time scaled back because he isn’t hitting. C Matt Wieters (135 wRC+ in very limited time) recently returned from Tommy John surgery and has played a handful of games. C Caleb Joseph (90 wRC+), OF Nolan Reimold (228 wRC+ in very limited time), and OF David Lough (50 wRC+) are the other bench players.

The Orioles are solid defensively, probably not as good as their reputation, but still solid overall. Jones, Hardy, Machado, and Wieters are studs while Young is a total disaster. Flaherty, Davis, and Snider are fine. Not great, not terrible. This will be a good series for all those left-handed pull hitters the Yankees have. Hit it to Delmon.

Pitching Matchups

Friday: RHP Michael Pineda (Career vs. BAL) vs. RHP Ubaldo Jimenez (Career vs. NYY)
The 31-year-old Jimenez has turned things around from last season and is having a good year in 2015, though with Ubaldo you never really know when the other shoe will drop. He is the most unpredictable pitcher in baseball. Jimenez has a 3.03 ERA (3.38 FIP) in eleven starts and 62.2 innings with average-ish strikeout (22.9%), walk (8.4%), ground ball (49.1%), and home run (0.72 HR/9) rates. Lefties (.301 wOBA) have had a little more success against him than righties (.286 wOBA). These days Ubaldo sits right around 90 mph with his four-seamer and a touch below that with a two-seamer. A mid-80s splitter is his go-to offspeed pitch, and he’ll also throw some low-80s sliders per start. It’s not the same power stuff he had with the Rockies back in the day. That Yankees haven’t seen Jimenez yet this year. Also, Pineda will be making his first start in almost two weeks after having his last turn skipped to control his workload.

Saturday: LHP CC Sabathia (Career vs. BAL) vs. RHP Bud Norris (Career vs. NYY)
Norris, 30, missed about a month with bronchitis recently, and this will be his second start off the DL. He’s been dreadful this year, pitching to an 8.63 ERA (4.84 FIP) in seven starts and 32.1 innings. The peripherals aren’t all that good (16.6 K%, 9.1 BB%, 39.6 GB%, 1.11 HR/9) and lefties (.459 wOBA) have absolutely crushed him. Righties have a more respectable .311 wOBA. Norris is basically a two-pitch pitcher, using his low-to-mid-90s fastball and mid-80s slider about 95% of the time combined. He’ll show a changeup on rare occasions. The Yankees have seen Norris twice this season, scoring three runs in five innings in early-April and then four runs in 3.1 innings early-May.

Wright. (Presswire)
Wright. (Presswire)

Sunday: RHP Adam Warren (Career vs. BAL) vs. TBA
This start is expected to go to righty Mike Wright, unless he’s needed out of the bullpen tonight, in which case the O’s would change plans for Sunday. Wright, a 25-year-old rookie, filled in when Norris was out, and Miguel Gonzalez’s recent groin strain means he’ll stick around a little longer. Wright has a 2.96 ERA (4.67 FIP) in four starts and 24.1 innings, and in those four starts he hasn’t struck anyone out (16.5%), hasn’t walk anyone (4.1%), hasn’t gotten many ground balls (43.2%), and has given up a bunch of homers (1.48 HR/9). Wright has had major problems with lefties (.372 wOBA) but no issues with righties (.213 wOBA) in his limited time as a big leaguer. He’s a mid-90s fastball guy and he throws his four-seamer a lot, almost 70% of the time. Mid-80s sliders, low-80s changeups, and upper-70s curves round out his repertoire, though none of them are out pitches. “He doesn’t have a put-away pitch or the stuff to elevate as a starter,” wrote Baseball America (subs. req’d) when they ranked Wright as Baltimore’s eighth best prospect before the season.

The Yankees, meanwhile, rearranged their rotation ever so slightly this weekend. They flipped Sabathia and Warren to give Warren an extra day of rest. He’ll be on seven day’s rest Sunday thanks to the off-days this week. Warren has already thrown 64.1 innings this season after throwing 78.2 innings last year and 74 innings the year before that. His career high is 155 innings back in 2012. The Yankees not only want to make sure Warren stays healthy, but also make sure he doesn’t run out of gas in August and September.

Bullpen Status
The O’s have typically had a strong bullpen during the Showalter era, but that isn’t so much the case this year. The ‘pen has a collective 3.12 ERA (3.64 FIP) this season, which is good, but is closer to middle of the pack than the league’s best. Closer LHP Zach Britton (1.51 FIP) and setup man RHP Darren O’Day (3.15 FIP) are Showalter’s horses. They’re his moment of truth relievers. RHP Tommy Hunter (3.11 FIP) will also see some high-leverage spots but not as many as in the past. Britton pitched yesterday and got five outs two days before that.

RHP Brad Brach (3.04 FIP), LHP T.J. MacFarland (4.43 FIP), and ex-Yankees RHP Chaz Roe (2.95 FIP) make up the rest of the six-man bullpen, though Wright will be available in relief if necessary tonight. I’m not sure how long the six-man bullpen this will last, but it looks like that’s the plan through the weekend, barring something crazy that forces the O’s to call up an extra arm. Joe Girardi‘s bullpen is as fresh as can be thanks to yesterday’s off-day. Check out our Bullpen Workload page and then check out Camden Chat for everything you need to know about the Orioles.