D.C. chilled: Yankees suffer first walk-off loss of the season, 8-6

Well, eventually one of those guys was going to give up a run. Ryan Zimmerman hit an opposite-field walk-off homer against Andrew Miller in the 10th inning to deliver a crushing 8-6 loss to New York. What’s even worse is that the Yankees had a 6-2 lead going into bottom of the fifth and they failed to hold it. A win against one of the hottest teams in baseball would have been huge for the Yankees. Instead, they now have dropped six of the last seven.

Please don’t be Nathan Burnett (Source: Getty)

Nate “Eh”valdi

He’s a young guy and he has makings of being a better pitcher. Tonight, he once proved again that he can please and be infuriating in a same outing.

In the first inning, Nathan Eovaldi allowed two bombs – one to Ian Desmond and another to Bryce “overrated” Harper. For both pitches, however, it wasn’t like Eovaldi served up an absolute meatball – Desmond’s homer came from a veering fastball on the lower outside corner and Harper lifted a low slider that somehow carried out of the right center wall. What power that 22-year old has.

But after that, Eovaldi seemed to have settled in. From second to fourth inning, the righty allowed only one baserunner – a walk to Harper – and struck out four. That was probably three of the best innings from Eovaldi we’ve seen this season.

In the fifth inning, however, the Nats’ bat barraged Eovaldi with four consecutive hits that scored three runs. The 6-2 Yankee lead became a 6-5 lead, and Joe Girardi pulled him out as Harper came up to bat. See, this was just like watching the eighth inning Nate’s previous start – cruising along only to allow baserunners bit by bit. It’s annoying, especially considering the velocity he has.

Same (Source: Getty)

All good things must end
We are definitely used to seeing Miller and Dellin Betances throw scoreless frames. In fact, that’s literally all they had done so far this season. With the game tied at 6 in the eighth inning, Betances came in and threw two scoreless innings – striking out three, walking one and allowing zero hits.

Girardi turned to Miller to pitch the tenth inning. When he came in, a lot of eyes turned to the eventual Miller vs. Harper battle, a matchup of two of the hottest performers in baseball. With runner on first, Miller struck out Harper after going into a full count. Because Miller was being Miller and the biggest offensive threat was out of the way, I assumed that Yankees would get out of the inning unscathed…

…then Ryan Zimmerman happened. The Nats first baseman hit the outside fastball on the screws and the flyball hit the right field foul pole for a walk-off homer. Miller finally has an ERA – 0.98 – and quite frankly, it’s a bit disheartening to see that. Let’s hope Dellin’s stretch goes quite further.

Let’s talk about Carpenter

I was quite excited when Yankees turned Manny Banuelos into David Carpenter in the offseason. The righty was one of the best eighth inning guys for the playoff-bound Braves in 2013 and had a good 2014 season. In 2015, as a Yankee, Carpenter has just not been good. After allowing a game-tying homer to Wilson Ramos tonight in the sixth inning, he has a 5.28 ERA with a 5.56 FIP. That’s pretty bad, especially for someone who was seen as the seventh inning guy in the offseason. That was probably the spot Chris Martin would have pitched had he not gone down with an injury. Martin is by no means a thoroughly reliable reliever but he does have a 3.55 ERA and a stellar 2.04 FIP.

But then again, I was hoping that Carpenter would figure things out sooner or later – and I still do feel that. But with the team in a 1-6 funk, the last thing the Yanks needed was blowing a close lead against a very good and hot team. Urgh.

Leftovers

Mark Teixeira is one of the players that shaved off the mustache prior to tonight’s game but that did not affect his bat at all. He went 2-for-3 with a two-run homer and two walks. His line has bumped up to .258/.380/.602, good for a 161 wRC+. Hoo man. Imagine if his wrist still hasn’t healed.

Losing Jacoby Ellsbury hurts. He had a 126 wRC+ coming into tonight’s game with the team-best 1.3 fWAR. The team is not doing well and one of the last things Yankees needed was losing their speedy leadoff man. Here’s to hoping that Heathcott can do a decent job patching up the lost production. That would be awesome. Get well soon, Jacoby.

Stephen Drew had a rare multi-hit game. He went 2-for-4 and hit a go-ahead 2-run single in the fourth inning. I feel like every time Drew has a performance like this, Rob Refsnyder‘s ML debut gets delayed by… I dunno, two or three weeks or so.

Box Score, WPA, Standing

As always, here’s the box score, WPA and updated standings. Yankees are still in the first place but they share the spot with the Rays now.


Source: FanGraphs


Tomorrow, the Yankees will face off the Nationals again in Washington. RHP Adam Parish Warren will be on the hill. If he can repeat the 7-inning 3ER performance from the previous start against the Rays, that would be dandy – provided that the offense can score more than three, of course. Also, I will be at the game. It will be my last night as a college student. Time to live it up.

DotF: Sanchez homers again in Trenton’s loss

Got some news and notes to pass along.

  • RHP Luis Severino is expected to come off the DL and start for Double-A Trenton on Thursday, according to Nick Peruffo. Severino missed a week and a half with a blister. It’ll be Severino vs. Orioles RHP Dylan Bundy on Thursday.
  • OF Aaron Judge is day-to-day with upper leg tightness, says Peruffo. Judge didn’t play Sunday, Double-A Trenton was off Monday, and he was out of the lineup again today. Peruffo says he is with the team and did take batting practice today, so it can’t be that big a deal. Blame the Prospect Watch curse.
  • 3B Eric Jagielo was scratched from tonight’s Double-a Trenton lineup just a few minutes before first pitch for an unknown reason, according to Matt Kardos. Weird. He wasn’t even on the field for the National Anthem before the game. Blame last year’s Prospect Watch curse. Update: Jagielo was scratched because his blood-sugar level was high, says Kardos.

Triple-A Scranton (5-4 loss to Charlotte)

  • LF Ramon Flores: 0-4, 1 R, 1 BB, 1 K — threw a runner out at the plate
  • 2B Rob Refsnyder: 2-4, 1 R, 1 BB, 1 K — on-base streak is up to 21 games
  • DH Kyle Roller: 0-4, 1 BB, 3 K
  • RF Tyler Austin: 2-4, 1 R, 1 HR, 4 RBI, 1 K — second homer of the year and his first since the fourth game of the year
  • C Austin Romine: 2-4, 1 K
  • LHP Matt Tracy: 4.1 IP, 9 H, 5 R, 5 ER, 3 BB, 4 K, 3/4 GB/FB — 53 of 94 pitches were strikes (56%)
  • RHP Danny Burawa: 1.2 IP, 2 H, 0 R, 0 ER, 1 BB, 2 K, 1/1 GB/FB — 16 of 29 pitches were strikes (55%)
  • RHP Jose Ramirez: 3 IP, 2 H, 0 R, 0 ER, 1 BB, 3 K, 4/1 GB/FB — 27 of 39 pitches were strikes (69%)

[Read more…]

Update: Yankees place Jacoby Ellsbury on 15-day DL with knee sprain, call up Slade Heathcott

(Presswire)
(Presswire)

11:27pm: It’s official, Ellsbury has been placed on the 15-day DL with what they’re calling a right knee sprain, the Yankees announced. Heathcott will indeed be called up.

11:00pm: Ellsbury will be placed on the 15-day DL, reports Jack Curry. Slade Heathcott will be called up to fill the roster spot. Heathcott is not on the 40-man roster but either Brendan Ryan or Chase Whitley can be slid to the 60-day DL.

10:40pm: Ellsbury is going for an MRI, Joe Girardi told reporters after the game. He said expects Ellsbury to miss some time but not much. Ellsbury has a history of getting injured and staying injured longer than expected, so we’ll see. Obviously a leg injury for a speed guy is bad news.

8:14pm: Jacoby Ellsbury exited tonight’s game against the Nationals in the fourth inning with a right knee injury, the team announced. Ellsbury appeared to hurt himself on a swing, but he stayed in to run the bases. Joe Girardi and trainer Steve Donahue came out to check on him, but Ellsbury remained in the game, scored from second on a single, and was then taken out of the game.

Replays showed Ellsbury pointing to his right leg — near his knee but it was tough to tell on television — while talking to Girardi and Donahue. He took a swing and his knee appeared to buckle a little bit. I didn’t even notice it at first. Ellsbury has had minor leg injuries during his time with the Yankees, including an ankle issue last year and calf problem this spring.

Needless to say, the Yankees can not afford to lose Ellsbury for any length of time. Brett Gardner is more than qualified to step in as the leadoff hitter, but Ellsbury is one of the team’s best hitters, and there’s no replacing that, regardless of lineup spot. His defense and base-running ability can’t be replaced either. Hopefully it’s nothing major.

Game 40: Natitude

(Presswire)
(Presswire)

Coming into the season the Nationals had the best roster in baseball, at least on paper. Then they got off to a slow start (7-13), people called them overrated, and they’ve gone 15-4 since. Turns out they were pretty good the whole time. And, you know, it helps that Bryce Harper has turned into the best hitter on the planet. He’s hit nine homers in his last eleven games and will probably hit another one tonight. That’s just the way it is.

The Yankees have kinda done the opposite of the Nats. No one expected much coming into the season, they got off to a great start (21-12), but have since dropped five of their last six games. The good news is they are still in first place, and while it’s still crazy early, I’d much rather see the Yankees sitting near the top of the AL East right now than wondering how they’ll jump over three or four teams. A win or two against the Nats this week sure would be a nice confidence booster. Here is Washington’s lineup and here is New York’s lineup:

  1. CF Jacoby Ellsbury
  2. LF Brett Gardner
  3. RF Chris Young
  4. 1B Mark Teixeira
  5. C Brian McCann
  6. 3B Chase Headley
  7. 2B Jose Pirela
  8. SS Stephen Drew
  9. RHP Nathan Eovaldi

It’s a little cloudy in Washington but otherwise the weather is fine. First pitch tonight is scheduled for 7:05pm ET and you can watch live on YES locally or MLB Network nationally. Enjoy the game.

Injury Updates: Chase Whitley had his Tommy John surgery as scheduled earlier today. Joe Girardi told reporters his UCL was pretty shredded. “There were only a few fibers left, so he had a few more pitches left,” said the skipper … in case you missed it earlier, Masahiro Tanaka (wrist, forearm) will make his first minor league rehab start with Triple-A Scranton on Thursday.

Update: Tanaka to make first AAA rehab start Thursday

(Brian Blanco/Getty)
(Brian Blanco/Getty)

Tuesday: Tanaka will make his first minor league rehab start with Triple-A Scranton on Thursday, the Yankees announced. The RailRiders will be at home playing Durham (Rays) that night. There’s no word on how many pitches or innings Tanaka is scheduled to throw yet. All of his bullpen sessions have been around 30 pitches, so perhaps he’ll throw three innings and 45 pitches Thursday. We’ll see. Tanaka told reporters he is scheduled to throw 45 pitches Thursday.

Monday: Earlier today, Masahiro Tanaka threw a 29-pitch bullpen session at Nationals Park, the Yankees announced. The Yankees have an off-day today and open a quick little two-game series with the Nats tomorrow. Today’s bullpen session was scheduled and is Tanaka’s third as he works his way back from a wrist and forearm issue.

“We just felt that it would be good for him to throw one more, because he hasn’t thrown in a while. We’ll make sure he’s sharp, then he’ll go down and make a rehab start,” said Joe Girardi to Mark Feinsand over the weekend, following Tanaka’s second bullpen session. Apparently Girardi and pitching coach Larry Rothschild mentioned Thursday as a possible rehab start date if today’s bullpen session went well, which it did by all indications.

Both Triple-A Scranton and Double-A Trenton are home Thursday, making them the likely destinations for the rehab start. Unlike Chris Capuano, who basically had to go through an entire Spring Training, Tanaka only needs a tune-up and could make just one or two rehab starts. Not four or five like Capuano, who was pitching in Extended Spring Training for a few weeks before joining one of the minor league clubs.

“I think you have to see where he’s at and how many pitches he gets to (in the first start). The one thing you don’t want is to have to be in a situation where he can only give you three or four innings,” said Girardi to Feinsand. Obviously the Yankees will play it safe with Tanaka, but everyone has insisted the injury was minor from the start, so his rehab could be quick. The Yankees could use him as soon as possible, that’s for sure.

2015 Draft: James Kaprielian

James Kaprielian | RHP

Miscellany
Kaprielian, 21, was a second or third round talent out of high school in 2012, but he was very strongly committed to UCLA. The Mariners rolled the dice in the 40th round but couldn’t sign him. Kaprielian spent his freshman season in the bullpen (1.55 ERA in 40.2 innings) before moving into the rotation as a sophomore and taking over as the staff ace. He had a 2.29 ERA with a 108/35 K/BB in 106 innings last year and has a 1.94 ERA with a 105/27 K/BB in 92.2 innings so far this year.

Scouting Report
Listed at 6-foot-4 and 200 lbs., Kaprielian was a classic projectable high school pitcher, and he’s developed into basically the opposite of what was expected. Instead of filling out and adding velocity, he’s become a much more well-rounded pitcher with the Bruins, one who throws four pitches for strikes. His fastball sits mostly 89-92 mph and he will show some 94s on occasion. Kaprielian’s best secondary pitch depends on the day – some days it’s his changeup, some days it’s his slider, and other it’s his curveball. The changeup is his most consistent offspeed pitch and he’ll throw it in any count, to both lefties and righties. Kaprielian has a great feel for setting hitters up and his command is better than solid thanks to his ultra-repeatable delivery. He’s as close to a finish product as you’ll find in this draft.

Miscellany
Baseball America, Keith Law (subs. req’d), and MLB.com ranked Kaprielian as the 19th, 27th, and 28th best prospect in the draft class in their latest rankings, respectively. For what it’s worth, Kaprielian has been connected to the Yankees in Baseball America’s first two mock drafts, which makes sense since he’s a Southern California pitcher and scouting director Damon Oppenheimer loves SoCal pitchers. Kaprielian doesn’t offer a ton of upside but he should climb up the minor league ladder in a hurry, and is a safe bet to carve out a career as a workhorse starter, pending good health. The Yankees pick 16th and 30th this year and I don’t think Kaprielian will last long enough to take him with that 30th pick. It’s 16th or bust.

5/19 to 5/20 Series Preview: Washington Nationals

(Greg Fiume/Getty Images)
(Greg Fiume/Getty Images)

Time for another round of interleague play, except this time the Yankees are on the road in Washington and will lose the DH. They got to keep the extra real hitter when the Mets came to the Bronx for the Subway Series a few weeks ago. The Yankees and Nationals are playing just two games this week. Quick little series.

What Have The Nationals Done Lately?

The Nats just wrapped up a successful West Coast trip, winning five of seven games against the Diamondbacks and Padres. They outscored San Diego 24-5 in the final three games of their four-game set. The Nationals and Yankees have identical 22-17 records, but Washington has the run differential edge (+27 vs. +15).

Offense & Defense

With an average of 4.97 runs per game, the Nationals are one of the highest scoring teams in baseball despite a league average-ish 101 wRC+. They’re banged up right now, most notably with 3B Anthony Rendon yet to play this season due to a knee issue. He actually went out on a rehab assignment, then pulled an oblique muscle. OF Nate McLouth and OF Reed Johnson are out with long-term injuries.

(Christian Petersen/Getty)
(Christian Petersen/Getty)

Washington is led by OF Bryce Harper (215 wRC+!), who is coming into this series riding an utterly insane hot streak. He’s gone 22-for-39 (.564) with nine homers, ten walks, and three strikeouts in his last eleven games. Bonkers. Harper’s going to mash and there’s nothing the Yankees can do about it. They just have to keep everyone in the lineup in front of him off base and hope to limit the damage. What else could they do?

The best of the rest of the Washington lineup right now is OF Denard Span (144 wRC+) and IF Danny Espinosa (130 wRC+). Espinosa stopped switch-hitting for a while but went back to it a few weeks ago. IF Yunel Escobar (114 wRC+) has been hitting but the three big names — 1B Ryan Zimmerman (88 wRC+), SS Ian Desmond (76 wRC+), and OF Jayson Werth (62 wRC+) — have not. Werth is currently day-to-day after taking a pitch to the wrist over the weekend.

C Wilson Ramos (97 wRC+) has an 18-game hit streak going, the longest active streak in baseball. OF Michael Taylor (94 wRC+) is the outfield rover — he played center when Span was injured earlier this year and he’s been playing left while Werth is banged up. C Jose Lobaton, IF Dan Uggla, UTIL Tyler Moore, and UTIL Clint Robinson are the four bench players manager Matt Williams has at his disposal.

The Nats have a good team defense with some sore spots. Span, Harper, and Taylor are all very good outfield defenders but Werth has lost some range in recent years, and he also looks a little lost in left field after spending most of his career in right. Desmond had some major error issues early in the season has settled down. Espinosa, Zimmerman, Escobar, and Ramos are each at worst average but mostly a tick above.

Pitching Matchups

Tuesday: RHP Nathan Eovaldi (Career vs. WAS) vs. LHP Gio Gonzalez (Career vs. NYY)
The Yankees caught a bit of a break this week and won’t have to face any of the Nationals top starters. I mean their top top starters. Gonzalez, 29, was a low-level ace during his first year in Washington but has gradually slid backwards in recent years. He has a 4.25 ERA (2.75 FIP) in seven starts and 42.1 innings, with strikeout (22.7%) and walk (8.7%) rates in line with his career norms. Gio is getting way more ground balls (58.2%) and keeping the ball in the yard (0.21 HR/9) better than ever before despite no substantial change in his pitch selection. He’s throwing more low-90s two-seamers than last year, but his two-seamer usage is the same as pre-2014. Weird. Low-90s four-seamers, a low-80s changeup, and a big breaking upper-70s curveball round out his repertoire. Gonzalez has been hit harder by righties (.366 wOBA) than lefties (.298 wOBA) this year but historically has no platoon split.

Gio. (Christian Petersen/Getty)
Gio. (Christian Petersen/Getty)

Wednesday: RHP Adam Warren (Career vs. WAS) vs. TBA
The Nats have not yet announced tomorrow’s starter but it is expected to be right-hander A.J. Cole, who is stepping in for Doug Fister. Fister has lost close to two miles an hour off his fastball this year, and he recently landed on the DL with a flexor tendon injury in his elbow. That’ll put a dent in the free agency push. The 23-year-old Cole has appeared in two games for Washington this season. He gave up nine runs (four earned) in two innings in his MLB debut, a start against the Braves. He then threw three shutout innings out of the bullpen against the Padres on Friday. Cole had a 3.43 ERA (4.48 FIP) in Triple-A last season. He’s a low-90s fastball guy whose best pitch is a mid-80s changeup. Cole also throws a low-90s cutter, a low-80s slider, and a mid-70s curve, but those are distant third, fourth, and fifth pitches. The fastball/changeup combo is what got him to MLB.

Bullpen Status
The Nationals came back from the West Coast yesterday, so they had an off-day like the Yankees, and the bullpen is rested. Former Yankees draft pick RHP Drew Storen (1.58 FIP) is the closer and he’s set up by RHP Aaron Barrett (1.45 FIP) and former Yankees LHP Matt Thornton (3.25 FIP). RHP Tanner Roark (4.48 FIP) has been a multi-inning middle reliever this year after getting bumped from the rotation by the Max Scherzer signing.

RHP Blake Treinen (3.65 FIP), LHP Matt Grace (2.80 FIP), and LHP Sammy Solis (5.82 FIP) round out the bullpen. Grace and Solis were called up not too long ago and don’t have many big league innings under their belt. As good as the Nats are and were projected to be coming into the season, the bullpen is a tad bit shaky. Check out our Bullpen Workload page for the status of Joe Girardi‘s relievers, then check out Federal Baseball for everything you need to know about the Nationals.