Today is the final scheduled off-day of the season for the Yankees. They’ll close out the 2014 regular season with 21 games in 20 days — they have a doubleheader against the Orioles this Friday — before heading into what will surely be one of the most interesting offseasons in recent franchise history. (I think I said that last year too.) Unless they make a miraculous comeback these next three weeks, picking up the pieces following back-to-back postseason-less years will be a daunting task.
Here is your open thread for the off-night. The Mets are playing, MLB Network is airing a regional game, and the Monday Night Football game is the Giants at the Lions. Good night for the Yankees to be off, I’d say. Talk about any of those games or anything else right here.
The Yankees have outrighted outfielder Zoilo Almonte to Triple-A Scranton, according to the official league transactions. That means he went unclaimed on waivers. Almonte can not refuse the assignment since this is his first outright, but I believe he is due to become a minor league free agent in a few weeks anyway. I would expect him to sign elsewhere since it’s pretty obvious he won’t get much of an opportunity in New York.
Almonte, 25, hit .261/.311/.436 (103 wRC+) with 18 homers in 105 Triple-A games this season. He’s had several unsuccessful (39 wRC+) big league cameos over the last two seasons. Almonte is a switch-hitter in name only — he absolutely can not hit left-handers — but he has some pop against righties and can play good defense in the two corners. I thought he could be a useful platoon/fourth outfielder, but the fact that every other team could have had him for free off waivers but passed is telling. · (19) ·
As expected, David Phelps faced hitters in a simulated game yesterday for the first time since going down with elbow inflammation last month. He threw 31 pitches and felt fine. “I feel like I made some good pitches. I was just nice to be out there with some adrenaline flowing. It feels good enough to get guys out right now,” he said to Brian Heyman.
The Yankees will see how Phelps feels in the coming days before deciding on the next step, and it’s entirely possible he will be activated off the disabled list before throwing another simulated game. The team already announced he will return as a reliever — at this point of the season I’m not sure there’s enough time to get him all the way stretched out to start anyway — and I’m sure he’ll jump right into some kind of quasi-high-leverage role similar to what Adam Warren is doing right now. · (14) ·
MLB released the 2015 regular season schedule this afternoon, and the Yankees will open next season at home against the Blue Jays on Monday, April 6th. The season begins with the ESPN Sunday Night game on April 5th — the league says details about that game are forthcoming — then all 30 teams play on Monday. There are no more staggered starts like this season, when the Yankees and Astros opened on a Tuesday and were literally the last teams to play their first game of 2014.
The team’s full schedule can be seen right here. After the season-opening three-game series with Toronto — the two teams are off on Tuesday, the annual “just in case it rains on Opening Day” off-day — the Yankees will play three games against the Red Sox before heading out on a ten-game road trip through Baltimore, Tampa, and Detroit. As always, April is heavy with intra-division play against AL East rivals. Here are some more schedule details:
- Subway Series: Rather than the usual four-game home-and-home series, the Subway Series will be split up next season. The Yankees and Mets will play three games at Yankee Stadium from April 24-26 (Friday to Sunday), then another three games at Citi Field from September 18-20 (also Friday to Sunday).
- 2009 World Series Rematch: The Yankees will play three games against the Phillies in Yankee Stadium from June 22-24. That’s Monday through Wednesday. The two teams will not play in Philadelphia next summer.
- Interleague Play: The NL East is up for interleague play next year, hence the six games against the Mets. In addition to the Mets and Phillies series, the Yankees will travel to Washington (May 19-20) and Atlanta (August 28-30), and play a four-game home-and-home series with the Marlins (June 15-18). Giancarlo Stanton is coming to the Bronx, people. The Nationals will also be at Yankee Stadium from June 9-10.
- West Coast: The Yankees only have two West Coast trips next year. They go to Oakland (May 28-31) and Seattle (June 1-3), then Houston (June 25-28) and Anaheim (June 29-July 1). Houston isn’t on the West Coast, but it’s a stop on the way. The Yankees are done with the West Coast before the All-Star break.
- All-Star Game: The All-Star Game will be played on Tuesday, July 14th next year. The game is at The Great American Ball Park in Cincinnati. The Homerun Derby will be Monday the 13th and the Futures Game will be Sunday the 12th.
- End of the Season: As usual, the Yankees will close the season out with a bunch of games against AL East clubs. They’ll play four games at home against the Red Sox (Sept. 28-Oct. 1) and then three on the road in Baltimore (Oct. 2-4) to close out the year. Twenty-six of their final 33 games will be played within the division.
Joel Sherman says MLB wanted to avoided opening the season in March, which is why the first games will be played on April 5th and 6th. That means the regular season ends in early-October, like the good ol’ days. That last series against the Orioles could wind up being pretty important.
Just about all summer, Joe Girardi and the Yankees have enjoyed arguably the most dominant setup man/closer tandem in baseball in Dellin Betances and David Robertson. The team has scaled back on Betances’ workload in recent weeks but for the most of the season he was a multi-inning monster who would regularly bridge the gap from starter to closer all by himself. Robertson has been dynamite in his first season as closer, making the transition to the post-Mariano Rivera era relatively painless.
The Yankees had a similarly dominant late-game duo the last few years thanks to the Robertson and Rivera, though Robertson has always been a true one-inning reliever, not a four or five or six out guy. The multi-inning reliever is a dying breed, especially when it comes to late-inning guys. The last time the Yankees had a duo like Betances and Robertson, meaning an overwhelming multi-inning setup man and a shutdown closer, was way back to 1996, when Rivera was setting up John Wetteland.
There are more than a few similarities between the 1996 duo and the 2014 duo. Betances, like Rivera, was scuffling along for much of his early-20s, trying to make it work as a starting pitcher before moving into the bullpen full-time. They both opened the season in an undefined middle relief role before pitching their way into some more responsibility — Rivera threw 15 straight hitless innings at one point from mid-April through early-May in 1996, which is a great way to earn the manager’s trust — and eventually a no-doubt high-leverage role. Robertson has a knack for making things interesting but gets the job done more often than not, similar to Wetteland.
Statistically, there isn’t much of a comparison. Betances and Robertson have been quite a bit more effective this year than Rivera and Wetteland in 1996, at least on a rate basis. Wetteland and (mostly) Rivera did throw a ton of innings back in the day, a workload Betances and Robertson won’t sniff this year:
|2014 Betances & Robertson||137.1||0.84||1.97||1.84||39.4%||7.6%||5.18|
|1996 Rivera & Wetteland||171.1||1.06||2.36||2.57||28.8%||8.0%||3.43|
Rivera and Wetteland also excelled in the postseason in 1996, combining to allow only four runs in 26.2 innings (1.35 ERA) during the team’s march to the World Series title. Wetteland saved four games in five days en route to being named World Series MVP. Hopefully Betances and Robertson get a chance to strut their stuff in the postseason next month, but eh. Things aren’t looking too hot right now.
The similarities don’t stop there either. Betances (26) and Robertson (29) are the same age right now that Rivera and Wetteland were back in 1996, respectively. That’s sorta freaky. Robertson is also due to become a free agent this offseason just like Wetteland became a free agent following the 1996 season. The Yankees let him walk and installed Rivera as their closer. The team is going to face a similar decision this winter — do they let Robertson go and hand the ninth inning reigns over to Dellin?
I don’t think there’s anything wrong with re-signing Robertson and keeping one of the game’s most dominant late-game bullpen pairs together for another few seasons. In fact I would prefer it. I don’t mean that as a slight on Betances either. I think he’d be able to close no problem just like I thought Robertson would have no trouble closing this year, but there is no such thing as having too many great relievers. The game has changed a lot in the last two decades. Deep bullpens are imperative these days because no one scores runs anymore and every game is close.
Eighteen years ago, the Yankees had an advantage over every team they played thanks to Rivera and Wetteland. Rivera’s ability to go multiple innings — he went two full innings in 35 of 61 appearances and three full innings eight times — combined with Wetteland’s ninth inning reliability effective made it a six-inning game for New York. Girardi has had the same luxury this year thanks to Betances and Robertson. Both guys are having phenomenal seasons and they’ve been essential in keeping the Yankees in the race this summer.
Record Last Week: 3-3 (20 RS, 19 RA)
Season Record: 73-68 (555 RS, 581 RA, 67-74 pythag. record) 9.5 GB in ALE, 4.5 GB of WC
Opponents This Week: Mon. OFF, vs. Rays (three games, Tues. to Thurs.), @ Orioles (four games, Fri. to Sun.)
Top stories from last week:
- The Yankees were off on Monday, then the Red Sox came to the Bronx for a three-game series. Shane Greene got pounded in the series opening loss. Hiroki Kuroda helped the Yankees to a win on Wednesday, then a walk-off homer by Chase Headley gave them the win in the finale.
- The Royals came to town for a three-game weekend set next. James Shields shut the Yankees down in the opener, but New York rebounded to take the middle game on Saturday. They were unable to score in yesterday’s loss.
- Injury Updates: Masahiro Tanaka (elbow) threw in the bullpen for the first time since being shut down with fatigue and reported no problems. Ivan Nova (elbow) has started a throwing program as he rehabs from Tommy John surgery. David Phelps (elbow) has thrown two bullpen sessions and could be close to returning. Martin Prado (hamstring) missed a few games with a mild strain but has since returned to the lineup. Brett Gardner (abdomen) is day-to-day with some kind of irritation. Francisco Cervelli (head) is day-to-day with migraines.
- Among the players called up when rosters expanded on September 1st were Chris Young, Preston Claiborne, Chase Whitley, Chaz Roe, John Ryan Murphy, Rich Hill, Bryan Mitchell, and Antoan Richardson. Austin Romine was called up later in the week following Cervelli’s migraines. Matt Daley was released and Zoilo Almonte was designated for assignment to clear 40-man roster space.
- The Yankees intend to offer Brian Cashman a new contract after the season. Assistant GM Billy Eppler is expected to be a candidate for the now vacant Diamondbacks GM job.
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?
For whatever reason the folks at MLBAM decided to chop this afternoon’s Derek Jeter retirement ceremony into eight (!) different videos, and I’m not embedding all of them here. That’s too many. Jeter’s predictably perfect speech is above (full text) and you can see all the ceremony videos right here. (Andy Pettitte was not in town because of a prior family engagement.) The Yankees pulled out all the stops, even bringing in astronauts and Michael Jordan. Astronauts! I didn’t hear it myself, but apparently one of the broadcast microphones picked up Jordan saying “I heard you’re getting married?” to Jeter, so that’s a thing. Leave it to Jeter to keep an engagement secret. Anyway, the ceremony was way cool. What a great afternoon.
Here is your open thread for the rest of the night. The ESPN Sunday Night Game is a good one, the Giants at the Tigers (Hudson vs. Lobstein). The late NFL game is the Colts and Broncos. Hooray football. Talk about those games, the Jeter ceremony, this afternoon’s loss, or anything else right here.
Sunday afternoon started with a great ceremony honoring the soon-to-be retired Derek Jeter and ended with another sleepy loss, this one to the Royals by the score of 2-0. The Yankees have now lost three of their last four series, with the one series win needing that Koji Uehara meltdown on Thursday night. Let’s recap:
- Two Errors: The Yankees were charged with two errors on Sunday and both led to runs. First, Shane Greene fielded a weak grounder and threw the ball into right field, allowing Josh Willingham to chug in from second base. It would have been the third out of the second inning. Carlos Beltran dropped a fairly routine pop-up leading off the third inning — you can tell the sun was giving him some trouble, but the ball was in his glove at one point — and the run eventually came around to score on a stolen base and an Eric Hosmer single. Beltran’s throw home on Hosmer’s single was off-line, otherwise there would have been a play at the plate because Alex Gordon stumbled around third. Two defensive miscues, two runs. Par for the 2014 course.
- Punchless: Believe it or not, the Yankees had a man reach base in seven of nine innings. They never had a runner reach third base though, and they mustered just a ground ball single in three innings against Kansas City’s high-powered bullpen. Jacoby Ellsbury, Jeter, Beltran, and Mark Teixeira had their four hits, all singles. Jeter’s was an infield single. Jeter, Beltran (two), and Stephen Drew drew walks. They went 0-for-16 with a walk with men on base. Not men in scoring position, just on base in general. This offense is: bad.
- Leftovers: Greene really had to battle, especially early on. He threw 54 pitches in the first two innings and 36 in the next three, allowing just the two unearned runs in five innings. It was a grind but Greene didn’t melt down … Adam Warren (two innings), Shawn Kelley (one inning), Josh Outman (one out), and Esmil Rogers (two outs) did fine work out of the bullpen, allowing only three base-runners (one was an intentional walk) in four scoreless innings … Friday was the first time the Yankees lost a game without allowing an earned run since May 1996. Naturally, they did it again on Sunday. Zero times in 18 years, then twice in one series. Baseball.
The box score and video highlights are on MLB.com. FanGraphs has some other stats and ESPN has the updated standings. Depending on what happens elsewhere in the league, the Yankees will be either 4.5 games (Mariners lose) or 5.5 games (Mariners win) back of the second wildcard spot. FanGraphs has their postseason odds at 3.3% at the moment. The Yankees are off on Monday — final off-day of the season! — and will then open a three-game series with the Rays at Yankee Stadium on Tuesday night. Hiroki Kuroda and Chris Archer is the scheduled pitching matchup. There are only eleven home games left in the season, so head over to RAB Tickets if you want to catch any of them live.
It’s hard to believe today is Derek Jeter‘s retirement ceremony. I still remember when he just came up as a rookie. It feels like … not that long ago, really. But man, it has been a long time since then. A long time with lots of hits, lots of championships, and lots of awesome moments. I think my all-time favorite Jeter moment is the Flip Play because it was so unexpected — what in the world was he doing there? You never see a shortstop on that part of the field. What a tremendously heads up play in a season-saving game.
I don’t think the Yankees will retire No. 2 this afternoon — they haven’t said anything about the ceremony, it’s all a secret — and will instead save it for sometime in the future. Just a hunch. Retiring No. 42 for Mariano Rivera last year was a special case because it was already retired. I’m sure the team will give him some amazing gifts and there will be a few great speeches, and I’m sure there will be something unexpectedly awesome as well. Like Metallica showing up for Mo’s ceremony. Something like that but obviously not exactly that.
Today’s ceremony will begin at 12:30pm ET, according to the Yankees. You’ll be able to watch on YES locally and TBS nationally, plus I believe it will be streamed online at MLB.com. Maybe even MLB.tv too. Joe Torre, Bernie Williams, Paul O’Neill, Hideki Matsui, Gerald Williams, and Tim Raines are among the confirmed special guests, plus there are a bunch of others who have not been announced. Rumor has it Michael Jordan will be in the house. He was at the U.S. Open yesterday, so if nothing else, he is in town at the moment.
As for this afternoon’s game, it is scheduled to begin at 1:35pm ET and, again, you can watch on YES locally and TBS nationally. It is also the free MLB.tv game of the day. Here is the Royals lineup and here is the Yankees lineup:
- CF Jacoby Ellsbury
- SS Derek Jeter
- 2B Martin Prado
- RF Carlos Beltran
- C Brian McCann
- 1B Mark Teixeira
- DH Stephen Drew
- 3B Chase Headley
- LF Ichiro Suzuki
RHP Shane Greene
It was overcast all morning but the weather cleared up wonderfully for the afternoon — temperatures in the upper-70s and lots of sunshine. Perfect weather for the ceremony. Enjoy the day.
The Royals lost starter Danny Duffy to injury after just one pitch on Saturday afternoon (sore shoulder) and the Yankees acted accordingly, beating up on some spare September call-up arms to win the game 6-2. They scored in four of the first five innings. Let’s recap:
- Six Runs: It wasn’t a picket fence (one run per inning) but it was close enough. The Yankees scored their first run on a double (Martin Prado) and a single (Mark Teixeira) in the first inning, their second and third runs on a double (John Ryan Murphy), a triple (Jacoby Ellsbury), and a sac fly (Derek Jeter) in the third inning, their fourth run on two singles (Chase Headley and Murphy) and an error (Salvador Perez) in the fourth inning, and their fifth and sixth runs on two doubles (Prado and Carlos Beltran), a walk (Headley), and a single (Ichiro Suzuki) in the fifth inning. Nice, diverse attack by the offense. No evil homers but they did go a sweet 5-for-10 with runners in scoring position.
- Loud Outs: The final line on Brandon McCarthy was two runs on six hits and a walk in 6.2 innings, but it seemed like he gave up a lot of loud outs, particularly on balls hit to the outfield. He uncharacteristically had seven outs on the ground compared to eight in the air. That’s fine though, McCarthy put his defense (particularly Ellsbury) to work and for the most part they helped him out. He struck out four and threw 75 of 105 pitches for strikes (71%), which was a ton. McCarthy didn’t miss many barrels on Saturday (eight swings and misses) but he kept KC off balance enough that the loud contact resulted in outs, not hits.
- Bullpen: The Yankees are in must win mode nowadays, which is why Joe Girardi went to his usual late game trio of Shawn Kelley, Dellin Betances, and David Robertson despite having a four-run lead. They retired all seven men they faced on 22 total pitches — Kelley got one out while the other guys threw full innings. Between McCarthy and the relievers, 14 of the final 15 Royals to bat made outs on the afternoon. There was nothing even close to the threat of a late-inning rally, which is exactly how it should be.
- Leftovers: Prado went 3-for-3 with two doubles and was still hobbling noticeably due to his hamstring issue. I was surprised he didn’t come out for defense late … Prado, Murphy, and Ichiro all had multiple hits — Ichiro came off the bench and only got two at-bats — while Ellsbury, Teixeira, Beltran, and Headley had one hit apiece. Jeter, Brendan Ryan, and Zelous Wheeler were the only starters who failed to reach base … Royals lefty Brandon Finnegan made his MLB debut with two perfect innings. He’s the first 2014 draftee (17th overall) to reach the show. Most assumed that would be Yankees lefty Jacob Lindgren.
MLB.com has the box score and video highlights, FanGraphs has some other stats, and ESPN has the updated standings. Depending on the outcome of the late game, the Yankees will be either 3.5 games (Mariners lose) or 4.5 games (Mariners win) back of the second wildcard spot. They’re 8.5 games back of the Orioles in the AL East, in case you’re wondering what’s going on there. FanGraphs has the team’s postseason odds at 3.7% at this moment. Shane Greene and Yordano Ventura will be the pitching matchup on Sunday afternoon, Derek Jeter day. Check out RAB Tickets if you want to catch the ceremony.