Game 74: Split vs. Reverse Split

(Jim McIsaac/Getty)
(Jim McIsaac/Getty)

Tonight the Yankees open a four-game series with the White Sox in Chicago, where they are undefeated so far this season. They swept three games from the Cubs back in May. Remember that? It was awesome. Brett Gardner hit that insanely clutch ninth inning home run in the first game and the Yankees outlasted the defending World Series champs during the 18-inning game on ESPN in the last game. Good times.

Tonight left-hander Jordan Montgomery will face baseball’s very best hitting team against left-handed pitchers. Their combined batting line: .307/.370/.474 (125 wRC+). Big right-handed power bats like Jose Abreu, Todd Frazier, Matt Davidson, and Avisail Garcia explain that. Montgomery, however, has a reverse split. He has a 3.43 FIP against righties and a 6.72 FIP against lefties. The best lefty hitting team in baseball against a lefty who gets righties out. Intrigue! Here is the White Sox’s lineup and here is the Yankees’ lineup:

  1. LF Brett Gardner
  2. 2B Starlin Castro
  3. RF Aaron Judge
  4. DH Gary Sanchez
  5. 1B Tyler Austin
  6. CF Jacoby Ellsbury
  7. 3B Chase Headley
  8. C Austin Romine
  9. SS Ronald Torreyes
    LHP Jordan Montgomery

It is cloudy and cool in Chicago this evening, and, of course, windy. Lots of wind. Tonight’s series opener will begin at 8:10pm ET and WPIX will have the broadcast. Enjoy the game.

Roster Moves: As you can see, Ellsbury is back. He was activated off the disabled list earlier today. The Yankees also officially placed Aaron Hicks on the 10-day DL with an oblique strain and sent down both Mason Williams and Tyler Webb. Ronald Herrera and Rob Refsnyder were called up. So that’s Hicks, Williams, and Webb out, Ellsbury, Herrera, and Refsnyder in.

Injury Update: Matt Holliday (allergic reaction) was sent to see a doctor and is not available tonight … Greg Bird (ankle) is with Triple-A Scranton. He’s going to take batting practice with them the next few days. I imagine he’ll begin another minor league rehab assignment with the RailRiders if things go well … Castro (wrist) is feeling better after his cortisone shot. He said he originally hurt the wrist on multiple check swings … Adam Warren (shoulder) played catch over the weekend and is tentatively scheduled to throw a bullpen later this week. He hopes to be back in time for the homestand next week.

All-Star Voting Update: MLB released their final fan voting update earlier today and Judge remains the leading vote-getter in the AL. His 3,442,597 votes are second only to Bryce Harper’s 3,617,444 among all players. Pretty cool. Sanchez (second), Castro (second), Didi Gregorius (third), Matt Holliday (fourth), and Gardner (ninth) are also getting votes at their positions. Here’s the ballot. Voting ends Thursday and the All-Star rosters will be announced Sunday. Also, Judge said he still hasn’t decided whether to participate in the Home Run Derby. (It’s an easy yes, dude.)

6/26 to 6/29 Series Preview: Chicago White Sox

(Stephen Brashear/Getty Images)
(Stephen Brashear/Getty Images)

The Yankees are knee-deep in a sixteen games in sixteen days stretch, and the early returns have been less than ideal. They are 2-4 thus far, which actually makes them look a bit better than they have been over the last two weeks, and they’re intermittently struggling in all aspects of the game. Next up are the White Sox, who have dropped six of their last seven.

The Last Time They Met

The White Sox visited the Bronx from April 17 through April 19 of this year, dropping two of three. A few notes:

  • Jordan Montgomery picked-up the first win of his MLB career in the first game. He went 6.0 IP, allowing 7 hits, 3 runs, and 2 walks, striking out 4.
  • The Yankees scored seven runs in that game, all of which came with two outs. They were 3-for-7 with RISP.
  • Aaron Judge went 0-for-4 in the second game, dropping his OPS on the season to .917. It hasn’t been below .960 since then.
  • Masahiro Tanaka had his first strong start of the season in the final game of the series, pitching to the following line: 7.0 IP, 6 H, 1 R, 2 BB, 6 K, 13 GB:7 FB.

Check out Katie’s Yankeemetrics post for more interesting tidbits.

Injury Report

Chicago’s disabled list is quite crowded, with the most notable name being Carlos Rodon. He’s been out with left biceps bursitis since Spring Training, and has had his timetable delayed a couple of times. As of now, however, he is expected to start against the Yankees on Wednesday, June 28. Otherwise, the following players are currently on the DL, and all are doubtful to return for this series: SP Dylan Covey, UT Leury Garcia, SP Miguel Gonzalez, RP Nate Jones, RP Zach Putnam, IF Tyler Saldino, C Geovany Soto, OF Charlie Tilson.

Their Story So Far

The White Sox have the worst record in the American League, as they currently sit at 32-42. Losing six of their last seven hasn’t helped, but it belies the overall competence of the team. Their run differential is -4, which suggests that they’re much closer to a .500 team, and their injury-depleted pitching staff has league-average run prevention numbers. Their offense hasn’t been good (93 wRC+, 12th in the AL in runs) – but it has been improving (102 wRC+ in June). At the very least, they aren’t the doormat that their record might suggest.

Much of their story has been the team’s desire to sell, which was announced when they dealt Chris Sale during the off-season. They haven’t made any significant moves since, however, largely due to their high asking price for Jose Quintana (and his poor performance hasn’t helped matters). Nevertheless, this team will look quite different once the trade deadline rolls around.

You can read more about the White Sox at South Side Sox.

The Lineup We Might See

Manager Rick Renteria has utilized sixty-nine different lineups this year, as he tries to find something that works amidst the offense’s poor performance. He has used seven different leadoff hitters, for example, and ten different hitters in the sixth and seventh holes. He has seemingly settled on the following as of late:

  1. Alen Hanson, CF
  2. Melky Cabrera, LF
  3. Jose Abreu, 1B
  4. Avisail Garcia, RF
  5. Todd Frazier, 3B
  6. Matt Davidson, DH
  7. Tim Anderson, SS
  8. Omar Narvaez, C
  9. Yolmer Sanchez, 2B

The Starting Pitchers We Will See

Monday (8:10 PM EST): LHP Jordan Montgomery vs. LHP David Holmberg

Holmberg was once a prospect of moderate note, as a second-rounder that was dealt by the White Sox for Edwin Jackson back when that meant something. His young career – he’s still just 25 – has come full circle seven years later, as he is back in the White Sox organization. Holmberg has already set a career-high this year with 31.2 IP at the highest level, with solid results (2.84 ERA/4.24 FIP) through fourteen games (five starts).

The soft-tossing lefty falls somewhere between “crafty” and “junkballer,” with a four-pitch mix that includes an 88 MPH fastball, low-80s slider- low-80s change-up, and mid-70s curveball.

Last Outing (vs. OAK on 6/23) – 1.0 IP, 0 H, 0 R, 0 BB, 0 K (in relief)

Tuesday (8:10 PM EST): RHP Luis Severino vs. LHP Jose Quintana

Quintana was the model of consistency from 2013 through 2016, which led to some folk labeling him as a more ideal trade candidate than Chris Sale. Through fifteen starts, however, he has turned in the worst season of his career, to the tune of a 4.69 ERA and 0.7 bWAR. His strikeout rate has increased substantially, but so have his walk and home run rates. He’s shown signs of life of late, though.

The 28-year-old relies heavily on his low-90s four-seamer and mid-to-high 70s curveball, which account for around 80% of his offerings. He’ll mix in a low-90s two-seamer and a mid-80s change-up, as well.

Last Outing (vs. MIN on 6/22) – 6.2 IP, 5 H, 0 R, 0 BB, 9 K

Wednesday (8:10 PM EST): RHP Masahiro Tanaka vs. LHP Carlos Rodon

The White Sox future is largely dependent upon Rodon staying healthy, and making good on his promise as a prospect (and third overall pick). He has been more solid than spectacular through two seasons, with a 3.90 ERA (102 ERA+) and 3.1 bWAR in 304.1 IP, but he’s still only 24-years-old.

Rodon is a three-pitch guy, with a low-to-mid 90s fastball, a big-breaking slider in the mid-80s, and a mid-80s change-up. The slider is his best pitch, with a career 18.8% whiff rate.

Last Outing – has not pitched in 2017

Thursday (8:10 PM EST): RHP Luis Cessa vs. RHP James Shields

Shields was on the disabled list when these teams met in April, but he is still a known commodity to all Yankees fans. And, while his ERA is right around league-average right now, his underlying numbers suggest that he is pitching even worse than he did last year – a season that ended with a 5.85 ERA and -1.9 bWAR.

Shields was never really a hard-thrower, but his fastball velocity has dipped noticeably over the last two years, and now sits in the 90 MPH range. He throws a four-seamer, a two-seamer, and a cutter, all of which have been hit hard these last few years. His off-speed arsenal includes a mid-80s knuckle-curve and a low-80s change-up.

Last Outing (vs. OAK on 6/24) – 3.0 IP, 7 H, 5 R, 3 BB, 6 K

The Bullpen

The White Sox bullpen has been a strength this year, with the group currently sitting seventh in the majors with a 3.56 ERA (119 ERA+). Their 28 meltdowns are the third-fewest in baseball, too, meaning that they generally do a fine job of keeping the team in the game. That effort is led by a trio of former Yankees, in closer David Robertson (130 ERA+), Tommy Kahnle (291 ERA+), and Anthony Swarzak (145 ERA+), who may just be the best back-end of a bullpen in baseball right now. Injuries to Zach Putnam and Nate Jones have put more stress on their bullpen arms of late, though, which bears watching as the season rolls on.

 Who (Or What) To Watch

Rodon’s 2017 debut is already generating a great deal of buzz in Chicago, and he was pegged as a potential breakout candidate prior to his injury setbacks. His slider is a legitimately wicked offering, and he has shown the ability to dial his fastball up into the upper-90s at times. Kahnle bears watching, as well, if only to try to figure out how the heck he has a 1.47 ERA and 44.8% strikeout rate.

Yankeemetrics: Fighting spirit, Baby bombs (June 23-25)

(NY Post)
(NY Post)

Torre-YES!
The comeback kids aren’t dead yet. After gutting through eight innings of a historically great pitchers duel, the Yankee bats finally broke through and notched yet another dramatic overtime win, 2-1, on Friday night.

Masahiro Tanaka and Yu Darvish were absolutely brilliant, throwing a combined 15 scoreless innings while allowing only five hits and striking out 19 batters. This was just the second game in major-league history that each starter allowed no runs, gave up three-or-fewer hits, and struck out at least nine batters.

The only other instance came on August 26, 1968 in a game between the Washington Senators and Minnesota Twins; the dueling pitchers in that game were Jim Perry (Twins) and Frank Bertaina (Senators).

The key to Tanaka’s dominance was getting ahead of batters and then unleashing his devastating offspeed pitches to put away hitters. He threw first-pitch strikes to 25 of 27 batters faced (92.6%), the highest rate of his career and the second-best mark by any starter in a game this season (Michael Fulmer was 23-for-23 against Twins on April 12). The Rangers went 0-for-14 when reaching a two-strike count against Tanaka.

The most encouraging number to come out of Tanaka’s outing, however, might be zero: the number of home runs he allowed. In fact, he was excellent in avoiding hard contact all night. Of the 23 batted balls recorded by Statcast, none were charted as “barrels” or “solid contact” – the two categories (out of five) that produce the highest quality of contact and the most damage. Here’s what that looks like in a cool radial chart via baseballsavant.mlb.com:

masahiro-tanaka-8

The Yankees were on the verge of wasting Tanaka’s gem until Brett Gardner – the “little ball of muscle” – saved the day with a game-tying homer in the ninth inning. He drilled a 98-mph fastball into the right field seats, the fastest pitch he’s ever hit for a home run in his career.

It was just the second hit in 21 ninth-inning at-bats for Gardner this season. The other one? A three-run homer to beat the Cubs on May 5. Good timing? Sure!

One inning later, Ronald Torreyes capped the comeback with a two-out, game-winning single, his first career walk-off RBI. Torreyes’ heroics give us a chance to unleash some #FunFacts:

  • The 5’8” Torreyes (height as listed on baseball-reference.com) is the shortest Yankee with a walk-off hit since Mike Gallego on July 27, 1994 against the Red Sox (hat tip to Friend of Yankeemetrics, Mark Simon).
  • Big Toe is also the first Yankee third baseman with a two-out, walk-off hit since A-Rod‘s memorable walk-off solo homer in the 15th inning against the Red Sox on August 7, 2009.
  • And our Obscure Yankeemetric of the Series: Torreyes is the second Yankee No. 9 batter with a two-out, walk-off RBI against the Rangers. He joins Gene Michael, who hit a walk-off single to score Thurman Munson in a 3-2 win on August 8, 1973.
(AP)
(AP)

Please help Mr. Judge
Any positive momentum generated from Friday’s thrilling victory came to a screeching halt the next day in a lackluster 8-1 loss on Saturday afternoon.

The game was closer than the final score indicates, because the human blowtorch – aka, Tyler Clippard – was put to work in the ninth inning. Three outs later, after giving up four runs on three hits (including two doubles), Clippard again found himself on the wrong side of history. He became the first Yankee ever to allow multiple runs and multiple extra-base hits in three straight appearances of one inning pitched or fewer.

In his last three games, spanning 1? innings, Clippard has allowed nine runs … or one more than Dellin Betances (4) and Chasen Shreve (4) have combined for in their 44 innings pitched this season.

The Yankees avoided being shut out thanks only to a solo homer in the sixth inning by The Animal. It’s still June, and the only Yankee rookie to hit more homers than Aaron Judge is Joe DiMaggio (29) in 1936.

Forget rookie or any age records, the all-around excellence of Judge’s first half is unprecedented in the long and storied history of this franchise. Since the first All-Star game in 1933, no Yankee had ever compiled as many homers (26), doubles (11), triples (3) and steals (6) before the break than Judge did this year.

(AP)
(AP)

Fighting Spirit not enough
An early seven-run deficit was one run too many for the Comeback Kids to overcome on Sunday afternoon. Trailing 7-0 entering the fifth, the Yankees staged an improbable rally to get within a run, but fell just short in yet another crushing loss, 7-6.

It was the Yankees 13th one-run loss this season, one more than they suffered in all of 2016. The calendar on my computer tells me its still June.

The loss also extended their inexplicable struggles against AL West teams. They fell to 6-14 against the division, while going 34-19 against everyone else. The only MLB team this season that has played more than one series vs. the AL West and has a worse record than the Yankees is the Tigers (7-17).

Michael Pineda wore the goat’s horns in this game, allowing seven runs — thanks to three dingers — in four innings. It’s the first time in his career he’s coughed up than many runs and that many homers while getting before the fifth inning.

A couple Baby Bombers did their best to erase Pineda’s dreadful performance, as Gary Sanchez clobbered a three-run homer into Monument Park and Judge went 2-for-3 with two walks and an RBI.

For Sanchez, it was his 33rd career homer in his 100th career game. He tied Rudy York for the second-most homers in a player’s first 100 big-league games, trailing only Mark McGwire (37).

Judge’s stellar day at the plate extended his on-base streak to 27 games, the longest active streak in the American League. Over the last 50 years, just one other Yankee age 25 or younger has reached base safely in 27-plus straight games within a season: Derek Jeter (1999).

The Aaron Hicks injury creates a spot for one of the Triple-A outfield prospects

Frazier. (Scranton Times-Tribune)
Frazier. (Scranton Times-Tribune)

The losses are starting to pile up. Not just in the standings either. The Yankees have lost ten of their last 12 games, and they’ve also lost several players to injuries during that time as well. Yesterday Aaron Hicks went down with a right oblique issue. He’s expected to go on the disabled list and miss 3-4 weeks. Yuck. Hicks as been great this year overall. Losing him is no good.

If there’s a silver lining to the Hicks injury, it’s the timing. Jacoby Ellsbury played two minor league rehab games over the weekend and there’s a chance the Yankees will activate him today to replace Hicks. The Yankees would love to have both guys healthy, but that’s not an option. Having one is better than having none, and it sure seems like Ellsbury will be back very soon.

Replacing Hicks with Ellsbury would be the easiest move. Hicks goes on the disabled list and Ellsbury takes his place on the roster, in center field, and in the second spot in the lineup. Three birds, one stone. It’s so straightforward that that’s what I think will happen. That said, even with Ellsbury back, the Hicks injury creates an opportunity for the Yankees to turn to Dustin Fowler or Clint Frazier, their top Triple-A outfield prospects. Let me explain.

1. Ellsbury and Gardner could use rest going forward. Ellsbury is going to be coming back from a concussion and, for his own good, easing him back into things would be a smart move. You don’t want to push him too hard coming off a brain injury. Brett Gardner, the team’s other veteran outfielder, could also use a more rest going forward. He’s played a ton these last few weeks with Ellsbury out. Gardner has started 27 of 28 games since Ellsbury went on the disabled list, and he came off the bench the one game he didn’t start. Yeah.

Think about this way: what was the plan when Ellsbury came back before Hicks got hurt? The Yankees were going to go back to rotating Hicks around the outfield. There’s basically no chance the Yankees and Joe Girardi would outright bench one of their outfielders and relegate someone to true fourth outfielder duty. And, really, none of them deserve to sit full-time. The Yankees are at their best when all four outfielders are getting rest and staying involved.

Calling up one of the Triple-A outfielders, either Fowler or Frazier, would allow the Yankees to do the same thing. Rotate the young outfielder around like they would have Hicks. You don’t want to call up one of those guys and have him sit on the bench day after day. You want him to play. This would be a way to get their feet in the big leagues without overwhelming them, without counting on them to have an impact, and without cutting someone else’s playing time drastically.

Fowler. (Times Leader)
Fowler. (Times Leader)

2. The Yankees really need to upgrade the bench. The Yankees effectively went into yesterday’s game with a one-man bench. Matt Holliday wasn’t feeling well and Starlin Castro was unavailable after receiving a cortisone shot in his wrist. Their only bench player was Austin Romine, and he went into the game when Hicks got hurt. That meant the Yankees had no one to pinch-hit for Tyler Austin or Romine in the late-innings of a one-run game. Yuck.

On days everyone is feeling well, the regular three-man bench is Romine, Ronald Torreyes, and Mason Williams. That’s … not great. I love Torreyes as much as the next day, but realistically, you’re not going to use him as a pinch-hitter late in the game. He can pinch-run and be a defensive replacement. That’s about it. The same is true with Williams. Romine? He’s the backup catcher and those guys rarely get used strategically in the late innings.

The Yankees are handcuffing themselves with an eight-man bullpen. I get that they’re worried about running out of arms, especially with Masahiro Tanaka struggling all year and Michael Pineda struggling recently, and Luis Cessa in the rotation. Eight relievers still feels like overkill when you have a multi-inning guy like Chad Green and true long man like Domingo German in the bullpen. And you know what? If you do blow out your bullpen due to a short start or extra innings, you make a roster move or two after the game. They do that anyway, even with eight relievers.

Dropping the eighth reliever for a fourth bench player would give Girardi more bench options so he could pinch-hit for Austin, or pinch-run for Holliday, or replace Castro for defense. Whatever. The Yankees can’t do that now. The three bench players are there purely to back up each position. They’re not weapons that can be used strategically, for matchups or whatever. Adding Fowler or Frazier creates more options. Remember, even on days they play, one of the veterans will be on the bench resting.

3. The Yankees could use a spark. Like I said, the Yankees have lost ten of their last 12 games. That’s not good! And prior to yesterday’s late comeback attempt, the offense has looked pretty flat for a good week or so. Remember late last year, when the Yankees called up Gary Sanchez and Aaron Judge, and it seemed to energize the entire team? They gave the entire roster a nice shot in the arm and the Yankees played well in August and September. Calling up Fowler or Frazier could provide a similar spark. And if it doesn’t, well, no big deal. The Yankees are right where they started.

* * *

Okay, so now comes the obvious question: who should the Yankees call up, Fowler or Frazier? Fowler (.294/.331/.542, 137 wRC+) is outhitting Frazier (.251/.343/.482, 124 wRC+), though not by so much that it’s an obvious choice. Both Erik Boland and Josh Norris have heard from scouts that Fowler is the more MLB ready player, and I don’t disagree. The issue there is that you’re adding another speedy left-handed hitter to the roster when you already have two in Gardner and Ellsbury. Kinda redundant. Frazier would give the Yankees more balance as a righty bat. But, if he’s not ready, he’s not ready.

The 40-man roster is not a deciding factor here either. Neither Fowler nor Frazier is on the 40-man — the Yankees still have an open spot after designating Chris Carter for assignment — but they both have to be added after the season to avoid Rule 5 Draft exposure, and of course that’s going to happen. Calling them up now would only be getting a head start on things. I’d be more worried about burning a minor league option when Hicks returns than tying up a 40-man spot for a few weeks.

Assuming Ellsbury comes back to replace Hicks — that’s going to happen at some point no matter what — these are the other moves I’d like to see made:

  1. Send down the eighth reliever. Tyler Clippard isn’t going anywhere, so that means Tyler Webb.
  2. Send down Williams. Sorry dude, but there are better outfielders waiting.
  3. Call up Fowler. I like Frazier! But if the pros say Fowler is more MLB ready, I believe ’em.
  4. Call up Rob Refsnyder. He’s not great, but he’s more useful than an eighth reliever.

Because Refsnyder was just sent down Thursday, the Yankees would have to bring him back as the injury replacement for Hicks. That’s the only way around the ten-day rule. Ellsbury and Fowler would then technically replace Williams and Webb. Fowler gets regular at-bats by rotating in with the other outfielders a la Hicks, and you’re back to a four-man bench with a serviceable righty platoon bat in Refsnyder.

Keep in mind several players who are on the active roster aren’t 100% right now. Castro had the cortisone shot over the weekend. Chase Headley received an epidural last week. Sanchez had the abductor problem last week and doesn’t seem be running full speed yet. Ellsbury is coming back from the concussion. The Yankees have hamstrung themselves for a while now with a short bench. Continuing to do it with all those guys banged up is asking for trouble.

The Yankees are, amazingly, still in first place despite this recent 2-10 stretch. They won’t be in first place much longer unless things improve. Losing Hicks takes a bite out of the offense, and while getting Ellsbury back will help, there’s more the Yankees can. Fowler or Frazier would add another potentially potent bat (plus speed!) and getting back to a four-man bench gives Girardi more options. Contending is hard enough. Contending while essentially playing shorthanded on the position player side makes it even more difficult, and the Yankees shouldn’t do that voluntarily.

Fan Confidence Poll: June 26th, 2017

Record Last Week: 2-4 (25 RS, 38 RA)
Season Record: 40-33 (408 RS, 313 RA, 45-28 pythag. record)
Opponents This Week: @ White Sox (four games, Mon. to Weds.), @ Astros (three games, Fri. to Sun.)

Top stories from last week:

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 Features tab in 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?
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DotF: Andujar hits first Triple-A homer in Scranton’s win

Triple-A Scranton (10-9 win over Pawtucket)

  • SS Tyler Wade: 1-2, 2 R, 3 BB, 1 K, 1 SB — he’s 24-for-28 (86%) in steal attempts this season … 10.5 BB% and 17.3 K% this year after 11.3 BB% and 17.7 K% last year … he’s managed to hold his strikeout and walk rates relatively steady despite moving up a level, so that’s cool
  • DH Jacoby Ellsbury: 2-5, 1 R, 1 2B, 2 RBI — 3-for-8 with two doubles in two rehab games … here’s video of his double and single … he supposed to head to Trenton next to continue his rehab assignment (Scranton is going out on the road and the Thunder will be home this week) though I suppose Aaron Hicks’ oblique injury could change that … rushing a dude back from a concussion doesn’t seem like a good idea though
  • CF Dustin Fowler: 1-5, 2 RBI
  • 1B Rob Refsnyder: 2-4, 1 R, 1 BB, 1 K
  • RF Clint Frazier: 2-5, 1 R, 1 RBI, 2 K
  • 3B Miguel Andujar: 2-5, 2 R, 1 HR, 2 RBI — first Triple-A homer … he’s 8-for-22 (.364) with a double, a homer, two walks, and no strikeouts in six Triple-A games so far
  • RHP Bryan Mitchell: 6 IP, 3 H, 2 R, 2 ER, 0 BB, 9 K, 4/4 GB/FB — 60 of 82 pitches were strikes (73%) … Good Bryan showed up to the park today
  • RHP J.P. Feyereisen: 0.2 IP, 2 H, 1 R, 1 ER, 1 BB, 0 K, 1/2 GB/FB — 22 of 35 pitches were strikes (63%)
  • RHP J.R. Graham: 0.2 IP, 3 H, 6 R, 6 ER, 3 BB, 1 K — 19 of 35 pitches were strikes (54%) … tried his hardest to blow it in the ninth

[Read more…]

Comeback falls just short, Yankees drop finale 7-6 to Rangers


Source: FanGraphs

Well, at least the Yankees showed some Fighting Spirit in Sunday’s game. They very nearly rallied to erase an early 7-0 deficit — they brought the winning run to the plate in the ninth! — but ultimately could not finish the comeback. Alas. The final score as 7-6 Rangers. The Yankees have lost ten of their last 12 games now, yet somehow remain in first place in the AL East. The Red Sox can’t be too happy about that. Anyway, let’s recap with bullet points because it’s Sunday:

  • Small Mike: It is becoming increasing clear Michael Pineda‘s strong start to the season was nothing more than a classic Michael Pineda hot streak that happened to occur at the start of the season. Nothing’s really changed. He allowed three runs in the first inning Sunday afternoon, including a two-out two-run homer to Adrian Beltre, then he gave up three more in the second, all on a two-out three-run homer by Shin-Soo Choo. Here are his slider locations. Hanger city. Pineda finished the afternoon with seven runs allowed in four innings. He’s allowed at least five runs in three of his last five starts.
  • Four-Run Rally: All praise the obstruction rule. Nick Martinez struck out Austin Romine for the third out of the fifth inning, but the ball got away from catcher Jonathan Lucroy, and Martinez got in Romine’s way as he ran to first on the wild pitch. Romine beat the throw to first anyway, but the official call was obstruction on Martinez. Romine would have been awarded first anyway. That kept the inning alive for Aaron Judge and Gary Sanchez. Judge stroked a run-scoring single to center, then Sanchez followed with a three-run dinger into Monument Park. Suddenly a seven-run deficit became a three-run deficit. Hmmm.
  • Two More Runs: The comeback got serious in the seventh inning. Ronald Torreyes smacked a solo home run to get the Yankees to within 7-5 — the best part? Didi Gregorius picked up Judge to he could high-five Torreyes (video) — then two two-out walks set up Gregorius for a run-scoring single to right. Unfortunately, Sanchez got thrown out going first-to-third on the single to end the inning. Third out at third base down a run? Yuck. The Yankees couldn’t do anything after Chase Headley‘s leadoff double in the eighth, then Sanchez struck out with Judge on first base to end the game in the ninth. Bah. At least the offense showed some life. Haven’t seen much of that lately.
  • The Unsung Heroes: Shout out to the bullpen for making the comeback attempt possible. Tyler Webb (one inning), Chad Green (two innings), Dellin Betances (one inning), and Aroldis Chapman (one inning) combined for five zeroes after Pineda was removed. Two hits, two walks, seven strikeouts in those five innings. The bullpen has been pretty terrible the last two weeks or so. They did the job Sunday though. They gave the offense a chance to get back in the game. The bats just ran out of innings.
  • Leftovers: Aaron Hicks left the game with an oblique injury and is heading to the disabled list … Starlin Castro was not available after receiving a cortisone shot in his wrist … Judge (two singles, two walks) reached base four times and Headley (two singles, double) reached three times … the Yankees had 14 baserunners and did go 3-for-6 with runners in scoring position … Judge stretched his on-base streak to 27 games. That’s the longest by a Yankee since Derek Jeter had a 36-gamer in 2012. The last Yankee rookie with an on-base streak that long was Gil McDougald in 1951. He did it in 29 straight.

Here are the box score, video highlights, and updated standings. Don’t miss our Bullpen Workload page either. The Yankees are now heading to Chicago for the second time this season. They swept the Cubs earlier this year and they’ll look to sweep the White Sox this week. It’s a four-game series. Lefties Jordan Montgomery and David Holmberg are Monday night’s scheduled starting pitchers.