Game 75: Mixing It Up


Yesterday afternoon, when Alex Rodriguez wasn’t in the starting lineup, I assumed it was because he had played eight straight days. Joe Girardi likes to rest his regulars, so sitting A-Rod gave him a day to rest and also allowed Carlos Beltran to DH, giving him a day off his feet. Girardi does that stuff all the time.

A-Rod is not in tonight’s lineup either, and he’s not hurt. Girardi confirmed the Yankees are “mixing it up” by sitting Alex against a right-handed pitcher, which makes sense. A-Rod is hitting .200/.236/.348 (50 wRC+) with a 31.7% strikeout rate against righties this year. The offense is sputtering — they had two hits without Alex yesterday, remember — and it’s time to try something different, so Alex sits. Here is the Rangers’ lineup and here is the Yankees’ lineup:

  1. CF Jacoby Ellsbury
  2. LF Brett Gardner
  3. DH Carlos Beltran
  4. C Brian McCann
  5. 1B Mark Teixeira
  6. 2B Starlin Castro
  7. SS Didi Gregorius
  8. 3B Chase Headley
  9. RF Aaron Hicks
    RHP Ivan Nova

It has been cloudy and humid all day in New York, and there is some rain in the forecast tonight. It doesn’t look like it’ll be anything heavy though. Hopefully there’s no delay. Tonight’s game is scheduled to begin a little after 7pm ET. You can watch on YES. Enjoy.

Roster Update: The Yankees have outrighted Ike Davis to Triple-A Scranton, the team announced. He can still elect free agency. My guess is Davis will stick around because all it takes is one misstep by Teixeira to return to the bigs.

All-Star Update: The final fan voting update for the All-Star Game starters was announced earlier today. No Yankees are in position to start the game or are even remotely close in the voting at their respective positions. Here’s the update. The rosters will be announced next Tuesday.

Yankees announce new ticket partnership with StubHub


Earlier today, the Yankees officially announced a new multi-year agreement with StubHub, making them the team’s official ticket resale marketplace. Yankees Ticket Exchange? That’s gone. Fans have to go through StubHub now. The new system will be operational by July 7th. Here’s the press release.

“We are committed to providing our fans with a first-class ticket experience, and offering the safest, most secure and efficient platform for our fans to sell and purchase tickets,” said team president Randy Levine in a statement. “This new product was the result of many productive discussions with StubHub, which will allow them to fully integrate into our ticket system. We are confident this collaboration will best protect our fans in the resale ticket marketplace.”

Two important details. One, this covers mobile tickets only. You still can’t print your ticket at home, so if your phone dies or you’re not that tech savvy, you’re pretty much out of luck. Mobile tickets and hard stock tickets are still the only way to get into the ballpark. Two, the price floor is set at 50 percent of the full season ticket plan price. Don’t expect any super deep discounts.

Make no mistake, this deal is not about fighting ticket fraud or making sure fans get a good deal when they resell their tickets. The Yankees agreed to this deal because, as Samantha Pell reports, StubHub is going to pay them roughly $100M from now through the end of 2022. C.R.E.A.M. That’s all there is to it.

6/27 to 6/30 Series Preview: Texas Rangers

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It’s gut-check time. The Yankees have spent the last few weeks beating up on the likes of the Twins, Angels, Rays, and Athletics. Now they have to prove their mettle against arguably the best team in the AL and inarguably one of the best in all of baseball. The Rangers are in town for a four-game series. The Yankees want people to believe they can contend? Then go out, put up a fight, and win some games against Texas this week.

What Have They Done Lately?

The Rangers have been insanely hot of late. They took two of three from the Red Sox over the weekend and have won 22 of their last 28 games overall to push their record to 49-27, best in the AL by 3.5 games. The Giants are the only other team in baseball with as many as 49 wins. The Yankees and Rangers played three games in Arlington in late-April. The Rangers won two of the three.

Offense & Defense

Do the Rangers ever have a bad offense? They always seem to be really good at scoring runs. So far this year they’ve averaging 4.88 runs per game with a team 95 wRC+. (The runs per game/wRC+ disconnect always intrigues me.) Manager Jeff Banister has two injured position players: OF Josh Hamilton, who won’t play at all this season due to knee problems, and OF Drew Stubbs. Stubbs is out with a toe injury and it doesn’t look like he’ll be back this series.

Desmond. (Ronald Martinez/Getty)
Desmond. (Ronald Martinez/Getty)

Banister puts his four best hitters right at the top of the lineup. RF Shin-Soo Choo (136 wRC+) leads off, CF Ian Desmond (135 wRC+) bats second, rookie LF Nomar Mazara (101 wRC+) bats third, and future Hall of Famer 3B Adrian Beltre (101 wRC+) cleans up. Choo has a .418 OBP in the leadoff spot and Desmond has been off-the-charts the last two months. He has a 159 wRC+ in his last 57 games. Crazy. DH Prince Fielder (60 wRC+) has been awful, but he stays in the lineup because the Rangers owe him more than $80M through 2020. Egads.

SS Elvis Andrus (94 wRC+) is having his best offensive season in a few years and 2B Rougned Odor (97 wRC+) has been just okay to date. IF Jurickson Profar (134 wRC+) has been something of super utility guy getting regular at-bats all over the infield. 1B Mitch Moreland (84 wRC+) and OF Ryan Rua (123 wRC+) are platoon options. Texas is carrying three catchers: C Robinson Chirinos (105 wRC+), C Bryan Holaday (77 wRC+), and C Bobby Wilson (77 wRC+). Three catchers is a hell of a thing.

The Rangers are a very good defensive team with two major sore spots: right field and first base. Choo is not a good defender — he does throw very well, but his range stinks — and regardless of whether Fielder or Moreland (or Profar) is at first, they’re a liability. (Profar lacks experience.) Beltre, Mazara, Odor, and Andrus are all above-average glovemen. So is Desmond in center field, believe it or not. He’s never going to play the infield again. The transition to the outfield has worked so, so well.

Pitching Probables

Monday (7:05pm ET): RHP Ivan Nova (vs. TEX) vs. RHP Chi Chi Gonzalez (vs. NYY)
The Rangers are currently without Yu Darvish (shoulder), Derek Holland (shoulder), and Colby Lewis (lat), so they’ve had to dip deep into their pitching depth. Gonzalez, 24, is coming up from Triple-A to make the start in place of Lewis tonight. He threw 67 innings for the Rangers last summer and was serviceable (3.90 ERA and 4.97 FIP). So far in Triple-A this year Gonzalez has a 5.04 ERA (3.91 FIP) in 14 starts and 80.1 innings. He wasn’t missing bats (15.9%) or limiting walks (7.4%), but Chi Chi did limit homers (0.34 HR/9) and keep the ball on the ground (58.0%). Gonzalez is a classic sinker/slider pitcher. He sits 91-94 mph with the sinker and in the upper-80s with his slider, so he throws it hard. A mid-80s changeup is his third pitch. Every once in a while he’ll flip a low-80s curveball to keep hitters guessing.

Tuesday (7:05pm ET): LHP CC Sabathia (vs. TEX) vs. LHP Cole Hamels (vs. NYY)
The 32-year-old Hamels is in his first full season with the Rangers, and in 15 starts he’s given the team 96.2 innings of 2.79 ERA (4.58 FIP) ball. His strikeout (23.5%) and grounder (50.8%) numbers are very good, though he’s been walk (9.1%) and homer (1.40 HR/9) prone, which is out of the ordinary. He’s been quite a bit better against lefties than righties this year, though he’s had a tiny platoon split throughout his career. Hamels is one of those ultra-rare veteran pitchers who has added velocity over the years. Check it out (via Brooks Baseball):

Cole Hamels velocity

Every pitcher should be so lucky. Hamels backs up his low-to-mid-90s four-seamer and sinker with a world class mid-80s changeup. It’s one of the best changeups in baseball and the reason he’s been so good for so long. He throws it with the same arm speed as his heater, so by time it starts fading, the hitter’s brain has already said “fastball!” and told his arms to start swinging. An upper-80s cutter and an upper-70s curveball are his fourth and fifth pitches. Hamels uses all five pitches regularly too. The Yankees didn’t see him when they were in Texas earlier this season.

Wednesday (7:05pm ET): RHP Masahiro Tanaka (vs. TEX) vs. RHP Nick Martinez (vs. NYY)
Martinez, 25, is in the rotation because of all those injuries. He’s made two starts and two relief appearances for the Rangers this year, allowing eight runs on 16 hits and seven walks in 13 innings. Martinez has struck out only five. He had a 4.50 ERA (3.97 FIP) in 64 Triple-A innings this year before getting called back up Texas. Martinez lives and dies with his low-90s sinker and mid-80s slider. He’s going to throw some mid-80s changeups and upper-70s curveballs too, but the sinker and slider are his moneymakers. They’re why he’s in the show. Martinez was still in Triple-A when the Yankees and Rangers played in April.

Thursday (1:05pm ET): RHP Michael Pineda (vs. TEX) vs. RHP A.J. Griffin (vs. NYY)
After losing the 2014 and 2015 seasons to Tommy John surgery and shoulder issues, the now 28-year-old Griffin has a 3.08 ERA (3.55 FIP) in seven starts and 38 innings for Texas this season. He did miss a few weeks with more shoulder problems, however. Griffin has a strong strikeout rate (21.9%) and he’s kept the ball in the yard (0.71 HR/9), but his walk (9.7%) and grounder (36.8%) numbers aren’t all that good. Left-handed batters have had more success against him this season than righties. Griffin is averaging 88 mph with his four-seamer and 83 mph with his little cutter/slider hybrid. His changeup is in the low-80s and his hilariously slow curveball still sits in the mid-to-high-60s. That slow curve makes his heater play up quite a bit. The Yankees did see Griffin back in April, and he held them to one run in eight innings. I remember that game being the one when it really set in that this year’s offense stinks.

Griffin. (Rick Yeatts/Getty)
Griffin. (Rick Yeatts/Getty)

Bullpen Status

Despite their success, the Rangers have one of the least effective bullpens in baseball. They rank 28th in bullpen ERA (4.73) and 29th in bullpen FIP (4.67) among the 30 clubs so far this year. That’s going to have to be fixed at some point. I happen to know a team with some spare relievers. Anyway, here is Banister’s bullpen:

Closer: RHP Sam Dyson (1.93 ERA/2.81 FIP)
Setup: LHP Jake Diekman (2.83/3.38), RHP Matt Bush (2.29/2.83)
Middle: LHP Cesar Ramos (4.42/5.48), RHP Shawn Tolleson (6.84/5.61), RHP Tony Barnette (3.13/3.35)
Long: RHP Luke Jackson (7.27/7.52)

That’s the same Matt Bush who was the first overall pick in the 2004 draft … as a shortstop. He had drug and alcohol problems in the minors and got into some big time legal trouble; Bush spent 51 months in prison following a DUI hit-and-run in Florida in which he hit and nearly killed a 72-year-old man on a motorcycle. Geez. Bush was released from prison a few months ago and the Rangers felt he is truly a changed man, so they signed him, and now he’s one of their setup relievers.

Bush (22 pitches), Diekman (5 pitches), and Tolleson (15 pitches) all appeared in yesterday’s game. Tolleson pitched Saturday as well, which figures to limit his availability tonight. Head over to our Bullpen Workload page for the status of Joe Girardi‘s bullpen.

Waiting is understandable, but the sooner the Yankees decide to sell, the better

(Joe Mahoney/Getty)
(Joe Mahoney/Getty)

One of the best and worst things about baseball these days is the second wildcard. It’s great because it gives more teams a chance at the postseason, and that’s generally a good thing for baseball. The Giants won the 2014 World Series as the second wildcard team, remember. Fans want to watch their team play meaningful games and the race for the second wildcard means more meaningful games.

At the same time, the second wildcard leads to a lot of indecision. More teams are in contention — or can talk themselves into thinking they’re in contention — that they’re hesitant to make major moves and deal away players throughout the summer. There’s no better example of this than the 2013 and 2014 Yankees. The 2016 Yankees may be heading for a similar fate. Teams are frozen. The second wildcard clouds their judgment.

The trade deadline is exactly five weeks away, and at least one team is open to buying right now. That team? The Red Sox. They have some pitching problems and president of baseball operations David Dombrowski told Evan Drellich he’s already working the trade market for help. Only a few teams are ready to sell though. From Drellich:

“It’s still early,” Dombrowski said. “I can tell you I’ve done a great deal work, there’s five clubs that are willing to talk about it. They’re the same five clubs that have been at it all year, so it’s still a little early for that type of situation. We’ll just see what happens.

“I think the thing you got to remember is, it takes two clubs to make a deal. And most clubs, as I’ve said all along — and it hasn’t changed whatsoever really — are not prepared to move towards 2017 and be in a position of where they’re willing to move. I mean, there’s probably five clubs that have been looking at that all year long and I think those five clubs are probably the five that remain.”

My guess is the Braves, Phillies, Brewers, Reds, and Padres are those five teams ready to sell. They’re all rebuilding and have aggressively moved veterans for prospects in recent weeks and months. What pitching do they have to offer the Red Sox? Eh, not much beyond Julio Teheran. That’s Boston’s problem though. Who cares about them.

Anyway, the point is the Red Sox are looking to add help right now, but there’s a shortage of viable trade partners. And if the Red Sox are ready to buy, you can be sure other contenders like the Rangers, Nationals, Giants, Cubs, Indians, Dodgers, and Orioles are ready to buy as well. No roster is perfect. They can all be improved, some more than others. The sooner you get that help, the better your chances to contend.

The Yankees insist they are not ready to sell — what else are they supposed to say? — but Dombrowski’s comments indicate they could benefit from being decisive and making moves now. It’s a seller’s market because that second wildcard spot has so many teams thinking playoffs and thus holding on to their players. Selling now comes with some obvious benefits, such as:

  1. You can ask for more in return. Because you’re trading away more games of a player — as of today, it’s five extra weeks of a player compared to moving him at the deadline — you can ask for more in return. Maybe not a ton more, but more.
  2. You lower your risk. This is pretty simple. The longer you hold onto your top trade chips, the odds of them getting hurt on your watch goes up, especially when it comes to pitchers. Think the Padres regret not moving Tyson Ross sooner? You bet they do.
  3. Less trade market competition. No one is ready to sell right now, which means buyers don’t have many options. It’s simple supply and demand. Making your players available right now means you control the market. Everyone is trying to get your players because they’re actually available.

The Red Sox are looking to buy but the Yankees aren’t going to trade with them. I think Dombrowski and Brian Cashman would be open to trading with each other, but a Yankees-Red Sox deal probably gets squashed at the ownership level. I’m talking about a major deal here, not Kelly Johnson for Stephen Drew. Neither team wants to risk losing a major trade to the other. That’s just the way it goes.

There are still plenty of other trade partners out there though! Teams are all over the Yankees’ relievers and I’m sure there’s interest in Carlos Beltran too. The Yankees could put those guys (and others) on the market today and not only get some bites, but find legitimate interest. Their ability to be sellers depends entirely on their willingness to sell. It’s not that there’s no market for their players yet. The market exists.

Are the Yankees going to make their players available right now and take advantage of the lack of competition? Almost certainly not. They want to get back into the race — I understand that, but the players aren’t exactly cooperating — so they’ll wait until the deadline to make moves, if any. That means assuming the added injury risk and forfeiting the ability to get out ahead of the market. There’s potentially a lot to be gained by selling now, but the Yankees seem content to wait this out.

Yankeemetrics: When two out of three isn’t enough [June 24-26]


Chapman heating up
The Yankees continued their homestand with another win against their favorite punching bag (and the worst team in the AL), the Minnesota Twins. By taking five of their first seven matchups against the Twins this season, they’ve clinched their 15th straight non-losing season series versus them.

That’s the second-longest streak of its kind in the history of this rivalry, which dates back to 1903 when the Twins were known as the Washington Senators. Amazingly, from 1934-64, the Yankees went 31 straight years without losing a season series to the Senators; the only year they didn’t end up with an outright advantage was in 1943, when the teams split their 22 matchups.

Masahiro Tanaka wasn’t sharp, but he was still good enough to give the Yankees a chance to win, allowing three runs in six innings. Despite struggles with his overall command, his splitter was in peak form. “Haven’t had that good of a split for a while,” Tanaka told Chad Jennings of after the game.

The Twins whiffed on nine of their 17 (53 percent) swings against the pitch, his second-highest whiff rate on the splitter this season. The pitch also netted him seven outs, including four strikeouts, and the lone hit allowed off the pitch was a single in the sixth inning. The key was his ability to keep the splitter down in the zone – he located the pitch an average of 1.74 feet below the center of the strike zone, his lowest mark of the season.

Masahiro Tanaka (1)
Aroldis Chapman had perhaps his most electric performance of the season so far, striking out the side in the ninth inning on 11 pitches. The first 10 were fastballs at 100-plus mph, increasing in speed on each successive pitch, with the final four going over 103 mph. And then he dropped a 90 mph changeup for a called strike three on Kurt Suzuki to end the game. Ridiculous.

Through Friday’s games, there had been 77 pitches of at least 103 mph thrown in the regular season since 2008 (the start of the Pitch F/X era). Seventy-five of them came from the arm of Chapman; the other two were thrown by Neftali Feliz and Henry Rodriguez, both in 2010.

Bronx bunters
The Twins are the gift that keeps on giving for the Yankees, who beat Minnesota for the fifth time in six matchups this season.

It was an unusual win from a statistical perspective: the Yankees had 10 hits in the game, but all were singles. The only other time over the last nine seasons that they won a game at home with double-digit hits and no extra-bases hits was on July 6, 2013 vs. the Orioles.

arod dork

Tied 1-1 heading into the eighth inning, the Yankees staged a most improbable rally, one that began with an infield single by Alex Rodriguez and was capped off by Aaron Hicks scoring the go-ahead run when Starlin Castro reached on an error by Twins shortstop Eduardo Escobar. For Castro, it was his team-leading third go-ahead RBI in the seventh inning or later.

Castro might have been the hero, but it was Michael Pineda who stole the spotlight with his finest effort of the season. The right-hander surrendered one run on two hits while striking out eight batters with one walk in six innings.

It was his fifth start this season of at least eight strikeouts and one or fewer walks, the second-most in the AL behind Chris Sale (six). The rest of the Yankee pitchers this season combined for two such starts through Saturday.

Pineda struggled mightily during the first two months, and entered June with an MLB-worst 6.92 ERA, but has seemingly turned his season around since the beginning of the month. He now has 3.00 ERA with 37 strikeouts and five walks in his last five starts, and just 25 hits allowed in 30 innings.

His darting slider was a key weapon for him against the Twins, who went 0-for-10 with five strikeouts in at-bats ending with the pitch. It was the first time all season he didn’t allow a hit on his slider. He was able to bury the pitch in the dirt, inducing whiffs on half the swings against the pitch. It was the third time in five June starts he’s had a swing-and-miss rate of at least 50 percent with his slider, after doing so just three times in his first 10 starts.


Boooooooo-birds in the Bronx
With a chance to get to two games above .500 for the first time since April 12 and extend their win streak to four games, the Yankees instead flopped miserably, losing in near-historic fashion to the worst team in baseball.

The final tally for the Yankee pitching staff was eight hits, seven runs and six homers allowed. It was the most homers the Yankees have ever allowed in a game against the Twins/Senators franchise. The last time the Yankees surrendered a half-dozen longballs in a game against any team was Sept. 6, 2012 vs. the Orioles at Camden Yards and the last time it happened in the Bronx was May 7, 2009 against the Rays.

Each of the six homers was hit by a different player, making this just the second time that six guys have gone deep in a game against the Yankees. The only other team to do it was the Indians on April 18, 2009 (R.I.P. Chien-Ming Wang and Anthony Claggett).

Nathan Eovaldi had allowed just one run through five innings before he imploded in the sixth frame, giving up three consecutive two-out homers. He’s the first Yankee pitcher to allow back-to-back-to-back homers since Chase Wright coughed up four in a row against the Red Sox on April 22, 2007.

Sunday’s outing ended a nightmare June for the enigmatic righty. In five starts this month, Eovaldi posted a 8.65 ERA as opponents hit .338/.388/.696 with 10 homers against him. The 10 homers were the most allowed by a Yankee pitcher in any calendar month since Jack McDowell also gave up 10 in June of 1995.

As if that wasn’t embarrassing enough, Tyler Duffey took a perfect game into the sixth inning and finished with a shiny pitching line of eight innings, two hits, no walks and eight strikeouts. He’s the first pitcher to go at least eight innings and allow two or fewer baserunners against the Yankees at Yankee Stadium since Pedro Martinez’s epic 17-strikeout, 1-hitter on Sept. 10, 1999.

Fan Confidence Poll: June 27th, 2016

Record Last Week: 3-2 (21 RS, 27 RA)
Season Record: 37-37 (304 RS, 329 RA, 34-40 pythag. record)
Opponents This Week: vs. Rangers (four games, Mon. to Thurs.), @ Padres (three games, Fri. to Sat.)

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.

DotF: German, DeCarr, and Degano all make season debuts

LHP Nestor Cortes has been promoted from Low-A Charleston to Double-A Trenton, the team announced. That has to be a temporary move. Cortes has been really good this year, but not “skip him over High-A permanently” good.

Triple-A Scranton (9-3 win over Pawtucket)

  • CF Ben Gamel: 0-4, 1 RBI, 1 BB, 1 K
  • DH Nick Swisher: 0-5, 2 K
  • RF Aaron Judge: 2-4, 2 R, 1 3B, 1 RBI, 1 BB, 1 K — no homer today, so he showed off his speed with a triple instead
  • C Gary Sanchez: 2-4, 2 R, 1 BB, 1 PB — 5-for-13 (.385) in his last three games, so he’s starting to come around a bit … he hadn’t been hitting much since coming back from the broken thumb
  • 1B Tyler Austin: 2-4, 2 R, 1 2B, 3 RBI, 1 BB, 2 K — he’s hitting .301/.366/.671 in 20 games since the promotion
  • LF Cesar Puello: 2-4, 1 R, 1 RBI, 1 BB
  • RHP Diego Moreno: 2.2 IP, 4 H, 2 R, 1 ER, 2 BB, 2 K, 1 HB, 3/1 GB/FB — 35 of 57 pitches were strikes (61%) … had to make the spot start with Luis Cessa in the big leagues
  • LHP Tyler Webb: 3.1 IP, 2 H, 1 R, 1 ER, 0 BB, 2 K, 3/2 GB/FB — 30 of 48 pitches were strikes (63%)
  • RHP Gio Gallegos: 2 IP, 2 H, 0 R, 0 ER, 0 BB, 3 K, 1/2 GB/FB — 29 of 44 pitches were strikes (66%)
  • RHP Conor Mullee: 1 IP, 1 H, 0 R, 0 ER, 0 BB, 3 K — ten of 14 pitches were strikes … 45/10 K/BB in 34.1 innings with the RailRiders this season

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