Thoughts following the nightmare West Coast trip

You wouldn't like Judge when he's angry. (Presswire)
You wouldn’t like Aaron when he’s angry. (Presswire)

So that road trip could have gone better, huh? If it makes you feel any better, the Yankees were one reliever getting hot away from going 4-3 in the seven games rather than 1-6. They had a lead with no more than six outs to go in three of those losses. “These are the times you find out what you’re made of as a team,” said Matt Holliday to Erik Boland after yesterday’s game. Anyway, I have some thoughts, so let’s get to ’em.

1. I think the odds are pretty good, maybe as good as 70/30, that Chance Adams will make his next start in the big leagues. CC Sabathia is going to be out a while and piggybacking Luis Cessa and Chad GreenJoe Girardi didn’t trust Cessa to go through a lineup a third time last year, so it’s not just yesterday — doesn’t strike me as something the Yankees would do for an extended period of time. Adams hasn’t slowed down a bit since the promotion to Triple-A, and heck, he’s already thrown more innings with the RailRiders than Jordan Montgomery did last year (40.2 to 37). It’s getting to the point where there’s no sense in wasting those bullets in the minors when he could possibly help you win in the big leagues, you know? Maybe the Yankees want to wait until his command improves, though they’re not shy about using command-challenged pitchers in the rotation at the big league level. There’s an open rotation spot and an open 40-man roster spot. Seems like it might be about that time to give Adams a shot.

2. The Gleyber Torres injury stinks and I’m glad it’s not more serious. It looked pretty bad. The first thing that popped into my head when I saw the play was A.J. Pollock last year. He fractured his elbow on an similar play at the end of Spring Training and missed basically the entire season. Here’s video of the Pollock injury. Looks like an innocent little slide! Torres is going for more tests today, though initial x-rays came back negative and he was diagnosed with a hyper-extension, so that’s encouraging. Hopefully there’s no ligament damage or anything. Torres says he already feels better, for what it’s worth. Anyway, that’s just a fluke-ish injury on a common baseball play. It happens. As long as the injury isn’t serious, the biggest negative here is the lost playing time, specifically the lost reps at third base. Gleyber’s bat has come around the last two weeks or so — he’s gone 18-for-45 (.400) with three doubles, one triple, and two homers in his last 12 games — but everyone in the organization seems to agree he needs more work at third base before being a big league option. The injury doesn’t eliminate the possibility of a big league call-up later this season. It might delay it a little bit, however.

3. The bullpen struggled big time during the West Coast trip, and with that happening, Dellin Betances‘ recent workload has become a bit of a hot topic. His lack of work, that should be. YES put up this graphic during Saturday’s game:


Ten innings in five weeks for one of the best relievers on the planet on a first place team. Yeesh. That is partly due to the offense. The Yankees have won a ton of blowouts this season — they’re 19-2 in games decided by at least five runs, which is nearly one-third of their games played — and Betances doesn’t pitch in blowouts. It’s also due to the fact he was the closer and got saved for save situations, which is silly, but it is what it is. Here’s what I wrote after the Aroldis Chapman injury:

I wonder whether it would be smart to let Tyler Clippard close rather than Betances. Clippard could start the ninth inning fresh with no one on base, allowing Betances to remain a setup man and potentially put out fires in the seventh inning on occasion … Hopefully Clippard and Betances (and Warren) are lights out and who pitches when isn’t a big deal. I just worry we’re going to see seventh or eighth inning leads evaporate with Betances sitting in the bullpen, being held back for the save situation.

That is pretty much exactly what happened on the West Coast trip. The Yankees had a late-inning lead in three of the six losses. In another, the game was tied in the seventh. Betances pitched in one of those games. Sigh. Dellin has thrown 21.2 innings through 67 games this season. Through 67 games last year, he’d thrown 32.2 innings. The year before it was 35 innings. The year before that is was 38.2 innings. Considering Betances wore down in September each of the last two seasons — and that the postseason is a very real possibility for the 2017 Yankees — perhaps the light workload now will pay dividends later. Then again, Dellin has always been a guy who needs regular work to keep his mechanics in check. He says so himself. Surely there was a happy medium to be struck while Chapman was out, right? Something between being overworked and throwing only ten innings in five weeks? Whatever. What’s done is done. It just irked me to see Betances marginalized by the save rule.

4. As for the rest of the bullpen, I said the other day the Yankees might need more help than a healthy Chapman, and a potential problem is that bullpen help tends to be quite expensive at the trade deadline. It’s not just the Chapman and Andrew Miller types. The Dodgers gave up Yordan Alvarez, a really good prospect (No. 14 in the Astros system), to get Josh Fields last year. Josh Fields! Even though I’m not the world’s biggest Clippard fan, getting him for a busted prospect last summer was a pretty shrewd move, and I’m hoping Brian Cashman can swing something similar this trade deadline. I just have no idea who that pitcher is, that veteran change of scenery guy. John Axford, maybe? A.J. Ramos? I’m not sure. And are any of them better than what the Yankees already have? I suppose they don’t have to be, necessarily. They’re better than someone in the organization and the extra depth helps. Point is, I get the sense the bullpen we see right now won’t be the bullpen the Yankees have in August and September.

5. Last weekend Aaron Judge hit that hilariously awesome 495-foot home run against the Orioles, though I thought it was only his second most impressive home run of the game. He hit an opposite field shot a few innings later. Remember this?

That’s not a bad pitch! It’s a really good pitch, actually. Jimmy Yacabonis threw a nasty little 96 mph two-seamer that started off the plate away and rode back in to clip the outside corner. Beautiful pitch. Judge just reached out and flicked it into the right field seats. Insane. He was down in the count 1-2 at one point. He took a borderline pitch for the 2-2 count, then hit that home run. Great at-bat that resulted in a home run off a pitch most hitters either take for a strike or try to foul off. The man is amazing. Throw a bad pitch and he’ll hit it 495 feet. Throw a good pitch and he’ll take it the other way 400 feet. All the “he’s a better pure hitter than he gets credit for” stuff that circulated as he came up through the minors is so true, isn’t it?

6. Does the recent Jean Segura extension mean anything for Didi Gregorius? Segura, who was two years away from free agency at the time of the extension, received five years and $70M coming off a season in which he hit .319/.368/.499 (126 wRC+). Gregorius is hitting .330/.351/.500 (124 wRC+) right now, and if the Yankees were to sign him after the season, he’d be two years away from free agency. Similar point of their careers and similar platform year production, with the giant caveat that Gregorius still has 90-something games to play this year, so who knows where his numbers will end up. Remember, Segura hit .252/.285/.331 (65 wRC+) with +0.3 WAR from 2014-15. He stunk. Then he had one big year and got paid. Why? Because good shortstops are valuable and damn hard to find. Gregorius was good during his first two years with the Yankees and he might be taking his game to another level this season. I know the Yankees have a ton of shortstops in the minors. That’s great. I don’t consider their presence enough of a reason to not explore a long-term extension with Gregorius. If nothing else, an extension would make him more valuable in a trade. The Segura deal provides a contract benchmark. You can be sure Gregorius and his agent will reference it in any extension talks.

7. Regarding last week’s amateur draft, my guess is the Yankees had to resort to Plan B with Clarke Schmidt and Matt Sauer. The player(s) they really wanted in the first round was off the board (Nick Pratto? Trevor Rogers?), and the backup plan was a below-slot deal with the injured Schmidt in the first round and Sauer (or a similar prospect who slipped) in the second round. Scouting director Damon Oppenheimer kinda sorta hinted at that after the draft. “This could have easily become a three-straight-position-players at the top of the draft,” he said to Randy Miller. I don’t love the Schmidt pick and would have preferred one of the comparable healthy players still on the board, specifically Evan White (RAB profile), David Peterson (RAB profile), or D.L. Hall (RAB profile), but I’m just an idiot blogger. The Yankees are smarter and have more information than me. My educated guess, based on following the draft for nearly two decades now, is that selecting an injured mid-first round talent in the middle of the first round was not Plan A. The Yankees probably had their eyes on someone else, and when that someone else wasn’t available, they shifted gears.

8. I do like the Yankees’ recent trend of taking lower level arms in minor trades rather than cash and I hope that continues indefinitely. They’ve done this twice recently. They got rookie-baller Yoiber Marquina from the Indians for Nick Goody and Low-A righty Matt Frawley from the Pirates for Johnny Barbato. Both Goody and Barbato had been designated for assignment, so the Yankees had zero leverage in trade talks. They had to be moved and everyone knew it. That’s why the majority of players who have been designated are traded for cash. And from what I understand, the cash sum is usually equal to the $50,000 waiver fee, which isn’t much in the grand scheme of things. The Yankees don’t need cash. I’d rather see them roll the dice with lower level power arms. If they work out and contribute in some way (for the MLB team, as a trade chip, etc.), great! If not, well no big deal. The Astros had some success with a similar strategy, most notably getting David Paulino (Jose Veras trade) and Francis Martes (Jarred Cozart trade) as live-armed rookie ball kids, and developing them into top prospects. I see no downside to picking up a young arm as the last piece in a trade or instead of cash. Eventually you’ll hit on one of them.

Yankeemetrics: West Coast Nightmare Part II (June 15-18)


Well, that was awful … but Yankeemetrics still has Fighting Spirit and all the stats you need to know.

One Strike Away
The nightmare road trip, which started in Anaheim, continued as the Yankees headed north to Oakland and suffered a brutal 8-7 loss on Thursday night. It was a game of extreme highs and lows, a back-and-forth rollercoaster ride that ended in one of the most crushing defeats of the season so far.

The Yankees kept falling behind … but somehow staged four separate game-tying rallies and finally surged ahead in the top of the 10th … only to snatch defeat from the jaws of victory. In the bottom of the 10th, Gio Gallegos surrendered a two-strike, two-out, bases-loaded RBI single that flipped the Yankees one-run advantage into another walk-off loss.

The details of this game were so chaotic and unprecedented, let’s run through it with bullet points:

  • It was the Yankees third walk-off loss to the A’s in the last six seasons (since 2012); no other non-AL East team has more than one walk-off win against the Yankees in that span.
  • It was their first walk-off loss to any team when they were one strike away from a win since April 15, 2007 against the A’s. Yikes, the Marco Scutaro game.
  • And finally … Before Thursday, the last (documented) time the Yankees had an extra-inning, walk-off loss, when leading with two outs and one strike away from a win, was June 4, 1988 against the Orioles. This game remains one of the most excruciating regular-season losses the Yankees have ever had, as they blew a two-run lead and lost on a rare three-base error in the 14th inning. Welp.

Back to Thursday night … Before the heart-breaking ending, the Yankees had taken the lead in the top of the 10th on a bases-loaded sac fly by Starlin Castro. Thankfully, Castro gives us our Obscure Yankeemetric of the Week:

This was the second time Castro had delivered a go-ahead sac fly in extras since joining the Yankees, also doing it against the Mets last August. Since sac flies were officially recorded in 1954, only three other players have hit multiple go-ahead, extra-inning sac flies in a Yankee uniform – Bernie Williams, Ruben Sierra and Horace Clarke.


No relief
It was deja vu all over again for the Yankees on Friday night as they lost another winnable game thanks to a late-inning meltdown by the depleted bullpen.

Four straight soul-crushing defeats, and in each of those four games a reliever has taken the loss. I scoured the Yankees’ boxscores and, in the last two decades, couldn’t find a four-game stretch where a relief pitcher took the loss in each contest. I was too depressed to research any further back.

Amidst the doom-and-gloom of this latest gut-punch loss was the shining star of Aaron Judge, who finished with two hits, two runs scored and three RBIs. He blasted his 23rd home run of the season, a three-RBI opposite field shot in the third inning.

The most amazing part of Judge’s power is that he is not just a pull-happy slugger. Check out this beautiful spray chart (LOL, the 495-foot home run that is literally off the chart):


According to the hit location data at, after Friday night’s game, his homer distribution was nice and symmetrical: six to left, 11 to center and six to right. He was a ridiculous 17-for-27 (.630) and slugging 1.407 when putting the ball in play to right – both those marks were easily the best in baseball among players with at least 25 batted balls to the opposite field.

Judge also checked off another milestone on Friday, scoring his 60th run of the season. The list of other Yankees in the last eight decades to reach 60 runs in the team’s first 65 games is a short, but holy-cow good one: A-Rod (2007), Rickey Henderson (1986), Mickey Mantle (1956, ’57) and Joe DiMaggio (1941).


Terrible Tanaka, again
The road trip from hell continued on Saturday afternoon with the Yankees extending their season-high losing streak to five games after another disaster, dinger-filled performance by Masahiro Tanaka.

The home run derby started on Tanaka’s first pitch of the game, which Matt Joyce deposited into the right-centerfield seats. It was the third leadoff homer allowed by Tanaka this season, one shy of the Yankees single-season record set by Stan Bahnsen in 1970. The only other Yankees to give up three leadoff homers in a season are Hiroki Kuroda (2014) and Catfish Hunter (1976).

Unsurprisingly, this is the current batting line for hitters leading off a game against Tanaka: .571/.571/1.286 — eight hits in 14 at-bats, including three homers and a double. Oh, and this is what happens when opponents put the first pitch of a plate appearance in play against Tanaka: .478 batting average and 1.130 slugging percentage — 22 hits in 46 at-bats, including nine doubles and seven homers.

The A’s pummeled Tanaka for two more home runs, bringing his season total to 21, the most homers ever allowed by a Yankee pitcher at this point in the season (team’s 66th game).

The silver lining in Tanaka’s atrocious outing is that 10 of the 12 outs he got were via strikeouts, showing that he still has the nasty, elite stuff to dominate hitters at times. His 10 strikeouts were the most by any Yankee that pitched no more than four innings in a game.

But, of course, there were the dreaded mistake pitches that the A’s crushed for three homers. In the end, Tanaka produced one of the most bizarre pitching line in baseball history. Going back to 1913 (our limit for complete gamelogs), Tanaka is the only major-league pitcher to strike out 10 batters and surrender at least three homers in an outing of four innings or fewer. History!


Goodbye and good riddance to the west coast
The Yankees miserable seven-game road trip mercifully came to an end on Sunday, fittingly with another hideous loss. They finished up 1-6 in California, the first time they won one game or fewer on a road swing of at least seven games in more than two decades. They went 1-8 on a nine-game trip from May 23-31, 1995 through Anaheim, Oakland and Seattle.

That brutal stretch, however, was filled with a few highlights — notably the big-league debuts of a couple Yankee legends: Mariano Rivera on May 23, and Derek Jeter on May 29.

As poorly as the Yankees played in Oakland, it was certainly an unexpected sweep by the home team: Entering this weekend, the Yankees were the only AL team that had not been swept in a series, and the Athletics were the only AL team that had yet to sweep a series this season. ‘Ya know, Suzyn …’

The most excruciating part of this current free-fall is that the Yankees had a chance to win probably every game, and have only been outscored by a mere nine runs during their six-game losing streak. The last time they endured a six-game stretch of games with six losses and run differential of no worse than negative-9 was June 29-July 4, 1975.

Three of the four losses in this series, and four of the six on this trip, were by exactly one run, as the Yankees record in those games fell to 7-12. Those 12 losses match the same number the Yankees had last year, when they went 24-12 in one-run games. Hey, at least Aroldis Chapman threw a perfect eighth inning and averaged 101.3 mph on the seven four-seam fastballs he threw, according to

Fan Confidence Poll: June 19th, 2017

Record Last Week: 1-6 (30 RS, 37 RA)
Season Record: 38-29 (383 RS, 275 RA, 43-24 pythag. record)
Opponents This Week: Mon. OFF, vs. Angels (three games, Tues. to Thurs.), vs. Rangers (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 pull-down menu in the nav bar above, or by clicking here. Thanks in advance for voting.

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Yankees drop their sixth straight and get swept by the A’s with a 4-3 loss

Source: FanGraphs

The Yankees lost six (6) games in a row to cap off this miserable West Coast trip. Getting swept by the Athletics in a four-game series is a cherry on the top. Today, they drew first blood by taking a 2-0 lead, but the A’s scored four off Luis Cessa in the third and the Yankees simply could not rally. Yuck. It is easily the lowest point of the 2017 Yankees season so far. Let’s just get it out of the way with a recap done in bullet-point style.

  • Getting ahead: The Yankees got the first run of the game when Matt Holliday drilled a solo homer to lead off the top of the second. He got a fastball upstairs from Jharel Cotton and took it pretty, pretty far (433 feet) into the center field seats. They added another in the top of the third. Brett Gardner doubled to deep right to start the frame and Aaron Judge hit a soft single off the end of his bat to drive him in. 2-0 Yankees. Maybe this game was going to be different than the previous five! And, of course, the bottom of the third came.
  • Getting all of them out of the way: The Yankees gave the lead back and then more (surprise, surprise). Cessa got into a trouble after allowing a single to Josh Phegley and a double to Matt Joyce, making it runners on second and third with one out. Chad Pinder hit a double to right to drive both of them in and the Yankees lead was gone. It was an annoying sequence of pitches – Cessa kept throwing towards the outside corner and Pinder fouled a bunch off. He got a hold of a slider that didn’t break sharply and tied the game up. Two batters later, Khris Davis went deep on a fastball upstairs to make it 4-2 Athletics. I, for one, am shocked that a guy with a 4.15 ERA/4.41 FIP in the AAA this season couldn’t rescue the Yankees out of the losing streak. Anyways, that was all the Athletics needed today.
  • The attempts to rally: The Yankees got one back right after. Leading off the fourth, Didi Gregorius pulled one just inside the foul pole to make it 4-3 A’s. From the fifth to the eighth innings, however, Yankees only managed two baserunners (Gardner single in the fifth and Judge HBP in the eighth) and, of course, came up with zilch. They had a chance to tie it up in the ninth inning. With one out against Sean Doolittle, Gregorius hit a grounder to short that seemed like an easy out, but the shortstop Chad Pinder badly missed his throw and the ball went into the Yankee dugout. As a result, Didi advanced to second. However, Chase Headley followed it up with a strikeout and Chris Carter popped out to end the game rather swiftly.
  • Leftovers: After Cessa, three bullpen arms went scoreless overall to keep it a one-run game. Chad Green continues to make his case to stay in the ML roster long-term by throwing two scoreless innings while striking out two. Tyler Clippard followed it up with a scoreless one in the seventh. Aroldis Chapman made his comeback in the eighth, hitting 100 mph a several times while pitching an easy 8-pitch 1-2-3 inning. The Yankees got one of the big bullpen arms back, so they got that going for them.

Here’s today’s box score, updated standings and WPA graph. The Yankees are back in Bronx on Tuesday against the LA Angels to start a six-game homestand. Thank God that trip is over now. Hope the Astros win again tonight to keep the Yankees in the first place in the AL East. Also, hope you all have a great Father’s Day!

DotF: Sheffield, Andujar lead Trenton to doubleheader sweep

As expected, SS Gleyber Torres was placed on the Triple-A Scranton disabled list today, the team announced. He hyper-extended his elbow on a play at the plate yesterday. X-rays came back negative, so that’s good, though Torres will have more tests tomorrow.

Triple-A Scranton (2-0 win over Buffalo in seven innings) completed early due to rain

  • SS Tyler Wade: 1-4, 1 E (throwing) — hitting streak is up to 18 games
  • LF Dustin Fowler & DH Clint Frazier: both 0-3 — Fowler scored a run
  • 1B Tyler Austin: 0-2, 1 RBI
  • CF Jake Cave: 2-3, 1 2B
  • LHP Caleb Smith: 7 IP, 1 H, 0 R, 0 ER, 2 BB, 7 K, 7/6 GB/FB — 58 of 84 pitches were strikes (69%)

[Read more…]

Game 67: Just end this stupid West Coast trip already

(Jason O. Watson/Getty)
(Jason O. Watson/Getty)

First things first: Happy Father’s Day to all you dads out there. Tell your dad you love him today because there’s a lot of us who can’t, and it sucks.

As for the Yankees, I tried being positive yesterday. I really did. But no. Apparently we can’t have nice things now. The Yankees have lost five straight games, including the last three to the team with the worst record (30-38) and run differential (-72) in the AL. Still. Even after these three wins, the A’s still have the worst record and run differential in the league. Blargh.

This stupid West Coast trip ends this afternoon and not a moment too soon. The losses are bad enough, especially when four of them were late inning “snatched defeat from the jaws of victory” losses, you know? The injuries are just salt in the wound. I blame the Gleyber Torres injury on this road trip. Logical? No. But things are going terribly right now and it makes me feel slightly better. Whatever. Here is the A’s lineup and here is the Yanks’ lineup:

  1. LF Brett Gardner
  2. C Gary Sanchez
  3. RF Aaron Judge
  4. DH Matt Holliday
  5. 2B Starlin Castro
  6. SS Didi Gregorius
  7. 3B Chase Headley
  8. 1B Chris Carter
  9. CF Mason Williams
    RHP Luis Cessa

Another nice and sunny day in the Bay Area. Great baseball weather. Today’s series finale will begin at 4:05pm ET and you can watch on YES. Enjoy.

Roster Moves: Welcome back, Aroldis Chapman. He has been activated off the disabled list, as expected. Joe Girardi said he’s likely going to pitch today no matter what, just to get some work in. Kyle Higashioka was sent back to Triple-A Scranton to clear a roster spot.

Sunday Morning Thoughts


Let’s start this with something obligatory, but wholly necessary. Happy Father’s Day to all the dads or step dads or dads to be or people (regardless of gender) who play the role of dad on a day-to-day basis. This is my first (official) Father’s Day and there is no ‘club’ more special than the one you ‘join’ when you become a parent. Every single cliche about it–fatherhood, parenting in general–I’ve found to be completely true. As I’m sure many of you did, I got my love of baseball–and countless other things–from my father and grandfather and I hope, one day, my son will say the same thing about my dad and me (and, of course, his mom, who’s just as big a fan). Either way, Happy Father’s Day, everyone!

California Nightmare

So, things have gone, uh, not well–industry term–for the Yankees on the west coast, have they? Walk off losses; bullpen meltdowns; injuries across the diamond. If there’s a bright spot in the 2017 season universe, this is the spot it’s farthest from. Regardless of how the rest of the season goes, this will be the turning point in the Yankees’ narrative of this season. Should they fall out of first place and ‘revert’ to what we though they’d be this year, it’ll be because of this rough stretch. Should they recover, though, and go back on a winning streak when they get back to the Bronx, this horrible week will indicate the team’s resilience, its moxie, its fighting spirit. 

Like baseball itself–defined by what’s going to happen, not necessarily what is happening–this season will be defined by what comes next and how the Yankees go along for the rest of the month. It’s certainly been a fun and unexpected ride up to this point, and there is a bit of a ‘house money’ feel to the season. It will be disappointing if this is a negative turning point, but these last three months of baseball have been as fun as any since 2009.

(Rob Carr/Getty)
(Rob Carr/Getty)

More Like Ta-NOT-ka, AMIRIGHT?!

What is up with Masahiro Tanaka? No, seriously, what the hell is up with Masahiro Tanaka? I’m out of answers, honestly. He’s clearly healthy enough to keep going out there–the team wouldn’t risk him, morally or financially–if he weren’t. He just…isn’t…good? That answer is one I find equally troubling because it just doesn’t seem to make much sense. He was Cy Young caliber last year and very good in the years prior. Is it possible he just turned into a pumpkin, became toast, seemingly overnight? Given that this is baseball and a pitcher we’re talking about, it’s possible. But it just doesn’t seem plausible.

Including CC Sabathia‘s good performance and Aaron Judge‘s absolute dominance, this development has surprised me the most, and I’m sure the same could be said for you all reading this. If there was one thing we were going to count on in 2017, it was Tanaka’s performance. Apparently not.

(Thearon W. Henderson/Getty)
(Thearon W. Henderson/Getty)

All Rise

Aaron Judge. Aaron Freaking Judge. Major League leader in fWAR by a full win (4.4) over Paul Goldschmidt (3.4). Major League leader in wRC+ (200) by 24 points over Ryan Zimmerman (!! What year is it?!). Major League leader in OBP (.444), just edging out Goldschmit (.443). Major League leader in slugging (.704), again beating out Zimmerman by more than 20 (.681). Major League leader in ISO (.369) over Eric Thames (.347).

If you saw this coming, raise your hand, then put it back down, you liar. There are no more adjectives left to describe what Aaron Jude has done and is doing and (hopefully) will continue doing. This has been the most enjoyable player performance by a Yankee since Alex Rodriguez in 2007. Like Alex’s did in his prime, Aaron’s at bats make you stop what you’re doing and watch because something special might (probably will at this point?) happen. That’s the fun of baseball and Aaron Judge is that feeling incarnate.