DotF: Judge homers for fourth time in last eight games in Scranton’s loss

Triple-A Scranton (5-4 loss to Lehigh Valley)

  • RF Aaron Judge: 1-4, 1 R, 1 HR, 2 RBI, 1 BB — threw a runner out at second for his fifth outfield assists in 23 games in the outfield … fourth homer in his last eight games
  • C Gary Sanchez: 1-5, 1 RBI, 1 K
  • CF Slade Heathcott: 0-4, 1 BB, 2 K — 8-for-38 (.211) since missing a few days after taking a pitch to the hand
  • DH Nick Swisher: 0-5, 2 K — in an 0-for-13 skid
  • 2B Rob Refsnyder: 1-4 — the hitting streak is up to a dozen games
  • RHP Luis Cessa: 5.2 IP, 6 H, 5 R, 5 ER, 3 BB, 3 K, 6/5 GB/FB — 58 of 97 pitches were strikes (60%) … had allowed six earned runs total in his first four outings at this level
  • RHP Matt Wotherspoon: 2.2 IP, 1 H, 0 R, 0 ER, 0 BB, 3 K, 2/2 GB/FB — 20 of 32 pitches were strikes (63%) … home debut with the RailRiders for the Scranton area native
  • LHP James Pazos: 0.2 IP, zeroes, 2 K — ten pitches, seven strikes

[Read more…]

Nate and the Round Trippers

(Getty)
(Getty)

Far be it from me to criticize Nathan Eovaldi after the start he turned in yesterday. He twirled eight great innings, giving up just two runs on only six hits while striking out six and walking no one. One of those runs, however, came via a Jackie Bradley homer, which caused our very own Sunny to make an observation:

Eovaldi seems to be giving up dingers in a very alarming rate compared to how well he kept the balls in the park last year

A quick glance at the numbers shows us that Sunny’s hunch is, indeed, correct. In terms of raw dingers, Eovaldi’s already given up six this year; he surrendered just ten all of last season. His career high is an acceptable 14, set the year before last with the Marlins. In terms of HR/FB%, Nate’s clocking in at a whopping 19.4%, well above his previous career high of 8.1 (2012) and career norm of 7.7. His mark so far is good for fifth worse in the AL. The season’s still fairly young, so he has plenty of time to bring this number back down. That doesn’t mean, though, that it’s not a problem worth examining.

Let’s start on a positive note: Eovaldi’s blistering fastball has not left the yard much during his Yankee tenure. In 2015, it turned into a homer on only 0.48% of the time it was thrown; so far this year, it’s even better at a whopping 0.00%. We can attribute this trend to the fact that he’s allowing fewer fly balls per ball in play this year at 13.46 percent, compared to 21.33% last year. Fewer fly balls, fewer home runs. Pretty simple. His other pitches, though have seen spikes in fly ball rates, and in turn, spikes in home run rates.

The fly ball rates on his slider, curve, and splitter have risen by 21.3%, 7.74%, and 1.73% respectively. Not surprisingly, his homer rates–measured by HR/(FB+LD)–have risen big time as well, including a humongous number with his curveball: 50%. 50% of the fly balls and line drives Eovaldi’s given up via the curveball have gone for home runs. Yikes! But, his curveball is the pitch he utilizes the least. The narrative around Eovaldi–aside from his high-octane fastball–has focused on his ability to develop his splitter. Though improved, it’s still a work in progress. This year, it has an 18.18% HR/(FB+LD) mark, which is more damaging than the gaudy mark on the curve, since he throws the splitter so much more often. Take a look below at batters’ (both LHB and RHB) ISO against the split:

(BrooksBaseball.Net)
(BrooksBaseball.Net)

Those red spots are telling. Regardless of who’s batting, a splitter in those locations is going to get hammered. For a right-handed batter, that’s a tumbling pitch at a better hitting speed than a straight fastball. For a lefty, those are meatballs that didn’t break right, begging to be hammered. This all reminds me of a similar issue that Masahiro Tanaka had late last year. Pitchers who rely on splitters are going to get hurt when those pitches don’t, well, split. That seems to be happening a bit with Eovaldi this year. Luckily, his whiff/swing% on the split is nearing 30% and he’s getting grounders on it exactly two-thirds of the time (66.67%) it’s being put into play. The pitch is an overall positive that needs some polishing. Hopefully as the season goes along, he gets it to drop out of the zone more and the grounders and whiffs stay, while the homers recede.

DotF: Sanchez and Mateo homer again in wins

Some quick roster notes:

  • RHP Brady Lail has been promoted to Triple-A Scranton, so says Josh Norris. Lail has a 4.23 ERA (4.24 FIP) in 27.2 innings for Double-A Trenton this year. He started today in place of RHP Luis Cessa, and I’m guessing the Yankees held Cessa back in case they needed to call him up to help the bullpen.
  • Both OF Michael O’Neill and OF Zack Zehner were placed on the High-A Tampa DL, according to Nick Flammia. OF Carlos Vidal and UTIL Devyn Bolasky will take their place on the roster. Vidal was just bumped up from Extended Spring Training to Low-A Charleston last week. They like him enough to send him to High-A already, even temporarily.

Triple-A Scranton (8-7 win over Lehigh Valley in ten innings, walk-off style)

  • RF Aaron Judge & DH Nick Swisher: both 0-5, 3 K — womp womp … Judge did throw a runner out at the plate though
  • C Gary Sanchez: 3-5, 2 R, 2 2B, 1 HR, 2 RBI — third homer in his last four games … he’s 10-for-19 (.526) with three doubles and three homers in his last four games
  • CF Slade Heathcott: 0-1, 1 K — he was lifted in the third inning because he was having problems with his new contacts, according to Shane Hennigan
  • 2B Rob Refsnyder: 2-4, 2 R, 1 2B, 1 K — 17-for-44 (.386) during his eleven-game hitting streak
  • 1B Chris Parmelee: 3-5, 2 R, 1 2B, 1 HR, 1 RBI — walk-off dinger
  • RHP Brady Lail: 3.2 IP, 4 H, 4 R, 4 ER, 3 BB, 1 K, 5/2 GB/FB — 42 of 67 pitches were strikes (63%) … 14/20 K/BB in 40.2 career Triple-A innings
  • LHP Tyler Olson: 3.1 IP, 3 H, 3 R, 3 ER, 1 BB, 1 K, 3/5 GB/FB — 24 of 45 pitches were strikes (53%)
  • RHP Conor Mullee: 3 IP, 2 H, 0 R, 0 ER, 2 BB, 3 K, 2/2 GB/FB — 24 of 44 pitches were strikes (55%)

[Read more…]

Saturday Open Thread

I command you to read Billy Witz on Aroldis Chapman. Chapman’s suspension is up Monday and Witz looks at the southpaw’s routine over the last few weeks. Aside from working out at the team’s Spring Training complex, he’s also seeing counselors as part of his discipline under the domestic violence policy. Chapman is eager to join the Yankees but he also remains unrepentant about the incident that earned him the suspension. Check it out. Really good stuff from Witz.

Here is the open thread for the rest of the day. The Mets are playing later and MLB Network will show a bunch of regional games throughout the evening. You’ve also got NHL and NBA playoff action as well. And the Kentucky Derby is on too, if that’s your thing. Talk about those games, this afternoon’s win, or anything else right here. Have at it.

The Big Hits Finally Arrive: Didi & Beltran back Eovaldi in 8-2 win over Red Sox


Source: FanGraphs

Don’t look now, but the Yankees have won two in a row and three of their last four games. They’ve scored at least seven runs three times in their last six games too. Are they turning it around? Possibly! For now I’m just happy with another win. The Yankees beat the Red Sox 8-2 Saturday afternoon. Let’s recap with bullet points, because it’s Saturday and I stayed up way too late writing last night’s recap.

  • The Big Hit: Finally! It sure looked like the Yankees were going to blow that bases loaded situation in the fourth inning, but Didi Gregorius wouldn’t let it happen. He hooked David Price’s 0-2 changeup into the right field corner for a bases-clearing half-swing double to give the Yankees a 4-1 lead. It wasn’t even a bad pitch. Didi just went down and got it.
    Didi Gregorius Aaron HicksWe could all feel the RISPFAIL coming when Gregorius fell behind in the count 0-2 against Price. Thankfully, it never did come. The Yankees have been waiting for a hit like that all season.
  • Nasty Nate: It was not always pretty, but boy, give me two runs and eight innings out of Nathan Eovaldi eight days a week and twice on Sundays. He allowed the first run on a dumb little shift-beating squibber and the second on a solo homer, and those things happen. Eovaldi managed to hold the BoSox to two at-bats with runners in scoring position. That’s it. Nasty Nate finished with those two runs allowed on six hits and no walks in eight innings. He stuck out six. Huge outing. The Yankees absolutely needed that with the bullpen short. That’s four good to great starts in a row for the rotation, by the way.
  • The Other Big Hit: The Yankees did it again! In the bottom of the fifth, the Yankees put two on with one out, and they again cashed in those runners. Carlos Beltran came up with the big two-strike, two-out double into the left field corner to score both runs and make it 6-2 Yankees. That was rather huge. They were going to need all the insurance they could get with Dellin Betances and Andrew Miller unavailable. Price walked two and Beltran made him pay. B-e-a-utiful.
  • Leftovers: Home plate umpire Chris Conroy had a very tight strike zone, and it definitely seemed like Price got screwed more than Eovaldi. Here’s the PitchFX zone plot … three Yankees had multiple hits: Chase Headley, Gregorius, and Austin Romine. How about that? Headley and Didi had two hits each, Romine had three … Aaron Hicks went 1-for-3 with a walk and a sac fly. He seems to be coming around a bit … everyone in the starting lineup reached base at least once … Nick Goody finished things off with a perfect ninth … this is the Yankees’ third series win of the season. They’ve played nine three-game series.

Here are the box score, video highlights, and updated standings. Don’t forget to check our Bullpen Workload and Announcer Standings pages either. The Yankees and Red Sox will wrap this series up Sunday night on ESPN. Blah. Luis Severino and Steven Wright will be the pitching matchup.

Game 28: Short-Handed

Cut that hair, Gamel. (Presswire)
Cut that hair, Gamel. (Presswire)

The Yankees never seem to win an easy game these days, and last night’s win was easily the biggest nail-biter of the season. Between injuries and workloads, the team is pretty short-handed today. Jacoby Ellsbury (hip) is banged up, Alex Rodriguez (hamstring) and CC Sabathia (groin) are on the DL, and neither Dellin Betances nor Andrew Miller is available because they’re pitched so much lately.

It’s a long season and inevitably you’re going to run into games like this along the way. No one is going to feel bad for the Yankees. All they can do is grind it out and figure out a way to win. They’ve won two of their last three, you know. That’s good. It’s something positive to build on. Here is the Red Sox’s lineup and here is the Yankees’ lineup:

  1. LF Brett Gardner
  2. CF Aaron Hicks
  3. 2B Starlin Castro
  4. 1B Mark Teixeira
  5. DH Carlos Beltran
  6. RF Dustin Ackley
  7. 3B Chase Headley
  8. SS Didi Gregorius
  9. C Austin Romine
    RHP Nathan Eovaldi

It’s another cloudy and cool day in New York. At least it’s not raining though. This afternoon’s game will begin at 1:05pm ET and you can watch on YES. Enjoy.

Injury Update: Ellsbury is still on the active roster but is expected to miss a few days. He doesn’t need a DL stint though … Sabathia played catch today and said he feels pretty good. He hopes he’ll be able to be activated after the 15 days and doesn’t think he’ll need a rehab start.

Hicks homers, Yankees hang on for 3-2 win over Red Sox

You done messed up that baseball A-A-Ron! I hope some of you get that. (Those who didn’t: watch this.) The Yankees actually won a game Friday night — weird, I know — beating the Red Sox 3-2 thanks to a late home run by Aaron Hicks. Andrew Miller, with some help from home plate umpire Ron Kulpa, made it stand up in the ninth inning. That was a fun game, yes? Yes. Yes it was.

(Presswire)
(Presswire)

Nail-Biting Time In The Ninth
Let’s recap this game backwards and start with the ninth inning. The Yankees were nursing a 3-2 lead and Joe Girardi wanted this game so badly he used Dellin Betances for the third consecutive day. Dellin threw six pitches Wednesday and ten pitches Thursday, so it’s not like he pitched a lot the last few days, but Girardi usually doesn’t use his relievers three days in a row. In fact, this is the first time he’s done it since September 2014 (David Robertson).

Betances allowed a single and got two outs in the eighth inning, and it was pretty clear Girardi had him on a pitch count. He was lifted after 15 pitches and Miller came in for the four-out save. Miller struck out Jackie Bradley Jr. to end the inning, then came back out for the ninth. And gosh, what a ninth inning. It’s never easy, is it? The Red Sox loaded the bases with one out on an infield single, a legitimate single, and a dropped pop-up in the triangle. Yuck.

The Yankees still led 3-2 but now the BoSox had the bases loaded with David Ortiz at the plate, which is pretty much everyone’s worst nightmare. Miller fell behind in the count 3-1 and we were all waiting to see how the Yankees would blow the lead. Here’s the 3-1 slider that I’m pretty sure every single one of us thought was ball four:

Andrew Miller David Ortiz

Good gravy is that a bad aesthetic. McCann got crossed up — he was expecting a fastball and got a slider — and he caught it funny, which made the pitch look a lot worse than it really was. It was a strike though. Absolutely. It caught the corner according to PitchFX. David Ortiz and manager John Farrell didn’t want to hear it though. They both argued and Farrell was tossed. Not Ortiz though. He continued the at-bat.

Miller went back to the slider for the 3-2 payoff pitch and he got a favorable call from Kulpa for strike three. Ortiz walked the dugout before running back out to give Kupla the business. To be honest, I don’t blame him. Umpires are known to hold grudges, and after Ortiz and Farrell gave him lip after the 3-1 pitch, it seemed like Kupla gave the favorable call to Miller on the 3-2 pitch. Here’s the video of the 3-2 pitch and Ortiz’s tirade:

Miller struck out Hanley Ramirez with the bases loaded to end the game after putting Ortiz away. That almost felt inevitable. I felt like once the Yankees got away with that 3-2 pitch to Ortiz, they were going to win. The call was too favorable to not win, you know?

For the sake of being thorough, here is the strike zone plot of the Ortiz at-bat, per Brooks Baseball:

Andrew Miller Davis Ortiz strike zone

The 3-1 pitch was in the strike zone. It just looked really bad because McCann got crossed up. The 3-2 pitch was down below the zone though and a robot umpire would have ruled it ball four. Luckily the #humanelement still exists and Kulpa called what should have been ball four strike three. Hey, I ain’t complaining.

An A-A-Bomb For A-A-Ron
Hicks’ tenure with the Yankees has not started well. (John Ryan Murphy was sent to Triple-A on Friday, so neither side is getting what they want from the trade right now.) He came into Friday’s game with three hits in 33 at-bats (.091), which is obviously terrible. Alex Rodriguez‘s injury means Hicks is probably going to play everyday for the next two weeks however, so this is a chance for him to show what he can do.

In the sixth inning Hicks’ usually excellent defense let the Yankees and Michael Pineda down. He let two soft fly balls drop in front of him for base hits and both probably should have been caught. The second one definitely should have been caught. The first one kinda died in the air and dropped quick. It would have been a tough play. But still, you want your defensive wiz to make those plays. Pineda put his hands up and showed up Hicks on both plays, which is total crap. Pineda finally had his first decent start of the year and he’s showing up teammates? Get real.

Anyway, Pineda got Bradley to bang into a double play to end that sixth inning and keep the game tied 2-2. Two innings later, in the bottom of the seventh, Hicks laid into a first pitch changeup from Rick Porcello that was right out over the plate. I mean, look at this thing:

Aaron Hicks Rick Porcello

That’s an 86 mph center cut changeup. It’s a batting practice fastball, basically. Hicks hit it over the bullpen and into the first row of the right field bleachers, so he got all of it. In fact, at 446 feet (per Statcast), it was the longest home run by the Yankees this season.

And boy, did Hicks need that. Hicks and the Yankees needed it. He needed something to feel good about following his rocky start, and the Yankees just needed a damn run. When Girardi gets ejected trying to get a balk call to force in a run like he did Thursday, you know the team is desperate for runs. Hicks delivered a big one Friday.

(Presswire)
(Presswire)

The Battle Back
The Yankees quickly fell behind 2-0 in the first inning, and it was easy to think the game was over. They’re not scoring and the Red Sox probably were not going to stop at two runs. Instead, the Yankees battled back to tie the game at 2-2, scoring one run in the first and another in the second.

Jacoby Ellsbury led off the first with a four-pitch walk, then stole second and third against Christian Vazquez, who I’m told is the fourth Molina brother. McCann cashed the run in with a two-out, two-strike double to right field. Ellsbury, by the way, got hurt in the inning. He tweaked his hip on the steal of third and was pulled from the game. An MRI showed a strained hip muscle and he is day-to-day.

McCann cut Boston’s lead in half, then, in the bottom of the second, the Yankees manufactured a run with an infield single and a sacrifice bunt. Starlin Castro beat out the single and Hicks laid down the bunt. He was trying to bunt for a hit, which is a smart play in the rain with the wet grass, but Porcello made a very nice play to get him at first. Dustin Ackley, who replaced Ellsbury, stroked a two-out single to center to score Castro and the tied the game.

The inning actually ended on that play. Ronald Torreyes drew a walk and was on first base when Ackley singled, and he was cut down at third base on the single. Bradley’s throw from center was so bad that Dustin Pedroia cut if off and threw Torreyes out at third. The ball had to have slipped out of Bradley’s hand. I’m not sure how else he fired a two-hopper to the cutoff man.

Anyway, how about that? Hicks and Ackley (Hickley or Ackicks? Did we pick one?) contributing to the offense. Good times.

(Presswire)
(Presswire)

Two Outs Mike
The Red Sox put eight runners on base against Pineda — six hits and two walks — and wouldn’t you know it, six of the eight came with two outs in the inning. Coming into the game opponents had a .509 OBP (!) with two outs in the inning against Pineda. It was .239 OBP with zero or one out. He’s struggled to finish innings all season.

Boston scored both their runs in the first inning. Pineda got two quick outs (of course), then allowed a two-out double to Xander Bogaerts (of course) and a two-run home run to Ortiz (of course). Hanley and Travis Shaw followed with two-out singles for good measure. It felt like another one of those games for the pitcher former known as Big Mike. He looked great after two batters then it came apart.

To Pineda’s credit, he settled down very nicely after that first inning. He retired 12 of 14 batters from the second through fifth innings before the Red Sox put some runners on base in the sixth. Hicks’ misplays in center were to blame there. Pineda finished the night with just the two runs allowed on six hits and two walks in six innings. He fanned five. The first inning was frustrating, but Pineda did settle down, so hooray for that. That’s three good to great starts in a row for the rotation.

Leftovers
Disturbing stat about the offense: they saw 32 pitches in the final four innings. Total. They saw seven pitches in the fifth, ten in the sixth, five in the seventh, and ten in the eighth. That is: bad. I am in favor of swinging early in the count, but geez, not that much. Starting working some counts, fellas.

Chasen Shreve and Kirby Yates tag-teamed the seventh inning. Shreve allowed a leadoff double to Vazquez, then got a gift when Mookie Betts popped up a bunt. Why he was bunting, I’ll never know. Yates then came in and got a liner to short from Pedroia and a strikeout of Bogaerts. Bogaerts did not like the strike three call:

Kirby Yates Xander Bogaerts

Kulpa bad a big strike zone, I get it, but boy do the Red Sox complain about a lot of calls. They’re like the Rasheed Wallace of baseball teams.

The Yankees only had six hits and three walks offensively. Ackley, McCann, Castro, Hicks, Brett Gardner, and Didi Gregorius had the base hits. Ellsbury, Gardner, and Torreyes drew the walks. Mark Teixeira and Carlos Beltran went a combined 0-for-7 with two strikeouts. Yuck. The Yankees really need those two to get going.

And finally, Ben Gamel made his big league debut as a defensive replacement for Ackley in right field in the eighth inning. Naturally, the very first ball was hit his way. Congrats to Gamel. He’s come a long way since being a tenth round pick in 2010.

Box Score, WPA Graph & Standings
Here are the box score and video highlights for the game. Here are the updated standings and our Bullpen Workload and Announcer Standings pages. Now here’s the win probably graph:


Source: FanGraphs

Up Next
The Yankees and Red Sox will continue the series Saturday afternoon. It’ll be Nathan Eovaldi against David Price, a rematch of last Sunday’s game. Hopefully this one goes a little better. RAB Tickets can get you in the door if you want to catch game or any of the other eight games left on the homestand live.