Fan Confidence Poll: May 11th, 2015

Record Last Week: 4-3 (25 RS, 26 RA)
Season Record: 20-12 (149 RS, 119 RA, 20-12 pythag. record)
Opponents This Week: @ Rays (four games, Mon. to Thurs.), @ Royals (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 menu 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?

Big Mike fans 16, Yankees take series finale from O’s 6-2


Source: FanGraphs

Gosh, what a game. And of course I missed it. Well, missed most of it. I was around for the first inning, inning and a half before I had to head out for some family time on Mother’s Day. Just my luck, right? The Yankees won for the 17th time in their last 23 games on Sunday, beating the Orioles 6-2 in the series finale. Let’s recap this one with an annotated box score.

Yankees Orioles annotated box scoe

(1) Sixteen strikeouts! I don’t want to spoil too much of tomorrow’s Yankeemetrics post, but Michael Pineda tied David Cone for the most strikeouts by a right-handed pitcher in a single game in franchise history. (Cone struck out 16 in June 1997.) Ron Guidry of course holds the franchise record with 18 strikeouts. Here is Big Mike‘s 16th strikeout:

I can’t remember the last time there was that much energy in Yankee Stadium for a non-legacy player farewell game. Pineda has kinda sorta been the staff ace since Masahiro Tanaka got hurt last year, but he confirmed it with authority on Sunday. He’s the ace. Sixteen strikeouts, no walks, one run in seven innings on a solo homer. Total domination. Pineda has 54 strikeouts and three walks in 46.1 innings this year. That’s a 29.5 K% and a 1.6 BB%, with a 53.2% ground ball rate to boot. Have mercy, Big Mike.

(Aside: Dan Barbarisi says Pineda calls strikeouts “strike ’em outs,” and I think we should all call them that from now on.)

(2) Carlos Beltran hit a home run! It’s his first dinger in 176 plate appearances, dating back to August 23rd of last season. It was a bit of a meatball, a hanging 85 mph slider, but that’s fine. It’s a pitch the hitter is supposed to crush and earlier this year Beltran wasn’t doing much with pitches like that. Carlos is 10-for-32 (.313) with four doubles, the homer, two walks, and two strike ’em outs in May. It’s no secret the Yankees rely heavily on the top of the order for offense. If they can start getting some production from Beltran in the sixth spot, man that would be a big help.

(3) I watched the video of Didi Gregorius‘ seventh inning double and I like the aggressiveness there. It took a perfect set of relay throws to get him at third base. That said, the run is the priority there. Stephen Drew broke it down too soon, and once the throw gets to the infield and it’s clear he’s not going to make it to third, Didi has to stop and get in a rundown so Drew could score. I don’t mind going for the triple there — that ball could have taken any sort of weird bounce off the wall, it just happened to bounce right to the cannon-armed Adam Jones — but the run has to score. Priority number one. Thankfully it didn’t come back to bite them.

(4) That was an incredibly dumb attempted steal of third base by Brett Gardner in the first inning. We went through this exact same situation with Gregorius in the first series of the year. Two outs, runners on base, power hitter at the plate … what’s the point of going there? Just let the hitter hit. Bud Norris has been pretty crappy this year and Brian McCann had a 2-0 count. A 2-0 count! Geez, Brett. Just let the man hit next time. Norris seemed very willing to work himself into trouble there and Gardner let him off the hook.

(5) The Yankees went 3-for-8 (.375) with three doubles and two walks (.500 OBP) with runners in scoring position on the afternoon. That’s really good. During this stellar 17-6 stretch, New York is hitting .243/.348/.439 with runners in scoring position. The AL average is .261/.345/.414 this year and the Yankees hit .254/.331/.372 in those spots from 2013-14. The batting average is a little low, but the on-base and slugging numbers are way, way better the last two seasons. Big time improvement from the Yankees in this area, hence the increase in scoring.

(6) At some point a number three reliever behind Dellin Betances and Andrew Miller is going to have to emerge. For a while it was Chris Martin, and lately it’s been Justin Wilson, but that spot is still undecided. That’s the role Adam Warren filled behind Betances and David Robertson last year. A five-run lead with six outs to go is a spot where Betances shouldn’t be needed for five outs, even if he threw only 23 pitches. Maybe Wilson can take that role and run with it these next few days. Maybe Jacob Lindgren can assume that role later in the year. For now, the Yankees don’t have that obvious number three option behind Dellin and Miller. Those two need to be able to sit games like this one out.

* * *

Here are the box score, the video highlights, and the updated standings. Also make sure you check out our Bullpen Workload and Announcer Standings pages. The Yankees are now off to start a nine-game, eleven-day road trip. CC Sabathia will open a four-game series in Tampa on Monday night. Righty Alex Colome will be on the bump for the Rays.

DotF: Judge and Sanchez go deep in Trenton’s blowout win

Triple-A Scranton (2-1 loss to Indianapolis)

  • CF Slade Heathcott: 1-4, 1 K
  • LF Ramon Flores: 1-2, 1 R, 1 BB, 1 HBP
  • 2B Rob Refsnyder: 2-4, 1 2B — 18-for-48 (.375) in his last 12 games … for the second straight year, he’s gotten hot after a slow two or three weeks to start the season
  • RF Tyler Austin: 0-3, 1 RBI, 2 K
  • RHP Kyle Davies: 6 IP, 3 H, 2 R, 2 ER, 3 BB, 2 K, 8/5 GB/FB — 59 of 92 pitches were strikes (64%)
  • LHP Tyler Webb: 2 IP, zeroes, 3 K, 2/1 GB/FB — 18 of 24 pitches were strikes (75%)
  • RHP Jared Burton: 1 IP, zeroes, 1 K, 1/1 GB/FB — nine of 15 pitches were strikes (60%)

[Read more…]

Mother’s Day Open Thread

Happy Mother’s Day to all you moms out there. You make the world go round. I was hoping to embed a video with Michael Pineda‘s 16 strikeouts tonight, but apparently no such video exists yet. For shame. We’ll have to settle for a strikeout compilation from last season instead.

Anyway, here is tonight’s open thread. The Tigers and Royals are the ESPN Sunday Night Game (Shane Greene vs. Chris Young) and the (hockey) Rangers are looking to keep their season alive with Game Six of their second round matchup with the Capitals. There’s also some NBA postseason action on as well. Talk about those games, Big Mike‘s day, or anything else right here.

Late Update: MLB.com finally put together the compilation video of Pineda’s 16 strikeouts. Enjoy:

Game 32: Big Mike on Mother’s Day

BIG MIKE IS HERE

This afternoon will be the Yankees’ last home game for 12 days. They just wrapped up a six-game road trip, came home for this four-game series against the Orioles, and will now head back out on the road for nine more days. Fifteen of 19 games on the road is what this stretch is. Long time to be away from the Bronx.

Anyway, the Yankees have already clinched at least a tie of this series with the O’s, and that’s nice, but dammit I want the series win. The Yankees are playing very well, as well as they have at any point in the last three years, and they just had a stretch of five straight series wins snapped. I want them to get back up on that horse and win this series, especially since their ace is on the mound against a division rival. Here is Baltimore’s lineup and here is New York’s lineup:

  1. CF Jacoby Ellsbury
  2. LF Brett Gardner
  3. DH Alex Rodriguez
  4. 1B Mark Teixeira
  5. C Brian McCann
  6. RF Carlos Beltran
  7. 3B Chase Headley
  8. 2B Stephen Drew
  9. SS Didi Gregorius
    RHP Michael Pineda

The weather today is the same as yesterday. Overcast and on the cool side, but there’s no rain in the forecast. This afternoon’s game is set to begin at 1:05pm ET, and you can watch live on YES locally and MLB Network nationally, depending on where you live. Enjoy the game. And happy Mother’s Day to all you moms out there.

Injury Update: Masahiro Tanaka (wrist, forearm) played catch again today, this time from 90 and 120 feet. Everything is going well and he is reporting no issues.

A Baseball Remembrance

Every baseball or softball game that I’ve ever played in has, generally, started the exact same way: some running, some stretching, some throwing. Lately, as in, since I graduated (read: got too old for one) from baseball to slow-pitch softball, I haven’t had a consistent throwing partner before games like I did during high school and American Legion baseball. Back then, I generally threw with the same teammate before each game. My first throwing partners, though, were my relatives, namely my father and his father, my grandfather. This is hardly unique; I’m sure that many of you reading this learned the game through your parents, grandparents, and siblings. Now, however, I’m going to be a bit selfish because today, May 10, would have been my grandfather’s 88th birthday.

When it’s hard for me to think back on the totality of the person my grandfather was, I think back on specific memories that involve him or his home where I spent so much time as a kid. And every image has something to do with baseball.

He kept a tennis ball under his deck that he’d throw at his neighbor’s roof if the pigeons he kept got up there. I used to take that ball every chance I could and throw it against his neighbor’s garage, whose outer wall faced into my grandfather’s yard.

Before big pigeon races, he would take his birds to random locations in the tri-state area (he really loved the Vince Lombardi Service Station on the Turnpike for this). One time, I went with him and we let the birds go on a baseball field. I was young, still playing on the small diamond. For fun, I ran the bases of this big diamond; I’m sure it took me forever and a half, but he made me feel like Rickey Henderson.

I recall his living room, which was my father’s childhood bedroom, where I would adjust the blinds so there wouldn’t be too much glare so we could watch the Yankees–at least until he fell asleep in his recliner.

On Saturdays when I would have games of my own on his side of town, my father and I, pizza in tow, would sit in his backyard, waiting for the pigeons to come home, listening to the Yankees on the radio.

His backyard sloped and when we did have a catch, he always insisted that I stand on the top part of the slop so I felt like I was pitching, so my throws would be easier, would seem harder, faster. Even now, I can picture his throwing motion, almost perfectly overhand, his bicep practically clipping his ear as it passed; this makes me think he’d absolutely love watching Chase Headley throw (seriously, could his throws be more over-the-top?).

I can’t even begin to count the amount of times he and I sat with my father around the kitchen table, talking about baseball. The generational connection so often peddled out by MLB for marketing purposes is definitely tired, but it exists for a reason. The three of us did not always have a lot in common–how could we?–but baseball was always there to bind us, to lighten our stresses.

And then on July 24, 2006, after a little under a month in the hospital, my grandfather died. To cope, or to help cope, I threw myself headlong into baseball. Looking back, I most definitely pushed away family and friends at times that summer, which I regret, but I embraced baseball with vigor I hadn’t known before. Every night when the Yankees played, that was my catharsis. I doubt I expressed this properly then, maybe I couldn’t, but turning on those games on TV or the radio, or being at the Stadium made me feel a connection to my grandfather. For three hours a night, I felt better and that’s all I cared about.

I owe all the baseball writing I’ve done to my grandfather. It is partially through the memory of him that I love watching the game, and talking about the game, and writing about the game. This piece alone cannot adequately encapsulate just how much I miss having him around, but (again) selfishly, it feels good to put “pen” to “paper” and talk about his influence on me as a player of and a fan of the game. Happy Birthday, Louie; thanks for helping imbue me with a love for the greatest game there is.

DotF: Jagielo homers again, Double-A Trenton loses again

Triple-A Scranton (2-1 win over Indianapolis)

  • DH Slade Heathcott: 1-3, 2 R, 1 BB, 1 SB — 11-for-29 (.379) with three walks and three strikeouts during his seven-game hitting streak
  • LF Ramon Flores: 2-4
  • RF Tyler Austin: 0-2, 1 RBI
  • 1B Kyle Roller & C Austin Romine: both 0-3 — Roller struck out twice
  • RHP Jaron Long: 6 IP, 5 H, 1 R, 1 ER, 1 BB, 5 K, 1 WP, 1 HB, 5/4 GB/FB — 50 of 77 pitches were strikes (65%) … easily his best start of the year
  • LHP Jacob Lindgren: 2 IP, 1 H, 0 R, 0 ER, 0 BB, 4 K, 1/0 GB/FB — 19 of 29 pitches were strikes (66%) … 34.9 K% and 80.0 GB% … apparently he was 89-90 mph today after sitting 87-88 mph earlier this year, according to Donnie Collins … reports out of college had him as a mid-90s guys, but those are wrong all the time, I believe he was 90-91 mph or so in Spring Training … either way, his slider is the pitch that matters
  • RHP Nick Rumbelow: 1 IP, 1 H, 0 R, 0 ER, 0 BB, 2 K, 0/1 GB/FB — nine out of 12 pitches were strikes … 24/3 K/BB in 15.1 innings

[Read more…]