Yankeemetrics: Stump Merrill’s Revenge [April 29-May 1]

(AP Photo)
(AP Photo)

Two is not enough
The series opener in Boston played out like a recurring nightmare for the Yankees this season: get an early (albeit small) lead, miss out on countless scoring chances to build that lead, and lose. The 4-2 loss was the ninth time this season that the Yankees lost despite holding a lead at some point in the game. Through Friday, that was the most “blown losses” of any team in the majors. (And of course they added to that total later in the series.)

David Ortiz continued to torment the Yankees, crushing a mammoth, two-run homer over the Green Monster in the eighth inning to break a 2-2 tie. It was his 14th career go-ahead homer against the Yankees; over the last 50 seasons, the only players with more home runs that gave their team the lead against the Yankees are Manny Ramirez and Jim Rice, both with 15.

Ortiz’s game-winning blast came off an 83-mph hanging curveball from Dellin Betances, the second straight outing he’s given up a homer with the breaking pitch. In his first nine games this season, batters had one single in 24 at-bats (.042) ending in Betances’ curve, and 20 of the 23 outs he recorded with the pitch were strikeouts.

With A-Rod also going deep earlier in the game — he became the oldest Yankee to homer against the Red Sox since Enos Slaughter (age 42) in 1959 — it marked the first major-league contest since at least 1913 in which a 40-year-old homered for each team.

How low can you go?
“April is the cruelest month” – T.S. Eliot
It is getting harder and harder to describe the depths of the Yankees anemic offensive production this season — lifeless, horrific, dreadful, ghastly, grisly — there aren’t enough words in the thesaurus to properly put it into perspective. It is a lineup that struggling so badly it practically defies explanation.

The Yankees are reaching new lows each night, the latest coming on Saturday after they were blown out by the Red Sox, 8-0. It was their worst shutout loss at Fenway Park since losing 10-0 on August 2, 1973, a.k.a. the immortal days of Horace Clarke, Gene Michael and Felipe Alou anchoring the Yankees lineup.

With the loss, the Yankees dropped to 8-14 on the season, finishing up their worst April since going 6-11 in 1991. Their gross offensive numbers are even more mind-numbing:

  • 3.36 runs per game is their fewest in April since 1984
  • .360 slugging percentage is their worst in April since 1989
  • .304 on-base percentage is their worst in April since 1972

Chase Headley has to wear the hat as the team’s worst performer in April, ending up with an unfathomable line of .150 /.268/.150. He tallied just nine singles the entire month and somehow drove in two runs in 19 games played, and one of them was on a sacrifice fly.

Most notably, his 71 plate appearances without an extra-base hit during the month are the second-most by any Yankee in April, behind only Roy White (84 in 1973). And Headley just barely edged out Mike Ferraro – who slugged .148 in April 1968 – for the worst slugging percentage this month over the last 100 seasons by a Yankee (min. 50 PA).

When it rains, it pours
On a night when the Yankee bats finally woke up from their deep slumber, their pitching failed miserably as the Red Sox completed the three-game sweep with a 8-7 win. This is the seventh time in franchise history they’ve lost at least 15 of their first 23 games; only once in those six previous seasons did they finish with a winning record, going 87-75 in 1984 after a 8-15 start.

A-Rod gave the Yankees a brief 3-1 lead in the third inning with his second homer in this series and his 39th homer in pinstripes against the Red Sox. He passed Yogi Berra for the fifth-most by a Yankee in this storied rivalry, trailing only Babe Ruth (90), Lou Gehrig (70), Mickey Mantle (69) and Joe DiMaggio (46). The homer also gave him 5,764 total bases in his career, moving ahead of Ruth for second place in American League history.

Two innings later A-Rod hit a booming double off the wall to put the Yankees ahead again, 5-4. That was his 544th career two-bagger, tying Derek Jeter for 31st on the MLB all-time list. He finished with four RBIs, becoming the oldest visiting player ever with at least two extra-base hits and four RBIs in a game at Fenway Park.

Dellin Betances came in to get the final out of the seventh inning with the score tied 6-6, and promptly served up a monster homer to the first batter, Christian Vazquez, on a 97 mph first-pitch fastball. It was the third straight outing he had allowed a home run, the first time in his career he’s done that. Vazquez had one homer in 214 career at-bats before he hit the go-ahead shot, and entered the game with a slugging percentage of .190 on pitches 95-plus mph.

Fan Confidence Poll: May 2nd, 2016

Record Last Week: 1-5 (15 RS, 34 RA)
Season Record: 8-15 (81 RS, 112 RA, 8-15 pythag. record)
Opponents This Week: Mon. OFF, @ Orioles (three games, Tues. to Thurs.), vs. Red Sox (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.

Yankees get swept by the Red Sox, lose 8-7 Sunday night

Adam Glanzman/Getty Images

The Yankees have lost five straight, dropping to an awful 8-15 record. Nothing like losing because one of your bullpen aces allowed a go-ahead homer to a defense-first catcher who hadn’t homered since 2014. It’s a weekend night and we’re gonna do this bullet-point style here.

  • The Red Sox drew the first blood in the first. Mookie Betts and Dustin Pedroia started it off with back-to-back singles to put runners on corners. Xander Bogaerts hit into a fielder’s choice ground out to score Betts, 1-0 Red Sox. Nathan Eovaldi retired David Ortiz on a strikeout and Hanley Ramirez on pop out to get out of the inning.
  • The Yankees actually scored a run in the third. Actually, by a run, I meant three. Ronald Torreyes led off with a single and advanced to second on an Austin Romine sac bunt. Jacoby Ellsbury followed it up with another double to drive Torreyes in, 1-1 . A batter later, A-Rod swung at a high fastball from David Price and didn’t miss any of it for a two-run homer. 3-1 Yankees.
  • Eovaldi gave’em right back in the bottom third. He allowed back-to-back singles to Pedroia and Bogaerts and walked Ortiz to get the bases loaded. Ramirez hit a single up the middle to bring two home to tie the game. A batter later, Brock Holt singled to drive in Papi… which happened right before Ramirez got tagged out at third to end the inning. They reviewed the play and the run stood. 4-3 Red Sox.
  • New York took another lead in the fifth. With two runners on, A-Rod hit a long double to center to drive both in to make it a 5-4 Yankee lead. Mark Teixeira immediately followed it up with an RBI single to pad the lead to 6-4. All it took for Yankees to win was to Eovaldi to hold onto the lead and let bullpen do its thing. However …
  • … Eovaldi gave the two runs right back in bottom fifth. Ortiz singled to lead off and Ramirez grounded into a force out. Travis Shaw immediately recognized a first-pitch get-me-over curve and drove it into the right field seats to tie the game at six. The Red Sox were not doing so hot, but Yankees let them get on track.
  • Eovaldi, coming off of a start where he took a no-no into the seventh inning, didn’t look great under the Boston rain tonight. He allowed 13 baserunners (10 hits and 3 walks) in five innings pitched while striking out only three. Yuck. Players are definitely allowed to have bad games but tonight was not great timing. Someone who definitely didn’t have a bad game: A-Rod. He went 2-for-4 with four RBI’s. His season numbers are still not great (.203 avg with .750 OPS) but he’s getting there. I don’t know where the Yanks would be without him.
  • Ivan Nova came into relieve Eovaldi in the sixth. He looked alright overall – in 1.2 IP, he allowed two hits and while he did allow some loud contact that happened to go right at fielders, he didn’t look awful. In the seventh, with two outs and a runner on, Girardi lifted him for Dellin Betances to face Christian Vazquez. The tall man unleashed a 97 mph fastball right down the middle that Vazquez must’ve been sitting on. The Red Sox catcher drove it way over the Green Monster to give Boston at 8-6 lead. I don’t know if there’s any worse way to be beat if you’re the Yankees – constantly giving up the lead and then being beat by opposing team’s defense-first player.
  • The Yankees got a run back in the eighth with Koji Uehara’s wild pitch but the rally died down there. Craig Kimbrel threw a perfect ninth – striking out Didi Gregorius and Brett Gardner on the way – to officially make it a sweep. There aren’t a lot of points as low as right now in the recent Yankee history.

Box Score, WPA, Highlights and Standings

Here are box score and updated standings from ESPN, WPA from Fangraphs and video highlights from MLB.com.


Source: FanGraphs


The Yankees have a day off tomorrow and will travel to Baltimore for a three-game series at Camden Yards. Kind of hard to think of a positive thing to say… well, at least Camden Yards is awesome. That’s all I got.

Game 23: May Day

This is fine. (Jim Rogash/Getty)
This is fine. (Jim Rogash/Getty)

Today is the start of a new month and that means a fresh start for the Yankees. Heck, at this point I’ll consider just about anything a fresh start. A new series, a new week, whatever. The Yankees have stunk of late and there’s nothing they can do about it now. The losses are in the books. All they can do is turn the page and start winning some games.

We all know the story by now, right? The offense has been terrible and the rotation has been hit or miss at best. They need to see more consistency from both. The good kind of consistency, I mean. The offense has been consistent of late. Consistently crappy. Anyway, here is the BoSox’s lineup and here is the Yanks’ lineup:

  1. CF Jacoby Ellsbury
  2. LF Brett Gardner
  3. DH Alex Rodriguez
  4. 1B Mark Teixeira
  5. 2B Starlin Castro
  6. 3B Chase Headley
  7. RF Aaron Hicks
  8. SS Ronald Torreyes
  9. C Austin Romine
    RHP Nathan Eovaldi

Now, the bad news: the weather forecast is pretty ugly tonight. It’s been raining in Boston most of the evening and right now the internet tells me it’s supposed to continue raining on and off right through tomorrow morning. For a while this afternoon it appeared there would be a window to play, but I guess that changed. We’ll see. The game is scheduled to begin at 8pm ET and you can watch on ESPN. Enjoy.

DotF: Rogers strikes out nine in Tampa’s loss

Triple-A Scranton (1-0 loss to Rochester)

  • LF Ben Gamel: 0-4, 1 K
  • RF Aaron Judge: 0-3, 1 BB — six strikeouts in his last seven games (20.0 K%), so hopefully he’s trending in the right direction
  • CF Slade Heathcott: 2-4, 1 2B, 1 K — threw a runner out at second … he’s gone 4-for-15 (.267) since coming back from the hand injury
  • DH Nick Swisher: 0-4, 1 K
  • C Gary Sanchez: 1-4, 1 K
  • 3B Rob Refsnyder: 1-4 — 7-for-24 (.292) during his six-game hitting streak
  • RHP Anthony Swarzak: 8 IP, 5 H, 1 R, 1 ER, 1 BB, 5 K, 1 WP, 8/9 GB/FB — 70 of 103 pitches were strikes (68%) … I thought maybe there was a chance he would get called up today after the bullpen threw 98 pitches last night, but nope

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Caught In Between

(Jim Rogash/Getty)
(Jim Rogash/Getty)

In the outfield on a fly ball or line drive, in the infield on a hop, or at the plate anticipating a pitch, being caught in between rarely yields positive results. Sure, you can make a recovery from a bad read, make a diving stop on a grounder, or foul off what you thought was a breaking ball but was really a fastball, but those are the exceptions to the rule; nine times out of ten, the ball will sail over your head, skip over your shoulder, or be strike three, sending you back to the dugout looking just as foolish as if you misplayed a ball or got a bad hop. Being caught in between during the course of a game is bad; being caught in between in the roster-building process is even worse.

Whether on here through the offseason or on Twitter during April’s struggles for the Yankees, I’ve maintained a fairly positive view of the team. And in general, I still hold to that; I think they’ll wind up in the wildcard game again, though that’s getting harder and harder to justify as the team continues to not score at a prolific pace. But given the way this team is built right now, where they are now–right in between–is just about where they should be.

(Ronald Martinez/Getty)
(Ronald Martinez/Getty)

Is it possible that 2015 was the one out of ten I referred before? Is that season the diving catch? The lucky grab? The desperate foul-off? Since 2013, the Yankees have been attempting a rebuild-while-still-competing thing that has gone better than most teams’ attempts at that have, as they’ve managed to win 80something games each time and generally avoid being a complete embarrassment. That’s good enough for mediocrity, but it’s not good enough for future strength and it’s not good enough for present results.

The rebuild has been caught in between, despite the ostensibly admirable goal of looking to get younger and more flexible. After 2013, the Yankees could’ve kept to that and their goal of spending less money, but they went out and signed Jacoby Ellsbury, Brian McCann, and Carlos Beltran instead of retaining their own player in Robinson Cano. Not wanting to sign Cano to a ten-year contract is completely defensible and I understand why the Yankees didn’t, especially in a post-Alex Rodriguez and Albert Pujols deals world. But to follow that up with signing three expensive players–one of whom has been borderline disastrous thus far–is the height of cognitive dissonance and a sign of a lack of commitment to a plan. If you’re going to spend, spend wisely. If you’re not going to spend, just don’t spend.

(Ronald Martinez/Getty)
(Ronald Martinez/Getty)

For a team that hasn’t made the playoffs in two of the last three years, the Yankees have surprisingly little to show for it. They haven’t drafted high. They don’t have a stocked farm system with prospects ready to make an impact with a reasonable chance of sustaining that impact, though, in fairness, that stems from their years of legitimate contention between 2009-2012. But at the same time, their Major League team isn’t quite good enough to compete for a championship. I’m not saying championship or bust; hat mindset led to a completely barren farm system and a fanbase that’s seemingly unwilling to sit through a rebuild. However, what satisfaction is there in being perpetually just good enough to compete for the wildcard?

It’s time for the Yankees to move out of being caught in between. Either flex the financial muscle that is so much stronger than any other team’s and be that behemoth of the past, or commit to an actual rebuild. No more half measures.

DotF: Gamel and Judge go deep in Scranton’s loss

Triple-A Scranton (7-5 loss to Rochester)

  • LF Ben Gamel: 2-4, 2 R, 1 HR, 1 RBI, 1 BB, 1 K, 1 SB — 10-for-22 (.455) during his six-game hitting streak
  • DH Aaron Judge: 2-5, 1 R, 1 2B, 1 HR, 1 RBI, 1 K — 5-for-12 (.417) with two doubles and a homer in three games since a 1-for-16 (.063) slump
  • CF Slade Heathcott: 0-4, 1 RBI, 1 K
  • C Gary Sanchez & 1B Nick Swisher: both 1-4 — Swisher missed a catch for an error
  • 3B Rob Refsnyder: 1-4, 1 R — hitting .218/.279/.256 through 20 games
  • RF Cesar Puello: 3-4, 1 RBI, 1 SB, 1 E (fielding)
  • LHP Richard Bleier: 4 IP, 4 H, 3 R, 2 ER, 1 BB, 1 K, 8/3 GB/FB — 47 of 81 pitches were strikes (58%)
  • LHP James Pazos: 1.1 IP, 1 H, 1 R, 1 ER, 4 BB, 0 K, 0/4 GB/FB — 22 of 42 pitches were strikes (52%) … 12 walks and 12 strikeouts in 12 innings, which is, uh, bad
  • RHP Conor Mullee: 0.2 IP, 2 H, 1 R, 1 ER, 1 BB, 1 K, 0/1 GB/FB — 12 of 22 pitches were strikes (55%)

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