Game 157: McCarthy’s Last Start

(Jim McIsaac/Getty)
(Jim McIsaac/Getty)

Unless the Yankees make a miraculous comeback and win one of the wildcard spots, Brandon McCarthy is making his final start of the season and possibly his final start in pinstripes tonight. He’s been awesome for the Yankees, pitching to a 2.54 ERA (2.95 FIP) in 13 starts and 85 innings. McCarthy actually ranks fifth on the team in innings pitched this year behind Hiroki Kuroda, Masahiro Tanaka, David Phelps, and Dellin Betances. Crazy. I hope he comes back next season. If not, then I hope his last start in pinstripes is a dandy. Here is the Orioles lineup and here is the Yankees lineup:

  1. CF Brett Gardner
  2. SS Derek Jeter
  3. C Brian McCann
  4. 3B Chase Headley
  5. 1B Mark Teixeira
  6. LF Chris Young
  7. 2B Stephen Drew
  8. RF Ichiro Suzuki
  9. DH Jose Pirela
    RHP Brandon McCarthy

The weather has been just perfect in New York today. Couldn’t ask for any better. Tonight’s game will begin at 7:05pm ET and you’ll be able to watch on My9 locally and ESPN nationally. ESPN actually picked this game up yesterday citing postseason implications, if you can believe that. Anyway, enjoy the game.

Injury Updates: Tanaka, Tex, Sabathia, Nova

(Presswire)
(Presswire)

The Yankees are dealing with a number of injuries as the season winds down, mostly on the position player side. Here are a few injury updates worth passing along, courtesy of Brendan Kuty, Dan Martin, and Chad Jennings.

  • Masahiro Tanaka (elbow) said he felt nothing more than “normal soreness” yesterday after making his return to the rotation on Sunday. He played catch as part of his usual between-starts routine and is scheduled to throw 80-85 pitches on Saturday. “Just the fact that I was able to throw yesterday and the fact I’m feeling good today (is encouraging),” said Tanaka yesterday. “Having the start coming up on Saturday, if I come out from that strong, then obviously that’s a positive. From where I am right now, I should be able to have a good offseason of training (and) I should be good to go for next season.”
  • Mark Teixeira (wrist) received his third cortisone shot of the season — it was administered in a different part of his wrist, which is why the doctors allowed it — and hopes to return to the lineup as soon as today. “This last week of the season, we’ll do whatever I can to stay out there and play every game. You never want to end the season hurt. You want to finish the season, so if I play the last five or six games, it’s worth it,” he said.
  • CC Sabathia (knee) played catch yesterday for the first time since having surgery in July. He plans to continue his throwing program and get back on a mound by Thanksgiving before shutting it down for the offseason and going into his usual winter routine. “I’ve been throwing a football a little bit. It feels good to come out here and not hide,” he joked.
  • Ivan Nova (elbow) is on a throwing program as he rehabs from Tommy John surgery. “Nova’s rehab has went extremely well. He has had zero setbacks and has progressed very, very well,” said Joe Girardi.
  • There were no updates on Jacoby Ellsbury (hamstring) and Carlos Beltran (elbow) yesterday. Both remain day-to-day and are questionable to return before the end of the season.

The Yankees and 2014’s major awards

(Alex Goodlett/Getty)
(Alex Goodlett/Getty)

The regular season ends six days from now, which means the voting for the various league awards will soon end as well. The voting ends after the regular season but before the postseason — what happens in October has no bearing on anything. These are regular season awards, as it should be.

The Yankees are an extreme long shot to make the postseason and teams that don’t make the playoffs tend not to have major awards winners. That’s not always the case — Alex Rodriguez was the 2003 AL MVP on the last place Rangers, for example — just most of the time. Don’t get mad at me. That’s the way the voters vote. The Yankees do still have some candidates for each of the major awards this season, however. Let’s run them down.

Most Valuable Player
There is an excellent chance the Yankees will not have a player finish in the top ten of the AL MVP voting this year for the first time since 1996, when Mariano Rivera finished in 12th place. The lack of a truly elite player, a Robinson Cano or prime-age A-Rod or Derek Jeter, combined with their second straight postseason-less year all but eliminates anyone on the team from serious MVP consideration. The BBWAA has shown time and time again they prefer to vote for players on contending teams.

Now, that said, the MVP ballot is ten players deep and those last two or three slots are like the Twilight Zone. A lot of weird stuff happens there. Raul Ibanez received a tenth place MVP vote in 2012, remember. Jacoby Ellsbury and Brett Gardner have been the team’s two best players all year and I’m guessing they’ll combine for at least one down-ballot vote this year. Same with Dellin Betances and maybe David Robertson. The Yankees don’t have any serious MVP candidates this season but I feel comfortable saying someone on the roster will appear on a ballot.

Cy Young
Had he not gotten hurt, Masahiro Tanaka would have been an excellent Cy Young candidate alongside Felix Hernandez and Corey Kluber (and Chris Sale). The injury takes him right out of the running for the award, unfortunately. The Cy Young ballot is one five players deep and it would surprise me if Tanaka even managed to sneak on and grab one fifth place vote at this point. He simply missed too much time and there are too many good pitchers in the AL. Maybe Betances will grab a fifth place vote like Robertson did in 2011. Maybe. He is the club’s only real shot at being included in the Cy Young conversation this season.

(Mike Stobe/Getty)
(Mike Stobe/Getty)

Rookie of the Year
Believe it or not, the Yankees have never had two players receive Rookie of the Year votes in the same season. That is all but certain to change this year thanks to Tanaka and Betances. There are a lot of good rookies in the AL this year but Jose Abreu has lapped the field — I think he should win unanimously, this is a no-brainer in my opinion — so neither Tanaka nor Betances will win. I do think both are safe bets to garner multiple second and third place votes though. (The ballot is only three players deep.)

Shane Greene has had a nice year but I would be very surprised if he received any votes. There are too many other good rookies in the league (Collin McHugh, Matt Shoemaker, George Springer, Marcus Stroman, Yordano Ventura, etc.) for him to get serious consideration. That doesn’t take away from what he’s done this year. This just isn’t a good year to be a good but not great rookie in the so-called Junior Circuit.

Manager of the Year
The Manager of the Year award has morphed into the “manager whose team most exceeded expectations” award, so Joe Girardi won’t win. I’m guessing the award will go to either Ned Yost of the Royals or Lloyd McClendon of the Mariners, depending on which non-Athletics team wins a wildcard spot.

The Manager of the Year ballot is only three names deep and it’ll be tough for Girardi to get even a third place vote this year given his competition. I’m guessing at least one BBWAA member will give him a vote based on the team’s ability to linger in the wildcard race until the final week of the season though. After all, nine of 15 AL managers received at least one Manager of the Year vote last season.

Comeback Player of the Year
This one will be interesting. If Jeter put together nothing more than a decent season, say hitting .280 with a .340 OBP and no power, I think he would have won the Comeback Player of the Year award easily. Mariano Rivera won last year and deservingly so, but, even if he had been merely good instead of excellent, I think he would have won anyway for sentimental reasons.

Jeter’s brutal August and pre-current homestand September really dragged down his season numbers (.256/.304/.313) and it will be hard for voters to look the other way. Melky Cabrera and Albert Pujols stand out as two deserving Comeback Player of the Year candidates, so there is no lack of competition. Maybe Jeter will win on the strength of sentimental votes, but I don’t think it’s a slam dunk at all.

(Jim McIsaac/Getty)
(Jim McIsaac/Getty)

Gold Gloves
A sabermetric component was added to the Gold Glove voting a few years ago, but it only counts as 25% of the vote. The other 75% is still based on the league’s managers and coaches. Whether they admit it or not, offense still has some impact on the voting, though it has gotten better in recent years.

Right off the bat, we can completely eliminate the entire infield. I mean, maybe Jeter will get a sentimental vote, but I can’t see it at this point. Gardner is a good left field Gold Glove candidate — they used to hand out three general outfield Gold Gloves, but they are position specific now — but Alex Gordon has this one in the bag. He’s outstanding in left and his offense won’t hurt his case either. Yoenis Cespedes might also get more votes than Gardner because of his throwing arm.

Ellsbury has been stellar in center field all season though the numbers hate him for whatever reason: -6 DRS, +1.1 UZR, and +0 Total Zone. I don’t get it. That doesn’t match up with the eye test at all. The various defensive stats always seem to hate Yankees center fielders. Maybe because Gardner takes plays away from them. Anyway, Ellsbury has some stiff Gold Glove competition in Mike Trout, Jackie Bradley Jr., Adam Jones, Leonys Martin, and Desmond Jennings. I think the chances of Ellsbury winning the Gold Glove are better than the chances of any Yankee winning any other award, but I would bet on the field with this many qualified candidates.

Silver Sluggers
Yeah, no. You actually have to hit to win a Silver Slugger and not many Yankees did that this year. Gardner and Ellsbury have been the team’s two best hitters and they aren’t beating out Gordon or Trout, respectively. Nevermind the other candidates around the league. As far as the Yankees are concerned this year, the most exciting part of the awards voting will be seeing where Tanaka and Betances finish behind Abreu for the Rookie of the Year award. Jeter’s possible Comeback Player of the Year and Ellsbury’s possible Gold Glove are the only other items of note.

Pineda, Yankees one-hit Orioles in 5-0 win

The Yankees might not be going to the postseason this year, but they’ve yet to be officially eliminated and they’re not going down without a fight. They won for the fifth time in six games on Monday night, shutting out the Orioles 5-0.

(Mike Stobe/Getty)
(Mike Stobe/Getty)

Big Mike Does Big Things
I thought this was the best Michael Pineda has looked all season. Easily. He was dominant, throwing only ten of his 106 pitches from the stretch. The only base-runners he allowed were J.J. Hardy’s one-out ground ball single by a diving Chase Headley in the fifth and a one-out walk by Christian Walker in the eighth. Only five of the 24 batters Pineda faced hit the ball out of the infield and none of them were particularly hard-hit. The hardest hit ball was Hardy’s line drive at Stephen Drew leading off the eighth inning. Drew took a step or two to his right to catch the liner.

Overall, Pineda held the Orioles scoreless for 7.1 innings and allowed just the one hit and one walk. He struck out a season-high eight and generated a season-high 18 swings and misses. Pineda had his F U fastball working and his slider was vicious, consistently diving down and out of the zone after hitters started their swings. He even threw some changeups, a few of which had some serious action down and away to lefties. I know the Orioles have already clinched the AL East and half their regulars were on the bench, but Pineda was in total control on Monday night. Completely dominant. This is the type of game that reminds you just how special he really is when healthy.

(Mike Stobe/Getty)
(Mike Stobe/Getty)

Young & Old
The Yankees scored two runs in the third inning and two runs in the fifth inning, and both times the young guy and the old guy were involved. The third inning rally started with an error by Orioles third baseman Ryan Flaherty, who made a poor throw and pulled Walker off the first base bag to start the inning. Walker didn’t even catch the ball. Ichiro Suzuki would have been safe even if he had kept his foot on the bag.

Anyway, that brought Jose Pirela to the plate for his first career at-bat, and he lifted Wei-Yin Chen’s 1-1 pitch into Death Valley in left-center field. Ichiro scored from first with ease and Pirela slid into third base safely with a triple. Again, it was his first career at-bat, so he was running around the bases faster than he’s ever run around the bases before. Derek Jeter brought Pirela home with a ground ball later in the inning. Pirela took off on contact and got a great jump.

The fifth inning rally started with two outs, at least after Ichiro grounded into a double play following Drew’s leadoff single. Pirela started that rally with a soft little line drive single over the second baseman’s head into shallow right field. Brett Gardner drew a walk, then Jeter doubled into the left field corner to score both runs. That was a great at-bat. Chen got ahead him 0-2, Jeter worked it back to 3-2, fouled off a pitch, then doubled. Vintage Cap’n. Two runs in the third, two runs in the fifth thanks to Pirela and Jeter.

(Mike Stobe/Getty)
(Mike Stobe/Getty)

Leftovers
After Pineda was removed from the game, Shawn Kelley cleaned up the eighth inning with a strikeout and a routine ground out. He struck out the first batter in the ninth before Rich Hill walked and struck out the next two batters, respectively. David Robertson Phelps got Adam Jones to fly out on the first pitch for the 27th out. Three pitchers in the ninth inning of a five-run game was a tad bit excessive.

Headley tacked on an insurance run with an eighth inning solo homer into Monument Park. Jeter drove in three of the team’s other four runs and went 1-for-3 with a walk on the night. He is 9-for-20 (.450) on the homestand. Going out in style. The top four hitters in the lineup went a combined 1-for-13 (.080) with three walks while the bottom five hitters went 7-for-18 (.389). Brian McCann was the only starter who failed to reach base.

Pirela became the 57th different player to play for the Yankees this season. That breaks the franchise record set just last year. He went 2-for-3 in his MLB debut with that run-scoring triple and rally-starting single. Nice night for the kid.

The Orioles did not have a runner reach second base all night, nevermind third base. This was the Yankees’ first one-hitter since July 2011 against the Mariners. Here’s the box score of that game.

Box Score, WPA Graph & Standings
For the box score and video highlights, head on over to MLB.com. There are some other stats at FanGraphs and the updated standings are at ESPN. The Royals beat the Indians, so the Yankees remain four games back of the second wildcard spot with only six games to play. Their elimination number is three and FanGraphs has their postseason odds at 0.2%.


Source: FanGraphs

Up Next
The Yankees and Orioles will play the second game of this four-game series on Tuesday night. Brandon McCarthy will be on the mound against … someone. The O’s still have not announced their starters for the rest of the series because they’re busy setting up their postseason rotation. There are only three home games left in the season and Jeter’s career, so head over to RAB Tickets if you want to catch any of them live.

Game 156: Big Mike vs. the O’s

BIG MIKE IS HERE

The final home series of the season is upon us. As much as this season sucked, I will dearly miss watching baseball in Yankee Stadium this winter just as I do every winter. The Yankees have to win all seven of their remaining games to make the postseason at this point, and even then they’ll need some help, so just sit back and enjoy the final week of the season. No point in stressing over anything. Just enjoy the baseball before it goes away. Here is the Orioles lineup and here is the Yankees lineup:

  1. CF Brett Gardner
  2. SS Derek Jeter
  3. C Brian McCann
  4. LF Chris Young
  5. 3B Chase Headley
  6. 1B Frankie Cervelli
  7. 2B Stephen Drew
  8. RF Ichiro Suzuki
  9. DH Jose Pirela
    RHP Michael Pineda

It’s a wonderful day for baseball in New York. I little chilly but not too much. First pitch is scheduled for 7:05pm ET and you can watch on YES. Enjoy the game.