Yankee bats come up short in 3-2 loss to Rays

Blah. That was a frustrating game. The Yankees lost Saturday’s matinee 3-2 to the Rays. The pitching wasn’t great, but it was good enough. The offense? It was both bad and somewhat unlucky.


No Command Nate
Nathan Eovaldi‘s first set of back-to-back rough starts in three months have come at an inopportune time. The Yankees were able to beat up on the Braves when Eovaldi struggled last weekend, but Saturday against the Rays was a different story. He couldn’t locate — Eovaldi threw a first pitch strike to the first ten batters, then to only seven of the next 15 batters — his fastball and the splitter was breaking more left-to-right than down. Not good.

Here’s a strike zone plot of Eovaldi’s pitches. All those purple dots representing splitters are in a bad location. They’re supposed to be down around the knees and even below the zone, not way up in the zone or way outside:

Nathan Eovaldi pitch location

The Rays scored their first run on a seeing eye ground ball single that was preceded by a Logan Forsythe double down the line and an Asdrubal Cabrera walk. Kevin Kiermaier was able to yank a grounder just far enough away from Brendan Ryan at second to score the run. The two runs in the third were messier. Eovaldi loaded the bases with one out without allowing a ball in play: Daniel Nava walked, Evan Longoria took a pitch to the forearm, then Grady Sizemore walked.

Eovaldi won a seven-pitch battle against Forsythe to get the called strike three for the second out, but Asdrubal Cabrera jumped on a hanging first pitch breaking ball and drove it to right field for a two-run single. Carlos Beltran bobbled the ball but I don’t think it mattered. Both runs were probably scoring anyway with two outs. After allowing three runs only four times in his previous 12 starts, Eovaldi has now allowed five runs and three runs in his last two starts.

All told, Eovaldi struck out seven and allowed those three runs on five hits and a season-high four walks in 5.1 innings. He also hit a batter, so ten of the 25 batters he faced reached base. Definitely could have been worse. Three runs in 5.1 innings isn’t a disaster but it also isn’t what we’ve come to expect from Eovaldi recently. He’s been really good the last few months. Bad command turned him back into April Eovaldi these last two starts. The Yankees need him to straighten it out soon.


Chip, Chip Away
The comeback attempt started in the fifth inning, after Matt Moore limited the Yankees to two base-runners in the first four innings. John Ryan Murphy worked a leadoff walk and scored all the way from first on Didi Gregorius‘ double to left-center. How many catchers score from first on a double? Not many. Didi ambushed the first pitch and drove it over the outfielders’ heads. He continues to be awesome.

The Yankees were able to score Gregorius with two ground balls — Ryan moved him to third and Brett Gardner got him in (Cabrera made a great play to get Gardner, it was almost an infield single) — to trim the deficit to 3-2 in the fifth. Chris Young followed Gardner’s grounder with a ten-pitch walk after falling behind in the count 0-2. That was a heck of an at-bat. He fouled off some tough pitches and earned that free pass.

And just like that, Moore’s afternoon was over at 78 pitches. The Rays are taking it easy on him as he works his way back from Tommy John surgery and they didn’t want to push him any further. Moore cruised the first four innings, then the bottom of the lineup helped get him out of the game in the fifth. Very nice work. Forcing the Rays to get 13 outs from a bullpen thinned by trade (Kevin Jepsen) and injury (Jake McGee) was the Yankees’ best chance at a win.


Five Rockets, No Runs
The eighth inning might go down as the most frustrating inning of the season. The Yankees were still down 3-2, and Alex Rodriguez started the frame with a rocket ground ball back up the middle … and right to the shifted infielder for the first out. Beltran, the next batter, ripped a line drive down the line … right at James Loney for the second out. It looked like Loney was standing on the foul line.

Chase Headley followed with a rocket of his own, and thankfully that one did not find a glove. It dropped into center field for a single. Greg Bird followed that with a line drive to left field. That one wasn’t caught either. Another single to put runners at the corners with two outs. The first four batters of the inning all crushed the ball against Alex Colome. Pinch-hitter Brian McCann drew a walk to load the bases with two outs. Then Gregorius hit a rocket … right at the second baseman to end the inning. Brutal.

The Yankees did everything right that inning. They hit hittable pitches and tattooed everything. All five balls in play were scorched — the average exit velocity in the inning was 101.2 mph! — and they had nothing to show for it. Yuck. Bad BABIP luck? Maybe, but I don’t think you can call it bad luck when the defenders were positioned perfectly for all three outs. Ugh. What an annoying inning. Five hard hit balls and a walk. No runs. I hate baseball.

Platoon bat. (Presswire)
Platoon bat. (Presswire)

The bullpen was in bend but don’t break mode, but 3.2 scoreless innings is 3.2 scoreless innings. Joe Girardi used five relievers to get those eleven outs. One of ’em was James Pazos, who made his MLB debut. He faced two batters, getting a 400-foot fly out and a strikeout. Andrew Bailey made his second appearance of the season, walking a batter before snagging a comebacker. Yankees pitchers walked seven batters.

The Yankees had four hits Friday night and only five Saturday afternoon. Headley had two singles, Beltran and Bird had singles, and Gregorius had his double. They did draw five walks though: two by Murphy and one each by Young, A-Rod, and McCann. Murphy was also hit by a pitch. He reached base three times and has a .371 OBP since Independence Day. That’ll play.

Ryan, who has no business being in the lineup during a postseason race, went 0-for-2 and is 4-for-37 (.054) dating back to August 1st. At least he was replaced by pinch-hitter Jose Pirela against a lefty in the seventh. Better late than never, I guess. Also, that’s twice Pirela has been used ahead of Rob Refsnyder in pinch-hitting situations since rosters expanded. I don’t think it was the wrong move either time.

And finally, the Yankees are now 21-22 in one-run games this season. That was not the plan! They were hoping to dominate one-run games thanks to their ridiculous end-game bullpen. The Yankees are also 6-6 in their last dozen home games, nine of which have been played against mediocre teams.

Box Score, WPA Graph & Standings
Here are the box score and video highlights for the game, and here are the updated standings and postseason odds for the season. The magic number to clinch a postseason spot remains 23 for the time being. Here are our Bullpen Workload and Announcer Standings pages, and here’s the win probability graph:

Source: FanGraphs

Up Next
The Yankees and Rays wrap up this three-game series Sunday afternoon at Yankee Stadium. Ivan Nova and Chris Archer is the pitching matchup. Make sure you head over to RAB Tickets if you want to catch that game or any of the other seven remaining games on the homestand in person.

Game 134: Nasty Nate and the Rays

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

The Yankees have won six times in their last seven games and have gained one whole game in the standings. Stupid juggernaut Blue Jays. Nothing the Yankees can do about that though. They just have to win their games and everything will take care of itself.

Nasty Nate Eovaldi is on the mound this afternoon looking to rebound for a bumpy start against the lowly Braves last time out. He has a 3.32 ERA (2.84 FIP) with fewer hits allowed (73) than innings pitched (78.2) in 13 starts since the disaster in Miami. Pretty awesome. Keep it going, Nate. Here is Tampa Bay’s lineup and here is New York’s lineup:

  1. CF Brett Gardner
  2. LF Chris Young
  3. DH Alex Rodriguez
  4. RF Carlos Beltran
  5. 3B Chase Headley
  6. 1B Greg Bird
  7. C John Ryan Murphy
  8. SS Didi Gregorius
  9. 2B Brendan Ryan
    RHP Nathan Eovaldi

Great weather in New York today. Nice and sunny, no clouds, temperatures in the upper-70s/low-80s. Pretty great. This afternoon’s game will begin 1:05pm ET and you can watch on FOX Sports 1. No YES, WPIX, or FOX. Just FOX Sports 1. Enjoy the game.

Injury Updates: Jacoby Ellsbury (stomach) is still a bit dehydrated and remains day-to-day with flu-like symptoms. He may be available to pinch-hit today … CC Sabathia (knee) feels fine after yesterday’s simulated game and the plan remains for him to come off the DL to start Wednesday.

Saturday Links: Waiver Trades, Eppler, 2016 Draft, YES

D-Rob. (Presswire)
D-Rob. (Presswire)

The Yankees and Rays continue their Labor Day weekend series a little later this afternoon. Here are some morning links to help you pass the time.

Yankees were blocked in attempts to add pitching

During the waiver trade period in August, the Yankees were “blocked in every attempt” to add pitching, reports Nick Cafardo. Well, that should say “almost every attempt,” because they did claim David Robertson, only to have the White Sox pull him back. Getting blocked on trade waivers simply means a team with a lower waiver priority (i.e. a worse record) placed a claim on a player. In August, players can only be dealt to the team that claims them off trade waivers. They can be dealt to any team if they go unclaimed.

The Yankees were in first place for 18 of 31 days in August, so I’m guessing the Blue Jays did most of the blocking. Wildcard hopefuls like the Twins, Rangers, Angels, Rays, and Orioles were probably in on the act as well. The only pitchers traded in August were Fernando Rodney, Neal Cotts, Randy Wolf, Oliver Perez, and Eric O’Flaherty. Cotts and Perez are useful left-on-left matchup guys, but otherwise the Yankees don’t have much use for those players. Any attempt to add significant pitching was likely blocked. Aside from Robertson, of course.

Eppler continues to be linked to Angels

Yankees assistant GM Billy Eppler continues to be linked to the Angels, who will hire a new GM in the offseason following Jerry Dipoto’s midseason resignation. Dipoto lost a power struggle when owner Arte Moreno sided with manager Mike Scioscia. Bob Nightengale heard from one “high-ranking Angels executive” that Eppler is considered the front-runner for the job while Alden Gonzalez notes Eppler’s name comes up “frequently” in Angels discussions Ken Rosenthal reports the Angels have not yet asked the Yankees for permission to speak to Eppler, for what it’s worth. Eppler interviewed for the Angels job back in 2011 and was reportedly the runner-up to Dipoto. There are a few GM jobs open right now (Angels, Mariners, Red Sox) and I’m guessing this won’t be the last time we hear Eppler connected to one of them.

2016 draft set for June 9th

The 2016 amateur draft has been scheduled for June 9th, reports John Manuel. That’s a Thursday. The draft has historically been held on the first Tuesday of June, but in recent years the start date has moved around due to MLB Network. The draft started on a Monday in both 2012 and 2015, and on a Thursday in 2013 and 2014. As usual, it will be a three-day event next summer.

Manuel says there has been talk of moving the draft broadcast to Omaha to coincide with the College World Series, which would allow some more prospects to attend, but that won’t happen next year. The College World Series usually doesn’t start until mid-June, which would mean delaying the draft two weeks or so. Not ideal. Teams want to get their players, get them signed, and get their careers started.

YES ratings up 31% in the second half

Apparently the thrill of a postseason race has more people watching the Yankees down the stretch. YES Network ratings are up a whopping 31% in the second half, the network announced. Ratings are up even more in certain demographics, and YES is “delivering the best demo viewership” since 2012, whatever that means. Also, nine of the eleven highest rated game broadcasts have come within the last month. If you win, people will watch. If you lose, many will still watch.

Severino, homers lead Yankees to 5-2 win over Rays

Source: FanGraphs

Solid start to the homestand, I’d say. The Yankees used the tried and true formula of quality pitching and multiple home runs to beat the Rays in Friday night’s series opener. The final score was 5-2. It’s Friday night — Friday night before a holiday weekend at that — so let’s recap with bullet points:

  • Four Hits, Five Runs: The Yankees had four hits in the game and three left the yard. Brian McCann was involved in all three homers too. He walked to set up Alex Rodriguez‘s two-run shot in second, hit a solo homer in the fourth, then walked to set up Greg Bird‘s two-run shot in the seventh. McCann is now 11-for-17 (.647) with three doubles, three homers, two walks, and one strikeout against Jake Odorizzi. I’m guessing he sees him well.
  • Lights Out Luis: For the first time in his big league career, Luis Severino threw a pitch in the seventh inning. He started out a little shaky — four of the first eight men he faced reached base — but settled down and held Tampa to one run on seven hits and a walk in 6.1 innings. He struck out five. The run came on an Evan Longoria solo homer. Severino only threw 91 pitches and seemed to have plenty left in the tank, but Joe Girardi opted for a fresh reliever in the seventh before things spiraled out of control. Severino has a 2.04 ERA in six starts. What a lift he’s been.
  • The Final Outs: Justin Wilson got two fly outs to end any threat of a rally in the seventh, preserving Severino’s win. Adam Warren struck out two in a perfect eighth, allowed a run on a single and a double in the ninth, then Andrew Miller came in to record the final two outs on four pitches. He struck out one. Miller has saved 30 games in 31 chances. Stress-free win, I’d say. Especially after Bird’s homer stretched the lead to 5-1.
  • Leftovers: The one non-homer hit? That was a Brett Gardner infield single. McCann drew the only walks. Six base-runners all game, that’s it. Five came around to score. Dingers are great. Long live dingers … the 4-5-6 hitters went 3-for-7 (.429) with two walks (.556 OBP). The rest of the lineup went 1-for-21 (.048) … Jacoby Ellsbury left the game in the fifth inning with an upset stomach, the Yankees announced. After the game they said he’s day-to-day with flu-like symptoms.

Here are the box score, video highlights, updated standings, and postseason odds. The magic number to clinch a postseason spot is 23. Here are our Bullpen Workload and Announcer Standings pages. The Yankees and Rays continue this three-game series with the middle game Saturday afternoon. Nathan Eovaldi and Matt Moore will be the pitching matchup. Head over to RAB Tickets if you want to catch that game or any of the other eight games on the homestand live.

DotF: Pulaski blows late lead to force Game Three

Some notes:

  • Chad Jennings spoke to Billy Eppler about the thinking behind the team’s Arizona Fall League assignments. Eppler also provided some injury updates: 3B Eric Jagielo (knee) is close to resuming baseball activities, C Gary Sanchez (hamstring) is basically day-to-day at this point, LHP Tyler Webb (hand) is close to returning following a tendon issue, and LHP Jacob Lindgren (elbow) is still on a throwing program but has not yet thrown off a mound.
  • I missed this the other day, but Low-A Charleston was on the wrong end of an upheld protest. They won Tuesday night’s game on a walk-off, but apparently no one noticed time was called before the winning run crossed the plate. The other team protested, the league upheld it, they resumed the game from the point of the protest Wednesday, and the RiverDogs walked off again. Two walk-offs in one game! Here’s the box score.
  • RHP Domingo Acevedo placed tenth on this week’s Prospect Hot Sheet, the final Hot Sheet of the season. “He hit triple digits in each of his past three starts, including as high as 103 mph in a recent outing … Acevedo couples his fastball with an above-average changeup and improving slider. At 6-foot-7 and 200-plus pounds, he has big-time potential,” said the write-up. Golly.

Triple-A Scranton (2-0 win over Buffalo) their season ends Monday and they’ve already clinched the division title

  • RF Ben Gamel: 0-2, 2 BB, 1 K
  • CF Jake Cave: 1-3, 1 2B, 2 K
  • LHP Chris Capuano: 6 IP, 1 H, 0 R, 0 ER, 1 BB, 4 K, 8/2 GB/FB — 47 of 71 pitches were strikes (66%) … wonder if he’ll be back with the big league team once the Triple-A postseason is over … probably, right?
  • RHP Chris Martin: 1.1 IP, 0 H, 0 R, 0 ER, 1 BB, 2 K, 0/1 GB/FB — 15 of 22 pitches were strikes (68%)

[Read more…]

Game 133: Severino Friday

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

The Yankees are back home and they’ll be home for a while. This is the start of a ten-game homestand against three division rivals, all of whom have some sort of postseason aspirations. The Rays may be ten games back in the AL East, but they are only 4.5 games back of a wildcard spot. October isn’t out of reach yet.

Young Luis Severino will be on the mound tonight for his sixth big league start and his third at home. The Yankees are 2-3 in his five starts but that’s not Severino’s fault. He has a 2.17 ERA. They just don’t score for him. The Yankees have scored 15 runs in his five starts — six in one game! — and only eight when Severino was actually on the mound. They owe him. Here is Tampa’s lineup and here is New York’s lineup:

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

It is cloudy in New York but there is no rain in the forecast. It’s pretty cool too. Temperatures have been in the low-80s all day and will dip into the 70s tonight. Tonight’s game is scheduled to begin at 7:05pm ET and you can watch on YES. Enjoy.

Injury Updates: CC Sabathia (knee) threw approximately 60 pitches in a simulated game this afternoon with a heavier brace and felt “great.” The Yankees will see how he feels in the coming days, and if all goes well, he’ll start Wednesday … in case you missed it earlier, Mark Teixeira (leg) was placed on the 15-day DL. It was a procedural move to get Nick Rumbelow back on the roster before his ten days were up. Teixeira, by the way, is still on crutches but said he “100%” expects to play again this season.

9/4 to 9/6 Series Preview: Tampa Bay Rays

Kevin Kiermaier

Tonight the Yankees begin a ten-game homestand with the first of three against the Rays. This is a Very Important Homestand as far as the AL East race goes. The Yankees really need to take care of business these next ten days at home. Can’t have a repeat of the last homestand. Not if they want to win the division. Anyway, the Yankees are 8-5 against the Rays this season, including 4-2 at Yankee Stadium.

What Have The Rays Done Lately?

Tampa Bay took two of three from the fading Orioles in Baltimore earlier this week but are still 4-6 in their last ten games overall. Remember when the AL East was a wide-open four-team race a few weeks back? That’s not the case anymore. The Rays are in third place at 66-67 (-11 run differential), a whopping 8.5 games behind the Yankees. The division is a two-horse race now.

Offense & Defense

Despite a team 99 wRC+, the Rays have scored the second fewest runs (506) among AL teams this year, barely better than the White Sox (505). The disconnect between the wRC+ and runs total stems from their inability to cash in run scoring opportunities — the Rays have an 89 wRC+ with runners in scoring position and unfathomable 55 OPS+ with the bases loaded. (FanGraphs doesn’t have a bases loaded split, so no wRC+, had to go with OPS+).

Forsythe. (David Banks/Getty)
Forsythe. (David Banks/Getty)

Rookie manager Kevin Cash is currently without OF Steven Souza (wrist), OF Desmond Jennings (knee), and C Curt Casali (hamstring), all of whom are on the DL and will not return this series. Cash can still build his lineup around 3B Evan Longoria (110 wRC+) even though his production is not what it once was. UTIL Logan Forsythe (134 wRC+) is having an excellent year and 1B James Loney (86 wRC+) always kills the Yankees. They can’t get him out.

SS Asdrubal Cabrera (101 wRC+) and OF Kevin Kiermaier (96 wRC+) both play everyday while OF Grady Sizemore (79 wRC+), 1B/OF Daniel Nava (57 wRC+), OF Brandon Guyer (127 wRC+), and OF Joey Butler (107 wRC+) all kinda rotate in the outfield corners. DH John Jaso (129 wRC+) not longer catches and is the DH only. C Rene Rivera (37 wRC+) is the starting catcher with Casali out. C J.P. Arencibia, C Luke Maile, IF Tim Beckham, and IF Richie Shaffer are the September call-ups.

Overall, the Rays have a strong team defense with excellent defenders in center (Kiermaier), on the infield corners (Longoria and Loney), and behind the plate (Rivera). Asdrubal and Forsythe are serviceable on the middle infield and everyone in that outfield rotation other than Guyer is a weak spot. Back in the day the Rays would catch everything. It was annoying. Now? Not so much.

Pitching Matchups

Friday (7pm ET): RHP Luis Severino (No vs. TB) vs. RHP Jake Odorizzi (vs. NYY)
Odorizzi, 25, has been excellent when healthy this year, pitching to a 3.18 ERA (3.17 FIP) in 22 starts and 133 innings. He missed a few weeks with an oblique problem earlier this summer. Odorizzi has good strikeout (21.4%) and walk (6.0%) rates, but he doesn’t keep the ball on the ground (39.7%) and he doesn’t give up homers either (0.68 HR/9). He’s become adept at getting weak pop-ups. Righties (.317 wOBA) have hit Odorizzi harder than lefties (.262 wOBA) — he had a reverse split last year as well — and it’s worth noting he has been much more effective at home (2.61 ERA and 2.72 FIP) than on the road (3.68 FIP and 3.56 FIP) this year. Odorizzi’s money-maker is a filthy mid-80s splitter he learned from teammate Alex Cobb. It gave him the swing-and-miss pitch he needed to be something more than a back-end starter. He also throws low-90s four-seamers, mid-80s cutters, and a few slow upper-60s curveballs. It’s almost like an eephus pitch. The Yankees have seen Odorizzi twice this year, scoring three runs in six innings in April and four runs in 6.1 innings in May.

Saturday (1pm ET): RHP Nathan Eovaldi (vs. TB) vs. LHP Matt Moore (vs. NYY)
Moore is a Tommy John surgery cautionary tale. He had his elbow rebuilt last year, came back this summer, and had an 8.78 ERA (5.61 FIP) in six starts and 26.2 innings before the team had to send him to the minors. Moore was better in Triple-A (3.57 ERA and 3.26 FIP in 40.1 innings) and this will be his first start with the big league team since early-August. Moore’s strikeout (12.9%) and walk (9.9%) rates were ghastly before being sent down (34.9% and 7.2% in Triple-A, respectively), as were his grounder (35.7%) and homer (1.35 HR/9) rates. Righties (.448 wOBA) and lefties (.362 wOBA) both smacked him around. He looked nothing like the pre-Tommy John surgery Matt Moore, basically. Before getting sent down, the 26-year-old sat in the low-90s with his two and four-seam fastballs and in the low-80s with his changeup, his go-to secondary pitch. He also throws an upper-80s slider. The Yankees have not faced Moore since before he had his elbow rebuilt.

Moore. (Brian Blanco/Getty)
Moore. (Brian Blanco/Getty)

Sunday (1pm ET): RHP Ivan Nova (vs. TB) vs. RHP Chris Archer (vs. NYY)
The Yankees managed to avoid Archer a few times earlier this season, but not this series. The 26-year-old has a 2.78 ERA (2.56 FIP) in 28 starts and 181 innings with dynamite strikeout (30.8%), walk (6.4%), grounder (46.3%), and homer (0.75 HR/9) numbers. He’s dominated both righties (.263 wOBA) and lefties (.250 wOBA). Archer uses mid-90s two and four-seamers to set up his upper-80s slider, which is the best slider in baseball. At least among right-handed pitchers. It’s devastating. He also throws a handful of mid-80s changeups per start. The slider is what makes him an ace though. Unhittable pitch. Archer has faced the Yankees twice this year, allowing two runs in seven innings in May and then throwing 6.2 scoreless innings in July.

Bullpen Status
Like the Yankees, the Rays had an off-day yesterday, so their bullpen is relatively fresh. RHP Brad Boxberger (3.40 ERA/4.10 FIP) is closing and right now RHP Alex Colome (3.71/3.77) is setting him up. Colome started the season in the rotation but later moved to the bullpen. LHP Jake McGee, Boxberger’s usual setup man, is done for the season following knee surgery.

RHP Steve Geltz (3.73/3.90), LHP Xavier Cedeno (2.25/3.46), RHP Brandon Gomes (3.56/3.95), and RHP Matt Andriese (4.45/4.21) are the team’s other regular relievers. LHP C.J. Riefenhauser, LHP Enny Romero, and RHP Kirby Yates are the extra September arms. Head over to our Bullpen Workload page for the status of Joe Girardi‘s expanded bullpen, then head over to The Process Report and DRays Bay for the latest on the Rays.