Although the Yankees gave it a valiant effort in the ninth inning last night, their 2018 season is over. The Yankees dropped ALDS Game Four to the Red Sox and are now left to ponder what went wrong this year and ways to improve next year. I get the feeling this offseason will be more interesting than most. Anyway, here are some thoughts.
1. Aaron Boone was alarmingly bad these last two games. I am going to continue repeating this until I am blue in the face because it’s true: The manager’s job is to put his team in the best position to succeed, and I don’t see how the pitching decisions the last few days accomplished that. Sending Luis Severino back out for the fourth inning in Game Three was bad. Bringing Lance Lynn — Lance Lynn! — into a bases loaded situation with no outs was bad. Leaving CC Sabathia in the game in the third inning was bad. I’m not second guessing anything here. This all seemed bad in real time. Did it not? I can’t be the only one who thought all this was questionable as it was happening. What really gets me is that Boone did it twice. He left Severino in too long Monday, talked about how he tries to learn from his mistakes Tuesday afternoon, then he left Sabathia in too long Tuesday night. Come on. The ALDS was a lopsided managerial mismatch. It was embarrassing for the organization, truly. The Yankees assumed the risk associated with hiring a zero experience manager and it backfired spectacularly this series. Boone was behind the eight ball and showed a decided lack of urgency. I just don’t know how the Yankees could look at these last two games and think this is okay. They have to sit down with Boone and figure out what the hell was going through his head, and explain why it was wrong. The Yankees are loaded with talent and they’re set up very well in the coming years. I know they love Boone’s communication skills and they believe they can mold him into exactly the kind of manager they want, but they can’t treat the managerial position as an entry level job. Now with a team this good.
2. The starting pitching was just awful in the ALDS. Even Masahiro Tanaka, the one starter who pitched well, benefited from several hard-hit balls finding gloves. J.A. Happ didn’t make it out of the third inning in Game One, Severino was a total mess in Game Three, and Sabathia fooled no one in Game Four. The four starters: 13 IP, 19 H, 15 R, 15 ER, 6 BB, 9 K. That does not play anywhere. The Yankees are built not to need a ton of innings from their starters and riding the bullpen hard can work in October. The Royals did it a few years ago and the Brewers are doing it right now. But the Yankees needed better from their starters than that. Happ was brought in to solidify the rotation and he did exactly that in August and September. He was great for the Yankees! Then he gave up the three-run bomb to J.D. Martinez in the first inning of Game One and it felt like the Yankees were playing catch-up the rest of the series. Severino? Good gravy, what a fall from grace in the second half. It carried over into the postseason as well. Even in Wild Card Game, he didn’t pitch all that well. The Athletics ran some long counts and really made him grind through four innings. Hopefully it’s just fatigue. Severino has thrown 407.2 total innings since Opening Day 2017 and damn that’s a lot for a dude who doesn’t turn 25 until February. Getting him right is a top priority this winter. Point is though, the starters were just terrible the ALDS and really in all five postseason games.
3. There are many reasons why the Yankees lost the ALDS. Among them is the Red Sox’s role players far outperforming New York’s role players. Brock Holt hit for the damn cycle in Game Three. Yes, I know it included a garbage time homer against a position player, but his three other hits had a hand in making it a blowout. Light-hitting Christian Vazquez hit what proved to be the game-winning home run yesterday. Steve Pearce started only two of the four games and made his presence felt. Ian Kinsler and Eduardo Nunez did damage. The Yankees got nothing from Andrew McCutchen (2-for-15) and nothing from Brett Gardner (0-for-8 with three walks). Didi Gregorius had one hit in the first three games before getting two last night. Luke Voit, Miguel Andujar, and Gleyber Torres combined for zero extra-base hits in 42 plate appearances. That is no way to try to win a postseason series. Contenders are so good and so deep these days that you can’t just rely on your Aaron Judge to carry the team through October. You need contributions from up and down the lineup, and even from the bench guys. I’ve said this more times than I care to count over the years: You need to get unexpected contributions to win a championship. In any sport, not just baseball. The Yankees didn’t get any.
4. Gary Sanchez’s rad as hell three-run home run against Eduardo Rodriguez in Game Three was the last home run the Yankees hit in the series. They got just two extra-base hits in Games Three and Four (both doubles). That is the single biggest reason they lost the series. Boone was atrocious and so were the starting pitchers, but you’re not beating the Red Sox with singles and walks. You need to bang the ball around — especially in two extra-base hit friendly ballparks like Yankee Stadium and Fenway Park — and the Yankees did not do that outside Game Two. It wasn’t a strikeout issue either. The Yankees struck out four times last night. They struck out eleven times in 68 plate appearances in Games Three and Four, or 16.2%. Making contact was not really a problem. Quality of contact was. The Yankees put 18 balls in play against Rick Porcello last night. Look at the pitch locations and exit velocities:
Not good. Not good at all. Outside Game Two (and even in Game Two, to some degree), there were a lot of hittable pitches out of the plate that were beat into the ground or turned into pop-ups and lazy fly balls. Simply put, the BoSox did a much better job capitalizing on mistake pitches than the Yankees. Credit the Red Sox. They kept the Yankees off-balance pretty much the entire series. But yeah, the Yankees turned a lot of hittable pitches into poor contact, hence the lack of extra-base hits, hence the four-game ouster.
5. One thing we learned this postseason is the Yankees trust Sanchez defensively but they do not trust Andujar defensively. Gary caught every inning the Yankees played this postseason. Andujar started four postseason games and was replaced by Adeiny Hechavarria in the sixth inning (!) in the two games the Yankees won. (He played the entire game in the two losses because the Yankees needed his bat.) When is the last time you saw a player pulled for defense in the sixth inning? I don’t think I’ve ever seen it. I’m not exactly a seasoned BBWAA veteran, but I’ve never seen a player take as much pregame infield work as Andujar. He is out there taking grounders day after day after day. His shoddy defense is not the result of a lack of work. The Yankees say they believe in his talent and that’s great. Actions speak louder than words though, and, in the most important games of the season, Andujar was yanked for defense in the sixth — sixth! — inning. Sanchez, meanwhile, was the man behind the plate all postseason. The Yankees fully acknowledging his blocking is an issue. They praise Sanchez for everything else he does behind the plate though. The way these two were handled this postseason was telling. One player has the team’s trust despite an obvious flaw while the other guy couldn’t have been pulled from games fast enough.
At least they went down with a fight. The ninth inning comeback fell a little short and the 2018 season ended with a 4-3 loss to the Red Sox at home in ALDS Game Four on Tuesday night. Given the hype, it’s hard for me to consider this 100-win season anything but a disappointment. The Yankees were more talented than last season but not nearly as fun. It’s cool though, the Yankees cut payroll by $50M and reset their luxury tax rate, and that was ownership’s priority all along.
An Inexcusable (And Repeated) Mistake
I really don’t know what to say. I am at a loss for words. I am speechless. I am without speech. Aaron Boone, after his managerial moronathon in Game Three, made the same exact mistake again in Game Four. He left his struggling starting pitcher in way too long and the result was runs on the board. In this case those runs were more or less the difference in the Game Four. An elimination game, I might add. Urgency? Who needs that.
CC Sabathia loaded the bases with two outs in the first inning and escaped when Ian Kinsler flew out to deep left field. The Yankees caught a break there. Kinsler swung at a bad pitch — Sabathia threw 20 pitches in that first inning and maybe three hit the glove — and still nearly hit it out of the park. Exhale. Sabathia pitched around a two-out walk in the second inning and was set to go through the middle of the lineup a second time in the third inning.
The third inning is when Sabathia went off the rails and the Boone spent literally the entire inning with his arms crossed in the dugout. Look at the Yankees’ win probability as the inning unfolded:
- Andrew Benintendi: First-pitch hit-by-pitch (46.0%)
- Steve Pearce: Single in a 2-2 count to put runners at the corners (36.6%)
- J.D. Martinez: Hard-hit sacrifice fly to center in a 1-1 count (38.8%)
- Xander Bogaerts: Grounder back to Sabathia in a full count (40.6%)
- Ian Kinsler: Double to left in a 2-1 count (30.3%)
- Eduardo Nunez: First pitch single to left (22.4%)
- Jackie Bradley Jr.: Ground out to first in an 0-2 count (23.9%)
Look at all that win probability slippin’ away. It wasn’t until the very last pitch of the Bogaerts at-bat that David Robertson started warming in the bullpen. He never did come in. After putting runners on the corners with no outs, Sabathia stayed in to face four more righties, three of whom hit the ball hard. This is what Boone said after the game:
I was fine with the way CC was throwing the ball. He was at the two-out point. We were going to have him go through Bradley, simple as that. We just kind of knew we had our guys lined up enough that we could — especially had we got to that point, we could get through the game. I think it was a sound decision to move him, allow him to go through Bradley at that point.
Narrator: It was not a sound decision. It wouldn’t have been a sound decision if Sabathia retired three straight after Benintendi and Pearce reached base to begin the frame. That’s a manager more worried about how his bullpen is lined up for subsequent innings rather than what’s unfolding right in front of him. I thought Sabathia should’ve been out after the Benintendi hit-by-pitch. Let someone else face all those righties in the middle of the order. The situation was that dire.
What happened in Game Three was a stunning display of managerial negligence. Then it happened again in Game Four. That was an inexperienced manager in over his head and unable to adapt to the things happening on the field. That Boone went out and made the same mistake — sticking with a laboring starter — in Game Four with the season on the line is inexcusable. I would be stunned if the Yankees fired Boone. But I don’t know how any of the higher-ups could’ve watched the two managers in this series and been okay with it. Alex Cora managed circles around Boone. One was prepared and decisive. The other was trying to squeeze outs from his starter in an elimination game.
Too Little, Too Late
I’m going to skip to the ninth inning because that’s when the last little bit of fun happened. The Yankees went into that inning down 4-1. In came Craig Kimbrel, who started the inning with a four-pitch walk to Aaron Judge. I never expected the Yankees to go down 1-2-3 in the ninth given the way things between these two teams usually go. The Judge walk put the wheels in motion, then Didi Gregorius pulled a grounder through the right side, and bam, the tying run was at the plate with no outs.
Giancarlo Stanton’s ninth inning at-bat was miserable. A horrible at-bat in which it looked like he was actively trying to strike out. Kimbrel threw a two breaking balls, an elevated fastball, then another breaking ball for the finish pitched. Stanton swung and missed at the last two spinners. The locations:
Awful. Hitting is very difficult. Hitting Kimbrel is even more difficult. But that was a garbage at-bat. “You’ve got to put the ball in play. You’ve got to get a pitch out over the plate,” said Stanton after the game. So, maybe try to do that at some point? Giancarlo had a very good regular season. Not as good as his career average season, but he was very good overall and great from May through about August. Then he put together some craptastic at-bats in the ALDS. This one and his bases loaded strikeout with no outs in Game One stand out.
The Stanton strikeout was the first out. Kimbrel then walked Luke Voit to load the bases and plunked Neil Walker to force in a run. Fourteen of Kimbrel’s first 17 pitches were outside the strike zone. I’m fairly certainly he would’ve walked Stanton had Giancarlo just stood there and kept his bat on his shoulders. That’s what makes that at-bat even more infuriating. Kimbrel was very wild and he was backing himself into a corner. I mean, look at his pitch locations:
Anyway, I thought Miguel Andujar should’ve pinch-hit for Voit. Voit had some trouble with high-velocity righties in recent weeks and Kimbrel is very much a high-velocity righty. Then, after Voit walked, I thought Andujar should’ve pinch-hit for Walker. He got hit by a pitch. It all worked out, but man, I hate hate hate leaving your high contact extra-base hit machine on the bench in that inning. Voit and Walker were the two obvious pinch-hitter spots. They stayed in and got on base, so I can’t complain. I still don’t like that the Miggy bullet was left in the chamber.
With the bases loaded and one out, Gary Sanchez had the kind of at-bat he lacked far too often this season. He swung through two fastballs up in the zone (bad), took a curveball in the dirt (good), fouled away a fastball above the zone (bad considering it was a ball), then spit on a fastball and a curveball to work the count full (good). Gary did a heck of a job hanging in. The result of that at-bat:
If nothing else, the final out of the season was an exciting one. Remember how last season ended? Greg Bird lifted a can of corn to George Springer in center field. Routine as it gets. This season, Gleyber Torres hit a weak grounder to third base, a weak grounder Eduardo Nunez nearly threw away. Steve Pearce made a great stretch at first base and stayed on the bag. The final out:
Boone called for replay instantly — he didn’t even bother to check with video replay guy Brett Weber because why would you for the final out of the season? — and the replay crew confirmed the out call. As you can see in the photo, Torres was indeed out. Alas. In an alternate universe, Nunez throws the ball away, the tying run scores from the second, and the Yankees are still alive. That’s what I get for calling him Eduardo Scissorhands all these years.
Know what stinks? Boston scored their fourth and game-winning run on a Yankee Stadium cheapie into the short porch. Christian Vazquez hit it against Zach Britton. Definitely one of the cheaper short porch homers of the season. Sigh. The Yankees hit more than their fair share of short porchers, so I can’t complain, but damn. That was the only run the bullpen allowed. Britton, Robertson, Dellin Betances, and Aroldis Chapman combined: 6 IP, 3 H, 1 R, 1 ER, 2 BB, 11 K. Too bad they weren’t used earlier.
The Yankees were held to five hits for the second consecutive game. Doubles by Gregorius and Sanchez, and singles by Gregorius, Walker, and Torres. Judge and Voit drew the walks and Walker was hit by a pitch, all against Kimbrel. The Yankees had ten hits (two doubles, eight singles) in Games Three and Four. Also, they struck out only seven times in Game Three and four times in Game Four. They made lots of contact. It just wasn’t good contact.
Box Score, WPA Graph & Standings
ESPN has the box score and MLB has the video highlights. We don’t need it anymore, but here’s one last link to our Bullpen Workload page anyway. Here’s the loss probability graph:
The offseason. At some point in the coming days Boone and Brian Cashman will hold their annual end-of-season press conferences to discuss the state of affairs. As for RAB, I am planning to take it a little easy these next few days because I feel like my head has been in a vice the last week or so, and I need a bit of a break. We’ll of course have some content and cover any breaking news. I just need to scale back a bit the next few days. RAB will return to normal next week and we’ll begin our annual Season Review series and looking ahead to the offseason. This will be a big one.
For the second time in the last six days, the Yankees are playing a win or go home game. They beat the Athletics in the AL Wild Card Game to set up this ALDS battle with the Red Sox, a best-of-five battle the Yankees currently trail 2-1. The Game Three loss last night was thoroughly humiliating for the organization, from top to bottom. The good news? Tonight’s game begins with the score tied 0-0.
“We’ve (bounced back) all year,” said Aaron Boone this afternoon. “It’s one thing, I think, this group does a really good job of. Even times during the year when I was a little frustrated at how we’re playing, I feel like they’re really, really good at letting yesterday roll off them and coming out and performing. I’m confident they’ll do that today.”
This much is certain: Boone needs to show more urgency tonight. Barring a blowout, CC Sabathia won’t go through the lineup a third time, and if the Red Sox are hitting rockets in the early innings like they did against Luis Severino last night, Boone has to get Sabathia out of there. All the usual late-inning relievers are rested. Use them liberally.
As you’d expect, ZiPS has the Red Sox as the heavy favorite to win the ALDS now (72.1% vs. 27.9%). They have to win one, the Yankees have to win two. One game at a time though. One inning at a time. I’m not ready for the season to end and I hope the Yankees aren’t either. Here are tonight’s lineups:
New York Yankees
1. CF Aaron Hicks
2. RF Aaron Judge
3. SS Didi Gregorius
4. DH Giancarlo Stanton
5. 1B Luke Voit
6. 3B Neil Walker
7. C Gary Sanchez
8. 2B Gleyber Torres
9. LF Brett Gardner
LHP CC Sabathia
Boston Red Sox
1. RF Mookie Betts
2. LF Andrew Benintendi
3. 1B Steve Pearce
4. DH J.D. Martinez
5. SS Xander Bogaerts
6. 2B Ian Kinsler
7. 3B Eduardo Nunez
8. CF Jackie Bradley Jr.
9. C Christian Vazquez
RHP Rick Porcello
It is a weirdly humid day in New York. A pleasant evening though. Good night for a ballgame. Tonight’s game will begin 8:07pm ET and you can watch on TBS and TBS.com. Enjoy the ballgame.
Rick Porcello had his standard season in 2018, continuing his tradition of somewhat boring consistency. Take a look at his 2018 and career averages side-by-side:
- 2018 – 191.1 IP, 2.3 BB/9, 8.9 K/9, 4.28 ERA, 102 ERA+, 4.01 FIP
- Career – 205 IP, 2.1 BB/9, 6.6 K/9, 4.26 ERA, 101 ERA+, 4.02 FIP
His strikeout rates have been increasing gradually, but, with the exception of his Cy Young-winning 2016, Porcello has been the same guy year in and year out. And that guy has been effective against the Yankees throughout his career, posting a 3.11 ERA in 141.2 IP against the good guys, including a 2.31 ERA in 23.1 IP this season. Porcello’s four starts against the Yankees breakdown as follows:
- April 12 – 7.0 IP, 2 H, 0 R, 0 BB, 6 K
- May 9 – 5.1 IP, 8 H, 5 R, 3 BB, 3 K
- August 3 – 9.0 IP, 1 H, 1 R, 0 BB, 9 K
- September 30 – 2.0 IP, 0 H, 0 R, 1 BB, 2 K
It’s actually quite similar to Eovaldi’s splits, which I discussed yesterday – two ace-like performances, one dud, and an early exit in a meaningless game. And, much like Eovaldi, Porcello is seemingly better against the Yankees than any other team. Frustrating, isn’t it?
So how does Porcello ply his craft?
The 29-year-old righty is a five-pitch guy, working with a low-90s four-seamer, a low-90s sinker, a mid-80s slider, a low-80s change-up, and a mid-70s curveball. And that’s the mix that he’s worked with throughout his career – with one notable change in usage:
Porcello was a sinker-baller for the first eight or so years of his career, but has drifted away from the pitch over the last two years. It basically fell from between 40 and 50% of his offerings to a shade under 30% the last two years; and he’s replaced those sinkers with a little bit of everything. Though, his slider usage did go up significantly this year, and it has been his best pitch over the last two years.
If Porcello pitched the Yankees differently than other teams, it doesn’t really show. Brooks Baseball has him down for zero four-seamers on April 12 – but that happened in starts against the Blue Jays and Astros, as well. And he threw his normal distribution of fastballs in his other three starts. He didn’t throw a single sinker on May 9 but, again, that’s not an isolated incident, and he made up for it in other starts. Porcello’s pitch usage varies greatly on a game-by-game basis, so it’s difficult to draw much of anything from such a vantage point.
It’s also worth noting that Porcello has historically thrived on extra rest, which is how he’ll be working tonight. He had a 2.56 ERA in 6 starts with 6+ days of rest this year, and has a 3.42 ERA in 48 starts with extra rest for his career. That being said, this isn’t quite extra rest, as he did throw 15 pitches on Friday. It may have been his normal throwing day, but there’s a huge difference between a bullpen session and pitching to Miguel Andujar, Gary Sanchez, and Gleyber Torres in a playoff game.
Porcello did fall-off in the second half this season, though. His ERA rose by 0.41 runs, his FIP jumped by 0.60, and his home run per flyball rate increased by 7.1 percentage points. He also has a career 5.33 ERA in 25.1 postseason innings, for what it’s worth. And – and this is a big ‘and’ – he’s a historically average pitcher. This isn’t an ace that has the Yankees number; this is someone that they’ve beaten up on before, and there’s no reason they can’t do so again.
Let’s stay alive, gentlemen.
Last night, thanks to an all-around disaster, the Yankees were pushed to the brink of elimination by the Red Sox. It was the most lopsided postseason loss in team history and a truly embarrassing thrashing. The good news is tonight’s game will start 0-0. Nothing anyone can do now other than turn the page and focus on Game Four tonight.
CC Sabathia will start tonight with the season on the line and it’ll be his third elimination game start since last season. ALDS Game Five went well last year. ALCS Game Seven not so much. The Yankees trust Sabathia implicitly and, if nothing else, you know he’s not going to get overwhelmed by the moment. If he pitches poorly, it’ll be because he doesn’t execute, not because he gets spooked.
“We feel like CC physically is in a good place right now coming off a really good start at the end of the year,” said Aaron Boone yesterday. “I feel like his knee is in a good place and feel like he’s been pretty good when we’ve been able to give him that rest. So we feel like he’s kind of lined up and ready to go for tomorrow. We’ll feel good about giving him the ball.”
Sabathia, probably moreso than any other pitcher on the staff, performs better with extra rest. It’s good for his knee. He last started on September 27th, so he’ll be on eleven days rest tonight, and this season he had a 2.01 ERA (3.88 FIP) in eight starts with six or more days rest. Does that bode well for tonight? I hope so. Bottom line, as long as he gets his cutter in on righties, he’ll be okay.
Of course, Sabathia might not be long for Game Four even if he pitches well. He made 29 starts this season and in only 15 of them did he throw more than five innings. Furthermore, the Red Sox are really good, and Sabathia has a significant third time through the order penalty.
- First Time: .248/.314/.340 (89 OPS+)
- Second Time: .208/.294/.376 (84 OPS+)
- Third Time: .328/.376/.547 (135 OPS+)
Boone and the Yankees should have a very short leash with Sabathia tonight. I mean, Boone should’ve had a short leash last night, but Sabathia’s leash has been short all season, and this is an elimination game. It’s an elimination game and the regular late-inning relievers other than Chad Green and Jonathan Holder are rested. The situation is dire.
“You could always get an all-hands-on-deck situation any one of these games that come up,” added Boone. “You don’t know what tonight brings as far as how many guys you use for how long. All those things kind of go in and factor when you’re making evaluations the next night about a pitcher.”
As poorly as Boone managed Game Three, he did show a quick-ish hook with J.A. Happ in Game One, yanking him after two batters reached in the third inning. And, in Game Two, he didn’t let Masahiro Tanaka go through the middle of the lineup a third time even though Tanaka had pitched well up to that point. Last night wasn’t indicative of Boone’s decision-making in the series overall.
With the season on the line tonight, Boone can not let Sabathia go through the lineup a third time unless the Yankees have a huge lead. That’s the only scenario in which it would be okay to try to steal outs with him and, frankly, the likelihood of the Yankees having a huge lead is small. Also, Boone has to read the game better. If Sabathia is getting outs but is being hit hard, he has to be ready to make a change sooner rather than later.
Much like the Wild Card Game and Sabathia’s starts last postseason, chances are the bullpen will get more outs than the starting pitcher tonight. That should’ve been in the case last night. (It was, but you know what I mean.) If Sabathia can get the Yankees through the lineup twice, great. But if things aren’t look great the first time through, the bullpen has to be ready to go, specifically the top relievers.
Thanks to a managerial calamity (calamities, really) in ALDS Game Three last night, the Yankees are down 2-1 in the best-of-five series against the Red Sox. Tonight they play for their season. The Yankees have already won one elimination game this postseason (Wild Card Game). Can they make it two? Geez, I really hope so. Let’s get to some thoughts.
1. The Yankees hired a zero experience manager knowing the risks and it blew up in their faces last night. I can’t help but think back to Game Two. David Price was getting rocked, so Red Sox manager Alex Cora got him out of there in the second inning with the Red Sox down 3-0. Price didn’t have it, it was obvious, and Cora took him our early enough to give the offense a chance to get back into the game. Then, last night, Severino was getting hit hard and the Yankees were down 3-0, and Boone sent him out for the fourth inning. One manager — the one with prior coaching and postseason experience — acted quickly and gave his team the best chance to get back into the game. The zero experience manager was far too slow to react and get a struggling pitcher out of there. The Yankees are very analytical. I noted the other day how they use data to set matchups. But the game also requires feel and the ability to adjust, and Boone showed none of that last night. Severino was getting creamed. We all saw it. Yet he remained in the game. Far too many times this season Boone stuck with his starting pitcher too long and got burned. Now it contributed to a postseason loss. That can’t happen. He has to be better. And if the Yankees lose tonight and their season ends after that game, the decision to hand the keys to a win-now team to a zero experience manager will come under more scrutiny than ever before. And it will be entirely deserved. That was as poorly managed a game as you’ll ever see.
2. So people really think Severino didn’t know what time last night’s game started, huh? I can’t believe this is a thing. Apparently Ron Darling mentioned something about Severino warming up late during the TBS broadcast and it turned into a big thing. Severino, Boone, and Larry Rothschild were all asked about it after the game and all of them said Severino went through his usual warm-up routine. Let’s just take a step back and think about this for a second. One of two things happened here. Either everyone involved in on-field matters (players, coaches, trainers, etc.) neglected the tell the starting pitcher what time the game began, and said starting pitcher did not notice everyone else going through their normal pregame routine (stretch, catch, batting practice, etc.), or one announcer who doesn’t cover the team regularly doesn’t know Severino’s routine. What’s the more likely outcome here? Exactly. I feel like we’re really stretching the limits of plausible explanations here. Severino stunk last night. He stunk against a great team after having a second half full of stinkers. Last night wasn’t exactly the most unpredictable thing in the world, you know? Severino getting rocked seemed like a distinct possibility going into the game. All this about his warm-up really feels like grasping at straws. Seems like everyone is making excuses except Severino and the Yankees.
3. For the first time this postseason, Aaron Judge failed to hit a home run and failed to reach base at least three times last night. He went 1-for-4 with a single and his postseason batting line is all the way down to .500/.555/1.125 through four games. It took them long enough, but the Red Sox finally started going after him with elevated fastballs last night. Here are the pitches and pitch locations he’s seen so far this series (click to embiggen):
Perhaps it comes down to personnel? The Red Sox didn’t elevate fastballs against Judge in Games One and Two because they didn’t have the right guys on the mound? Seems like Chris Sale would be able to elevate his heater, though he’s something less than his Cy Young caliber self at the moment, so maybe getting his diminished fastball above the zone won’t work. Whatever it is, Judge finally saw some high heaters last night, and it’s not a coincidence he had his worst game of the postseason. Rick Porcello will be on the mound tonight and he’s another guy who will work up in the zone and above the zone with his heater. Judge is going to see more of them tonight. Hopefully he recognizes those high fastballs and lays off, and makes Porcello come in the zone.
4. I wonder whether J.A. Happ will factor into tonight’s game. The bullpen is going to be short because Chad Green and Jonathan Holder threw so many pitches last night — again, I can’t stress enough how terrible Boone was last night, that was inexplicable — and Happ threw only 44 pitches in Game One. I’m not sure when the Yankees would use him in relief, but, in an elimination game, it has to be all hands on deck. The Yankees could use Happ tonight and start Masahiro Tanaka in a potential Game Five on normal rest. The master plan is probably something like CC Sabathia for three or four innings, Dellin Betances for two innings, David Robertson and Zach Britton for potentially two innings each, then Aroldis Chapman. Happ might be the next man out of the bullpen after them. I don’t think he’d be one of the first guys out of the bullpen, even if Sabathia gets knocked out in the first or second inning. I think (hope) Boone would go to his A-relievers to keep things close in an elimination game.
5. The Yankees need a couple dudes to get going at the plate. Andrew McCutchen, for one. He is 2-for-14 (.143) with no walks in the series. Didi Gregorius is another. He is 1-for-10 (.100) with a sacrifice bunt against the Red Sox. (Didi was obviously trying to bunt for a hit last night and settled for the sacrifice.) Also, Miguel Andujar. He is 1-for-9 in the three games. This is baseball, you’re not going to have all nine guys clicking at one time, but those are three pretty important hitters! McCutchen is the leadoff guy, Gregorius is the only real left-handed threat in the lineup with Aaron Hicks is out, and Andujar is the sneak attack “make loud contact on anything” guy who helps make the bottom of the lineup dangerous. These things can turn around in an instant, especially for guys as talented as McCutchen and Gregorius and Andujar, but yeah, the Yankees need them to start contributing and soon. As in tonight. Aaron Judge and Luke Voit can’t do it all themselves.