September 2nd: Assistant GM Billy Eppler and special assignment scout Don Wakamatsu both scouted Tanaka last week, report Mark Hale and George King. The Yankees have seen most of the right-hander’s starts this year. Seems like the team is really doing its homework after literally not knowing what pitches Kei Igawa threw after signing him.
August 21st: Via Ben Badler: The Yankees and Rangers have sent their top evaluators to scout Japanese right-hander Masahiro Tanaka recently. Other clubs have watched him as well. We first heard New York had interest in Tanaka, who is expected to be posted after the season, back in May. Balder says MLB and NPB are discussing changes to the posting system — including placing a hard cap on the posting fee — but nothing is final.
Tanaka, 24, has a 1.20 ERA with 7.4 K/9 and 1.3 BB/9 in 158 innings for the Rakuten Golden Eagles this year. He’s listed at 6-foot-2 and 205 lbs., and is said to sit in the low-90s with a fastball that touches 96. Badler says scouts have some concern because he doesn’t get good plane on the pitch and it’s more hittable than the velocity suggests. Tanaka also throws a low-80s slider and a mid-80s splitter, like many Asian pitchers. He has been one of the league’s best pitchers for years now. Here’s video.
Tanaka is not as good as Yu Darvish, but Badler says “scouts project (him) as a potential No. 2 starter who can immediately step into a Major League rotation.” The Yankees have been very shy when it comes to bidding on big money international free agents after getting burned by Kei Igawa, but they could always change their approach at a moment’s notice. They will need some starters going forward, that’s for sure. The posting fee doesn’t count against the luxury tax either, just the actual player contract. · (58) ·
Via Nick Cafardo: There is speculation among rival executives that GM Brian Cashman has grown “a little tired” of the Yankees and could head elsewhere if he finds an opportunity he likes with another team. This directly contradicts what Jon Heyman reported last month, that Cashman and ownership have no interest in severing their “overwhelmingly positive longstanding relationship.”
Cashman, 46, has run the Yankees for almost 16 years now. He is under contract through next season and it is very uncommon for a team to let a high-ranking executive out of their deal for the same position with another team. A promotion? Sure. A lateral move? Doesn’t happen all that often. I suppose the team could fire Cashman this offseason if they miss the postseason, but that would really surprise me. If he was going to leave though, this is the time to do it. The big league team sorely needs to be rebuilt, the farm system has little to offer, and payroll is coming down. Not exactly the most appealing situation for Cashman or a potential replacement. Given their track records with this sort of stuff, I buy Heyman’s report more than Cafardo’s. · (55) ·
In all likelihood, Phil Hughes is about to begin his final month as a Yankee. It’s been an up-and-down seven years to say the least, and 2013 has been the lowest of the non-injury lows. He comes into this start — which the Yankees pushed back so he could face the worst offensive team in the league — with a 4.91 ERA and 4.55 FIP in just 135.2 innings across 25 starts. Hughes has been awful and at this point there’s little he can do to change that. What he can do, however, is close out his pinstriped career with a strong month of September that helps the team sneak into the postseason. That would be a great going away present.
Here’s the lineup Joe Girardi is sending up there against left-hander and former Yankees farmhand Jose Quintana:
- CF Brett Gardner
- SS Derek Jeter
- 2B Robinson Cano
- LF Alfonso Soriano
- 3B Alex Rodriguez
- DH Vernon Wells
- RF Curtis Granderson
- 1B Mark Reynolds
- C Austin Romine
And on the mound is Hughes, who has failed to complete five full innings of work in four of his last six starts. With a full bullpen thanks to September call-ups, expect Girardi to have a very short leash.
The weather in New York is pretty ugly at the moment. It’s supposed to start raining a little later this afternoon and continue raining right through tomorrow morning, so there might some problems getting this game in. We’ll just have to wait and see. First pitch is scheduled for 1:05pm ET and can be seen on YES locally and MLB Network nationally. Enjoy.
Roster Update: As expected, right-hander Preston Claiborne has rejoined the team now that the High-A Tampa season over. Would have been nice to have him yesterday. The Yankees preferred bullpen quantity over quality, however.
Injury Update: David Phelps (forearm) has started playing catch. Joe Girardi confirmed the right-hander is not expected to return this season, however.
Weather Update (1:32pm): And we’re in a rain delay after one inning and one out. The forecast is pretty ugly for the rest of the day, so it’s unclear when or if they will resume playing. Thanks to September call-ups, losing the starting pitcher so early isn’t the end of the world.
Weather Update (3:07pm): The game is tentatively scheduled to resume at 3:25pm. David Huff is warming up in the bullpen.
The White Sox are a big reason why the Yankees are four games back of the second wildcard spot in the loss column and not much closer to the race. They swept three games from New York in Chicago last month, including a gut-wrenching walk-off win in the finale after Robinson Cano gave the Bombers the lead in extra-innings. That can’t happen again.
What Have They Done Lately?
The White Sox just got swept by the Red Sox in Boston, which is usually what happens when one of the worst teams in baseball goes on the road against the one of the best teams in baseball. Former Yankee player and current ChiSox manager Robin Ventura’s team actually won ten of 12 games before going to Fenway Park. At 56-79 with a -71 run differential, they sit in last place in the AL Central and have the third worst record in the entire game.
The south-siders average just 3.8 runs per game with a team 84 wRC+, making them the worst offensive team in the AL and second worst in baseball overall. Only a Marlins (70 wRC+!) are worse. The White Sox do not have any position players on the DL at the moment, though they did trade away OF Alex Rios (98 wRC+) since the last time these two teams met.
Ventura has just one legitimately above-average hitter on this roster: 1B/DH Adam Dunn (112 wRC+). The odds of him hitting a homer this series is like, infinity. OF Avisail Garcia (107 wRC+) has been very good since coming over at the trade deadline, but he’s only had 87 plate appearances with the team. OF Alejandro De Aza (100 wRC+), 2B Gordon Beckham (94 wRC+), and OF Dayan Viciedo (92 wRC+) are useful while SS Alexei Ramirez (83 wRC+) and 1B Paul Konerko (80 wRC+) aren’t. Konerko is pretty much done at age 37.
The rest of the regular lineup includes 3B Conor Gillaspie (81 wRC+) and C Josh Phegley (41 wRC+). IF Jeff Keppinger (52 wRC+) plays regularly because he signed a three-year contract this offseason. OF Jordan Danks (95 wRC+ in limited time), C Tyler Flowers (58 wRC+), IF Leury Garcia (23 wRC+ in very limited time), and C Brayan Anderson (has not played) round out the bench. The ChiSox are carrying 14 position players after rosters expanded yesterday.
Starting Pitching Matchups
Monday: RHP Phil Hughes vs. LHP Jose Quintana
Quintana, 24, is probably the best pitcher to come out of the Yankees farm system since Chien-Ming Wang. The southpaw has a 3.71 ERA (3.91 FIP) in 301 career innings and a 3.66 ERA (3.65 FIP) in 164.2 innings across 27 starts this season. His peripherals are solid across the board: 7.54 K/9 (20.0 K%), 2.60 BB/9 (7.0 BB%), 0.93 HR/9 (9.3% HR/FB), and 43.2% grounders. Quintana isn’t a star but he’s a rock solid mid-rotation arm already. Too bad he got away. A low-90s four-seamer is Quintana’s primary fastball, but he will mix in the occasional low-90s two-seamer and upper-80s sinker. A handful each start. An upper-70s curveball and mid-80 changeup are his two offspeed pitches with the curve ahead of the change. Quintana actually has a reverse split this year — lefties have a .332 wOBA against him, righties .289. The Yankees have faced their former farmhand just two before, including last month, when he held them to one run in 6.2 innings.
Tuesday: RHP Hiroki Kuroda vs. LHP Chris Sale
Outside of Clayton Kershaw, I don’t think there’s a better left-handed pitcher in baseball than the 24-year-old Sale. He comes into this start with a 2.99 ERA (3.11 FIP) and spectacular peripherals, including a 9.63 K/9 (26.5 K%) and 1.95 BB/9 (5.4 BB%). Sale also gets a nice amount of grounders (46.3%) and generally limits homers (0.95 HR/9 and 12.3% HR/FB) considering his home park yields a ton of dingers. His nasty three-pitch mix includes a mid-to-upper-90s two-seamer, a wipeout upper-70s slider, and a fading low-80s changeup. All three are viable weapons and not any kind show-me pitch. Sale annihilates lefty batters (.178 wOBA against) and is merely pretty good against righties (.304 wOBA). The Yankees have faced the southpaw just twice since he moved into the rotation last year and he dominated them both times — one run in 7.2 innings (with 13 strikeouts) last year, one run in 7.1 innings last month. He’d be in the Cy Young mix he the White Sox weren’t terrible and his record was better than 10-12.
Wednesday: LHP CC Sabathia vs. LHP Hector Santiago
These are the same three pitchers in the exact same order the Yankees faced when they went to Chicago last month, so the Newark-raised Santiago gets the ball in the finale. The 25-year-old has been a true swingman for the ChiSox this year, pitching to a 3.43 ERA (4.33 FIP) in 133.2 innings across 20 starts and eleven relief appearances. He’s got a good strikeout rate (8.69 K/9 and 22.1 K%) and an okay homer rate (1.01 HR/9 and 9.3% HR/9), but he walks too many (4.38 BB/9 and 11.2 BB%) and rarely gets ground balls (36.0%). Santiago will use seven different pitches, but his top three offerings are a low-to-mid-90s four-seamer, a low-90s sinker, and a low-80s changeup. He’ll also thrown an upper-80s cutter, an upper-70s slider, a mid-70s curveball, and a mid-70s screwball on occasion. Here’s a .GIF of the screwball. Santiago doesn’t have a platoon split and he gave up four runs to the Yankees in 5.2 innings last month.
Update: The ChiSox just announced they have pushed Santiago back to Thursday, so he will not pitch against the Yankees. Wednesday’s starter is currently listed as TBA.
Now that rosters have expanded, pretty much every team has fresh arms in the bullpen. ChiSox closer RHP Addison Reed (2.87 FIP) hasn’t pitched in about a week while setup man RHP Nate Jones (2.60 FIP) pitched yesterday just to get some work. RHP Matt Lindstrom (3.16 FIP) is fresh as well. Long man LHP Charlie Lessman (5.60 FIP in very limited time) soaked up 4.1 innings yesterday and won’t be available for a few days. LHP David Purcey (5.24 FIP in limited time), LHP Donnie Veal (4.89 FIP in limited time), RHP Dylan Axelrod (5.54 FIP), and RHP Jake Petricka (3.68 FIP in very limited time) round out the rest of the Ventura’s bullpen. They added just one extra arm yesterday, but I assume more are on the way.
The Yankees are in fine shape bullpen-wise, especially since David Robertson and Mariano Rivera have both pitched just once in the last seven days. Preston Claiborne will return today to add some more setup depth after Dellin Betances, Cesar Cabral, and Brett Marshall joined the team yesterday. Our Bullpen Workload page has all the recent reliever usage details and South Side Sox has everything you could possibly want to know about the White Sox.
Record Last Week: 3-3 (24 RS, 25 RA)
Season Record: 72-64 (542 RS, 547 RA, 67-69 pythag. record), 9.0 GB ALE/3.5 GB WC
Opponents This Week: vs. White Sox (three games, Mon. to Weds.), vs. Red Sox (four games, Thurs. to Sun.)
Top stories from last week:
- The week opened with three games in Toronto, and the Blue Jays took the series opener after pounding Phil Hughes. Alfonso Soriano‘s two-homer game gave the Yankees a win the next day, but Hiroki Kuroda got knocked around in Wednesday’s loss.
- The Orioles came to town for a three-game weekend set following Thursday’s off-day. The offense picked up CC Sabathia in the opening win before Ivan Nova threw his first career shutout on Sunday. The bullpen blew up and the Yankees were unable to complete the sweep yesterday.
- Injury News: Derek Jeter (calf) was activated off the DL at the beginning of the week. Robinson Cano (hand) and Eduardo Nunez (knee) were day-to-day with minor injuries and have since returned to the lineup. David Phelps (forearm) has yet to pick up a ball while Michael Pineda (shoulder) is throwing but not close to returning. Both Travis Hafner (shoulder) and Zoilo Almonte (ankle) have started hitting off a tee.
- The first wave of September call-ups included David Adams, Dellin Betances, Cesar Cabral, Brett Marshall, and J.R. Murphy. Preston Claiborne was sent down for Jeter and will rejoin the team today. Jayson Nix was transferred to the 60-day DL and Melky Mesa, who has a significant hamstring injury, was released to clear 40-man roster spots. Dan Johnson was granted his release from Triple-A Scranton.
- Mason Williams, Tyler Austin, and Peter O’Brien will heading the Yankees crop of prospects in the Arizona Fall League.
- It is a “foregone conclusion” the Joe Girardi will sign a new contract with the team after the season.
- The preliminary stages of Alex Rodriguez‘s appeal will begin this 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 nav bar above, or by clicking here. Thanks in advance for voting.
This was exactly the kind of game the Yankees can’t afford to lose. Three-run lead with nine outs to go against one of your direct wildcard competitors? That’s one you have to nail down at all costs. Instead, the lead vanished before another out was recorded and the Yankees were down four runs before another two outs were recorded. New York dropped the series finale to the Orioles 7-3.
In hindsight, the decision to send Andy Pettitte out to start the seventh inning with no left-handed hitters in sight was a poor one. Mike Morse and Danny Valencia had both picked up hits off Pettitte earlier in the game, and sure enough they led off the seventh with back-to-back singles. Andy has been running out of gas around the 85-90 pitch mark lately and Joe Girardi wisely responded by having a quick hook the last few times out. Pettitte started the inning at 86 pitches and ended it at 93. He was cruising, but in hindsight letting a reliever start the inning fresh would have been the better move. Hindsight is cool like that.
Anyway, the usually excellent bullpen had its first real disaster
game inning in a long time at the worst possible time. Shawn Kelley took over for Pettitte and, in the span of four pitches, allowed a run-scoring single to the punchless Matt Wieters and a three-run homer to J.J. Hardy. It was a total Yankee Stadium cheapie that literally rolled across the top of the right field wall before a fan picked it up, but they all count the same. Just like that, Pettitte’s strong outing was erased and the Yankees were down a run.
But wait! There’s more. After Hardy killed Baltimore’s rally, Girardi went to Boone Logan, who started another fire. The switch-hitting Brian Roberts bunted his way on before the left-handed hitting Nick Markakis worked a nine-pitch walk. Here’s the situation the Yankees were facing after that:
- Four runs already in, turning a three-run lead into a one-run deficit.
- Runners on first and second with no outs.
- The middle of Baltimore’s order — the 2-3-4 spots — were due up.
That’s the ballgame right there, right? Instead of going to his best reliever (David Robertson), Girardi went to his very worst (Joba Chamberlain). I’m not sure when Joba re-entered the Circle of Trust™, but I guess it was after he threw 4.2 hitless and scoreless innings in his previous four outings. Ignore the 4.5 pitchers per plate appearance and equal number of walks and strikeouts (three apiece). Sigh. At least Robertson will be well-rested to protect the lead Phil Hughes doesn’t give them on Monday.
So what happened next? Pretty much what everyone expected. Adam Jones crushed the third of three straight hanging sliders for a three-run homer to dead center that essentially put the game to bed. Things looked promising for a second when Manny Machado popped up a bunt in foul territory for the first out, but lol no. Joba made sure the deficit was insurmountable. I know the Eighth Inning Guy™ has to pitch the eighth inning, but geez. If there was ever a spot for a team trying to climb back into the wildcard race to use its best reliever sometime other his designated inning, that was it. The Yankees got what they deserved for using Chamberlain in that spot considering their position in the standings. Bad process, bad results.
Off The Hook
Considering how terribly he pitched, Wei-Yin Chen was lucky to allow just three runs in his four innings of work. He walked five and allowed four hits (two singles and two doubles) in those four innings, and 54 of his 82 pitches (66%) were thrown with men on base. Vernon Wells bailed Chen out by looking at strike three — at least he didn’t do this, I guess — with the bases loaded to end the first. The left-hander was on ropes at the very start of the game and they let him off the hook. After Chen left the game, just four of the 19 men the Yankees sent to the plate reached base. Unlike New York’s bullpen, Baltimore’s took care of business.
Silver lining: Pettitte pitched well for the fourth straight start. He was charged with two runs in that seventh inning and once again showed an inability to pitch effectively beyond 85 pitches or so, but 85 pitches of this Pettitte is better than three of the five other guys in the rotation right now. Andy escaped a first and second, no outs jam in the third by getting three infield pop-ups from the first three hitters in the O’s lineup. That was easily his biggest mess aside from that seventh inning.
Although he did drive in the team’s second run with a sacrifice fly, Derek Jeter took another 0-for-4 (with three strikeouts) and has just one hit in his last 18 at-bats. That includes six strikeouts and nine ground balls. So, in those 18 at-bats, three balls left the infield. I know Jeter hasn’t played much this year and is coming off a major ankle injury, but he’s killing them right now. He’s hitting like most people expected Alex Rodriguez to hit when he came off the DL, to be frank.
Robinson Cano has been very hot of late but had his worst game in a long time, going 0-for-5 with three strikeouts and two ground outs to the right side. He struck out with a man on second and one out in both the first and third innings, as well as with two on and two outs in the fourth. Rough. Brett Gardner (two doubles and a walk) and Eduardo Nunez (single and a double) did a fair amount of damage, but the starting two through seven hitters went a combined 1-for-20 with three walks. The one was Alfonso Soriano‘s two-out single to plate the game’s first run in the third. Jeter’s sac fly and Gardner’s bases loaded walk accounted for the other two runs.
Joba managed to throw a scoreless eighth inning after throwing gas on the fire in the seventh. David Huff and Dellin Betances tag-teamed the ninth inning. After allowing five runs and two homers total in their previous 42.2 innings, the bullpen was charged with five runs and two homers in three innings in this game. Bullpen meltdowns happen, I get that. But that doesn’t make them any easier to swallow, especially at this point of the season.
Last, but certainly not least, A-Rod helped turn an inning-ending double play in the sixth. That’s notable because the Yankees had the shift on for the left-handed hitting Chris Davis, so Rodriguez made the turn at the second base bag like he was a shortstop. It was pretty neat. Been a long time since he turned a double play like that. A garden variety 4-6-3 double play that goes down as 6-5-3 because of where everyone was positioned.
Box Score, WPA Graph & Standings
For the box score and video highlights, go to MLB.com. For some other stats, go to FanGraphs. For the updated standings, go to ESPN. I hope you enjoyed seeing the Yankees in third place with only the two wildcard teams ahead of them while it lasted. The Orioles jumped back over New York and into third place, plus the Indians beat the Tigers, moving them into a tie with the Yankees. The Bombers are four back of the second wildcard spot in the loss column and Cool Standings has their playoff odds at 10.1%.
The ten-game homestand continues on Labor Day with the first of three games against the White Sox. Hughes and former Yankees farmhand Jose Quintana get the ball on Monday afternoon. RAB Tickets can get you in the door on the cheap if you want to spend the holiday at the ballpark.
More roster moves as Double-A Trenton gears up for their playoff drive: IF Ali Castillo, RHP Taylor Garrison, and RHP Branden Pinder have all been promoted from High-A Tampa to the Thunder according to Nicholas Flammia. LHP Caleb Smith was sent the other way to clear a roster spot.
Triple-A Scranton (3-2 loss to Rochester)
- 3B Ronnie Mustelier: 3-4 — 17 hits in his last 45 at-bats (.378) with five doubles and two homers
- RHP Sam Demel: 2 IP, 2 H, 0 R, 0 ER, 1 BB, 4 K, 1/0 GB/FB — 19 of 33 pitches were strikes (58%), plus he picked a runner off first … very quietly has a 65/23 K/BB in 52.1 innings
I was in the mood for a Marcus Thames highlight today for no apparent reason, and the walk-off homer against Jonathan Papelbon always does the trick. That game was ridiculous. The Yankees scored like five runs in the first inning against Daisuke Matsuzaka, but Phil Hughes blew the lead over the next few innings. New York came back and re-took the lead before the bullpen blew it. Alex Rodriguez tied the game with a two-run homer off Papelbon earlier in the inning. Easily one of the most frustratingly awesome games I’ve ever attended in person.
Here is your open thread for the evening. The ESPN Sunday Night Game is a total dud, the Mets at the Nationals (Niese vs. Ohlendorf). There are no NFL games either, so I guess Breaking Bad it is. Not that I’m complaining. Feel free to talk about whatever you like here. Enjoy.
Via Steven Marcus: The preliminary stages of Alex Rodriguez’s appeal will begin this week. MLB officials, A-Rod’s legal team, and arbitrator Frederic Horowitz will meet Wednesday to discuss the evidence and possibly even set a date for the hearing. The case isn’t expected to be heard until sometime in November or December.
Rodriguez, 38, was suspended a record 211 games for his ties to Biogenesis earlier this month. He was the only one of the 14 suspended players to appeal the ban. A-Rod is allowed to play during the appeal (obviously) and he came into Sunday’s game hitting .280/.359/.451 (125 wRC+) with four homers and three steals in 92 plate appearances. He is expected to appear in front of the arbitrator at some point during the actual hearing. Horowitz can overturn, uphold, or reduce the suspension. · (17) ·
The Yankees have won the first two games of this all-important series against the Orioles, but, like I said yesterday, that means nothing now. It’s a new day and a new challenge. Those benefit of those two wins — New York jumped both the Indians and Orioles in the standings and now only have to pass the Athletics or Rays to secure a wildcard spot — can be erased in a heartbeat if they don’t continue to play well. Every game is a playoff game. Here’s the lineup that will face southpaw Wei-Yin Chen:
- CF Brett Gardner
- DH Derek Jeter
- 2B Robinson Cano
- LF Alfonso Soriano
- 3B Alex Rodriguez
- RF Vernon Wells
- 1B Mark Reynolds
- SS Eduardo Nunez
- C Chris Stewart
And on the mound is left-hander Andy Pettitte, whose last three starts have gotten progressively better. Can he top the seven shutout innings (on 86 pitches) he threw last time out? Probably not, but he doesn’t have to do. Just give ‘em a chance to win.
It poured in New York this morning and right now it’s that post-rain hot and humid type of weather. There are more showers in the forecast later tonight, but nothing that should impact the game unless it goes deep into extra innings. I suppose they might start in a delay if they need more time to prep the field, but it stopped raining a good two hours ago now. First pitch is scheduled for a little after 1pm ET and can be seen on YES locally and TBS nationally. Enjoy.