Fan Confidence Poll: August 31st, 2015

Record Last Week: 4-2 (42 RS, 32 RA)
Season Record: 72-57 (627 RS, 550 RA, 73-56 pythag. record) 1.5 GB in ALE, 5.5 games up on WC spot
Opponents This Week: @ Red Sox (three games, Mon. to Weds.), Thurs. OFF, vs. Rays (three games, Fri. to Sun.)

Top stories from last week:

Please take a second to answer the poll below and give us an idea of how confident you are in the team. You can view the interactive Fan Confidence Graph anytime via the Features tab in the nav bar above, or by clicking here. Thanks in advance for voting.

Given the team's current roster construction, farm system, management, etc., how confident are you in the Yankees' overall future?

DotF: Ackley plays second base in fourth rehab game

Triple-A Scranton (2-0 win over Buffalo)

  • CF-LF Slade Heathcott: 0-4, 1 K
  • DH Rob Refsnyder: 2-4, 1 2B, 1 RBI — three two-hit games and four no-hit games in his last seven games
  • 2B Dustin Ackley: 1-3, 1 RBI, 1 K, 1 HBP — left the game in the eighth after being hit by a pitch, though I’m unsure if he got hurt or if that was simply the plan for the day (he hasn’t played a full nine innings yet as part of his rehab) … interesting he played second base
  • LF-2B Jose Pirela: 1-4
  • RF-CF Aaron Judge: 0-4, 1 K — in an ugly 1-for-25 (.040) slump
  • C Austin Romine: 0-4, 1 K
  • RHP Chris Capuano: 3.2 IP, 5 H, 0 R, 0 ER, 2 BB, 2 K, 1 WP, 5/2 GB/FB — 36 of 62 pitches were strikes (58%) … unless there’s a sudden need at the MLB level, I bet he stays here through the Triple-A postseason, then the team will figure out what happens after that
  • RHP Johnny Barbato: 3.1 IP, zeroes, 3 K, 6/0 GB/FB — 27 of 36 pitches were strikes (75%) … finishing his first season in the organization very well
  • RHP Nick Goody: 2 IP, 1 H, 0 R, 0 ER, 0 BB, 2 K, 2/0 GB/FB — 23 of 30 pitches were strikes (77%)

[Read more…]

Sunday Night Open Thread

Here is your open thread for the rest of the weekend. The Cubs and Dodgers are the ESPN Sunday Night Game (Arrieta vs. Wood), so that should be pretty fun. Jake Arrieta has been ridiculous this season (2.22 ERA and 2.57 FIP). He’s no longer the guy the Yankees used to pound on all those years with the Orioles. Talk about that game, this afternoon’s win, or anything else right here.

Sweep! Yankees clobber Braves 20-6 for third straight win

Do the Yankees have to leave Atlanta? They finished the three-game sweep of the Braves with a 20-6 win Sunday afternoon. They outscored the Braves 38-11 in the three games. The Yankees scored 38 runs during their recent ten-game homestand.

(Kevin C. Cox/Getty)
(Kevin C. Cox/Getty)

Seven Runs, Two Outs
The Yankees scored their first nine runs of Friday night’s blowout with two outs — in two separate innings, but all with two outs — and they scored their first seven runs of Sunday afternoon’s game with two outs. Jacoby Ellsbury started the scoring with a three-run home run in the second inning on a hanging Julio Teheran slider. It was … not a good pitch. That was a common theme. The Yankees stranded two runners in the first and were on the verge of doing it again in the second before Ellsbury’s dinger.

In the third inning, Carlos Beltran and Brian McCann flew out for the first two outs before Greg Bird drew a two-out walk. Chase Headley followed with his tenth homer of the season, a bomb to dead center field. Again, it was a really bad pitch. Teheran laid it in there, right over the plate. Didi Gregorius followed the homer with a walk and Stephen Drew then went deep, hitting a two-run shot to right. Again, terrible pitch. Middle-middle meatballs all afternoon from Teheran.

Teheran has always been home run prone, but he’s taken it to the extreme this year, allowing 21 homers in 157.1 innings coming into this game (1.20 HR/9). That’s playing in a big park in the NL. Teheran was one out away from escaping the second and third inning scoreless, but instead he left some very hittable pitches over the plate, and the Yankees took advantage for an early seven-run lead.

(Kevin C. Cox/Getty)
(Kevin C. Cox/Getty)

Not So Nasty Nate
Nathan Eovaldi picked a pretty good day to not have command of his … well … everything. He couldn’t locate his fastball and his splitter hung more often than not, resulting in five runs in five innings. A better offensive team than the Braves might have made this a much uglier start for Eovaldi, who allowed those five runs on eight hits and two walks. He did strike out seven.

Much like New York’s early rallies, Atlanta’s two-run rally in the third inning all happened with two outs. Eovaldi got two outs, then walked Nick Markakis and Nick Swisher, and Freddie Freeman and A.J. Pierzynski drove them in with singles. The walks were the big problem there. Can’t be walking dudes with the bases empty and two outs and the middle of the order looming. Especially not with a 7-0 lead. Not good, Nate. He knows that.

The sixth inning rally was kind of dumb but it still counts. The inning started with an Adonis Garcia ground ball single back up the middle. Okay. Then Jace Peterson hit a booming double to left-center to put runners at second and third with no outs. Argh. The Yankees led 8-2 at the time, but still. Andrelton Simmons then ripped a single back up the middle, scoring both runners and ending Eovaldi’s day.

Adam Warren replaced Eovaldi and allowed Simmons to score on two dinky bloop hits. Brett Gardner almost caught one of them in left. Eovaldi allowed all three men he faced in the sixth to reach base and Warren allowed two of the four he faced to reach. Chasen Shreve came in, walked Freeman to load the bases, then got Pierzynski to ground out end the inning. Three runs scored on five hits. Not a good inning or afternoon for Eovaldi. Shake it off, do better next time out.

(Kevin C. Cox/Getty)
(Kevin C. Cox/Getty)

Insurance Runs
Thankfully, the Braves are not very good. They gave those three sixth inning runs back and then some in the seventh. Headley walked, Gregorius was hit by a pitch, and Drew singled to load the bases with one out. Alex Rodriguez drove in two with a pinch-hit single, Gardner singled in another run, McCann singled in two more runs, Bird doubled in yet another run, Headley doubled in two more runs, then Drew capped it off with another run-scoring single. Gosh. Nine runs on eight hits, two walks, and a hit batsman. That was an enjoyable inning. The lead was extended to 17-5.

Then, in the eighth, the Yankees scored three more times. The highlight of the inning was Branden Pinder‘s run-scoring double. It was his first pro at-bat, and, as far as I can tell, he never batted in college either. Pinder was the first Yankees reliever to drive in a run since … Mariano Rivera‘s bases loaded walk against Francisco Rodriguez back in the day. Good times. Bird (sac fly) and Gregorius (single) also plated runs in the three-run frame. Twenty total runs on a season-high 21 hits.

(Kevin C. Cox/Getty)
(Kevin C. Cox/Getty)

Leftovers
Drew went 4-for-4 the afternoon and is now hitting .20115 on the season. It was his first four-hit game since June 2013 and the first time this season he’s finished a game hitting over .200. He reached base six times — he also drew two walks — for the first time in his career. Drew had reached base five times in one game on four previous occasions, last in 2011. Heck of a day at the plate.

Everyone in the starting lineup had at least one hit and one run scored aside from the pitcher’s spot. Seven of the eight position player spots drove in a run. Headley (three hits, two walks) and Gregorius (two hits, two walks, hit-by-pitch) each reached base five times. Including Pinder, who hit in Headley’s spot, the 6-7-8 hitters went 10-for-11 with two doubles, two home runs, six walks, a hit-by-pitch, and one strikeout. That’s 17 times on base in 18 plate appearances. Wowza.

Pinder soaked up two inefficient innings in the blowout, allowing a run on an Adonis solo homer. He also walked three batters. Pinder threw 45 pitches in his two innings. Bryan Mitchell tossed a scoreless ninth. He made a nice play to snag a hard-hit comeback ground ball that was heading over his shoulder and into center. That was a little unsettling after Mitchell took the line drive to the face two weeks ago.

And finally, the Yankees have scored 20+ runs twice this season — they did it in Texas a few weeks ago, as I’m sure you remember — after doing it two times total from 2008-14. The last time they scored 20+ runs twice in one season was 1999. That was a good year.

Box Score, WPA Graph & Standings
You can find the box score and video highlights for the game here and here, respectively. Here are the updated standings and postseason odds as well. Now here’s the win probability graph:


Source: FanGraphs

Up Next
Sadly, the Yankees are done with the Braves and now head to Boston for a three-game series with Red Sox. Ivan Nova and Eduardo Rodriguez will be the pitching matchup in Monday night’s opener.

Game 129: Finish the Sweep

There's a lot going on in this photo. (Presswire)
(Presswire)

The Yankees have played well for long stretches at times this season, and today they’ll try to earn their eighth sweep of at least three games in 2015. That sounds like a lot, doesn’t it? Eight sweeps? The 2013-14 Yankees had 13 sweeps total, and the 2009 Yankees had eleven sweeps, so I guess eight isn’t a ton. Kind of a normal amount.

Nathan Eovaldi, who is at least in the conversation for staff ace right now, will be on the mound this afternoon looking to clinch that sweep. The Yankees have taken care of business against the Braves these last two days, but the series isn’t over yet, there’s still one more win sitting out there. Here is Atlanta’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. 1B Greg Bird
  6. 3B Chase Headley
  7. SS Didi Gregorius
  8. 2B Stephen Drew
  9. RHP Nathan Eovaldi

It has been raining for much of the morning in Atlanta, but the forecast says the showers are supposed to clear out by game time. Then they’ll come back later this afternoon, hopefully after the game ends. We’ll see. This afternoon’s game is scheduled to begin at 1:35pm ET and you can watch on YES. Enjoy.

Injury Updates: CC Sabathia (knee) received a cortisone shot Thursday and played catch both Thursday and Saturday. There is no firm timetable for Sabathia to throw off a mound. Just catch for now … nothing new to pass along about Mark Teixeira (leg). He’s on antibiotics to get rid of the inflammation and won’t do anything until it clears out.

Didi’s Improvement

(Ezra Shaw/Getty)
(Ezra Shaw/Getty)

If not for Alex Rodriguez‘s (mostly triumphant) return to pinstripes, the biggest narrative surrounding the Yankees this season would likely be Didi Gregorius and his attempt at replacing the beloved and legendary Derek Jeter. To say that talk of this has fully died down would be disingenuous as we hear it fairly frequently, mostly when the Yankees play on national broadcasts. Thankfully, Didi has worked hard at and succeeded in making those conversations positive, even if that wasn’t the case at first.

In the early going of this year, things were not looking great for Sir Didi. He was scuffling at the plate, hitting to just a .499 OPS during his first month as a Yankee. On top of that, he was flubbing plays in the field and making some poor decisions on the basepaths. He was pressing–and who could blame him? Going from the relative obscurity of playing for the Diamondbacks to the relative ubiquity of playing for the Yankees while replacing Derek Frickin’ Jeter would make any player, regardless of skill-level, press. As the season’s gone on, though, Didi has adjusted and looked more and more comfortable in the Bronx and a second-half surge at the plate has helped make that possible (along with fewer baserunning blunders and mostly stellar fielding–seriously, this dude’s arm is off the charts!).

Since the All-Star Break, Didi has hit .304/.333/.415. That hot streak didn’t just start after the (not really) midpoint of the season. If we extend back to July 1 to now, Didi is hitting .294/.333/.400. That’s ever-so-slightly off from the post-ASB pace, but it’s still solid, especially for a shortstop who’s as good a fielder as Didi’s proven himself to be. Let’s take a look into some batted ball numbers and see what we can find as a possible source for Didi’s improvement.

As it so often does, Didi’s improvement may start with the old number one. Since July, Didi’s seen a big increase in line drives per balls in play on fastballs: 33.33% compared to just 17.50% in April through June. Unsurprisingly, this has led to an increase in BABIP–.268 instead of .228–which has led to a slight increase in BA against fastballs, .239-.222. Also at factoring in here is a big drop in pop up percentage. In the early part of the season, Didi popped up on exactly 10% of the fastballs he put into play; that number is now hovering closer to 2%.

The non-fastball pitch Didi has seen most often this season has been the sinker, and he’s been productive against it all along. In the first few months of the season, he hit well against the pitch with a .298 batting average. However, from July on, he’s done even better. Currently, he’s hitting .556 (!) against the sinker. What’s interesting is that Didi has seen almost as many sinkers since July (104) as he did in all of April through June (156).

Didi’s ‘formula’ seems pretty simple: sting the ball a little bit harder and get some more hits because of it. I’m no scout–and it’s difficult and dangerous to draw such conclusions from data alone–but the harder contact, the more frequent line drives, and the less frequent pop ups (the trend from fastballs mirrored itself in sinkers, with a drop off in PU/BIP% of about 4%) seem to suggest that Didi’s leveled out his swing, which has led to an uptick in production. No matter what it is, the last two months have Didi have been great to watch (even if he’s been allergic to taking a walk) and let’s hope he settles in to his role even more.

 

Yankees win second straight, Severino shuts down Braves in 3-1 win


Source: FanGraphs

The Yankees really need to beat up on bad teams given their current place in the standings, and that’s exactly what they’ve done in the first two games of this series with the Braves. Following Friday night’s blowout win, New York picked up a more traditional 3-1 win Saturday. The Yankees have now won two straight to keep pace with the molten hot Blue Jays.

I only saw small bits and pieces of this game — I saw the Yankees score their first run on a wild pitch and Luis Severino labor through an inefficient first inning, and then I saw Andrew Miller close the door with a perfect ninth inning, but nothing in between — so I can’t talk too intelligently about it. The Yankees scored their second and third runs on doubles by Didi Gregorius and Brian McCann, respectively.

Severino settled down after that shaky first inning — he threw more balls (seven) than strikes (six) in the first — and finished the night with six scoreless innings. He allowed four hits and three walks, and struck out five. Ten of his other 13 outs came on the ground. Severino has yet to throw a pitch in the seventh inning in his big league career but that isn’t a priority right now. The Yankees will take six quality innings every time out from the rookie, and that’s what he gave them Saturday.

The Yankees actually had more walks (seven) than hits (six) offensively. Five of the six hits were doubles too — Greg Bird‘s single was the only non-extra-base hit. Carlos Beltran (two walks), McCann (double, walk), and Bird (single, walk) all reached base twice. Justin Wilson allowed a run in two-thirds of an inning, then Dellin Betances and Miller recorded the final seven outs to close things out. Nice crisp win.

Sadly, this game was marred by tragedy. A fan at Turner Field fell from the upper deck during seventh inning and landed on the concrete below. The fan was rushed to the hospital and Atlanta police later confirmed he died from his injuries. Here’s the full story. Man, that’s just awful. Our condolences go out to the family and friends of the fan.

Here are the box score and video highlights for the game, and here are the updated standings and postseason odds for the season. Also make sure you check out our Bullpen Workload and Announcer Standings pages. The Yankees will try to complete the sweep Sunday afternoon. It’ll be Nathan Eovaldi against Julio Teheran in the matinee.