Fan Confidence Poll: August 29, 2016

Record Last Week: 4-2 (42 RS, 22 RA)
Season Record: 67-62 (552 RS, 561 RA, 64-65 pythag. record), 3.5 GB of postseason spot
Opponents This Week: @ Royals (three games, Mon. to Thurs.), Thurs. OFF, @ Orioles (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.

Yanks can’t finish sweep, fall 5-0 to Gausman and the O’s

Only the 2016 Yankees could win two of three and make it feel like a disappointment over and over again. They are now an imperfect 0-7 in the third game of a three-game series after winning the first two. I wonder how long it’s been since the Yankees last went an entire season without a three-game sweep? They dropped Sunday’s finale 5-0 to the Orioles.

Cy Gausman. (Rich Schultz/Getty)
Cy Gausman. (Rich Schultz/Getty)

You Can’t Win If You Can’t Score
Yet again, the Yankees were completely shut down by Orioles righty Kevin Gausman. Fourth time this season. He’s held them to three runs total in 27.2 innings this year, which works out to a 0.98 ERA. Gausman has a 4.41 ERA against all other teams. The worst. Here are his four starts against New York:

  • May 5th at Camden Yards: 8 IP, 3 H, 0 R, 0 ER, 0 BB, 4 K
  • June 5th at Camden Yards: 6 IP, 7 H, 1 R, 1 ER, 2 BB, 5 K
  • July 18th at Yankee Stadium: 6.2 IP, 6 H, 2 R, 2 ER, 1 BB, 6 K
  • August 28th at Yankee Stadium: 7 IP, 7 H, 0 R, 0 ER, 0 BB, 9 K

The Yankees had their best chance to score against Gausman in the fourth inning, when Gary Sanchez and Mark Teixeira opened the frame with consecutive singles. Sanchez, however, got a little overeager and tried to go first-to-third on Teixeira’s single to right. Steve Pearce threw him out with an assist from a great Manny Machado tag. Can’t make the first out of the inning at third base, Gary.

Didi Gregorius followed with a single of his own, so the first three batters in the inning reached base. A Starlin Castro ground out and a Brian McCann strike out ending the threat. We’ll never know how the inning (and the game) would have played out had Sanchez put on the brakes and stopped at second, but man, it does stink to not score after the first three batters of the inning get hits.

The Yankees never threatened much after that fourth inning failed rally. In fact, they only had three baserunners the rest of the way. Ronald Torreyes singled in the fifth, McCann singled in the seventh, and Sanchez doubled in the eighth. Seventeen of the final 20 Yankees to bat made outs. Classic getaway day game by the offense.

Bad Gary. (Rich Schultz/Getty)
Bad Gary. (Rich Schultz/Getty)

Sabathia’s Long Leash
For a while now I’ve been saying I’d like see Joe Girardi have a shorter leash with CC Sabathia, but it just isn’t happening. Coming into this game opponents were hitting .289/.347/.485 against the big man from pitch No. 75 on, yet there he was, out there for 99 pitches as the game slipped out of reach. The O’s went 3-for-6 with a walk after Sabathia threw his 75th pitch. Sigh.

The Orioles had no answer for Sabathia through the first five innings. He held them to two singles and a walk in those first five innings, and one of the singles was an infield single. His first mistake came leading off the sixth, when Steve Pearce connected for a solo home run to break the scoreless tie. Sabathia rebounded to finish the inning before the wheels came off in the seventh.

To be fair, the Orioles didn’t hit Sabathia hard in that seventh inning. Jonathan Schoop poked a ground ball single the other way with one out, then Nolan Reimold reached on a weird infield single in which Castro went around the baserunner and missed the ball completely. Hard to explain. Just watch:

Nolan Reimolds CC Sabathia

Weird play. That put runners on first and second with two outs. Girardi left Sabathia in to get the left-on-left matchup against Hyun-Soo Kim, who CC struck out twice earlier in the game, but it didn’t work. Sabathia walked him on four pitches, loading the bases and ending his afternoon. Adam Warren came in and allowed a two-run single to Pearce to turn a 1-0 deficit into a 3-0 deficit.

Sabathia was charged with three runs on six hits and two walks in 6.2 innings. He did strike out eight. I don’t think I would have sent him back out for the seventh given a) his pitch count, b) the Pearce homer in the sixth, and c) the fact he was going through the lineup a third time. This isn’t the first time Girardi has left Sabathia in a little too long and watched it result in tack-on runs, and it won’t be the last unless he shortens up the leash. CC’s days of being a 100+ pitch monster are long over.

(Rich Schultz/Getty)
(Rich Schultz/Getty)

Leftovers
Down three in the eighth doesn’t exactly seem like “bring in the rookie to face the middle of the lineup in his second MLB appearance” territory, but Girardi went to Ben Heller in that spot, and sure enough Mark Trumbo took him deep for a two-run homer to make it 5-0 O’s. Heller faced six batters and retired two. Blake Parker had to bail him out.

Machado made three great defensive plays in this game. He had the tag on Sanchez in the fourth inning, then he made a diving stop on Castro’s hard-hit grounder later in the inning, and then in the eighth he robbed Torreyes with a diving stop. He dove into foul territory and threw across the diamond from his knees. What can you do? Machado’s gonna do that.

The Yankees had eight hits total, including two each by Sanchez and Torreyes. They also drew zero walks for the 12th time this season. That’s their second highest total of no-walk games this century. (They had 17 in 2013.)

Box Score, WPA Graph & Standings
ESPN has both the box score and updated standings while MLB.com has the video highlights. The Yankees are again 3.5 games back of the second wildcard spot. FanGraphs puts their postseason odds at 5.6% as of this writing. Here are our Bullpen Workload and Announcer Standings pages, and here’s the lame-o win probability graph:


Source: FanGraphs

Up Next
The Yankees are off to Kansas City for an important three-game series with the Royals. The two clubs are both vying for the second wildcard spot and have identical 67-62 records. (Kansas City is playing Sunday night though.) Michael Pineda and ex-Met Dillon Gee are the scheduled starters for Monday night’s opener.

DotF: Holder fans 12 in relief as Scranton clinches playoff spot

The minor league season is winding down, so let’s update the standings. But first, some notes:

  • OF Blake Rutherford is done for the season with a minor hamstring injury, reports Bryan Hoch. He should be good to go for Instructional League next month though. Pulaski’s season ends Thursday and there’s no reason to push it. Seems like the Pulaski social media person was sick of being asked about Rutherford’s status though. Rutherford finishes his pro debut with a .351/.415/.570 (169 wRC+) batting line and three homers in 33 games.
  • OF Clint Frazier has been placed on the 7-day DL with a hamstring strain, reports Kelsie Heneghan. That explains why he was lifted for a pinch-hitter last night. Hopefully it’s minor and Frazier can come back after the seven days and play in the postseason.
  • RHP Chance Adams has been shut down for the season, Double-A Trenton manager Bobby Mitchell told Matt Kardos. He reached his innings limit. Adams finishes the year with a 2.33 ERA (2.96 FIP) and a 29.1% strikeout rate in 127.1 total innings. He was a reliever before this season, remember. They don’t want to push him too far. Big loss for Trenton’s playoff rotation.
  • And finally, OF Jhalan Jackson made an appearance in today’s Prospect Report following last night’s five-hit performance, so make sure you check that out.

Triple-A Scranton (3-1 win over Rochester) the win clinches a postseason spot, which is cool … they’re 84-49 and have the best record in all of Triple-A … their regular season ends a week from tomorrow

  • LF Ben Gamel: 1-3, 1 R, 1 RBI
  • 2B Rob Refsnyder: 1-3, 1 BB
  • DH Chris Parmelee: 2-4, 2 R, 1 HR, 2 RBI — tied the game with a solo homer, then gave them the lead with an RBI single
  • CF Mason Williams: 1-4
  • RF Jake Cave: 1-4, 1 K
  • RHP Bryan Mitchell: 3.2 IP, 4 H, 1 R, 0 ER, 2 BB, 8 K, 1/0 GB/FB, 1 E (pickoff) — 53 of 84 pitches were strikes (63%) … I suppose he could come up when rosters expand on Thursday, though I’m guessing he’ll stay in Triple-A and pitch through the postseason to make up for all those innings he missed with the toe injury
  • LHP Tyler Webb: 1 IP, 3 H, 0 R, 0 ER, 0 BB, 2 K, 0/1 GB/FB — 19 of 28 pitches were strikes (68%)
  • RHP Jonathan Holder: 4 IP, 1 H, 0 R, 0 ER, 0 BB, 12 K — 41 of 53 pitches were strikes (77%) … holy crap what a game … Holder struck out eleven straight batters at one point … the one hit was a pop-up that fell in because none of the infielders called for it too, so the one guy who did make contact (John Ryan Murphy!) didn’t square it up … the three pitchers combined for 22 strikeouts in nine innings

[Read more…]

Sunday Open Thread

This is the open thread for the remainder of the weekend. The Red Sox and Royals are the ESPN Sunday Night Game (Rodriguez vs. Ventura), plus there’s some preseason football on as well. Talk about those games or whatever else here. Go nuts.

Game 129: Finish The Sweep, For Once

(Christopher Pasatieri/Getty)
(Christopher Pasatieri/Getty)

The Yankees are rolling right now. They’ve won their last four games and outscored their opponents 37-10 in the process. They’re also now only 2.5 games back of the second wildcard spot, and a win over the O’s today would bring them to within 1.5 games. The Yankees haven’t been that close to a playoff spot since April 13th. April 13th! That was seven games into the season. Yeah, it’s been a while.

Of course, to get to within 1.5 games of a postseason spot today, the Yankees have to do something they haven’t done all season: sweep a three-game series. They have swept a four-game series this year — two of them, in fact (A’s and Angels) — but never once a little three-game series. They’re 0-6 in the third game when winning the first two games of a three-game series in 2016. Yuck. Change that today, fellas. Here is the Orioles’ lineup and here is the Yankees’ lineup:

  1. LF Brett Gardner
  2. CF Aaron Hicks
  3. DH Gary Sanchez
  4. 1B Mark Teixeira
  5. SS Didi Gregorius
  6. 2B Starlin Castro
  7. C Brian McCann
  8. RF Aaron Judge
  9. 3B Ronald Torreyes
    LHP CC Sabathia

It’s another nice and sunny afternoon in the Bronx. Pretty wonderful baseball weather. This afternoon’s game will begin at 1:05pm ET and you can watch on YES. Enjoy the game.

Enjoying the Ride

(Adam Hunger/Getty)
(Adam Hunger/Getty)

Following a poor April, the goal of this season seemed clear: trade away those pieces with value–or anything not tied down–and put the farm system in a position to flourish and be productive going forward. Of course, that would mean a rough go of things in the second half. This is what happened. The Yankees made the moves many (most?) of us wanted them to make.

After selling off Aroldis Chapman, Andrew Miller, and Carlos Beltran, the Yankees were supposed to fade back, take some lumps for the rest of the year, hopefully break in some new guys, and head into the offseason with the reset button pushed. With veterans exiting–Alex Rodriguez and the aforementioned traded players–or taking a reduced roles–Mark Teixeira, Brian McCann, Chase Headley–the months of August and September were meant to get the kids–Gary Sanchez, Aaron Judge, Tyler Austin, Luis Cessa, and Chad Green chief among them–a stress-free and extended taste of the Majors before (presumably) stepping up and taking bigger roles in 2017.  But a funny thing happened on the way to the offseason: the Yankees began to win. Is it possible that the Yankees could have their cake and eat it, too?

(Presswire)
(Presswire)

As I write this, the Yankees are somehow 2.5 games back of the second wildcard spot and 5.5 games back in the division. Given what they did at the deadline, both of those numbers seemed pretty incomprehensible at the beginning of the month. Here we are, though, as the calendar gets ready to turn to September, and the Yankees have a shot–however outside–at making the playoffs. Per BP, their odds are just 6.6%. Per FanGraphs, their odds are somewhere between 7.2% and 10.2%. Are those great odds? Of course not. But given how this team looked on August 1st, they’re better than anyone could’ve imagined.

Moving from the team to the individual for the moment…Gary Sanchez. What else needs to be said? He’s made his at-bats appointment viewing. I paused on a trip to the bathroom yesterday to watch one of his at bats. The only person unimpressed by Sanchez appears to be my 8-week old son, who seems to be mid-bottle every time Sanchez comes up and does something impressive. Maybe I should feed him constantly throughout Yankee games and see what happens.

Both Sanchez and the Yankees are playing with house money. No one realistically expected either of these things to happen, both Sanchez’s historic debut or the Yankees actually making things interesting in the playoff picture. It won’t always go this well for Sanchez, and we know that. And chances are, given the team’s starting rotation, the Yankees are going to come back down to earth and will probably miss the playoffs. But so what? This is fun. The Yankees are fun. Baseball has been made fun again.

The moment Al passed Face of the Franchise status over to Gary. (Jim McIsaac/Getty)
(Jim McIsaac/Getty)

For now, let’s just enjoy the ride. Both the team and Sanchez are playing with house money and are making us feel good about tuning into the Yankees again after three and a half seasons that, at times, felt like a slog (with varying degrees of success).  I’ll end with this thought: How much do you think it would annoy the rest of baseball if the Yankees, in a year in which they were supposed to turn tail and hideout till next year, made the playoffs? I think it would be pretty damn hilarious. You may’ve heard that baseball is hard to predict and the second half of this Yankee season has certainly subscribed to that theory. Can something wild happen in the last month? Probably not, but it’s going to be a fun ride to experience.

DotF: Trenton clinches postseason spot with 15-inning win

Both SS Tyler Wade and LHP Jordan Montgomery were named the Double-A Eastern League Season All-Star Team, so congrats to them. OF Dustin Fowler could have easily made the All-Star Team too, but he’s not really a snub. The three outfielders picked for the team all had incredible years.

Triple-A Scranton (5-4 loss to Rochester in eleven innings) all they need to do to clinch a postseason spot is beat Rochester tomorrow or Monday

  • CF Ben Gamel: 1-5, 1 R, 2 K
  • LF Mason Williams: 1-5, 1 2B, 1 RBI
  • 3B Rob Refsnyder: 0-4, 1 BB, 1 K, 1 HBP, 1 E (throwing)
  • C Kyle Higashioka: 1-4, 1 R, 1 HR, 2 RBI, 1 BB, 1 K — that’s his 20th homer of the season … his previous career high was eight back in 2011
  • DH Clint Frazier: 1-3, 1 BB — he was lifted for a pinch-hitter in the 11th, which is weird
  • RF Jake Cave: 0-4, 2 K
  • LHP Phil Coke: 5 IP, 4 H, 2 R, 1 ER, 0 BB, 6 K, 5/3 GB/FB — 54 of 74 pitches were strikes (73%)
  • LHP Dietrich Enns: 2 IP, 1 H, 2 R, 2 ER, 1 BB, 4 K, 1/1 GB/FB — 25 of 40 pitches were strikes (63%) … he’s working out of the bullpen for now to control his innings … I bet he returns to the rotation for the postseason though
  • LHP Chasen Shreve: 2.1 IP, 1 H, 0 R, 0 ER, 1 BB, 1 K, 2/2 GB/FB — 25 of 43 pitches were strikes (58%)
  • RHP Nick Goody: 1 IP, 2 H, 1 R, 1 ER, 3 BB, 2 K, 1 WP, 1/0 GB/FB — 17 of 33 pitches were strikes (52%), though one of the walks was intentional … he walked in the go-ahead run in the top of the 11th … Goody came into this game with one walk in 21.1 Triple-A innings this season
  • LHP James Pazos: 0.2 IP, zeroes, 2 K — eight pitches, six strikes

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