6/12 to 6/14 Series Preview: Los Angeles Angels

Matt Shoemaker. (Stephen Dunn/Getty Images)
Matt Shoemaker. (Stephen Dunn/Getty Images)

Ten days ago, it seemed as if the Yankees were in the midst of a swoon. They dropped two of three to the Orioles, split a four-game set with the Blue Jays, and lost the first game in a series against the Red Sox. That seems like so long ago, now that they’ve won five in a row by a combined score of 55 to 9 and taken a 4.0 game lead in the American League East. If you’re a believer in momentum, now is as good a time as any to begin a dreadful seven-game trip to the West Coast. Their first stop is Anaheim (or “Los Angeles,” if you want to be snarky).

The Last Time They Met

The Yankees visited Angel Stadium for a three-game series last August, winning two out of three. They outscored the Angels 12 to 3, as their pitchers came up big in all three games. Some interesting numbers include:

  • The starting pitchers – Masahiro Tanaka, Luis Cessa, and Chad Green – pitched to the following combined line: 19.2 IP, 13 H, 2 BB, 19 K, 0.46 ERA.
  • Game two of the series represented a sign of things to come for the Yankees. Luis Cessa made the first start of his career (six scoreless innings), Gary Sanchez hit a solo home run, and Aaron Judge drove in two runs.
  • Ronald Torreyes went 4-for-4 with three runs, a double, a home run, and two RBI in the first game. He saw a total of eight pitches in those at-bats.

Check out Katie’s Yankeemetrics post for more fun facts.

Injury Report

It may not be a stretch to say that the Angels three best players are currently on the disabled list. Mike Trout is out until July as he recovers from surgery to repair a torn ligament in his right thumb, Garrett Richards has no timetable for return (he hit the 60-day DL on April 22 due to nerve irritation in his right arm), and Cam Bedrosian is out with a strained groin (and listed with a TBD return date). That’s their best player (and the best player in baseball), their ace, and their closer. And that’s not all, either – Andrew Bailey, Andrew Heaney, Tyler Skaggs, and Huston Street are also out, and none will return in time for this series. That’s rough.

Their Story So Far

Even with the aforementioned injuries, the Angels are soldiering on. They currently sit at 33-33, and they just took two out of three from the red hot Houston Astros. And, for those in search of a hot take, they’re 7-6 with a +14 run differential since Trout hit the disabled list. I’ve yet to encounter anyone suggesting that the Angels may be better without Trout, but I’m sure that those takes will come if they continue to keep their collective head above water. How have they done it? In short, by being average across the board over the last couple of weeks. Kole Calhoun, Yunel Escobar, and Andrelton Simmons have been tearing the cover off of the ball in that stretch, but no other players have really stood out. Well, other than Albert Pujols, albeit for the wrong reasons –  he’s 6-for-36 since the calendar flipped to June, and his wRC+ on the season is an unsightly 84.

The Lineup We Might See

Manager Mike Scioscia has been forced to use a wide array of lineups this season, due to both injuries and poor performance. The only certainly right now seems to be that Calhoun and Pujols will bat second and third, respectively, with most everything else up in the air. Nevertheless, I expect that we’ll see something along these lines:

  1. Andrelton Simmons, SS
  2. Kole Calhoun, RF
  3. Albert Pujols, DH
  4. Yunel Escobar, 3B
  5. Luis Valbuena, 1B / C.J. Cron, 1B
  6. Martin Maldonado, C
  7. Ben Revere, LF
  8. Eric Young, CF / Cameron Maybin, CF
  9. Danny Espinosa, 2B

The Starting Pitchers We Will See

Monday (10:07 PM EST): RHP Masahiro Tanaka vs. RHP Alex Meyer

Meyer appeared on Baseball America’s top-hundred list in back-to-back-to-back seasons, peaking at 45 on 2014’s list. That’s not terribly surprising, given that he’s 6’9″ and 230-plus pounds, a 95-plus MPH fastball, and an absolutely wicked breaking ball. As is the case with most pitchers of his size, however, he has struggled with his mechanics and control throughout his professional career, while bouncing between the bullpen and the rotation. The Angels acquired him from the Twins in August, and now, at the age of 27, he’s getting his first extended look in the majors.

That mid-90s fastball and hard breaking ball (a mid-80s offering that scouts call a slider, but PITCHf/x calls a curve) represent nearly 99% of Meyer’s offerings. He throws a change-up in the upper-80s every so often, but he’s basically a two-pitch guy.

Last Outing (vs. DET on 6/7) – 6.0 IP, 3 H, 1 R, 4 BB, 9 K

Tuesday (10:07 PM EST): LHP CC Sabathia vs. RHP J.C. Ramirez

The Angels are the seventh organization of Ramirez’s twelve-year professional career, as the 28-year-old journeyman has struggled to get an extended look over the last five years or so. This season represents his first time starting since 2011, when he made 26 starts at Double-A, but it doesn’t really show – he has been a league-average starter through 11 starts, with elite control (4.9 BB%) and solid groundball rates.

Ramirez works with a mid-90s fastball (mostly a two-seamer, but he’ll mix in a straight fastball), a mid-80s slider, and an upper-70s curveball.

Last Outing (vs. DET on 6/8) – 5.0 IP, 10 H, 4 R, 1 BB, 4 K

Wednesday (10:07 PM EST): RHP Michael Pineda vs. RHP Matt Shoemaker

Shoemaker has quietly been a solid-average pitcher for the Angels over the last four seasons, posting a 102 ERA+ and averaging about 2.5 WAR per 180 IP. He was in the midst of a breakout last season, on the heels of reintroducing his splitter in mid-May, but a line drive to the head unfortunately ended his season on September 4. It was a scary incident, and Shoemaker suffered some severe injuries, including a skull fracture and hematoma, but he has thankfully made a complete recovery.

Shoemaker throws three fastballs – a low-90s four-seamer, a low-90s two-seamer, and a mid-80s splitter. The splitter is is best pitch, with a 21.8% whiff rate for his career. He also throws a low-80s slider, and, on occasion, a curve and change-up.

Last Outing (vs. HOU on 6/10) – 7.0 IP, 7 H, 4 R, 1 BB, 4K

The Bullpen

The Angels bullpen exemplifies how their season has gone thus far, as last year’s closers (Street and Bailey) and this year’s closer (Bedrosian) are all on the disabled list. In the interim, Bud Norris – yes, that Bud Norris – has stepped-up to the ninth inning role, where he has nailed down 11 of 13 save opportunities. He currently has a 2.43 ERA (174 ERA+) and 31.4 K% … you really can’t predict baseball.

Despite the injuries, the Angels have a top-ten bullpen in baseball by most metrics – and it’s not just because of Norris. Blake Parker – yes, that Blake Parker – Yusmeiro Petit, David Hernandez, and Keynan Middleton all have an ERA+ of 149 or above, and a K% of 27.7% or better. All five of those guys pitched yesterday, though, so their availability is up in the air for at least the first game of the series.

Yankees Connection

Blake Parker was claimed off of waivers by the Yankees last August, and tossed 16.1 uneventful innings down the stretch. He actually bounced around a bit this off-season, as well, going from the Yankees to the Angels to the Brewers … and then back to the Angels. He’s the 6th best RP in baseball by fWAR, thanks to his 0.94 FIP in 28.2 IP.

Andrew Bailey (2014-2015) and Eric Young Jr. (2016) also spent time in the Yankees organization.

Who (Or What) To Watch

Alex Meyer has earned some comparisons to Dellin Betances in his career, due to his size, velocity, and breaking ball, and he has posted some impressive strikeout numbers in his young career. Few expect him to remain in the rotation long-term, but he has excellent stuff and age on his side.

And Andrelton Simmons’ defense is almost always must-see TV.

Yankeemetrics: Dingers, runs, wins, oh my! (June 9-11)

(USA Today Sports)
(USA Today Sports)

Well, that was a fun series, eh? As we like to say here at River Ave. Blues … Love. This. Team.

Just getting warmed up…
Friday’s game began as a pitchers duel but turned into an easy victory for the Yankees, who scored six runs in the final three innings after entering the sixth deadlocked at 2-2 with the Orioles.

Aaron Hicks provided the power boost, clobbering two home runs. Only three other Yankee centerfielders have ever had a multi-homer game against the Orioles at Yankee Stadium: Bernie Williams (1996), Mickey Mantle (1960) and Joe DiMaggio (four times, when they were known as the St. Louis Browns). #YankeeLegends

Starlin Castro also got a free trot around the bases with his 10th homer of the season in the second inning. Combined with Hicks reaching the double-digit mark, that made the Yankees the first major-league team to have five players with 10-plus homers in 2017. In case you were wondering, the Red Sox didn’t have a single player with 10 homers through Friday.


Holy Sweet Sixteen
Friday’s 8-2 win was a nail-biter compared to the 16-3 shellacking that the Yankees put on the Orioles Saturday night. The offensive numbers were mind-boggling – 18 hits, seven singles, six doubles, five homers – but perhaps the most impressive part was how productive the lineup was from top to bottom.

Five different players had at least two hits, including a homer, and drove in multiple runs. It was just the third time in franchise history they had five guys do that in the same game. The first time was a 23-2 win on June 28, 1939 against the Philadelphia A’s, and the other instance was July 22, 2007 in a 21-7 win over the Devil Rays.

In a yet another example of how different this team is compared to last year, the Yankees have become the Blowout Kings of baseball in 2017. Saturday’s win was their major-league-leading 18th victory by at least five runs; Last year they had 17 wins by five-plus runs the entire season.

Aaron Judge kicked off the offensive explosion with a laser shot in the first inning that left the bat at an otherwordly 121.1 mph, the fastest base hit ever record by Statcast (which began in 2015). He added a scorching 116-mph two-run double in the fifth inning, making him the only player in the Statcast Era with multiple hits of 116 mph or more in the same game.

Gary Sanchez capped off the Yankees unreal power-hitting performance with a bullet line-drive homer in the eighth inning that had an exit velocity of (a mere) 115 mph and a launch angle of 15 degrees. That was the hardest-hit homer in Sanchez’s career, and matched Justin Smoak (on May 14) for the lowest launch angle of any home run hit this season.

With Sanchez’s 115-mph longball and Judge’s 121-mph longball, they became the first set of teammates in the Statcast Era to hit homers of 115-mph or more in the same game. Yea, Baby Bombers.

Amidst all the fireworks, it was easy to forget Luis Severino delivering yet another ace-like performance. Let’s take a look at Severino’s last five starts: 33 1/3 innings, 1.35 ERA, 37 strikeouts, eight walks. That’ll do.

He has at least seven strikeouts and no more than two earned runs allowed in each game, becoming the third right-handed pitcher to put together a streak of five such starts in Yankees history. The others were pretty good: Roger Clemens in 2001 and Mike Mussina in 2003.

(USA Today Sports)
(USA Today Sports)

In Sunday’s 14-3 rout, the Yankees ‘statistically’ may not have topped their offensive numbers from Saturday, but that didn’t keep them from obliterating the record books.

We need bullet points, just the facts, because recapping these ridiculous feats don’t require fancy words. First, the team perspective. This is the …

  • First time ever the Yankees have scored at least eight runs and hit multiple homers in five straight games.
  • Second time in franchise history they hit at least three homers in four straight games. The 1956 team also did it July 27-30.
  • Second time ever the Yankees have won five straight games, each by six or more runs. The 1938 team holds the record with an 8-game streak.
  • Fifth time in franchise history they’ve outscored their opponents by at least 46 runs in a five-game stretch. The others were in 2007, 1939, 1938 and 1937.
  • Ninth time that a Yankees squad has a run differential of plus-115 or better at the 60-game mark. They won the World Series in each of the previous eight seasons this happened (1998, 1953, 1939, 1937, 1936, 1932, 1928, 1927). So you’re telling me there’s a chance?

Before we get to Mr. Judge, let’s heap some praise on El Gary Sanchez. He broke the game open with a three-run 450-foot bomb in the first inning to make it 5-0, the longest homer of his career. It was also his 30th home run in the big leagues, a milestone that only three other players in major-league history reached as quickly as Sanchez did (in his 90th game): Rudy York, Mark McGwire and Jose Abreu.

Judge takes center stage now, as we put into perspective his four-hit, four-run, two-homer performance, which included a ho-hum 495-foot blast that CLEARED THE BLEACHERS in left-center at Yankee Stadium.

  • He is the third Yankee age 25 or younger to have at least four hits, two homers and four runs scored in a game. You might have heard of the others: Mickey Mantle (1956), Joe DiMaggio (1937) and Lou Gehrig (1928, 1929).
  • The only other Yankees in their age-25 season or younger to hit 20-plus homers before the All-Star Break (since 1933) are Roger Maris (1960), Mantle (three times, lol), and DiMaggio (1937). Yup, we’re still more than a month away from the break.
  • He’s just the fifth Yankee – regardless of age – to hit 21 or more homers in the team’s first 60 games. This list is good: A-Rod (2007), Maris (1961*), Mantle (1956) and Babe Ruth (six times, LOL).
  • His 495-foot home is the longest in baseball this season and the longest by an American League player since Statcast began tracking distances in 2015. The only longer one in MLB was a 504-foot shot by Marlins slugger Giancarlo Stanton on August 6, 2016.

And, oh by the way, he’s currently leading the AL Triple Crown categories after Sunday’s slate. The only Yankees to win the Triple Crown are a couple fellas with the last name of Mantle (1956) and Gehrig (1934).

Fan Confidence Poll: June 12th, 2017

Record Last Week: 5-1 (59 RS, 14 RA)
Season Record: 37-23 (353 RS, 238 RA, 40-20 pythag. record)
Opponents This Week: @ Angels (three games, Mon. to Weds.), @ Athletics (four games, Thurs. 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?
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Home runs galore (again) as the Yankees sweep the O’s with a 14-3 win

(Mike Stobe/Getty Images)
(Mike Stobe/Getty Images)

Great game. Would watch again – especially that Aaron Judge home run. (Or both. Honestly, both.) I honestly do not think there could be a more glorious regular season win than this. It seemed that the pitching management was the main story prior to this game but nah, the bats decided to explode. It’s the Sunday so let’s do it bullet-point style.

  • First inning outburst: 12 pitches in, the Yankees already had five runs. The hitters anticipated fastballs from Kevin Gausman and took aggressive hacks early in the count. Brett Gardner led off the bottom of the first with a single, Aaron Hicks flied out, Judge hit a single and sent Gardner to third. Matt Holliday walked to load the bases and Starlin Castro followed it up with a 2-run single to give Yankees their first runs. Gary Sanchez, in an 0-1 count, got a 96 mph fastball right over the plate and punished it ruthlessly for a 450-feet, 3-run bomb. Again, all those things happened in 12 pitches! Talk about going from 0 to 100 real quick.
  • Allowing doubles after doubles: Chad Green had a nice first couple of innings, striking out three and allowing only one baserunner (a walk). However, he was working on a 60-pitch limit so wasn’t really expected to go deep into the game. Lo and behold, after giving up two doubles (and a run) in a row to start the third, Joe Girardi sub’d him out at 53 pitches. Chasen Shreve, relieving Green, basically the same thing with his first two hitters by giving up back-to-back doubles to Seth Smith and Jonathan Schoop, making it a 5-3 game. All of a sudden, that 5-0 early outburst seemed like a distant memory. However, Shreve induced a groundout from Adam Jones and struck out Chris Davis and Mark Trumbo to get out of the inning. Yankees would not allow any more runs for the rest of the game.
  • Power explosion: The Yankees scored two more on a Holliday 2-RBI single on the fourth, making it 7-3. You’d think that *might* be a good enough lead to hold for the rest of the game, but the bats are always hankerin’ for more runs. Heading into the bottom of the sixth, the score was still at 7-3… until Judge came up to bat. He got a 85 mph changeup in a 1-1 count up in the zone… and absolutely demolished it. The ball cleared the left field bleachers. Statcast measured it at 495 feet while ESPN got it at 496. Either way, it was an incredible, ridiculous display of Judge’s prodigious power. That was his 20th home run of the year and boy, he did it in a style. Don’t let the distance distract you from the fact that he hit it at 118.6 mph exit velo, which is also ridiculously high. Anyways, right after that insane HR, Holliday reached on an error by Schoop and Castro followed it up with his third home run in as many days to make it 10-3. Flash forward to bottom of the seventh, the O’s had their prospect Jimmy Yacabonis make an ML debut and boy, the Yankees gave him a rude welcome. After Ronald Torreyes and Gardner walked, Hicks hit a bullet to deep right center for a 2-RBI double. Judge, while most people in the venue were still in awe of his previous home run, followed it up by sending a laser into the right field seats for a 2-run HR, making it 14-3 Yankees. At this point, I am running out of darn words to express what Judge is doing to the Major League pitching. I’ll throw you some numbers: he’s hitting .344/.450/.718 with 21 HR’s this season (207 wRC+) with 3.9 fWAR… and it’s not even mid-June! I am enjoying this ride as much as possible. We are witnessing something special right now in 2017.
  • The debut: Not to be buried by all the home runs, one of the top arms of the system – RHP Domingo German – made his ML debut today. He came to the Yankees in the deal that sent Nathan Eovaldi to the New York. German had to undergo a Tommy John surgery not long after the trade and went through AA and AAA this season before earning the call to the Bronx. He is known for his live arm and he brought it. Brooks Baseball had his four-seamer averaging 96.5 mph while topping out at 99.0. He tossed 2.2 scoreless innings while allowing two hits, a walk and striking out a hitter. I’ll gladly take it.
  • Leftovers: Prior to German, Jonathan Holder and Adam Warren pitched 3.1 IP scoreless innings combined to keep the Yankee lead at 5-3 (to 7-3 and 10-3). Didi Gregorius and Chris Carter each had two hits. Didi, by the way, is hitting .327/.348/.500 after today. Sure, that OBP might be a little low for how much he’s hitting but look at that slugging percentage. How many of you thought he could touch a .500 SLG% when they first traded for him?

Here’s the box score, standings and video highlights. The Yankees head to Anaheim for the beginning of the West Coast trip. They’ll have Masahiro Tanaka on the mound against Alex Meyer tomorrow. Enjoy the rest of the weekend, folks.

Source: FanGraphs

Sunday Open Thread

Good homestand? Good homestand. That was a fun weekend against the Orioles. Anyway, here is an open thread for the remainder of the weekend. MLB Network has regional games throughout the afternoon and the ESPN Sunday Night Baseball game is the Tigers and Red Sox. Also, Game Six of the Stanley Cup Finals is on later tonight too. Go Preds. You folks know how these open threads work by now, so have at it.

DotF: Wade extends hitting streak in Scranton’s loss

OF Estevan Florial is indeed heading to the Low-A South Atlantic League All-Star Game. He was added to the roster today as a replacement for another player with another team who was recently promoted, the league announced. Florial came into today hitting .293/.366/.493 (145 wRC+) with eight homers and nine steals in 56 games. He joins OF Blake Rutherford, SS Hoy Jun Park, C Donny Sands, and RHP Brian Keller as Low-A Charleston All-Stars.

Triple-A Scranton (6-4 loss to Lehigh Valley)

  • SS Tyler Wade: 3-5, 2 R, 1 2B, 1 K, 1 SB — 20-for-46 (.435) during his eleven-game hitting streak
  • CF Dustin Fowler: 2-5, 1 R, 1 RBI, 2 K
  • 1B Greg Bird: 0-2, 1 R, 2 BB — nine walks and two strikeouts in ten rehab games
  • DH Tyler Austin: 0-4, 2 K
  • 3B Gleyber Torres: 0-3, 1 RBI, 3 K
  • LF Mason Williams: 2-4, 1 K
  • RHP Chance Adams: 6.2 IP, 4 H, 3 R, 3 ER, 1 BB, 6 K, 1 WP, 1 HB, 7/7 GB/FB — 72 of 106 pitches were strikes (68%) … 72/27 K/BB in 70.2 innings
  • LHP Tyler Webb: 0.1 IP, 7 H, 3 R, 3 ER, 0 BB, 1 K — 22 of 31 pitches were strikes (71%) … allowed the runner he inherited from Adams to score … no idea whether the Yankees are considering calling him up, but if they are, this might’ve put a dent in those plans

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Game 60: Sixth Starter for the Sweep


For the first time this season, the Yankees are using a sixth starting pitcher. That will leave the Cardinals as the last remaining team to use only five starters this season. I suppose the good news is the Yankees are choosing to use a sixth starter today. Their hand isn’t being forced by injury. The Yankees are (wisely) pushing the struggling Masahiro Tanaka back a day so he can face the Mike Trout-less Angels tomorrow rather than the powerful Orioles today.

Today’s sixth starter: Chad Green. Last time out he struck out five and retired all ten Red Sox batters he faced in relief of, well, Tanaka. He threw 45 pitches and Joe Girardi said today Green can throw about 50 pitches. Hopefully he can get through four innings. That’d be cool. Sure seems like we’re looking at a lot of bullpen today. We’ll see. Just sweep the damn series. Here is the Orioles’ lineup and here is the Yankees’ lineup:

  1. LF Brett Gardner
  2. CF Aaron Hicks
  3. RF Aaron Judge
  4. DH Matt Holliday
  5. 2B Starlin Castro
  6. C Gary Sanchez
  7. SS Didi Gregorius
  8. 1B Chris Carter
  9. 3B Ronald Torreyes
    RHP Chad Green

Another very nice day in New York. It’s sunny and hot. Temperatures are up in the low-90s. This afternoon’s homestand finale will begin at 1:05pm ET. YES (local) and MLB Network (national) will have the broadcast. Enjoy the game.

Roster Moves: In case you missed it last night, the Yankees have designated Tommy Layne for assignment. Domingo German was called up to serve as a long man behind Green. German came over in the Nathan EovaldiMartin Prado trade. He had never pitched above High-A ball prior to this season, and now he’s a big leaguer. Helluva ride.