Believe it or not, tonight is Joe Girardi‘s 1,000th game as Yankees manager. Time sure does fly, doesn’t it? It feels like just yesterday we were debating whether the team should hire him, Tony Pena, or Don Mattingly. With all due respect to Pena and Donnie, I think it’s safe to say the Yankees made the right decision.
Girardi is the sixth manager in team history to reach the 1,000 games milestone, and, well, it’s going to be a while before he climbs any higher on the team’s all-time games managed leaderboard:
|1||Joe McCarthy HOF||16||1931||1946||1460||867||.627||593||2348|
|2||Joe Torre HOF||12||1996||2007||1173||767||.605||406||1942|
|3||Casey Stengel HOF||12||1949||1960||1149||696||.623||453||1851|
|4||Miller Huggins HOF||12||1918||1929||1067||719||.597||348||1796|
Girardi will still be 137 games short of tying Houk when his just-signed four-year contract expires. Sitting in sixth place for another half-decade isn’t all that bad though. It won’t be that long before Girardi has logged more games as a manager than he did as a player (1,277), which is kinda crazy because he played in parts of 15 seasons. Congrats to Joe on his milestone. Here is his lineup for tonight’s game and here is the Rays’:
- CF Jacoby Ellsbury
- SS Derek Jeter
- RF Carlos Beltran
- 1B Mark Teixeira
- LF Alfonso Soriano
- DH Brian McCann
- 2B Brian Roberts
- 3B Yangervis Solarte
- C John Ryan Murphy
LHP Vidal Nuno
The weather was damn near perfect in New York today and the same is true tonight. It’s cool and there are some clouds, but the forecast says no rain. Hooray for that. The game is scheduled to begin at 7:05pm ET, and you’ll be able to watch on YES locally and, depending on where you live, MLB Network nationally. Enjoy the game.
Alex Verdugo | LHP
Verdugo is an Arizona kid from Tucson, and he stars both as an outfielder and a pitcher at Sahuaro High School. He is hitting .539/.602/.907 with three homers in 26 games this spring, and on the mound he has a 1.63 ERA with 77 strikeouts and 22 walks in 43 innings. Verdugo is committed to Arizona State, where he would presumably be a two-way player for the Sun Devils.
On the mound, the 6-foot-1 and 190 lb. Verdugo usually sits in the 89-92 mph range with his fastball but has shown some 94s and 95s this spring. His curveball is ahead of his changeup at this point but both pitches look like they will be future weapons. They still need some work, however. Verdugo is an excellent athlete (hence the whole two-way player thing) and his delivery is really smooth and low-effort. He also hides the ball well. At the plate, Verdugo offers some left-handed pop and speed, and obviously he has a strong arm as well. After drawing split opinions in the past, the consensus now is that Verdugo is a better prospect as a pitcher.
In their latest rankings, Keith Law (subs. req’d), Baseball America, and MLB.com ranked Verdugo as the 31st, 41st, and 54th best prospect in the draft class, respectively. Ever since I read this article about the Cardinals’ scouting and development strategies, I’ve kinda had a thing for athletic pitchers. (Hey, St. Louis is pretty good at developing pitchers.) Verdugo definitely fits the bill, and when you add in his three-pitch mix and easy delivery, he seems like the kind of prospect who could really take off under pro instruction. The Yankees don’t pick until the second round (55th overall) this summer.
Two weeks ago the Yankees and Rays played a wild four-game series in Tampa, a series that included three blowouts and one 12-inning affair. They split the four games. The division rivalry now shifts to the Bronx for a three-game weekend set.
What Have They Done Lately?
The Rays are 13-16 with a -10 run differential overall, leaving them tied for last place in the AL East. They swept a doubleheader from the Red Sox yesterday but have still lost six of their last nine games and 11 of their last 17 games. Tampa is definitely down right now. Time to start kicking.
At 4.15 runs per game with a team 105 wRC+, the Rays have been a slightly above-average offense so far this year. They were really struggling to score the last time these two clubs met and the Yankees’ pitching staff was kind enough to help them out of that funk. Tampa does not have any position players on the DL but OF David DeJesus (103 wRC+) is nursing a sore shoulder and has been limited to DH duties for about a week now.
Through the first month of the season, manager Joe Maddon has been getting excellent production from OF Matt Joyce (154 wRC+), OF Desmond Jennings (139 wRC+), 1B James Loney (134 wRC+), and 2B Ben Zobrist (129 wRC+). I’m not sure I’m ready to live in a world where James Loney is a productive big leaguer. 3B Evan Longoria (106 wRC+) is off to an un-Longoria-like start but he always kills the Yankees. He has hit the most homers at the new Yankee Stadium among visiting players.
The Rays have not gotten much from OF Wil Myers (87 wRC+) and SS Yunel Escobar (78 wRC+) so far, though Escobar hit a monster solo homer off Koji Uehara to win last night’s game. C Ryan Hanigan (127 wRC+) has been the more productive half of the catching platoon with C Jose Molina (-4 wRC+). UTIL Sean Rodriguez (175 wRC+) has been really good in limited playing time, UTIL Logan Forsythe (44 wRC+) not so much. OF Brandon Guyer (-14 wRC+) rounds out the bench. Tampa has only stolen nine bases this year, the third fewest in MLB, so this isn’t the run crazy Rays team we’ve seen for most of the last decade.
Friday: LHP Vidal Nuno (vs. TB) vs. LHP David Price (vs. NYY) (Pitcher GIFs)
Price, 28, has been alternating good starts with not good starts all season (he’s due for a good one, if the trend continues). He owns a 4.75 ERA (3.49 FIP) in six starts and 41.2 innings this year, though his strikeout (10.15 K/9 and 27.2 K%) and walk (1.08 BB/9 and 2.9 BB%) rates are elite. The homer (1.51 HR/9 and 15.9 HR/FB%) and ground ball (40.5%) numbers … not so much. Lefties (.345 wOBA) are uncharacteristically giving him a harder time than righties (.323 wOBA) early on. Price throws his low-to-mid-90s four-seamer and mid-to-upper-80s cutter roughly 70% of the time combined. A low-80s changeup and upper-70s curveball are his secondary offerings. The Yankees scored six runs in five innings against the 2012 AL Cy Young winner two weeks ago. Last time out, Price allowed eight runs in six innings to the White Sox.
Saturday: RHP Masahiro Tanaka (No vs. TB) vs. RHP Jake Odorizzi (vs. NYY) (GIFs)
The Rays have been adding one young stud pitcher to their rotation per year for what feels like seven or eight years now, but the 24-year-old Odorizzi is a sign times have changed. He has a 6.85 ERA (4.44 FIP) in five starts and 23.2 innings, and he generally isn’t expected to be much more than a back-end starter. The strikeout rate (8.37 K/9 and 20.0 K%) is good, but the walk (4.56 BB/9 and 10.9 BB%), homer (1.14 HR/9 and 10.3 HR/FB%), and ground ball (39.2%) rates are not. Righties (.400 wOBA) have crushed him early on, lefties (.363 wOBA) slightly less so. Odorizzi does throw four different pitches, including a low-90s heater, a mid-80s changeup, a low-80s slider, and a low-70s curveball. The changeup is his go-to offspeed pitch. The Yankees did not face Odorizzi in Tampa two weeks ago and he’s failed to complete five innings in each of his last two starts (four runs in 4.1 innings, four runs in 3.1 innings)
Sunday: LHP CC Sabathia (vs. TB) vs. LHP Erik Bedard (vs. NYY) (Pitcher GIFs)
You know the Rays are out of young pitchers when Bedard is in their rotation. The 35-year-old has a 5.52 ERA (3.81 FIP) in 14.2 innings across three starts and one relief appearance so far. He’s walked exactly as many men as he’s struck out (6.14 per nine and 14.1%) and, despite a low ground ball rate (36.7%), he’s yet to allow a dinger. Bedard has had no platoon split whatsoever early on. An upper-80s fastball sets up his mid-70s changeup and trademark mid-70s curveball. Bedard allowed four runs in 3.2 innings against the Yankees two weeks ago, though he held the Red Sox to one run in five innings last time out.
Yesterday was a rough day for the Rays bullpen in terms of their workload: they threw 8.1 scoreless innings. Both closer RHP Grant Balfour (6.28 FIP) and setup man LHP Jake McGee (1.92 FIP) pitched in both ends of the doubleheader, so they might not be available tonight. In fact, the only relievers who didn’t pitch yesterday are RHP Heath Bell (4.26 FIP) and RHP Josh Lueke (4.33 FIP).
The rest of Maddon’s bullpen features RHP Joel Peralta (4.06 FIP), RHP Brandon Gomes (3.80 FIP), and RHP Juan Carlos Oviedo (2.43 FIP). Oviedo is the pitcher formerly known as Marlins closer Leo Nunez. If Balfour is unavailable tonight, I’m guessing Peralta will be the closer du jour. The Yankees were off on Monday and rained out on Wednesday, so their bullpen is in good shape. Check out our Bullpen Workload page for recent reliever usage details, then check out The Process Report for the best Rays analysis out there.
Only six questions this week — not including yesterday’s Mark Teixeira question — but they’re good ones. Remember to use the Submit A Tip box in the sidebar to send us anything throughout the week.
Mads asks: Might the injury to Michael Pineda be a blessing in disguise? If the Yankees were to make it deep into the playoffs, he would still be available to them, since he hasn’t reached his innings limit. So it might not be so bad that he is out for a couple of weeks.
Maybe. We said the same thing about Bartolo Colon‘s hamstring injury a few years ago, but he came off the DL and wasn’t nearly as effective. He admitted to being apprehensive about cutting it loose after getting hurt. There’s always a chance Pineda will come off the DL and not be the same pitcher, so who knows if he’ll even be worthy of a rotation spot late in the season? His injury is a concern given its proximity to his surgically repaired shoulder too. The Yankees definitely needed to monitor Pineda’s workload this season but now it’s out of their hands for at least a few weeks. It might help keep him fresh deep into September and possibly October, sure, but there’s also a chance it completely derails his season.
Dan asks: Looking back on it now, since we have at least a little bit of a contribution to point to from Pineda, and also the hope of more to come, would you prefer the deal that brought in Pineda over the failed one for Cliff Lee the year before? I mean, Zach McAllister still was sent away in a complete waste of a trade for Austin Kearns, and David Adams is still David Adams. I don’t really know to be honest. Is it still too early to tell?
As the story goes, the Yankees and Mariners had agreed to a trade that would have sent Lee to New York back in July 2010. Jesus Montero, David Adams, and Zach McAllister were the package going to Seattle. However, Adams was still on the mend from his traumatic ankle injury at the time, and the Mariners balked once they reviewed his medicals. They asked for Eduardo Nunez instead and the Yankees weren’t happy they reneged after essentially having a handshake agreement in place. They said no and that was that.
The Yankees had the best record in baseball at the time of the non-trade and they had just won the World Series the year before, so they were still a league superpower with legit championship aspirations. They eventually lost the ALCS to Lee and his new Rangers teammates. Obviously we have no idea how things would have played out had the Yankees landed the southpaw, but I don’t think it’s unreasonable to say their chances of winning the World Series would have gone from very good to super duper good.
Because of that, I would have rather made that deal than the Pineda deal. It doesn’t have anything to do with Pineda’s shoulder and his recent back issue. The Yankees were on the cusp of a second straight AL pennant without Lee and he could have put them over the top. I’m in favor of adding the impact player when you’re that close to a title. Lee would have only been a rental and Pineda may potential be a good long-term piece for the Yankees, but flags fly forever. Remember: we’re tryin’ to win a ring around here.
Kerwin asks: Can you explain why CC Sabathia has such a distaste for Jackie Bradley Jr.? Is there history between the two?
Hah, I have no idea but it seems mostly harmless and kinda funny. I think it stems from Opening Day 2013, when Bradley went 0-for-1 with two walks against Sabathia. CC appeared to call him a “punk ass motherf**ker” after striking him out in a game later in the season, and since them he’s always seemed to have disdain for Bradley. Last week Sabathia hit him with a pitch — it looked like a breaking ball that got away, so not intentional — and then gave him a mouthful after Bradley stared him down. I don’t know how or why it started, but Sabathia’s beef with Bradley seems like a real thing. For what it’s worth, Bradley is 0-for-8 with those two walks and five strikeouts against CC, so maybe the big lefty is in his head.
New Guy asks: Any updates on Andrew Bailey? I know he’s a David Aardsma type reclamation project, but man. Sure would be nice if he could give the pen a boost later in the year.
The last update I saw on Bailey came way back in the middle of March, when it was reported he was playing catch from 90 feet and hoped to stretch it out to 120 feet within the next week. Hopefully he’s done that by now. Bailey had his shoulder capsule repaired in late-July and it comes with a year-long rehab process. Usually longer, but maybe his rehab will be shorter because he’s only a reliever. The Yankees have maintained that if he does pitch this year, it probably won’t be until September. The structure of his contract — minor league deal with a club option for 2015 — indicates the signing was made with an eye on next year, similar to the Jon Lieber and Aardsma signings a few years ago.
Chris asks: Any thought at a run at Mark Buehrle? He would come cheaper than Cliff Lee. No?
I have to imagine Buehrle would come cheaper, yes. He’s off to a very strong start this year (2.25 ERA and 3.21 FIP), but he’ll revert back to the same ol’ Mark Buehrle once his 2.6 HR/FB% rate returns to its career norms (~10%). His strikeout and walk rates are the same as they always were. Buehrle is owed $18M this season and $19M next season, so he’s not cheap, plus the Blue Jays have made it clear they don’t like trading within the division unless they’re blown away. Maybe that isn’t the case with Buehrle and they’d just be happy to shed his salary. Buehrle isn’t great but he’s pretty reliable and would be an upgrade for the Yankees. I just don’t know if acquiring him from an AL East rival is all that realistic.
Donny asks: After seeing Yangervis Solarte go through his first mini-slump of the season and reading/hearing analysts describe teams pitching him differently with more offspeed stuff, it got me wondering: what does the pitch f/x data look like now compared to the beginning of the season? Does this data support those analyses? Or is this simply a hot bat normalizing to the player Solarte actually is?
Anecdotally, it seemed like Solarte was starting to see more offspeed pitches in the middle of last month, after teams got a look at him and realized they would need something more than a fastball to get him out. After going 12-for-28 (.429) to start the season, Solarte has gone only 12-for-51 (.235) since. The good news is that he is still walking and making contact — 2/2 K/BB in the first eight games, 11/10 K/BB since — so he hasn’t been completely lost at the plate.
Yangervis played 22 games prior to last night — couldn’t wait around for the various PitchFX sites to update overnight, so last night’s game is not included in the table below — and let’s break his season down into two seven game segments and one eight game segment to see how he’s being pitched. Courtesy of Brooks Baseball:
|All Counts||Solarte Ahead||Pitcher Ahead|
Obligatory reminder that we are talking about very small samples here, so don’t take these numbers to heart. We’re just looked at them for fun.
Anyway, contrary to the theory that he was seeing more offspeed stuff, pitchers have generally thrown Solarte more fastballs as the season has progressed. The pitch type linear weights at FanGraphs show Yangervis has been most effective against curveballs and sliders and least effective against the various fastballs (four-seamer, two-seamer, sinker, cutter), so I guess it makes sense that pitchers are throwing him fewer breaking balls in recent weeks. Solarte has trouble with the heat, it seems. What did we ever do before we could look this stuff up? Hooray facts.
We have two guests this week, plus Mike returns to the podcast after a stint on the DL.
Mike and I discuss the state of the pitching staff, with Michael Pineda headed for the DL and Ivan Nova lost for the season. The Yankees do have a few holes on the roster, which leads to a very premature discussion of potential moves they can make.
Then Jay and I talk to ESPN’s Keith Law about some pine tar (and vaseline, and Crisco), Masahiro Tanaka, and of course plenty of Yanks minor league stuff.
Finally we have Tommy Rancel from The Process Report to talk about the upcoming Rays series. The season hasn’t gone quite as expected for the boys in Tampa, but as Tommy explains they do have some hope in the coming weeks. Thankfully, they still have Erik Bedard starting in this series.
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According to the Twitter feed of OF Kendall Coleman, LHP Ian Clarkin is on his way to join Low-A Charleston. No word on when he will make his first start, but it should be within a day or two. Clarkin was the third of the Yankees’ three first rounders last year.
Triple-A Scranton (4-3 win over Norfolk)
- LF Ramon Flores: 2-4, 3 R, 1 2B, 1 BB, 1 K — 14 hits in his last 33 at-bats (.424), plus he’s doubled in four straight games
- 3B Scott Sizemore: 2-4, 1 2B, 2 RBI, 1 BB, 2 K – hard to think he’d be worse than Brian Roberts
- SS Dean Anna: 1-5
- DH Zoilo Almonte: 2-4, 1 R, 1 2B, 1 SB
- C Austin Romine: 1-4
- RHP Diego Moreno: 2.1 IP, 1 H, 0 R, 0 ER, 1 BB, 4 K, 3/1 GB/FB —
39 of 68 pitches were strikes (57%)23 of 35 pitches were strikes (66%)
- RHP Mark Montgomery: 1 IP, 1 H, 1 R, 1 ER, 0 BB, 1 K, 1/1 GB/FB – ten of 19 pitches were strikes (53%)
- RHP Matt Daley: 1 IP, zeroes, 1 K, 1/1 GB/FB – eight pitches, seven strikes
* Pending the outcome of the June 2nd make up of Wednesday’s rainout, of course.
Off-day, rainout, whatever. The Yankees’ offense continued to struggle on Thursday night and the result was a 4-2 loss to the Mariners. They have scored more than three runs once in their last five games. Not nearly enough to win in this ballpark with this pitching staff.
No Felix? No Problem
It’s a good thing the rainout pushed Felix Hernandez out of the series, huh? Instead, the Yankees faced rookie lefty Roenis Elias, who pitched about as well as Felix as probably would have. Ten strikeouts and two runs (one earned) in seven innings, plus another seven outs on the ground. The only hard-hit ball I can remember was Jacoby Ellsbury‘s homer to leadoff the very first inning. Wasn’t much solid contact after that, if any.
The Yankees pushed their second run across in the sixth inning thanks to a weird two-out error by Robinson Cano, who flipped to second for the force out even though the shortstop wasn’t at the bag. Mark Teixeira beat out the relay to first to extend the inning, then Brian McCann beat the shift with a run-scoring single the other way. All of that happened with two outs. The Bombers left two runners on base in the second and that’s pretty much the only other time they threatened.
Through their first 14 home games this season, the Yankees have scored a total of 47 runs. That’s pretty awful. They’ve scored 65 runs in their 13 road games, for comparison. That just seems like a fluke/small sample size thing than something meaningful —
especially since they have a higher AVG, OBP, and OPS+ at home than on the road disregard, I’m an idiot — but it’s still pretty annoying. This club should rake at home. Instead, they got manhandled by Elias and Chris Young. Yuck.
Death by Defense
Hiroki Kuroda was far from great on Thursday night — four runs (three earned) in six innings pretty much defines mediocrity — but he was obviously way better than last time out, though that isn’t saying much. The defense behind him was particularly terrible, as the infield essentially gave the Mariners five outs in the second inning. First Derek Jeter booted a routine leadoff grounder, then they failed to turn a double play, which extended the inning and allowed a run to score.
Kuroda gave up a run in the first inning when Cano doubled on a pitch that was a good six inches off the plate inside (we’ve seen him drill that pitch into the corner for nine years now) and then things kinda came apart in the fourth inning when Brad Miller singled in front of Brett Gardner and Michael Saunders clubbed a ground rule double the other way. Kuroda allowed seven hits but he also struck out seven, including three of the final six batters he faced. His last two innings were awesome, but by then it was too late.
Joe Girardi pulled Kuroda after six innings and 94 pitches because they said they were going to take it easy on him this year. He’s essentially on the Andy Pettitte plan — rarely throwing more than 100 pitches or going out for that one extra batter or two — which is a smart move given his age. Kuroda’s offspeed stuff still isn’t cooperating but seven strikeouts and ten ground balls out of 26 batters faced is encouraging. The infield defense is just a nightmare. That said, results are all that matters and Kuroda isn’t getting them.
Carlos Beltran and Brian Roberts were actually the only players who failed to reach base. Beltran is an 0-for-15 slump. Gardner didn’t have a hit but he did draw a walk. Everyone else in the lineup had exactly one hit and the only player to reach base twice was Teixeira. He singled and walked. Maybe it’s time to bat Gardner leadoff, Ellsbury third, Teixeira cleanup, and push everyone else down a notch? Could be cool. Also, there’s this guy named Kelly Johnson on the bench who might have something to offer.
The bullpen did a fine job in relief of Kuroda, as the trio of Matt Thornton, Adam Warren, and Shawn Kelley retired eight of nine batters faced. The only exception was a ground ball single through the shift off Thornton. Meh. It happens. The relievers gave the offense a chance to get back into the game. Can’t ask them for much more.
Ellsbury’s dinger was his first as a Yankee and his 11th career leadoff homer. It was the team’s first leadoff homer since August 2012. No, they didn’t hit one at all last season. Fun Fact: This year’s team is on pace to hit fewer homers (138) than last year’s (144). That’ll change once the weather warms up. I hope.
Box Score, WPA Graph & Standings
For the box score and video highlights, head over to MLB.com. You can find some more stats and the updated standings at FanGraphs and ESPN, respectively. The Yankee are 1-4 against the Astros and Mariners this year. Good job.
The Rays are coming to town for a three-game series as the Yankees wrap-up their homestand. Lefties Vidal Nuno and David Price will be on the mound Friday night. Check out RAB Tickets if you want to catch that marquee pitching matchup in person.
The Yankees caught a really big break yesterday. The rainout not only gave their key bullpen pieces another day of rest, but it also pushed Felix Hernandez out of the series. The Mariners opted to use the impromptu off-day to give their rotation extra rest, so Wednesday’s scheduled starter Roenis Elias will get the ball tonight while Felix pitches against whoever Seattle faces next tomorrow night. Now the Yankees just have to take advantage.
Hiroki Kuroda is on the bump for New York and his last start was a total disaster: eight runs on ten hits in only 4.2 innings. Ivan Nova is done for the year and Michael Pineda isn’t coming back for at least a month, so the team needs Kuroda to shake off his inconsistent start and get back to being the guy he was early last season. He doesn’t even need to be that good. He just needs to be better than he has been. I have faith in Kuroda and think he’ll turn it around soon enough. Preferably tonight. Here is the Mariners lineup and here is the Yankees lineup:
- CF Jacoby Ellsbury — guess the sore left hand is fine
- SS Derek Jeter
- RF Carlos Beltran
- DH Alfonso Soriano
- 1B Mark Teixeira
- C Brian McCann
- 3B Yangervis Solarte
- LF Brett Gardner
- 2B Brian Roberts
RHP Hiroki Kuroda
After a torrential downpour yesterday and into this morning, the sky is blue and there is no rain in sight. They won’t have any trouble getting the game in tonight. First pitch is scheduled for a little after 7pm ET and you can watch on YES locally and MLB Network nationally, depending on where you live. Enjoy.
Rotation Update: The rotation for this weekend’s series against the Rays will be Vidal Nuno (Friday), Masahiro Tanaka (Saturday), and CC Sabathia (Sunday), the Yankees announced. David Phelps threw an 80 or so pitch simulated game yesterday and will start on Monday.
Brendan Ryan Update: Ryan (back) has moved up to Double-A Trenton to continue his rehab. The team has said they want him to get 40-50 at-bats after missing Spring Training and right now he’s at 17 rehab plate appearances. Sure seems like he’s lined up to be activated off the DL on Tuesday, when Michael Pineda’s suspension expires and the Yankees get back to a normal 25-man roster.