Cashman: “I don’t see us making a major acquisition for a pitcher”

(Joe Robbins/Getty)
(Joe Robbins/Getty)

The Yankees went 13-16 during the month of May partly because their pitching staff had a 4.38 ERA (4.07 FIP) overall, which was quite a bit worse than the AL average (3.80 ERA and 3.97 FIP). The rotation had a 4.36 ERA (4.22 FIP) in May while the bullpen had a 4.43 ERA (3.78 FIP). I’m not even going to calculate the non-Dellin Betances/Andrew Miller portion of the bullpen because yeesh.

Anyway, the Yankees are getting some pitching help this week when Masahiro Tanaka returns from his wrist/forearm injury on Wednesday. Even if Tanaka is rusty, he should still be an upgrade over Chris Capuano, who has been really ineffective in his three starts since coming back from a quad injury (6.39 ERA and 4.20 FIP). The Yankees could use more pitching help (every team could use more pitching help), but right now Brian Cashman doesn’t expect a major pitching acquisition.

“It has a lot to do with the usual things — health, players performing to their capabilities, players who are promoted performing, and anything you can do to improve your team from the outside and have that move click for you,” said the GM to Nick Cafardo over the weekend. “I don’t see us making a major acquisition for a pitcher [at this time] but I’m not going to say I wouldn’t do it.”

That last part goes without saying. Of course Cashman would pull the trigger on a pitching upgrade if something comes along that makes sense. Obviously Cole Hamels is the big name — Rob Bradford says the Phillies are now more willing to eat a big chunk of Hamels’ contract to facilitate a trade, for what’s it worth — but others like Johnny Cueto, Scott Kazmir, Ian Kennedy, Kyle Lohse, Bartolo Colon, and Matt Garza figure to be available. Cueto (elbow) and Kazmir (shoulder) recently came down with supposedly minor injuries though.

In addition to Tanaka, the Yankees also have Ivan Nova inching closer to a return. He made an Extended Spring Training start on Thursday, will make another one this week, then is expected to head out on an official minor league rehab assignment. Nova’s about a month away from returning, give or take. I’m still pretty skeptical of how effective he can be so soon after Tommy John surgery — command is usually the last thing to come back following elbow reconstruction, and let’s face it, command wasn’t exactly a strength of his to start with — but at least he’ll be an option.

Aside from getting Tanaka and Nova back, the Yankees need improvement from CC Sabathia (5.67 ERA and 4.20 FIP) and Nathan Eovaldi (4.40 ERA and 4.05 FIP) more than anything. Barring injury, those two aren’t coming out of the rotation (for different reasons), but the Yankees aren’t good enough to survive with two below-average starters. Michael Pineda has been generally awesome and Adam Warren has really come on of late, though it takes more than two starters to contend, even in the weak AL East.

Top pitching prospect Luis Severino was just promoted to Triple-A and I suppose he could be a rotation option later in the season. Considering he’s only 21 years old and has yet to throw more than 113 innings in a season, I’d bet against it. If anything, I think Severino would be a late-season bullpen option. Bryan Mitchell is the club’s other noteworthy Triple-A rotation depth arm. After him there’s, uh, Kyle Davies? Yeah.

Even if they won’t make a major pitching addition — would something similar to last season’s Brandon McCarthy trade qualify as major? — the Yankees would benefit from adding another depth arm or two they could stash in Triple-A, especially now that Chase Whitley is done for the season from Tommy John surgery. Cashman says he doesn’t expect a major pitching acquisition at the moment, but things like that have a way of changing in a hurry.

6/1 to 6/3 Series Preview: Seattle Mariners

(Presswire)
(Presswire)

The West Coast trip continues and will conclude early this week in Seattle, with a three-game set against Robinson Cano and the Mariners. The Yankees are 9-2 in their last eleven games in Safeco Field dating back to 2011. Jeremy Bonderman pitched for the Mariners the last time the Yankees lost in Seattle. That … seems impossible.

What Have The Mariners Done Lately?

The Mariners lost a 12-inning game to the Indians yesterday and dropped three of four in the weekend series. (Hey, just like the Yankees!) After being a trendy World Series pick coming into the season — or at least a trendy AL West pick — Seattle is disappointing with a 24-26 record and a -18 run differential. They’re in fourth place in the division.

Offense & Defense

As has been the case quite often in recent years, the Mariners have a below-average offense, scoring just 3.72 runs per game with a team 96 wRC+. They can’t blame it all on the ballpark either (wRC+ is park adjusted). The Mariners are totally healthy on offense. No position players on the DL or even day-to-day.

(Presswire)
(Presswire)

Manager Lloyd McClendon’s lineup is anchored by DH Nelson Cruz (194 wRC+), who is tied with Bryce Harper for the MLB lead with 18 homers. Cano (80 wRC+) is in the middle of the worst season of his career — I suspect you knew that already! — despite having Cruz hitting behind him, so yeah, lineup protection doesn’t help as much as everyone thinks. 3B Kyle Seager (125 wRC+) has been very good and OF Seth Smith (125 wRC+) has raked as the left-handed half of the left field platoon.

OF Justin Ruggiano (89 wRC+) is the other half of the platoon with Smith, and ex-Yankees farmhand OF Austin Jackson (65 wRC+) recently returned from the DL to resume playing center every day. Remember when a bunch of Yankees fans were upset the team traded Jackson instead of Brett Gardner? What a weird time that was. Anyway, 1B Logan Morrison (101 wRC+), SS Chris Taylor (22 wRC+), and C Mike Zunino (77 wRC+) are the rest of the regulars while C Welington Castillo (22 wRC+), UTIL Brad Miller (106 wRC+), UTIL Dustin Ackley (54 wRC+), and UTIL Willie Bloomquist (12 wRC+) fill out the bench. Yes, they have a five-man bench at the moment.

The Mariners have a surprisingly bad team defense. Well, not bad, but it’s not great either. Cano and Seager are both excellent and Zunino’s a stud behind the plate, plus Jackson can still go get it, but there’s not a whole lot to see besides that. Cruz has actually played more right field (31 games) than DH (19 games) and he’s abysmal in the field, same with Smith and, to a lesser extent, Ruggiano. Taylor’s alright at short and Miller has a knack for hilarious errors. LoMo’s okay around the bag but won’t wow anyone. Cano, Seager, and Jackson … hit it to anyone but them.

Pitching Matchups

Monday: RHP Michael Pineda (Career vs. SEA) vs. RHP Felix Hernandez (Career vs. NYY)
You didn’t think the Yankees were going to miss Felix, did you? Of course they weren’t. Hernandez, who is still somehow only 29, has a 1.91 ERA (3.19 FIP) in ten starts and 70.2 innings this season, so he’s basically as good as ever. He’s got a great strikeout rate (26.6%), a great walk rate (5.6%), a great ground ball rate (62.1%), an above-average home run rate (0.89 HR/9), and no platoon split (.258 vs .249 wOBA in favor of righties). Felix is on the very short list of the best pitchers in baseball, but you knew that already. These days Hernandez throws a fastball only 40% of the time or so — he favors his low-90s sinker over his low-90s four-seamer — and instead relies heavily on his upper-80s changeup. He throws that pitch more than one-third of the time, believe it or not. An upper-70s curveball is Felix’s preferred breaking ball, though he’ll also throw a bunch of mid-80s sliders per outing. This will not be fun.

Tuesday: LHP CC Sabathia (Career vs. SEA) vs. TBA
Seattle’s starter for tomorrow’s game is TBA because lefty James Paxton was just placed on the 15-day DL with a finger injury. (Paxton’s DL stint is why they’re carrying a five-man bench at the moment.) Ryan Divish says all signs point to fellow southpaw Mike Montgomery getting the start in Paxton’s place. Montgomery, 25, was once one of the best prospects in baseball, but his career has stalled out in Triple-A due to control issues. The Royals traded him to the Rays in the James Shields-Wil Myers deal two years ago, then the Rays traded him to the Mariners for Erasmo Ramirez in Spring Training. Montgomery has a 3.74 ERA (3.30 FIP) in nine starts and 53 innings in Triple-A this year, posting his best strikeout (21.8%) and walk (6.9%) rates in years. His fastball sits low-90s and his best pitch is a fading changeup. Montgomery never did figure out a reliable breaking ball — he’s thrown a curveball, a slider, and a cutter at times over the years in an effort to find a third pitch. If Montgomery doesn’t start tomorrow … I have no idea who else it would be.

(Presswire)
(Presswire)

Wednesday: RHP Masahiro Tanaka (Career vs. SEA) vs. RHP Taijuan Walker (Career vs. NYY)
Walker is a nice reminder that even the best pitching prospects will break your heart, or, at the very least, run into bumps in the road to stardom. The 22-year-old has a 6.18 ERA (4.78 FIP) in ten starts and 51 innings so far in 2015, with an average strikeout rate (20.3%) and below-average walk (9.9%), grounder (39.2%), and homer (1.41 HR/9) rates. Righties (.374 wOBA) have hit him a tad harder than lefties (.340 wOBA), which is the opposite of what he did in limited action from 2013-14. Walker has a big fastball, sitting in the mid-90s with his four-seamer, and he throws it nearly 70% of the time. He throws his upper-70s curveball only 5% of the time, instead using an upper-80s splitter as his go-to offspeed pitch. Walker will also throw some upper-80s cutters. As with most young pitchers, there are good days and bad days, and so far this year Walker’s bad days have outnumbered the good days.

Bullpen Status
Like I said earlier, the Mariners played 12 innings yesterday, and that was after starter J.A. Happ went only five innings. McClendon needed seven innings out of his bullpen and all seven of his relievers pitched. RHP Tom Wilhelmsen (1.53 FIP), RHP Mark Lowe (2.88 FIP), LHP Charlie Furbush (3.03 FIP), and LHP Joe Beimel (3.20 FIP) have all pitched each of the last two days.

Closer RHP Fernando Rodney (4.98 FIP) has been very shaky this season. I mean really, really shaky. He’s put 39 runners on base in 21.1 innings. Yikes. RHP Dominic Leone (6.32 FIP) and RHP Carson Smith (2.29 FIP) are the last two relievers, though Smith has pitched himself into a setup role of late. He’s not a “last guy in the bullpen” guy. Head over to our Bullpen Workload page to see the status of Joe Girardi‘s bullpen. For updates on the Mariners, check out Lookout Landing and USS Mariner.

Yankeemetrics: West Coast mess (May 28-31)

Can I get some help, guys? (Ben Margot/AP)
Can I get some help, guys? (Ben Margot/AP)

B.A.D.
As Mike wrote on Thursday night (actually Friday morning), the Yankees series-opening defeat was not just a bad loss, it was a Bad Loss. How Bad, really? Sure, the Yankees squandered a three-run lead to the team with the worst record in baseball … but that doesn’t even begin to explain the extent of the Bad-ness.

Entering the game, Oakland:
• was 0-5 on Thursdays this season;
• had lost its last 10 games started by a left-handed pitcher;
• was 2-15 in one-run games this season, on pace to be worst such record by any team in the modern era (since 1900);
• had lost last its 12 home games decided by one run, the longest such streak since the 1894 Cubs (not a typo)

CC Sabathia didn’t pitch as poorly as his numbers in the box score, but regardless fell to 2-7 with a 5.67 ERA in 10 starts this season. He is the first Yankee with seven losses before the team’s 50th game of the season since Tommy John in 1989.

The 46-year-old southpaw had an eerily similar line to Sabathia’s after 10 starts (and the 44th game of the season), with a 5.80 ERA and 2-7 record. He was released by the Yankees after that 10th start against the Angels on May 25, and wouldn’t pitch in another major-league game in his career. Welp.

No chance
Sometimes mismatches on paper turn out to be … mismatches on the field, too. And that’s exactly what happened on Friday night in the Yankees 6-2 loss to Sonny Gray and the A’s.

Sonny Gray, an early Cy Young candidate, held the Yankees to four hits over eight innings. He’s the first A’s pitcher to allow fewer than five hits in eight-or-more innings pitched against the Yankees since Mark Mulder on May 11, 2003.

If you’re looking for highlights, look no further than the bat of Brian McCann, who extended his streak of games with a homer to four. He is just the fourth Yankee catcher to hit a home run in four straight games, joining Bill Dickey, Yogi Berra and Mike Stanley.

Belting it
The Yankees snapped a four-game losing streak in Oakland with a come-from-behind win on Saturday night. Entering the game, they had lost 11 of their last 12 games at the Coliseum, their worst 12-game stretch there since 1989-91.

Carlos Beltran was the hero with his two-run homer in the sixth inning that turned a 3-2 deficit into a 4-3 lead for the Yankees. Before Saturday, Beltran had just three homers in 154 at-bats in Oakland, his lowest homer rate (one every 51 at-bats) at any ballpark he’d played at least 25 games.

McCann gave the Yankees the early 1-0 lead with a first-inning RBI single. It was his eighth straight game with a hit and an RBI, matching Allen Robinson (1946) and Yogi (1956) for the longest such streak by a Yankee catcher in franchise history.

One bad pitch
The Yankees wasted another strong outing by Adam Warren on Sunday afternoon, losing 3-0 to the A’s in the series finale.

Warren surrendered just two runs over seven innings, and his only mistake was a 1-1 fastball in the sixth frame that Stephen Vogt sent over the right field fence. He’s now got a 2.70 ERA in his last four starts, but the Yankees have won just one of those four games. Overall this season, Warren has six starts allowing no more than three runs without getting a win; the only AL pitcher with more such “hard-luck” starts is Baltimore’s Wei-Yin Chen (7).

Jesse Chavez put the Yankees’ bats on ice, holding them without a run over eight innings. He’s the first A’s pitcher to throw eight scoreless innings against the Yankees at home since Steve Ontiveros tossed a one-hit shutout nearly 20 years ago on May 27, 1995. Chavez also joined Vida Blue (1976) as the only pitchers to not allow a run or a walk with at least eight innings pitched against the Yankees in Oakland since the team moved to the west coast in 1968.

Fan Confidence Poll: June 1st, 2015

Record Last Week: 4-3 (34 RS, 21 RA)
Season Record: 26-25 (228 RS, 218 RA, 27-24 pythag. record)
Opponents This Week: @ Mariners (three games, Mon. to Weds.), Thurs. OFF, vs. Angels (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 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?

Yanks waste Warren’s strong outing, drop finale 3-0 to A’s


Source: FanGraphs

Well that was a total letdown. The Yankees wasted Adam Warren‘s strong pitching performance because they couldn’t muster anything against Jesse Chavez, who threw 42 pitches in the first two innings and 68 in the next six. The final score was 3-0 Athletics. Let’s recap:

  • Not A Reliever: At this point the Yankees would be nuts to take Warren out of the rotation. He held Oakland to two runs in seven effective innings for his fourth consecutive strong start, with both runs coming on a two-run homer by Stephen Vogt, who has been one of the best hitters in baseball this year. It looked like a jam shot pop-up off the bat, but it kept carrying and carrying. Warren’s been really good the last four times out. He’s a starter.
  • Shutout: The Yankees scattered eight hits in the game, and four of the eight came in the first two innings. Mark Teixeira struck out and Carlos Beltran grounded out with two on to end the first, and Jose Pirela lined into a bad luck double play with two on in the second. The Yankees did not have another runner make it as far as second base until the ninth inning, when Alex Rodriguez singled and Beltran walked to bring the tying run to the plate with one out. Unfortunately, Brian McCann struck out and Garrett Jones fouled out to end the game. Womp womp.
  • Leftovers: Esmil Rogers and Jacob Lindgren combined to allow an insurance run in the eighth. Rogers put runners on the corners with two singles and Lindgren allowed a sac fly … Ramon Flores went 1-3, picking up his first MLB hit on a little ground ball single through the left side of the infield leading off the second … A-Rod and Didi Gregorius both had two hits.

Here’s the box score, video highlights, updated standings, Bullpen Workload page, and Announcer Standings page. The Yankees are done with the Athletics — did you know they’re 2-8 in the O.co Coliseum the last three seasons? true story — and now head up to Seattle for a three-game set against Robbie Cano and the Mariners. Former Mariner Michael Pineda will pitch against his former team for the first time Monday night. His opponent? Felix Hernandez.

Sunday Night Open Thread

The Yankees lost to the Athletics for the third time in four games earlier this afternoon, and they’ve won just five times in this last 18 games. And yet somehow they are still tied for first place in the AL East. Baseball has become just one giant blob of thoroughly mediocre teams. What a bore.

Anyway, here is tonight’s open thread. The ESPN Sunday Night Game is the Tigers and Angels (Price vs. Shoemaker), and that’s about it for spots. Talk about that game or anything else right here.

DotF: Luis Severino makes Triple-A debut, Brendan Ryan begins rehab assignment

Triple-A Scranton (7-2 loss to Norfolk)

  • CF Mason Williams: 1-5, 2 K
  • LF Ben Gamel: 2-5, 1 3B, 2 K — 23-for-67 (.343) in his last 17 games
  • 2B Rob Refsnyder: 0-4, 2 K
  • C Austin Romine: 1-4, 1 R, 1 2B
  • RF Tyler Austin: 0-2, 1 R, 2 BB, 1 K — he’s going to start hitting at some point, right?
  • RHP Luis Severino: 4.1 IP, 5 H, 2 R, 2 ER, 3 BB, 3 K, 4/4 GB/FB — 57 of 91 pitches were strikes (63%), plus he picked a runner off first … a little inefficient but not awful for his first career Triple-A start, especially since he’s roughly six years longer than the average International League player
  • LHP Tyler Webb: 1.2 IP, 3 H, 1 R, 0 ER, 0 BB, 1 K, 1/2 GB/FB — 22 of 27 pitches were strikes (81%)
  • RHP Nick Rumbelow: 2 IP, 3 H, 3 R, 3 ER, 1 BB, 1 K, 4/0 GB/FB — 19 of 31 pitches were strikes (61%) … he’s allowed 16 runs in 26 innings this year after allowing 17 runs in 58.1 innings last year
  • RHP Jose Ramirez: 1 IP, 2 H, 1 R, 1 ER, 1 BB, 1 K, 2/0 GB/FB — 17 of 24 pitches were strikes (71%)

[Read more…]