Triple-A Scranton (2-1 win over Pawtucket)
- C J.R. Murphy: 2-3, 1 BB, 1 K — had been in a 6-for-37 (.162) rut
- 3B Ronnie Mustelier: 0-4, 1 RBI
- 2B David Adams: 1-4, 1 R, 1 K
- RHP Graham Stoneburner: 6 IP, 2 H, 1 R, 1 ER, 1 BB, 3 K, 9/3 GB/FB — 47 of 74 pitches were strikes (64%)
- RHP Dellin Betances: 3 IP, 1 H, 0 R, 0 ER, 1 BB, 4 K, 1 HB, 1/1 GB/FB — 24 of 41 pitches were strikes (59%) … 23/5 K/BB in his last 15.2 innings at this level
9:11pm: X-rays were negative and Cano is day-to-day, the Yankees announced. I have to imagine he’ll miss a game or three, but ex-friggin-hale. That is a huge bullet they just dodged.
8:46pm: They’re calling it a “left hand contusion” is a moment, but Cano is heading to the hospital for x-rays. Apparently they don’t have an x-ray machine in the ballpark.
7:25pm: This is bad. Robinson Cano left tonight’s game after being hit by a pitch in the left hand on a check swing. It was pretty much a direct hit. Robbie initially stayed in the game to run the bases before exiting after the inning. Hopefully it’s just a precaution with the big early lead. Losing Cano for any length of time would be disastrous, obviously. Fingers crossed. · (50) ·
Three losses in four days really has a way of taking the air out of the optimism balloon. The Yankees were flying high before heading to Tampa over the weekend, winning five straight and ten of 12 while playing some really good (Tigers and Red Sox) and really bad (Angels and Blue Jays) teams. The games against the good teams are tough enough, but it’s these games against the bad clubs where the Yankees have to fatten up their win total. Losses like last nights, in which the offense couldn’t sustain a rally and the starter couldn’t get out of the fifth, are the kind that lead to the team playing golf and not baseball in October. Here’s the lineup that will face left-hander J.A. Happ:
- CF Brett Gardner
- SS Derek Jeter
- 2B Robinson Cano
- LF Alfonso Soriano
- 3B Alex Rodriguez
- RF Curtis Granderson
- DH Vernon Wells
- 1B Mark Reynolds
- C Chris Stewart
And on the mound is left-hander Andy Pettitte, who has pitched well of late but seems to be running into a wall somewhere in the 85-90 pitch range. It’s happened in each of his last two starts.
First pitch is scheduled for a little after 7pm ET and can be seen on YES. Try to enjoy.
The Yankees are sending OF Mason Williams, OF Tyler Austin, and C/3B Peter O’Brien to play for the Scottsdale Scorpions of the Arizona Fall League after the season. Each team sends seven guys to the AzFL, so New York must still name four more players. Expect most if not all of them to be pitchers. The entire Scottsdale roster is right here.
Josh Norris says Austin (101 wRC+) will spend some time working out at first base with the Scorpions. He’s played the position plenty in the past. Austin was placed on the Double-A Trenton DL with a bone bruise in his right wrist in mid-July, though he did play in his first rehab game with the Rookie GCL Yanks this afternoon. He’ll be making up for lost time in the AzFL. Williams has had a down year at the plate (87 wRC+), so hopefully he’ll rebound in the extreme hitter’s environment. O’Brien has had a strong year (146 wRC+) and will look to continue progressing. · (14) ·
Via Jon Heyman: It’s a “foregone conclusion” the Yankees and Joe Girardi will work out a new deal when the manager’s contract expires after the season. “[Hal Steinbrenner] loves Joe,” said a source to Heyman. Brian Cashman confirmed they hope to re-sign him earlier this season.
In my opinion, the 48-year-old Girardi has done by far his best work as the team’s skipper this season. The Yankees still have a shot — albeit a small one, obviously — at the postseason despite all of the injuries and under-performance, plus his handling of the Alex Rodriguez circus has been masterful. The front office hand-picked Girardi for the job close to six years ago now, and as I’ve said before, I think the only way he doesn’t return after the season is if he decides he head elsewhere. I have a hard time thinking that will happen. · (50) ·
Following last night’s loss to the Blue Jays, the Yankees have a 7.8% chance of making the playoffs according to Baseball Prospectus. Incredibly long odds with 31 games to play, no doubt about it, but it is doable. Considering it is Mariano Rivera‘s final season, the Yankees should have a little extra motivation to improve their roster as much as possible and make a serious run at the postseason.
Although the trade deadline passed almost a month ago, teams can still swing waiver deals at any time, even in September. The only problem is that a player must be in the organization (minors or Majors) by August 31st to be eligible for the postseason roster. There are no loopholes or exceptions, in the organization this Saturday or no postseason roster. That gives the Yankees less than five days to make any final moves and have those players be part of a potential playoff roster. There’s also the whole “the sooner you get them the more games they’ll play and help you” thing to keep in mind.
Barring a surprise return from Michael Pineda, David Phelps, or Vidal Nuno, the Yankees are as healthy as can be now that Derek Jeter has returned. Any help will have to come from outside. We already know they need to replace Phil Hughes in the rotation, but they could use more help than just another starter. Here are the club’s non-rotation problem areas — “problem areas” isn’t the right term, but you get the point — and a handful of potential trade targets.
The additions of Curtis Granderson, Alfonso Soriano, and Alex Rodriguez have helped the offense in a huge way. It’s crazy, who knew adding three above-average bats to the lineup would help? New York could still use some more punch though, particularly behind the plate. That won’t happen of course; the best solution there is more Austin Romine and less Chris Stewart. DH is a prime spot for an upgrade, however.
Last week we heard the Yankees were monitoring Justin Morneau and yesterday Jon Morosi reported Kendrys Morales has been claimed off waivers by an unknown team. Both guys make sense for the Yankees at this point — Morales would be the better fit as a switch-hitter — since they could take over at DH with Granderson shifting to right field full-time. Any self-respecting contender would have Ichiro Suzuki and his 77 wRC+ (37 wRC+ since the All-Star break) glued to the bench.
We still don’t know who claimed Morales, so the Yankees may or may not have had a chance at him. Morneau cleared waivers earlier this month and is there for taking though, and since the Twins aren’t planning to make him a qualifying offer after the season, it’s unlikely he will require a big return. Same with Morales, really. Salary relief and an okay prospect seems to like a logical return for less than five weeks of a flawed no-defense slugger.
There isn’t a team out there that couldn’t use another bullpen arm or two. The Yankees have plenty of setup man depth once Preston Claiborne returns, but they could use another left-hander to complement Boone Logan. Someone better than David Huff, anyway. Remember, they have a ton of games left against the Red Sox and Orioles. Having another southpaw to matchup with Chris Davis and David Ortiz and whoever else sure would be nice.
Javier Lopez of the Giants would have been perfect — dominates lefty hitters and has pennant race/World Series experience — but he was recently claimed off waivers by an unknown team according to Jon Heyman. I seriously doubt the Yankees are that unknown team; it would surprise me if he made it through the entire NL unclaimed. Paul Hoynes reported San Francisco was seeking a top pitching prospect for Lopez before the trade deadline anyway, so who knows if he was even acquirable.
Other potentially available lefty relievers include impending free agents Mike Gonzalez (holding lefties to a .331 wOBA), Darren Oliver (.447), and Oliver Perez (.302). Perez has stunk of late and the other two have not dominated same-side hitters this year as they have in the past. Aside from Huff and the injured Nuno, New York’s only internal option is the untested Cesar Cabral. Hard to see that happening, but who knows. Phil Coke came out of almost nowhere to dominate in September 2008. If the Yankees don’t make any moves between now and August 31st, that’s the kind of surprise performance they’ll need to contend in September.
In what became an unfortunate running theme for this season, Phil Hughes did not complete five innings of work nor did he give the Yankees a reasonable chance to win on Monday night. His latest dud featured five runs (three earned) and ten base-runners in just 4.2 innings against a Blue Jays team without Jose Bautista or any other member of their starting outfield. Some guys named Ryan Goins, Moises Sierra, and Kevin Pillar went a combined 3-for-5 with a walk, a sac bunt, and a sac fly though. Think about that.
That performance has Phil sitting on a 4.91 ERA — that ranks 80th out of 85 qualified starting pitchers, by the way — and 4.55 FIP in 135.2 innings across 25 starts, an average of just 5.1 innings per start. This isn’t a stretch of four or five bad starts, Hughes has been awful all year. Easily the weak link in the rotation, which is hard to believe when CC Sabathia ranks 78th (!) out of those 85 qualifiers with a 4.81 ERA. I really hate what Sabathia has become this year, but I digress.
“It’s been very difficult,” said Hughes to Bryan Hoch following last night’s game. “Every time I feel like I make some progress the last couple times out, it seems like you have these hiccups and it’s the way the whole season has gone. It’s been difficult, it’s been a struggle. I guess every time you have one of these outings I try and look at the positive. I still have the opportunity to pitch in big games where it really matters and that’s all I can do. I can’t get down on myself or negative all the time. I just have to stay confident and aggressive every time they give me the ball.”
Therein lies the rub: the Yankees shouldn’t give Hughes the ball anymore, at least not as a starter. Not if they’re serious about winning and making a run to the postseason. They’re five games behind the Athletics for the second wildcard spot in the loss column and have a 7.8% chance of making the playoffs according to Baseball Prospectus. There are only 31 games left in the season and no margin for error, at least not enough of one to continue running Hughes out there every fifth day. A change has to be made if they want to have a chance.
“Right now [Hughes is] in our rotation,” said Joe Girardi to Hoch. “We haven’t talked about taking him out of our rotation. I think he had a walk that scored; a couple walks hurt him today. We didn’t make the play behind him and it looks a lot different if it’s three runs in five innings.”
Replacing Hughes will have to be an outside-the-organization thing because the team’s sixth (David Phelps), seventh (Vidal Nuno), and eighth (Michael Pineda) starters are all hurt. Adam Warren has been solid overall (3.69 ERA and 4.80 FIP), but he has a 5.30 ERA and 5.85 FIP since mid-May. That’s rough. As bad as Hughes has been, I find it hard to believe Warren would be a rotation upgrade. David Huff has been impressive in two long relief outings against the lowly Blue Jays but otherwise has a 5.25 ERA and 4.74 FIP in almost 300 career innings. He’s the best in-house option and that really, really bites.
Joe has already written about trading for Dan Haren, and yesterday Derrick Goold said the Nationals want “a group of prospects” for the right-hander. Who knows what that means. Haren has been awesome in nine starts (and one relief appearance) since coming off DL (2.53 ERA and 3.09 FIP) and is almost certainly the best starter the Yankees will find on the market at this time of year. Edinson Volquez? Erik Bedard? Joe Saunders? Volquez (6.01 ERA) and Joe Saunders (4.91 ERA) have been as bad or worse than Hughes despite pitching in much more favorable ballparks. Bedard has made no secret of his dislike of big cities. There isn’t much help out there.
At the very least, the Yankees should use Thursday’s off-day to rearrange the rotation and make sure Hughes does not face the Orioles this coming weekend. They can push him back to the White Sox series next week. That has to happen, the series against Baltimore is way too important. The team needs to figure out a way to replace Hughes for the rest of the season — I thought they should have done that prior to the trade deadline — if they want to have a chance at making the playoffs in Mariano Rivera‘s final season. Phil is out of rope. Things need to change.
Three losses in four games was not part of the “crawl back into the postseason picture” plan, especially since it could have very easily been four losses in four games. The Yankees lost just their second game of the season to the Blue Jays on Monday night, dropping what felt like a lopsided 5-2 contest.
No Chance To Win Every Fifth Day
After two straight quality starts, Phil Hughes went back to being one of the very worst pitchers in all of baseball on Monday night. He allowed five runs in 4.2 innings of work, though, to be fair, one run scored when Kevin Pillar managed to bloop a two-out single to center on a pitch that was basically in the dirt. Another one or two came across after Ichiro Suzuki dropped a hard-hit but very catchable fly ball in right. Still, Hughes was awful. Seven hits, three walks, three strikeouts, couldn’t get out of the fifth awful. Awful. AwPhil.
Journeyman left-hander David Huff picked up the rest of the bullpen with some high-quality long relief after that, holding the Blue Jays to one walk and no hits in 3.1 scoreless innings. He struck out five and recorded eight of his ten outs on the infield. Between this game and last week’s relief appearance, Huff has held Toronto to one hit in 8.1 scoreless innings in his last two outings. That’s pretty awesome. Unsurprisingly, Joe Girardi was non-committal when asked if Huff would take Hughes’ spot in the rotation. That decision wasn’t going to be made in the five minutes between the 27th out and the post-game interview. The Yankees obviously should consider it though.
Oh Yeah They Only Scored Two Runs
Regardless of what happened on the mound, it’s really hard to win when you only score two runs. The first run was all about Brett Gardner‘s speed. He drew a walk to start the game, moved up to second on a passed ball, moved over to third on Derek Jeter‘s slow ground ball to short, then scored on Robinson Cano‘s grounder to second. Hooray smallball, I guess. Alex Rodriguez created the second run with one swing — he hit a solo homer to right to leadoff the fifth. For the fourth straight game, the Yankees scored no more than three runs.
The Bombers had a chance to really blow this one open in that fifth inning, after A-Rod homered. Two singles (Ichiro and Gardner) and a walk (Jeter) loaded the bases with two outs for Cano, exactly the guy the Yankees wanted at the plate. Robbie’s been killin’ the ball lately, and he hit one of R.A. Dickey’s knuckleballs really hard … just not hard enough. The inning ended on a loud fly ball to deep center field. Cano was picking on the wrong part of the park. Alex’s blast knotted the game at two, but after that inning, just three of the final 15 men they sent to the plate reached base.
Jeter’s return was mostly forgettable. He went 0-for-3 with a walk, a strikeout, and a double play at the plate while not being tested with anything more than a routine play at shortstop. Jeter did see 20 pitches in four at-bats though, which is nice. The Yankees lacked team plate discipline and the willingness to work the count for the first four months of the season. They’ve gotten that element back in recent weeks, at least somewhat.
Two round number milestones in this game. First, A-Rod’s homer was the 650th of his career, making him the fifth player in history to go deep that many times. He was also the fifth player to homer 649 times, but that’s besides the point. Second, Gardner’s fifth inning single was the 500th hit of his career. A whole lot of players have done that. Still pretty cool though. Congrats to both.
Curtis Granderson and Alfonso Soriano both singled and stole bases. Soriano swiped third for the second straight game. Austin Romine also singled and walked. He’s up to .233/.280/.322 (63 wRC+) on the year, which is pretty amazing considering how terrible he was prior to the All-Star break (-2 wRC+!). The kid needs to play everyday. Every single day.
Box Score, WPA Graph & Standings
For the box score and video highlights, MLB.com is the place to go. FanGraphs and ESPN have some other stats and the updated standings, respectively. The Athletics beat the Tigers, so the Yankees are again five games back of the second wildcard spot in the loss column. Cool Standings has their postseason odds at 7.6%. It’s getting late early, folks.
Same two teams on Tuesday night, the middle game of the three-game set. Lefties Andy Pettitte and J.A. Happ will match up for the second time in less than a week.
Some notes — mostly roster moves — from the last few days:
- RHP Charley Short has been bumped up to Double-A Trenton, according to Nick Peruffo. The 25-year-old former indy baller has a 1.84 ERA (~1.85 FIP) with an 81/16 K/BB in 58.2 relief innings across three levels this season. Expect the Thunder to get some more reinforcements for the playoffs in the coming days.
- 2B Angelo Gumbs has been placed on the Low-A Charleston DL. I’m not sure what’s wrong with him, but he had a finger injury earlier this year and an elbow injury last summer. IF Fu-Lin Kuo has joined the team to fill the roster spot.
- RHP Rookie Davis has been promoted from Short Season Staten Island to Low-A Charleston. He had a 2.36 ERA (2.72 FIP) in 42 innings across eleven starts for the Baby Bombers. RHP Luis Severino was sent to one of the GCL Yanks affiliates to clear a roster spot.
- UTIL Ronnie Mustelier was named the Triple-A International League Offensive Player of the Week, so congrats to him.
Triple-A Scranton (2-1 loss to Pawtucket, walk-off style) they were eliminated from postseason contention yesterday, in case you missed it
- C J.R. Murphy & 3B Ronnie Mustelier: both 0-4 — Mustelier struck out
- RHP Brett Marshall: 7 IP, 2 H, 0 R, 0 ER, 0 BB, 9 K, 1 HB, 5/4 GB/FB — 63 of 93 pitches were strikes (68%) … best start of the year comes at a good time, right before September call-ups … ties his career-high in strikeouts
For the third time this season, Derek Jeter is coming off the DL to rejoin the Yankees following a leg injury. His return lasted all of one game the first time before a quad injury sidelined him for more than two weeks. The second time it was four games before a calf injury sent him back to the DL. Obviously the Yankees and Jeter are hoping the third is a charm and the Cap’n will stay on the field for the rest of the regular season (and playoffs!).
Barring a surprise waiver trade in the coming days, the Yankees are now as healthy and full strength as can be. This is it, this is the team. We don’t have to wait for any more injured players to return*. Jeter’s return boosts the lineup and whatever intangible qualities he offers boost the clubhouse. His mere presence helps the team in a way I can’t explain. The Yankees with Jeter are a much better team than they are without him regardless of what he’s hitting. Very few players transcend on-field production like that.
Here’s the lineup that will face reigning NL Cy Young Award winner R.A. Dickey:
- CF Brett Gardner
- SS Derek Jeter
- 2B Robinson Cano
- LF Alfonso Soriano
- DH Curtis Granderson
- 3B Alex Rodriguez
- 1B Lyle Overbay
- RF Ichiro Suzuki
- C Austin Romine
And on the mound is right-hander Phil Hughes, who has actually put together two straight quality starts, including six innings of two-run ball against the Blue Jays last week. Needless to say, he needs to do that again.
The Yankees are playing in another domed/retractable roofed stadium, so the weather doesn’t really matter. If you’re curious, it’s supposed to rain on-and-off in Toronto these next few days. First pitch is scheduled for a little after 7pm ET and can be seen on YES. Enjoy.
* I’ve said this before.