Brewers 9, Yankees 4: Bullpen has a good night, allows only seven runs

Things just keep getting worse. Friday night’s series opener with the Brewers was competitive for about six innings. Then the Yankees’ bullpen did its thing, and that was that. The final score was 9-4. The Yankees are 6-17 in their last 23 games and are now tied for the second wildcard spot. What a midseason collapse.

(Presswire)
(Presswire)

Drunk In The Field
Wow are the Brewers bad defensively. They rank statistically near the bottom of the league defensively and it showed in the first four innings. Five errors in four innings! Two of them contributed to three runs. Didi Gregorius ripped a one-out single to right field in the second that Domingo Santana played into a triple. He misplayed the hop, the ball got by him, and Gregorius made it to third. Clint Frazier drove in him with a sac fly for a quick 1-0 lead.

Then, in the fourth, Gregorius reached when Jonathan Villar bobbled a ground ball to second base. Ji-Man Choi made Villar and the Brewers pay with a two-run home run two batters later. In between the Frazier sac fly and the Choi homer, Santana committed another error when he got turned around on Austin Romine‘s fly ball, and Villar was also charged with an error because he was unable to knock down Aaron Judge‘s liner up the middle. Lots and lots of free baserunners. Only three runs as a result of the errors, however.

You're still cool with me, Monty. (Presswire)
You’re still cool with me, Monty. (Presswire)

Monty In The Rain
I was a bit surprised Joe Girardi brought Jordan Montgomery back out for the fifth inning after a 51-minute rain delay. I’m sure Montgomery was throwing down in the batting cage and whatever, but it just seemed like enough time had passed, and he wouldn’t pushed a young pitcher like that. Then again, the bullpen has been so bad lately, I don’t blame Girardi for wanting to squeeze as many outs from his start as possible.

Montgomery did his “wiggle in and out of jams” act in the first few innings, though, to his credit, not too many of the seven hits he allowed were hard-hit. His two biggest mistakes came in the same inning. Montgomery left a pitch up to Ryan Braun leading off the fourth, which Braun hammered into the left-center field gap for a double. Then, two batters later, Montgomery lost an eight-pitch battle to Jesus Aguilar when he left a slider up, a pitch Aguilar promptly depositing into the short porch for a two-run home run and 2-1 Brewers lead.

After the rain delay, Montgomery lasted three batters. A diving catch by Frazier and two singles later, Montgomery was out of the game. He went back out to face three batters and throw 12 pitchers. Tyler Webb came out of the bullpen to escape that jam with a line drive double play. Montgomery’s final line: 4.1 IP, 7 H, 2 R, 2 ER, 0 BB, 4 K and 74 pitches. This was only his second walk-less outing in 16 starts.

(Presswire)
(Presswire)

A Lopsided Battle Of The Bullpens
One team brought their strikeout heavy top pitching prospect out of the bullpen. The other tried to squeeze two innings from Tyler Clippard. That’s the story of the game right there. One team has the best arms in the organization on the big league roster and the other is putzing around with journeymen and fringe prospects. The bullpen has been a disaster for weeks now and yet the same personnel remains.

In the sixth, Webb and Clippard teamed up to blow the 4-2 lead. Webb allowed a walk and a double to put runners on second and third, and Clippard allowed both runners to score on a wild pitch and a sac fly. The game got out of hand in the seventh. Clippard remained in the game and the inning went fly out, walk, walk, fly out, intentional walk, grand slam. Amazing. Aguilar already had a homer and a long sac fly in the game. Girardi intentionally walked the bases loaded so a fatigued Clippard to could face him, and Aguilar hit the grand slam. Bad pitching, bad decisions.

The final line on the bullpen: 4.2 IP, 7 H, 7 R, 7 ER, 5 BB, 1 K. Webb, Clippard, Chasen Shreve, Luis Cessa. Josh Hader, the aforementioned top pitching prospect the Brewers brought out of the bullpen, struck out seven in three innings. He allowed one run on one hit and two walks. The run came on an Judge solo homer. That has more to do with Judge being awesome than Hader being bad. Hader blew the Yankees away. It’s too bad the Yankees don’t have any young arms who might be able to do that.

Remember when the Yankees had fun? (Presswire)
Remember when the Yankees had fun? (Presswire)

Leftovers
How about some good news? Judge’s home run was his 30th (31st*) of the season, the most ever by a Yankees rookie. The most ever! Do you know who’s played for this franchise? There are still 78 games to play this year too. Judge is only the second rookie in baseball history to hit 30 home runs before the All-Star break. Mark McGwire hit 33 before the break in 1987. He set the rookie record with 49 homers that season.

Now, the bad stuff: Chase Headley went 0-for-4 with two strikeouts, a walk, and a double play hitting second in front of Judge. Not Girardi’s finest lineup decision. Just let Judge hit second. I know he doesn’t fit the typical No. 2 hitter profile, but the alternative is squeezing a bad hitter between him and Brett Gardner. No. Just no. Gardner drew four walks in the game, by the way. Would have been cool to have Judge hitting right behind him.

Four total hits for the offense: Judge’s homer, Choi’s homer, Didi’s single, and a Frazier triple. Frazier is still looking for his first big league single. He has a double, a triple, and a homer already. Choi and Headley each drew one walk and Gardner had four. Those are all the baserunners.

And finally, Choi is the first player to go deep in each of his first two games with the Yankees since … Judge last year. Between Triple-A and MLB, Choi has hit eight home runs in his last 13 games. He hit two homers in his first 45 games of the season.

Box Score, WPA Graph & Standings
For the box score and updated standings, go to ESPN. MLB.com has the video highlights and we have a Bullpen Workload page. Here’s the loss probability graph:


Source: FanGraphs

Up Next
The Yankees and Brewers will continue this three-game series with the middle game Saturday afternoon. That’s a 1pm ET start. All-Star Luis Severino and non-All-Star Brent Suter are the scheduled starting pitchers. The Yankees won’t be home until July 25th after this weekend, so if you want to catch a game before the All-Star break and long road trip, RAB Tickets can get you into the ballpark.

DotF: Mateo extends hitting streak in Trenton’s win

Got a bunch of notes to get us started:

  • Baseball America released their midseason top 100 prospects list earlier today. Seven Yankees made it: SS Gleyber Torres (3rd), OF Blake Rutherford (36th), OF Clint Frazier (48th), RHP Chance Adams (55th), OF Estevan Florial (70th), LHP Justus Sheffield (72nd), and OF Dustin Fowler (88th). I’ll have some thoughts on this next week.
  • The Yankees signed Alabama-Birmingham RHP Garrett Whitlock (18th round) to a $247,500 bonus, reports Jim Callis. That is over the $125,000 slot for each pick after the tenth round, so the remaining $122,500 counts against the bonus pool. The signing deadline was 4pm ET today. Here is our Draft Pool tracker.
  • 1B Mike Ford (hamstring) and RHP Ronald Herrera (shoulder) were placed on the Triple-A Scranton disabled list, the team announced. Ford isn’t expected to be out long. Also, RHP Bryan Mitchell was sent from Triple-A Scranton to High-A Tampa. That allows him to make a start next week during the Triple-A All-Star break.
  • Two Yankees made Baseball America’s Prospect Team of the Month for June and they are not among the team’s top prospects: 2B Nick Solak and RHP Zack Littell. Hooray farm system depth! Solak hit .392/.453/.595 (204 wRC+) with three homers in June. Goodness. Littell had a 0.58 ERA (1.92 FIP) in 31 innings.
  • A bunch of Yankees made this week’s Prospect Hot Sheet: SS Jorge Mateo (7th), RHP Dillon Tate (8th), RHP Jorge Guzman (11th), and OF Billy McKinney (16th). That’s a good sign. Mateo, Tate, and McKinney are trying to rebuild prospect stock right now while Guzman is trying to establish his.

Triple-A Scranton (4-1 loss to Lehigh Valley)

  • CF Jake Cave: 1-4, 1 K
  • 3B Miguel Andujar: 0-4, 1 K
  • RF Billy McKinney: 0-3, 1 K
  • SS Abe Avelino: 0-3
  • RHP Chance Adams: 5 IP, 3 H, 2 R, 2 ER, 3 BB, 6 K, 3/4 GB/FB — 62 of 95 pitches were strikes (65%) … he’s walked at least three batters in seven of his 17 starts this year, which is a few too many
  • RHP J.P. Feyereisen: 2.2 IP, 3 H, 2 R, 2 ER, 1 BB, 2 K, 2/2 GB/FB — 28 of 44 pitches were strikes (64%)
  • RHP Gio Gallegos: 1.1 IP, 1 H, 0 R, 0 ER, 0 BB, 2 K, 0/1 GB/FB — 14 of 21 pitches were strikes

[Read more…]

Game 84: The Final Series of the First Half

Maybe the Yankees can find a win up there. (Rich Schultz/Getty)
Maybe the Yankees can find a win up there. (Rich Schultz/Getty)

A fun fact: the Yankees have won the first game in each of their last four series. A not-so-fun fact: the Yankees have failed to win each of those four series. Yuck. This weekend’s interleague series with the Brewers is the final series before the All-Star break, and given how poorly things have gone these last few weeks, you know the Yankees want to do well this weekend and head into the break feeling good about things. That’s what I’m hoping.

The first place Brewers (!) are visiting the Bronx for the first time since May 2011. Milwaukee is 0-10 in their last ten games at Yankee Stadium and 1-14 in their last 15 games. Their last win in the Bronx came back in July 1997. Ken Rogers started that game for the Yankees. It’s been a while. Of course, that means nothing. What happened in 2011 and 1997 or any other year as no bearing on what happens tonight, in 2017. Just win, please. Here is the Brewers’ lineup and here is the Yankees’ lineup:

  1. CF Brett Gardner
  2. 3B Chase Headley
  3. RF Aaron Judge
  4. DH Gary Sanchez
  5. SS Didi Gregorius
  6. LF Clint Frazier
  7. 1B Ji-Man Choi
  8. C Austin Romine
  9. 2B Tyler Wade
    LHP Jordan Montgomery

The morning rain has cleared out and it’s turned into a nice day here in New York. Blue sky and some clouds. Not a bad night for a ballgame. Tonight’s series opener will begin at 7:05pm ET and you can watch on YES locally and MLB Network nationally. Enjoy the game.

Injury Updates: Both Starlin Castro (hamstring) and Matt Holliday (illness) will not rejoin the Yankees this weekend. They’re going to play in minor league rehab games before returning, and both could be back in time for the first series after the All-Star break.

All-Star Update: Earlier today MLB announced a series of All-Star replacements and, no, Gregorius is not replacing the injured Castro on the AL roster. Castro’s spot is going to … Robbie Cano. Baseball is a flat circle.

7/7 to 7/9 Series Preview: Milwaukee Brewers

(Dylan Buell/Getty Images)
(Dylan Buell/Getty Images)

With injuries and poor performances aplenty, the All-Star break cannot come soon enough for the Yankees. All that stands in their way between four much-needed days off are the (surprisingly good) first-place Milwaukee Brewers.

The Last Time They Met

The Yankees visited Milwaukee for a three-game set in May of 2014, losing two of three. Both losses came by one run, with the series finale coming in walk-off fashion. Some points of interest:

  • Yangervis Solarte went 4-for-10 with 1 R, 1 HR, 5 RBI, and 1 BB in the series. By the time it was over he was leading the Yankees regulars in batting average (.315), OBP (.394), and RBI (20).
  • The Yankees bullpen was responsible for both losses, with Alfredo Aceves losing game two, and Matt Thornton, Dellin Betances, and Adam Warren combining to blow game three.
  • Of the players that suited up for the Brewers, only Matt Garza is still in the organization. Ryan Braun was on the team at that time, as well, but he was on the disabled list.

Injury Report

Chase Anderson – the team’s best or second-best starter depending upon your metric of choice – went down with a strained oblique on June 29, and is unlikely to return until sometime in August. He was just joined there by utility man and ‘Face of Baseball‘ Eric Sogard, who suffered a left ankle strain on Wednesday. Wily Peralta is out, as well, but, given his production thus far, the Brewers may be better for it.

Their Story So Far

The Brewers are currently in first place in the NL Central by 4.5 games, with a 48-40 record and a +40 run differential. They’ve won four in a row, and are 15-8 since falling back to a game above .500 on June 13. Their success seems to be a product of average-ish performance across the board, as their offense (13th in wRC+), pitching (8th in park-adjusted ERA, 12th in park-adjusted FIP), and defense (14th in DRS, 16th in UZR/150) are all right around the middle of the pack.

Eric Thames has been the team’s biggest story, as the 30-year-old “busted” prospect turned South Korean superstar returned to MLB, and tore the cover off the ball for the first month of the season (11 HR and a 218 wRC+ in April). He’s cooled off considerably since then, with a 107 wRC+ in May and a 68 wRC+ in June, but the threat of his power still looms.

Their pitching shouldn’t be overlooked, though, as the aforementioned Anderson and Jimmy Nelson have been a formidable one-two punch in the rotation, and Garza has been surprisingly competent. The remainder of their staff has been mostly average – and that alone is a surprise.

Check out Brew Crew Ball for more news and notes about the Brewers.

The Lineup We Might See

Third-year manager Craig Counsell has tinkered with his lineup throughout the year, riding the hot hand as often as possible. Sogard was raking prior to his injury, for example, so he was hitting leadoff for a couple of weeks, while the struggling Jonathan Villar was dropped in the order. Nevertheless, I suspect we’ll see something like this:

  1. Jonathan Villar, 2B
  2. Eric Thames, 1B
  3. Ryan Braun, LF/DH
  4. Travis Shaw, 3B
  5. Domingo Santana, RF
  6. Stephen Vogt, DH/C
  7. Manny Pina, C
  8. Keon Broxton, CF
  9. Orlando Arcia, SS

The Starting Pitchers We Will See

Friday (7:05 PM EST): LHP Jordan Montgomery vs. RHP Junior Guerra

Guerra bounced around the minors and independent leagues for over a decade before getting a cup of coffee with the White Sox in 2015. He then spent most of the 2016 season in the Brewers rotation, putting up a 2.81 ERA (152 ERA+) in 121.2 IP as a 31-year-old rookie. His peripherals suggested he was something closer to a league-average pitcher, but he didn’t appear to be a complete and utter fluke. This season has been a different story, though, as he sports a 4.93 ERA/7.10 FIP (!) in 45.2 IP. Guerra also missed nearly two months with a calf injury.

In 2016, Guerra was a three-pitch guy, throwing a mid-90s four-seamer, a mid-80s splitter (with a 20% whiff rate), and a low-80s slider. He introduced a low-90s sinker this year, to mixed results. Guerra’s overall velocity has dropped in 2017, with 2 MPH disappearing from the fastball, and 1-plus MPH coming off of his splitter and slider.

Last Outing (vs. MIA on 7/2) – 4.0 IP, 8 H, 4 R, 3 BB, 7 K

Saturday (1:05 PM EST): RHP Luis Severino vs. LHP Brent Suter

The 27-year-old Suter has served as an up-and-down guy/long-reliever/spot starter for the Brewers over the last two years, with mostly strong results (albeit in just 42.2 IP). He has a 3.16 ERA (139 ERA+) as a big-leaguer, with league-average strikeout (19.6%) and walk (6.7%) rates. He took what would have been Anderson’s last turn in the rotation, and he stands to get an extended look.

Suter is a finesse lefty, with a mid-80s fastball, low-80s change-up, and mid-70s slider making up the bulk of his offerings.

Last Outing (vs. BAL on 7/3) – 6.0 IP, 4 H, 1 R, 1 BB, 8 K

Sunday (1:05 PM EST): RHP Masahiro Tanaka vs. RHP Jimmy Nelson

If Anderson isn’t the Brewers ace, it’s because of the 28-year-old Nelson, who has been borderline dominant at times this season. He has a 3.20 ERA (139 ERA) in 104.0 IP, with comfortably above-average strikeout (26.1%), walk (5.8%), and groundball (49.3%) rates. He was a top-100 prospect heading into his rookie season, so this may well be a legitimate breakout.

Nelson is a four-pitch pitcher, with a low-to-mid 90s four-seamer, a low-to-mid 90s sinker, a slider in the upper-80s, and a mid-80s curveball. He draws praise for sequencing his pitches well, and keeping hitters off-balance with power stuff and movement.

Last Outing (vs. BAL on 7/4) – 7.0 IP, 6 H, 1 R, 0 BB, 8 K

The Bullpen

Closer Corey Knebel is the only truly dominant pitcher in the Brewers bullpen, with a 1.11 ERA (403 ERA+) and 43.3% strikeout rate in 40.2 IP. He took over as closer when Neftali Feliz earned his release, and he hasn’t disappointed. Jared Hughes and Jacob Barnes handle the 7th and 8th inning on most nights, and both are solid-average by most metrics. Beyond those three, however, it’s something of a crapshoot.

The bullpen has been taxed of late, as the Brewers have played 22 games in the last 22 days, with a double-header on June 13 somewhat negating their June 26 off-day.

Yankees Connection

This is a bit of a stretch, but Thames was drafted by the Yankees way back in 2007. He was the 1191st overall pick that year, and he elected to return to Pepperdine for his senior year instead of signing.

Who (Or What) To Watch

Keon Broxton was one of my favorite non-Yankees prospects for a while, and he has finally begun to make good on his hyper-athletic promise over the last season and change. He’s hitting .239/.306/.473 (97 wRC+) with 14 HR and 15 SB on the season, and he plays strong defense in center field. He’s something of a hacker, but he’s a fun player to watch nonetheless.

Seeing Nelson pitch could be a treat, as well – particularly the day after we see the soft-tossing Suter.

Scouting the Trade Market: First Basemen

Lucas Duda. (Jim McIsaac/Getty Images)
Lucas Duda. (Jim McIsaac/Getty Images)

On the off-chance that Ji-Man Choi is not a true-talent 216 wRC+ hitter, the Yankees are going to need a first baseman to solidify and stabilize both the lineup and the infield defense. Chris Carter played himself into a second DFA, Greg Bird may require surgery on his balky right ankle, and none of the team’s internal options seem befitting of a team with playoff aspirations.

All of that put together, assuming the Yankees do not continue to struggle into the waning days of July, should make them something of a buyer as the trade deadline approaches. The question then becomes a simple matter of who is available, and at what cost?

The simplest way to hazard a guess at the marketplace is to see what rentals are available (meaning who will be a free agent at season’s end). As per MLB Trade Rumors, that group is mildly enticing:

  • Yonder Alonso, Oakland A’s
  • Pedro Alvarez, Baltimore Orioles
  • Lucas Duda, New York Mets
  • Todd Frazier, Chicago White Sox
  • Eric Hosmer, Kansas City Royals
  • John Jaso, Pittsburgh Pirates
  • Adam Lind, Washington Nationals
  • Mitch Moreland, Boston Red Sox
  • Logan Morrison, Tampa Bay Rays
  • Mike Napoli, Texas Rangers
  • Mark Reynolds, Colorado Rockies
  • Carlos Santana, Cleveland Indians
  • Danny Valencia, Seattle Mariners

There are several names that can be ruled out immediately – Alvarez (trading within the division for a player reminiscent of Chris Carter), Lind (the Nationals aren’t selling), Moreland (the Red Sox aren’t selling), Morrison (trading within the division for someone that needlessly bashed Gary Sanchez), Reynolds (the Rockies aren’t selling), and Santana (the Indians aren’t sellers) are unlikely to pop-up on the Yankees radar for various reasons. Napoli is an unlikely target, as well, given that he may be the worst first baseman in the game this year, with a 77 wRC+ and -0.6 fWAR. That leaves us with:

Yonder Alonso

Alonso has been one of the best stories of this half-season, serving as a standard bearer for the flyball revolution (or the juiced ball, whichever point of view you prefer). He is currently slashing .280/.375/.568 with 19 HR in 280 PA, good for a 150 wRC+. There have been some signs of regression, though, as Alonso hit .267/.353/.433 with just 3 HR (114 wRC+) and an elevated strikeout rate in June. He’s also struggled with some nagging injuries, which has been the case on an almost year-to-year basis.

I’d be a bit weary of Alonso, due to how inflated his numbers are by his incredible May. A team might be willing to pay for his line on the season, rolling the dice that he’s broken out after years of mediocrity, and the A’s are sure to shop him aggressively.

Lucas Duda

The Yankees have not made many deals with the Mets, but it does happen on occasion – and there could be a definite match here, as the teams trend in different directions. Duda finally seems to be healthy, and he’s batting .249/.359/.548 with 14 home runs and a 137 wRC+ in 231 PA. He has a 123 wRC+ for his career, and he posted a 134 wRC+ between 2014 and 2015, so this isn’t a complete outlier. Duda may not hit for average, but he takes plenty of walks (11.5% for his career) and hits for power (.211 ISO).

As a result of this, Duda is likely the best hitter of this group, when healthy. That caveat bears repeating, but he feels like the safest bet to be a middle of the order thumper.

Todd Frazier

Frazier is a solid defensive third-baseman, so this is cheating a bit – but he has played a few games at first this year, and 94 in his career. He’s batting .215/.332/.450 with 16 HR (107 wRC+), but that is weighed-down by his early struggles. Frazier raked in June, with 8 HR and a 144 wRC+ in 109 PA, and he has hit for power throughout his career. His month-to-month inconsistencies, however, have followed him for several years now.

That being said, Frazier is an interesting target, if only because of his positional versatility. If Bird manages to get healthy or another internal option rears his head, Frazier could shift across the diamond and relieve Headley of everyday duty. He’s a feast or famine type, but the famine isn’t as bad some other options.

Eric Hosmer

I struggled with including Hosmer here, as the Royals aren’t all that far from contention. He’s in the midst of a bounceback season (he’s always better in odd-numbered years), with a .313/.371/.484 slash line (126 wRC+) in 348 PA, and he’s been a key to the team’s turnaround. The Royals have several key players coming up on free agency this off-season, though, so they may be inclined to cash-in now, instead of chasing a wild card berth and little else.

Hosmer is the youngest option here, at 27-years-old, and might be the least obtainable player in this group. There’s probably a team out there that would swing a deal for him with an eye towards re-signing him, and that’s unlikely to be the Yankees.

John Jaso

Jaso is strictly a platoon player at this point, with only 69 PA against LHP since the beginning of 2015. He has done fairly well in that role, though, with a 119 wRC+ against righties in that stretch (108 in 2017). Jaso is hitting .250/.326/.459 with 7 HR (107 wRC+) in 193 PA on the season, spending time at first and in both outfield corners.

If I had to handicap this group, I would bet that Jaso is the most available and most easily attainable player. He’s also the most uninspiring, though, as someone that only partially fills the need at first.

Danny Valencia

I nearly left Valencia out due to his character issues, but that hasn’t necessarily dissuaded the Yankees lately. The 32-year-old journeyman (he has played for seven teams since the beginning of 2012) is batting .272/.335/.412 with 8 HR (104 wRC+) in 310 PA, as he adjusts to being a full-time first baseman for the first time in his career. Those numbers are a bit skewed, though – he had a 53 wRC+ in April, but a 122 wRC+ since. And that 122 wRC+ is essentially the happy medium between his 2015 and 2016 seasons.

Valencia offers some positional flexibility, having spent time at first, third, and both corner outfield spots. His defense isn’t particularly strong at any position, though. I do like Valencia’s bat, but I do worry that his bouncing around the majors and last year’s fight with Billy Butler may be indicative of a somewhat toxic presence.


Each and every one of these guys likely represents an upgrade over Choi, though I wouldn’t be terribly enthusiastic about bringing Jaso or Valencia on-board. Jaso would need to be leveraged as a platoon bat in order to extract the most value, and Choi’s production at Triple-A, age, and five years of team control may just merit being afforded that same opportunity. And, as much as I try to avoid harping on unquantifiable concerns, Valencia’s history is disconcerting for such a young team.

That leaves us with Alonso, Duda, Frazier, and Hosmer. I won’t hazard any trade proposals, as mine would almost certainly suck, but I would be most interested in Duda, Hosmer, Alonso, and Frazier, in that order. And, depending upon the cost, I think that all four are worth kicking the tires on.

Mailbag: Tate, Refsnyder, Andujar, Hoskins, Sanchez, McKinney

There are 14 questions in this week’s mailbag, the final mailbag before the All-Star break. Seems like just yesterday we were talking about the final mailbag of the offseason. Anyway, RABmailbag (at) gmail (dot) com. You know what to do.

(Presswire)
Tate. (Presswire)

PJ asks: If Dillon Tate performs well in High A Tampa is he a candidate to be bumped up to Double A Trenton before the seasons end? To take it one step further if all goes well in 2018 would he be a legitimate option for the Yankees rotation in 2019?

Yes, I think the Yankees will move Tate up to Double-A fairly quickly if he keeps performing like this. It’s only three starts back from the shoulder issue, but so far he has a 1.47 ERA (1.49 FIP) with 21 strikeouts and three walks in 18.1 innings. Interestingly enough, Tate told Kelsie Heneghan all the time rehabbing the shoulder in Extended Spring Training allowed him to get his mechanics in sync. From Heneghan:

“You definitely have to make adjustments as you go up, but I’ve had a lot of work to do. Being down in extended really helped me iron some things out. I’m actually really grateful for my time down there because I got a lot of productive things done,” he said. “[I was] working on my delivery and getting comfortable with it and developing some more consistent fastball commands to help me get through lineups and working on my off-speed pitches.”

Last year it was reported the Rangers had Tate try to make some adjustments to his delivery, then, after the trade, the Yankees told him to forget all about that and go back to what worked in college. That’s not necessarily something that can be done overnight. It can take a while. This kid was the fourth overall pick in the 2015 draft — and the first pitcher taken — for a reason. He’s got some serious ability.

So, I think the Yankees will give him a few more starts in Tampa just to keep him close to the home base following the shoulder injury. I could see them bumping him up to Trenton before the end of the month. Depending how that goes, the Yankees could have Tate start next season at Triple-A. I think it’s more likely he returns to Trenton to start next season in that scenario, but hey, you never know.

Tate still has some work to do with his changeup and overall command, though I don’t think calling him a potential rotation option for 2019 is unrealistic. Heck, he could be one in the second half of 2018.

Nicholas asks: Don’t get me wrong, I’m still a fan of Refsnyder-but how long until he’s DFAed? He’s of no use with the glove and he’s bat isn’t enough to keep a roster space.

The Yankees aren’t going to cut Rob Refsnyder just for the sake of cutting him. He’s serving a purpose right now, and that purpose is sitting on the bench as the 25th man. Someone has to do it. I don’t want Tyler Wade or any actual prospect to be that guy when Starlin Castro returns. I’d rather Wade play everyday in Triple-A. There’s no harm in keeping Refsnyder around as an up-and-down depth guy. My guess is the Yankees drop him from the 40-man roster at some point before Opening Day 2018. Maybe in November when they do the Rule 5 Draft protection thing, or maybe at the end of Spring Training. Either way, he’s going to wind up on the Rays. Take it to the bank.

Asher asks: Given the doubts about his defense at third, any chance Andujar gets reps at 1B with Scranton now? He’s already on the 40-man, so it would give them flexibility later on given everything else.

It’s always possible, sure, but I don’t think it’ll happen. Miguel Andujar should be working on his third base defense more than anything because that’s where his future lies. Put him at first base and he’s just another guy. Keep him at third base and he could be an above-average player. I wouldn’t change up his development plan just to plug a short-term hole on the big league roster. Andujar is really starting to click at the plate and now the Yankees need to get his third base defense up to snuff. That won’t happen playing first.

Conor asks (short version): What about Rhys Hoskins in a prospect for prospect trade? We get a guy that we can try out right away and who could be part of our core if he can handle major league position. The Phillies receive a prospect further up the defensive spectrum or an arm. Maybe Wade or Andujar for Hoskins?

Hoskins is kind of a weird prospect. It’s tough to pin down who he really is. The 24-year-old went in yesterday’s game hitting .295/.387/.590 (167 wRC+) with 20 homers, 15.3% strikeouts, and 12.7% walks in 346 Triple-A plate appearances this year. And yet, when you read the scouting reports, they’re split on his in game power. MLB.com and Baseball America (subs. req’d) say it’s above-average while Eric Longenhagen and Keith Law (subs. req’d) say it might not even be average.

A right-handed hitting and throwing first baseman with average power isn’t anything special. Historically, right-right first basemen have to hit big to stick in the show. Ultimately, this is all hypothetical because I don’t think the Phillies are going to trade Hoskins. Tommy Joseph is no obstacle at first base and I imagine Hoskins will get a big league audition in the second half. I’d rather not see the Yankees trade for a first base prospect. There are so many first basemen available in free agency each winter, plus they still want to see whether Greg Bird can give them anything.

Hoskins. (Presswire)
Hoskins. (Presswire)

Anonymous asks: Do you think that the Yankees would consider getting Gary Sanchez some reps at 1B over the next couple of years to save the wear and tear on his body (ala Buster Posey & Joe Mauer)? Obviously his bat plays much better at Catcher, but it could lower the chances of injury, keep his bat in the lineup and potentially lengthen his career. Thoughts?

I don’t think they will. I think the Yankees will instead use Sanchez at DH more often. Mauer didn’t play much first base before transitioning over there full-time. When he didn’t catch, he either sat out completely or served as the DH. Posey would DH more often if, you know, the NL had the DH. The big thing with catchers is their legs, right? All the squatting wears them down. Put Sanchez at first base for nine innings and that’s a lot of standing around. Put him at DH and his legs get more rest. Maybe they could put him at first base for one or two games a year, though I’d bet against it. Sanchez is too valuable at catcher and they want to keep him in the lineup as much as possible. DH days are the best way to get him in the lineup without making him squat behind the plate.

Anonymous asks: Would the Yankees consider moving Billy McKinney to first base? He is probably blocked in RF and doesn’t run fast enough for other OF positions, but has a great bat and power. There is certainly an opportunity at 1B with Bird out. And if they could throw Refsnyder out there to learn on the fly, why not McKinney?

The recent wave of “why not move this prospect to first base?” questions show how bad things have gotten at the position. McKinney has been awesome these last few weeks and that’s why I don’t think the Yankees will move him to first base. He’s on the bubble regarding the 40-man roster and the Rule 5 Draft after the season. I think it’s much more likely the Yankees keep McKinney in the outfield where he’s comfortable, hope he rakes these next few weeks, then trade him at the deadline. Giving him a crash course at first base to try to plug a big league hole seems … unwise. I’m not sure McKinney is a long-term piece for the Yankees. I think it’s much more likely he’s trade bait, and moving him to first base midseason carries more risk than reward.

Dan asks: Do the recent injuries to Torres and Fowler affect the Yankees ability to make trades at the deadline?

Of course. Their trade value is diminished, no doubt about it. I don’t think the Yankees were actually planning to trade Dustin Fowler or Gleyber Torres, but who knows what scenarios will present themselves? Now trading either guy at full value is impossible. Teams are going to use their injuries as a way to knock down their value and try to buy low on them. I know I’d want the Yankees to do that. Ultimately, I don’t think the Torres and Fowler injuries will have much impact on the deadline because I don’t think the Yankees were all that eager to trade either guy. But now trading them for full value is off the table completely.

Christian asks: A big splash for a starting pitcher or a buy low bullpen arm or even try and trade for an upgrade at 1st base?

The Yankees don’t do big splashes at the trade deadline. The was one was what, Bobby Abreu? I guess Ichiro Suzuki qualifies given his name value, though that was hardly a blockbuster considering what the Yankees gave up. I think it’s much more likely the Yankees take a 2014 trade deadline approach this year, and make a series of smaller “they got that guy at that price? neat!” trades rather than make a big slash. The big splashes tend to happen in the offseason. A reliever (or two) and a first baseman are my guess this trade deadline. Maybe even a starting pitcher if they decide to move Michael Pineda (or CC Sabathia?) before free agency knowing he’s not a qualifying offer candidate.

Anonymous asks: Why is Aaron Judge batting second when he leads the majors in HR, the league in RBI, is 3rd in BA, and 4th in RBI? He has no one on base to drive in in his first two plate appearances every time Gardner doesn’t get on base to start the game and Judge’s second PA is leading off the 3rd or 4th inning (Yanks put four men on in the first two innings or only one on in the first three.)

Batting second got Judge an extra at-bat in Wednesday’s game, remember. The lineup is so short right now due to injuries that I have no problem with Joe Girardi stacking the best hitters at the top of the lineup to get them as many chances as possible. Who could the Yankees hit second in the meantime anyway? Didi Gregorius? Jacoby Ellsbury? Chase Headley? Ronald Torreyes? I love Didi, but no thanks. A healthy Aaron Hicks would be the ideal No. 2 hitter, as long as he continues to hit like he did earlier this season. With Hicks (and Bird and Castro and Matt Holliday) all out of action, stack the best hitters up high and bat Judge second. It works for me. Imagine watching Ellsbury hit another grounder to the right side to end Wednesday’s game with Judge standing in the on-deck circle. Goodness.

Wade. (Presswire)
Wade. (Presswire)

John asks: Do the Yankees/Girardi not trust Tyler Wade defensively at 2B? Would he be better served getting ABs and more positional experience at AAA if they only trust him defensively in the OF currently?

I don’t get it all. Torreyes has started at second base against a right-handed pitcher twice in the last five games. Wade has played plenty of second base in the minors over the years, and while that doesn’t necessarily mean Girardi and the Yankees are comfortable with his defense, it’s hard to think that’s the reason. If they want to sit him against lefties, fine, it works for me. But Wade should be playing second base against righties, especially when the alternative is Torreyes.

Matthew asks: As we’ve seen the Yankees struggle with consistency from the rotation this season and also watched as Yankees showed little to no interest in signing big-time free agent starters over the past 3 offseasons, do you think it was a mistake for the team to pass of signing any top guys such as Greinke, Price, Scherzer, Lester, and Cueto? Out of those players, who do you wish the Yankees had potentially went all out to sign?

No on Zack Greinke, David Price, and Johnny Cueto. Yes on Max Scherzer and Jon Lester. And even then I’m still on the fence because those two are two and a half years into long-term, big money contracts. Sabathia looked great two and a half years into his contract too. I was surprised the Yankees didn’t make more of an effort to sign Lester at the time. He didn’t cost a draft pick (he had been traded at midseason and was ineligible for the qualifying offer), he’s an AL East battle tested lefty for Yankee Stadium, and the Yankees seem to love ex-Red Sox players. Scherzer is a freak. He’s getting better at an age when pitchers aren’t supposed to get better. Passing on Greinke, Price, and Cueto was fine. If you want to quibble over passing on a big name free agent starter, start with Scherzer and Lester.

Alessandro asks: Buster Olney speculated this week that Blue Jays could be prepared to sell at the deadline. Marcus Stroman has been mentioned and the Yankees have been scouting him. Obviously the intra-division angle makes this difficult, but could the two teams actually swing a trade? What would Stroman cost the Yankees?

I don’t see this happening at all. There will be way too much interest in Stroman for the Blue Jays to trade him within the AL East. The Yankees would have to outbid everyone else and by quite a bit to get Toronto to bite the bullet and trade him to a division rival. Remember, when the Blue Jays were trading Roy Halladay, they refused to consider intra-division offers. They have a new GM, sure, but everyone at the ownership level remains, and I don’t think that directive will change.

In pure baseball terms, a guy like Stroman is pretty much exactly what the Yankees need. A quality starter in his mid-20s with several years of team control remaining. He’s kind of an ass, but whatever. I’d prefer Aaron Sanchez to Stroman myself, though we still fall into the same intra-division trade trap there. Stroman is under team control through 2020, and while he’s not an ace, he is an above-average starter. I don’t think it would be unrealistic at all for the Blue Jays to ask for two top prospects and a good third piece. That said, I don’t see them trading Stroman (or Sanchez). Those are the guys they’ll keep and build around going forward.

Julian asks: What about Giancarlo Stanton for Ellsbury with no money going either way? The Marlins needs to free up some cash for their sale and FOX’s Ken Rosenthal speculated they could eat some money, which could be done in the way of Ellsbury’s contract. I know we have a pretty decent right fielder now… but could Stanton play left with Gardner going back to center?

MLB should just fold the franchise and sell Marlins Park for scrap metal if they salary dump Stanton like that. I know Stanton has that big scary contract, but he’s only 27 and he’s really freaking good. Dumping him for a past prime veteran like Ellsbury would be so horrifically terrible for the Marlins. I think even Jeffrey Loria would understand that if you’re going to trade a dude like Giancarlo, you’ve got to get absolute studs in return.

Ellsbury has zero value to the Marlins. No marquee value and limited on-field value. The difference in their salaries beyond this season is about $195M and that’s only if Stanton doesn’t opt-out. If the Marlins are willing to trade Stanton for Ellsbury straight up, the Yankees should do it. I can’t imagine even the Marlins would be that desperate to unload his contract though. Stanton’s value transcends his on-field performance for the franchise. He’s their star player. He sells tickets, merchandise, and ad space. Ellsbury … doesn’t.

Michael asks: Does Betances going to this year’s All Star game surprise you? To answer my own question before you do, I’m guessing either A – Francona picked him and the other pitchers in mid to late June (before Betances struggled and had All Star numbers) or B – Francona picked him due to his great track record (made previous 3 all star games).

Not one bit. I mentioned this yesterday, but as of last Monday, Betances had a 1.09 ERA (1.41 FIP) and opponents were hitting .140/.282/.151 against him. The players voted him into the All-Star Game and the vote was held last week, when he was very All-Star worthy. So he’s hit a rough patch since then. Big deal. It seems players around the league better appreciate Dellin’s impact than many Yankees fans (or Randy Levine). Betances will get himself straightened out mechanically and we’ll all move on. It would have been egregious to leave him off the All-Star roster when the vote was held.