Warren and bullpen down the Rays 4-1 to take the series opener

Before tonight’s game, New York and Tampa were tied at the top of the division with 11-8 records. Well, one of those two won and it happened to be the Yankees. New York now sits on the top of the division and it’s a very good feeling. Adam Warren delivered his best start of the season and the offense benefited from a few miscues from the Rays pitching to win this one 4-1.

A Warren-ted Compliment

(Source: Getty)

The fifth starter looked much better today than on his other starts. From early on, Adam Warren’s fastball sat around 94 and he located his secondary pitches well. In the first inning, he got into a bit of trouble with runners on second and third and one out — he struck out the dangerous Evan Longoria swinging with a changeup inside and James Loney grounded out. In the second inning, Warren struck out all three batters he faced — Brandon Guyer, Kevin Kiermaier and Tim Beckham — and it was quite impressive. I mean, if Warren can bring on well-located fastballs around 93~94 miles per hour and can throw slider or changeup in any count, I think he’d be a pretty darn good number five starter.

Only noticeable blemish Warren left was the sixth inning. David DeJesus singled to start the inning and Warren uncorked a wild pitch to Steven Souza Jr. to let the runner advance to second. Souza flew out deep to center, advancing DeJesus to third. With the infield in, Warren induced a grounder from Asdrubal Cabrera … and Stephen Drew threw a cricket-pitch-like bouncer to Brian McCann — DeJesus was safe at home and the game tied up, 1-1. Warren took care of one more batter and Joe Girardi sub’d him out for Justin Wilson.

Man, if it weren’t for the Drew’s faulty throw, Warren probably would have been the winning pitcher. But what is more valuable is that he went out, showed some really good stuff and dominated the division rival lineup to give New York a chance to win. Warren’s final line: 5.2 innings pitched, 5 hits, 1 earned run, 0 walk and 6 strikeouts. The last two figures look awesome given that he had allowed 8 walks and struck out only 6 in the previous 15 innings he logged before tonight. So yea, more of this please, Adam.

You just threw a football into the strikezone (Source: Getty)

Scoring… more than the opponent

I don’t think tonight’s game will go down as especially memorable or anything but the team did what it could do to get a win — sometimes, it takes mistakes from the opponent. The game was in a 0-0 tie in the bottom of fifth. Rays starter, Nate Karns, had been cruising through the Yankee lineup and his command fizzled a bit that inning. With the bases loaded and two outs, the Rays manager Kevin Cash, not wanting to take any more chance, sub’d him out for a fresh bullpen arm Brandon Gomes. However, Gomes showed even worse command and walked Brett Gardner with bases loaded. Oops.

The Yanks’ next run was way more exciting. With the game tied at one, McCann unloaded a bunch of power into a Brandon Gomes meatball and sent the ball towards the second deck in the right field. It was one of those shots that you knew was gone right off the bat. 2-1 Yanks. The ghost of Carlos Beltran followed it up with a line drive double to the center field wall. After Chris Young struck out, manager Kevin Cash brought in the lefty Everett Teaford to face Stephen Drew. I thought it was an interesting choice. Teaford had not pitched in the bigs since July 14, 2013 and he was mediocre in Korea last year (5-6, 5.24 ERA in 99.2 innings pitched with the LG Twins). Well, I guess they liked what they saw of him so far this year. He did not do his immediate job though — Drew doubled to right field corner to score Beltran. 3-1 Yankees lead.

Yankees scored again in the bottom of the eighth. McCann singled to begin the inning. Beltran and Young followed that up by striking out swinging (welp) but Drew singled and Didi walked to get the bases loaded. I thought it was quite odd that Cash did not substitute out Teaford by then. Instead, he stuck the lefty in to face Jacoby Ellsbury. On the third pitch, Jacoby took a 88-mph pitch to the right arm. 4-1 Yankees. Not the prettiest way to score but it’s a scoring nonetheless.


Warren pitched very well tonight but bullpen was flat-out awesome. Four pitchers — Wilson, David Carpenter, Dellin Betances and Andrew Miller — combined for 3.1 innings pitched, allowed only one hit and one walk and struck out 4. So good. So good. We all could get used to this. The unofficial 8th inning guy Betances dropped an especially nasty curve/slurve to strike out Asdrubal Cabrera to end the eighth and that was just unfair. Cabrera knew that he was gone as soon as the ball got to the mitt. Dellin just looks like an unstoppable force at this point.

Box Score, WPA, Standings: 

Here is the box score, win probability chart  and updated standings. First place, guys, first place!

Source: FanGraphs

Tomorrow, the Yankees will have Chase Whitley making the first 2015 ML start of the year as a spot starter. He will face the current Rays ace, Jake Odorizzi. Will the winning streak continue tomorrow at YSIII? We shall see. Would be sweet to extend the division lead and take the series at home.

DotF: Refsnyder, Bird, and Jagielo all double in losses

Check out this John DeMarzo article on 1B Kyle Roller and the adjustments he made prior to his monster 2014 season. The adjustments were more mental than physical.

Triple-A Scranton (6-5 loss to Gwinnett, walk-off style) they faced old pal LHP Manny Banuelos, who allowed four runs in six innings

  • CF Slade Heathcott: 2-3, 1 R, 1 2B, 1 BB
  • DH Rob Refsnyder: 1-4, 1 2B, 1 RBI
  • RF Tyler Austin: 0-4, 1 K — got picked off first
  • C Austin Romine: 1-3, 1 R, 1 2B, 2 RBI, 1 BB, 1 K — four hits in his last 26 at-bats (.158)
  • RHP Jaron Long: 4.2 IP, 7 H, 2 R, 2 ER, 1 BB, 2 K, 8/4 GB/FB — 46 of 72 pitches were strikes (64%) … 17 runs on 28 hits in 20.2 innings at Triple-A
  • LHP Tyler Webb: 2 IP, 4 H, 2 R, 2 ER, 0 BB, 2 K, 3/0 GB/FB — 29 of 37 pitches were strikes (78%)
  • RHP Branden Pinder: 1.1 IP, 1 H, 0 R, 0 ER, 0 BB, 1 K, 1/1 GB/FB — 12 of 16 pitches were strikes (75%)
  • RHP Nick Rumbelow: 0.2 IP, 1 H, 2 R, 2 ER, 1 BB, 0 K, 1/1 GB/FB — half of his 16 pitches were strikes

[Read more…]

Game 20: A Chance To Take Over First Place

(Mike Skobe/Getty)
(Mike Stobe/Getty)

First place is on the line tonight! Well, not really. It’s only April 27th. But still, the Yankees and Rays are currently tied atop the AL East with identical 11-8 records, so the winner of tonight’s game will have sole possession of first place. The Yankees have not held sole possession of the top spot in the AL East since May 18th of last season, and even that was only a half-game lead. The last time they led by at least one full game was May 13th, 143 regular season games ago.

The Bombers swept the Rays in Tampa Bay last weekend and now the two teams are set to play in the Bronx. Fun fact: tonight will be the Rays’ first outdoor game of the season. They’ve played their 19 games this year in Tropicana Field, Rogers Centre, and Marlins Park, which all have some sort of roof. Man, baseball indoors is drab. I’ll happily trade a few rainouts each year for stadium with no roof. Here is the Rays’ lineup and here is the Yankees’ lineup:

  1. CF Jacoby Ellsbury
  2. LF Brett Gardner
  3. 3B Alex Rodriguez
  4. 1B Mark Teixeira
  5. C Brian McCann
  6. DH Carlos Beltran
  7. RF Chris Young
  8. 2B Stephen Drew
  9. SS Didi Gregorius
    RHP Adam Warren

It’s a nice night for baseball in New York. A little cool and windy but nothing crazy. First pitch is scheduled for 7:05pm ET and you can watch on YES. Enjoy the game.

Awards!: Mark Teixeira was named the AL Player of the Week, MLB announced. He went 8-for-24 (.333) with five homers, four walks, and three strikeouts in seven games last week.

Andrew Bailey inching closer to return, may join Yankees sooner than we think

(NY Post)
(NY Post)

Sunday night’s game with the Mets was a textbook win for these Yankees. They got an early lead and made it stand up thanks to some stellar defense and an excellent bullpen — five relievers combined to throw 4.2 scoreless and hitless innings to preserve the lead. That’s exactly the kind of game the front office had in mind when they put this club together over the winter.

Thanks in part to that 19-inning game, we’ve already seen the Yankees cycle through several extra relievers these last few weeks. Matt Tracy, Kyle Davies, Joel De La Cruz, and Branden Pinder have all spent some time in the bullpen this year. The Yankees have plenty more bullpen options in Triple-A too, most notably Jacob Lindgren, Danny Burawa, Nick Rumbelow, Tyler Webb, and Jose Ramirez.

Further down the ladder is another more veteran bullpen option: rehabbing right-hander Andrew Bailey. He’s coming off major shoulder surgery but did get back on a mound in Spring Training and has been with High-A Tampa since the start of the minor league season. Including Grapefruit League play, the 30-year-old Bailey has thrown 10.2 innings across 12 appearances in 2015, pitching to a 5.06 ERA with 14 strikeouts and five walks overall.

At this point the actual performance is a secondary concern. Who cares that Bailey’s ERA is high in his first ten or so innings after missing nearly two full years to a shoulder injury? The most important thing is that he’s healthy and working his way back from his shoulder injury. Bailey’s usage has started to look like typical reliever usage too — he entered a game in the middle of an inning last week and pitched in back-to-back games over the weekend. Those are good signs that his rehab is going well.

Bailey was taken off the High-A Tampa roster and sent to Extended Spring Training yesterday, which usually means one of two things. Either he’s injured or the Yankees are preparing to move him up to a higher level. There’s no indication Bailey is hurt and it seems like he’s reached the point when a veteran pitcher would move up a level to continue his rehab. The question is which level, and is it possible that level is the big leagues?

The Yankees are planning to call up Chase Whitley to make a spot start tomorrow, so the bullpen is going to get reworked a bit. Someone (Chasen Shreve?) will be sent down to make room for Whitley, then Whitley will presumably go down for another reliever Wednesday. Shreve and Pinder can’t come back since it will not have been ten days since they were optioned. Lindgren took a line drive off his foot yesterday, so he may be sidelined for a few days. That leaves Ramirez and Burawa as 40-man options and Rumbelow and Webb as non-40-man options.

Those four may or may not be better big league options than Bailey at this point. Who really knows? There may be other factors to consider as well. Bailey’s minor league contract could very well have an approaching opt-out date, say May 1st or something like that. (Johan Santana’s first opt-out date with the Blue Jays was April 28th, for example.) The Yankees could call Bailey up soon to keep him from opting out. They have spent more than a year rehabbing him, after all. They probably don’t want him to leave and get zero return for their effort.

Either way, Bailey or no Bailey, the Yankees have a quality big league option and several options waiting in Triple-A if necessary. Bailey was a low cost flier who is making real progress from his shoulder injury, and there’s a chance — albeit a small one — he could join the Yankees sooner rather than later. Whether he can be effective is another matter. Bailey is an option though, and following Whitley’s spot start tomorrow, the club will have to turn to one of their bullpen options to fill out the roster.

4/27 to 4/29 Series Preview: Tampa Bay Rays

(Tom Szczerbowski/Getty)
(Tom Szczerbowski/Getty)

For the first time this season, the Yankees will play another club for the second time. They swept three games from the Rays at Tropicana Field last week and now Tampa Bay is coming to the Bronx for a three-game set starting tonight. The Yankees lucked out again and will miss Chris Archer. He started yesterday and has a 0.84 ERA (2.29 FIP) in five starts this year. Archer hasn’t allowed an earned run since Opening Day.

What Have The Rays Done Lately?

The Rays are coming into this series riding a five-game winning streak — they took the last two games of their series with the Red Sox last week and swept the Blue Jays this weekend, all at home. They outscored Toronto and Boston 30-12 in the five games. Tampa Bay is 11-8 overall with a +5 run differential. They’re tied with the Yankees atop the AL East, though New York has the better run differential (+21).

Offense & Defense

So far this season rookie manager Kevin Cash’s offense is averaging 4.26 runs per game with a team 113 wRC+. The MLB averages this year are 4.16 runs per game and, well, a 100 wRC+. The Rays are slightly healthier than the last time these two teams played, but they’re still without IF Nick Franklin (oblique), C/DH John Jaso (wrist), and 2B Ryan Brett (shoulder).

Loney. (Brian Blanco/Getty)
Loney. (Brian Blanco/Getty)

Obviously 3B Evan Longoria (152 wRC+) is the star of the show in the middle of Tampa Bay’s lineup. He’s been getting a lot of help from 2B Logan Forsythe (135 wRC+), OF Kevin Kiermaier (146 wRC+), and OF Steven Souza (141 wRC+) in the early going. 1B James Loney (217 wRC+ in very limited time), who was injured the last time these two teams played, is a Grade-A Yankees killer. He’s hit .351/.397/.511 in 45 career games against the Bombers and .282/.337/.412 against everyone else.

Among those doing solid work in platoon roles are IF Tim Beckham (162 wRC+), OF Brandon Guyer (135 wRC+), and OF David DeJesus (172 wRC+). Beckham has 37.5 K% and a .435 BABIP. Something has to give. SS Asdrubal Cabrera (52 wRC+) has been a drain on the offense so far, as have OF Desmond Jennings (65 wRC+) and C Rene Rivera (23 wRC+). C Bobby Wilson and IF Jake Elmore round out the bench.

Defensively, the Rays are at their best in the outfield thanks mostly to Jennings and Kiermaier. Souza is a quality defender as well but he’s not at the same level as the other two. Longoria and Loney are excellent on the infield corners but Asdrubal and the Forsythe/Beckham tandem on the middle infield are really shaky. Not Mets caliber shaky, but shaky. Rivera is a top of the line pitch-framer and about average at everything else behind the dish. Tampa is a very good defensive club despite the eyesore on the middle infield.

Pitching Matchups

Monday: RHP Adam Warren (Career vs. TB) vs. RHP Nate Karns (Career vs. NYY)
The Yankees got a look at the 27-year-old Karns last week, when he held them to two runs on two hits in five innings. He struck out seven and walked four. Karns has a 5.32 ERA (6.14 FIP) in four starts and 23.2 innings this year with mediocre strikeout (19.8%) and walk (13.9%) rates and an awful homer rate (1.90 HR/9). He does get grounders though (48.4%), so when teams square him up, they hit it a long way. Righties (.350 wOBA) have hit him harder than lefties (.314 wOBA) in the early going. Karns uses low-to-mid-90s four-seamers to set up his big breaking low-80s curveball, the pitch that is the reason he is in the big leagues. He also throws a mid-80s changeup.

Tuesday: RHP Chase Whitley (Career vs. TB) vs. RHP Jake Odorizzi (Career vs. NYY)
Odorizzi, 25, may have improved his long-term outlook more than any other pitcher over the last 18 months or so. He has a 1.65 ERA (2.43 FIP) in 27.1 innings across four starts in 2015 with good peripherals — 21.6 K%, 7.8 BB%, 42.3 GB%, no homers allowed — and no platoon split. Odorizzi improved his stock by learning a filthy mid-80s splitter from teammate Alex Cobb. It gave him the swing-and-miss pitch he needed to be anything more than a back-end starter. He also throws low-90s four-seamers, mid-80s cutters, and a few slow upper-60s curveballs. It’s almost like an eephus pitch. The Yankees saw Odorizzi last weekend and scored three runs in six innings. He did strike out nine though, including six with the splitter. Whitley is coming up to make the spot start for the Yankees tomorrow, in case you missed it yesterday.

Smyly. (Tom Szczerbowski/Getty)
Smyly. (Tom Szczerbowski/Getty)

Wednesday: RHP Masahiro Tanaka (Career vs. TB) vs. LHP Drew Smyly (Career vs. NYY)
Smyly was one of the pieces of the David Price trade last summer and he was excellent after arriving in Tampa Bay, pitching to a 1.70 ERA (3.07 FIP) in seven starts and 47.2 innings down the stretch. The 25-year-old southpaw came down with shoulder tendinitis in Spring Training and returned to the rotation last week, holding the Blue Jays to two runs in 4.2 innings with five strikeouts and no walks. Smyly throws both two and four-seamer fastballs in the upper-80s/low-90s as well as a mid-80s cutter. An upper-70s curveball is his top offspeed pitch and he uses a low-80s changeup against righties. The Rays held Smyly to an 80-pitch limit in his first start last week and I’m sure he’ll have some sort of cap Wednesday since he’s just returning from a shoulder scare.

Bullpen Status
Archer gave the Rays seven innings yesterday and all their key relievers got the afternoon off, so Cash’s bullpen is in good shape. RHP Matt Andriese (4.13 FIP) threw two innings as the only reliever used. RHP Brad Boxberger (1.01 FIP) is the relief ace — Cash has used him mostly as the closer but did bring him into a game in the seventh inning last week to face the heart of the Red Sox order in a big spot and put out a potentially big fire. RHP Kevin Jepsen (1.68 FIP) is the team’s other high-leverage reliever.

RHP Ernesto Frieri (7.78 FIP), RHP Brandon Gomes (1.47 FIP), and RHP Steve Geltz (4.35 FIP) are Tampa Bay’s middle innings righties. Frieri has allowed three homers in 8.2 innings this year and 25 homers in 119 innings since the start of 2013 (1.9 HR/9). He throws hard but man, when he makes a mistake, it gets hit a mile. LHP Everett Teaford was just called up and is the only southpaw in the bullpen. He has yet to appear in a game. Head over to our Bullpen Workload page for the status of the Yankees’ bullpen them head over to DRays Bay and The Process Report for some great analysis of the Rays.

Yankeemetrics: April 24-26 (Mets)

We love to hit homers! (Photo: NJ.com)
We love to hit homers! (Photo: NJ.com)

The two hottest teams in baseball met in the Bronx on Friday night but only one left the stadium with their win streak intact. The Yankees handed the Mets their first loss in 12 games and won their fourth game in a row, taking the opener of the first-ever edition of the Subway Series between two first-place teams.

Mark Teixeira provided nearly all of the offense, hitting two homers and driving in four of the Yankees six runs. He joined Tony Clark (2004) as the only Yankee first baseman with a multi-homer game against the Mets.

Following Friday’s game, Tex had 12 hits and 11 of those were for extra bases (seven homers, four doubles). According to the Elias Sports Bureau, he is just the second player since 1900 that had at least 11 extra base hits among his first 12 hits of the season. Adam Dunn did it for the Reds in 2005.

Michael Pineda delivered an ace-like performance, allowing one run on five hits while pitching into the eighth inning. He pounded the strike zone all night, throwing 78 of his 100 pitches for strikes. That is a career-high number of strikes for Pineda, and also the highest strike percentage (min. 100 pitches) by any Yankee pitcher since Randy Johnson threw 86 strikes among his 110 pitches (78.2 percent) on June 16, 2005 against the Pirates.

Large Lefty comes up small
Coming off a vintage performance against the Tigers (8 IP, 2 R) and facing a team he has dominated in his career (2.14 ERA in five starts), CC Sabathia entered Saturday’s matchup vs. the Mets looking to clinch the series for the Yankees. Instead, he had his worst outing of the season and fell to 0-4 in four starts this year.

Sabathia is the second Yankee in the last 30 years to lose his first four starts of the season. Kevin Brown also went 0-4 in his first four outings of the 2005 season. The last Yankee southpaw to do it was Fritz Peterson in 1972. Sabathia also extended his winless streak to seven starts dating back to last year, the longest such drought of his career.

The lone highlight for the Yankees was once again Teixeira, who went 3-for-4 and clubbed another homer. That gave him eight home runs in the team’s first 18 games, a feat achieved by only five other Yankees: Alex Rodriguez (2007), Graig Nettles (1974), Mickey Mantle (1956, 1961), Yogi Berra (1956), Babe Ruth (1921).

Matt Harvey dominated the Yankees lineup for the second time in two career starts against the team he rooted for as a kid growing up in Connecticut. He is one of two pitchers in the last 100 years with at least eight innings pitched, seven strikeouts and no more than two runs allowed in each of his first two career games against the Yankees. The other is Ray Culp, who did it for the Red Sox in 1968.

What a relief
The Yankees earned bragging rights in New York City with a 6-4 victory on Sunday night, giving them the Subway Series win. The hero of the game was the bullpen, which threw 4 2/3 scoreless, hitless innings after starter Nathan Eovaldi got rocked by the Mets.

Andrew Miller, the team’s fifth reliever of the game, closed out the win with a scoreless ninth inning for his seventh save of the season in seven tries. Since saves became an official statistic in 1969, he is now the first pitcher to convert his first seven save chances in a Yankee uniform, without allowing more than one hit in each of those games.

This was not a pretty game from a defensive standpoint. The Mets committed four errors in the game, the most they’ve ever had in a game against the Yankees, and the home team also committed two errors. The six combined errors is one shy of the record for a Subway Series game, set on May 20, 2006 when the Yankees had four and the Mets had three.

Alex Rodriguez drove in the Yankees first run with his 659th career homer. So when’s he gonna hit the next one to tie Willie Mays for fourth on the all-time list? Facing the pressure of reaching a couple other milestones, he went 51 plate appearances between No. 599 and 600, and 37 plate appearances between No. 499 and 500.

Fan Confidence Poll: April 27th, 2015

Record Last Week: 5-2 (35 RS, 26 RA)
Season Record: 11-8 (99 RS, 82 RA, 11-8 pythag. record)
Opponents This Week: vs. Rays (three games, Mon. to Weds.), Thurs. OFF, @ Red Sox (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?