Tampa bats turn in a slugfest in an 8-1 Yankee loss

Elsa/Getty Images

Pleasant weather didn’t mean a pleasant game for the Yankees. This was not fun to watch. The Rays had one of their best starters dealing while their bats barraged the Yanks’ arms, particularly Michael Pineda. The Yankees still won the series but not a lot of people will want to look back to this game. It’s the weekend so we’re going to do this gamer in bullet points.

  • That first inning: After getting two quick outs, Pineda gave up two big hits to surrender a 2-0 lead. With one strike away from getting out of the inning, Pineda allowed a big double to center to Evan Longoria and a first-pitch homer to Corey Dickerson. Oh the Rays weren’t done here. Former Yankee Steve Pearce hit a single to follow up and Brad Miller lined an RBI double to drive him in. 3-0. You thought they were done, right? Steve Souza Jr. crushed a fastball right down the middle for a two-run homer. 5-0. Well, they would make it six hits in a row with a Kevin Kiermaier double. Thankfully, Curt Casali popped out to end the inning. What a weird one.
  • The rest of Pineda’s outing: It went better than the first inning but “better” is a bit of a loose term here. In the next four innings, he did allow only two runs but they were two solo bombs by Steve Pearce (leading off the third) and Steven Souza (two homers for the birthday boy). Impressively however, Pineda struck out 8 batters in that span, making it 9 punch outs in five total innings. His swing-and-miss stuff was there but his gut-wrenchingly bad strike zone command was as well. His final line: 5 IP, 10 H, 7 ER, 1 BB, 9 K’s and 4 HR’s. Peak Mike right there.
  • The only one: New York scored their only run of the day in the fourth. Brett Gardner got hit by the pitch leading off and advanced to second on fielder’s choice out. A-Rod hit a booming double that missed being a 2-run homer by inches. His hit made it 6-1, which is better than 6-0 (I have no idea how else to sugarcoat it).  
  • The Glasgow Smyly: The Yankees had two innings with two runners on base against Smyly (fifth and sixth) and failed to score on both. They were 1-for-7 in RISP situations overall. Brian McCann went up to bat three times and struck out in all of them. A-Rod, who drove in the Yanks’ lone run of the day, had to be lifted in the sixth with a tweaked oblique. Don’t know how serious that is right now but it was one of those days for New York. If I could splurge on field level seats for a Yankee game, I would be so glad that it wasn’t today.
  • Leftovers: Kirby Yates was the best Yankee player today. He pitched two scoreless innings against his former team, striking out four and allowing only two baserunners (hit and a HBP). Good for him that he’s found his spot in the Yankee roster, doing all the dirty, non-glamorous relief work that someone needs to take on.
  • Box score, WPA, highlights and standings: If you do dare to look back at today’s game, here’s today’s box score, updated standings, WPA and video highlights.

The Yankees will start a 9-game road trip against the Rangers, Red Sox and Orioles tomorrow. Tomorrow’s game against Texas will be a 8 pm one and it will be on ESPN and YES. Enjoy the rest of the beautiful Sunday.

Source: FanGraphs

Sunday Open Thread

Here is the open thread for the rest of the weekend. The Red Sox and Astros are the ESPN Sunday Night game — someone at the worldwide leader really bought the hype, huh? — plus you’ve got NHL and NBA playoff action all night as well. Talk about those games or anything else here.

Game 17: Big Mike for the sweep


Even though the offense is not yet completely out of its funk, the Yankees are, incredibly, on the version of finishing their first sweep of the 2016 season. They’ve won the first two games of this series against the Rays, and this afternoon they send big Michael Pineda to the mound against left-hander Drew Smyly. The rotation has a 3.44 ERA and is averaging a touch over six innings per start over the last six games, which is pretty awesome.

I’m curious to see whether Joe Girardi pushes Dellin Betances and/or Andrew Miller for a third straight day this afternoon, something he doesn’t like to do. Betances and Miller have had very low pitch counts the last two days — Miller has thrown 21 pitches in his two games, Dellin 24 — so Girardi might be able to push it if the Yankees need either guy today. My guess is he stays away this early in the season. Here is the Rays’ lineup and here is the Yankees’ lineup:

1. CF Jacoby Ellsbury
2. LF Brett Gardner
3. RF Carlos Beltran
4. 1B Mark Teixeira
5. DH Alex Rodriguez
6. C Brian McCann
7. 3B Chase Headley
8. 2B Starlin Castro
9. SS Didi Gregorius
RHP Michael Pineda

Pretty great weather to end the homestand today. It’s sunny and there are no clouds in the sky at all. Picture perfect afternoon to go to a ballgame. Today’s game will begin a bit after 1pm ET, and you can watch YES. Enjoy.

Chasing the Pull

(Brian Blanco/Getty)
(Brian Blanco/Getty)

Things have not gone well for Chase Headley in 2016. This isn’t an argument; it’s plot summary for the season so far. As I write this, Headley’s line sits at .159/.296/.159 through 14 games and 54 plate appearances. He and Cardinals’ infielder Kolton Wong are the only two hitters in the Majors who are qualified for the batting title yet to find an extra-base hit this year. Unsurprisingly, Headley’s wOBA/wRC+ are in the tank at .229 and 40 respectively. While it’s still early and there’s plenty of time for Headley to rebound, there’s a continuing trend in his hitting that could be behind his lack of production.

Pulling the ball has gotten a bad rap in baseball of late, probably thanks to the emergence of the shift against hitters who tend to pull. Regardless o that, think of all the times you’ve heard an announcer call something “a good piece of hitting.” Chances are that ball has been shot back up the middle or taken to the opposite field, right? Both of those things are great, but rare is the time when someone will deign to call a pulled ball “a good piece of hitting.” For Headley, pulling the ball–or not doing so–has been at the heart of his production and the drop therein.

(Jim Rogash/Getty)
(Jim Rogash/Getty)

Chase’s production as a pull hitter has been dropping steadily since 2012. In that season, he had a .488/220 wOBA/wRC+ split on pulled pitches. As the years went on, those numbers declined to .433/185; .374/143; .359/127; .221/34. All of those–excepting 2016–have been productive. Those drops, though, are also reflected in his overall production; Headley’s season wOBA/wRC+ numbers have dropped each year since 2012 as well. There has also been a decline in power to his pull field from a high mark of .360 in 2012, followed by .277; .237; .206; .000.

Since Headley is a switch hitter, let’s break this down by left and right. As a left handed batter, hitting to right field, Headley has a career wOBA/wRC+ of .397/156. However, that split shows the same downward power/production trend that his overall pull numbers do as well. Scrolling down that page on FanGraphs, we can find his soft/medium/hard contact rates against lefties while pulling the ball. For his career, he hits 12.3/54.6/33.1. So far in 2016, those splits are 12.5/75/12.5. Finally, a glimmer of hope! His soft contact rate is right in line with his career number, but the other two are completely out of whack. Given the small sample of this season, there’s some hope that the hard contact rate climbs back up to where it should be, with production in tow.

If we look at Headley pulling the ball as a righty hitter, there are similar trends. Per FG, he actually has not hit the ball softly to left this season: 0.0/75.0/25.0 (soft/medium/hard). His career soft% to left as a righty is 12.3, just like his lefty number. Medium% and hard% come in at 55.9 and 31.7 respectively.

My original intent with looking into Headley’s numbers was to find something, anything, that we could hang onto as hope for a rebound. These numbers–along with the fact that his walk rate (16.7%) is above his career rate (10.0) and his strikeout rate (20.4) is below his career rate (22.4)–suggest that maybe something good is around the corner. As those percentages balance out and his hard contact rate moves towards his career averages, more hits–hopefully one or two of the extra-base variety–should come along for the ride.

Gardner’s walk-off sends Yankees to 3-2 win over Rays


A winning streak! Yes, it’s only two in a row, but my standards are low. Brett Gardner‘s walk-off dinger gave the Yankees a nice come from behind 3-2 win over the Rays on Saturday afternoon. They tried like hell to strand all the runners again, but Gardner wouldn’t let it happen. Good game. Would watch again.

I didn’t get to see much of the game again — I did see the bottom of the eighth and ninth after I remembered the FOX Sports Go app exists — so I can’t go into too much detail. The important points: Masahiro Tanaka was great, the bullpen was great, and the Rays did the Yankees a solid with some defensive miscues. Some quick thoughts:

1. The Yankees scored their first run on a wild pitch, but don’t ignore the walk and the single that set it up. Blake Snell was making his first career start and he had some jitters early, and the Yankees pounced. Yes, they stranded a runner, and yes one run isn’t a bit deal, but a run is a run. It was nice to get on the board quick.

2. Another strong outing by Tanaka. He did surrender the #obligatoryhomer, but it nearly soared foul, and it was only the second dinger he’s given up this season. Thanks to all those sinkers he’s throwing, his ground ball rate is a career high (by far) 56.7% through four starts. Tanaka is pretty awesome. It’s weird to me so many people seem to think otherwise.

3. Jacoby Ellsbury‘s 80 catcher interference tool came into play again. That loaded the bases in the seventh, and Gardner followed with a run-scoring infield single. He hit a rocket back up the middle that lefty Xavier Cedeno managed to knock down and keep on the infield. Even when the Yankees get a hit with runners in scoring position, it goes wrong. That should have been a two-run single to center. Instead they only got the one run.

4. Andrew Miller faced three batters and didn’t strike any of them out. What’s that about? Dellin Betances only struck out two batters in his scoreless inning too. Their combined season strikeout rate went from 21.0 K/9 and 63.6% to 19.6 K/9 and 60.7% in an afternoon. Lame.

5. Once upon a time, like three or four months ago, people wanted the Yankees to trade Gardner to add prospects and clear payroll. What a time to be alive. Gardy goes yardy:

Gardner went 3-for-5 on the afternoon and drove in two of the team’s three runs. He’s hitting .313./.441/.479 (171 wRC+) through 15 games. Brett can stay. Name him captain already.

6. An MRI showed Aaron Hicks has what the Yankees called “traumatic bursitis” in his shoulder, which sounds bad, but he’ll only be shut down 5-6 days before resuming baseball activities. The Yankees may stick him on the DL anyway so they don’t have to play shorthanded. Good news, all things considered.

Here are the box score, video highlights, and updated standings. Don’t miss our Bullpen Workload and Announcer Standings pages either. The Yankees will look to finish the sweep (!) Sunday afternoon. It’ll be Michael Pineda against yet another lefty, this one Drew Smyly.

Source: FanGraphs

Minor League Update: I won’t have time for a full DotF write-up tonight. Here are the box scores.

Game 16: Start A Winning Streak


The Yankees finally scored some runs last night, breaking out of the ugly offensive slump that led them to seven losses in eight games. Something as simple as a bloop single or as extravagant as stealing home can be what breaks an offense out of its funk. Hopefully the runs comes in bunches going forward.

The pitching matchup strongly favors the Yankees this afternoon. They’re sending staff ace Masahiro Tanaka to the mound against rookie Blake Snell, who is a very good prospect, but is still a kid making his first big league start in Yankee Stadium. Snell has had some issues with walks throughout this career. Hopefully the Yankees make the kid pay for his first start jitters.

I’m not going to have time to add the lineups to the game thread this morning, so I’ll instead link you to the respective Twitter feeds for the Yankees and Rays. They’ll have the lineups posted. The internet tells me it is cloudy and a bit cool in the Bronx, though there’s no rain in the forecast, so that’s good. Today’s game will begin at 1:05pm ET and you can watch on YES locally and MLB Network nationally. Enjoy.

Injury Updates: Aaron Hicks (shoulder) is still sore and has been sent for an MRI. Not ideal. He hurt himself attempting a diving catch last night … in case you missed it earlier, Branden Pinder does indeed have a torn UCL. He is currently deciding whether to have Tommy John surgery.

Update: Branden Pinder placed on 15-day DL with torn UCL


Saturday: Pinder does indeed have a torn UCL, reports Brendan Kuty. Yuck. Pinder has not yet decided whether to have Tommy John surgery, but yeah. Pretty much a formality at this point. Sucks.

Friday: The Yankees have placed right-hander Branden Pinder on the 15-day DL with a right elbow strain, the team announced. The move is retroactive to yesterday. Fellow righty Nick Goody was called up from Triple-A Scranton to fill the roster spot.

Pinder, 27, was the team’s main shuttle reliever last season and he figured to fill the same role this year. He’s appeared in one game with the Yankees so far, allowing two runs on three hits and a walk in one inning. Pinder started the season in Triple-A before being called up a last week.

The Yankees lost Nick Rumbelow to Tommy John surgery not too long ago, so they’re now down two of their main shuttle arms. A strain is, by definition, a tear in the ligament, though the Yankees did not say anything about the severity of Pinder’s injury. He may only need rest before returning to the mound.

Goody, 24, has been alarmingly home run prone in game action this year. Between Triple-A and Spring Training, he’s given up eight dingers in only 16.1 innings. Zoinks. Goody last pitched for the RailRiders on Wednesday, so he’s good to go tonight for an inning or two.

I wonder if the Goody call-up is only temporary. Luis Cessa, who was in the Opening Day bullpen, started and threw 57 pitches for Triple-A Scranton yesterday, so he’ll be out of commission for a few days. I wonder if the Yankees will call-up Cessa and send down Goody once he’s available. We’ll see.