DotF: Refsnyder’s hitting streak snapped in Scranton’s win

Got a bunch of notes:

  • A non-update on RHP James Kaprielian: he is still shut down as he deals with elbow inflammation, per Anthony Rieber. Kaprielian has been shut down a little short of three weeks now. Seems longer, doesn’t it? He was placed on the High-A DL on April 25th.
  • SS Jorge Mateo has been working out at second base, Brian Cashman told George King. He’ll play some games there before being moved up to Double-A Trenton. Sure seems like they’ll have Mateo and SS Tyler Wade split time on the middle infield with the Thunder. I thought they would slide Wade over to second in deference to Mateo, but Wade’s a legit shortstop prospect himself, so it makes sense to split time. Nothing wrong with letting Mateo try out another position.
  • Mateo was included in this month’s Prospect Heat Check, so check that out. “He’s still got 80 speed, but he can’t just get away with it anymore,” said a scout. I’m not quite sure what that means. I think the scout is trying to say Mateo is still a burner, though he needs to improve his reads and instincts as he climbs the ladder?
  • LHP Ian Clarkin‘s ten strikeout game last night earned him a spot in today’s Prospect Report. The report says he’s working with a lower arm slot than in the past, but his stuff is back to where it was before last year’s elbow injury, and that’s most important. Clarkin has always had a high arm slot anyway (2014 video), so a little drop should be no big deal.
  • The new-ish site 20-80 Baseball recently wrote up scouting reports on LHP Jordan Montgomery and RHP Matt Wotherspoon. Here are the links: Montgomery and Wotherspoon. Check ’em out.

Triple-A Scranton (4-2 win over Indianapolis)

  • CF Ben Gamel: 1-4, 1 R, 1 2B, 1 RBI
  • LF Jake Cave: 1-4, 1 R, 2 RBI
  • RF Rob Refsnyder: 0-4, 1 K — the hitting streak ends at 16 games
  • DH Nick Swisher: 1-4, 1 2B, 1 RBI, 2 K
  • RHP Luis Cessa: 6 IP, 2 H, 1 R, 1 ER, 3 BB, 6 K, 6/2 GB/FB — 64 of 100 pitches were strikes … with Luis Severino hurt, there’s a pretty good chance Cessa’s next start will in the big leagues
  • RHP Diego Moreno: 1.2 IP, 1 H, 1 R, 0 ER, 0 BB, 3 K, 1/1 GB/FB — 19 of 28 pitches were strikes (68%)
  • LHP James Pazos: 0.2 IP, 3 H, 0 R, 0 ER, 0 BB, 1 K, 1/0 GB/FB — 16 of 24 pitches were strikes (67%)
  • RHP Mark Montgomery: 0.2 IP, zeroes, 1 K, 1/0 GB/FB — nine pitches, six strikes

[Read more…]

Update: Severino exits Friday’s game with triceps strain

(Presswire)
(Presswire)

10:32pm: Severino has been diagnosed with a mild right triceps strain, the team announced. He will be shut down 5-7 days and is going to be placed on the DL. All things considered, good news. Or at least better news than expected.

9:22pm: Severino left the game with “soreness in the back of his right elbow,” the Yankees announced. He’s going for an MRI tonight.

9:09pm: Luis Severino left tonight’s game in the third inning with an unknown injury. The YES cameras did catch Severino grabbing at his elbow while talking to the trainer on the mound. Here’s the video and here’s Severino’s final pitch:

Luis Severino injury

Welp, the shake of the arm and the grimace on his face and the grab at the elbow during the mound meeting is all pretty disconcerting. Not ideal! For what it’s worth, Severino’s final pitch of the night was a 95 mph fastball per PitchFX.

Severino threw 81 pitches (!) and recorded only eight outs Friday. He allowed seven runs and was hit pretty hard all evening. Severino has struggled big time with his command all season and bad location is a common indicator the elbow ain’t right. It’s worth noting his workload increased nearly 50 innings (~43%)  from 2014 to 2015.

The Yankees are already without CC Sabathia (groin) and Bryan Mitchell (toe), so their rotation depth has been thinned out. Luis Cessa is the logical candidate to replace Severino; the Yankees rearranged their Triple-A rotation recently to line Cessa and Severino up in case they had to send Severino to Triple-A.

We’re getting ahead of ourselves though. The Yankees have not yet released an update on Severino, so stay tuned. Fingers crossed.

Game 34: Reverse Lock?

(Patrick Smith/Getty)
(Patrick Smith/Getty)

The ten-game homestand has gone about as well as we could have reasonably hoped so far. The Yankees took two of three from the Red Sox and three of four (!) from the Royals, and now they get three with the White Sox, who look totally legit as a contender. Lots of teams get off to hot starts and fizzle. I think the ChiSox are for real. The pitching is great and the infield upgrades they made over the winter are massive, especially defensively.

Tonight the Yankees draw Chris Sale, who is on the very short list of the best pitchers in baseball. They counter with Luis Severino, who has been one of the worst pitchers in baseball this year. It’s true. He ranks 109th in ERA (6.12) and 97th in FIP (4.92) among the 117 pitchers to throw at least 30 innings this season. That said, Sale comes into the game 7-0. Severino is 0-5. There’s only one way this game can end. This has reverse lock written all over it. Here is the ChiSox’s lineup and here is the Yanks’ lineup:

  1. CF Aaron Hicks
  2. 2B Starlin Castro
  3. RF Carlos Beltran
  4. 1B Mark Teixeira
  5. 3B Chase Headley
  6. DH Gary Sanchez
  7. LF Brett Gardner
  8. C Austin Romine
  9. SS Ronald Torreyes
    RHP Luis Severino

It has been raining in New York for much of the afternoon but it stopped just a few minutes ago. The forecast says there’s no more wet stuff coming tonight, so the game will begin on time. The game is scheduled to begin at 7:05pm ET and you can watch on YES locally and MLB Network nationally. Enjoy.

Injury Updates: CC Sabathia (groin) threw a bullpen today. It was his first time throwing off a mound since being placed on the DL … Jacoby Ellsbury (hip) is progressing and remains on track to return sometime this weekend. My guess is Sunday is the earliest we’ll see him.

Roster Move: Lefty Tyler Olson was send down to Triple-A to get Sanchez on the roster, the Yankees announced. They’re back to a seven-man bullpen and a four-man bench, though it’s really a three-man bench with Ellsbury banged up.

5/13 to 5/15 Series Preview: Chicago White Sox

$40M+ in career earnings for Melky. (Matt Hazlett/Getty)
$40M+ in career earnings for Melky. (Matt Hazlett/Getty)

For the first time since 2012, the White Sox are visiting the Bronx in the first half of the season. These series have been a staple of the September schedule the last few years for whatever reason. The Yankees and White Sox kick off a three-game series tonight. This is the only trip the South Siders will make to New York this year.

What Have They Done Lately?

The two best teams in baseball this season both play in Chicago. The Cubs have the game’s best record at 25-8 and the White Sox have the second best record at 23-12. The ChiSox’s +35 run differential is sixth best in MLB. They had an off-day yesterday and did lose two straight to the Rangers before that, but still. They’re really good. The White Sox have won 13 of their last 19 games overall.

Offense & Defense

As you’d expect given their record, the White Sox have a good offense this season, one that has averaged 4.43 runs per game with a team 101 wRC+. They started really slow before picking up the pace the last few weeks. Kinda like the Yankees, I guess. Manager Robin Ventura has one injured position player and he’s not really injured: 3B Todd Frazier (117 wRC+) cut up his lip pretty bad Wednesday falling into the stands to make a catch. He’s listed as day-to-day and I would be shocked if it keeps him out of the lineup tonight.

Frazier. (Tom Pennington/Getty)
Frazier. (Tom Pennington/Getty)

The ChiSox generally have a set lineup. RF Adam Eaton (122 wRC+) leads off, 1B Jose Abreu (104 wRC+) and Frazier bat third and fourth, and LF Melky Cabrera (122 wRC+) and 2B Brett Lawrie (137 wRC+) back them up as the No. 5 and 6 hitters. SS Jimmy Rollins (87 wRC+) and CF Austin Jackson (72 wRC+) have been sharing time in the No. 2 spot. OF Avisail Garcia (117 wRC+) and UTIL Jerry Sands (74 wRC+) are splitting DH time while C Alex Avila (82 wRC+) and C Dioner Navarro (64 wRC+) split catching duties. That’s the regular lineup. IF Tyler Saladino (41 wRC+) and IF Carlos Sanchez (30 wRC+) are the other bench players.

Last season the White Sox were the worst defensive team in baseball by almost every objective measure. They ranked dead last in UZR (-39.5) and third to last in DRS (-39) among the 30 clubs. The additions of Frazier, Rollins, Lawrie, and Jackson have improved things substantially. Melky still takes funny routes and Lawrie has a tendency to get a little crazy and make mistakes by rushing things, but otherwise the ChiSox have solid or better defenders all around the field. Huge, huge improvement defensively from last season.

Pitching Matchups

Friday (7pm ET): RHP Luis Severino (vs. CWS) vs. LHP Chris Sale (vs. NYY)
There was a time a few weeks ago when folks were talking about the possibility of a Sale trade in the wake of the Drake LaRoche nonsense. That blew over quickly, huh? Sale, who just turned 27, has a 1.79 ERA (2.76 FIP) in seven starts and 50.1 innings this season. He talked about trying to get quicker outs back in Spring Training, and the result is his lowest strikeout rate (24.9%) and second highest ground ball rate (45.2%) as a starter. He still doesn’t walk anyone (5.3%) and he’s tough to take deep (0.54 HR/9). Sale is death on left-handed batters and he chews up righties pretty good too. He averages about 94 mph with his four-seamer and sits a tick below that with his sinker. A sweepy upper-70s slider is Sale’s trademark pitch, but his mid-80s changeup is really good too. Everything plays up because he has that funky delivery as well. Sale is on the very short list of the best pitchers in baseball. He’s a Cy Young candidate year after year because his stuff is phenomenal and he’s as cold and calculated as it gets (GIF via @Nick_Pants):

Chris Sale bat

Saturday (1pm ET): RHP Ivan Nova (vs. CWS) vs. LHP Jose Quintana (vs. NYY)
The one who got away. Quintana, 27, spent the 2010-11 seasons in the Yankees’ minor league system, but the team opted not to add him to the 40-man roster to prevent him from becoming a minor league free agent, so he signed with the White Sox prior to 2012. He ranks tenth among all pitchers in WAR since then. D’oh! Quintana is off to the best start of his career this season, pitching to a 1.38 ERA (2.12 FIP) in seven starts and 45.2 innings. His strikeout (24.0%), walk (5.1%), and homer (0.20 HR/9) numbers are all excellent, though I’m not sure that homer rate is sustainable given his home ballpark and low ground ball rate (40.3%). Quintana is been hard on lefties throughout his career. Righties too, but not as much. He operates with low-90s four-seamers and sinkers, as well as a 90 mph cutter he didn’t have while with the Yankees. Pitching coach Don Cooper is renowned for teaching the cutter and that’s how Quintana picked it up. An upper-70s curve and low-80s changeup are his two secondary pitches. This dude’s tough. The White Sox are 13-1 in the 14 games started by Sale and Quintana this season, by the way.

Sunday (1pm ET): RHP Masahiro Tanaka (vs. CWS) vs. RHP Miguel Gonzalez (vs. NYY)
The Yankees tried to sign Gonzalez to a minor league contract a few weeks back, but he instead opted to join the White Sox because they offered a clearer path to a rotation spot. The ChiSox pulled the plug on John Danks a few days ago, creating a spot for Gonzalez. The 31-year-old former Oriole has allowed six runs on 14 hits and five walks in eleven innings so far this season. He’s struck out ten and made two starts. Gonzalez’s platoon split has traditionally been small because his mid-80s splitter/changeup hybrid is an equalizer against lefties. His fastball has sat in the low-90s early this season, and he also throws upper-80s cutters and upper-70s curves. Gonzalez’s game plan is get ahead in the count so he can go to the split-change. That’s it.

A good ex-Yankee. (Mike McGinnis/Getty)
A good ex-Yankee. (Mike McGinnis/Getty)

Bullpen Status

The White Sox were able to improve their bullpen over the winter by doing nothing. Two key setup relievers, RHP Matt Albers and RHP Nate Jones, returned from injuries midway through last season and gave the bullpen a nice boost. This year those two have been available since Opening Day. Here is their relief crew:

RHP Matt Albers: 16.1 IP, 12 H, 6 R, 4 ER, 4 BB, 11 K, 2 HR
RHP Scott Carroll: 2.1 IP, 2 H, 3 R, 3 ER, 1 BB, 2 K, 0 HR
LHP Zach Duke: 13.2 IP, 12 H, 4 R, 4 ER, 3 BB, 13 K, 0 HR
LHP Dan Jennings: 14.1 IP, 15 H, 4 R, 4 ER, 5 BB, 11 K, 1 HR
RHP Nate Jones: 14.2 IP, 6 H, 3 R, 3 ER, 3 BB, 14 K, 0 HR
RHP Zach Putnam: 13.1 IP, 10 H, 5 R, 5 ER, 3 BB, 14 K, 1 HR
RHP David Robertson: 14.2 IP, 8 H, 2 R, 2 ER, 6 BB, 17 K, 0 HR

Robertson is the closer — he did throw an inning in Yankee Stadium last year, so if he pitches this series, it won’t be his first appearance in the Bronx as a visitor — and Jones is the primary setup man. Jones throws really, really hard. Albers is in the setup mix too. Duke is manager Robin Ventura’s go-to lefty in the late innings. Putnam and Jennings are the middle men and Carroll is the long man.

The White Sox had an off-day yesterday, so their bullpen is as fresh as it’s going to get. Check out our Bullpen Workload page for the status of Joe Girardi‘s bullpen.

Yankeemetrics: Let the good times roll [May 9-12]

(Photo credit: Anthony Gruppuso-USA TODAY Sports)
(Photo credit: Anthony Gruppuso-USA TODAY Sports)

It is high, it is far …
The Yankees turned back the clock on Monday night, showing a rare display of offensive fireworks and power in their 6-3 win over the Royals in the series opener. They hit a season-high five homers, all of them in the first three innings. The Yankees entered the week with only 25 homers, tied for the second-fewest in the AL; they’d hit just five homers in their previous 11 games combined.

A five-homer game isn’t rare by itself, the Yankees have done that more than 100 times in their history, but to score only six runs … now that’s something. Only six other times have the Yankees scored six or fewer runs in a game they also crushed at least five longballs.

Royals starter Chris Young served up all five dingers before getting the hook in the third inning. He’s just the second pitcher in the Live Ball Era (since 1920) to allow at least five home runs and get fewer than nine outs against the Yankees. Rob Bell also pulled off the feat on August 1, 2001 in a game the Yankees won 9-7 over the Rangers at the Stadium.

Aroldis Chapman made his season debut and his left arm looked to be in mid-season form, with six of his 17 pitches hitting triple digits on the radar gun, per Statcast data. Four of those fastballs were 101 mph or faster, matching the same number that all other major-leaguers had thrown in the first month-plus of this season.

Small-ball wins games, too
One day after the Yankees rode the gopher ball to their 12th win of the season, they flipped the script and used a bunch of timely singles, doubles and productive outs to get lucky No. 13. This time it was the Yankee pitchers that were bit by the home run bug, allowing four longballs on the night.

The only other game in the last two decades that the Yankees won while giving up at least four home runs and hitting zero was September 25, 2014 against the Orioles. That’s not an insignificant game, if you remember. It was Derek Jeter‘s final home game, one that ended with The Captain putting a bow on his storybook career with a game-winning, walk-off single in the ninth inning.

Lorenzo Cain would have been the hero in Tuesday’s game, if the Yankees hadn’t pulled out the victory. Cain hit three home runs, becoming the first center fielder to do that against the Yankees since Ken Griffey Jr. on May 24, 1996. He also joined Bo Jackson (1990) and George Brett (1978 ALCS) as the only Royals to go deep three times against the Yankees. Finally, Cain is the ninth visiting player with at least three dingers at Yankee Stadium (including the postseason) — but the only other guy that was on the losing end was Brett.

Little Mike
The Yankees crashed back to reality on Wednesday night as their familiar failures resurfaced in a 7-3 loss to the Royals: ineffective starting pitching (see Pineda, Michael) and awful clutch hitting (1-for-13 with RISP). Their modest two-game win streak was snapped, leaving them as one of three teams (along with the Padres and Astros) this season that haven’t won more than two games in a row.

This is the latest into a season (32 games) that the Yankees have failed to put together a win streak of at least three games since 1925. That team had its first three-game win streak on July 30, in its 95th game, after sweeping the St. Louis Browns.

Michael Pineda‘s struggles in the first inning have become a significant problem – he’s now got a 15.43 ERA and batters are hitting .500/.535/1.026 against him in the opening frame – but his lack of control was also really troubling. He walked four guys and plunked two more, the first time he’s ever done that in a game in his career. The last Yankee to produce a pitching line like Pineda’s (six runs allowed, four walks, two hit batters) was Randy Johnson on April 29, 2006 against the Blue Jays.

(Photo credit: Anthony Gruppuso-USA TODAY Sports)
(Photo credit: Anthony Gruppuso-USA TODAY Sports)

Miracle on 161st Street
Our long national nightmare is finally over. With one swing of the bat, Chase Headley broke out of the most miserable slump of his career and did it in style, drilling a two-run homer to left field in the second inning of Thursday’s game. That was his first extra-base hit of 2016, snapping a 90 at-bat streak that was the longest to open a season by any Yankee player since Roy White in 1973 (93 at-bats). Hey Chase, keep your chin up: White somehow ended that season with 43 extra-base hits (18 homers, 22 doubles, 3 triples).

Starlin Castro and Didi Gregorius also joined the homer parade, powering the Yankees to a convincing 7-3 win over the defending world champs. The Yankees are now an impressive 10-1 when scoring at least four runs in a game, the third-best record in such situations, behind only the Cubs (24-2) and Mariners (16-1). That’s the good news. The bad news is that even after Thursday’s victory, no team has fewer games scoring four-or-more runs than the Yankees this season.

Mailbag: Trout, Tanaka, Pomeranz, Freese, Sabathia, Judge

Got 14 questions in the mailbag this week. We’re getting a lot of questions asking for injury updates on prospects (James Kaprielian, etc.), and folks, if I had any, I’d give them to you. I’d stick them in DotF or give them their own post if it was significant enough. Everything I know is on the site. Anyway, the RABmailbag (at) gmail (dot) com is the place to send us questions throughout the week.

Trout. (Sean M. Haffey/Getty)
Trout. (Sean M. Haffey/Getty)

Peter asks: If the Yankees emptied the farm would they have enough to trade for Mike Trout? Would the Angels want it? Should the Yankees do it even if it took the best package they have of Sanchez, Mateo, Severino, and Judge? My Trade Proposal Sucks, I know.

Angels GM Billy Eppler has said the team has no plans to trade Trout, and even though that’s the kind of thing every GM says about their star player, I believe him. Trout is too special to trade, even with the Angels looking worse by the day. I suppose it’s possible Eppler has some leftover love for certain Yankees prospect following his time in the front office, but I wouldn’t hold my breath. Not when it comes to a Trout trade.

Trout is the kind of player you trade anything and everything to acquire. How could the Yankees say no to a package that includes, say, Luis Severino, Dellin Betances, Aaron Judge, Jorge Mateo, Gary Sanchez, and Kaprielian? They couldn’t possibly say no. It is a heck of a lot easier to rebuild a farm system than it is to have the best player in the world in his mid-20s. I don’t think Trout will be traded, but the Yankees should call and offer everything anyway.

Matt asks: What’s the date Gary Sanchez would need to remain in the minors until in order to delay his free agency one year? Do you think the Yankees will call him up immediately after that date has passed to see if he can help generate some sort of offense?

The date has already passed. It was Monday this week. Austin Romine has been mostly fine as the backup and while Sanchez would likely be an upgrade, I don’t have a problem with the Yankees keeping him in Triple-A a little longer so he can play everyday. Romine’s playing well, so ride it out and maybe turn him into a prospect via trade come July. There’s no reason to make a change at backup catcher just yet. It would be different if Romine were stinking up the place.

Mendel asks: If Tanaka keeps up this kind of production, and the Yankees continue their terrible season, would/should they consider trading him at the deadline? And what kind of package can they get in return?

This question was sent in before the Yankees won a bunch of games over the last week. Obviously the chances of them selling — which were small to start with — have gone down quite a bit since them. If, however, they do take a plunge and sell later this summer, as unlikely as that may be, they have to make Masahiro Tanaka available. Don’t half-ass it. Put everyone on the table.

The Yankees could market Tanaka as a No. 1 starter with a year and a half of team control remaining, so he’d help you for two postseason runs. The Yankees should even be open to eating some money to increase the prospect haul. David Price was traded for two young MLB players (Nick Franklin, Drew Smyly) and a good prospect (Willy Adames), so that’s the benchmark for Tanaka. Two players you can plug into the big league roster — given the team’s roster situation, a starting pitcher would be preferable — plus a third piece.

Andrew asks: How does the Nationals re-signing of Strasburg affect their re-signing of Bryce Harper and the possibility of Harper signing with the Yankees if at all?

I don’t think it changes anything. I guess it shows it’s not impossible to sign a top Scott Boras client to an extension right before free agency, but Stephen Strasburg and Harper are two different people with different motivations. Strasburg is a pitcher who has already had a major arm injury, remember. That’s not insignificant. Harper is as confident in his talent as any player we’ve seen. He seems like the type determined to smash contract records. Harper is the kind of player who will go into free agency and take the biggest contract, no questions asked. If the Yankees make that offer, they’ll get him.

Jason asks: Humor me here, I’m just going to throw out a couple of names for you to opine on in case the Yankees decide to buy instead of sell or just shake things up a little bit: Nick Markakis, Carlos Gonzalez, Drew Pomeranz, Yasmany Tomas.

I don’t see the point in adding another declining veteran outfielder like Markakis and Gonzalez, even if they are still productive. At least Tomas has youth on his side, plus he’s right-handed, so he makes more sense than the other guys. The Yankees need to keep a spot open for Judge and it’s unlikely Jacoby Ellsbury is going anywhere, which means acquiring Tomas or CarGo or Markakis pushes Brett Gardner out the door. No thanks.

Pomeranz, who has a 1.80 ERA (2.61 FIP) with a 31.9% strikeout rate in 40 innings this season, has always been interesting. It’s a question of health, more than anything. He’s got an out pitch curveball and a lively low-90s fastball, so the stuff is fine. More than fine, really. Pomeranz just has no track record of staying on the field. He’s thrown 120+ innings once in his career, and that was way back in 2012. The Padres got him for Yonder Alonso and Marc Rzepczynksi over the winter, so I wouldn’t pay substantially more than that. How about Rob Refsnyder and Chasen Shreve, plus maybe a non-top prospect? My trade proposal sucks. I’ll roll the dice on a bat-missing southpaw with two years of team control remaining even with the health issues.

Pomeranz. (Denis Poroy/Getty)
Pomeranz. (Denis Poroy/Getty)

Travis asks: If the Nationals are in on Miller or Chapman at the deadline, what kind of return could the Yankees get (if they decided to deal either one)? Example: (my trade proposal sucks) Chapman for Victor Robles, Austin Voth and Trevor Gott.

Andrew Miller and Aroldis Chapman have different value because of their contract situations. Chapman is the better pitcher, but Miller has more value because he’s under contract for two years beyond this one. Back when he was a rental Miller was traded for Eduardo Rodriguez, and I think that’s the benchmark for Chapman. One stud young player. I’d love love love to see the Yankees get Joe Ross for Chapman, but I don’t think it’ll happen. Ross is too damn good at this point.

The Robles/Voth/Gott package would be a pretty good return for Chapman in my opinion. Voth is pretty close to MLB ready as a Triple-A starter, Gott is a bullpen option right now, and Robles is the top prospect lottery ticket in the low minors. He’s basically the outfield version of Mateo. Lucas Giolito and Trea Turner are presumably untouchable. I’d focus on Robles, Voth, righty Reynaldo Lopez, and outfielder Andrew Stevenson in trade talks. Here is MLB.com’s top 30 Nats prospects, if you want to look them over yourself.

John asks: Do you think the Yankees should look into acquiring David Freese? The Pirates have an excess of infielders with Kang back. What would it take to get him, and is it realistic? Thanks.

Freese would definitely make sense and I think he’s more realistic than most trade targets sent into the RAB inbox. (No offense, folks.) Jung-Ho Kang came back a few days ago, mashed two homers in his first game, and he’s been starting at third base ever since. Freese is basically a platoon first baseman and fill-in third baseman now, and Pittsburgh has Jason Rogers in Triple-A to fill the same exact role. (Rogers can play other positions too.)

Chase Headley is maybe possibly kinda sorta starting to hit a tiny little bit, but he’s still not hitting for any power, and at some point the Yankees will have to make a change barring a huge breakout. Freese, who is on a one-year contract, would be a fine fill-in. The Pirates could use some pitching help, both starters and relievers. Would Nick Goody or James Pazos for Freese work? I wouldn’t offer much more than that. Freese could fit though, yeah.

Andy asks: I’m looking at Mateo’s stats on Fangraphs and it’s tough not to be impressed. How does BABIP work for the minor leagues, though? Mateo’s .456 is outrageous, as is his 212 wRC+. Is it easy for good players to post really high BABIP’s in the low(ish) minors?

A .456 BABIP is very high even for the minors, but it’s not at all uncommon for top prospects to post sky high BABIPs. Kris Bryant had a .405 BABIP between Double-A and Triple-A in 2014, for example. Refsnyder had a .377 BABIP that same year. There’s a lot of bad in the minors. Bad pitching and bad hitting. That doesn’t mean it’s easier to hit, but pitchers make more mistakes and the good prospects don’t miss them. Given his speed, I wouldn’t be surprised if Jorge Mateo finished the season with a .400 BABIP or so. It’s not crazy. A .380+ BABIP in the minors doesn’t automatically mean a hitter got lucky. And the opposite is true for pitching prospects. A sub-.250 BABIP isn’t uncommon.

Paul asks: What is Girardi’s nickname for Aroldis Chapman?

Chappy! That’s actually not a Joe Girardi original though. People have been calling him Chappy for years now. It fits the standard Girardi nickname nomenclature, so he’s stuck with it.

Jonathan asks: I’m curious to see any promotion predictions you may have for top prospects. Player, current level, and when this year (if applicable) you think we might see them make the jump to the next level, then the next ya know? To the highest level you think they’ll reach this year.

Promotion season is coming up. They usually start happening in early-June and continue throughout the summer. Mateo to Double-A is the obvious one and I think it’ll happen next month. Tyler Wade will have to slide over to second and make spot starts at short. Mateo is the priority prospect there. Miguel Andujar could move up to Double-A as well. He’s had a strong season overall and did spend all of last year with High-A Tampa. Can’t keep him there forever.

That’s probably it for the notable position players, unless you count Sanchez and Judge getting big league time at some point. On the pitching side, Domingo Acevedo figures to move up to High-A assuming this recent lower body injury is nothing serious. Chance Adams could get bumped from High-A to Double-A, and Jonathan Holder going to Triple-A is an easy call. Kaprielian’s injury threw a wrench into things. He’s might be in Double-A right now if he were healthy. He could still get there if he comes back reasonably soon.

The Yankees have a bunch of injured players coming back (Luis Torrens, Wilkerman Garcia, Ty Hensley, Austin DeCarr) plus others in Extended Spring Training (Drew Finley, Jeff Degano) who are going to join an affiliate at some point. I think players like Wade, Dustin Fowler, Hoy Jun Park, Abi Avelino, Thairo Estrada, and Kyle Holder are at their levels to stay this season.

(Jim McIsaac/Getty)
(Jim McIsaac/Getty)

Anonymous asks (short version): What about trading CC Sabathia to the Giants?

The thinking here is Sabathia has pitched decently in the early going, he’s from the Bay Area, and the Giants have big time concerns at the back of their rotation. Jake Peavy and Matt Cain have been very bad. I would be surprised if Sabathia accepted a trade at this point though, even home to Northern California because his family lives in New Jersey full-time now. The salary is an obstacle; there’s no such thing as an untradeable contract, but Sabathia’s deal is as much a deal-breaker as any in baseball. I could see this if Sabathia were a rental. Maybe he’d be willing to go pitch in San Francisco for two months and try to get another ring. But a year and a half? That’s pushing it.

Paul asks: Anecdotally, people swing on 3-0 counts more often than even 2 or 3 years ago. Does the data back this observation up?

It definitely seems like more players are swinging 3-0 this season. Not only Yankees, all around the league. Offense is down and I guess teams think ambushing a 3-0 pitch from time to time will help them score. Alex Rodriguez famously hit his 660th homer last on a 3-0 pitch last year (video). Here are the league averages as far as back as Baseball Savant can go before it starts timing out:

2016: 7.4% swings in 3-0 counts
2015: 7.9%
2014: 8.4%
2013: 7.7%

Unexpected! I sorta love it when the numbers are the complete opposite of what my eyes are telling me. It’s good to be humbled once in a while. Anyway, swinging 3-0 has gone down the last few years, though we’re talking about a window of one percentage point here, from 7.4% to 8.4%. That’s not a huge difference, but it is a difference nonetheless. I’m guessing that come the end of the season, the rate will again be up around 8.0%.

Asher asks: Why the heck does Eovaldi not throw a 2-seamer more often? Pitcherlist pointed it out, and then perusing Fangraphs showed me that it has markedly more movement than his 4-seamer while carrying almost the same velocity (his max with the 2-seamers is still 100.7mph!) yet in his entire career he’s only thrown 545 of them compared to almost 6000 four-seamers.

I prefer Brooks Baseball for PitchFX info, and it says Nathan Eovaldi threw a sinker earlier in his career, but he hasn’t thrown it regularly since 2012. He threw zero sinkers in 2013, 36 sinkers in 2014, and none since. I’m not sure why he scrapped it, though I’m sure there’s a reason. Eovaldi probably didn’t feel comfortable locating it given the movement or something like that. It could be worth tinkering with again. I tend to think when a pitcher stops throwing a pitch all together, especially early in his career when he’s still looking to establish himself, it’s because it was one of his worst pitches and he kept getting burned on it.

Anonymous asks: Where do you feel Aaron Judge’s K rate needs to be in Triple A for you to be comfortable bringing him up to the majors? And, once he’s up, what should it be for him to have success?

I don’t think there’s a magic number, and really, the box score is not going to tell us when Judge is big league ready. He’s someone you’ll really have to see to know when he’s ready. Judge has a very specific weakness (soft stuff away) he’s set out to correct and his strikeout rate is nothing more than a proxy for that weakness. Even if he cuts his strikeout rate down to, say, 15%, he might still be flailing away at breaking pitches away. The flaw could still exist even if the numbers look great, you know?

Long-term I think Judge will settle in as a 25% strikeout rate guy, which is higher than average but not outrageously so. That’s Jay Bruce/Mark Trumbo territory. His first few weeks and months in the big leagues could easily feature a 35.0% strikeout rate though. There figures to be an adjustment period. As long as Judge hits for power, draws walks, and plays a solid right field, that strikeout rate is fine. I do not think he’s a budding superstar. I see Judge as someone who could become a +3 to +4 WAR outfielder, and maybe someone who has a +6 WAR career year along the way.