Game 116: Rubber Game

Bat Gary 1-9 and maybe no one will notice. (Rich Schultz/Getty)
Bat Gary in all nine spots and maybe no one will notice. (Rich Schultz/Getty)

The Yankees and Red Sox have split the first two games of this game three-game series, which means tonight’s series finale is the difference between being 3.5 games back in the AL East or 5.5 games back in the AL East come Monday morning. There are still 46 games to play after tonight, but at some point the Yankees have to stop treading water, you know? The division title is within reach. It’s not going to win itself though.

Now, the bad news: tonight the Yankees are facing Chris Sale, who has been the best pitcher in the AL all season. His numbers are insane: 2.57 ERA (1.98 FIP) with 36.5% strikeouts and 4.6% walks. HOWEVA, the Yankees have won both times they faced Sale this season. Don’t get me wrong, he pitched great (two earned runs in 15.2 innings), but eking out a win is possible against him. Here is the Red Sox lineup and here is the Yankees’ lineup:

  1. LF Brett Gardner
  2. CF Aaron Hicks
  3. RF Aaron Judge
  4. DH Gary Sanchez
  5. 3B Todd Frazier
  6. SS Didi Gregorius
  7. 1B Chase Headley
  8. 2B Ronald Torreyes
  9. C Austin Romine
    LHP Jordan Montgomery

The weather was pretty much perfect for baseball all afternoon. Too bad this game had to be played tonight. It’s a little cloudy in New York right now, though there’s no rain in the forecast, and that’s the most important thing. Tonight’s game will begin at 8pm ET and ESPN will have the broadcast. Enjoy.

Injury Updates: Greg Bird (ankle) will begin a minor league rehab assignment Wednesday while Starlin Castro (hamstring) will begin one Friday … Matt Holliday (back) took batting practice today. I guess that means he’s inching closer to a return.

Roster Move: The Yankees sent down Gio Gallegos and called up Caleb Smith, the team announced. Smith was scheduled to start for Triple-A Scranton today, so he’s available for very long relief, which I hope is not necessarily. Joe Girardi said Luis Cessa is tentatively scheduled to start in Masahiro Tanaka‘s place tomorrow.

Sunday Links: Walker, Best Tools, Bullpen, Food Safety

Random photo is random. (Rich Schultz/Getty)
Random photo is random. (Rich Schultz/Getty)

The Yankees and Red Sox will wrap up their three-game weekend series with the ESPN Sunday Night Game later today. The game should end sometime Monday morning. Anyway, here are some bits of news and notes to check out.

Yankees, Mets had Walker deal

More Yankees-Mets trade deadline drama. According to Mike Puma, the Yankees and Mets agreed to a Neil Walker trade prior to the trade deadline, but the Yankees backed out due to medical concerns. Puma says the Mets believe the Yankees used the medical concerns as an excuse to back out after finishing the Sonny Gray trade. Hmmm. Walker returned from a partially torn hamstring a few days before the trade deadline and had back surgery late last year.

Walker, 31, was traded to the Brewers last night and is hitting .264/.339/.442 (107 wRC+) with ten home runs in 299 plate appearances this season. Although he’s primarily a second baseman, the Mets also used Walker at first and third bases. He’s an impending free agent and the Yankees would have presumably used Walker at second base until Starlin Castro returned, then shifted him into a utility role. Eh, whatever. I don’t know about you, but I’m getting a little sick of this Yankees-Mets drama.

Baseball America’s best tools survey

One of my favorite features of the year is Baseball America’s annual best tools survey. They poll managers and coaches and scouts about the best tools and players in their leagues, from MLB all the way down to Low-A. Here’s where the various Yankees ranked:

Bell, the longtime big leaguer, is in his first season managing High-A Tampa after spending 2013 as the Pirates hitting coach and 2014-15 as the Reds bench coach. I’m curious to see what the Yankees do with him going forward. If Bell is a highly regarded managerial prospect as the survey suggests, either the Yankees are going to have to move him up the ladder, or they’ll lose him to an organization that will move him up.

Also, must be a down year for relievers in the Sally League, huh? Lane, who has since been promoted to High-A Tampa, is a 23-year-old former tenth round pick, and a sinker/slider lefty with middling velocity and a low arm slot. A classic left-on-left matchup profile. He’s got really good numbers this year, throwing 57 innings with a 1.26 ERA (2.26 FIP) and strong strikeout (27.1%) and walk (6.7%) rates. Not sure he’s much of a prospect though.

Yankees top ZiPS bullpen projections

Not surprisingly, the Yankees sit atop the ZiPS bullpen projections for the rest of the season, so says Dan Szymborski. Projections don’t really mean anything, of course. They’re not predictions. They’re more like an estimate of talent level. Anyway, here’s what ZiPS has to say about New York’s new-look bullpen:

Dellin Betances and Aroldis Chapman was already one of the best, if not THE best, one-two relief punch in baseball. Now you add in David Robertson and Tommy Kahnle, the latter possibly the most underappreciated player acquired this deadline. Even Adam Warren has been lights-out, with a 1.97 ERA/2.69 FIP. Not to mention the team’s remaining big acquisition: Adding the complete absence of Tyler Clippard.

The bullpen before the Robertson/Kahnle trade: 3.39 ERA (3.33 FIP). The bullpen since the Robertson/Kahnle trade: 2.09 ERA (2.64 FIP). That 3.39 ERA (3.33 FIP) before the trade is a little deceiving too, because Jonathan Holder and especially Clippard had become wholly unreliable. They started the season well before crashing hard. The Yankees needed to fix their bullpen at the trade deadline, and they did exactly that. Too bad the starters are all getting hurt and the offense has since gone in the tank.

Yankees lagging in food safety rankings

Earlier this week Tanner Walters, using public inspection records, compiled ballpark food safety rankings. How clean are the facilities, is everything stored properly, so on and so forth. Yankee Stadium ranks 21st among the 28 parks in the rankings (data wasn’t available for Progressive Field or Comerica Park), and ranking 21st among 28 teams seems not good? From Walters:

Yankee Stadium led the league with critical violations (62% of its stands), and an infestation of flies highlighted the inspections from late July in the Bronx. Inspectors handed out citations at over a dozen food entities around the ballpark for observation of flies and improper vermin-proofing. The city doesn’t give detailed observations in its reports, but nearly a quarter of the stadium’s violations came from improper maintenance for non-food surfaces. Last year, even without a fly problem, Yankee Stadium would have finished in the same spot in our rankings. The ballpark had fewer overall violations but more that were critical, mostly from the restaurants and suites.

Kinda gross! Even with recent improvements, the concessions at Yankee Stadium lag big time in quality and selection behind the rest of the league — the concessions at Citi Field are so much better it’s not even funny, and it’s not just Shake Shack — and apparently they’re lacking in cleanliness and proper food safety too. Yuck.

DotF: Estevan Florial stays red hot in Tampa’s win

Got some links and notes to pass along:

  • RHP Domingo Acevedo ranked 18th on this week’s Prospect Hot Sheet. Acevedo got hammered in the Futures Game and in his first start back, but since then, he’s posted a 2.16 ERA (3.02 FIP) with 29.5% strikeouts and 8.4% walks in five starts and 25 innings.
  • Make sure you don’t miss Randy Miller’s interview with LHP Justus Sheffield. They touched on a number of things, and Sheffield also provided an update on his oblique injury. He feels 100% physically and has resumed throwing, and there’s at least a chance he’ll be back before the end of the regular season.
  • Two articles worth checking out: Jim Callis on how the Yankees went from sellers to contenders in a year, and Jeff Passan on the best farm systems in baseball. Even after all the trades, the consensus in baseball is that the Yankees still have a top four farm system. Neat.

Triple-A Scranton (6-3 loss to Durham)

  • LF Mason Williams: 1-4
  • CF Jake Cave: 2-4, 1 R, 1 K — he’s hitting .360/.401/.603 in 37 games since July 1st
  • 1B Tyler Austin: 0-4, 2 K
  • RF Billy McKinney: 2-4, 1 RBI, 2 K — threw a runner out at third … 21-for-55 (.382) with five doubles, two triples, and six homers in his last 14 games
  • RHP Brady Lail: 6 IP, 4 H, 1 R, 1 ER, 0 BB, 4 K, 9/2 GB/FB — 53 of 84 pitches were strikes (63%)

[Read more…]

Red Sox 10, Yankees 5: Severino’s worst start of the season comes at a bad time

Source: FanGraphs

Well that was an ugly follow up to Friday night’s thrilling comeback win. The Yankees jumped out to an early lead Saturday afternoon and everything was looking great … and then it all came crashing down. Luis Severino had his worst start of the season and that was that. The final score was 10-5. It’s Saturday and I haven’t taken the easy way out in a while now, so let’s recap this one with bullet points:

  • An Early Lead: Gary Sanchez hit one of the silliest home runs I’ve ever seen. It looked like a late defensive swing on a fastball, and off the bat, I thought it was going way foul. Instead, Sanchez managed to keep it fair and into the short porch for a two-run home run. I have no idea how he kept it fair. The official measurement on that home run was 364 feet. It wasn’t a cheapie. Gary got it good. The Yankees took a quick 2-0 lead in the first.
  • Sevy’s Dud: Did Severino get hurt by some bad defense behind him? Yes. But he also walked the Nos. 8 and 9 hitters in the second inning, and put two pitches on a tee for Andrew Benintendi, who hit a pair of three-run home runs. Severino started great too. Seven quick outs and he was dominant. Then he couldn’t put Christian Vazquez or Jackie Bradley Jr. away in the third inning, and it snowballed. His final line: 4.1 IP, 8 H, 10 R, 8 ER, 2 BB, 4 K. Yeesh. It happens, so shake it off and do better in five days.
  • Too Little, Too Late: After the Red Sox took a 5-2 lead in the third, the Yankees had a golden opportunity in the fourth inning. Two singles and a walk loaded the bases with no outs! Jacoby Ellsbury got a run in with a weak ground ball to cut the deficit to 5-3. And that was it. Ronald Torreyes popped up in foul territory on the first pitch, and Brett Gardner flew out. Chase Headley and Ellsbury hit back-to-back homers in the ninth, but by then the game was out of hand.
  • Leftovers: Good afternoon for the bullpen, at least. Gio Gallegos chewed up 2.2 innings and Bryan Mitchell threw two. No runs allowed. I guess this means Mitchell isn’t starting in place of Masahiro Tanaka on Monday? … Todd Frazier went 0-for-3 with a walk and made a crucial error in that third inning. I didn’t think he had a chance to turn a double play with Eduardo Nunez running, but he should’ve gotten at least one out. Instead, he bobbled the transfer and got zero outs, loading the bases … Sanchez, Headley, and Didi Gregorius each went 2-for-4. The rest of the Yankees went 3-for-24 (.185).

Here are the box score, video highlights, and updated standings. Don’t miss our Bullpen Workload page either. The Yankees and Red Sox will wrap up this three-game series Sunday night, during the ESPN Sunday Night Game. Chris Sale and Jordan Montgomery will be on the mound. Montgomery will indeed make that start after taking a line drive to the head during batting practice.

Game 115: Severino Saturday


Good win last night. Fun win. Now the Yankees have to do it again. Maybe it doesn’t have to be that dramatic — I would like an easy win one of these days, guys — but the goal is another win. The Yankees need to make up ground in the AL East race — they’re 3.5 games back coming into today — and there’s no better way to do it than by beating the Red Sox head-to-head.

Fortunately, the Yankees have their best starting pitcher on the mound this afternoon. Luis Severino is not just the best starter on his team. He’s one of the best in baseball. Severino currently ranks fourth among all pitchers in fWAR (+4.3) and sixth in bWAR (+4.5). He’s top ten in basically every pitching stat that matters. What a great season. Go get another win, Sevy. Here is the Red Sox’s lineup and here is the Yankees’ lineup:

  1. LF Brett Gardner
  2. RF Aaron Hicks
  3. DH Aaron Judge
  4. C Gary Sanchez
  5. SS Didi Gregorius
  6. 3B Todd Frazier
  7. 1B Chase Headley
  8. CF Jacoby Ellsbury
  9. 2B Ronald Torreyes
    RHP Luis Severino

Not a great day for baseball in New York. It’s cloudy and humid, and that means rain’s coming. The internet tells me the thunderstorms are due to arrive around 7pm ET and last for an hour or two. Hopefully they don’t interfere with the game. This afternoon’s contest will begin at 4:05pm ET, and you’ll be able to watch on YES locally and Fox Sports 1 nationally. Enjoy the game.

Rotation Update: In case you missed it earlier, Masahiro Tanaka has been placed on the 10-day DL with shoulder inflammation and Jordan Montgomery was hit in the head by a line drive during batting practice. Montgomery is scheduled to start tomorrow and Tanaka was scheduled to start Monday. The Yankees will definitely need a spot starter for Monday. They might need one tomorrow too.

Update: Montgomery appears to be okay after getting hit in head by line drive during batting practice

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

4:16pm ET: The Yankees announced that Montgomery was evaluated and cleared to start tomorrow’s game. Phew. That was scary.

3:44pm ET: Ken Rosenthal hears from a Yankees official that “it appears” Montgomery will be okay. Good news. The Yankees have not yet announced an official update on Montgomery or their pitching plan for tomorrow’s game.

3:34pm ET: According to multiple reports, Jordan Montgomery was hit in the right side of the head by a line drive while signing autographs during batting practice this afternoon. He was helped off the field and reportedly held a towel up to his head in the dugout for a few minutes before exiting back into the clubhouse.

The Yankees have not yet released an update on Montgomery, so stay tuned. I imagine he’ll go through MLB’s concussion protocol, and also go for an x-rays and other tests. A line drive to the head is no joke. Hopefully Montgomery comes out of it with a bruise and nothing more. Head injuries are scary stuff.

Montgomery is currently scheduled to start tomorrow night’s game, though the Yankees might have to call an audible. Bryan Mitchell, who threw 67 pitches in relief Tuesday, could get the ball instead. Caleb Smith is scheduled to start for Triple-A Scranton tomorrow and could be another option. We’ll see.

The Yankees placed Masahiro Tanaka on the 10-day DL with shoulder inflammation earlier today. They’re also without CC Sabathia (knee) and Michael Pineda (Tommy John surgery). Montgomery was recalled yesterday to take Sabathia’s spot in the rotation.

Shoulder inflammation sends Masahiro Tanaka to 10-day DL

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

1:03pm ET: Joe Girardi described the injury as fatigue, or a dead arm. There’s no structural damage and the Yankees are essentially planning to give Tanaka a ten-day break. He won’t throw for five days before getting back to it. That’s not so bad, as long as that’s all it really is.

12:24pm ET: The Yankees are down another starting pitcher. Masahiro Tanaka has been placed on the 10-day DL with shoulder inflammation, the Yankees announced. Gio Gallegos was called up to fill the roster spot for the time being. The Yankees are already without CC Sabathia (knee) and Michael Pineda (elbow). Pineda is done for the season with Tommy John surgery.

Perhaps the shoulder issue explains Tanaka’s rough start in Toronto three days ago, when he allowed three runs (two earned) in four innings plus two batters. Overall, this has been a poor season for Tanaka (4.92 ERA and 4.65 FIP), though he’s been much better over the last two months or so. He has a 3.33 ERA (3.64 FIP) in his last eleven starts after pitching to a 6.55 ERA (5.68 FIP) in his first 12 starts.

Tanaka’s next start was scheduled for Monday against the Mets, and the Yankees do have plenty of options to replace him. Bryan Mitchell is already stretched out and on the 25-man roster. Caleb Smith and Luis Cessa are sitting in Triple-A, as is Domingo German. All three of those guys are on the 40-man roster and eligible to be called up. None are within the ten-day send down window.

Chance Adams is a possibility as well, though he just started for Triple-A Scranton last night, so he’s not an option for Monday. The Yankees have an open 40-man roster spot. Adding Adams and calling him up at some point in the future would be a piece of cake. For what it’s worth, Smith is lined up to start tomorrow for the RailRiders and Cessa is lined up for Monday. That’s convenient.

There’s no word on how long Tanaka will be sidelined yet. I imagine he’s already had an MRI and all that. Sabathia received cortisone and lubrication injections in his troublesome right knee yesterday, and he’s scheduled to throw a bullpen session tomorrow. It’s possible he could be activated as soon as his ten days on the DL are up, meaning the Yankees would only need someone to make one spot start to fill in for Tanaka before Sabathia returns.

The Yankees called Jordan Montgomery back up yesterday and he’s going to replace Sabathia. Montgomery is on a 180-ish innings limit this year, giving him roughly 60 more innings to go this year. That seems like plenty to get through the season, no? Hopefully. For now, the Yankees are down yet another starting pitching. Good thing they got two at the trade deadline, huh?