Game 19: Trying To Get Severino On Track

(Presswire)
(Presswire)

Want to hear something wild? The Yankees have won three of their last four games. Doesn’t feel like it, right? The offense still hasn’t snapped out of its funk, but the pitching has been much better of late, and the bullpen is making every lead stand up. Sometimes the pitching has the pick up the hitting and vice versa.

The Yankees are sending young Luis Severino to the mound tonight, and Severino has struggled in three starts so far. He hasn’t been awful, just pretty mediocre, and I don’t think anyone came into the season expecting mediocrity from Luis. Command of his secondary pitches, particularly his slider, remains the main issue. Here is the Rangers’ lineup and here is the Yankees’ lineup:

  1. CF Jacoby Ellsbury
  2. LF Brett Gardner
  3. RF Carlos Beltran
  4. DH Mark Teixeira
  5. C Brian McCann
  6. 2B Starlin Castro
  7. 1B Dustin Ackley
  8. SS Didi Gregorius
  9. 3B Ronald Torreyes
    RHP Luis Severino

The weather in Arlington is pretty scary tonight. There are thunderstorm warnings and apparently tornado warnings as well, but the worst of it is not supposed to start until later tonight. Every time I checked the forecast today the worst stuff seemed to get pushed back an hour. It’s supposed to start raining and raining hard about three hours after first pitch, so we’ll see what happens. Tonight’s game is scheduled to begin a little after 8pm ET. You can watch on YES. Enjoy.

Injury Updates: Alex Rodriguez (oblique) is feeling better. He took swings in the batting cage yesterday and again today. It doesn’t sound like he’s a pinch-hitter option yet, however.

2016 Draft: Dakota Hudson

Dakota Hudson | RHP

Background
A few years back Hudson, 21, was considered a fourth or fifth round talent out of Sequatchie County High School in Tennessee, but his strong commitment to Mississippi State caused him to fall to the 36th round (Rangers). This spring Hudson has a 2.82 ERA with 70 strikeouts and 24 walks in 67 innings for the Bulldogs. Last summer he had a 1.43 ERA with 54 strikeouts and 14 walks in 56 2/3 innings for the Hyannis Harbor Hawks in the prestigious Cape Cod League.

Scouting Report
At 6-foot-5 and 205 lbs., Hudson has the kind of big frame teams look for in a future workhorse starter. His best pitch is a darting cutter in the 88-91 mph range that he’s able to bust in on the hands of left-handed batters. Hudson sits around 92-95 mph with his straight four-seam fastball, and he also has a low-80s slider he’ll back foot to lefties. Neither his curveball nor his changeup are anything to write home about. The cutter is his go-to weapon against lefties. Control problems limited Hudson to only 34 total innings his first two years on college, but nowadays he has good control and improving command.

Miscellany
In their latest rankings Hudson is ranked as the 17th, 20th, and 33rd best prospect in the 2016 draft by Keith Law (subs. req’d), Baseball America, and MLB.com, respectively. The Yankees hold the 18th overall pick, and they really seem to value Cape Cod League success. Hudson does not fit the mold of a polished college starter. He has a deep arsenal and a big frame, but he’s still learning to throw strikes consistently. The pitches are there. It’s just a matter of fine-tuning some things.

Beltran wants to continue playing beyond 2016, hopes to manage down the line

(Al Bello/Getty)
(Al Bello/Getty)

So far this season Carlos Beltran has been the Yankees’ best and most consistent hitter, authoring a 115 wRC+ with four home runs through 18 games. He’s shown he has something left in the tank even at age 39, so it’s no surprise Ken Rosenthal (video link) reports Beltran hopes to play beyond this season. There had been some retirement chatter the last few months.

Rosenthal suggests there’s a chance Beltran will return to the Royals next season, the team that originally drafted him. Kendrys Morales, their current DH, will be a free agent after the season, so Kansas City has an opening there. Beltran was a star with the Royals from 1998-2004, and they did try to sign him two years ago, but the Yankees upped their offer to three guaranteed years and that was that.

The Yankees have been skewing young over the last 20 months or so, so it’s tough to see Beltran sticking around beyond this season. The team has both Aaron Judge and Ben Gamel waiting in Triple-A, plus others like Slade Heathcott, Mason Williams, and Dustin Fowler available as well. Give the Yankees a truth serum and I’m certain they’ll tell you they’d love Judge to step right into right field next year.

As far as his post-playing career goes, Beltran told Andrew Marchand he hopes to one day get into managing. “I’m a player, but I consider myself like another coach here,” he said. “That is something I have had that conversation with my wife. I think — if it happens — it would be a great experience for me to do, but, like I said, I’m not concentrating on that, but that is something that could be special if it happens.”

Beltran has long been praised for his work ethic and willingness to help young players — in his first camp with the Yankees, he organized a dinner event for the young Latin American prospects in the organization to build comradery — and those are two traits that figure to serve him well in any coaching or managerial capacity. And given his reputation within the game, Carlos will have no trouble getting his foot in the door.

Jumping from player to big league coach or manager is something a guy like Beltran could pull off, though most have to work their way up through the minors. The Yankees tend to hire guys they already know as minor league coaches (Marcus Thames, for example) and I’m sure they’d have interest in Beltran when the time comes. That’s a long way away though. Let him finish his playing career first.

Dietrich Enns pitching his way on to the prospect map

(Martin Griff/Pinstriped Prospects)
(Martin Griff/Pinstriped Prospects)

Over the last few seasons the Yankees have had some success turning late round draft picks into useful big league arms. Most notably, David Robertson went from 17th rounder to shutdown reliever. Others like David Phelps (14th), Chase Whitley (15th), and Shane Greene (15th) have proven to be valuable in different ways. Getting value from those late picks is pretty cool.

Back in 2012 the Yankees used their 19th round pick on Central Michigan southpaw Dietrich Enns, who, like Phelps and Whitley and Greene, was an unheralded college arm. Of course the Yankees liked his ability and believed there was something interesting there, that’s true of every pick, but it was easy to overlook Enns and assume he was minor league fodder. Just a guy to soak up some innings, basically.

Enns, now 24, opened this season with Double-A Trenton, though his rise through the minors hit a bump in the road two years when he blew out his elbow and needed Tommy John surgery. Here’s a really quick rundown of his career stats:

Level G/GS IP ERA FIP K% BB% GB%
2012 Short Season 22/0 42.2 2.11 2.84 18.9% 8.6% not avail.
2013 Low-A, High-A 28/8 82.2 2.94 2.74 32.7% 10.2% 40.3%
2014 High-A 13/1 25.1 1.42 3.15 26.3% 10.1% 45.2%
2015 Rookie, High-A 13/12 58.2 0.61 2.39 23.7% 8.6% 48.3%
2016 Double-A 3/3 16.2  0.00 3.03 26.6% 17.2% 41.2%

I’ve mentioned this stat before but it bears repeating: last season 1,902 pitchers threw at least 50 innings in the minors, and none had a lower ERA than Enns. Ryan Dull, who we just saw in the A’s bullpen last week, was second with a 0.74 ERA. Pretty big gap between him and Enns.

As always, minor league stats come with a lot of caveats. First and foremost, the further away you get from the big leagues, the less they mean. There’s just too much noise. In the low minors many hitters have no real plan at the plate and lots of pitchers are control challenged. Enns has only 16.2 career innings above Single-A, and Baseball Reference tells me he is 0.4 years older than the average Eastern League player this year. Context is important.

At the same time, a player like Enns is going to have to perform very well to get any attention. He was an unheralded late round pick — Baseball America didn’t even have a pre-draft scouting report on Enns, and they seem to write up everyone — out of a school not really known for baseball. (Central Michigan has had four players drafted in the single digit rounds in the last 20 years, one of which was Yankees’ 2014 fifth rounder Jordan Foley.)

Enns owns a 0.48 ERA (2.53 FIP) with a very good strikeout rate (24.3%) in 75.1 innings since Tommy John surgery, and in his most recent start, and he fanned a career high eleven in six innings. He did that with farm system head Gary Denbo and special advisor Gene Michael in attendance, as noted by Jon Mozes. The heavy hitters were there.

The scouting report is pretty basic and it’s not something that will jump out at you. Enns lives in the 89-92 mph range as a starter — he’s a tick above that when working in relief — and he backs his fastball up with a low-80s slider, a low-80s changeup, and rudimentary curveball. There are lots of those guys kicking around in the minors. That’s why Enns has to perform so well to get noticed.

As good as his ERA and strikeout rate have been over the years, they do not paint a complete picture. Enns has consistently run high walk rates throughout the minors — surely the elbow reconstruction contributed to that somewhat — and his ground ball rates aren’t any good. Almost all pitching prospects worth a damn have high ground ball rates because they overwhelm less talented hitters.

There’s also this: Enns went unselected in the Rule 5 Draft last December. That’s telling. Here you have a 24-year-old left-hander with unreal numbers and three pitches, yet no team took a shot at him. No one bothered to bring him to camp for an extended look or anything. Maybe they were scared away by the recent Tommy John surgery, but boy, any half-decent lefty tends to get scooped up in the Rule 5 Draft. No one felt he was ready.

If nothing else, Enns has put himself on the prospect map with his performance since last year. It’s tough to ignore basically zero runs allowed with an above-average strikeout rate. Those numbers alone do not make Enns a prospect, but they do get people to pay attention. Enns is now in Double-A and performing well, and if he continues to do so, he’ll soon find himself in Triple-A.

The Yankees are already down three key shuttle relievers (Branden Pinder, Nick Rumbelow, Jacob Lindgren) thanks to elbow problems, and they showed last year they’re willing to dip deep into the farm system for bullpen help. That’s how guys Joel De La Cruz and Matt Tracy wound up with affordable healthcare for life. Enns is cut from a similar cloth. He’s that guy you don’t necessarily expect to get called up who ends up getting called up, know what I mean?

On an individual level, Enns wants to put himself in position to either land a 40-man roster spot with the Yankees after the season, or be taken in the Rule 5 Draft. Continuing to perform this well at Double-A and maybe Triple-A figures to accomplish that goal. Enns is the classic example of a player who has done a lot with the small opportunity usually affording to late round picks. He’s been really good since being drafted and especially so since elbow reconstruction.

Dellin Betances and Andrew Miller are not only dominant, they’re efficient too

(Presswire)
(Presswire)

As Yankees fans, we’ve been privileged to watch some stellar bullpen work in our lifetimes. Older fans (no offense!) can go back to Sparky Lyle, Goose Gossage, and Dave Righetti. More recently you have Mariano Rivera, David Robertson, and, of course, Dellin Betances and Andrew Miller. In less than two weeks Aroldis Chapman will join that group.

Even with all those great bullpeners, I don’t think we’ve ever seen two relievers — either at the same time or in different years — as overwhelmingly dominant as Betances and Miller are right now. Their numbers are truly video game-like: one earned run on nine hits and two walks in 19 innings. They’ve struck out 38. Thirty-eight! That’s out of 67 base-runners, so 56.7% have stuck out. El oh el.

Betances and Miller have been unreal this season, and what has really impressed me is how efficient they’ve been while being so dominant. Miller has made nine appearances and only once has he thrown more than 13 pitches. Once! Betances, who is no stranger to long innings, has reached the 20-pitch mark just three times in ten outings. His last three appearances have checked in at 13 pitches or less.

Keep in mind these two are keeping their pitch counts low despite all those strikeouts. Last year Miller averaged 15.7 pitches per inning and he threw a strike 67% of the time. This year he’s at 11.4 pitches per inning (!) and 79% strikes. That’s bonkers. Betances has upped his strike rate slightly from 62% last year to 63% this year, though it’s 66% since his two-walk appearance on Opening Day.

The quick outings are especially helpful right now because Joe Girardi has had to lean on Betances and Miller an awful lot so far this season. The Yankees have struggled to score consistently, so when they have had a lead, it’s typically been one or two (maybe three) runs. In fact, Betances and Miller have each appeared in seven of the team’s eight wins. The only one they avoided was the 16-6 blowout over the Astros.

Overall the Yankees have played 18 games; Betances has pitched in ten and Miller has pitched in nine. That’s a lot but it sounds worse than it is. The Yankees had all those off-days early on, remember. Those 18 games have been played 21 calendar days. They’ve had two scheduled off-days plus a rainout. Don’t get me wrong, Betances and Miller have pitched a lot, but not quite every other day.

Chapman will be back in two weeks and will inevitably help lighten the load on the back-end of the bullpen. Girardi has talked about using only two of his three big relievers per game in order to make sure one is always fresh and available the next day, which sounds great, though we’ll see how it works in practice. This strikes me as one of those ideas that is much easier said than done.

For now, Betances and Miller have endured heavy workloads through the first 18 games, but they’ve been able to mitigate that workload with quick innings. They’ve been able to cut down on their pitches per inning while maintaining an absurdly high strikeout rate because they’re simply throwing so many strikes. It’s good to have stuff so crisp that hitters still can’t touch it when you throw it over the plate.

Eovaldi pitches seven dazzling innings in a 3-1 Yankees victory in Texas

Ronald Martinez/Getty Images

That’s more like it. The Yankee bats weren’t overly imposing tonight but Nathan Eovaldi showed what kind of pitcher he can be when things click. He had a no-hitter going for the first six innings and pitched probably the best game by a Yankee starter this season. Good starting pitching, the lineup scoring more than the opponent, and the bullpen closing it out – certainly a way to win a ballgame.

The Big Non-RISP Hits

The Yankees caught a break in the pitching matchup. Their ace Cole Hamels was scratched due to a groin issue so the Rangers trotted out LHP Cesar Ramos as their starter. Ramos, a former Tampa Bay Ray, isn’t a stranger to facing the Yanks. Prior to tonight, he faced New York 19 times (21.0 IP) and had a 5.57 ERA against, which ain’t great.

In the second, Mark Teixeira led off with a single and advanced to second on a wild pitch. Chase Headley hit a single to right to make it runners on first and third with one out. Dustin Ackley followed it up with a full-count walk to load the bases. Didi Gregorius hit the first pitch right at 1B Prince Fielder and he nabbed Teixeira at the plate for a fielder’s choice. With the bases still loaded. Austin Romine hit a weak grounder right back to Ramos to end the inning. Not gonna lie, I was afraid that would set up the tone for another RISP fail-filled night for the Yanks. Well, I was right, but the Yanks still turned out fine.

Ronald Martinez/Getty Images

The Yankees had more luck the next inning. Jacoby Ellsbury hit a homer into the right field seats to lead off the inning, 1-0 New York. A batter later, Carlos Beltran worked a walk to reach the first and Teixeira drove a deep double to right-center to drive him in. 2-0. New York posted another run on the board in the sixth. Starlin Castro hit a high 86 mph fastball from Ramos over the left field wall for a solo homer. Notice the theme of all three runs they scored? Those RBI’s came in non-RISP situations. Overall, they hit only 1-for-9 with RISP and left eight runners on base. Had Eovaldi struggled tonight, that could have bode Yankees terribly but luckily,

Nasty Nate!

Seven innings, two hits allowed, six strikeouts, no runs allowed and a big fat W. Eovaldi’s outing was very pleasing to watch. He seemed to be very comfortable with all four of his pitches. He was also inducing weak contact and grounders, generating a nice 62.5 ground ball percentage tonight.

As you may know, Eovaldi had a no-hitter bid going on until the seventh inning. Nomar Mazara, the Rangers’ young hot hitter, squeaked a single between Headley and Didi to get the first hit of the night for Texas. Adrian Beltre followed it up immediately with a GIDP so the situation didn’t become too dire for New York. Fielder hit a double to right to start something but Eovaldi retired Ian Desmond with a ground out. No real harm done.

After seven scoreless innings, Eovaldi faced only one hitter in the eighth (walked Mitch Moreland) and departed from the game after 98 pitches. There’s so much good about his start tonight and one of them is the fact that he’s the first Yankee starter to throw a pitch in the eighth inning this season (h/t Katie Sharp). For the season, he has a 28-5 K-BB ratio in 24.2 IP, which is quite nice. His season ERA sank from 6.11 to 4.38, which is getting close to his nice 3.54 FIP/2.98 xFIP. More starts like this, please.

Leftovers

Dellin Betances came in the eighth to relieve Eovaldi and… allowed a home run to C Brett Nicholas. It was a curve that wasn’t quite sharp and it ran right into Nicholas’ zone. That was his first career homer and, of course, he hit it off of Betances. Dellin finally got himself an ERA for the 2016 season (0.90 after tonight).

You know who has yet to have an ERA though? Andrew Miller. He earned the fifth save of the season after a clean ninth inning. He did not strike out anyone though. Bum!

I knew Headley wasn’t hitting well this season but it just occurred to me how bad he’s been. After tonight, the third baseman has a .157 avg with a .447 OPS. There are several adjectives to describe those two numbers and one of them is “putrid.” I do however, think he’s seeing the ball well, given on his 16.0% BB rate, which is several points higher than usual (10.1 %). Hitting a baseball well consistently is not easy – it’s so easy to fall into funk for an extended amount of time. The good news is that, players do generally find a way to normalize their performance to close to their talent level (see: 2015 Carlos Beltran) so I think I’ll just wait and see on Headley.

Box Score, Highlights, WPA and Standings

Here’s tonight’s box score, updated standings, WPA and video highlights.


Source: FanGraphs


The Yankees are back at it again in Arlington tomorrow evening. Luis Severino will be on the mound versus A.J. Griffin. Big fastball versus high-80’s heat, hard slider versus Uncle Charlie – I’ll be waiting for it.

DotF: Swisher plays right field, goes deep in Scranton’s win

Some notes:

  • In case you missed it earlier, RHP James Kaprielian is going on the High-A Tampa DL with elbow inflammation. He will be “treated conservatively” and there’s no timetable for his return. Bummer.
  • In other in case you missed it earlier news, the Yankees have acquired LHP Phil Coke from the Lancaster Barnstormers of the independent Atlantic League. He’s heading to Triple-A Scranton.
  • The Yankees have signed RHP Luis Rodriguez, reports Matt Eddy. There are like a dozen Luis Rodriguezes playing baseball, so I have no idea which one they signed. The teenager from Mexico? The 33-year-old minor league journeyman? We’ll find out soon enough. Suspense!

Triple-A Scranton (5-2 win over Lehigh Valley)

  • CF Ben Gamel: 2-4, 1 R, 1 K — 11-for-26 (.423) in his last seven games
  • C Gary Sanchez: 1-4, 1 R, 1 2B, 2 RBI, 1 K — 9-for-24 (.375) with four doubles, a triple, and a homer in his last six games
  • RF Nick Swisher: 1-4, 1 R, 1 HR, 1 RBI, 2 K — the homer was his third homer in ten games with the RailRiders, and Shane Hennigan says it was an opposite field job … this was his first game in right field, and Dave Rosengrant says Swisher made a leaping catch at the wall to end the game … it’s not a coincidence he is playing right field with Aaron Hicks and Alex Rodriguez banged up
  • LF Jose Rosario: 1-4, 1 R, 1 HR, 1 RBI, 1 K
  • RHP Anthony Swarzak: 7 IP, 5 H, 2 R, 2 ER, 0 BB, 6 K, 5/6 GB/FB — 63 of 90 pitches were strikes (70%) … best start of the season for the RailRiders
  • RHP Vinnie Pestano: 1 IP, zeroes, 3 K — eleven of 18 pitches were strikes
  • LHP James Pazos: 1 IP, zeroes, 1 K, 0/1 GB/FB — seven of eleven pitches were strikes

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