As expected, the Yankees have activated righty Shawn Kelley off the 15-day DL, the team announced. He missed about a month with a back problem. Fellow righty Matt Daley was optioned to Triple-A Scranton to clear a roster spot. Jose Ramirez remains with the team and figures to get a long look in a middle relief role in the coming weeks. · (4) ·
In case you missed it yesterday, Mississippi State LHP Jacob Lindgren (second round) is traveling to Tampa to take his physical tomorrow, which is a pretty strong indication the Yankees have a deal worked out with their top pick in last week’s draft. The team has also reportedly agreed to a contract with Connecticut HS RHP Austin DeCarr (third round) for double slot money, or roughly $1.17M. He is also on his way to Tampa for a physical.
The signing deadline is Friday, July 18th. You can see all of New York’s draft picks at Baseball America and keep tabs on the draft pool situation with our 2014 Draft Pool Tracker. It is available at all times under the Resources tab, underneath the street sign in the banner. Here is another batch of signing notes (draft round in parentheses):
- South Carolina LHP Jordan Montgomery (4) has agreed to sign and is on his way to Tampa to take a physical, according to Patrick Ebert. He’ll then head to Short Season Staten Island. Slot money for the 122nd overall pick is $424,000.
- Scouting director Damon Oppenheimer confirmed to Josh Norris the team has agreements in place with James Madison 2B Ty McFarland (10), Washington State C Clay Slaybaugh (26), Jacksonville State OF Griffin Gordon (27), and Houston-Victoria RHP Andre Del Bosque (38). Slot for McFarland is $137,600.
- Pittsburgh RHP Joe Harvey (19) has signed for $60k, reports Chris Cotillo. Any money over $100k given to a player taken after the tenth rounds counts against the pool, but there are no savings for signing a player below that amount.
- The Yankees have agreed to sign Liberty RHP Matt Marsh as an undrafted free agent, according to Norris. He had a 1.53 ERA with a 34/2 K/BB in 29.1 relief innings over the last two years.
As a reminder, Texas OF Mark Payton (7), UC Irvine 1B Conner Spencer (8), and Vanderbilt SS Vince Conde (9) are all playing in the College World Series and can’t sign just yet. Otherwise the Yankees reportedly have agreements in place with each of their picks in the top ten rounds.
In the span of three weeks from late-April through mid-May, the Yankees lost three-fifths of their Opening Day rotation to serious injury. Ivan Nova is done for the year following Tommy John surgery, CC Sabathia is out for at least another few weeks with a degenerative knee condition, and Michael Pineda has already suffered a setback while battling a muscle problem in his shoulder. The Yankees will be lucky to get either Sabathia or Pineda back before the All-Star break at this point.
The injuries have forced the team to dip deep into their pitching reserves. With Adam Warren entrenched as a late-inning setup man, the Yankees pulled both Vidal Nuno and David Phelps out of the bullpen and called up converted reliever Chase Whitley. Those three plus Masahiro Tanaka and Hiroki Kuroda have made up the Yankees’ rotation for about a month now. Needless to say, Nuno being third on the team in innings pitched (58) through 63 games was not part of the plan.
And yet, despite some ugly bumps in the road, the three replacement starters have actually done a pretty good job for the Yankees. At least on a rate basis. Here’s how the three have fared since moving into the rotation:
|Starts||Innings||IP per Start||ERA||FIP||K%||BB%||Opp. OPS|
Phelps has taken a pounding his last three starts (18 runs in 17.2 innings), but, even with that, the three replacement starters have a 4.13 ERA and 3.56 FIP in 119.2 innings. That’s pretty good. The average AL starter has a 4.08 ERA and 3.92 FIP this season, so these guys are in the neighborhood of league average. League average is good! Especially when taking about a team’s sixth, seventh, and eighth starters.
The issue isn’t necessarily their performance on a rate basis. The problem is the third column in the table, their innings per start. (I guess that’s technically the fourth column. Whatever.) These three are barely averaging 5.1 innings per start, which is a total drain on the bullpen. In their 22 combined starts, they’ve failed complete six innings 14 times. They’ve failed to complete five innings six innings. On average, Joe Girardi has had to ask his bullpen to get 11 outs whenever these guys pitch. That’s too much. We’re talking about three rotation spots here.
The Yankees have gotten 343 innings out of their starters this season, ninth most out of 15 AL teams. Their relievers have thrown the fifth most innings at 191.2, primarily because these three are not taking the ball deep into the game. Part of that is simple ineffectiveness, part of it is getting stretched out (Nuno and Phelps had to build up their pitch count when they first moving into the rotation), and part of it is Girardi’s reluctance to let them face the opposing lineup a third time. It’s all understandable, but it doesn’t lessen the demand on the bullpen.
I’ve said this before but it’s worth repeating: with three five-and-fly starters in the rotation, the Yankees need a veteran long man Girardi can abuse. Someone he can use for 40 pitches one night, 25 the next, and 55 two nights after that. Alfredo Aceves was that guy for a little while, but he stunk and now it’s Wade LeBlanc. I love Jose Ramirez and want to see him get a chance as much as the next guy, but not under those circumstances. Let someone who doesn’t have a future in the organization deal with that workload. It sounds cruel, but that’s baseball. Aceves and LeBlanc aren’t stupid, they know this might be their last chance to stay in MLB, so they’ll take the ball whenever asked.
The Yankees have gotten generally solid work from Whitley, Phelps, and Nuno, and, more than anything, the best way the team can help them is by scoring more runs. Score some more runs and Girardi will probably be more open to letting them face the lineup a third time, sparing the bullpen a bit. (Remember, the team handled Pineda careful early in the season, so he won’t exactly soak up innings whenever he gets healthy.) It would be nice if these three guys could start recording another two or three outs per start, but, considering the circumstances, they’ve been solid. The rotation situation could have really spun out of control following the injuries. These guys didn’t let it.
Via Marly Rivera: Carlos Beltran will start a throwing program today as he begins to work towards returning to the outfield. He’ll be wearing a brace to prevent him from overextending on throws. “It’s there. I still feel a little pain,” said Beltran to Brendan Kuty. “But it’s something I have to deal with it. So, right now, I’m not really thinking about it.”
Beltran, 37, is 3-for-18 (.167) since coming off the disabled list after missing close to a month with a bone spur in his right (throwing) elbow. The Yankees have limited him to DH duty because they don’t want to risk re-aggravating the bone spur, but ideally that wouldn’t go on forever. Getting Beltran back into the outfield, even on a part-time basis, gives Joe Girardi more flexibility with the lineup, something the Yankees could really use. · (25) ·
A little more than a month ago, I wrote about Rob Refsnyder and the long-term future of the second base position in the Bronx. The Yankees lost Robinson Cano and replaced him with the epitome of a stopgap in Brian Roberts, so the job is wide open going forward. By virtue of playing the position and starting the season at the Double-A level, Refsnyder is the logical candidate to get the first opportunity to be Cano’s long-term replacement.
At the time of that post, the 23-year-old Refsnyder was hitting .267/.344/.384 (109 wRC+) though 23 games with Double-A Trenton. He shook off a very slow start (5-for-35 with 15 strikeouts) and his numbers were climbing up towards respectability. Since that day, Refsnyder has gone an absurd 55-for-142 (.387) to raise his season batting line to .342/.385/.548 (158 wRC+) through 60 Double-A games. He had multiple hits in 15 of his last 17 games at the level. He was kinda hot.
The Yankees promoted Refsnyder to Triple-A Scranton yesterday and he went 2-for-4 (of course) in his first game with the RailRiders, so the move up a level didn’t slow him down. The promotion was obviously well-deserved and the timing matches up perfectly with last season — Refsnyder was promoted to High-A Tampa after 59 games with Low-A Charleston in 2013. The Yankees let him spend two months at each level to get his feet wet before promoting him in each of his two pro seasons.
Now here’s something I wrote in that Refsnyder post early last month:
Any time a player gets to the Double-A level and has success, especially a player drafted out of a major college program, he puts himself on the map for a potential big league role. Obviously the season is very young and Refsnyder still has another 120-something games left in his season, but I’m encouraged he shook off the really poor start and has started to hit like he did last year. The Double-A level has always been something of a separator between actual potential big leaguers and regular ol’ prospects. You know what I mean. Refsnyder is starting to separate himself a bit.
Refsnyder clearly separated himself from the wannabe prospects in the weeks since that post, and at this point we have no choice but to talk about him as a potential big league option. Not just next year either, I mean later this season, after a few weeks in Triple-A. Cano played only 24 games in Triple-A before being called up in 2005 because Tony Womack was terrible. Roberts hasn’t been quite as bad as Womack, but he’s not someone the Yankees should hesitate to replace either.
Aside from position, Cano and Refsnyder have very little in common and are not at all comparable. It would be unfair to compare the two. Cano was a second year big leaguer when he was Refsnyder’s age, for example, so they have entirely different career paths. The better comparison — and again, I mentioned this last month — is probably Brett Gardner, who was also a mid-round draft pick who made it to Triple-A Scranton in the second half of his second full season. (Gardner was a third rounder, Refsnyder a fifth rounder.)
Gardner was blocked when he reached Triple-A in the second half of 2007. The MLB outfield at the time was Hideki Matsui, Bobby Abreu, Johnny Damon, and young Melky Cabrera coming off a .360 OBP in 2006. Gardner had to sit in Triple-A until the middle of 2008 before getting a chance, and when he didn’t immediately produce, he was back in the minors. Refsnyder does not have the same kind of positional logjam standing between him and MLB. Roberts is as disposable as they come. A promotion depends on his performance more than anything.
For what it’s worth, PECOTA’s 50th percentile projection pegged Refsnyder as a .235/.319/.344 hitter at the MLB level coming into this season. That’s an estimate of his current talent level, not a prediction. Roberts went into last night’s game hitting .239/.317/.350 on the year, which is right in line with Refsnyder’s projection. Refsnyder’s defense is still a work in progress — he played second in high school and outfield in college, so he’s been back at the position for less than two full years — and if they’re going to hit roughly the same, Roberts is probably the better all-around option.
Of course, PECOTA didn’t know Refsnyder would tear the cover off the ball in Double-A for a few weeks. And, of course, projections don’t mean much of anything. The Yankees will have another few weeks to see how Refsnyder performs at Triple-A and another few weeks to see if Roberts can get on any kind of hot streak. If Refsnyder continues to hit and Roberts continues to do whatever he’s been doing most of the year, the only way the team could justify not making a switch is by saying Refsnyder needs more time to improve in the field (which he does).
The promotion to Triple-A puts Refsnyder on the cusp on MLB, and, given his progress to date, the time to give him a shot at the big league level is coming sooner rather than later.
Staying up for these late night West Coast games is never easy, so it’s always nice whenever the Yankees can eke out a win. They used some late-inning heroics to top the Mariners 3-2 on Tuesday night. The Yankees avoided falling below .500 for the first time since the season was nine games old. Let’s recap:
- Amazing, Disappearing Offense: The Yankees met their daily quota with two runs in the first inning thanks to two-out hits from Carlos Beltran (double) and Brian McCann (infield single). Derek Jeter and Mark Teixeira both singled to set up the rally. New York forced Hisashi Iwakuma to throw 46 pitches in the first two innings, then he retired 14 of the next 17 batters he faced and threw only 62 pitches in the next 5.1 innings. Things started off so promising, then the bats disappeared for about six innings.
- Numero Nuno: Vidal Nuno owes his outfielders a steak dinner. The gerbil-ish southpaw needed several outstanding defensive plays on well-struck balls to hold the Mariners to four hits and one run in 5.2 innings. Brett Gardner got off easy; Jacoby Ellsbury and Ichiro Suzuki had to make the really tough plays. Nuno did retire 13 of 15 at one point (again, thanks to his defense) and he now owns a 1.80 ERA in 25 innings away from Yankee Stadium. If he could pitch every game in Safeco Field with an elite outfield defense, he’d be pretty great.
- A Third Run?: Oddly, the Yankees scored another run in the eighth inning, but not until after Dellin Betances blew the 2-1 run lead in the seventh. It was a dumb rally. Hit batsman, move to second on a wild pitch, soft line drive just over a leaping Brian Roberts. Dumb. Then, in the eighth, the Yankees hit three Yankee Stadium homers and were left with a Jeter ground rule double to show for it. Gardner hit two balls that would have been gone in the Bronx and Jeter’s double would have been out as well. Ellsbury came through with a big two-strike single to plate Jeter and again give the Yankees the lead.
- Six More Outs: Once the Yankees got that 3-2 lead, Joe Girardi turned the game over the Adam Warren and David Robertson, who combined to retire six of eight batters faced. Warren allowed a single to Robinson Cano but otherwise cut through the heart of Seattle’s lineup. Robertson issued a two-out walk while striking out the side and recording his 15th save. With Shawn Kelley set to come off the DL on Wednesday, the late-inning guys are going to get some much-needed help and extra rest going forward.
- Leftovers: In addition to the go-ahead single, Ellsbury hit the ball on the screws in two other at-bats, but right at defenders … Jeter may or may not have missed first base on his ground rule double. He went back to touch the base and I’m not sure he gets to second without the ball hopping over the fence … Beltran had two hits (both to the opposite field) and generally seems to be getting more comfortable at the plate following the long DL stint … each of the top six hitters in the lineup had at least one hit while the bottom three hitters went a combined 0-for-9 with a walk.
For the box score and video highlights, head over to MLB.com. FanGraphs has some other stats and the updated standings are at ESPN. These same two teams will play the second game of this three-game set on Wednesday night, when Masahiro Tanaka starts against the soft-tossing yet effective Chris Young.
After 60 games and a 158 wRC+ with Double-A Trenton, 2B Rob Refsnyder was promoted to Triple-A Scranton, according to Nick Peruffo. Refsnyder played 62 games with Low-A Charleston last year (173 wRC+) before being promoted last year, so he’s on the same basic schedule.
In other news, OF Adonis Garcia has been placed on the Triple-A Scranton DL, according to Chad Jennings. He left yesterday’s game with an unknown leg injury. Donnie Collins says RHP Zach Nuding was demoted back down to Double-A. Also, LHP Dietrich Enns underwent some kind of elbow surgery today based on his Twitter feed.
Triple-A Scranton (6-3 loss to Toledo in ten innings)
- LF Jose Pirela: 2-4, 1 R, 1 BB, 1 SB, 1 CS — threw a runner out at the plate … 20-for-44 (.455) in his last ten games
- DH Frankie Cervelli: 1-4 — he’ll continue his rehab with Double-A Trenton tomorrow since the RailRiders are heading out on a road trip
- RF Zoilo Almonte: 1-3, 1 BB, 1 K
- SS Zelous Wheeler: 0-3, 1 R, 1 BB, 2 K
- 1B Kyle Roller: 1-4, 1 R, 1 HR, 3 RBI — third homer in his last six games
- 3B Scott Sizemore: 0-3, 1 RBI
- 2B Rob Refsnyder: 2-4 — eight straight multi-hit games and 13 in his last 14 games… doesn’t miss a beat after the promotion
- C Austin Romine: 1-3
- RHP Shane Greene: 4 IP, 8 H, 1 R, 1 ER, 0 BB, 4 K, 1 WP, 4/1 GB/FB — 60 of 87 pitches were strikes (69%)
- RHP Mark Montgomery: 2 IP, 3 H, 2 R, 2 ER, 0 BB, 1 K, 1 HB, 3/1 GB/FB – 24 of 31 pitches were strikes (77%)
- RHP Preston Claiborne: 2 IP, zeroes, 2 K, 1/2 GB/FB — 15 of 27 pitches were strikes (56%)
You are a trooper if you’re staying up for this game. Late night West Coast game with Vidal Nuno on the mound? I don’t even need to bring up the struggling offense for everyone to know this is as good a night as any to turn in early.
The Yankees are coming off a surprise off-day thanks to the weather in Kansas City, an off-day that will hopefully wake up the bats a little. Maybe the day away from the park helped everyone clear their heads. Hisashi Iwakuma is very tough and Safeco Field is not a fun place to hit though. Here is the Mariners lineup and here is the Yankees lineup:
- LF Brett Gardner
- SS Derek Jeter
- CF Jacoby Ellsbury
- 1B Mark Teixeira
- DH Carlos Beltran
- C Brian McCann
- 3B Yangervis Solarte
- RF Ichiro Suzuki
- 2B Brian Roberts
LHP Vidal Nuno
It’s cool and cloudy in Seattle, but there is no rain in the forecast. Even if there was, Safeco has a retractable roof and it would be a non-issue. Baseball’s always better with the roof open anyway. Tonight’s game is scheduled to begin a little after 10pm ET and can be seen on YES. Enjoy.
Injury Updates: Shawn Kelley (back) will indeed be activated off the disabled list tomorrow … CC Sabathia (knee) is continuing to throw back in New York and will be re-evaluated when the team returns from the road trip next week.
Via Jack Curry: Mississippi State LHP Jacob Lindgren is traveling to Tampa to take his physical on Thursday. That’s a strong indication the two sides have a contract agreement in place. He was the club’s top selection (second round) in last week’s amateur draft. Slot money for the 55th overall pick is $1,018,700.
Lindgren, 21, already said he wants to sign “as soon as possible,” and Brian Cashman recently told Donnie Collins they will send the southpaw to Low-A Charleston when the time comes. Mississippi State’s season ended just last week, so Lindgren probably won’t need much more than a bullpen session or two to get back into game shape. You can see all of the team’s picks and keep tabs on their draft pool situation at Baseball America. · (4) ·
The Yankees are out in Seattle to play the Mariners later tonight, so use this as your open thread until the regular game thread comes along in a few hours. The Mets are playing, plus MLB Network will air a game as well. Who you see depends on where you live. Game Three of the NBA Finals will also be on. Talk about those games or anything else right here.