DotF: Andujar and McKinney have big games in Scranton’s win

A few quick notes to pass along:

  • In case you missed it earlier, the Yankees are sending SS Thairo Estrada, OF Estevan Florial, 1B Chris Gittens, SS Kyle Holder, LHP Justus Sheffield, and RHP Dillon Tate to the Arizona Fall League this year. The Yankees still have two pitching spots TBA as well.
  • Florial was named the Most Outstanding MLB Prospect in the Low-A South Atlantic League, so that’s cool. He hit .297/.373/.483 (146 wRC+) with eleven homers and 17 steals in 91 games with Low-A Charleston before being promoted.
  • 2080 Baseball has write-ups on several lower profile Yankees prospects, including LHP James Reeves. “Reeves has the look of a future role Role 50 situational reliever, with additional utility as a solid change-of-pace look out of the bullpen who could give both righties and lefties fits in a middle-relief role,” says the write-up.

Triple-A Scranton (8-1 win over Rochester) they’ve already clinched the division title … their regular season ends next Monday, and their first round postseason series begins next Wednesday (opponent TBD)

  • SS Tyler Wade: 1-5, 1 R, 1 2B, 2 K, 1 E (fielding)
  • CF Jake Cave: 0-4, 1 BB
  • DH Matt Holliday: 1-4, 1 R — his rehab has been moved up here, obviously … Holliday told D.J. Eberle his goal is to rejoin the Yankees on Friday, conveniently the first day rosters expand
  • 3B Miguel Andujar: 2-4, 2 R, 1 3B, 1 HR, 2 RBI, 2 K, 1 E (fielding) — my dude
  • 1B Tyler Austin: 1-3, 1 2B, 1 BB, 2 K
  • RF Billy McKinney: 2-4, 2 R, 1 2B, 1 RBI — 11-for-32 (.344) in his last eight games, so he’s finishing strong
  • LHP Nestor Cortes: 5.2 IP, 7 H, 1 R, 1 ER, 1 BB, 5 K, 1 HB, 5/3 GB/FB — 64 of 87 pitches were strikes (74%) … making the spot start in place of Jordan Montgomery, who will start the second game of tomorrow’s doubleheader for the big league team

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Tuesday Night Open Thread

The Yankees and Indians have a makeshift off-day today thanks to the storm in the New York. They’re going to play a doubleheader tomorrow. Doubleheaders are fun! Doubleheaders immediately prior to a massively important four-game series with the Red Sox are less fun. What can you do though? That’s baseball. Win two tomorrow, then win four over the weekend. Sounds good to me.

Here’s an open thread for this sudden Yankees baseball-less night. The Mets are playing tonight and MLB Network will air regional games at 7pm ET and 10pm ET. Talk about those games or anything else here, as long as it’s not religion or politics.

Tonight’s game rained out, Yankees and Indians will play a straight doubleheader tomorrow

(Presswire)
(Presswire)

Tonight’s game with the Indians has been rained out, the Yankees announced. The two teams will play a single admission doubleheader tomorrow beginning at 1:05pm ET. Joe Girardi said Jaime Garcia will start the first game and Jordan Montgomery will come up from Triple-A to start the second game.

The weather forecast in New York is ugly and has been all day. It’s been raining for several hours and it’s supposed to continue raining right until tomorrow morning. Playing tonight was never really an option. The Yankees and Indians do not have any common off-days remaining this season, and since Cleveland will not visit Yankee Stadium again, a doubleheader tomorrow was the only real option.

Needless to say, playing a doubleheader immediately prior to a hugely important four-game series with the Red Sox is less than ideal, but what can you do? Could be worse. The Indians have to play a doubleheader tomorrow and another one Friday. Anyway, here is the ticket information, if you were planning to go tonight or tomorrow. Today’s tickets are not good for the doubleheader.

Because the doubleheader was scheduled less than 48 hours in advance, the Yankees and Indians can add a 26th player for the second game only. I imagine Montgomery will be the 26th man, which means he’ll have to go right back to Triple-A Scranton after the game. And then he’ll be back once rosters expand Friday. Montgomery might not even go back to Scranton. He might stick around New York.

Thanks to the rainout, the Yankees will now start CC Sabathia, Sonny Gray, Masahiro Tanaka, and Luis Severino in the four games against the Red Sox. The rainout pushes everyone back a day and conveniently lined up New York’s four best pitchers for the series with Boston. That’s good. I’d rather the Yankees not play the doubleheader and push everyone back by starting Montgomery tomorrow, but that’s not an option. Alas.

Tomorrow’s doubleheader will be the third of the season for the Yankees. They split two games with the Astros on May 14th, and split two games with the Red Sox on July 16th. The Yankees last played three doubleheaders in one season back in 2014 (Cubs, Pirates, Orioles). It’s worth noting the Yankees have a makeup game with the Royals scheduled for September 25th, though that’s one game, not a doubleheader. The two teams gave up an off-day.

Florial, Sheffield, Tate among Yankees prospects heading to the Arizona Fall League

Tate in the AzFL last year. (Presswire)
Tate in the AzFL last year. (Presswire)

The Arizona Fall League has released their rosters for the 2017 season, and six Yankees prospects are heading to the desert this year: SS Thairo Estrada, OF Estevan Florial, 1B Chris Gittens, SS Kyle Holder, LHP Justus Sheffield, and RHP Dillon Tate. This is the second AzFL assignment for the Tate. Everyone else is a first-timer. Here is the full Scottsdale Scorpions roster. The AzFL season begins October 10th and will wrap up November 18th.

Florial, Sheffield, and Tate are the headliners and three of the ten best prospects in the farm system. The 19-year-old Florial is in the middle of a breakout season, one in which he’s hit .294/.371/.469 (142 wRC+) with 12 home runs in 22 steals in 105 games split between Low-A Charleston and High-A Tampa. He represented the Yankees at the Futures Game and popped up on top 100 lists at midseason.

Both Sheffield (oblique) and Tate (shoulder) are going to the desert to make up for time lost to injury this season. The 21-year-old Sheffield threw 90.1 innings (3.09 ERA and 4.54 FIP) with Double-A Trenton before getting hurt. He’s pitching in rehab games in rookie ball right now. Tate, 23, has a 2.81 ERA (3.95 FIP) in 83.1 innings with High-A Tampa and Double-A Trenton since making his season debut in June.

Estrada will be Rule 5 Draft eligible this winter and is on the 40-man roster bubble. The Yankees will be able to continue evaluating him during the AzFL season before deciding whether to protect him from the Rule 5 Draft. The 21-year-old is hitting .300/.354/.394 (108 wRC+) in 118 games with Double-A Trenton this year. If the Yankees don’t protect Estrada, I think the chances of a team taking a shot on him as a utility infielder are pretty darn high.

The 23-year-old Holder has hit .267/.312/.336 (89 wRC+) in 99 High-A games this season, though he’s been much better the last few weeks, hitting .358/.401/.450 (151 wRC+) in 36 games since returning from the disabled list on July 12th. Gittens, 23, is hitting .264/.373/.459 (146 wRC+) with eleven homers in 67 games for High-A Tampa this season. He had huge power, but it comes with a lot of swings and misses.

In addition to the six players heading to the AzFL, the Yankees also have two pitching spots listed as TBA, so two others are going too. I don’t think they’re going to be significant prospects, however. It’s not often teams send top pitching prospects to the AzFL. It’s very hitter friendly and most pitchers are bumping up against their innings limits. Sheffield and Tate will be there because they got hurt.

This is just a guess, but LHP James Reeves seems like a possible candidate for one of those final two roster spots. He missed time with an elbow sprain earlier this year and the Yankees like him enough to bring him to camp as a non-roster player this spring. The 24-year-old lefty reliever has a 1.99 ERA (2.22 FIP) with 26.5% strikeouts and 4.8% walks in 45.1 innings with High-A Tampa and Double-A Trenton since coming back from the elbow injury. Maybe he’ll get one of the last two roster spots. We’ll see.

My birthday tribute to Gritty Gutty Brett Gardner

(USA Today Sports)
(USA Today Sports)

Hi everyone. You know me from Yankeemetrics, which I think you know is my favorite Yankees thing in the world.

But I want to tell you about my favorite current Yankees player and why I root so hard for him.

I like Brett Gardner because he displays all the five tools – baserunning, fielding (throwing too), the hit tool and now his newfound power tool. He plays hard all the time.

I liked him right when he came up. I knew the backstory of how he was a walk-on at the College of Charleston. I was looking forward to him being called up because I had been following him in the minors. Within the first month he was up, he had two walk-off hits.

And my niece shares a birthday with Gardner. She just turned 10.

He’s very convenient and accessible for the media. He speaks his mind. He recently spoke his mind saying he wanted to wear Yankees pinstripes or wear a blank name on the back of his jersey for Player’s Weekend. That’s pretty hilarious and awesome at the same time.

Players Weekend is a prop that generates revenue. It’s a one-weekend thing. It does nothing to denigrate the legacy of the Yankees. MLB needs a weekend like this for marketing the game. I think it’s just not a big deal to him. I think he just doesn’t care.

(USA Today Sports)
(USA Today Sports)

I am horrible at picking favorite moments. I react to all of the incredible ones the same. So my favorite for Gardner is probably his most recent walk-off moments (July 27 and 29 against the Rays). One of my friends jokes that when I get excited, I do a “Sharp Shriek.” But for that one, it was probably a “Sharp Peep” because my husband was asleep on the couch next to me. I save the “Sharp Shrieks” for daytime.

But I do have some favorite Gardner stats. In nine seasons, he’s averaging 3.5 WAR per season. Not bad. He has more career WAR as a Yankee than Rickey Henderson and Roger Maris, and he just moved into the top 25 Yankee WAR leaderboard, too. I also like this list — Yankees with 150 steals, 50 triples and 80 home runs: Derek Jeter, Roy White, Mickey Mantle and Brett Gardner.

He had four hits and an RBI on his birthday. Three Yankees have had four hits and an RBI on their birthday: Jerry Mumphrey, Brett Gardner and Lou Gehrig. It was the only thing of value to come out of the brawl game, which was probably the most infuriating game of the season to watch.

Brett just turned 34. He’s signed through 2018 and he has a $12.5 million team option for 2019. I think they would be silly to trade him before his contract is up. He brings leadership and chemistry, and he still plays fantastic, even though he’s not as dynamic at the plate. They’ve passed the point where they could get something of equal value back in a swap.

The Yankees should stick with him through the end of his contract, pick up the option and then decide. He could play until he’s 45. He’s so confident in himself. I would be heartbroken if he ever played for another team. I hope he retires a Yankee. That’s what he’s always wanted to do.

Previewing the Yankees’ upcoming September call-ups

Matty H. (Sean M. Haffey/Getty)
Matty H. (Sean M. Haffey/Getty)

This coming Friday, on September 1st, all 30 big league teams will be allowed to expand their active rosters from 25 players up to 40 players. Most teams end up going with 30-35 players in September. Maybe two or three clubs a year actually go with the maximum 40 players. Either way, rosters are going to expand in a few days and every club has reinforcements coming.

The Yankees have been fairly aggressive with September call-ups in recent years. Aggressive in the sense that they call up a lot of extra players in general, especially on September 1st. Last year they called up six players on September 1st. The year before it was seven players. The year before that it was nine players. Nine call-ups on September 1st! Good gravy. The Yankees tend to call up plenty of help the first day possible. I’m surprised more teams don’t do the same.

So, with September call-ups only a few days away, there’s no better time to look ahead at who the Yankees could bring to the big leagues once rosters expand. Let’s take a trip through the organizational depth chart. Come with me, won’t you?

The Injured Guys

Might as well start here. The Yankees currently have five players on the MLB disabled list: Luis Cessa, Garrett Cooper, Clint Frazier, Matt Holliday, and Michael Pineda. Pineda’s done for the season following Tommy John surgery. I’m not really sure what’s up with Cessa. We haven’t heard any updates on him since he was sidelined by rib cage issue on August 15th. Should Cessa get healthy before the end of the season, he’ll join the Yankees, I’m sure.

Both Holliday and Cooper are on minor league rehab assignments right now and in all likelihood both will be activated Friday, the first day rosters expand. Frazier recently started taking swings and going through some other baseball activities, so he’s a little further behind Cooper and Holliday. Once he gets healthy and goes through the requisite minor league rehab assignment — assuming there are still minor league games being played at that time — Frazier will be activated and join the Yankees for the rest of the season. Pretty straightforward here.

The September Locks

Monty. (Adam Glanzman/Getty)
Monty. (Adam Glanzman/Getty)

As always, the safest bets for September call-ups are guys who were up earlier this season. There are eleven such players on the 40-man roster and not in the big leagues right now: Miguel Andujar, Tyler Austin, Gio Gallegos, Domingo German, Ben Heller, Ronald Herrera, Kyle Higashioka, Jonathan Holder, Bryan Mitchell, Jordan Montgomery, and Tyler Wade. All eleven of those guys have seen big league time this year. Some more than others.

Like I said, the Yankees have been fairly aggressive with their September 1st call-ups in recent years, so I expect several of these players to join the Yankees on Friday. Montgomery is an absolutely lock. He’s going to get a September call-up and step right back into the rotation, I suspect. Mitchell, Holder, and Gallegos have been the primary up-and-down relievers this season, and since the Yankees like to load up on pitching reinforcements whenever possible, my money is on all three guys showing up to Yankee Stadium this Friday.

Austin and Wade are all obvious September call-ups candidates as well, though there is a catch here. They were both sent down recently and need to wait out the ten-day rule first. Wade was sent down Friday, when Starlin Castro was activated, so he can’t come back up until Monday. Austin was sent down Saturday to make room for Greg Bird. He can’t come back until Tuesday. The ten-day rule is a bit of a hassle. It is what it is.

The Guys Who Might Have To Wait

As noted, there are eleven players on the 40-man roster and not in the big leagues right now. I expect four to be called up on September 1st: Mitchell, Montgomery, Gallegos, and Holder. That’s all. The other seven will have to wait a little bit for different reasons. Austin and Wade have to wait because of the ten-day rule. Here’s my thinking on the remaining five guys.

1. Higashioka and Herrera are both hurt. Pretty good reason for not calling them upright away, I’d say. Herrera is currently pitching in rookie ball rehab games and is expected to join the Double-A Trenton rotation (or maybe Triple-A Scranton rotation) for the postseason next week. Herrera was called up twice this year as an emergency fill-in. It was one of those “crap we need a long man and he’s the only guy lined up” situations. Well, two of those.

Higashioka, meanwhile, is currently out with a shoulder injury that is not believed to be serious. There’s even some talk he could be ready to go by time rosters expand Friday. That would be cool. A third catcher is a September staple, and keep in mind Gary Sanchez and Austin Romine have suspensions pending. They’re appealing, though at some point they’re going to have serve at least part of their suspensions, and having Higashioka on the active roster will make it much easier to get by without those guys. He has to get healthy first though.

2. The Yankees have mostly avoided Andujar and Heller. There have been plenty of opportunities to call up both guys this year, and they have seen big league time. Andujar had the one great game against the White Sox. Heller has made two appearances with the Yankees this season, most notably throwing two scoreless innings in the 16-inning win at Fenway Park right after the All-Star break.

Andujar. (Times Leader)
Andujar. (Times Leader)

The Yankees could have easily — and justifiably — called up Andujar and/or Heller on several other occasions this season, but choose to go in another direction. With Andujar, he’s a bonafide prospect who needs to improve his defense, so keeping him in Triple-A to work at the hot corner rather than play sporadically at the MLB is understandable. Heller? I’m not sure. The Yankees seem to prefer Gallegos and Holder for whatever reason. I’m a Heller guy. The Yankees aren’t.

Point is, because these two have been passed over for call-ups these last few weeks, I don’t think they will be September 1st call-ups when rosters expand. Both will likely have to wait until the Triple-A postseason ends, which could be as early as next weekend or as late as September 19th. There aren’t going to be many at-bats available for Andujar, and with Heller, how many mop-up relievers does a team need? I think both will have to wait until the RailRiders are done playing.

3. German needs to pitch. From June 6th through July 28th, a span of 52 days, German made eight appearances and threw 350 total pitches. That’s all. This kid’s a starter! But he spent so much time with the Yankees as their seldom used eighth reliever that it took a few Triple-A outings to get stretched all the way back out. German has thrown 115 total innings this season and that’s not much at all. This is his first full season since Tommy John surgery, so I imagine the Yankees are monitoring his workload closely. I still think they want German to log more innings this season. That’s why I think he’ll stay with Scranton, start every fifth day through the end of their season, then come up to sit in the bullpen.

Non-40-Man Roster Guys

Every once in a while the Yankees will take a player who will be Rule 5 Draft eligible after the season, add him to the 40-man roster, and call him up September. Rather than wait to add the player to the 40-man at the November deadline, they get a head start on things and call him up in September. Romine received his first taste of the big leagues that way in September 2011. The Yankees did the same thing with James Pazos in 2015.

That does not happen often, however, and I do not think the Yankees will do it this September. Gleyber Torres is hurt, Domingo Acevedo has been shut down due to his workload, and Albert Abreu missed a big chunk of the season with injuries and has yet to pitch above High-A. They’ll all be Rule 5 Draft eligible after the season and the Yankees will add them to the 40-man roster prior to the November deadline, no doubt. Not a second earlier, however. Torres and Acevedo are unavailable and Abreu is a Single-A kid. Calling them up would be pointless.

Other 40-man roster hopefuls like Jake Cave and Billy McKinney wouldn’t have a defined role in September. Romine was the third catcher. Pazos was the third lefty. Cave and McKinney would be … the seventh and eighth outfielders? Not exactly a big priority. I suppose the Yankees could add Cave to the 40-man roster — he’s going to be a minor league free agent this winter, so the Yankees will have to add him to the 40-man pretty much right after the World Series to avoid losing him — as a reward for his great season, but nah. Roster space is at a premium.

E-Rod. (Scranton Times Tribune)
E-Rod. (Scranton Times Tribune)

Now, that all said, there are two non-40-man players who I think could get a September call-up. One is Eddy Rodriguez, and he will only get called up if a) Higashioka doesn’t get healthy reasonably soon, and b) both Sanchez and Romine have their appeals heard and must serve their suspensions. So basically only if the Yankees run out of eligible catchers. Hopefully it doesn’t come to that. If it does, the Yankees will have no choice but to clear a 40-man roster spot to call up Rodriguez.

The other non-40-man call-up candidate? I don’t know. It’ll be the designated September pinch-runner, whoever that ends up being. Last year it was Eric Young Jr., the year before it was Rico Noel, and the year before that it was Antoan Richardson. Back in 2009 it was Freddy Guzman. Guzman was on the postseason roster all three rounds that year. True story. The Yankees have made it clear they value the designated September pinch-runner.

Jorge Mateo has been traded and I don’t think the Yankees would use Jacoby Ellsbury as their designated pinch-runner — besides, he’s starting to hit a little bit now, so I imagine he’ll find himself in the starting lineup a little more often going forward — so they don’t have an obvious in-house candidate for that role. If the Yankees are willing to open a 40-man roster spot, they’ll likely go out and get someone to come off the bench and run in September. Not a big trade — they got Young for cash last year — but a trade nonetheless.

* * *

As is often the case, this year’s batch of September call-ups is fairly straightforward. Holliday and Cooper will return from the disabled list Friday while Montgomery, Mitchell, Holder, and Gallegos figure to came up from Scranton, giving the Yankees six extra players on the first day rosters expand. Others like Andujar, Austin, German, Heller, and Wade are likely to come up shortly thereafter. Cessa, Frazier, and Higashioka will join the Yankees once they’re healthy, and if Higashioka doesn’t get healthy soon, Rodriguez figures to come up instead. Herrera and a pinch-runner are other possibilities.

I am pro-September call-ups — there are a lot of weirdos out there who don’t like expanded rosters — and it’s always fun to see the young guys come up, but here’s something to keep in mind: the Yankees are fighting for a postseason spot. They’re not going to play Andujar (or Cave) for the heck of it. Joe Girardi is going to stick with his regulars because the Yankees need to win, and the regulars give them the best chance to do that. The call-ups are around for blowouts and emergencies. That’s about it.

DotF: Cave homers as Scranton clinches division title

Got several days worth of notes to catch up on, so let’s get to it.

  • RHP Domingo Acevedo’s season is over, reports Matt Kardos. He’s been shut down due to his workload. Big Sunday had a 3.25 ERA (3.27 FIP) with 26.0% strikeouts and 6.2% walks in 133 innings at three levels this season. He threw 93 innings last year. Good season for Acevedo. A 40-man roster spot awaits this offseason.
  • Kyle Higashioka (shoulder) has a muscle strain, according to Conor Foley. He’s on the disabled list at the moment. There is no timetable for Higashioka’s return and that’s kind of a big deal with September call-ups looming and both Gary Sanchez and Austin Romine waiting on the appeals of their suspensions.
  • SS Thairo Estrada was named to the Double-A Eastern League end-of-season All-Star Team while 2B Nick Solak did the same in the High-A Florida State League. Also, High-A Tampa manager Jay Bell was named the FSL Manager of the year. Bell was recently named a top managerial prospect. Congrats to them.
  • According to Josh Norris, Estrada is expected to be among the players the Yankees send to the Arizona Fall League after the season. Thairo is on the 40-man roster bubble and the Yankees are probably using the AzFL stint to buy a little more evaluation time. That’s pretty common. The AzFL rosters should be announced fairly soon. Probably this week.
  • J.J. Cooper (subs. req’d) looked at this year’s top breakout prospects, and OF Estevan Florial is among them. “Florial’s strikeout rate is still frighteningly high, but he runs, has developing power and has a chance to be an impact defender in center field in addition to a dynamic power-speed threat in the batter’s box,” said the write-up.

Triple-A Scranton (5-3 win over Rochester) they clinched a postseason spot over the weekend, and this win clinches their third straight division title

  • 2B Tyler Wade & 1B Tyler Austin: both 0-4, 1 K — Wade is 2-for-13 (.154) with five strikeouts in three games since being sent down
  • CF Jake Cave: 2-4, 1 R, 1 HR, 2 RBI — that’s his 20th home run of the season … his previous career high was eight, set last year
  • 3B Miguel Andujar: 2-4, 1 SB — 18-for-47 (.383) during his 12-game hitting streak
  • RF Billy McKinney: 1-4
  • LF Mason Williams: 2-3, 2 R, 1 HR, 1 RBI
  • RHP Bryan Mitchell: 5 IP, 4 H, 2 R, 2 ER, 1 BB, 4 K, 9/2 GB/FB — 50 of 72 pitches were strikes (69%)
  • RHP J.P. Feyereisen: 1.2 IP, 2 H, 1 R, 1 ER, 1 BB, 1 K, 1/1 GB/FB — 20 of 33 pitches were strikes (61%)
  • RHP Nick Rumbelow: 2.1 IP, 1 H, 0 R, 0 ER, 0 BB, 2 K, 4/0 GB/FB — 19 of 27 pitches were strikes (70%) … 44/11 K/BB in 39.1 innings since coming back from Tommy John surgery

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