Game 88: The End of the First Half

That's Sir Didi to you.
That’s Sir Didi to you. (Jason Miller/Getty)

Today marks the end of the first half of the 2016 season, and this afternoon’s game will determine whether the Yankees go into the All-Star break at .500 or something worse. The last time the Yankees had a sub-.500 record at the All-Star break was way back in 1992, when they were 42-45. That 1992 season was no good. Not fun at all. Here is the Indians’ lineup and here is the Yankees’ lineup:

  1. LF Brett Gardner
  2. CF Jacoby Ellsbury
  3. DH Carlos Beltran
  4. 1B Mark Teixeira
  5. SS Didi Gregorius
  6. 2B Starlin Castro
  7. 3B Chase Headley
  8. RF Rob Refsnyder
  9. C Austin Romine
    RHP Masahiro Tanaka

It’s nice and sunny in Cleveland today. Pretty great day to spend at the ballpark. This afternoon’s game will begin a little after 1pm ET and you can watch on YES. Enjoy the game.

Update: Aaron Judge expected to miss 3-4 weeks with knee injury

(Times Leader)
(Times Leader)

Sunday: Judge is expected to miss 3-4 weeks, Joe Girardi told reporters this afternoon. You know the Yankees are going to play it safe though. If it takes a little longer, it takes a little longer.

Saturday: Earlier today the Yankees placed top outfield prospect Aaron Judge on the Triple-A disabled list with a “mild PCL sprain and a bone bruise of the left knee,” the team announced. They say he will be out an “undetermined” length of time. Sigh.

Judge left Friday’s game after running out a ground ball, though the Yankees say he initially hurt himself diving for a ball in right field earlier in the game. Shane Hennigan has photos of the play. The combination of the dive and running out the grounder led to the injury.

I’m no doctor, but a sprained knee ligament — even a mild sprain — leads me to believe Judge will return in weeks, not days. I hope I’m wrong. Bone bruises, as we’ve learned over the years, are pretty tricky and can take a while to heal. Point is, it sounds like Judge will be out a while.

Judge, 24, is hitting .261/.357/.469 (139 wRC+) with 16 homers, a 23.2% strikeout rate, and an 11.4% walk rate in 83 Triple-A games this year. That’s his lowest strikeout since he was in Low-A two years ago. Judge is clearly the right fielder of the future. Hopefully this injury doesn’t derail that plan much.

Yankees outlast Indians in come from behind 7-6 win

Source: FanGraphs

That was the type of game we’ve become accustomed to the Yankees losing this season. They fell behind early, battled back, then pushed their bullpen to the max. The result was a 7-6 win over the Indians in eleven innings Saturday afternoon. A good character win, no doubt. Let’s recap with bullet points, because it’s the weekend:

  • Sabathia Struggles Again: It seems CC Sabathia‘s renaissance is over. He struggled for the fourth straight start Saturday, and while he did not give up a homer, he was charged with five runs in 5.2 innings. The Indians were hitting everything hard, even the outs. Sabathia has now allowed at least five runs in each of his last four starts after allowing six runs total in his previous seven starts. You’re still cool with me, CC.
  • Two-Out Rally: The Yankees took a 3-1 lead on Didi Gregorius‘ third inning two-run homer — how good as Didi been? goodness — but Sabathia gave it back and then some. The Yanks were down 5-3 in the sixth when Danny Salazar got two quick ground outs. Then the Yankees went to work. They loaded the bases on a single (Chase Headley), an infield single (Rob Refsnyder), and a pinch-hit walk (Alex Rodriguez) before Brett Gardner dunked a bases-clearing triple into the left field corner. Perfectly placed for the 6-5 Yankees lead.
  • A Blown Lead: The Indians tied the game against Dellin Betances in the seventh on Jose Ramirez‘s two-strike, two-out single. Betances got him to chase curveballs earlier in the at-bat, but he hung one with two strikes and paid. Jason Kipnis’ leadoff double to right — it probably should have been a single, but Refsnyder took a funny route to the ball — set that rally up. Following that seventh inning, Andrew Miller and Aroldis Chapman combined to throw scoreless eighth, ninth, and tenth innings. And they weren’t done there either.
  • What’s This, A Lead?: Give Joe Girardi props: every move he made worked Saturday. He pinch-hit A-Rod as part of that sixth inning rally, and he also replaced Carlos Beltran with pinch-runner Ronald Torreyes following Beltran’s two-out single in the 11th. Brian McCann capitalized with a booming double to right. Torreyes raced around to score all the way from first for the 7-6 lead. No chance Carlos scores on that play. Not even with a healthy hamstring.
  • Save, But Not A Save: You think Girardi wanted this game? Even though Chapman had thrown 1.1 innings and 19 pitches, Girardi sent him out for the bottom of the 11th to protect that 7-6 lead. He walked the leadoff man, which was ominous, but he picked him off later in the inning, so no harm was done. Chapman’s 32nd and final pitch of the night was his hardest, a 101.7 mph heater to strike out Mike Napoli. Betances, Miller, and Chapman combined for eight strikeouts in 5.1 innings. Saved by the Big Three.
  • Leftovers: Ho hum, another homer for Gregorius. He’s hit five dingers in his last ten games now … three hits each for Beltran and McCann, which is cool. Gardner had two hits and a walk … the top four hitters in the lineup went a combined 9-for-22 (.409) with two doubles, a triple, and two walks … Headley had two hits as well, including a double … McCann said Tony Pena called the pickoff play from the bench in the 11th. He saw something that indicated Kipnis was ready to run … the Yankees got a break when Francisco Lindor ran into Headley in the ninth. Lindor, who represented the winning run, was called out on the play.

Here are the box score, video highlights, and updated standings. Also check out our Bullpen Workload and Announcer Standings pages. The Yankees and Indians will wrap up this series and the first half of the season Sunday afternoon. That’s a regular 1pm ET start. Your pitching matchup is Masahiro Tanaka vs. Carlos Carrasco.

Minor League Update: Sorry folks, don’t have time for a full DotF tonight. Here are the box scores and here’s the short version: Ben Gamel had two more hits, Chance Adams threw six hitless innings, rehabbing Mason Williams had three hits, Mandy Alvarez and Nick Solak each had two hits, and Jeff Degano managed to not walk anyone in an inning of relief.

Game 87: Sabathia back in Cleveland

This was a long, long time ago. (Getty)

CC Sabathia spent the first seven and a half seasons of his career with the Indians. He won his Cy Young in Cleveland, went to three All-Star Games as an Indian, and led the club to two postseason appearances. And, when they traded him, Sabathia netted the Indians their best all-around hitter, Michael Brantley. The Sabathia era in Cleveland was a rousing success.

Sabathia has now spent the last seven and a half seasons of his career with the Yankees. He hasn’t won a Cy Young award in pinstripes, but he’s finished in the top four of the voting three times, plus he has a World Series ring and three more All-Star selections. The last few years haven’t been pretty. Overall though, Sabathia’s stint in New York has been a huge success. He’s been one of the best free agent signings in team history.

Sabathia returns to Cleveland to start against his former team this afternoon, something he’s done a bunch of times over the years. Since joining the Yankees, CC has started five games at Progressive Field, and in those starts he has a 2.10 ERA in 33.1 innings. Of course, four of those five starts came from 2009-12, back when he was still an ace. Despite his overall strong performance this year, Sabathia is long removed from his days as a No. 1 guy. Anyway, here is the Indians’ lineup and here is the Yankees’ lineup:

  1. LF Brett Gardner
  2. CF Jacoby Ellsbury
  3. DH Carlos Beltran
  4. C Brian McCann
  5. SS Didi Gregorius
  6. 2B Starlin Castro
  7. 3B Chase Headley
  8. 1B Rob Refsnyder
  9. RF Aaron Hicks
    LHP CC Sabathia

Pretty nice weather day in Cleveland, according to the internet. It’s sunny with temperatures in the upper-70s. Good afternoon for a game. This afternoon’s game will begin at 4:10pm ET and you can watch on FOX Sports 1. Yes, FOX Sports 1. Enjoy the game.

Roster Move: As expected, Chad Green was send down and Nick Goody was called up, the Yankees announced. Green told Chad Jennings he will start the first game after the All-Star break for Triple-A Scranton next Thursday. That means a) he won’t pitch in the Triple-A All-Star Game next Wednesday, and b) he’ll still be in line to start the fifth game of the second half for the big league team.

Rotation Update: Michael Pineda, Sabathia, and Masahiro Tanaka will start the first three games after the All-Star break in that order. They’ll face the Red Sox in a three-game series at home.

Saturday Links: Midseason Prospect Lists, Miller, Gurriel

The Judge and the GM. (Presswire)
The Judge and the GM. (Presswire)

The Yankees and Indians continue their four-game series with the third game later this afternoon. Here are some links to help you pass the time until first pitch.

Four Yankees make BA’s midseason top 100

The Baseball America crew released their midseason top 100 prospects list yesterday. The entire piece is free. You don’t need a subscription to see the list or the write-ups. Red Sox 2B Yoan Moncada sits in the top spot (groan) and is followed by Cardinals RHP Alex Reyes and Phillies SS J.P. Crawford in the top three. The Yankees have four players on the list: SS Jorge Mateo (No. 19), C Gary Sanchez (No. 36), OF Aaron Judge (No. 42), and RHP James Kaprielian (No. 99).

Both Mateo and Judge have climbed the rankings since BA’s preseason top 100 — Mateo was No. 26 and Judge was No. 76 coming into the season — though at least part of that is due to the graduation of prospects ahead of them. Still nice to see such a big jump for Judge. Sanchez stayed in the same spot (No. 36) and Kaprielian makes the midseason top 100 after not making the preseason top 100. He did that despite his elbow injury. It should be noted 2016 draftees were not eligible for the midseason top 100. OF Blake Rutherford will definitely be in the top 100 mix next spring.

Two Yankees make BP’s midseason top 50

Baseball Prospectus released their midseason top 50 prospects list earlier this week as well, and again, it’s free. It’s not behind the paywall. That’s always cool. Crawford, Moncada, and Dodgers LHP Julio Urias sit in the top three spots in that order. Players selected in the 2016 draft are not eligible for this list either.

The Yankees landed only two players on BP’s midseason top 50: Judge (No. 25) and Mateo (No. 29). Judge dropped a few spots while Mateo climbed many spots from the preseason top 101. Judge was No. 18 before the season and Mateo was No. 65. Sanchez was No. 92 before the season, so the BP crew is lower on him than BA. Jumping from No. 92 before the season into the top 50 at midseason is tough to do.

Miller atop Cubs’ wish list

According to Jon Heyman, Andrew Miller is believed to be atop the Cubs’ wish list as they look for bullpen help. That’s no surprise. Miller is awesome and signed to a favorable contract, plus Theo Epstein had him with the Red Sox too, so I assume there’s still some affinity there. The Cubs also would like Dellin Betances but “wouldn’t even ask,” says Heyman. Why not ask? You’re not doing your job if you don’t ask.

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

In a separate piece, Heyman says someone with the Yankees put the chances of a Miller trade at “less than one percent.” That could just be posturing though. Also, apparently the Nationals made an offer for Miller over the winter. That makes sense, though we didn’t hear about it in the offseason. The Dodgers and especially the Astros were the two clubs most connected to Miller over the winter. The Yankees wanted Lance McCullers Jr. from Houston, but no dice.

Gurriel done with private workouts

Free agent Cuban infielder Yulieski Gurriel finished his private workouts with teams this week, reports Jesse Sanchez. Gurriel did indeed work out with the Yankees at some point. I know this because he posted it on Instagram. (Journalism!) Sanchez says Gurriel worked out with the Astros, Dodgers, Giants, Mets, and Padres in addition to the Yankees. I’m surprised it wasn’t more teams.

With the workouts over, I assume Gurriel and his agents will shift into contract negotiation mode. I really have no idea what to expect. I could see him getting big money (five or six years at $12M+ annually) or just a moderate short-term deal (three years at $10M per year). His age (32) and the usual concerns associated with the transition to MLB complicate things even though Gurriel has mashed everywhere he’s played.

Red Sox get Ziegler

Late last night the Red Sox picked up reliever Brad Ziegler from the Diamondbacks for two low level prospects, both teams announced. This is good for the Yankees if you’re on #TeamSell. It’s simple supply and demand. The supply of available relievers has now shrunk by one while the demand, as far as the Yankees are concerned, is unchanged. They weren’t going to trade with Boston anyway. The Red Sox took an available late-inning reliever away from the Cubs, Nationals, Rangers, Dodgers, Giants, and whoever else. Now the Yankees just have to, you know, sell.

DotF: Judge suffers left knee injury in Scranton’s win

Some notes:

  • The Yankees have signed RHP Christian Herstine out of the independent American Association, according to the Marietta College website, his alma mater. Herstine allowed one run and struck out ten in only 8.2 innings with the Gary SouthShore RailCats.
  • C Kyle Higashioka will participate in the Double-A Eastern League All-Star Home Run Derby next week, so says Matt Kardos. His 14 homers are nearly double his previous career high (eight in 2011).

Triple-A Scranton (7-5 win over Rochester)

  • CF Ben Gamel: 2-5, 1 R, 1 2B, 1 3B, 2 RBI — threw a runner out at first … 16-for-46 (.348) during his ten-game hitting streak
  • RF Aaron Judge: 0-2, 1 BB, 1 K — he left the game after pulling up lame running out a ground ball in the fifth inning, according to Shane Hennigan … manager Al Pedrique said Judge felt “a little pop” and has soreness in his left knee … Pedrique downplayed the injury and said Judge wanted to remain in the game, though that wasn’t going to happen … the All-Star break is next week, so even if it’s a minor injury, my guess is the Yankees play it safe and have Judge sit out the rest of the weekend and not participate in the Home Run Derby and All-Star Game
  • C Gary Sanchez: 2-3, 1 BB — 17-for-50 (.340) in his last eleven games … Austin Romine‘s been pretty darn good as Brian McCann‘s backup, but if the Yankees do sell, I think it would be wise to call up Sanchez and give him half the starts behind the plate down the stretch
  • DH Ike Davis: 1-4, 1 R, 2 K
  • 1B Tyler Austin: 1-4, 1 R, 1 HR, 2 RBI, 1 K — 18-for-57 (.316) with seven doubles and six homers in his last 14 games
  • LF Jake Cave: 1-3, 1 R, 1 BB, 1 K
  • RHP Kyle Haynes: 4 IP, 8 H, 5 R, 2 ER, 2 BB, 3 K, 3/2 GB/FB — 59 of 90 pitches were strikes (66%)
  • RHP Matt Wotherspoon: 3.1 IP, 5 H, 0 R, 0 ER, 1 BB, 1 K, 1 HB, 6/0 GB/FB — 41 of 57 pitches were strikes (71%) … the Scranton native is back with the RailRiders
  • RHP Johnny Barbato: 1.2 IP, 3 H, 0 R, 0 ER, 0 BB, 1 K, 1/3 GB/FB — 21 of 31 pitches were strikes (68%) … 26/13 K/BB in 26.2 Triple-A innings

[Read more…]

Indians hammer Green, Yankees get blown out 10-2

The last three times the Yankees have won a game, they went out and got clobbered the next day. They followed Thursday’s win over the Indians with a lopsided 10-2 loss Friday. I’m not joking when I say this game was over in the first inning. The Yankees fell behind by four runs early and that was that.

(Jason Miller/Getty)
(Jason Miller/Getty)

Hangers, Chad
Not a good start for Chad Green! I mean that in both the small (first inning) and big (the start overall) picture sense. Carlos Santana hit Green’s fifth pitch out of the park for a leadoff homer, then Jason Kipnis hit his eighth pitch out for another homer. Back-to-back shots to open the game. Neat. Cool. Rad. Lonnie Chisenhall tacked on a two-run homer later to give the Indians a 4-0 first inning lead. The game was over before it even had a chance to begin.

I suppose the good news is Green kinda sorta settled down and was able to take the ball into the fifth inning. He didn’t completely melt down and get knocked out in the second inning or something like that. Mike Napoli hit a two-run homer in the third, and good gravy, it was one of the longest home runs you’ll ever see. Look at this thing:

Not even mad. I’m impressed. Statcast says that traveled 460 feet and came off the bat at 107 mph, and I dunno, that seems light. Napoli destroyed that ball. He destroyed another ball earlier in the at-bat too, but that one hooked foul. Made up for it later in the at-bat.

Green finished the night having allowed seven runs on five hits and two walks in 4.1 innings. He struck out six and has now allowed seven homers in his 15.1 big league innings. That is: bad. Five of the seven have been hit by lefties. Earlier today I said the Yankees should send Green down after the game for an extra reliever, and boy, did he make the decision easy. Hopefully they don’t bury him and actually give him another start soon after the All-Star break. I’m not holding my breath. Not everyone gets Ivan Nova‘s leash.

Offense Not Included
Solid work by the offense not making this game any longer than necessary. The Yankees struggle to score four runs a game anyway, and against a guy like Corey Kluber, that four-run bottom of the first pretty much clinched the loss. I know, I know. Never say never. You’ll have to forgive me for not having much faith in this team though. Friday night the Indians did to the Yankees what the Yankees used to do to everyone else.

Anyway, Brian McCann put two token runs on the board. First he hit solo homer in the seventh — it was an opposite field homer, only his second with the Yankees — then he doubled in a run in the ninth. McCann had three hits, Sir Didi Gregorius had two hits, and the rest of the offense had two hits. The Yankees had four runners in scoring position all night. That’s it. Kluber shut them right down, though it doesn’t exactly take a Kluber caliber pitcher to shut this offense down.

(Jason Miller/Getty)
(Jason Miller/Getty)

Richard Bleier and Anthony Swarzak, the only when losing relievers, combined to allow three runs in 2.2 innings after Green. Bleier threw 36 pitches in 1.2 innings and might find himself in Triple-A for a fresh arm tomorrow. Chasen Shreve struck out one in a perfect eighth. You could tell Joe Girardi was planning to use Swarzak for two innings, but that went out the window when needed 30 pitches to get three outs in the seventh.

(Late Update: Shane Hennigan says Nick Goody is on his way to join the Yankees, so there you go. Someone’s getting sent out, probably Green.)

Mark Teixeira left the game in the sixth inning with soreness in his knee, Girardi said after the game. He’s planning to sit Teixeira Saturday and play him Sunday. My guess is he sits out the entire weekend. We’ll see. Also, for some reason Carlos Beltran and his not 100% hamstring hit for himself — and doubled! — in the ninth. Why not let bench player Alex Rodriguez hit there instead of risking more damage to Beltran’s hamstring? He’s valuable trade fodder, you know.

And finally, the loss guarantees the Yankees will be no better than .500 at the All-Star break. The last time the Yankees were .500 or worse at the break was … 2014. I thought it was going to be much further back than that. They were 47-47 at the break in 2014.

Box Score, WPA Graph & Standings
The box score and updated standings are at ESPN. The video highlights are at We have Bullpen Workload and Announcer Standings pages. Here’s the win probability graph:

Source: FanGraphs

Up Next
This four-game series is halfway complete. The Yankees and Indians will play game three Saturday afternoon. That’s a 4:10pm ET start. Former Indian CC Sabathia and current All-Star Danny Salazar are the schedule starters.