Yankeemetrics: April 24-26 (Mets)

We love to hit homers! (Photo: NJ.com)
We love to hit homers! (Photo: NJ.com)

The two hottest teams in baseball met in the Bronx on Friday night but only one left the stadium with their win streak intact. The Yankees handed the Mets their first loss in 12 games and won their fourth game in a row, taking the opener of the first-ever edition of the Subway Series between two first-place teams.

Mark Teixeira provided nearly all of the offense, hitting two homers and driving in four of the Yankees six runs. He joined Tony Clark (2004) as the only Yankee first baseman with a multi-homer game against the Mets.

Following Friday’s game, Tex had 12 hits and 11 of those were for extra bases (seven homers, four doubles). According to the Elias Sports Bureau, he is just the second player since 1900 that had at least 11 extra base hits among his first 12 hits of the season. Adam Dunn did it for the Reds in 2005.

Michael Pineda delivered an ace-like performance, allowing one run on five hits while pitching into the eighth inning. He pounded the strike zone all night, throwing 78 of his 100 pitches for strikes. That is a career-high number of strikes for Pineda, and also the highest strike percentage (min. 100 pitches) by any Yankee pitcher since Randy Johnson threw 86 strikes among his 110 pitches (78.2 percent) on June 16, 2005 against the Pirates.

Large Lefty comes up small
Coming off a vintage performance against the Tigers (8 IP, 2 R) and facing a team he has dominated in his career (2.14 ERA in five starts), CC Sabathia entered Saturday’s matchup vs. the Mets looking to clinch the series for the Yankees. Instead, he had his worst outing of the season and fell to 0-4 in four starts this year.

Sabathia is the second Yankee in the last 30 years to lose his first four starts of the season. Kevin Brown also went 0-4 in his first four outings of the 2005 season. The last Yankee southpaw to do it was Fritz Peterson in 1972. Sabathia also extended his winless streak to seven starts dating back to last year, the longest such drought of his career.

The lone highlight for the Yankees was once again Teixeira, who went 3-for-4 and clubbed another homer. That gave him eight home runs in the team’s first 18 games, a feat achieved by only five other Yankees: Alex Rodriguez (2007), Graig Nettles (1974), Mickey Mantle (1956, 1961), Yogi Berra (1956), Babe Ruth (1921).

Matt Harvey dominated the Yankees lineup for the second time in two career starts against the team he rooted for as a kid growing up in Connecticut. He is one of two pitchers in the last 100 years with at least eight innings pitched, seven strikeouts and no more than two runs allowed in each of his first two career games against the Yankees. The other is Ray Culp, who did it for the Red Sox in 1968.

What a relief
The Yankees earned bragging rights in New York City with a 6-4 victory on Sunday night, giving them the Subway Series win. The hero of the game was the bullpen, which threw 4 2/3 scoreless, hitless innings after starter Nathan Eovaldi got rocked by the Mets.

Andrew Miller, the team’s fifth reliever of the game, closed out the win with a scoreless ninth inning for his seventh save of the season in seven tries. Since saves became an official statistic in 1969, he is now the first pitcher to convert his first seven save chances in a Yankee uniform, without allowing more than one hit in each of those games.

This was not a pretty game from a defensive standpoint. The Mets committed four errors in the game, the most they’ve ever had in a game against the Yankees, and the home team also committed two errors. The six combined errors is one shy of the record for a Subway Series game, set on May 20, 2006 when the Yankees had four and the Mets had three.

Alex Rodriguez drove in the Yankees first run with his 659th career homer. So when’s he gonna hit the next one to tie Willie Mays for fourth on the all-time list? Facing the pressure of reaching a couple other milestones, he went 51 plate appearances between No. 599 and 600, and 37 plate appearances between No. 499 and 500.

Fan Confidence Poll: April 27th, 2015

Record Last Week: 5-2 (35 RS, 26 RA)
Season Record: 11-8 (99 RS, 82 RA, 11-8 pythag. record)
Opponents This Week: vs. Rays (three games, Mon. to Weds.), Thurs. OFF, @ Red Sox (three games, Fri. to Sun.)

Top stories from last week:

Please take a second to answer the poll below and give us an idea of how confident you are in the team. You can view the interactive Fan Confidence Graph anytime via the nav bar above, or by clicking here. Thanks in advance for voting.

Given the team's current roster construction, farm system, management, etc., how confident are you in the Yankees' overall future?

A-Rod homers, Yanks take Subway Series rubber game 6-4

Source: FanGraphs

We play today, we win today, das it. The Yankees won their third straight series Sunday night with a 6-4 win over the Mets in the rubber game of the Subway Series. They’ve won eight of their last ten games after dropping six of their first nine. Things are going pretty, pretty well right now. It’s Sunday night, so I’m going with bullet points:

  • Not Good Nate: Nathan Eovaldi pitched so poorly Sunday he could have been confused for a Red Sox starter. Four runs on seven hits in 4.1 innings doesn’t really tell the story. Eovaldi threw 87 pitches but first pitch strikes to only eleven of 20 batters faced, and Mets hitters fouled off 19 total pitches, including seven in two-strike counts. Nate looked pretty good in his first three starts but his fastball location was non-existent Sunday. It’s easy to hate but based on what we saw in his first three starts, I think this was just one of those nights. It happens.
  • Also Not Good Niese: Thankfully, Jon Niese actually out-stunk Eovaldi on Sunday. Alex Rodriguez got the Yankees on the board with a first inning solo homer — it hit the very top of the wall in right center and hopped over — and a barrage of doubles followed in the second. John Ryan Murphy, Gregorio Petit, Brett Gardner, and A-Rod all had two-baggers — Chris Young mixed in a single — to score four runs in the inning. All four runs scored with two outs too. Niese allowed six runs (four earned) on eight hits and a walk in five innings. Seven of the first dozen men he faced reached base and five had extra-base hits.
  • Battle of the Bullpens: It’s amazing. Joe Girardi used five relievers to get 14 total outs and everyone he brought out of the bullpen seemed to be nastier than the guy he relieved. Chasen Shreve got a double play to bail out Eovaldi in the fifth, Chris Martin got five stress-free outs, Justin Wilson got his lefty (Curtis Granderson), and then Dellin Betances and Andrew Miller did their things in the eighth and ninth. Dellin was particularly nasty — he was one strike away from a four-strikeout inning. The five relievers combined: 4.2 IP, 0 H, 0 R, 1 BB, 4 K, 2 HB. Domination.
  • Leftovers: A-Rod’s homer was the 659th of his career. One more to tie Willie Mays for fourth place on the all-time list … the top three hitters in the lineup went 5-for-12 (.417) with two doubles, a homer, and four runs driven in … John Ryan Murphy had another really good game, going 2-for-3 with a double and making some stellar blocks on pitches in the dirt … Carlos Beltran went 0-for-4 with two strikeouts and somehow looks worse now that he did the first week of the season … the Yankees have scored 5+ runs in 11 of their 19 games. They didn’t have their 11th 5+ run game until game 29 last year.
  • Late Add: This play was ridiculous. It’s been a long, long time since the Yankees had a middle infield capable of getting the lead runner on a play like that.

Here are the box score, video highlights, and updated standings. Also check out our Bullpen Workload and Announcer Standings pages. The Yankee Stadium portion of the Subway Series is over — they’ll play three games at Citi Field in September — and now the Rays are coming to the Bronx for a three-game set. Adam Warren and Nate Karns will be the pitching matchup in Monday’s opener.

Game 19: Rubber Game

(Nate Shron/Getty)
(Nate Shron/Getty)

The Yankees and Mets split the first two games of the Subway Series and the games were pretty similar — one team beat up on the other team’s starter and put the game out of reach early. My guess is we’ll see a much closer game tonight. Just a guess. Here is the Mets’ lineup and here is the Yankees’ lineup:

  1. LF Brett Gardner
  2. CF Chris Young
  3. DH Alex Rodriguez
  4. 1B Mark Teixeira
  5. RF Carlos Beltran
  6. 3B Chase Headley
  7. C John Ryan Murphy
  8. SS Stephen Drew
  9. 2B Gregorio Petit
    RHP Nathan Eovaldi

It was really nice out in New York earlier today but it got pretty cloudy by the late afternoon. There’s no rain in the forecast or anything like that though. Tonight’s game will begin just after 8pm ET and can be seen on YES. Enjoy.

Injury Updates: Jacoby Ellsbury (hip tightness) is feeling better but Joe Girardi told reporters he wants to give him an extra day. They’re planning to have him back in the lineup tomorrow … Brendan Ryan (calf) will begin playing in Extended Spring Training games next week.

Chase Whitley to be called up to make spot start Tuesday

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

Right-hander Chase Whitley will be called up to make a spot start this coming Tuesday, Joe Girardi told reporters this afternoon. The Yankees have been talking about using an occasional sixth starter to give the rotation extra rest whenever possible for weeks now, and this will be the first time they actually do it.

Nathan Eovaldi is starting tonight and Adam Warren will start tomorrow, in the series opener against the Rays. With Whitley going Tuesday, it means Masahiro Tanaka will pitch Wednesday and Michael Pineda will start the series opener at Fenway Park on Friday. Thanks to Whitley and Thursday’s off-day, Pineda will have two extra days of rest.

Whitley, 25, has a 2.12 ERA (2.85 FIP) in three starts and 17 innings for Triple-A Scranton this year. He’s thrown as many as 89 pitches in a game this year and will be on one extra day of rest Tuesday. Whitley had a 4.60 ERA (3.69 FIP) in 12 big league starts last year, but the first seven were great (2.56 ERA and 2.74 FIP) and the last five were awful (8.18 ERA and 5.36 FIP).

It’ll be interesting to see how the Yankees get Whitley onto the roster. Send down Chase Shreve then call up, say, Branden Pinder or Matt Tracy after the spot start? The Yankees have no shortage of bullpen call-up options. It could simply come down to who is rested and ready to pitch Wednesday, assuming Whitley does go back down after the spot start.

DotF: Pirela begins rehab assignment, Judge and Bird hit back-to-back homers in Trenton’s win

UTIL Jose Pirela has been added to the High-A Tampa roster, the team announced. This officially kicks off his 20-day minor league rehab window. Also, RHP Andrew Bailey was assigned to Extended Spring Training. Not sure what’s going on there.

Triple-A Scranton (8-3 win over Pawtucket)

  • CF Slade Heathcott: 2-4, 2 R, 1 BB — on base 14 times in his last six games with zero strikeouts
  • 2B Rob Refsnyder: 3-5, 1 R, 1 RBI — 5-for-8 (.625) after an 0-for-15 slump
  • 1B Kyle Roller: 2-5, 1 R, 1 2B, 1 RBI, 2 K
  • RF Tyler Austin: 0-4, 1 BB — in a 4-for-32 (.125) slump
  • C Austin Romine: 1-4, 1 R, 1 2B, 1 PB
  • LHP Matt Tracy: 3 IP, 2 H, 2 R, 2 ER, 0 BB, 1 K, 1 HB, 5/3 GB/FB — 31 of 45 pitches were strikes (69%) … this is only his second appearance of the year because he’d been stuck in DFA limbo for a while
  • RHP Joel De La Cruz: 4 IP, 2 H, 1 R, 1 ER, 0 BB, 1 K, 6/1 GB/FB — 27 of 42 pitches were strikes (64%)
  • LHP Jacob Lindgren: 0.2 IP, 2 H, 0 R, 0 ER, 1 BB, 1 K, 1/0 GB/FB — nine of 17 pitches were strikes (53%) … left the game after being hit by a comebacker in the leg, according to Donnie Collins … he wasn’t limping and it appeared to be precautionary
  • RHP Danny Burawa: 1.1 IP, 1 H, 0 R, 0 ER, 1 BB, 2 K, 2/0 GB/FB — 15 of 21 pitches were strikes (71%)

[Read more…]

Seeing and Believing

Note: This was written Thursday and Friday afternoons before anything in the Subway Series went down. Past me is sure that everyone is reacting calmly and rationally to Friday’s and Saturday’s games.

As you read this, there’s a decent chance I’m staring at a computer screen, specifically TurnItIn.com, reviewing and marking up the papers my students wrote about A Streetcar Named Desire and submitted on Friday. They were asked, as they usually are, to take in some information, digest it, and spit it back as an analytical (or creative) product. While my role as a baseball writer has diminished over the years, and I haven’t written an essay since 2011, it’s easy for me to relate to my students’ task.

Generally, I observe something during a game or a set of games, then look up the corresponding information — the numbers, the facts, the figures — and produce something for consumption. As much as possible and as frequently as possible, I attempt to ground this product in something empirical; and if you’re reading this here at RAB, it’s likely that you, too, have an appreciation for that same hard data. This does not mean, of course, that I eschew the visuals of the game, or just the experience of the game, when making observations and evaluations, and that brings me to the 2015 Yankees.

Though the tone of this piece is going to be generally positive, generally optimistic, I did find myself being a touch realistic earlier in the week when one of my students in study hall proclaimed that the Yankees would “suck” in 2015. Calmly, teacherly, I explained that the Yankees will likely not “suck” but will probably be mediocre. Objectively, this makes sense; their rotation has upside, but also questions marks. Similarly, their lineup has potential, but it has the same question marks. He quickly got back to his math or science or whatever I couldn’t actually help him with, and that’s when I thought of this piece.

2013 and 2014 were frustrating seasons and the hangover from both of them has no doubt tempered my expectations for 2015. By the end of each of those seasons, there were few reasons to watch, mainly Mariano Rivera’s, Andy Pettitte’s, and Derek Jeter’s farewell tours and the emergence of Dellin Betances. But let’s be honest: those seasons didn’t feel all that great for most of them, Vernon Wells’ April explosion notwithstanding. It’s early, sure, but this year feels different.

Masahiro Tanaka is beginning to Masahiro Tanaka. Michael Pineda is Big Mike-ing all over the place. Dellin Betances may be rounding back into form. CC Sabathia is striking lots of people out. Mark Teixeira is hitting nothing but extra base hits. And then there’s Alex Rodriguez. While I was already inclined to root for the guy, I feel that his at-bats are, once again, appointment viewing; I get slightly peeved when I miss his trips to the plate for whatever reason.

Even the down things give me a sense of excitement and enjoyment that just weren’t always there in 2013 and 2014 — don’t get me wrong, I love watching the Yankees and hung on to the bitter end in each of those years, but those years weren’t exactly fun…but I digress. Something as uncomfortable as watching Didi Gregorius go through a fielding slump has been at least slightly pleasurable to watch. His range is something we’ve not seen at short in a long time (how many times have we said: ‘That’s an RBI single last year…) and arm has not failed to impress me on throw after throw.

This is all a long way to say something similar to what I said in my first piece here about Sabathia and Nathan Eovaldi: I’m choosing to be optimistic about the 2015 Yankees. Seeing is believing and from what I’ve seen this year, I believe, even a little. And it feels good.