The Yankees and Cubs were rained out last night, so they will play both games of their two-game series today. There’s something about these little two-game interleague series getting rained out, it seems. Remember last season when the first game against the Dodgers at Yankee Stadium was rained out and they played a doubleheader the next day? Weird. The Yankees will be visiting Wrigley Field later this summer, if you’re wondering.
Derek Jeter is not in this afternoon’s lineup, but don’t worry. He and his sore quad are fine. Joe Girardi confirmed the Cap’n will play the second game of the doubleheader against left-hander Travis Wood. They weren’t going to play Jeter in both games today, so playing him against the southpaw makes sense. Both Girardi and Jeter said the quad is a non-issue at this point. I guess four straight days off really helped. Here is the Cubs lineup and here is the Yankees lineup:
- LF Brett Gardner
- RF Carlos Beltran
- CF Jacoby Ellsbury
- DH Alfonso Soriano
- C Brian McCann
- 2B Yangervis Solarte
- 1B Kelly Johnson
- SS Dean Anna
- 3B Scott Sizemore
RHP Masahiro Tanaka
With Tanaka starting today and Michael Pineda starting tonight, I’m not sure we’re going to see a more exciting pitching day all season. It’s like baseball Christmas morning.
It rained all day yesterday and I even saw some snow flurries last night, but it is sunny out today. Just really cold. There is no threat of rain or anything, so they’ll get both games in without a problem. The first game of the doubleheader is scheduled to start at 1:05pm ET and can be seen on YES. Enjoy.
David Robertson Update: Robertson (groin) is scheduled to throw off a mound on Thursday, his first time doing so since getting hurt. He still plans on being activated when eligible next Tuesday. [Sweeny Murti]
Matt Imhof | LHP
Imhof, 20, is a Bay Area kid from Fremont. He was not drafted out of Mission San Jose High School, mostly because he started out as a full-time first baseman and didn’t seriously get into pitching until his sophomore year. Imhof was a swingman as a freshman at Cal Poly (3.04 ERA in 47.1 innings) before moving into the rotation as a sophomore (2.74 ERA in 101.2 innings). This spring he has a 2.07 ERA with 88/22 K/BB in 61 innings across nine starts. He currently leads Division I in strikeouts and is second with 12.98 K/9.
Listed at 6-foot-6 and 220 lbs., Imhof usually sits in the low-90s with his fastball but will occasionally touch 95 mph. The pitch has some natural cutting action in on righties even though he delivers the ball almost straight over the top. An upper-70/low-80s slurve — not quite a curve, not quite a slider — is his go-to secondary pitch. Imhof has been working on a changeup since last year but it is still nascent. The coaching staff at Cal Poly has helped him smooth out and develop consistency with his mechanics, and that has allowed him to better command his pitches, especially down in the zone.
Baseball America (no subs. req’d) and Keith Law (subs. req’d) ranked Imhof as the 35th and 43rd best prospect in the draft class in their latest rankings, respectively. This draft is very deep in college pitching and while 6-foot-6 lefties usually don’t get lost in the crowd, Imhof’s lack of a third pitch could cause him to slide a bit in favor of more polished arms. The Yankees don’t pick until the second round (55th overall) this year and while Imhof is risky, he also offers quite a bit of upside as a high-strikeout southpaw.
Before they played their first official game in their new home, the Yankees opened the current version of Yankee Stadium with a pair of exhibition games against the Cubs. I went to both and I couldn’t tell you anything about either game. Completely forgot. The Lovable Losers are returning to the Bronx for the first time since 2005 for a quick little two-game series to wrap-up the homestand. Since yesterday’s game was rained out, they’re playing a day/night doubleheader today.
What Have They Done Lately?
The Cubs were bad last year (66-96), they were bad the year before that (61-101), they were bad both years before that (146-178), and they’re bad this year. The north siders are 4-8 with a -8 run differential this season after dropping two of three to the Cardinals over the weekend.
With a team 78 wRC+ and an average of 3.91 runs per game, the Cubs are a below-average offensive team. They also have the sixth highest strikeout rate in baseball at 24.1%. Rookie manager Rick Renteria’s lineup is completely healthy. They don’t have any position players on the DL.
Chicago’s early-season offense have been driven by UTIL Emilio Bonifacio (141 wRC+), who is off to a crazy start and has seven of the team’s nine stolen bases. He leads off and splits his time between second base and center field. 1B Anthony Rizzo (138 wRC+) and OF Nate Schierholtz (67 wRC+) are staples in the middle of the order with SS Starlin Castro (107 wRC+) usually slotted in somewhere around them. OF Justin Ruggiano (23 wRC+) will occupy a prime lineup spot against lefties.
3B Mike Olt (109 wRC+) and 3B Luis Valbuena (73 wRC+) are platooning at the hot corner, ditto OF Junior Lake (128 wRC+) and OF Ryan Kalish (32 wRC+) in left field. C Welington Castillo (88 wRC+) is the regular catcher whenever he’s not busy at the yacht club. C John Baker (-77 wRC+), IF Darwin Barney (34 wRC+), and OF Ryan Sweeney (41 wRC+) fill out the rest of the bench. It should go without saying that it is still super early and the stats you see are all subject to small sample size noise.
There’s no word on who will start which game for the Cubs today, but here are the pitchers who lined up to pitch in the series for both teams. They could be flipped between the day and night games.
Day Game: RHP Masahiro Tanaka vs. RHP Jason Hammel (Career vs. NYY) (Pitcher GIFs)
First interleague game of the year and we’re stuck watching a pitcher who’s been pitching against the Yankees for years. Hammel, 31, spent the last two years with the Orioles and was with the (Devil) Rays earlier in his career, but he signed with the Cubs in the offseason. Last summer he had a 4.97 ERA (4.93 FIP) with mediocre strikeout (6.20 K/9 and 15.7 K%), walk (3.10 BB/9 and 7.9 BB%), and ground ball (40.1%) rates in 139.1 innings for Baltimore. Hammel has reinvented himself with the Cubs, throwing his low-90s two-seamer way more than ever before while cutting back on his mid-to-upper-70s curveball. A hard low-to-mid-80s slider is now his top breaking ball. He also throws the occasional mid-80s changeup. It’s early, but Hammel has crushed right-handed batters (.091 wOBA!) while having less success against lefties (.291 wOBA), though his career split is far less pronounced. He has made two very good starts this year (one run in six innings, three runs in seven innings), both against the Pirates.
Night Game: RHP Michael Pineda vs. LHP Travis Wood (Career vs. NYY) (Pitcher GIFs)
Wood, 27, was Chicago’s token All-Star last summer, when he had a 3.11 ERA (3.89 FIP) in exactly 200 innings. His walk rate was fine (2.97 BB/9 and 8.0 BB%), but the strikeout (6.48 K/9 and 17.5 K%) and ground ball (33.2%) numbers were okay at best. He didn’t have much of a platoon split, however. Wood’s pitch mix is pretty basic: upper-80s fastball, mid-80s cutter, upper-70s slider, and upper-70s changeup. He allowed four runs (three earned) in 6.1 innings to the Phillies in his first start and one run in six innings to the Pirates in his second start.
Like the Yankees, the Cubs were off Monday, so Renteria’s bullpen is rested. Former Yankees RHP Jose Veras (9.68 FIP) has already lost the closer’s job, so they’re now using a committee. RHP Pedro Strop (7.02 FIP) and RHP Hector Rondon (1.85 FIP) have since nailed down saves. LHP James Russell (8.59 FIP) and LHP Wesley Wright (7.50 FIP) are the two lefties, and RHP Justin Grimm (2.28 FIP) and RHP Blake Parker (3.14 FIP) are the extra arms. This bullpen is very beatable.
The Yankees sent Shane Greene to Triple-A Scranton yesterday, so they are back down to a normal seven-man bullpen. Both Adam Warren and Shawn Kelley got a much-needed day off yesterday and David Robertson is eligible to come off the DL one week from today. Whether he will be healthy in time is another matter entirely. Check out our Bullpen Workload page for reliever usage details, then check out Bleacher Nation for more on the Cubs.
According to Donnie Collins, it seems likely RHP Chris Leroux and UTIL Ronnie Mustelier will soon join Triple-A Scranton. Leroux was in Extended Spring Training getting stretched out while Mustelier is returning from a hamstring injury. He’ll presumably fill the spot vacated by the just called up IF Scott Sizemore.
Meanwhile, Triple-A Scranton‘s doubleheader was not rained out today. It was snowed out instead. Seriously. One game will be made up as part of a doubleheader on Thursday, the other in early-July. They’re up to ten games played and eight postponements now.
Double-A Trenton‘s game was postponed due to wet grounds. They will make this up as part of a doubleheader tomorrow.
High-A Tampa (8-7 loss to Clearwater)
- CF Jake Cave: 1-5, 1 K, 1 E (fielding)
- SS Cito Culver: 1-5, 1 R, 3 K, 1 E (fielding) — already six errors on the season
- 3B Eric Jagielo: 2-4, 3 R, 1 HR, 1 RBI, 1 BB — 13 hits in his last 40 at-bats (.325) with two doubles and four homers
- DH Dante Bichette Jr.: 2-4, 2 R, 1 2B, 1 RBI, 1 BB, 1 K — up to .333/.500/.472 in 12 games … yep
- C Peter O’Brien: 1-3, 1 R, 3 RBI
- 2B Angelo Gumbs: 2-4, 1 2B, 1 RBI — 9-for-17 (.529) in his last four games
- LHP Eric Wooten: 4.1 IP, 9 H, 7 R, 3 ER, 2 BB, 2 K, 8/2 GB/FB
- RHP Phil Wetherell: 2 IP, 2 H, 1 R, 0 ER, 0 BB, 1 K, 6/0 GB/FB
Low-A Charleston (6-2 win over Greenville)
- SS Abi Avelino: 2-4, 1 R, 1 BB, 1 SB, 1 E (missed catch)
- DH Tyler Wade: 4-5, 3 R, 2 2B, 2 RBI, 1 K, 1 SB – had four hits in his previous 31 at-bats
- RF Aaron Judge: 3-5, 1 R, 2 RBI — 7-for-16 (.438) in his last four games
- 3B Miguel Andujar: 1-4, 1 2B, 1 RBI, 1 BB, 1 K, 1 E (throwing)
- LF Michael O’Neill: 2-4, 1 BB, 1 SB
- C Luis Torrens: 0-1 — left the game in the third inning for an unknown reason, so he either got hurt or traded in all likelihood … UPDATE: Josh Norris says Torrens was just under the weather, no big deal
- 2B Gosuke Katoh: 0-3, 2 BB, 3 K — no contact kinda day
- RHP Luis Severino: 3.2 IP, 1 H, 1 R, 0 ER, 3 BB, 4 K, 4/3 GB/FB – 40 of 67 pitches were strikes (60%)
- RHP Jaron Long: 5.1 IP, 4 H, 1 R, 1 ER, 1 BB, 8 K, 1 WP, 6/0 GB/FB — 57 of 80 pitches were strikes (71%) … the hitting coach’s kid can pitch a little, it seems
The Yankees and Cubs were rained out tonight, so they’ll play a day/night doubleheader tomorrow. Doubleheaders are fun as long as they don’t wreck the pitching staff. Anyway, here are two stray links for the weather-related off-night:
- Dan Barbarisi wrote a great, really fun article about Joe Girardi‘s various nicknames for his players. Most get the “-ie” treatment (Jayson Nix became Nixie, for example) but others aren’t so lucky. Best part of the article was finding out Michael Pineda‘s actual nickname is Big Mike. Love it.
- Speaking about Pineda, former Mariners stats guy Tony Blengino wrote about his comeback from shoulder surgery. History is short on pitchers who lost two full seasons after being so good at such a young age, so Pineda’s return is potentially unprecedented. One player who went through a similar situation: Hall of Famer Jim Palmer.
This is your open thread for the night. MLB Network will air a regional game and the Mets will play a little later tonight. They’re out on the West Coast. The Knicks and Nets are playing (each other!) as well. Talk about whatever you like right here.
Derek Fisher | OF
Fisher is from a small town in Pennsylvania, a few miles outside Harrisburg, and he was drafted in the sixth round (204th overall pick) out of high school in the 2011 draft by the Rangers. He reportedly declined a seven-figure bonus offer and instead followed through on his commitment to Virginia. After hitting .290/.386/.495 during his first two years at school, Fisher is hitting .333/.393/.451 through 14 games this spring.
Fisher, who is listed at 6-foot-3 and 210 lbs., is one of the best athletes among this year’s crop of college players. That says more about the draft class than his ability, unfortunately. Fisher is a good but not great runner, and he’s already relegated to left field because of his poor arm and okay at best instincts. He is good enough defensively to stick in the outfield long-term as opposed to moving to first base or even DH, but forget about center or right.
Fisher’s draft stock is built around his left-handed swing, which is quick and compact. He shows lots of power in batting practice but has not yet to fully carry it over into games because of a tendency to drop his hands and let his swing get a little loopy. His approach and ability to recognize breaking balls need work. If Fisher can learn to take his power from batting practice into games, he has all the look of a future middle of the order guy who can swat 30+ homers at his peak.
In their latest rankings, Keith Law (subs. req’d) and Baseball America (no subs. req’d) ranked Fisher as the 24th and 39th best prospect in the draft. However, Fisher’s draft stock has taken a hit because he broke the hamate bone in his right wrist sliding into a base recently. He is not expected to return until mid-to-late May, right before the draft. Teams won’t have much of an opportunity to scout him this spring.
Fisher came into the spring looking like a top 20 pick but is now likely to slide out of the first round because of the injury. He is a prime target for teams with extra picks or teams hoping to land a top talent in the second round after surrendering their first rounder to sign a free agent. The latter describes the Yankees, whose first pick is in the second round (55th overall) after their offseason spending spree. They seem to have renewed interest in college bats these last two years and there’s a chance Fisher will fall into their laps this spring. It’s a stretch, but not impossible.
4:35pm: Tanaka will start the day game and Pineda will start the night game, the Yankees announced. Since they have an off-day next Monday, they can start Nuno on Sunday and lean on their bullpen heavily if need be.
11:37am: Tonight’s game against the Cubs has been postponed due to rain, the Yankees announced. They’ll play a split doubleheader tomorrow. The first game is scheduled for 1pm ET, the second for 7pm ET. Because the doubleheader was not scheduled 48 hours in advance, neither team will be able to add a 26th player to the roster tomorrow.
There’s no word on the Yankees’ pitching plans just yet. Masahiro Tanaka was scheduled to start tonight with Michael Pineda going tomorrow, and I assume both guys will pitch tomorrow. The team will need a spot starter for Sunday’s game against the Rays in that case. Vidal Nuno is still stretched out to 60+ pitches and could be the guy. Shane Greene was sent to Triple-A yesterday, but he could be recalled as Frankie Cervelli’s injury replacement tomorrow to make a spot start during the doubleheader. He hasn’t pitched in a while though.
On the bright side, Derek Jeter (quad) and Brian Roberts (back) both get another day of rest. Jeter will have four straight days off after sitting out Saturday’s and Sunday’s games while Roberts will have three days off. The Yankees are expected to call up two players before their next game, one replacing Cervelli (hamstring) and the other Greene. John Ryan Murphy and Russ Canzler are the rumored names. · (92) ·
Last summer the Yankees teamed up with Manchester City to become part owners of Major League Soccer’s latest expansion franchise, the appropriately named New York City Football Club. It is the second MLS franchise in the area, joining the New York Red Bulls. The Yankees reportedly own a quarter of NYCFC and their involvement has mostly to do with concessions (Legends Hospitality) and their New York political ties.
According to the New York Times, NYCFC has been unable to find a permanent home. Community opposition derailed plans for a stadium at Flushing Meadows Corona Park in Queens, and rumors of a facility between the Major Deegan and East 153rd St. have not materialized. Because of this, the club will play it’s home games at Yankee Stadium for the next three (!) years. NYCFC must secure a location and build a stadium within that time, which does not figure to be easy considering how things have played out over the last year.
Yankee Stadium has hosted several soccer and non-baseball events over the years, though most were held during the offseason. Manchester City and Chelsea played an exhibition game in the Bronx last May while the Yankees were on an eight-game road trip. Temporary grass was laid over the infield (see the photo above) and I assume that is the plan for the next three years. The MLB and MLS seasons both run from March to October, so there is plenty of overlap. Here’s more from the Times:
A Yankees executive emphasized to reporters earlier this year that a potential shared space was not a concern, saying the Yankees “realized what we were getting into” when they went into their M.L.S. partnership with Manchester City.
At an event in February to announce a summer exhibition game between Manchester City and Liverpool, Mark Holtzman, the Yankees’ executive director of nonbaseball events, said the team generally required several days to prepare for events and then several more to repair the playing surface for baseball. But he also noted that since its opening in 2009, the stadium has hosted soccer games as well as a schedule of summer concerts.
Obviously wear and tear is a pretty big concern. The MLS schedule runs 34 games, which means one home game every two weeks or so, on average. Back-to-back NYCFC home games and stuff like that could really tear up the field. There’s also the matter of removing and rebuilding the pitcher’s mound. That said, Holtzman and the Yankees are not concerned.
“Technology has gotten to the point where I think we can turn it around pretty quickly,” Holtzman said.
“Baseball is clearly the No. 1 priority,” he added. “We wouldn’t do anything to put anyone at any risk; there’s a major investment here in the players. At the end of the day, we look at these opportunities very carefully, and we wouldn’t get into these opportunities unless we were confident in the end result.”
NYCFC will begin play during the 2015 season. An official announcement of their temporary move into Yankee Stadium is expected next week.
The Yankees have called up catcher John Ryan Murphy and infielder Scott Sizemore, the team announced. To make room on the 40-man roster for Sizemore, Frankie Cervelli (hamstring) was placed on the 60-day DL.
Murphy, 22, was off to a 5-for-26 (.192) start in seven games with Triple-A Scranton, though three of the five hits were doubles. If it wasn’t obvious before, it is now: he’s ahead of Austin Romine on the organizational catching depth chart. Just sitting on the bench and going through the various scouting meetings will be a good learning experience for Murphy.
Sizemore, 29, was hitting .344/.436/.500 (160 wRC+) with three doubles and a triple in ten games down in Triple-A. He has struck out in 41.0% of his plate appearances, however. Sizemore can play second and third bases, giving the team some extra depth and protection in case Derek Jeter (quad) and Brian Roberts (back) continue to deal with their nagging injuries. · (100) ·
After starting the season with 13 games in 13 days, the Yankees enjoyed their first scheduled off-day yesterday. That it came on the heels of that crazy win over the Red Sox only made it sweeter. The team will call up at least two players before tonight’s series opener against the Cubs, one of whom will be a catcher to replace Frankie Cervelli. Here are some random thoughts about coming roster moves and more.
1. The Yankees have no shortage of catchers, so replacing Cervelli is a matter of preference. Austin Romine would be the easy move, but Dan Barbarisi says John Ryan Murphy will instead get the call to sit on the bench behind Brian McCann. I like the move for two reasons, one more important than the other. For starters, the team could always use him at third base in an emergency, so he adds flexibility. That’s the less important reason. Secondly, I also think there is a lot of learning that can be done just by being in the big leagues, especially as a catcher. Playing everyday in Triple-A would allow him to get at-bats, sure, but Murphy would not be exposed to big league game plans and scouting meetings and all that. Since Cervelli suffered a Grade II strain and is going to be out for quite a while, Murphy will get an extended opportunity to learn from the big league coaching staff and a veteran mentor in McCann. This might be the start of a Jorge Posada/Joe Girardi-esque apprenticeship.
2. The infield is a much different situation. Both Derek Jeter (quad) and Brian Roberts (back) are day-to-day, so adding another infielder makes sense. Carlos Beltran at first base was fun for one night, but I don’t want them to make it a habit. Every infielder on the 40-man roster is either in the big leagues, hurt (Mark Teixeira and Brendan Ryan), or suspended (Alex Rodriguez). There is no obvious call-up candidate. Scott Sizemore has MLB experience and he’s off to a nice start with Triple-A Scranton (165 wRC+), plus they’re going to have to make a decision about him soon anyway because his May 1st opt-out is looming. I think he has a minor league option remaining (don’t hold me to that), meaning the Yankees can send him back to Triple-A later in the summer. With Zelous Wheeler hurt, the only other Triple-A infield options are Corban Joseph, Jose Pirela, Russ Canzler, and Carmen Angelini. Brian Cashman told Bryan Hoch they are leaning towards Canzler, for what it’s worth. Either way, I assume this player is only keeping the spot warm for Teixeira, who can be activated off the DL this weekend. (That doesn’t mean he definitely will, of course.)
3. As for squeezing Sizemore or any other infielder onto the 40-man roster, I think we are firmly in “Ryan to the 60-day DL” territory. His DL stint was retroactive to March 22nd, so he’s already closing in on a full month on the shelf. The last update we have on him came Friday, when Joe Girardi told Brian Heyman that Ryan had started light baseball activities. That’s all. Light baseball activities. Given how tricky backs can be, I’m sure the Yankees will be extra careful during his rehab. And remember, Ryan missed almost all of Spring Training, so he’ll need more than the usual two or three minor league rehab games to get ready. Missing another four or five weeks doesn’t seem unreasonable. So yeah, I think Ryan will be transferred to the 60-day DL whenever another 40-man spot is needed, which will be this afternoon. I suppose Cervelli is a 60-day DL candidate as well, but I think Ryan is first in line.
4. I was talking to Ben about this yesterday: did you realize that Robinson Cano has hit six homeruns in his last 81 games? Arbitrary endpoints and all that, but it is exactly half a season. It’s not like Cano has not hit during that time (.332/.388/.472), but his power has been more towards the gaps for doubles (25) than over the fence for the last half-season. Clearly the lineup late last season has something to do with that. Robbie got nothing to hit down the stretch last year, even after the Alfonso Soriano trade. Teams simply were not going to let him beat them once the playoff races heated up. I love Cano and I wish there was a way he could have stayed with the Yankees on a reasonable contract, but man, that kind of extended power outage is a bit scary for a player who just signed a huge deal. Now watch him go hit six homers this week.
5. Once Teixeira returns, whenever that is, I don’t see how the Yankees can keep Yangervis Solarte out of the lineup. No, he’s not going to hit .357/.413/.500 (160 wRC+) all year, but he is better than Roberts. That seems pretty clear after 13 games. Kelly Johnson has quietly been excellent (also 160 wRC+) and we all know Jeter and Teixeira aren’t coming out of the lineup, so that leaves second base as the only spot to play Solarte. This is one of those simple and straightforward moves that might not happen right away because the Yankees have some money invested in Roberts and may decide give him more rope. Randy Winn stuck around until late-May before the team replaced him, remember. Hopefully they’re more willing to making quick decisions about this stuff these days. The AL East race is going to be way too tight to wait for a low-ceiling veteran like Roberts to find it. Solarte’s earned the playing time already.