Offense breaks out for three hits, Yankees lose 3-0 to Blue Jays anyway

In their last seven games at Rogers Centre, the Yankees are 0-7 and have been outscored 38-7. Total domination. They were handed a 3-0 loss by the Blue Jays on Saturday to put any postseason hopes on life support. The Yankees stink right now. Thank goodness there’s only a week left in the season.

One of the Yankees' few baserunners. (Presswire)
One of the Yankees’ few baserunners. (Presswire)

Twenty-Seven & Counting
No, not World Series titles. Innings without a run. The Yankees have not scored a run since Donovan Solano‘s two-run home run in the ninth inning of Wednesday’s game against the Rays. They’ve been shut out in back-to-back-to-back games for the first time since 1975. Basically, when Gary Sanchez doesn’t hit a home run(s), this team doesn’t score. Weak at-bats up and down the lineup.

The Yankees had three hits Saturday afternoon: Aaron Hicks poked a ground ball single through the left side of the infield in the second inning, Ronald Torreyes drove a triple into the right-center field gap in the eighth inning, and Brett Gardner sliced an opposite field single in the ninth inning. That’s it. In the biggest at-bat of the game (for the Yankees), pinch-hitter Billy Butler struck out against Jason Grilli with Torreyes at third to end the eighth.

Aside from the three hits, the only other hard-hit ball I remember was Brian McCann‘s grounder in the second inning, which of course went for a 3-6-3 double play. The Yankees drew three walks (Gardner, McCann, Solano), and of the 30 batters they sent to the plate Saturday, seven hit the ball out of the infield in the air. Give Marcus Stroman credit, he was excellent, but these last few days have been a complete and total tank job by the offense.


Carsten Charles in Charge
The Yankees need a great pitching performance to have any chance to win these days, and CC Sabathia gave them seven tremendous innings Saturday afternoon. No runs, three singles, three walks, and one double. That’s it. Sabathia didn’t strike out many, only two, but he also continued to limit hard contact and miss barrels. The cutter has been a huge addition. He’s been able to prevent hitters, especially righties, from leaning out over the plate.

Sabathia’s biggest jam came in the second inning, which Jose Bautista started with a leadoff double. A walk by Russell Martin followed, and Sabathia then fell behind in the count 3-1 to Troy Tulowitzki. Only three of his first 12 pitches that inning were strikes. Luckily Tulowitzki banged into a double play, and after a walk to Melvin Upton, Dioner Navarro popped up harmlessly to shallow center field. Disaster averted.

After that messy second inning, Sabathia retired 15 of the final 18 batters he faced, and two of the three baserunners came in the same inning. The Blue Jays had one baserunner in CC’s final four innings, and that was a one-out walk by Edwin Encarnacion in the sixth. Sabathia now has a 2.57 ERA in his last seven starts and 42 innings. The Yankees have been shut out in three of those seven starts.

Bad Matchups
The inevitable Tyler Clippard home run regression has come. He gave up the game-winning home run to Hanley Ramirez last Sunday, and on Saturday afternoon, he allowed the game-winning three-run homer to Bautista. Clippard got two quick outs to start the eighth inning, but a single by Josh Donaldson and a walk by Encarnacion brought Bautista to the plate, and you can’t throw him a 91 mph 2-0 fastball here:

Tyler Clippard Jose Bautista

Clippard’s the eighth inning guy and he’s going to pitch the eighth inning, but he’s such an extreme fly ball pitcher that using him against the middle of the lineup is always going to be a dicey proposition, especially with his stuff fading at this point of his career. Using Clippard against the middle of the order burned Joe Girardi against the Red Sox last weekend and again Saturday. Hopefully Girardi’s a little more judicious with Clippard’s usage next year and doesn’t simply assign him an inning (lol nope).

The Yankees have now been shut out 13 times this season, which is their most since being shut out 15 times in 1990. They’ve somehow been shut out seven times in their last 31 games despite Sanchez’s awesomeness. Three hits and three walks Saturday, and half their baserunners were erased on a caught stealing (Gardner) and two double plays (McCann, Torreyes).

And finally, the Royals mounted a miraculous five-run comeback in the ninth inning to beat the Tigers earlier Saturday, so they’re tied with the Orioles for the second wildcard spot as of this writing. The Yankees are four games back. Their tragic number is a mere five.

Box Score, WPA Graph & Standings
Go to ESPN for the box score and updated standings, and for the video highlights. Here are our Bullpen Workload and Announcer Standings pages. Here’s the all too familiar LPA graph:

Source: FanGraphs

Up Next
The Yankees and Blue Jays will play the third of these four games Sunday afternoon. That’s a regular ol’ 1pm ET start. Michael Pineda and Marco Estrada are the scheduled starters. Offense optional.

Game 154: Runs, Please


Want to hear something crazy? The Yankees are 1-9 in their last ten games against teams other than the Rays. They’re 5-2 against Tampa during that time, but yeah, 1-9 against the not-Rays is really bad.

The Yankees have looked every bit as bad as that 1-9 record too. They’re not scoring, the pitching staff is held together by duct tape, and these days the defense hasn’t looked so hot either. And yet, they’re still alive in the postseason race. Extreme long shots? Yup. But still alive. Here is the Blue Jays’ lineup and here is the Yankees’ lineup:

  1. LF Brett Gardner
  2. CF Jacoby Ellsbury
  3. DH Gary Sanchez
  4. SS Didi Gregorius
  5. RF Aaron Hicks
  6. C Brian McCann
  7. 3B Ronald Torreyes
  8. 1B Tyler Austin
  9. 2B Donovan Solano
    LHP CC Sabathia

The internet tells me it is a little on the cool side but otherwise lovely in Toronto today, which means the Rogers Centre roof should be open. This afternoon’s game will begin at 4:07pm ET and you can watch on WPIX locally and MLB Network nationally. Enjoy the game.

Saturday Links: Fan Appreciation, Caps, Girardi, Refsnyder

This year's rookie hazing theme: Baby Bombers! (@Yankees)
This year’s rookie hazing theme: Baby Bombers! (@Yankees)

The Yankees and Blue Jays will continue their four-game series with the second game this afternoon. Until then, I recommend checking out Jeff Passan’s 25 things you didn’t know about baseball, plus these bits of news and notes.

Yankees holding Fan Appreciation Day

The Yankees announced they will hold a Fan Appreciation Day on Sunday, October 2nd, at Yankee Stadium. That’s the final day of the regular season, and the day of Mark Teixeira‘s farewell ceremony. Here’s the press release with all the details. In a nutshell, there are ticket discounts and seat upgrades and random prizes. All sorts of cool stuff. Best of all, everyone in attendance gets a voucher for two free tickets to a game next season. Nice work, Yankees. This is pretty great.

New Era logo coming to MLB caps

According to Chris Creamer, all MLB caps will feature the New Era logo on the left side starting this postseason. MLB’s contract with New Era was amended to include the logo recently, and this extends into the 2017 season. I’m not sure about beyond that. So yes, the iconic Yankees hat will have a New Era logo on the side next year, similar to this:

Yankees New Era hat

Hats were the last piece of the uniform that did not bear the manufacturer’s logo. In fact, Creamer says the Yankees are the only team in baseball exempt from having a Majestic logo on their jersey sleeves. I didn’t know that. The New Era logo is far more noticeable though, and frankly, it looks kinda amateurish. I’m sure I’ll get used to it, but right now I’m not a fan. Maybe put a smaller New Era logo on the back of the hat near the MLB logo?

Girardi among best bullpen managers

Earlier this week Rob Arthur and Rian Watt put together a study that attempts to measure bullpen management, essentially by comparing reliever quality and leverage index. Which managers have their best relievers on the mound in the most important situations, basically. According to their metric, the best bullpen manager since 2000 is Joe Torre, believe it or not. He was 13% better than average. Joe Girardi and Ozzie Guillen are tied for second at 11%.

Two things I found interesting about Arthur’s and Watt’s work: One, there’s not much correlation in bullpen management from year-to-year. A manager can have a good year one year and a bad one the next. I imagine reliever quality, which is very volatile, has a lot to do with that. And two, the difference between the best and worst bullpen managers is only about a win across a full 162-game season. That seems low, but remember, ultimately it’s up to the pitcher to perform. The manager doesn’t pitch. Even great pitchers have bad outings.

Refsnyder a Marvin Miller award finalist

Through fan voting, Rob Refsnyder has been selected as the AL East finalist for the Marvin Miller Man of the Year award, writes Bryan Hoch. The award is given annually to the player “whose on-field performance and contributions to his community inspire others to higher levels of achievement.” The winner is picked through a players-only vote, and the MLBPA will donate $50,000 on behalf of the winner to the charity of his choice.

Refsnyder has been working to raise money for A Kid’s Place, which helps Tampa area children who have been removed from their homes due to abuse or neglect. He designed and is selling a t-shirt through Athletes Brand, with all proceeds this month going to the charity. The other division finalists for the Man of the Year award include two ex-Yankees: Curtis Granderson, David Robertson, Anthony Rizzo, Lance McCullers Jr., and Justin Turner.

Fade from contention continues as Yanks get steamrolled 9-0 by Blue Jays

Source: FanGraphs

For the fourth straight season, the Yankees will not win the AL East. Friday night’s 9-0 loss to the Blue Jays officially eliminated New York from the division race. This isn’t a surprise, it was only a matter of time until they were knocked out of the AL East race, but now it’s official. Their tragic number in the wild card race is only six as well. It’s Friday night, so let’s recap with bullet points. This game doesn’t deserve a full write-up anyway:

  • Six & Grind: In the first two innings it did not look like Bryan Mitchell was long for this game. A Billy Butler error and a two-run single by Troy Tulowitzki gave the Blue Jays a quick 2-0 lead in the first. Then, in the second, two singles and two walks plated a third run for Toronto. They had Mitchell on the ropes, but Jose Bautista banged into an inning-ending double play, and the young righty retired 12 of the final 15 batters he faced. It wasn’t pretty, but three runs (one earned) in six innings after those first two innings is pretty good. Nice job by Mitchell grinding that one out.
  • NOffense: The Yankees have been shut out in back-to-back games for the second time in 2016. They did it once from 2000-15, so yeah. I’m pretty sure their only hard-hit ball Friday night was Gary Sanchez‘s first inning double over Ezequiel Carrera’s head in left field. That double plus two walks loaded the bases in the first inning, but Chase Headley struck out to strand all three runners. The Yankees haven’t scored a run since Donovan Solano‘s two-run homer in the ninth inning Wednesday night. It’s been 18 innings.
  • Leftovers: Blake Parker (four runs) and Ben Heller (two runs) let things get out of hand … Sanchez (double, dingle) and Jacoby Ellsbury (single) had the only hits … Butler, Didi Gregorius, and Aaron Hicks had the three walks … Brian McCann grounded into a double play as a pinch-hitter and made a brutal error on a Hicks throw in the seventh. It was a one-hopper right to his chest, and he missed it. Not the best night for him … home plate umpire Tom Hallion had a really rough night. Here’s the strike zone. Sheesh.

Here are the box score, video highlights, and updated standings. Also make sure you check out our Bullpen Workload and Announcer Standings pages. This series continues Saturday afternoon. That’s a 4pm ET start. CC Sabathia and Marcus Stroman are the scheduled starters.

Game 153: The Final Road Series


The final road series of the season is upon us. Well, I guess the Yankees could make the postseason and play a wildcard game on the road, but they’re basically going to have to run the table for that to happen. I’d be pretty cool with a season-ending ten-game win streak, wouldn’t you? One thing at a time though. Get the win tonight and worry about tomorrow, tomorrow. Here is the Blue Jays’ lineup and here is the Yankees’ lineup:

  1. LF Brett Gardner
  2. CF Jacoby Ellsbury
  3. DH Gary Sanchez
  4. 1B Billy Butler
  5. SS Didi Gregorius
  6. 3B Chase Headley
  7. RF Aaron Hicks
  8. C Austin Romine
  9. 2B Ronald Torreyes
    RHP Bryan Mitchell

It’s cool and cloudy in Toronto tonight. No idea if the Rogers Centre roof will be open or closed. We’ll find out soon enough. Tonight’s game will begin at 7:07pm ET. You can watch on YES locally and ESPN2 nationally. Enjoy the game.

Injury News: Starlin Castro (hamstring) won’t return this series but could be play during the homestand. I imagine the team’s place in the postseason race will be a factor in Castro’s return.

9/23 to 9/26 Series Preview: Toronto Blue Jays

(Photo Credit: Flickr user James D. Schwartz via Creative Commons license)
(Photo Credit: Flickr user James D. Schwartz via Creative Commons license)

We’ve reached the final road series of the season. Crazy, huh? This season flew by. The Yankees are in Toronto for a four-game series against the Blue Jays, a team they are kinda sorta chasing in the wildcard race. At this point it doesn’t matter who the Yankees play. They need wins. The Yankees are 6-9 against the Blue Jays this season, including 1-5 at Rogers Centre. They did sweep three games from them at Yankee Stadium two weeks ago though.

What Have They Done Lately?

The Blue Jays just wrapped up a late-season West Coast trip through Anaheim and Seattle. They split four games with the Angels and took two of three from the Mariners, though they lost the series finale on a Robinson Cano walk-off sacrifice fly Wednesday. Overall, the Blue Jays are 83-69 with a +83 run differential. They’re sitting in the top wildcard spot at the moment.

Offense & Defense

It’s not the devastating offense we saw last season, but the Blue Jays are still averaging 4.75 runs per game with a team 102 wRC+, so they’re going to score and score a lot. They’re much better at home (5.04 R/G and 109 wRC+) than on the road too (4.47 R/G and 96 wRC+). Manager John Gibbons’ team is completely healthy on the position player side too. No one hurt or even day-to-day.

Donaldson. (Otto Greule Jr/Getty)
Donaldson. (Otto Greule Jr/Getty)

Gibbons changed his lineup a tad after getting swept in Yankee Stadium two weeks ago. 2B Devon Travis (111 wRC+) moved to the leadoff spot, so the three-headed monster of 3B Josh Donaldson (154 wRC+), DH Edwin Encarnacion (137 wRC+), and RF Jose Bautista (115 wRC+) hits 2-3-4. C Russell Martin (101 wRC+) and SS Troy Tulowitzki (101 wRC+) follow as the No. 5 and 6 hitters. Scary lineup is scary. It feels like a miracle whenever a pitcher gets through that top six without allowing a run.

1B Justin Smoak (92 wRC+) and CF Kevin Pillar (81 wRC+) are the other regulars, and lately LF Michael Saunders (120 wRC+) has been platooning with OF Melvin Upton Jr. (85 wRC+). C Dioner Navarro (57 wRC+), IF Darwin Barney (85 wRC+), and OF Ezequiel Career (82 wRC+) are the other regular bench players. They don’t play a whole lot. C Josh Thole, IF Ryan Goins, OF Darrell Ceciliani, and OF Dalton Pompey are the extra September players. Pompey is the designated pinch-runner.

The Blue Jays are a very good defensive team — they’re second in baseball with a 0.716 Defensive Efficiency, which means they turn 71.6% of batted balls into outs — with Bautista their only below-average defender. He’s got a great arm but doesn’t cover as much ground as he once did. Playing on turf all those years isn’t good for the knees. Pillar, Donaldson, and Martin are among the elite defenders at their positions.

Pitching Matchups

Friday (7:07pm ET): RHP Bryan Mitchell (vs. TOR) vs. LHP Francisco Liriano (vs. NYY)
The Pirates, who I’m told can fix any pitcher, were so desperate to unload Liriano at the trade deadline that they had to give the Blue Jays two legitimate prospects to take him. All they got back was Drew Hutchison too. Anyway, Liriano has a 5.08 ERA (5.17 FIP) in 150.2 total innings this season, including a 3.89 ERA (4.86 FIP) in 37 innings with Toronto. His strikeout (22.3%) and ground ball (52.0%) rates are very good as always, though he walks too many (12.0%) and can’t keep the ball in the park (1.55 HR/9). Righties have had a little more success against him than lefties. Liriano has nasty stuff. He still sits in the mid-90s with his sinker and both his mid-80s slider and mid-80s changeup can miss bats, at least when he’s locating. When he’s on, Liriano can dominate. The Yankees saw him in relief two weeks ago and mustered nothing in two innings.

Saturday (4:07pm ET): LHP CC Sabathia (vs. TOR) vs. RHP Marcus Stroman (vs. NYY)
It seemed like a lot of people viewed Stroman as an ace coming into the season, didn’t it? I never understood that. The 25-year-old has a 4.50 ERA (3.74 FIP) in 30 starts and 190 innings, and his success is built on limiting walks (6.1%) and keeping the ball on the ground (60.4%). His strikeout (19.7%) and homer (0.99 HR/9) numbers are average. Stroman’s platoon split is small because he throws six pitches: mid-90s four-seamers and sinkers, low-90s cutters, upper-80s sliders and changeups, and a low-80s curveball. The sinker, cutter, and slider are his three main offerings. He tends to get cute and try to beat hitters with his fifth and sixth best pitch, which has hurt him a bunch of times this year. The Yankees have seen Stroman only twice this year: two runs in eight innings in April, and two runs in five innings in September. I thought they hit him harder than that two weeks ago. Huh.

(Jason O. Watson/Getty)
(Jason O. Watson/Getty)

Sunday (1:07pm ET): RHP Michael Pineda (vs. TOR) vs. RHP Marco Estrada (vs. NYY)
I have no idea if this has any effect on the field, but I like that the Blue Jays have all different looks in their rotation. Their starters are all different. The Yankees have a bunch of hard-throwing fastball/slider guys. Toronto’s rotation mixes it up. Estrada, a finesse guy, has a 3.62 ERA (4.19 FIP) in 27 starts and 164 innings this year. His peripherals don’t jump out at you (22.9 K%, 9.1 BB%, 33.3 GB%, 1.21 HR/9) but his ability to generate weak pop-ups means very few balls fall in for hits. Estrada has a .236 BABIP this year, up from .216 last year. It’s not a fluke. It’s the result of all the pop-ups. The 33-year-old righty uses an upper-80s fastball and an upper-70s changeup to keep hitters off balance. The changeup is why he has a reverse split this year. He’ll also throw a few upper-80s cutters and mid-70s curves per start, but the fastball/changeup combo is his bread and butter. Estrada has made three starts against New York in 2016: three runs and seven innings in May, eight scoreless innings later in May, and five runs in four innings in August.

Monday (7:07pm ET): TBA vs. LHP J.A. Happ (vs. NYY)
Happ, 33, is going to get a bunch of Cy Young votes this year thanks to his 20-4 record. His 3.28 ERA (3.92 FIP) in 30 starts and 181.1 innings is really good, don’t get me wrong, but those 20 wins are going to get the most attention. Happ is another contact manager like Estrada — the underlying numbers: 21.7 K%, 7.3 BB%, 42.1 GB%, 1.09 HR/9, .273 BABIP — though not to the same extreme. Righties hit him harder than lefties. Happ throws low-90s four-seamers, low-90s sinkers, mid-80s changeups, and upper-70s curves. Nothing sexy there. The Yankees have seen him four times this season: one run in six innings in April, one run in seven innings in May, one run in six innings later in May, and four runs in 7.1 innings in August.

Bullpen Status

The bullpen outside the ninth inning was a real weakness for the Blue Jays earlier this season. They were able to overhaul the bullpen on the fly through minor trades, and it’s worked well. Their middle relief is much more reliable now. Here is the relief unit Gibbons has at his disposal:

Closer: RHP Roberto Osuna (2.42 ERA/2.98 FIP)
Setup: RHP Joaquin Benoit (2.93/3.94), RHP Jason Grilli (3.36/3.74)
Middle: RHP Joe Biagini (2.84/3.09), LHP Brett Cecil (4.05/3.64)
Long: RHP R.A. Dickey (4.46/5.01), RHP Scott Feldman (3.97/4.22)
Extra: RHP Danny Barnes, LHP Matt Dermody, LHP Aaron Loup, RHP Bo Schultz, RHP Ryan Tepera

It’s crunch time now, so Gibbons has used Osuna for some four-out saves recently, and he’s even brought him into tie games on the road. No one does that. Benoit and Grilli have turned back the clock in the seventh and eighth innings. Biagini has been a nice Rule 5 Draft find too. Seems like teams are doing a better job finding gems in the Rule 5 Draft the last few years.

The Blue Jays had an off-day yesterday as they returned from their West Coast trip, so the bullpen is as fresh as it’s going to get. It’s worth noting Osuna has worked a lot in the last week though. He’s thrown multiple innings three times in the last seven days. Fatigue could be a factor this weekend. Head on over to our Bullpen Workload page for the status of Joe Girardi‘s bullpen.