Yankeemetrics: No sweep for you [Aug. 26-28]

(NY Post)
(NY Post)

Mr. Unstoppable
One of the most incredible starts to a career continued on Friday night with Gary Sanchez extending his unprecedented assault on big-league pitching in the series opener. He added three more hits, including a double and a homer, and drove in four runs to lead the Yankees to a 14-4 blowout win.

Sanchez is setting the record books ablaze every time he steps the plate as his feats are reaching epic proportions and every at-bat becomes must-see television for Yankee fans everywhere. At this point in his record-breaking spree, it’s just easier to recap with bullet points, so here we go:

  • By hitting his 10th homer on Friday, all of which have come in August, Sanchez broke the Yankee rookie record for homers in a calendar month. The previous mark of nine was set by Joe DiMaggio in August 1936 and later tied by Tom Tresh in August 1962.
  • He became the third-fastest player in MLB history to reach 10 homers, behind only Rockies shortstop Trevor Story (21 games earlier this year) and Red Sox infielder George Scott (21 games in 1966)
  • The three-hit, four-RBI performance also pushed his career totals in those stats to 31 and 20, respectively. The only Yankee to reach 30 career hits faster than Sanchez was Joe DiMaggio (16[!] games in 1936); the only Yankees to reach 20 career RBI faster than Sanchez were Hideki Matsui (20 games in 2003) and DiMaggio (21).
  • Where Sanchez truly stands alone in baseball history is his unique combination of elite hit and power tools: He is the first player in major-league history to compile at least 10 homers and 30 hits this early into his career (22nd game).

And we’ll finish this section with a #FunFact, because why not? Sanchez is the youngest Yankee catcher with at least three hits, three runs scored and four RBI in a game since a 23-year-old Yogi Berra on Aug. 3, 1948 against the Tigers.

Sanchez is not human
On Saturday, this Sanchez kid officially zoomed past the basic level of historic and entered the upper realm of absurdity. Since we’re beginning to run out of words to describe Sanchez’s mind-boggling pace, I’ll just put this GIF here instead:

on fire

Yup, he did it again. Sanchez homered for the 11th time this season, fueling another pinstriped offensive explosion as the Yankee routed the Orioles, 13-5. With his 370-foot blast to right-center in the fourth inning, he became the fastest player in the history of major-league baseball to reach the 11-homer mark, doing so in his 23rd career game.

All 11 of his homers came since his recall in early August, making this not just an unbelievable career-opening run, but also one of the best power-hitting months by any young player in recent memory. To the bullet points again:

  • Sanchez is the third Yankee ever to hit at least 11 homers in any month in his age-23 season or younger, joining Mickey Mantle (12 in August 1955) and Joe DiMaggio (15 in July 1937).
  • The rookie phenom is also the youngest big-league catcher since Johnny Bench in 1970 to go yard 11-plus times in a month.
  • And Sanchez is the first American League player in his age-23 season or younger to pile up at least 11 homers and 30 hits in a month since Alex Rodriguez (11 homers, 36 hits) for the Mariners in August 1999.

Sanchez wasn’t the only Yankee with a monster game. One of the guys he shared the spotlight with was Starlin Castro, who repeatedly destroyed the baseball on Saturday as he went 4-for-6, scored three runs, stole a base and drove in three runs.

Only one other second baseman in franchise history has enjoyed such a productive night at the plate — at least four hits, three runs, three RBI and a steal: Alfonso Soriano had a game with those numbers on April 8, 2002 against the Blue Jays.

Overall, for the second time in two games against the Orioles, the Yankee bats punished Orioles pitching — in record-breaking fashion. Coupled with Friday’s offensive fireworks, this is the first time since at least 1913 (and likely ever) that the Yankees have scored at least 13 runs, gotten 18 or more hits, and went deep at least three times in back-to-back games.

(AP)
(AP)

The Sunday Letdown
Nothing lasts forever, right? The Orioles somehow managed to cool off the torrid bat of Gary Sanchez and the streaking Yankees, blanking them, 5-0, on Sunday afternoon. For the seventh time this season the Yankees were going for a three-game sweep … and for the seventh time they failed to complete it.

The lack of three-game sweeps might be an odd stat, and sweeps are not “easy,” but it does speak to the inconsistency — and an inability to go on an extended season-changing run — that has plagued this Yankee team since day one. (Though, to be fair, they do have two four-game sweeps.)

The Orioles did manage to keep Sanchez from sending a ball over the fences, but the young slugger’s power binge was merely tempered. He still finished with two hits, a single and a double, in four at-bats, giving him a whopping 19 extra-base hits in the big leagues.

Only two major-league players in the last century had that many hits for extra bases this early into their careers (24th game): Mandy Brooks had 22 for the Cubs in 1925 and DiMaggio had 19 for the Yankees in 1936. Oh, and he now has more than twice as many multi-hit games (10) as hitless games (4) among the 22 contests he has started in pinstripes.

The fact that Orioles starter Kevin Gausman shut down the Bronx Bombers’ surging bats is hardly surprising given his dominance of them this year. After throwing seven scoreless innings on Sunday, he now owns a 0.98 ERA across four starts versus the Yankees. The last pitcher to finish a season with a sub-1.00 ERA in four-or-more starts against the Yankees was Angels lefty Chuck Finley in 1996 (0.57).

Fan Confidence Poll: August 29, 2016

Record Last Week: 4-2 (42 RS, 22 RA)
Season Record: 67-62 (552 RS, 561 RA, 64-65 pythag. record), 3.5 GB of postseason spot
Opponents This Week: @ Royals (three games, Mon. to Thurs.), Thurs. OFF, @ Orioles (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 Features tab in the nav bar above, or by clicking here. Thanks in advance for voting.

Yanks can’t finish sweep, fall 5-0 to Gausman and the O’s

Only the 2016 Yankees could win two of three and make it feel like a disappointment over and over again. They are now an imperfect 0-7 in the third game of a three-game series after winning the first two. I wonder how long it’s been since the Yankees last went an entire season without a three-game sweep? They dropped Sunday’s finale 5-0 to the Orioles.

Cy Gausman. (Rich Schultz/Getty)
Cy Gausman. (Rich Schultz/Getty)

You Can’t Win If You Can’t Score
Yet again, the Yankees were completely shut down by Orioles righty Kevin Gausman. Fourth time this season. He’s held them to three runs total in 27.2 innings this year, which works out to a 0.98 ERA. Gausman has a 4.41 ERA against all other teams. The worst. Here are his four starts against New York:

  • May 5th at Camden Yards: 8 IP, 3 H, 0 R, 0 ER, 0 BB, 4 K
  • June 5th at Camden Yards: 6 IP, 7 H, 1 R, 1 ER, 2 BB, 5 K
  • July 18th at Yankee Stadium: 6.2 IP, 6 H, 2 R, 2 ER, 1 BB, 6 K
  • August 28th at Yankee Stadium: 7 IP, 7 H, 0 R, 0 ER, 0 BB, 9 K

The Yankees had their best chance to score against Gausman in the fourth inning, when Gary Sanchez and Mark Teixeira opened the frame with consecutive singles. Sanchez, however, got a little overeager and tried to go first-to-third on Teixeira’s single to right. Steve Pearce threw him out with an assist from a great Manny Machado tag. Can’t make the first out of the inning at third base, Gary.

Didi Gregorius followed with a single of his own, so the first three batters in the inning reached base. A Starlin Castro ground out and a Brian McCann strike out ending the threat. We’ll never know how the inning (and the game) would have played out had Sanchez put on the brakes and stopped at second, but man, it does stink to not score after the first three batters of the inning get hits.

The Yankees never threatened much after that fourth inning failed rally. In fact, they only had three baserunners the rest of the way. Ronald Torreyes singled in the fifth, McCann singled in the seventh, and Sanchez doubled in the eighth. Seventeen of the final 20 Yankees to bat made outs. Classic getaway day game by the offense.

Bad Gary. (Rich Schultz/Getty)
Bad Gary. (Rich Schultz/Getty)

Sabathia’s Long Leash
For a while now I’ve been saying I’d like see Joe Girardi have a shorter leash with CC Sabathia, but it just isn’t happening. Coming into this game opponents were hitting .289/.347/.485 against the big man from pitch No. 75 on, yet there he was, out there for 99 pitches as the game slipped out of reach. The O’s went 3-for-6 with a walk after Sabathia threw his 75th pitch. Sigh.

The Orioles had no answer for Sabathia through the first five innings. He held them to two singles and a walk in those first five innings, and one of the singles was an infield single. His first mistake came leading off the sixth, when Steve Pearce connected for a solo home run to break the scoreless tie. Sabathia rebounded to finish the inning before the wheels came off in the seventh.

To be fair, the Orioles didn’t hit Sabathia hard in that seventh inning. Jonathan Schoop poked a ground ball single the other way with one out, then Nolan Reimold reached on a weird infield single in which Castro went around the baserunner and missed the ball completely. Hard to explain. Just watch:

Nolan Reimolds CC Sabathia

Weird play. That put runners on first and second with two outs. Girardi left Sabathia in to get the left-on-left matchup against Hyun-Soo Kim, who CC struck out twice earlier in the game, but it didn’t work. Sabathia walked him on four pitches, loading the bases and ending his afternoon. Adam Warren came in and allowed a two-run single to Pearce to turn a 1-0 deficit into a 3-0 deficit.

Sabathia was charged with three runs on six hits and two walks in 6.2 innings. He did strike out eight. I don’t think I would have sent him back out for the seventh given a) his pitch count, b) the Pearce homer in the sixth, and c) the fact he was going through the lineup a third time. This isn’t the first time Girardi has left Sabathia in a little too long and watched it result in tack-on runs, and it won’t be the last unless he shortens up the leash. CC’s days of being a 100+ pitch monster are long over.

(Rich Schultz/Getty)
(Rich Schultz/Getty)

Leftovers
Down three in the eighth doesn’t exactly seem like “bring in the rookie to face the middle of the lineup in his second MLB appearance” territory, but Girardi went to Ben Heller in that spot, and sure enough Mark Trumbo took him deep for a two-run homer to make it 5-0 O’s. Heller faced six batters and retired two. Blake Parker had to bail him out.

Machado made three great defensive plays in this game. He had the tag on Sanchez in the fourth inning, then he made a diving stop on Castro’s hard-hit grounder later in the inning, and then in the eighth he robbed Torreyes with a diving stop. He dove into foul territory and threw across the diamond from his knees. What can you do? Machado’s gonna do that.

The Yankees had eight hits total, including two each by Sanchez and Torreyes. They also drew zero walks for the 12th time this season. That’s their second highest total of no-walk games this century. (They had 17 in 2013.)

Box Score, WPA Graph & Standings
ESPN has both the box score and updated standings while MLB.com has the video highlights. The Yankees are again 3.5 games back of the second wildcard spot. FanGraphs puts their postseason odds at 5.6% as of this writing. Here are our Bullpen Workload and Announcer Standings pages, and here’s the lame-o win probability graph:


Source: FanGraphs

Up Next
The Yankees are off to Kansas City for an important three-game series with the Royals. The two clubs are both vying for the second wildcard spot and have identical 67-62 records. (Kansas City is playing Sunday night though.) Michael Pineda and ex-Met Dillon Gee are the scheduled starters for Monday night’s opener.

DotF: Holder fans 12 in relief as Scranton clinches playoff spot

The minor league season is winding down, so let’s update the standings. But first, some notes:

  • OF Blake Rutherford is done for the season with a minor hamstring injury, reports Bryan Hoch. He should be good to go for Instructional League next month though. Pulaski’s season ends Thursday and there’s no reason to push it. Seems like the Pulaski social media person was sick of being asked about Rutherford’s status though. Rutherford finishes his pro debut with a .351/.415/.570 (169 wRC+) batting line and three homers in 33 games.
  • OF Clint Frazier has been placed on the 7-day DL with a hamstring strain, reports Kelsie Heneghan. That explains why he was lifted for a pinch-hitter last night. Hopefully it’s minor and Frazier can come back after the seven days and play in the postseason.
  • RHP Chance Adams has been shut down for the season, Double-A Trenton manager Bobby Mitchell told Matt Kardos. He reached his innings limit. Adams finishes the year with a 2.33 ERA (2.96 FIP) and a 29.1% strikeout rate in 127.1 total innings. He was a reliever before this season, remember. They don’t want to push him too far. Big loss for Trenton’s playoff rotation.
  • And finally, OF Jhalan Jackson made an appearance in today’s Prospect Report following last night’s five-hit performance, so make sure you check that out.

Triple-A Scranton (3-1 win over Rochester) the win clinches a postseason spot, which is cool … they’re 84-49 and have the best record in all of Triple-A … their regular season ends a week from tomorrow

  • LF Ben Gamel: 1-3, 1 R, 1 RBI
  • 2B Rob Refsnyder: 1-3, 1 BB
  • DH Chris Parmelee: 2-4, 2 R, 1 HR, 2 RBI — tied the game with a solo homer, then gave them the lead with an RBI single
  • CF Mason Williams: 1-4
  • RF Jake Cave: 1-4, 1 K
  • RHP Bryan Mitchell: 3.2 IP, 4 H, 1 R, 0 ER, 2 BB, 8 K, 1/0 GB/FB, 1 E (pickoff) — 53 of 84 pitches were strikes (63%) … I suppose he could come up when rosters expand on Thursday, though I’m guessing he’ll stay in Triple-A and pitch through the postseason to make up for all those innings he missed with the toe injury
  • LHP Tyler Webb: 1 IP, 3 H, 0 R, 0 ER, 0 BB, 2 K, 0/1 GB/FB — 19 of 28 pitches were strikes (68%)
  • RHP Jonathan Holder: 4 IP, 1 H, 0 R, 0 ER, 0 BB, 12 K — 41 of 53 pitches were strikes (77%) … holy crap what a game … Holder struck out eleven straight batters at one point … the one hit was a pop-up that fell in because none of the infielders called for it too, so the one guy who did make contact (John Ryan Murphy!) didn’t square it up … the three pitchers combined for 22 strikeouts in nine innings

[Read more…]

Sunday Open Thread

This is the open thread for the remainder of the weekend. The Red Sox and Royals are the ESPN Sunday Night Game (Rodriguez vs. Ventura), plus there’s some preseason football on as well. Talk about those games or whatever else here. Go nuts.

Game 129: Finish The Sweep, For Once

(Christopher Pasatieri/Getty)
(Christopher Pasatieri/Getty)

The Yankees are rolling right now. They’ve won their last four games and outscored their opponents 37-10 in the process. They’re also now only 2.5 games back of the second wildcard spot, and a win over the O’s today would bring them to within 1.5 games. The Yankees haven’t been that close to a playoff spot since April 13th. April 13th! That was seven games into the season. Yeah, it’s been a while.

Of course, to get to within 1.5 games of a postseason spot today, the Yankees have to do something they haven’t done all season: sweep a three-game series. They have swept a four-game series this year — two of them, in fact (A’s and Angels) — but never once a little three-game series. They’re 0-6 in the third game when winning the first two games of a three-game series in 2016. Yuck. Change that today, fellas. Here is the Orioles’ lineup and here is the Yankees’ lineup:

  1. LF Brett Gardner
  2. CF Aaron Hicks
  3. DH Gary Sanchez
  4. 1B Mark Teixeira
  5. SS Didi Gregorius
  6. 2B Starlin Castro
  7. C Brian McCann
  8. RF Aaron Judge
  9. 3B Ronald Torreyes
    LHP CC Sabathia

It’s another nice and sunny afternoon in the Bronx. Pretty wonderful baseball weather. This afternoon’s game will begin at 1:05pm ET and you can watch on YES. Enjoy the game.

Enjoying the Ride

(Adam Hunger/Getty)
(Adam Hunger/Getty)

Following a poor April, the goal of this season seemed clear: trade away those pieces with value–or anything not tied down–and put the farm system in a position to flourish and be productive going forward. Of course, that would mean a rough go of things in the second half. This is what happened. The Yankees made the moves many (most?) of us wanted them to make.

After selling off Aroldis Chapman, Andrew Miller, and Carlos Beltran, the Yankees were supposed to fade back, take some lumps for the rest of the year, hopefully break in some new guys, and head into the offseason with the reset button pushed. With veterans exiting–Alex Rodriguez and the aforementioned traded players–or taking a reduced roles–Mark Teixeira, Brian McCann, Chase Headley–the months of August and September were meant to get the kids–Gary Sanchez, Aaron Judge, Tyler Austin, Luis Cessa, and Chad Green chief among them–a stress-free and extended taste of the Majors before (presumably) stepping up and taking bigger roles in 2017.  But a funny thing happened on the way to the offseason: the Yankees began to win. Is it possible that the Yankees could have their cake and eat it, too?

(Presswire)
(Presswire)

As I write this, the Yankees are somehow 2.5 games back of the second wildcard spot and 5.5 games back in the division. Given what they did at the deadline, both of those numbers seemed pretty incomprehensible at the beginning of the month. Here we are, though, as the calendar gets ready to turn to September, and the Yankees have a shot–however outside–at making the playoffs. Per BP, their odds are just 6.6%. Per FanGraphs, their odds are somewhere between 7.2% and 10.2%. Are those great odds? Of course not. But given how this team looked on August 1st, they’re better than anyone could’ve imagined.

Moving from the team to the individual for the moment…Gary Sanchez. What else needs to be said? He’s made his at-bats appointment viewing. I paused on a trip to the bathroom yesterday to watch one of his at bats. The only person unimpressed by Sanchez appears to be my 8-week old son, who seems to be mid-bottle every time Sanchez comes up and does something impressive. Maybe I should feed him constantly throughout Yankee games and see what happens.

Both Sanchez and the Yankees are playing with house money. No one realistically expected either of these things to happen, both Sanchez’s historic debut or the Yankees actually making things interesting in the playoff picture. It won’t always go this well for Sanchez, and we know that. And chances are, given the team’s starting rotation, the Yankees are going to come back down to earth and will probably miss the playoffs. But so what? This is fun. The Yankees are fun. Baseball has been made fun again.

The moment Al passed Face of the Franchise status over to Gary. (Jim McIsaac/Getty)
(Jim McIsaac/Getty)

For now, let’s just enjoy the ride. Both the team and Sanchez are playing with house money and are making us feel good about tuning into the Yankees again after three and a half seasons that, at times, felt like a slog (with varying degrees of success).  I’ll end with this thought: How much do you think it would annoy the rest of baseball if the Yankees, in a year in which they were supposed to turn tail and hideout till next year, made the playoffs? I think it would be pretty damn hilarious. You may’ve heard that baseball is hard to predict and the second half of this Yankee season has certainly subscribed to that theory. Can something wild happen in the last month? Probably not, but it’s going to be a fun ride to experience.