Yanks start second half with a whimper, fall 5-3 to BoSox

Source: FanGraphs

Good to see not a whole lot changed over the All-Star break. The Yankees were the second best team on the field in their second half opening 5-3 loss to the Red Sox, which dropped their postseason odds to a mere 5.0% as of this writing. Not-so-fun fact: at 44-45, the Yankees are under .500 in the second half for the first time since 1995.

I didn’t see one pitch of tonight’s game and I checked the score on my phone only three times: 1-0, 3-0, 5-0. Those are the scores I saw. I didn’t bother to check again after seeing 5-0. The box score tells me Michael Pineda gave up five runs in five innings, including three homers, so it seems he’s back to his early season antics. That’s a big development for #TeamSell.

The Yankees mustered four hits, a walk, and a hit-by-pitch in nine innings against Steven Wright and various relievers. Eleven of the final dozen batters they sent to the plate made outs, so there was no late rally in this one. The Yankees went out quietly. The Red Sox offense averaged 4.28 pitches per plate appearance. The Yankees averaged 3.39. Yup.

Here are the box score, video highlights, and updated standings. Also check out our Bullpen Workload and Announcer Standings pages. The Yankees and Red Sox resume this series Saturday afternoon. That’s a 4pm ET start. Lefties CC Sabathia and Eduardo Rodriguez will be on the mound.

Minor League Update: I have neither the time nor the energy for a full DotF tonight. Here are the box scores and here’s the short version: Ben Gamel had two hits, Luis Severino allowed three runs in 6.2 innings, Dustin Fowler had three hits, Vicente Campos tossed six scoreless, Domingo Acevedo struck out nine in six innings, Hoy Jun Park had three hits, Mandy Alvarez extended his hitting streak to 20 games, and Blake Rutherford had two doubles and a triple in Pulaski’s doubleheader.

Game 89: The Start of the Second Half

(Al Bello/Getty)
(Al Bello/Getty)

Is it crazy to call these 17 days before the trade deadline the most important 17 days for the Yankees since at least the 2008-09 offseason? I don’t think so. With ownership reportedly on the fence about buying or selling, these 17 days may determine while the Yankees sell buy for the future or do something silly like stand pat. I’m not sure what else the decision makers need to see, but whatever.

The second half gets started this evening with the first of three against the Red Sox. Believe it or not, this is the Yankees’ first home game of July. They started the month with a ten-game road trip before the All-Star break. The last home game was the walk-off wild pitch against the Rangers. Yeah, it’s been a while. Michael Pineda started the team’s last home game and he’ll start this one tonight too. Hopefully Big Mike shows up and not Mini-Mike.

I’m not going to have time to add the lineups to the game thread, so I’ll instead direct you to Chad Jennings’ site. I trust he’ll have ’em. The weather in New York today is so much nicer than it was yesterday. It’s hot, don’t get me wrong, but at least it’s not grossly humid again. Tonight’s second half opener will begin at 7:05pm ET. You can watch on WPIX locally and MLB Network nationally. Enjoy.

TiqIQ: With Trade Speculation Heating Up, Yanks’ Season Boils Down to Next Two Weeks

It’s decision time for the Yankees: will the second half welcome a playoff push, or will several major players be leaving the Bronx in a garage sale by next month?

The next two weeks will be a season-defining stretch for the Bombers, who are set to host two divisional rivals in the Boston Red Sox and Baltimore Orioles before the MLB-best San Francisco Giants stroll into town. The 10-game homestand will shape the Yankees’ motion to buy or sell by the August 1 trade deadline, bringing forth a number of reasons for fans to scoop up Yankees tickets over the next two weeks at the Stadium.

Perhaps most obvious is the uncertain futures of Aroldis Chapman, Andrew Miller, Carlos Beltran and Mark Teixeira. Chapman has shined in pinstripes following his 30-game suspension at the beginning of the season and is the most likely candidate to be moved. Pending the right fit, a trade of Chapman would give the Yankees the biggest return of all their potential trade chips. His off-the-field issues may rub many teams the wrong way, but with arguably the best stuff in baseball out of the bullpen, the 28-year-old could be a big piece of the puzzle for a playoff-bound squad come August.

Are we about to witness the last two weeks of Andrew Miller? The southpaw has been vocal about his desire to remain a Yankee, but brass is open to trading the lockdown reliever if the offer is good enough. However, Miller has been nothing short of spectacular for the Yankees this year, and his team-friendly contract of three years at a $9 million AAV may be too sweet to cut from the books.

As for Beltran, the aging slugger has been a bright spot in an otherwise forgettable Yankees offense. The 39-year-old All-Star leads the team in batting average, home runs, RBI and hits this season. Age is always a factor in the future of a franchise, though, and with knee and hamstring issues bothering Beltran earlier this season, maybe now is the time the Yankees part ways with him for the right price.

Teixeira presents an interesting case on the trade market. Battered by injury over his eight-year tenure in the Bronx, the slugging switch-hitter’s contract comes off the books this winter, but his anemic slash line of .190/.271/.318 through just 59 games this season doesn’t make him a glamorous trade chip. And while his right knee articular cartilage tear earlier this year is a red flag for many teams, his veteran presence could make him a valuable asset by the August 31 deadline to acquire players eligible for playoff rosters. Teixeira has expressed his commitment to the Yankees, however, stating that he’s playing to win rather than cash paychecks at this stage of his career. Of course, he’ll ultimately have the final say in the matter – his full no-trade clause allows him to determine his immediate future in pinstripes.

Still, with trade talks in their infancy stage, the Yankees can mute them all with a successful homestand to begin the second half. A push into a Wild Card spot is not unrealistic, but the first test will come quickly through three likely playoff-bound clubs. It will ultimately be up to them to answer the call or risk watching their postseason hopes dry up in the dog days of summer.

7/15 to 7/17 Series Preview: Boston Red Sox

(Denis Poroy/Getty)
(Denis Poroy/Getty)

The All-Star break is finally over. The Yankees open the second half at home tonight, with the first of three against the Red Sox. The Yanks will play their next 13 games against contending teams (Red Sox, Orioles, Astros, Giants). This could be the stretch that pushes Hal Steinbrenner to join #TeamSell. The Yankees were swept in Fenway Park in April and won two of three from the Red Sox in Yankee Stadium in May.

What Have They Done Lately?

The BoSox swept the hapless Rays at home in the series prior to the All-Star break last weekend. They’ve won eight of their last eleven games overall. Boston is 49-38 with a +66 run differential on the season. They’re currently sitting in the top wildcard spot and are two games back of the Orioles in the AL East. The Yankees are 5.5 back of the Red Sox.

Offense & Defense

Manager John Farrell oversees the highest scoring offense in baseball. The Red Sox are averaging 5.63 runs per game with a team 117 wRC+, and both those numbers lead MLB by a lot. (Second place is 5.23 and 110, so yeah.) The Red Sox have four position players on the DL: 3B Pablo Sandoval, OF Chris Young, OF Blake Swihart, and IF Josh Rutledge. None will be back this series. Also, UTIL Brock Holt (90 wRC+) and 1B Hanley Ramirez (111 wRC+) were nursing day-to-day injuries at the end of the first half last weekend. I assume they’ll be good to go for this series.

Betts. (Tom Szczerbowski/Getty)
Betts. (Tom Szczerbowski/Getty)

When your offense works as well as Boston’s, you don’t screw around with the lineup too much. RF Mookie Betts (125 wRC+) leads off, 2B Dustin Pedroia (114 wRC+) bats second, SS Xander Bogaerts (129 wRC+) bats third, and DH David Ortiz (182 wRC+) cleans up. All but Pedroia were All-Stars. Hanley usually hits fifth with CF Jackie Bradley Jr. (140 wRC+) batting sixth. 3B Travis Shaw (102 wRC+) and Holt typically factor into the seventh and eighth spots somewhere.

Right now C Sandy Leon (213 wRC+ in limited time) and C Ryan Hanigan (25 wRC+) are sharing time behind the plate, and recent trade pickup IF Aaron Hill (103 wRC+) platoons at third with Shaw. Holt typically plays left and OF Bryce Brentz (98 wRC+ in limited time) is the extra outfielder. UTIL Michael Martinez (84 wRC+) is the other bench player. Boston’s bench is not good at all, which is why president of baseball operations Dave Dombrowski went out added Hill last week.

The Red Sox are generally a sound defensive club up the middle with Pedroia, Bogaerts, and Bradley. Betts is solid in right as well. Shaw and Hanley are average at best in the corners — the more Shaw has played third, the more he’s gotten exposed — and Holt has a little Melky Cabrera in him in left field, meaning he makes plays look better than they are because his routes are so bad. Both Leon and Hanigan are good throwers.

Pitching Matchups

Friday (7:05pm ET): RHP Michael Pineda (vs. BOS) vs. LHP Eduardo Rodriguez (vs. NYY)
The Red Sox picked up Drew Pomeranz yesterday, but the Yankees won’t see him this series. He’s not scheduled to make his BoSox debut until Wednesday. Anyway, Rodriguez, 23, is Boston’s version of Luis Severino, meaning he’s the talented young hurler having a disappointing sophomore season after expectations were set oh so high. He’s pitched to a 8.59 ERA (6.59 FIP) in six starts and 29.1 innings for the Red Sox before being sent to Triple-A a few weeks ago. They’re actually calling him up from Pawtucket to make this start. Rodriguez hasn’t missed many bats (15.3 K%), hasn’t gotten grounders (30.8%), hasn’t kept the ball in the park (2.76 HR/9), and hasn’t kept walks to a minimum (8.8%). Both righties and lefties have hit him hard. During his brief time in the big leagues earlier this year, Rodriguez worked with a mid-90s four-seam fastball and in the upper-80s with his changeup. He also throws a mid-to-upper-80s cutter/slider thing, and it’s his clear third pitch. Rodriguez doesn’t have a reliable breaking ball at all. The Yankees did not face him in either series earlier this season.

Saturday (4:05pm ET): LHP CC Sabathia (vs. BOS) vs. RHP Steven Wright (vs. NYY)
Although he didn’t pitch in the actual game, the 31-year-old Wright was an All-Star this year, and why not? He leads the AL with a 2.68 ERA. His 3.64 FIP is very good too. Wright has the typical knuckleballer strikeout (19.8%) and walk (9.0%) rates, though he does get a lot of grounders (47.6%). His 0.55 HR/9 is insanely low both overall and by knuckleballer standards. Either Wright is the first knuckleballer in history to learn how to suppress homers, or he’s got a big statistical correction coming. His knuckler floats in around 73 mph, and his get-me-over fastball sits in the low-80s. I should note Wright uses his fastball more than most knuckleballers, around 16% of the time. Most knuckleballers are around 10%. He likes to surprise hitters with it in two-strike counts when they’re sitting knuckleball. The Yankees faced Wright in Yankee Stadium earlier this year and he held them to one run in nine innings, because of course he did.

Why do they call it a knuckleball if you throw it with your fingertips? (Maddie Meyer/Getty)
Why do they call it a knuckleball if you throw it with your fingertips? (Maddie Meyer/Getty)

Sunday (8:05pm ET): RHP Masahiro Tanaka (vs. BOS) vs. LHP David Price (vs. NYY)
It wouldn’t be a Yankees-Red Sox/Blue Jays/Tigers/Rays series without Price getting a start. The 30-year-old is not having a good first season in Boston, posting a 4.34 ERA (3.42 FIP) in 19 starts and 124.1 innings. His strikeout (27.1%) and walk (5.2%) numbers are fantastic. His grounder (43.8%) and homer (1.16 HR/9) rates less so. Price has a small platoon split this season and has for a few years now. His stuff is the same as it’s always been: mid-90s four-seamers and sinkers, upper-80s cutters, mid-80s changeups, and the occasional upper-70s curveball. The Yankees have faced Price twice this season, and both times they scored six runs. They did it in seven innings the first time and 4.2 innings the second time.

Bullpen Status

Farrell’s club has suffered two pretty big blows recently. Closer RHP Craig Kimbrel (3.55 ERA/2.87 FIP) tweaked his knee during his pregame running right before the All-Star break, and wound up needing surgery to repair his meniscus. He’s going to be out 3-6 weeks. Setup man RHP Junichi Tazawa (3.62/3.73) was placed on the DL with a shoulder problem just yesterday. Here is Boston’s current bullpen:

Closer: RHP Koji Uehara (4.81/4.30)
Setup: RHP Brad Ziegler (2.75/3.33), RHP Matt Barnes (2.93/3.85)
Middle: LHP Robbie Ross Jr. (4.71/2.72), LHP Tommy Layne (3.60/3.42), RHP Heath Hembree (2.00/3.15)
Long: RHP William Cuevas (3.60/5.58)

Farrell confirmed Uehara will take over as closer while Kimbrel is out even though he’s not had a great season. Ziegler just came over from the Diamondbacks in a trade last week and is the ground ball specialist the Red Sox lost when Carson Smith blew out his elbow and needed Tommy John surgery. Layne is the lefty specialist and Ross is the full inning lefty.

Both bullpens are fresh thanks to the All-Star break. Dellin Betances and Andrew Miller did pitch in the All-Star Game on Tuesday though, so they’re not as fresh as everyone else. Shouldn’t be a problem though. Our Bullpen Workload page will tell you everything you need to know about Joe Girardi‘s recent reliever usage.

Drew Pomeranz trade shows why Yankees would be smart to sell at the deadline

(Sean M. Haffey/Getty)
(Sean M. Haffey/Getty)

The news broke yesterday afternoon and it was made official last night: the Red Sox traded top pitching prospect Anderson Espinoza to the Padres for All-Star lefty Drew Pomeranz. Pomeranz shut the Yankees down when they were in San Diego earlier this month. The BoSox are getting a 27-year-old southpaw who seems to be coming into his own with two and a half years of control left. Nice pickup.

I know there’s always a rush to judge trades and declare a winner, but this trade makes perfect sense to me for both teams. Sorry if that’s boring. The Padres are rebuilding and they turned a good pitcher with a limited track record into an excellent prospect. (Baseball America has Espinosa 15th in their midseason top 100.) The Red Sox are clearly all-in this season, and when you’re all-in, you trade the 18-year-old Single-A pitcher for the guy pitching at a high-level in the show. Anyway, I have some thoughts on this trade and what it means for the Yankees.

1. Holy cow is this a seller’s market. Drew Pomeranz is a very good pitcher. He was the fifth overall pick in 2010 and the center piece of the package that sent Ubaldo Jimenez to the Indians. Once he got out of Coors Field, he had a 3.08 ERA (3.69 FIP) in 155 innings with the A’s. The talent has always been there. Pomeranz was held back by injuries and being juggled between the rotation and bullpen.

That all said, Pomeranz has a limited track record pitching at an All-Star level and he has a bit of an injury history. As good as he’s been this season, he’s not someone who changes the balance of power within a division like, say, Jose Fernandez. And yet, the Padres were still able to get an elite pitching prospect in return, albeit one far away from MLB. That’s because the upcoming free agent pitching market is so bad that anyone pitching decently with a few years of control remaining will be in demand. Prices are sky high right now.

Think about it. If two and a half years of Pomeranz fetch a top 15 prospect in baseball, what would two and a half years of Andrew Miller bring back? What about a year and a half of Michael Pineda or Nathan Eovaldi? The demand for power arms always exists. I’m not saying the Yankees can trade those guys for top 15 prospect, but clearly pitching help comes at a high price this year. The Pomeranz trade sets a high benchmark, and the Yankees should look to take advantage.

2. It pays to make moves early. The Padres are far out of the race and already in the middle of a rebuild, so trading Pomeranz was a matter of “when,” not “if.” Rather than wait until the deadline because that’s what teams usually do, they got out ahead of the market and made Pomeranz available when there weren’t many other pitchers out there being dangled in trades.

“(There were only) a couple pitchers available. I’m not sure you don’t take a greater risk by waiting (to make a trade),” said Red Sox president of baseball operations Dave Dombrowski during the trade conference call. It’s supply and demand, folks. The Red Sox had the demand for pitching and, at the time, the Padres were the only real team offering supply. They were able to get a big return because the BoSox didn’t have many alternatives.

The Yankees are still trying to get back into the race, which means no trades will happen anytime soon. (For what it’s worth, Wally Matthews reports the front office is ready to sell now, but ownership wants to hold off.) They’re going to wait instead. That’s a mistake in my opinion. The Yankees have given us no reason to think they’ll go on the kind of run necessary to get back into the race. The sooner they sell, the less competition they’ll have and the more they can seek in return.

3. The AL East is going to be that much tougher now. The Yankees are still trying to get back into the race, right? Well things just got a little tougher. One of the teams they’re chasing — not just in the AL East, but in the wildcard race — is the Red Sox, and the Red Sox just got better with Pomeranz. Pomeranz means fewer Clay Buchholz and Joe Kelly and Henry Owens starts in the second half.

Our in-house projections at CBS say Pomeranz adds almost three wins to the BoSox the rest of the season over the crap they’ve been running out there every fifth day. That’s huge! (For what it’s worth, I feel our projections tend to be optimistic. Three wins in a half-season is a ton.) Point is, one of the Yankees’ direct competitors just got better, and that’s going to make life that much tougher for the Yankees. That’s even more reason to sell.

* * *

This is a seller’s market. We didn’t need the Pomeranz trade to tell us that. You could argue as many as 19 teams are in the race right now, including the Yankees, which means few sellers. The Yankees have some premium trade chips (Miller, Carlos Beltran, Aroldis Chapman) and high-end players are netting huge returns. They’d be foolish to keep them because of some long shot odds at contention.

Mailbag: Free Agents, Austin, McCann, Sanchez, Gregorius

I’ve got ten questions for you in this week’s second half opening mailbag. Ten questions qualifies as a small mailbag these days. Use the RABmailbag (at) gmail (dot) com email address to send us anything.

Coghlan. (Norm Hall/Getty)
Coghlan. (Norm Hall/Getty)

Phil asks: Looking at next year’s FA class, who do you see as B-list guys we could sign to 1-2 year deals that could help as stop-gaps or maybe break out to re-up their value?

Here’s the upcoming free agent class. Oddly enough, the best one-year contract reclamation project starter may be … Ivan Nova. Rich Hill seems to have pitched his way into a two-year deal at this point. Besides, pitchers don’t come to the Yankees to rebuild value. The AL East and Yankee Stadium is not a good place to try to improve your stock if you do your work on the mound.

As for hitters, Chris Coghlan is someone who could be interesting as a super utility guy. The former Rookie of the Year is hitting only .155/.244/.278 (40 wRC+) this season, but he put up a .265/.346/.447 (119 wRC+) line in almost 1,000 plate appearances from 2014-15 while playing first, second, third, left, and right. A lefty hitter who can do that is worth a shot as a bench piece. Here are some other one-year deal candidates that stand out to me:

  • 1B Mitch Moreland: Moreland has some outfield experience and is a lefty pull hitter who can take aim for the short porch. He’d be an okay stopgap if Greg Bird‘s shoulder isn’t ready to go come Opening Day.
  • UTIL Steve Pearce: Pearce is never going to put up a 161 wRC+ like he did in 2014 again, but he can hit lefties while playing first base and the corner outfield. He can also be an emergency option at second and third. Pearce would be a really great righty hitting complement to Bird.
  • OF Jon Jay: Jay would only make sense if the Yankees let Carlos Beltran walk and trade Brett Gardner, and even then they have all those lefty hitting Triple-A outfielders. He hits for average, gets on base, makes contact, and plays solid defense. You can do worse for a stopgap outfielder.

The upcoming free agent class is really light on impact players. There’s Jose Bautista, Edwin Encarnacion, Yoenis Cespedes if he opts out, and, uh, Ian Desmond? That’s the list. The Yankees are trying like hell to get under the luxury tax threshold, and let’s just say fighting off the temptation to spend big in free agency won’t be tough this winter.

George asks: Girardi said he couldn’t work with a 6 man rotation. If it meant Hicks would get more playing time, it would work. Two thoughts – 6 starters, whoever is supposed to have a “throw day” could be a 1-2 inning reliever that day, start warming up in the 5th-6th since starters need more time. Second – 2 starters + 1-2 relievers at AAA, 6th starter pitches, goes down, reliever comes up. Other starter comes up for next 6th start. Days off make this easier. It doesn’t seem that difficult.

This is not nearly as easy as you make it sound. First and foremost, you need seven starters to make it work, because the ten-day rule prevents you from sending down your sixth starter and calling him back up five days later. Do the Yankees have seven MLB caliber starters? I’m not even sure they have four right now. I guess it doesn’t matter if Chad Green and Luis Cessa are getting blasted every sixth day if you sell at the deadline though.

Also, having pitchers throw one or two innings on their throw day is not something you can do all year. Teams do it once in a while when they’re very light on available relievers. Between-start throwing sessions are usually far less intense than game action. Using a pitcher on his throw day all the time like that means he’s going to run out of gas not only earlier in the season, but earlier in starts as well.

The Yankees only have to get through the rest of July and August — they have four off-days between now and September 1st — before rosters expand and they can go with a six-man rotation. Counting the days on the schedule, Masahiro Tanaka would make nine starts between now and September 1st: five on normal rest and four on extra rest. Use a spot sixth starter once or twice and it’s only three or four starts on normal rest. He’ll live.

Howie: Through Wednesday, Tyler Austin is hitting .294/.376/.633 with 15 walks and 31 strikeouts in 29 games at Scranton/Wilkes-Barre. Now that he’s healthy again, is he back as a prospect? Could he have a chance at reaching that ceiling he once had?

He’s definitely rebuilt some prospect stock, though he’s not all the way back to where he was a few years ago simply because he’s older now and has lost development time. Austin’s biggest problem over the years has been injuries, specifically wrist problems. It’s not like he lacked hitting ability. Before Austin projected as a potential 20-homer corner outfield bat. Now he might be more like a 15-homer part-time corner outfielder/part-time first baseman. That’s still a useful player, but he’s not someone who’s going to be a real difference maker. It’s great to see him raking in Triple-A. The lost development time is not insignificant though.


Chip asks: Is the current group of young AL Shortstops (Correa, Lindor, Didi, Xander) the best we’ve seen since Jeter, Alex, Tejada and Nomar? And that’s not even including Russell in the NL.

Has to be, right? The best shortstops to debut from 2000-12 are Jimmy Rollins, Jose Reyes, Troy Tulowitzki, Hanley Ramirez, and Rafael Furcal in whatever order. That’s five All-Star caliber shortstops in the span of 13 seasons. Now all of a sudden we’ve seen Xander Bogaerts, Carlos Correa, Francisco Lindor, Addison Russell, and Corey Seager debut within the last three years. (Didi Gregorius is a notch below those guys.) This is definitely the best crop of young shortstops — not just in the AL, but all of MLB — we’ve seen since the Derek Jeter/Alex Rodriguez/Nomar Garciaparra class, hands down.

Paul asks: In the beginning of the year it seemed like McCann was using the entire field pretty effectively, and now it feels like that’s gone away entirely. Is this real or imagined? If real, is there a tangible reason why?

The numbers don’t really bare that out. Here are Brian McCann‘s batted ball direction rates by month this season, via FanGraphs:

Brian McCann batted balls

Last season McCann was at 50.1% pull, 31.5% middle, and 18.4% opposite field. He was right in that range again during the first half. The monthly data reflects the random month-to-month fluctuation that happens in baseball. I don’t think a 55.8% pull rate in June and a 41.7% pull rate in July means McCann has suddenly made a conscious effort to go the other way. That’s just baseball. He’s had some memorable hits the other way this year …

… though I don’t think there’s much to it. He seems like the same ol’ McCann to me, and there’s nothing wrong with that at all. He’s very productive for a catcher despite his generally low batting average.

Anonymous asks: Wondering how much trade value Higashioka has. He’s stuffed way down in the depth chart right now. Would he be able to bring anything of note back with how well he’s performed this year? Or do teams see him as a carriage waiting to turn back into a pumpkin? Keep up the awesome work and thanks!

Not much, probably. Kyle Higashioka’s track record as this type of hitter is very short, and if you look around baseball, I’m sure there are a bunch of 26-year-olds mashing in Double-A. Higashioka is a very good defensive catcher and that’s pretty important. He might be the third or fourth piece in a big trade, or someone who goes as a player to be named later. I feel like the Yankees are better off keeping Higashioka and seeing whether he’s for real than trading him for a spare part player.

Anonymous: Fun stat to track the rest of the year– Will Didi wind up with more HRs or BBs? He needed an intentional walk(!) in Saturday’s game to keep the totals even.

There are always a handful of players who finish the season with more homers than walks. Last year Cespedes (35 HR, 33 BB), Adam Jones (27 HR, 24 BB), Nolan Arenado (42 HR, 34 BB), and Salvador Perez (21 HR, 13 BB) all did it. Jones has done it a bunch of times over the years. So has Adrian Beltre.

Gregorius is at eleven homers and eleven walks right now, and like you said, one of the walks was intentional. Didi went on a bit of a homer binge to close out the first half (five homers in eleven games) and that’s not going to last all year. My guess is he finishes the season with 18-20 homers, which would be frickin’ awesome. Who wouldn’t have taken that coming into the season?

Right now Didi has a hilarious 3.5% walk rate. He’d need 572 plate appearances to get to 20 walks at that rate. Gregorius is at 317 plate appearances now and getting another 255 in the second half shouldn’t be a problem as long as he stays healthy. To finish the year with more homers than walks, Didi is either going to have to sustain this recent power binge or just stop walking all together.

Mike asks: Whether or not McCann gets traded, why don’t the Yankees call up Sanchez to split catching duties and keep McCann/Romine on the roster as backup first basemen? Torreyes seems pretty much useless on the roster at this point (barring injury) and Castro even played a game at short last week to spell DiDi. Just seems like Sanchez’s bat is needed more right now than Torreyes’ versatility, and you keep Romine so you have the option to send Sanchez back down.

Should the Yankees sell at the deadline, calling up Gary Sanchez in the second half seems like a no-brainer to me. Let him get his feet wet as McCann’s back up and give him a healthy amount of starts, maybe even half. Austin Romine has been pretty good, but he shouldn’t stand in Sanchez’s way. I say keep Ronald Torreyes — they need the backup infielder more than they need a third catcher/first baseman — and dump Romine, then let Sanchez join the team. Maybe they could get a decent prospect for Romine. Who knows? Added bonus: Higashioka goes to Triple-A.

Sanchez. (Stacy Revere/Getty)
Sanchez. (Stacy Revere/Getty)

Johnny asks: I was looking at the schedule and all the games in September (minus 3 with the Dodgers) are against AL East opponents. Is it possible the brain trust thinks the team can make up significant ground and therefore is hesitant to decide on selling?

The odds of this happening are annoyingly high. The Yankees have 13 games remaining against the Red Sox, 13 against the Orioles, and ten against the Blue Jays. More than 40% of their second half games are against those three teams. So yes, all those games represent an opportunity to gain ground in the postseason race. At the same time, the Yankees beating the Red Sox is good for the Orioles and Blue Jays. Beating the O’s is good for the Red Sox and Blue Jays. They Yankees need at least two of those three teams to go in the tank to catch up. What are the odds of that happening? Also, what reason do we have to believe the Yankees can even beat those teams consistently? They’re 6-15 against them in 2016.

Anonymous asks: If, for example, Chapman had the same 2 years of control left and the same amount of money due, who would have the most trade value, Chapman or A. Miller?

Chapman. Miller is awesome, but Chapman’s track record as an elite reliever is way longer and he’s nearly three full years younger. Also, Miller missed a month with that forearm injury last year. Chapman hasn’t had any injury problems in years. Miller has been better this year on a rate basis and this is definitely a “what have you done for me lately” game, but the combination of age and track record seems too much to ignore.

DotF: Green dominates, Gamel stays hit in Scranton’s win

OF Blake Rutherford has been promoted to Rookie Pulaski, according to multiple reports. Those eight games in the Gulf Coast League were just a tune-up, apparently.

Triple-A Scranton (2-0 win over Gwinnett)

  • CF Ben Gamel: 2-5, 1 2B, 2 K — 19-for-46 (.413) in his last ten games
  • C Gary Sanchez: 0-4, 1 K — between the Futures Game and Triple-A All-Star Game, he’s traveled from Scranton to San Diego to Charlotte to Gwinnett in the last six days
  • DH Tyler Austin: 1-3, 1 R, 1 BB, 1 K
  • 1B Ike Davis: 2-4, 1 R, 1 HR, 2 RBI, 2 K — second homer with the RailRiders
  • RF Cesar Puello: 1-4, 1 K
  • LF Jake Cave: 0-3, 2 K, 1 CS, 1 HBP
  • RHP Chad Green: 8 IP, 1 H, 0 R, 0 ER, 0 BB, 8 K, 8/6 GB/FB — 77 of 102 pitches were strikes (75%) … we know he can dominate at this level
  • RHP Kirby Yates: 1 IP, 0 H, 0 R, 0 ER, 1 BB, 1 K, 1 WP, 1/0 GB/FB — ten of 19 pitches were strikes

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