2016 Midseason Review: The Farm System

Now that the All-Star break has arrived, it’s time to look back and review the first half of the season. We’ve already looked at the catchers, infielders, outfielders, bench, rotation, bullpen, and role players. Now let’s go down into the farm system.

Judge. (Presswire)
Judge. (Presswire)

The Yankees are a team in transition. They’re trying to get younger wherever possible while waiting out the last few years of all those big money contracts. Most of them will be off the books by the end of next season. There’s no denying the Yankees have had their problems developing players over the last few years, but that doesn’t lessen the importance of the farm system. If anything, it makes the farm system more important going forward. Let’s review the first half of 2016 in the minor league system.

The Top Prospects

The order may vary, but pretty much everyone was in agreement OF Aaron Judge, C Gary Sanchez, and SS Jorge Mateo were the Yankees’ three best prospects coming into the season. I ranked them in that order in my Preseason Top 30 Prospects List. Others had Mateo first and Judge third. The order doesn’t really matter. Those were the three guys.

Judge and Sanchez both opened the year in Triple-A and they’ve had very different seasons. Judge has been up and down. He started well, slumped hard in May, then caught fire in June. At one point he hit nine home runs in 15 games. Overall, Judge is hitting .261/.357/.469 (139 wRC+) with 16 homers and a strong 11.4% walk rate in 83 games. His strikeout rate, which was the No. 1 concern coming into 2016, sits at 23.2%, down from 28.5% in Triple-A last year. Judge unfortunately hurt his knee last week and will be out a month.

Sanchez, meanwhile, has mashed pretty much all season. He hasn’t had the big peaks and valleys like Judge. Sanchez, who is still only 23, is hitting .286/.328/.489 (133 wRC+) with nine homers in 56 games around a fractured thumb caused by a foul tip. My favorite thing about Sanchez is the progression of his strikeout rate:

Low-A: 25.0%
High-A: 19.2%
Double-A: 18.7%
Triple-A: 16.3%

Sanchez is making more contact as he climbs the ladder, and his defense is improving too. That’s pretty awesome. He and Judge factor prominently into the team’s long-term plans. The Yankees envision these two as not only as their catcher and right fielder of the future, but their middle of the lineup of the future too. They’re both having success in Triple-A right now, which is exactly what the Yankees wanted to see this summer.

As for Mateo, he’s down in High-A and gosh, he had an incredible start to the season. He was hitting .299/.364/.485 (149 wRC+) with five homers on June 1st — last year Mateo hit two homers, one of which was an inside-the-parker — and he looked very much like an electric power-speed threat at shortstop. Since then though, Mateo has hit only .211/.250/.246 (46 wRC+) in 122 plate appearances, and last week the Yankees suspended him for violating team policy. He reportedly complained to team officials about not being promoted. Not great, Jorge.

Both Sanchez and Judge are performing as hoped in Triple-A, which puts them in position to assume fairly prominent roles with the 2017 Yankees. It’s not out of the question we see them with the Yankees in the second half. Mateo has had a fine statistical season — he’s hitting .266/.323/.396 (112 wRC+) overall even with the recent slump — but this suspension is a bummer, regardless of why it happened.

The Breakout Prospect

Andujar. (MLB.com video screen grab)
Andujar. (MLB.com video screen grab)

There has been no bigger breakout prospect in the system this year than 3B Miguel Andujar, who always had the tools to be a high-end prospect, but had not yet turned those tools into baseball skills. He’s doing that this year, hitting .291/.343/.446 (128 wRC+) with ten homers and a measly 11.4% strikeout rate in 83 games split between High-A and Double-A. We’ve been waiting a while for Andujar to put it all together, and it’s happening this year.

The other notable breakout prospect this year is a reliever turned starter. The Yankees took last year’s fifth rounder, RHP Chance Adams, and moved him into the rotation this season because of his stuff and pitchability. The results have been better than anyone expected. Adams has a 2.63 ERA (2.97 FIP) with a 29.4% strikeout rate and a 7.5% walk rate in 85.2 innings between High-A and Double-A. He still has work to do with his changeup, but Adams is able to hold his stuff deep into games, which is always a big question with these reliever-to-starter conversation guys.

Perhaps the most interesting breakout prospect is an older guy: 26-year-old C Kyle Higashioka. Higashioka was the Yankees’ seventh round pick back in 2008, and this year he’s hitting .321/.379/.589 (168 wRC+) with 14 homers in 62 games between Double-A and Triple-A. He’s dealt with a bunch of injuries over the years, including Tommy John surgery, but he’s finally healthy now. Higashioka has always had power and he’s the best defensive backstop in the system. Catchers tend to be late-bloomers moreso than any other position. Higashioka may be 26, but they don’t check IDs on the field. A good defensive catcher with power is a legitimate big league prospect.

Other prospects who have raised their stock in the first half this season include RHP Vicente Campos, OF Jake Cave, and SS Tyler Wade. All three have been on the prospect map for a while. Campos is healthy for the first time in years and is having success as a starter, really for the first time since coming over in the Jesus MonteroMichael Pineda trade. Cave has developed some power after being returned as a Rule 5 Draft pick this spring. Wade is doing the bat control/strike discipline/good defense thing in Double-A.

The Inevitable Injuries

Kaprielian. (MLB.com video screen grab)
Kaprielian. (MLB.com video screen grab)

Injuries come with the territory and they’re unavoidable. The biggest injury in the system this year is RHP James Kaprielian‘s elbow injury, which was only recently diagnosed as a flexor tendon strain. Kaprielian, who was the Yankees’ first rounder last year, was limited to three High-A starts this year. That’s a bummer. He was expected to shoot up the ladder rather quickly. There’s no timetable for Kaprielian’s return, as far as we know.

Elsewhere in the system, LHP Jacob Lindgren came down with an elbow injury after completely losing the strike zone in High-A. He threw seven innings and hasn’t been heard from since. RHP Ty Hensley had to undergo a second Tommy John surgery, unfortunately. The team’s first rounder in 2012 has thrown 42.1 innings in parts of five seasons. Ouch. RHP Nick Rumbelow and RHP Branden Pinder had their elbows rebuilt early in the season too.

One of the biggest names — and longest tenured players — in the system saw his time with the organization come to an end following an injury. OF Slade Heathcott, who the Yankees selected in the first round way back in 2009, hit .230/.271/.310 (58 wRC+) with a 32.0% strikeout rate in 23 Triple-A games before coming down with another knee problem. He’s had a bunch of those over the years. The Yankees released Slade in May and he hooked on with the White Sox a few weeks later.

The Prospects Returning From Injury

Clarkin. (MLB.com video screen grab)
Clarkin. (MLB.com video screen grab)

Last year the Yankees seemed to have an inordinate number of full season injuries in the farm system. Several big name prospects missed the entire season, including C Luis Torrens (shoulder), LHP Ian Clarkin (elbow), RHP Domingo German (elbow), and RHP Austin DeCarr (elbow). Clarkin avoided the knife. The other three guys all had surgery. All things considered, their 2016 seasons have gone well to date.

Clarkin was one of New York’s three first round picks in 2013, and so far this season he has a 3.12 ERA (3.16 FIP) in 95.1 innings with High-A Tampa. He’s not only avoided another injury, he’s gotten stronger as the season has gone on. When it comes to the first 100 innings back following a lost season, Clarkin’s season has gone about as well as hoped this year. He’s healthy and he’s getting outs.

Torrens, German, and DeCarr all returned within the last few weeks and haven’t played much. German and DeCarr went through the usual 14-16 month Tommy John surgery rehab — it used to be 12 months, but nowadays teams are stretching it out a bit more — while Torrens was said to be ready to go in Spring Training. He had to be shut down with shoulder discomfort though. Torrens is the healthy now and he’s picked up right where he left off before the injury.

Other Notables

RHP Domingo Acevedo is having an excellent statistical season but still has to work on his secondary pitches … OF Dustin Fowler has climbed the ladder rather quickly after being a two-sport guy in high school and an 18th round pick in 2013. He’s have a good but not great season in Double-A … LHP Jordan Montgomery is inching closer to being a big league option after a strong half-season in Double-A … SS Hoy Jun Park, who was part of that big 2014-15 international class, is having a solid two-way season in Low-A … SS Kyle Holder is still playing the heck out of shortstop, but he’s not hitting much in Low-A … LHP Jeff Degano spent most of the first half in Extended Spring Training, apparently because he’s no longer able to throw strikes.

* * *

Kaprielian’s injury and Mateo’s recent suspension have put a bit of a damper on the top prospects in the system, but Judge and Sanchez are having strong seasons in Triple-A, Andujar and Adams are breaking out, and both Clarkin and Torrens have returned well after missing last season with injury. The Yankees haven’t been able to dip into their farm system for help like they did last year, when RHP Luis Severino and 1B Greg Bird had an impact in the second half, but the tippy top prospects are performing well and the key injured prospects have come back strong. That qualifies as a good season in the minors to me.

Four Yankees make Keith Law’s updated top 50 prospects list

Judge. (Presswire)
Judge. (Presswire)

Earlier today, Keith Law posted his midseason list of the top 50 prospects in baseball (subs. req’d). Astros IF Alex Bregman, the No. 2 pick in last year’s draft, now sits in the top spot. Several of the top prospects coming into the season have graduated to MLB, including Dodgers SS Corey Seager and Twins OF Byron Buxton. Nationals RHP Lucas Giolito and Red Sox OF Andrew Benintendi fill out the top three behind Bregman.

The Yankees landed four players on Law’s list: OF Aaron Judge (No. 23), C Gary Sanchez (No. 36), OF Blake Rutherford (No. 43), and SS Jorge Mateo (No. 50). Welcome to the top prospect lists, Blake. Law says Judge has “made some progress in his plate coverage this year” and Sanchez has “become sort of adequate behind the plate and hit for increasing power the last two years.” Adequate defense and power definitely makes for a starting catcher.

As for Rutherford, the write-up says he is an “advanced enough hitter with above-average present power and should be able to (start 2017 in full season ball) given how well he performed against good competition last summer.” Law is probably the high man on Rutherford. You might see him on various top 100 lists in the coming weeks and months, though I don’t think anyone else will rank him as high as No. 43. Not yet, anyway.

The Mateo write-up is rather scathing. Law says it is “time for him to start performing up to the level of his tools,” specifically by cutting down on his strikeouts (21.5% in High-A this year) and making hard contact more consistently. “If the rumor that Mateo wanted a promotion to Double-A is true, that’s great, but he needs to understand that hitting .266/.323/.396 won’t get him there. Harder contact and all-the-time effort will,” wrote Law.

Even with the last two months being the worst of Mateo’s career, the Yankees still landed four prospects in Law’s top 50, and that’s really awesome. Remember, RHP James Kaprielian made Law’s preseason top 100 list as well, so there’s some high-end talent in the system. Rutherford and Mateo are years away, but Judge and Sanchez are knocking on the door of MLB, and that’s pretty darn exciting.

2016 Midseason Review: The Role Players

Now that the All-Star break has arrived, it’s time to review the first half of the season. We’ve already looked at the catchers, infielders, outfielders, bench, rotation, and bullpen. Now let’s tackle the role players.

Green. (Presswire)
Green. (Presswire)

As always, the Yankees have had to dip into their farm system for help at times this season. That’s mostly the result of injuries. Sometimes they called up a legitimate prospect and gave him a chance, like Rob Refsnyder, and other times they brought in a journeyman veteran to plug a short-term hole. Either way, they were all Yankees. Let’s review the spare parts.

Chad Green: The Sudden Sixth Starter

Over the winter the Yankees looked at their rotation and bullpen depth, and decided to rob Peter to pay Paul. They traded reliable setup man Justin Wilson to the Tigers for two Triple-A starters because they figured they had enough bullpen arms, but not nearly enough starters. Starters under control beyond 2017, especially.

One of those two Triple-A starters is Green, who has spent the majority of the season with Triple-A Scranton, where he’s been dominant. Detroit’s 11th round pick in 2013 currently leads the International League in ERA (1.54 ERA) and FIP (2.18), and that performance has earned him three big league starts. One went well. Two didn’t.

May 15th @ D’Backs: 4 IP, 8 H, 6 R, 4 ER, 1 BB, 5 K, 2 HR (MLB debut)
July 3rd @ Padres: 6 IP, 3 H, 1 R, 1 ER, 1 BB, 8 K, 1 HR
July 8th @ Indians: 4.1 IP, 5 H, 7 R, 7 ER, 2 BB, 6 K, 4 HR

Seven homers in 14.1 innings is really bad! Left-handed hitters have hit five of the seven homers, which makes sense because Green hasn’t really shown a reliable changeup yet. He did add a cutter while in Triple-A between his first and second starts, which is promising, though clearly the Indians had no trouble with it last week.

Green did throw one perfect relief inning with the Yankees in mid-June, so right now he has a career 7.04 ERA (7.09 FIP) in 15.1 innings. Surely he’s looking to improve those numbers, and my guess is he’ll get multiple chances to do so in the second half. Green seems to have climbed to sixth in the rotation depth chart, ahead of Nathan Eovaldi and Luis Severino. How about that?

Second Half Outlook: If the Yankees do sell at the deadline, I could see them giving Green an extended look as a starter in the second half. There’s really no reason to keep running impending free agent Ivan Nova out there in the second half if they’re out of the race. More than likely Green will go up and down a few more times and be the team’s sixth starter, giving the regular rotation members extra rest.

Nick Goody: The Last Shuttle Reliever Standing


The Yankees opened Spring Training with a small army of Triple-A relievers ready to go up and down as needed. We saw it last year. It seemed like one or two of them would be given an extended look at some point this season, but that hasn’t been able to happen. They’ve almost all gotten hurt. The list:

The hope was one or two of those guys would step up and become a permanent piece of the bullpen. Instead, they’ve combined for one big league inning (by Pinder) this season. Baseball, man.

Goody is the last young shuttle reliever standing. He started the season in Triple-A but has had a few stints with the big league team, throwing a total of 22 innings across 19 games. Goody has a 4.91 ERA (4.59 FIP) in those 22 innings, and he’s been alarmingly home run prone (2.05 HR/9). His strikeout (27.4%) and walk (5.3%) numbers are great! But there’s more to life than that. Not a good year to be a young reliever with the Yankees.

Second Half Outlook: Goody is actually on the big league roster right now. He was called up when Green was sent down following his start in Cleveland. Something tells me Goody is going to end up back in Scranton at some point. Then back in New York. Then Scranton. Then New York. You get the point. He’s the very definition of a spare up-and-down arm.

Plans E & F at First Base

At one point in the first half the Yankees had their Plan A (Mark Teixeira), Plan B (Greg Bird), and Plan C (Dustin Ackley) first basemen on the DL. Plan D turned out to be Refsnyder, who basically had an afternoon of prep work at the position before being thrown into game action. The Yankees didn’t want to overwhelm Refsnyder, so a few days after Teixeira’s injury, they called up Plan E: Chris Parmelee.

The Yankees signed Parmelee over the winter after Bird got hurt. He hit .252/.343/.444 (128 wRC+) with seven homers in 43 games with Triple-A Scranton — Parmelee thoroughly outhit Nick Swisher with the RailRiders — before being called up. In his first game in pinstripes, Parmelee went 3-for-4 with a double and two homers. For real! Check it out:

The very next night Parmelee singled in a run in the fifth inning to tie the game against the Angels. No one expected Parmelee to keep hitting like that, but hey, he gave the team a nice little shot in the arm. You need those out-of-nowhere contributions to contend.

The Yankees are not allowed to have nice things though. A few innings after that game-tying single, Parmelee popped his hamstring while stretching for a throw at first base. He suffered a Grade II strain and will be out two months or so. Just like that, Refsnyder was the first baseman again. Plans A, B, C, and E at first base were hurt.

To replace Parmelee, the Yankees signed Ike Davis (Plan F) after he opted out of his minor league deal with the Rangers, and he didn’t even go to Scranton. The Yankees added him to the MLB roster right away. Davis appeared in eight games with the Yankees, went 3-for-14 (.214), then was designated for assignment when Teixeira came off the DL. Davis is currently with Scranton waiting for Teixeira’s next injury.

Second Half Outlook: Parmelee was slated to begin baseball activities a week or two ago and is still a few weeks from returning. The Yankees don’t really have anywhere to play him right now, not unless they trade Teixeira or Carlos Beltran at the deadline. Neither Parmelee nor Davis have much of a role with the Yankees going forward. They’re just injury fill-ins. Parmelee had a memorable moment in pinstripes. Davis … not so much.

The Up & (Mostly) Downers

Johnny B. (Elsa/Getty)
Johnny B. (Presswire)

There are still nine players who played for the Yankees this season that we have not yet covered as part of this crash course midseason review. Let’s wrap up the big league portion of the midseason review with one sentence on each of those nine players. Sound good? Good.

  • RHP Johnny Barbato: For a while it looked like Barbato would stick as a middle reliever, but the bloom came off the rose and he’s now in Scranton.
  • LHP Richard Bleier: The 29-year-old rookie has not only appeared in ten games with the Yankees, he’s still on the roster!
  • LHP Phil Coke: Sure, why the hell not?
  • RHP Luis Cessa: Cessa made the Opening Day roster and keeps going back and forth between big league reliever and Triple-A starter.
  • OF Ben Gamel: His hair is pretty great and pushes the limits of team regulations.
  • RHP Conor Mullee: The three-time major elbow surgery guy got affordable health care for life this year, so that’s cool.
  • LHP Tyler Olson: Olson appeared in one game with the Yankees, then was lost on waivers.
  • C Gary Sanchez: “Hey, Gary, we’re going to call you up for a game and make you face Chris Sale, sound good?”
  • RHP Anthony Swarzak: It’s literally Anthony Swarzak.

Second Half Outlook: Sanchez definitely has a future with the Yankees. He’s the long-term plan behind the plate. Barbato, Cessa, Gamel, and Mullee might have roles with the team going forward too. We’ll see them again in September, if not earlier. Everyone else? They’ll be gone soon enough.

DotF: Mason Williams stays hot on rehab assignment

Triple-A Scranton is off until tomorrow for the All-Star break. The International League beat Pacific Coast League 4-2 in the All-Star Game tonight. Here’s the box score.

  • LF Ben Gamel: 0-2 — started the game and batted leadoff … he was replaced by ex-Yankees farmhand Ronnie Mustelier
  • C Gary Sanchez: 0-1 — started the game and batted third
  • OF Aaron Judge (knee) and RHP Chad Green (pitching tomorrow) were both named to the IL All-Star team but did not play.

Double-A Trenton is off until tomorrow for the All-Star break. The Eastern Division clobbered the Western Division 10-2. Here’s the box score.

  • SS Tyler Wade: 1-5, 1 R, 1 K — batted second and played the entire game
  • CF Dustin Fowler: 2-5, , 1 R, 1 K — batted seventh and played the entire game as well
  • PH-DH-C Kyle Higashioka: 0-2 — he entered the game in the eighth inning
  • LHP Jordan Montgomery: 1 IP, zeroes, 2 K, 0/1 GB/FB — eleven of 14 pitches were strikes (79%) … he started the game for the Eastern Division team
  • RHP Jonathan Holder: 1 IP, 2 H, 1 R, 1 ER, 0 BB, 1 K, 3/0 GB/FB — eleven pitches, nine strikes … he threw the fifth inning … he replaced LHP Dietrich Enns on the roster after Enns was promoted to Triple-A

[Read more…]

Wednesday Night Open Thread

Now comes the boring part of the All-Star break. The Home Run Derby and the All-Star Game itself have already been played, so now we have to wait through two off-days before the season resumes. Enjoy them. It’s good to get away from baseball for a bit. The Yankees open the second half with 13 straight games against contending teams. That’ll be stressful enough.

Anyway, here is tonight’s open thread. The Triple-A All-Star Game is on tonight (7pm ET on MLBN), so that should be fun. Ben Gamel and Gary Sanchez are playing in that. Aaron Judge and Chad Green were both named to the All-Star team but won’t play. Judge is hurt and Green is scheduled to pitch tomorrow. Talk about whatever here.

2016 Midseason Review: The Bullpen

Now that the All-Star break has arrived, it’s time to look back and review the first half of the season. We’ve already looked at the catchers, infielders, outfielders, bench, and rotation. Now it’s time to cover the bullpen.

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

The Yankees have two very different bullpens this season. There’s the good part of the bullpen, which is the three-headed monster at the end of the game. Aroldis Chapman, Andrew Miller, and Dellin Betances have all been spectacular. They’ve combined for a 2.15 ERA (1.57 FIP) with 185 strikeouts in 108.2 innings. Yeah. Ridiculous.

Then there’s the other part of the bullpen. The bad part. That’s basically everyone else, including guys like Kirby Yates and Chasen Shreve. The non-big three relievers have a 4.91 ERA (5.27 FIP) in 155.2 innings. Yikes. That’s not so good. The bullpen overall has a 3.78 ERA (3.56 FIP) on the season. The Yankees definitely have a top heavy relief crew. Chapman, Miller, and Betances are incredible. None of their other relievers are reliable. Let’s review the primary bullpen arms.

Aroldis Chapman: The Temporary Yankee?

When the Yankees acquired Chapman, they were able to do so at a discount because of his pending suspension under the league’s domestic violence policy. No one knew what to expect. Chapman was the first player suspended under the new policy, and he was given a 30-game ban even though he was not charged with a crime. He served his suspension and joined the team in early-May, and immediately took over as closer.

Chapman has been as advertised in his limited time with the Yankees. Is he throwing hard? Yes. His fastball has averaged (averaged!) 100.5 mph and topped out at 104.5 mph. Is he striking out a ton of batters? Yep. Nearly four out of every ten (38.4%, to be exact). Is he wild? Well, not really. His 6.1% walk rate is (by far) a career low and his 58.5% zone rate is (by far) a career high. Chapman’s been dominant and resilient, pitching in 26 of 58 games since his suspension ended. That’s a 72-appearance pace over a full season. He got seven outs (!) in his final appearance of the first half:

Chapman has saved 17 games in 18 chances and pitched to a 2.49 ERA (1.91 FIP) in 25.1 innings since coming back from his suspension. He has been as good as ever, and that shouldn’t be much of a surprise. It’s not like he started the season late because he got hurt. Regardless of how you feel about Chapman as a person following his domestic violence incident, the man is a dominant force on the mound.

Second Half Outlook: The Yankees should trade Chapman at the deadline. There’s no reason to think they are capable of going on the type of run necessary to get into the postseason — they’re 5.5 games back of a wildcard spot with six teams ahead of them, so yeah — and Chapman could bring back a hefty return at the trade deadline. Definitely something worth more than the draft pick the Yankees would recoup if they lost him as a free agent after the season. Will the Yankees actually go through with it and trade Chapman? I think they will. We’ll find out soon enough.

Andrew Miller: The Best Reliever in Baseball

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

You could definitely make the case any of the Yankees’ big three relievers is the best reliever in baseball based on their performance the last few years. In the first half, Miller has risen to the top and been not only New York’s best reliever, but the best in all of baseball. A total of 124 relievers have thrown at least 30 innings this season. Among those 124, Miller ranks …

… eight in ERA (1.37)
… sixth in FIP (1.93)
… first in strikeout rate (46.6%)
… sixth in walk rate (4.1%)
… first in K/BB ratio (11.5)
… third in WHIP (0.71)

I know both fWAR (+1.5) and bWAR (+1.9) say he’s been the third best reliever in baseball, but for my money, he’s the top guy. No other reliever in the game ranks top eight in all of those categories above, and Miller does it while pitching high-leverage innings. And let’s not forget he pitched with a fractured right wrist for the first few weeks of the season.

On top of the performance, Miller is also pretty much the perfect teammate. He opened the season as the team’s closer, went 6-for-6 in save chances, then stepped into a setup role when Chapman returned with no questions asked. The guy is all about the team and it’s hard not to love that. At a position where big contracts often go so very wrong, Miller has somehow been underpaid. He’s worth every penny of his four-year, $36M contract.

Second Half Outlook: Unfortunately, Miller’s excellence and affordable contract make him one very attractive trade chip, the kind of trade chip a rebuilding team would be smart to cash in. The Yankees listened to offers for Miller over the winter and didn’t see anything they like. They’ll listen again at the deadline because they’d be stupid not to. Will they actually trade him? My guess is no, but I’m not very confident in that.

Dellin Betances: Still Excellent Despite A Few Hiccups

Stride length. (Harry How/Getty)
Stride length. (Harry How/Getty)

Betances has spoiled us the last few years. He’s been so good since 2014 that this season feels like a down year, and yet, when you look at his numbers, you see a 2.66 ERA (1.20 FIP) with 78 strikeouts (lol) in 44 innings. Dellin has only walked ten batters too, giving him a career high strikeout rate (45.1%) and a career low walk rate (5.8%) through the first 88 team games. This is absurd. He’s been outrageous.

Now, that said, Dellin has had some notable hiccups this season. He allowed a home run in three straight outings back in late-April — those are the only three homers he’s allowed all season — and has also run into some bad ball-in-play luck that led to runs. Betances has somehow managed a career high ground ball rate (53.6%), a career high soft contact rate (31.8%), and a career high BABIP (.378). I mean … what?

The term “bad luck” gets overused so much nowadays, but I truly think Betances is running into some back luck this season. He’s getting burned on a lot of soft grounders that either go for infield hits or sneak through to the outfield for singles. Those home runs back in April were hit mighty hard, no doubt about that. Otherwise Betances has been missing bats and getting weak contact. Some of that weak contact has come back to bite him, because that’s baseball sometimes.

Second Half Outlook: Even if the Yankees decide to sell at the trade deadline, it’s tough to think they’ll part with Betances. Someone would have to really knock their socks off with an offer. He’s not just unbelievably good, but he’s also under team control another three years, and he’ll make below-market salaries through arbitration. As long as Betances is healthy, it’s safe to assume he’ll be excellent.

Kirby Yates: The Obligatory Scrap Heap Arm

I’m mad at myself for not seeing it coming. Yates was the random scrap heap reliever the Yankees picked up over the winter who somehow managed to work his way onto the Opening Day roster. It happens every year. Last season it was Chris Martin. The Yankees have a knack for finding these guys, and hey, sometimes they’re useful.

Kirby’s usefulness lasted through May. He had a 2.25 ERA (3.13 FIP) in his first 20 appearances and 20 innings, and he really did a nice job stepping into the seventh inning role while Chapman was serving as suspension. As soon as the calendar flipped to June, Yates imploded. He allowed 13 runs and 21 baserunners in 8.1 innings in June, which was capped off by his brutal three hit batsmen meltdown against the Rangers following that long rain delay two weeks ago.

We haven’t seen Yates since that game. He was sent to Triple-A the next day and he’s been there since. Kirby has a 5.72 ERA (3.88 FIP) in 28.1 innings this season, which are the kind of numbers you expect to see from a scrap heap journeyman.

Second Half Outlook: Yates is not any kind of long-term piece for the Yankees. He’s a spare up-and-down arm who we might see again whenever the Yankees need a fresh reliever. Assuming he isn’t dropped from the 40-man roster at some point — he seems safe for a while, there are some others who figure to go first — Yates will be back once rosters expand in September at the latest.

Chasen Shreve: Still Broken

For much of last season, Shreve made an excellent fourth wheel to the Miller-Betances-Justin Wilson end-game trio. He struggled big time down the stretch and everyone — by everyone I mean Shreve and the coaching staff — chalked it up to fatigue, which was believable. He threw a ton of intense innings early in the season. This was a guy who was basically a mop-up man in the minors until 2014, when he decided to air it out rather hold back for the sake of location.

(Getty Images)

Shreve was excellent in Spring Training — he allowed one hit and one walk in ten innings — and it carried over into the regular season. His first six outings were scoreless. Shreve was back! Or so we thought. Many runs and dingers followed. Shreve allowed eleven runs on 14 hits and three walks in 13.2 innings from April 21st through May 25th. Seven of those 14 hits were homers. Seven! In 13.2 innings! Egads.

A relatively minor shoulder problem sent Shreve to the DL for a couple of weeks, and once he was healthy, the Yankees optioned him to Triple-A for about two weeks. He’s since returned to the big league team and retired all seven batters he’s faced across two outings. That’s encouraging, but it’s seven batters. Joe Girardi has been using him in low-leverage spots and understandably so. Shreve did allow eleven homers in a span of 24 innings from September 2015 through May 2016, after all.

Second Half Outlook: I really have no idea what to expect from Shreve in the second half. Runs and homers is the smart bet, but who knows? Shreve does have a nasty splitter, and if he gets it working again, he has the potential to dominate. Either way, Shreve is going to have to earn his way back into the Circle of Trust™. He’s pitched his way out of it.

Trade Deadline Notes: Giants, Teixeira, Beltran, Miller

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

The trade deadline is now two weeks and five days away, and the Yankees should be leaning towards selling at this point. Should is the key word there. This team doesn’t always do things it should do. Anyway, here are some trade deadline notes.

Yankees don’t see Giants as trade match

According to Hank Schulman, the Yankees don’t see the Giants as a good match for a potential Andrew Miller or Aroldis Chapman trade. San Francisco definitely needs bullpen help, but their farm system is thin and they’re contending, so it’s unlikely they’ll deal off their big league roster. I wrote a little more about that a few weeks ago. Of course, this could all be posturing. The Yankees may be trying to put some pressure on the Giants to up their offer.

Teixeira not ready to discuss no-trade clause

When asked about possibly waiving his no-trade rights at the deadline, Mark Teixeira danced around the question, writes Ken Davidoff. “We’ll cross that bridge when we get there,” he said. Teixeira has full no-trade protection through five-and-ten rights at this point, so his contract is irrelevant. I know he’s stunk this year and it sounds silly to talk about him as a trade candidate, but Mike Morse had a 63 wRC+ and was traded twice at the deadline last year. If some team has a need at first base and is looking for some pop, getting Teixeira on the cheap could be mighty appealing. I don’t think he’s going anywhere — nor do I think he’d agree to a trade — but he’s not untradeable. Pretty much no one is.

Beltran open to trade to NL team

Unlike Teixeira, Carlos Beltran does not have a full no-trade clause. He has limited no-trade protection, and he told Davidoff the 15-team no-trade list includes “a little bit of both” leagues without disclosing the teams. Beltran did say he’s open to going to the NL though, even though he won’t be able to DH. “Why not? DH is great, but I played all my life in the outfield, so there’s nothing wrong with it. I just want to play baseball, man,” he said. There, figure to be a lot of outfielders on the trade market at the deadline (Melvin Upton, Josh Reddick, Carlos Gonzalez, Jay Bruce, etc.), but none come close to matching Beltran’s combination of 2016 production and pedigree.

Yankees told Miller he’ll be traded if they get blown away

From the “this applies to everyone” department: the Yankees have informed Miller they will trade him at the deadline if someone blows them away with an offer, reports Chelsea James. Like I said, that applies to every player ever. I guess it’s notable the Yankees were compelled to tell Miller that’s the case, but that might not be uncommon. Non-news, really. Miller is awesome and signed affordably for another two years. Keeping him is definitely a viable strategy even with the Yankees in need of more young talent. Miller is not “just a reliever.” Kirby Yates is just a reliever. Miller’s a high impact player.