Angels 8, Yankees 3: Losing streak reaches seven after Dellin Betances watches another bullpen meltdown

And the losing streak has hit seven. A well-deserved loss, this was. Shaky starting pitching, bad defense, not enough offense, and miserable relief pitching sent the Yankees to an 8-3 loss to the Angels on Tuesday night. Turns out you occasionally have to win to stay in first place. The seven-game losing streak is their first since April 2007. (They had one that spanned the end of 2011 and the start of 2012, but that doesn’t count.)

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

Pineda Settles Down
The top of the first was the baseball equivalent of having your teeth pulled. Cameron Maybin started the game by poking a double into the right field corner, then Michael Pineda went into “I’ll throw the next pitch whenever I damn well feel like it” mode. He took a looong time between pitches. The walk and run-scoring single didn’t help matters. Pineda threw 27 pitches that inning and it took about 25 minutes. No joke.

The two-run second inning started with an inexcusable error by Chris Carter. Eric Young Jr. pulled a soft grounder to first and Carter just whiffed on it. Brought his glove up too quickly. Young made it to second, then Danny Espinosa ripped a run-scoring double into the right-center field gap to give the Angels a 2-0 lead. Kole Calhoun later chipped in a two-out, two-strike single against Pineda to score a run and give the Halos a 3-0 lead.

To Pineda’s credit, he settled down quite nicely after the rough first two innings. He retired nine in a row after the Calhoun single and 12 of the final 15 batters he faced. Pineda did allow back-to-back two-out singles in the fifth and a two-out single in the sixth, but escaped. Well, Chasen Shreve escaped the sixth. He struck out Espinosa after Pineda was yanked. Can’t feel good when your manager doesn’t trust to you face Espinosa a third time.

All told, Pineda allowed three runs (only one earned thanks to Carter’s error) on seven hits and one walk in 5.2 innings. He threw 105 pitches and struck out seven. It was a grind early. Big time. The first inning was a mess and Pineda did well to escape that mess with only one run allowed. He couldn’t do the same in the second, but I guess one outta two ain’t bad. Nice work not letting this snowball into a disaster outing, Mike.

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

Fighting Spirit!
Down three runs after two innings? No problem! The Yankees stormed back to knot things up 3-3 by the sixth inning. They got on the board with a Chase Headley sacrifice fly in the fourth inning. A Starlin Castro single and a Gary Sanchez walk set that one up. Didi Gregorius lifted a fly ball deep enough to center field to get Castro to third for the sac fly.

In the fifth, Aaron Judge flicked his wrists and hit a solo home run into the right-center field seats for his team’s second run of the night. An inning later, Sanchez did the same thing. Judge’s home run was more of a high fly ball. Sanchez’s was a line drive. Two different homers, but the same result. The picket fence in innings 4-6 evened the score at three apiece. A new ballgame!

Death By Bullpen
I have to admit, I’m impressed by Joe Girardi‘s steadfast refusal to use his best reliever in high-leverage situations. No matter how many games the non-Dellin Betances relievers blow, Betances is going to pitch his inning and his inning only. Bullpen management in the year 2017. What a time to be alive.

The 3-3 tie lasted two pitches. Two pitches! Seventh inning guy Tyler Clippard came into face the top of the lineup in the seventh inning — definitely don’t want to use Betances against those guys — and he left a 78 mph nothingball out over the plate to Cameron Maybin …

tyler-clippard-cameron-maybin

… which turned the 3-3 tie into a 4-3 Angels lead. It was a homer as soon as it left Clippard’s hand. A 78 mph changeup there is a batting practice fastball. This was the third time Clippard allowed the game-tying or go-ahead home run to the first batter he’s faced (!) in his last seven appearances. Amazing. If that doesn’t knock him out of the Circle of Trust™, nothing will.

But wait! It didn’t stop there. The next batter: double off the wall. The next better: fly ball to the warning track. The next better: triple off the top of the wall. Nothing but loud contact against Clippard, which is the norm these days. Jonathan Holder, who has been sneaky crummy of late too, replaced Clippard and allowed the inherited runner to score. The final line on Clippard: 0.1 IP, 3 H, 3 R, 3 ER, 0 BB, 0 K, 1 HR. Six runs in his last 5.2 innings.

Holder didn’t stop the bleeding. In addition to allowing Clippard’s inherited runner to score, he also allowed a run on a double, a bunt, and an infield single in the eighth. Then came the Luis Valbuena solo homer in the ninth to give the Angels an 8-3 lead. That was that. Holder threw 41 pitches in 2.2 innings. He has now allowed nine runs, including four homers, in his last 12.1 innings. That bad? That seems bad.

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

Leftovers
The bullpen was awful but let’s not excuse the offense here. Four hits against Parker Bridwell (?!?) and various relievers? Come on. The Yankees did draw five walks, so that’s good, but four hits won’t win you many games. Judge (homer), Matt Holliday (double), Castro (single), and Sanchez (homer) had the hits. The other five players in the lineup went 0-for-16.

Aaron Hicks returned to the lineup after missing three games and went 0-for-2 with two walks and a strikeout. Holliday, Sanchez, and Headley had the other walks. Austin Romine pinch-hit for Carter in the ninth inning, which seems ridiculous even as bad as Carter has been this year. No one said he’s hurt after the game though. Weird. Tonight was bad but I’m not worried about the bats. The bullpen is another matter.

And finally, the Yankees last lost seven in a row back in April 2007, as I said. That losing streak ended after Jeff Karstens had his leg broken by a comebacker, and Kei Igawa came out of the bullpen to throw six shutout innings against the Red Sox. I was at that game. No idea why I mentioned that. I guess it’s better than talking about this game.

Box Score, WPA Graph & Standings
Head over to ESPN for the box score and updated standings, and MLB.com for the video highlights. We have a Bullpen Workload page that you should check out. Here’s the loss probability graph:


Source: FanGraphs

Up Next
Same two teams Wednesday night, in the middle game of this three-game series. Jordan Montgomery and Ricky Nolasco are the scheduled starting pitchers. RAB Tickets can you in the door for that game, or any of the other four games remaining on the homestand.

DotF: Staten Island wins opener; Tate returns in Tampa’s win

Some notes to get us started:

  • SS Gleyber Torres is having his Tommy John surgery tomorrow, according to Bryan Hoch. Mets team doctor Dr. David Atlchek will perform the surgery. See you in the spring, Gleyber.
  • 3B Nelson Gomez is listed as suspended on the Staten Island Yankees roster for some reason. Not sure what happened there. He didn’t fail a drug test or anything like that. Those are announced by MLB. Must have violated team rules.
  • RHP Travis Hissong has been released, the Tampa Yankees announced. Hissong had been with the Yankees since signing as an undrafted free agent in 2014. He threw some innings as an extra arm in Spring Training this year.

Triple-A Scranton Game One (4-3 loss to Syracuse in seven innings)

  • 2B Tyler Wade & C Kyle Higashioka: both 0-3 — Higashioka struck out twice
  • CF Dustin Fowler: 1-3, 1 R, 1 HR, 1 RBI, 1 K — 12 homers in 64 games this year after hitting 12 in 132 games last year … getting out of Trenton is a part of it, no doubt, but not all of it
  • 1B Tyler Austin: 0-2, 1 BB
  • LF Jake Cave: 1-2, 1 R, 1 HR, 1 RBI, 1 BB — three homers in his last eight games
  • RHP Bryan Mitchell: 4.1 IP, 1 H, 1 R, 1 ER, 1 BB, 5 K, 7/0 GB/FB — 43 of 67 pitches were strikes (64%) … he’s thrown 56, 60, and 67 pitches in his last three starts, which is weird … they’re not really stretching him out much
  • LHP Tyler Webb: 1.1 IP, 1 H, 1 R, 1 ER, 1 BB, 2 K, 2/1 GB/FB — 22 of 34 pitches were strikes (65%)

[Read more…]

Game 68: Home Sweet Home

(Mike Stobe/Getty)
(Mike Stobe/Getty)

Thank goodness the Yankees are back home again. That road trip was a nightmare. Six losses in seven games and five injuries too, including two DL stints (CC Sabathia and Adam Warren) and one setback (Greg Bird), and not including one top prospect blowing out his damn elbow on a slide (Gleyber Torres). But that’s baseball. A little adversity never hurt anyone.

On paper, the Yankees are set up well to bounce back this series. They’re throwing their three best starting pitchers against the Angels, who are starting a pitcher acquired in a cash trade, the league leader in home runs allowed, and a converted reliever. Also, the Yankees are 22-9 at home and have outscored their opponents by 83 (!) runs. The Yankees have hit .285/.367/.524 at home this year. They’re a lineup of Nelson Cruzes (.288/.369/.517) at Yankee Stadium. Here is the Angels’ lineup and here is the Yankees’ lineup:

  1. LF Brett Gardner
  2. CF Aaron Hicks (the Achilles is healthy)
  3. RF Aaron Judge
  4. DH Matt Holliday
  5. 2B Starlin Castro
  6. C Gary Sanchez
  7. SS Didi Gregorius
  8. 3B Chase Headley
  9. 1B Chris Carter
    RHP Michael Pineda

Lovely day in New York today. The sky will be nice and clear tonight. Good night to snap a six-game losing streak. Tonight’s game will begin at 7:05pm ET and you can watch on WPIX locally and MLB Network nationally. Enjoy the game.

Injury Updates: Jacoby Ellsbury (concussion) is feeling better and will take full batting practice with Double-A Trenton tomorrow. There is still no firm timetable for his return though … Warren (shoulder) saw the doctor today and has inflammation in his rotator cuff. No structural damage. They pumped him full of steroids and he’ll rest for a bit before he resumes throwing … Bird (ankle) is seeing a specialist today.

All-Star Voting: According to MLB’s latest update, Judge is still the AL’s leading vote-getter for the All-Star Game. His 2,631,284 votes are nearly half-a-million more than second place Jose Altuve (2,185,035). Pretty awesome. Castro (second), Holliday (second), Gregorius (third), Sanchez (third), and Gardner (eighth) are all getting a bunch of support at their positions as well. Here’s the All-Star ballot. Go vote.

Home Run Derby: Judge has been invited to the Home Run Derby, according to the Associated Press. Hooray! He has not yet decided whether to participate, however. Judge should do it. He should so do it.

2017 Draft Signings: Sauer, Smith, Lehnen, Higgins, Zurak

Higgins. (Getty)
Higgins. (Getty)

We are still two and a half weeks away from the Friday, July 7th signing deadline, though the Yankees have already taken care of business with most of their 2017 draft picks. Here are my Day One, Day Two, and Day Three recaps, and here are all of the Yankees’ picks. Now here are the latest signings:

  • Both Arkansas RHP Trevor Stephan (3rd) and Rice RHP Glenn Otto (5th) signed for less than originally reported. MLB.com says Stephan received $797,500, not $800,000. Jim Callis says Otto received $320,900, not $323,400. Turns out there’s an accounting trick that saves teams $2,500 against the bonus pool. Callis says the standard draftee contract includes $2,500 in bonuses so easily reachable that teams were counting it as part of the signing bonus. Now they’ve stopped. The player still gets the money, but it doesn’t count against the bonus pool. Huh.
  • The Yankees and California HS RHP Matt Sauer (2nd) have a deal in place, reports Steve Adams. Joe Bailey says Sauer was offered $2.5M, which is roughly double his slot value. I don’t doubt Adams and Bailey, though I’d like to see one of the regular draft gurus says the deal is done before considering it done, you know?
  • Texas HS OF Canaan Smith (4th) has signed, the Yankees announced. Jim Callis says he received a $497,500 bonus, a little above the $433,100 slot value. Smith has big left-handed raw power and he walked 60+ times in 40 games this spring. It’s a top ten walks total for a prep player all-time.
  • Augustana LHP Dalton Lehnen (6th) and Dallas Baptist RHP Dalton Higgins (7th) have signed, the Yankees announced. Callis says Lehnen received a $245,100 bonus, which is his slot value minus the $2,500 trick. No word on Higgins’ bonus yet. My guess is he received slot as well. (Update: Callis says Higgins signed for $227,500, which is slightly above slot.)
  • Radford RHP Kyle Zurak (8th), Texas-Arlington RHP Austin Gardner (9th), and Southern Illinois RHP Chad Whitmer (10th) have all signed as well, the Yankees announced. MLB.com says all three signed for a well-below slot $7,500. They’re draft pool saving college senior picks.
  • New Orleans RHP Shawn Semple (11th), Orange Coast 1B Eric Wagaman (12th), Virginia Tech RHP Aaron McGarity (15th), Mount Olive SS Ricky Surum (16th), Delaware RHP Ron Marinaccio (19th), and Notre Dame C Ryan Lidge (20th) have all signed, the Yankees announced. Slot money for every pick after the tenth round is $125,000 and I doubt these guys signed for more than that. (Update: Callis says Semple signed for $147,500. No word on the other guys.)
  • Seattle RHP Janson Junk (22nd) has signed, according to his Instagram feed. There’s no reason to think he received more than the $125,000 slot.

Assuming the Sauer deal is done, the Yankees have now signed every pick in the top 22 rounds except South Carolina RHP Clarke Schmidt (1st) and Alabama-Birmingham RHP Garrett Whitlock (18th). That Sauer is getting a big over-slot bonus indicates the Yanks have a below-slot deal in place with Schmidt.

6/20 to 6/22 Series Preview: Los Angeles Angels

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

The Yankees trip to the West Coast went about as poorly as it could. They dropped six of seven to the Angels and A’s, and suffered injuries and heartbreaking losses along the way. They’ve fallen to 16-20 on the road as a result of this road trip, so a return to the Bronx (where they’re 22-9) is quite welcome.

The Last Time They Met

It was last week, so this may well be a fine example of deja vu all over again. The Angels took two of three at Angel Stadium, and CC Sabathia left the second game with a strained left hamstring. Let’s take a look at some of the positives from the series:

  • Aaron Judge went 2-for-4 with a three runs, a home run, and two RBI in the first game. That home run was a two-run shot in the 8th inning, which broke a 3-3 tie and helped secure the win for the Yankees.
  • Masahiro Tanaka was solid in that game, as well. He went 6.2 IP, allowing 4 hits, 3 runs (1 ER), and 2 BB, striking out 8.
  • Chase Headley showed signs of life in the series, going 6-for-13 with a double and a home run. He raised his season OPS from .659 to .696 in those three games.
  • All nine Yankees starters reached base safely in both the first and third games of the series.

Check out Katie’s Yankeemetrics post for more in-depth analysis of the series.

Injury Report

Closer Cam Bedrosian returned from the disabled list over the weekend, and there’s a chance that reliever Huston Street will return this week, as well. Matt Shoemaker essentially replaced Bedrosian on the DL, due to a forearm strain. Otherwise, it’s the same story as last week – which means no Mike Trout and no Garrett Richards.

Their Story So Far

The Angels hosted the Royals for a four-game series after the Yankees left, and they dropped three. They’re now 36-37 on the season, including 10-10 with a +13 run differential since Trout hit the disabled list.

The Lineup We Might See

Manager Mike Scioscia seems to have found a lineup that works for him over the last week and change – at least as it pertains to the first six spots in the order. If their last two series’ are any indication, the Yankees pitchers will see something along these lines:

  1. Cameron Maybin, CF
  2. Kole Calhoun, RF
  3. Albert Pujols, DH
  4. Yunel Escobar, 3B
  5. Luis Valbuena, 1B (vs. RHP) or Andrelton Simmons, SS (vs. LHP)
  6. Andrelton Simmons, SS (vs. RHP) or C.J. Cron, 1B (vs. LHP)
  7. Ben Revere, LF or Eric Young, LF
  8. Martin Maldonado, C
  9. Danny Espinosa, 2B

The Starting Pitchers We Will See

Tuesday (7:05 PM EST): RHP Michael Pineda vs. RHP Parker Bridwell

It has been a rather inauspicious beginning to Bridwell’s 2017 season, as the 25-year-old was DFA’d by the pitching-starved Orioles to make room for Paul Fry, and was subsequently dealt to the Angels for a PTBNL or cash. This will be the second start of his MLB career (he started against the Braves on 5/30), and his second time facing the Yankees (his most recent outing).

Bridwell throws a trio of fastballs, including a low-90s four-seamer, a low-90s two-seamer, and an upper-80s cutter. He also throws a slurvy breaking ball and a change-up in the low-to-mid 80s.

Last Outing (vs. NYY on 6/14) – 3.2 IP, 7 H, 1 R, 0 BB, 1 K

Wednesday (7:05 PM EST): LHP Jordan Montgomery vs. RHP Ricky Nolasco

There was a time when we were all waiting for Nolasco to break-out, owing largely to his strong strikeout and walk rates, which resulted in low FIPs that belied his high ERAs. He’s now 34-years-old, though, with a 5.02 ERA (81 ERA+) since the beginning of the 2014 season, so those days are long gone. Nevertheless, the 0.61 run gulf between his career ERA (4.55) and FIP (3.93) is the highest of any long-term starter since the end of the 19th century.

Nolasco throws mostly fastballs and sliders nowadays, with his four- and two-seamers sitting in the low-90s, and his slider checking-in in the low-80s. He’ll also throw a low-80s split change-up every so often.

Last Outing (vs. KCR on 6/15) – 6.0 IP, 10 H, 4 R, 2 BB, 4 K

Thursday (7:05 PM EST): RHP Luis Severino vs. RHP Jesse Chavez

To say that Chavez can do a bit of everything is a bit of an understatement, as the 33-year-old has bounced between the rotation and the bullpen several times over the last five years. He spent all of 2013 in the bullpen, split the 2014 season between starting and relieving, spent the vast majority of 2015 as a starter, and was used as a reliever for the entirety of 2016. He’s back in the rotation in 2017, and he leads the Angels in both starts and innings pitched. Whether that’s a good thing or not is up for debate.

Chavez is a four-pitch guy, with a low-90s fastball, a low-90s cutter, a low-80s slider, and a mid-80s change-up. He’ll flash a curve, as well, but it’s not used more than a couple of times per game.

Last Outing (vs. KCR on 6/16) – 7.0 IP, 9 H, 2 R, 0 BB, 4 K

The Bullpen

The return of Bedrosian and potential return of Street means that the Angels bullpen is approaching full-strength. It was difficult to tell that they were short-handed, though, given that the bullpen has a 2.70 ERA (133 ERA+) in June. They held the Royals offense to 4 runs in 15 innings this past weekend, striking out 14 while walking just 2. It was all hands on-deck in the series against the Royals, with most relievers going at least twice. However, the day off and the return of Bedrosian should leave the group fairly rested and ready for tonight’s game.

Who (Or What) To Watch

Would it be a cop-out to lean on Simmons’ defense once again? If not, there you go.

If so, Bedrosian’s slider is among the best in the game, with batters hitting just .170 with a .019 ISO against the offering last year. It’s a filthy pitch, to say the least. You could also probably make a game out of how often the broadcasters reference his father – the Cy Young-winning Steve Bedrosian.

Are Holliday’s strikeouts a sign he’s selling out for power?

(Mike Stobe/Getty)
(Mike Stobe/Getty)

Once the Yankees traded Brian McCann, it was clear they had two offseason priorities. They wanted another high-end reliever to replace Aroldis Chapman and Andrew Miller, who were traded away at the deadline, and they wanted a big bat to plug into their designated hitter spot. The Yankees reportedly wanted another starting pitcher too, but that didn’t happen.

Rather than go for a big name DH like Edwin Encarnacion, the Yankees instead settled on Matt Holliday, who had never been a full-time DH before and had seen his offensive output, by wRC+, drop from 146 to 132 to 124 to 109 from 2013-16. Not a good sign for a 37-year-old! The Yankees took the plunge though, partly because Holliday would take a one-year contract, and partly because there were indications his underlying skills hadn’t slipped as much as his numbers indicate.

A little more than one-third of the way into the season, Holliday has been a central figure in an offense that leads baseball with an average of 5.72 runs scored per game. He’s hitting .270/.375/.516 (137 wRC+) overall, and his 14 home runs give him a chance to hit 30 for the first time since 2007. (Even during his best years with the Cardinals, Holliday was more of a 25-28 homer guy.) Home runs like his walk-off against the Orioles …

… show the ball still flies off Holliday’s bat. I couldn’t tell you how many times I’ve seen him hit a ball like that and think it’s a routine fly out off the end of the bat, only to watch it carry and carry and carry. He did it twice in the series in Toronto two weeks ago. Holliday hits the ball the other way with so much power. It’s no wonder why he’s been such a great hitter throughout his career.

Holliday is hitting better now that he has in years, especially for power, and in all likelihood there are several reasons for that. One, he now plays his home games in Yankee Stadium, a hitter’s ballpark. Two, he’s a full-time DH who doesn’t have to deal with the wear and tear of playing the field. At this point of the season, 67 games in, no one is 100% physically. Holliday is probably closest on the Yankees because he’s off his feet so much.

And three, there are some indications Holliday is a different hitter now than he was last year and really the last few years. The single biggest difference between Holliday right now and the Holliday of the past is the strikeouts. He has a 25.4% strikeout rate at the moment, by far the highest of his career. His previous career high was 19.6% as a rookie in 2004. His career average is 16.7% strikeouts. Look:

matt-holliday-strikeout-rate

Usually when a player on the wrong side of 35 sees his strikeout rate spike that like, it comes with a massive drop in production. That isn’t the case with Holliday. He’s been more productive this season than he has been in three or four years now. I don’t doubt that Holliday has lost some bat speed — he is 37, after all — but clearly he hasn’t lost so much that he is incapable of being an impact hitter.

Soon after Holliday signed with the Yankees, he said he wanted to do a better job getting the ball airborne. He hit way too many grounders last season. Exactly half his batted balls, in fact. So far this season Holliday’s ground ball rate has dropped to 45.1%, his lowest since 2010, and he’s also pulling the ball more often. His 39.2% pull rate is a career high and quite a bit above his career 35.1% pull rate.

More strikeouts plus more fly balls plus more balls pulled to left field? Could it be an indication Holliday is selling out for power this season? I think it’s a possibility. I should note that while a 39.2% pull rate is high for Holliday, it’s actually below the MLB average. The league average pull rate is 39.9% this year. We’ve seen some really pull happy hitters over the years, like Brian McCann (50.0% in 2016). Holliday isn’t pulling the ball that much.

What I think may be happening is Holliday is selling out for power selectively. In certain situations he’ll look for a pitch, really try to unload on it, and hope he connects. If he does, great! If not, well, better luck next time. Holliday may be selling out for power, but he hasn’t completely sacrificed his all-fields approach either. Like I said earlier, we’ve seen him really muscle some balls out to center and right-center. Here’s his spray chart, via Baseball Savant:

matt-holliday-sprau-chart1

If Holliday is selling out for power — and I don’t know that he is, it’s just a theory — he’s managed to do it in a way that doesn’t compromise his ability to take the ball the other way. McCann, for example, looked to pull just about every pitch because, as a left-handed hitter, he would be rewarded for doing so at Yankee Stadium. Holliday, as a righty, still has incentive to go the other way.

The Yankees avoided the big flashy move over the winter, which would have been signing Encarnacion, and they opted for the most sensible move in signing Holliday to a one-year contract. And so far, it couldn’t be working out any better. Holliday has transitioned to DH seamlessly — lots of guys struggle with that after playing the field every day basically their entire lives — and he’s producing more than he has in years. And he seems to be a positive influence on the young players too.

As an older player, Holliday has inevitably had to make adjustments to remain successful, and it seems his latest adjustment may involve picking his spots to swing out of his shoes. If he swings and misses, so be it. That’s the trade off. That he’s been able to do that, pull the ball and get it in the air more often, without sacrificing his all-fields ability is pretty damn impressive. Yeah, Holliday may be striking out more than ever before, but the strikeouts have come with his best offensive season in years.

Thoughts following Gleyber Torres’ Tommy John surgery news

Gleybaby :( (Scranton Times Tribune)
Gleybaby :( (Scranton Times Tribune)

Over the weekend, top prospect Gleyber Torres managed to tear the ulnar collateral ligament in his left elbow on a play at the plate. He will have season-ending Tommy John surgery. It sucks so much. Sooo much. The injury combined with the disaster West Coast road trip make this one of the worst weeks in recent Yankees history. No doubt about it. Anyway, I have some thoughts on the injury and the fallout.

1. If this injury comes with a silver lining, it’s this: the injury is to Gleyber’s non-throwing elbow, and he’s a position player. The Tommy John surgery rehab timetable for position players is usually 6-8 months, not the 14-16 months it is for pitchers nowadays. The Yankees say they expect Torres to be ready in time for Spring Training — the Arizona Fall League or winter ball isn’t going to happen though — and that isn’t aggressive at all. There is always risk with surgery and the lost development time shouldn’t be ignored. Torres is going to lose 300 or so plate appearances and he’ll never get them back. At the end of the day, this is a severe injury, but it is also fairly straightforward and correctable. And he is only 20. It’s not like he’s 25 or 26.

2. A torn elbow ligament and Tommy John surgery is pretty darn common these days, though the way Torres tore his ligament is pretty unique. When’s the last time someone blew out their elbow on a slide? Heck, when’s the last time someone blew out their non-throwing elbow? Usually the ligament tears during a throw, even with position players. I can’t remember ever hearing of a player tearing his elbow ligament on an impact play like a slide into home plate. Weird. Torres must have really come down on that elbow hard, huh? Or maybe the ligament was already frayed and on the verge of tearing, and the slide was the straw that broke the camel’s back. At the end of the day, it was a fluke injury suffered during a fairly common baseball play. It’s just weird that it resulted in this injury.

3. As good as he is — and Torres is insanely talented — probably the biggest weakness in his game right now is his baserunning. He’s overly aggressive and it leads to a lot of pickoffs and outs on the bases. There were a few of them back in Spring Training. Torres would push the envelope when he shouldn’t have, and the result was an out. Not a fatal flaw! A correctable flaw through experience. Here’s the slide that resulted in the injury:

That’s not a headfirst slide. That’s more of an awkward feet first slide with an arm extended. Perhaps the awkwardness of the slide contributed to the injury. I mean, it almost certainly did. Torres plays with a lot of energy and you’d hate to take that aggressiveness away from him. Pushing the envelope is a good thing (at times). But, in this case, that aggressiveness combined with crummy slide fundamentals led to an injury. Gleyber’s baserunning issues resulted in something much worse than an out this time.

4. Interestingly enough, after Torres got hurt Triple-A Scranton manager Al Pedrique told Amy Moritz the Yankees teach their players not to slide headfirst. Headfirst slides are too dangerous. Here’s what Pedrique told Moritz before the torn ligament was discovered:

“It’s one thing that we teach as an organization, try not to have the guys slide head-first, any base and especially home plate because of all the gear the catcher has on,” Pedrique said. “When I saw the slide it was a concern and then afterwards when I saw him stay on the ground, definitely it was a scary moment for everybody. He came back from the hospital. Everything’s normal. So from that end, we’re very excited he didn’t get hurt worse. Again, that’s one thing we try to tell the player and teach them how to slide. But in the moment of the game, the competition, sometimes they don’t use the information to slide feet-first.”

“Injuries are part of the game but if we can avoid one like that one, we’re going to do the best we can to make sure they understand the reason why we don’t like the head-first slide,” Pedrique said. “He’s a young guy. He has a long way to learn about a lot of things in the game but he has a lot of talent and again thank God he didn’t get hurt worse.”

Mike Trout tore ligaments in his thumb during a headfirst slide a few weeks ago. Feet first slides are dangerous too! Everything in baseball is inherently dangerous. Former Yankees prospects David Adams and Ravel Santana suffered catastrophic ankle injuries on feet first slides and were never the same. But there are so many tiny bones and ligaments in your hands. Players are bigger and faster than ever before, and when you hit that bag with all that force, it can be easy to break or tear those little bones or ligaments. I’m guessing the Yankees are not the only team trying to teach their players to avoid headfirst slides, and I’m glad they’re doing it. Sometimes the player’s instincts take over and they go in with their hands though.

5. I absolutely believe the Yankees were planning to call Torres up at some point, possibly soon after the All-Star break. They promoted him quickly from Double-A and there’s been chatter they were grooming him to take over at third base. Where there’s smoke, there’s fire. Gleyber still needed to improve his defense at third before getting called up, but I think he would have gotten comfortable there fairly soon. He made a remarkable amount of process this season otherwise. Now a call-up is completely off the table. Even if you didn’t love the idea or weren’t sold on Torres being a short-term upgrade at third base, the option existed. Now it doesn’t. That bites. I thought Torres would be up at some point in the second half and help right away. Not like Gary Sanchez helped last year, but enough.

6. So, with that in mind, the Yankees are probably going to ramp up their search for third base help. I’m not 100% convinced they’ll buy at the trade deadline, but they will do their due diligence. Chase Headley has settled in following an uneven start to the season. He hit .251/.329/.383 (92 wRC+) last year and he’s at .249/.329/.364 (86 wRC+) this year. This is pretty much who he’ll be going forward. It’s one thing to sit Headley for a top prospect like Torres. It’s another to sit him for a veteran you pick up in a trade. Guys like Todd Frazier and Jed Lowrie might not be enough of an upgrade to sacrifice the prospects. Mike Moustakas would be a different story, though the Royals have climbed back into the race, so he might not be available now. Furthermore, teams know Torres is a non-option now, so the Yankees doesn’t have much leverage. That top prospect they could call up instead of trading for your guy isn’t available. Right now, my guess is Headley will be the third baseman the rest of the season. I didn’t think that was the case before the Torres injury.

7. All things considered, the injury is worse news for Torres than the Yankees. He was maybe weeks away from making his big league debut, and now he’ll have to wait until at least next season, maybe longer if the Yankees decide to be be cautious after surgery. The Yankees aren’t losing anyone off their big league roster — I personally thought Torres would get called up, but it was not set in stone — and they’re not losing a trade chip either because Torres is presumably atop their untouchables list. Tommy John surgery for position players has an extremely high success rate — the only position players to have a real hard time with the rehab are catchers, who use their arms so much — and Torres didn’t even hurt his throwing elbow. The injury bites because Torres will miss so much development time. That’s baseball. Players get hurt but there’s still another game to play tonight. The division title ain’t gonna win itself. Onward.