Sunday Night Open Thread

So now the Yankees kinda stink now. I liked it better when they were good. They should go back to being good again. That was fun. Hopefully next week. The Yankees are now 0-4 in games immediately prior to an off-day this season. Bah.

Here is tonight’s open threat. The ESPN Sunday Night Game is the Tigers at the Cardinals (Alfredo Simon vs. Lance Lynn), and if you hurry you can probably catch the end of today’s NBA and NHL playoff games. Talk about whatever here.

DotF: Refsnyder goes deep twice in Scranton’s win

Triple-A Scranton (5-0 win over Durham)

  • DH Slade Heathcott: 0-5
  • LF-CF Ramon Flores: 2-5, 1 R, 1 K
  • 2B Rob Refsnyder: 3-5, 2 R, 2 HR, 3 RBI, 1 E (throwing) — hot streak continues with his first two home runs of the year
  • 1B Kyle Roller: 1-4, 1 R, 1 HR, 1 RBI — six homers in his last 16 games
  • RF Tyler Austin: 1-4, 1 K
  • CF Ben Gamel: 0-1 — left the game for an unknown reason in the third
  • LHP Miguel Sulbaran: 5 IP, 5 H, 0 R, 0 ER, 2 BB, 3 K, 8/2 GB/FB — 45 of 72 pitches were strikes (63%) … nice Triple-A debut
  • RHP Danny Burawa: 1 IP, zeroes, 2 K, 1/0 GB/FB — seven of eleven pitches were strikes
  • RHP Nick Rumbelow: 1 IP, 0 H, 0 R, 0 ER, 1 BB, 0 K, 2/1 GB/FB — eight of 15 pitches were strikes

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Game 39: Start A New Streak

(Ed Zurga/Getty)
(Ed Zurga/Getty)

The Yankees snapped their little four-game losing streak last night, so today they have a chance to both win this series against the Royals and start a brand new winning streak. Tomorrow’s an off-day and off-days always feel a little bit better following a win, don’t they?

Chris Capuano is making his season debut this afternoon after starting the year on the DL thanks to that quad injury he suffered covering first base in Spring Training. Capuano seems like the kind of pitcher who could have success against the contact-happy Royals because he’s a nibbler who’s accustomed to getting hitters to chase off the plate. Could be a good mix against Kansas City. I hope it is, anyway. Here is the Royals’ lineup and here is the Yankees’ lineup:

  1. CF Jacoby Ellsbury
  2. LF Brett Gardner
  3. DH Alex Rodriguez
  4. 1B Mark Teixeira
  5. C Brian McCann
  6. RF Carlos Beltran
  7. 3B Chase Headley
  8. 2B Stephen Drew
  9. SS Didi Gregorius
    LHP Chris Capuano

The weather is much nicer in KC than it has been the last two nights. It’s nice and sunny today with only a few clouds and a little bit of humidity. This afternoon’s series finale will begin a little after 2pm ET and you can watch on YES locally and, depending where you live, MLB Network nationally. Enjoy.

Roster Move: As expected, Bryan Mitchell was sent down to Triple-A Scranton to make room on the roster for Capuano, the Yankees announced.

Mark Teixeira: In the Zone

One of my favorite stat lines of the year is most definitely Mark Teixeira‘s. I love a good extra-base hit as much as you all do and those have defined Tex’s season to this point; to borrow a phrase from Mike, singles are for the weak and Tex has certainly bought into that philosophy. As I write this on Saturday morning, Tex’s line sits at .250/.359/.592, good for a .392 wOBA and a 150 wRC+. He has 30 total hits and all but 11 of them are for extra bases: 11 home runs and eight doubles. To one’s surprise, he has zero triples; Tex may look appear equine while running, but the speed doesn’t match the aesthetics. All that power has led to a .342 Iso which leads the Yankees and places him third in the majors behind Bryce Harper (.373!!) and Nelson Cruz (.372!!).

Speaking of leaderboards, all those extra-base hits combined with his 21 walks (14.5 BB%) and 20 strikeouts (13.8 K%) produce a super low BABIP of .207, good for the seventh lowest in all of baseball. The difference between Tex and the other BABIP-laggards, though, is production. All the rest of the top-10-lowest-BABIP hitters are below a 100 wRC+, though Luis Valbuena checks in at 99. The rest of the list consists of a bunch of high-50’s to mid-60’s wRC+ marks along with Chase Utley’s 7, which makes me very, very sad.

Regardless of what others are doing, Tex is off to a fairly hot start, which is the “what.” I’m more interested in the how. To find out how, I took a trip to Baseball Savant and looked up the differences in how pitchers have attacked Tex in 2014 and 2015. Like many things in baseball, Tex’s 2015 performance (again, through Friday’s games) depends on location.

In 2014, Tex saw a total of 2,082 pitches. 64% of those pitches were out of the zone, meaning 36% were inside the zone. Looking at some key results, we can see that Tex whiffed on 8.7% of his pitches last season, 67% in-zone whiffs, 33% out-of-zone whiffs. When I looked at 2015, I expected to find slightly different results in the whiff department, given that Tex’s overall strikeout percentage this year (13.8) is down from where it was last year (21.5). It turned out that in terms of in-zone and out-of-zone whiffs, Tex has performed exactly as he did last year. However, his overall whiffs are down by about two percentage points; he’s seen 536 total pitches as of Friday’s game, whiffing on 6.9% of the pitches he’s seen. Those changes aren’t too huge, but they do show improvement. Why’s that improvement coming? It has to do with the pitchers Tex is facing.

Of the 536 pitches Tex has seen this year, 61% have been outside the zone and the remaining 39% have been inside the zone, three points off from last year’s approach. For whatever reason, pitchers are challenging Tex inside the zone just a bit more in 2015. And aside from whiffing less overall, he’s doing more with pitches in the zone. Of his 30 hits, 67% have come inside the zone, compared to 64% last year. There’s been a similar uptick when it comes to home runs in the zone: 63% in 2015 compared to 60% last year.

All too often, we hear hitters say that they’re “not trying to do too much” at the plate; it’s a cliche that you can count on in post-game interviews (Stephen Drew said it last night on the radio, prompting my fiance to drop a cliche of her own: “If I had a dollar for every time a player said he wasn’t trying to do too much…”). But with Mark Teixeira this year, it seems to ring true. He’s seeing more pitches in the zone than last year and he’s being more productive with those in-zone pitches than he was last year. It’s not something that’s obviously noticeable like new swing mechanics or even a new approach; he’s simply taking what the pitchers are giving him and he’s raking. Let’s hope it keeps up.

DotF: Refsnyder extends on-base streak to 18 games

The Yankees have released RHP Jared Burton, according to Donnie Collins. That surprises me a little. I thought Burton was one of those “the Yankees like him way more than we realize” guys. Guess not. Also, LHP Miguel Sulbaran was promoted from Double-A Trenton to Triple-A Scranton, according to Josh Norris. He’s only made seven career starts at Double-A, so this might only be temporary. We’ll see.

Triple-A Scranton (3-2 win over Durham)

  • RF Slade Heathcott: 1-4
  • DH Ramon Flores: 0-4
  • 2B Rob Refsnyder: 2-4, 1 R, 1 K — 27-for-63 (.429) with eight walks and 12 strikeouts during his 18-game on-base streak
  • 1B Kyle Roller: 1-4, 1 R, 1 HR, 2 RBI, 1 K — that’s five homers in his last 15 games
  • C Austin Romine: 0-4
  • LF Tyler Austin: 1-4
  • RHP Joel De La Cruz: 5 IP, 5 H, 2 R, 2 ER, 1 BB, 3 K, 6/2 GB/FB — 39 of 64 pitches were strikes (61%) … got the spot start in place of Bryan Mitchell, who’s with the big league team temporarily
  • RHP Mark Montgomery: 1 IP, 1 H, 0 R, 0 ER, 0 BB, 0 K, 1/1 GB/F — seven of 12 pitches were strikes

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Headley’s homer, Sabathia’s dominance lead Yankees to 5-1 win over Royals

Source: FanGraphs

Hooray, the four-game losing streak is over. The Yankees beat the Royals by the score of 5-1 on Saturday night, scoring nearly as many runs in the game (five) as they did during the losing streak (six). It’s Saturday night, so let’s recap with bullet points:

  • Two-Out Rally: The Yankees scored their first run on Carlos Beltran‘s sacrifice fly, and they scored their next three runs after Danny Duffy recorded the first two outs of the fifth inning on eight pitches. Mark Teixeira and Beltran slapped two-out singles, then Chase Headley worked a seven-pitch at-bat before cranking a three-run homer into the Kansas City bullpen. He fell behind in the count 0-2, took three straight balls, fouled off a tough pitch, then homered. Really great at-bat. The Yankees managed to turn two outs and the bases empty into a three-run rally.
  • No. 3 In The Rotation, No. 1 In My Heart: On a night the Yankees really needed it, CC Sabathia delivered an ace-like performance. Sabathia was in trouble in exactly one of his seven innings, when the Royals loaded the bases with no outs in the third, but he escaped allowing only one run and then retired 14 of the final 17 batters he faced. (One of the three reached on an error.) In the past, Sabathia would have gone back out for the eighth inning with his pitch count at 87, but the bullpen was rested and he got to finish up on a positive note. Sabathia’s last two starts have been really good. He was great in this game.
  • Leftovers: Alex Rodriguez hit a solo homer in the top of the ninth to stretch the lead to 5-1. It was an opposite field shot off Joe Blanton, who’s shed a frickin’ ton of weight. A-Rod‘s hit ten homers in 38 team games this year … Dellin Betances and Andrew Miller tossed perfect eighth and ninth innings, respectively … Jose Pirela had a rough game in the field, most notably botching a potential double play in the fifth … Stephen Drew and Beltran both had two hits … Jacoby Ellsbury (0-for-4, 1 BB) and Chris Young (0-for-5) did nothing atop the lineup but the Yankees scored five runs anyway. Neat.

Here are the box score, video highlights, and updated standings. Also check out our Bullpen Workload and Announcer Standings pages. The Yankees and Royals will wrap up this three-game series on Sunday afternoon. Chris Capuano will be making his season debut after suffering a quad injury early in Spring Training. Edinson Volquez will start the matinee for the Royals.

Game 38: Win it for Ace Whitley


The Yankees have lost four straight games, and while the pitching staff got contact-bombed last night, the offense has been the biggest issue. They’ve scored six runs total in the four losses and have scored in just one inning in each game. It’s one thing to get shut down by someone like Chris Archer the other day, but Erasmo Ramirez? Chris Young? Blargh.

Anyway, losses happen, even four losses in a row, but no team in the AL East can afford an extended losing streak this season. The division is way too tight. The Yankees lost Chase Whitley to an elbow injury that will likely result in Tommy John surgery two days ago, so go out and win it for him. Ace Whitley did a nice job for the Yankees in a non-familiar role as a starting pitcher. Here is the Royals’ lineup and here is the Yankees’ lineup:

  1. CF Jacoby Ellsbury
  2. LF Chris Young
  3. DH Alex Rodriguez
  4. 1B Mark Teixeira
  5. RF Carlos Beltran
  6. 3B Chase Headley
  7. 2B Jose Pirela
  8. SS Stephen Drew
  9. C John Ryan Murphy
    LHP CC Sabathia

It cloudy and sticky in Kansas City and it’s supposed to rain later tonight. It shouldn’t impact the game unless it goes to extra innings though. Tonight’s game will begin a bit after 7pm ET and will air on WPIX. Try to enjoy.

Injury Update: Masahiro Tanaka (wrist, forearm) will throw another bullpen session on Monday. He’ll then pitch in a minor league rehab game after that, likely on Thursday.

Roster Move: Bryan Mitchell has been called up and Jose Ramirez has been sent down, the Yankees announced. Mitchell was scheduled to start for Triple-A Scranton today, so he can give the team lots of innings out of the bullpen. I really hope they don’t need them.