Game 110: CC Sabathia’s Short Leash

One of these guys actually gets to play once every five days. (Rich Schultz/Getty)
One of these guys actually gets to play once every five days. (Getty)

The Yankees and Indians will play the middle game of their three-game series this afternoon, and on the mound are two pitchers who won the Cy Young award with Cleveland: CC Sabathia and Corey Kluber. Kluber remains one of the best pitchers in baseball while Sabathia is in the middle of a nice bounceback season (4.15 ERA and 4.20 FIP). CC hasn’t been great, but he’s been much better than I expected.

The key to Sabathia’s effectiveness is a short leash. Opponents are hitting .303/.372/.495 against CC after pitch No. 75, and we’ve seen Joe Girardi leave Sabathia in a little too long in recent starts. He allowed two runs in five innings against the Mets last time out, then gave up three runs in the sixth. He allowed two runs in six innings against the Orioles two starts before that, then allowed two more in the seventh. The start before that Sabathia allowed two runs in five innings against the Red Sox, then allowed three runs in the sixth.

Girardi had a short leash with Sabathia last season, or at least a shorter leash, but this year he seems to be trying to squeeze that extra inning out of him more often than not. For most of Sabathia’s career, he was up to the task. Not anymore. Girardi should be on high alert once Sabathia gets to 80 pitches or so, especially in close games. Here is the Indians’ lineup and here is the Yankees’ lineup:

  1. LF Brett Gardner
  2. CF Jacoby Ellsbury
  3. 1B Mark Teixeira
  4. DH Brian McCann
  5. 2B Starlin Castro
  6. SS Didi Gregorius
  7. C Gary Sanchezday game after a night game? let’s get weird
  8. RF Aaron Hicks
  9. 3B Ronald Torreyes
    LHP CC Sabathia

It’s hot and humid in New York today, and the forecast says there’s rain on the way a little later this afternoon. Hopefully it holds off long enough for them to play nine innings. This afternoon’s game will begin at 1:05pm ET and you can watch on YES locally and MLB Network nationally. Enjoy the game.

Roster Update: Johnny Barbato has been sent down to Triple-A Scranton and Chasen Shreve has been called up, the Yankees announced. Barbato did not retire any of the four batters he faced with a seven-run lead last night. That’ll do it.

Saturday Links: Chapman, Beltran, Best Tools, A-Rod

(Greg Fiume/Getty)
(Greg Fiume/Getty)

The Yankees and Indians will continue their three-game series later this afternoon, assuming the weather cooperates. Here are some stray links to help you pass the time until first pitch.

Chapman, Beltran open to re-signing with Yankees

After being traded last week, impending free agents Aroldis Chapman and Carlos Beltran told reporters they would be open to re-signing with the Yankees after the season. “I would love to come back again,” said Chapman to Mark Feinsand while Beltran simply told Jared Diamond he would “gladly” return to the Yankees if the opportunity presents itself.

As good as he has been this year, I don’t love the idea of bringing Beltran back next season, even on a cheap-ish one-year deal to DH. There are lots of young position players in Triple-A Scranton waiting for an opportunity. Chapman’s a different story because he’s still right smack in the prime of his career, and there’s always room for another high-end reliever in the bullpen.

I feel like it’s inevitable the Yankees will sign a top reliever this offseason, and I’d prefer Kenley Jansen or Mark Melancon to Chapman. I just have no interest in rooting for the guy following the domestic violence stuff. You’re welcome to feel differently. Anyway, it’s no surprise Chapman and Beltran are open to coming back. Why would any impending free agent rule out the Yankees?

Baseball America’s best tools survey

One of my favorite features each season is Baseball America’s best tools survey. They poll managers and coaches about the players in their leagues, then put all the results together. Here are the Yankees at each level. The links go to each article and they’re not behind the paywall.

Chapman (best fastball) and Andrew Miller (best slider, second best reliever) both made appearances in the survey as well. Sanchez being voted as the best defensive catcher in the International League is pretty darn interesting. I’m not sure if that’s because he’s made a lot of improvement, or because it’s just a weak year for IL catchers. I choose to believe the former. Go Gary!

No plans to release A-Rod

To the surprise of no one, Brian Cashman said the Yankees have no plans to release Alex Rodriguez during a recent radio interview (via George King). If the Yankees had any plans to release A-Rod, I think they would have done so already. Here’s what Cashman said:

“It’s not an easy circumstance, but there are no plans right now to do anything but give some reps to other people and see where it takes us, and if matchups or injuries hit, you might see him back out there,’’ Cashman told ESPN Radio. “First and foremost, you just have to admit it’s not easy to go ahead and eat — meaning release — that kind of money. It’s not something you come to a quick decision on … There’s a very large financial commitment through next year on a player of Alex’s caliber that was productive as [recently] as last year. Now, he’s being put in a position where sporadic play to try to get it going makes it more difficult. It’s fair to ask why and it’s fair to understand why it’s not a quick, rash decision, especially with September around the corner.”

Rosters expand in three weeks and five days, and I expect the Yankees to just ride this out with Rodriguez until then. They could release him in the offseason, but right now my guess is they hang on to him through the winter, then evaluate him in Spring Training. If he hits, they can give him a shot. If he stinks, they’ll cut him loose. And if he gets hurt, they’ll collect insurance on his contract.

Castro’s grand slam leads Yanks to 13-7 win over Indians

The Indians have been one of the best teams in all of baseball this season, so, naturally, the Yankees have beaten them four times in five tries. Go figure. The Yankees took Friday night’s series opener 13-7 at Yankee Stadium. That was an enjoyable game. Would watch again.

Eyes on the ball, Starlin. (Presswire)
Keep your eye on the ball, Starlin. (Presswire)

Score Early, Score Often
It had been a long time since the Yankees had a game like this, where they come out and score a bunch of runs early to take all the stress out of the game. They scored a first inning run for only the second time in their last ten games, and they scored the first two runs of the game for the first time since July 24th, the final game of the Giants series. It’s been that long since the Yankees took a 2-0 lead in a game. Gosh.

The Yankees scored their first inning run thanks largely to the suddenly retiring Mark Teixeira, who whacked a double to put runners on second and third with one out. Jacoby Ellsbury had singled earlier in the inning. Brian McCann got the run in with a ground ball for a quick 1-0 lead. The score remained 1-0 until the third inning, when the Yankees really broke things open against Josh Tomlin.

Ellsbury and Teixeira started the rally this time as well, as they strung together a double and an infield single. Ellsbury with a double and Teixeira with an infield single rather than the other way around? Mass hysteria. Dogs and cats, living together. The infield single was a ground ball into the shift that the second base/short right field guy had to range too far to his right to corral. Teixeira beat it out without a throw.

McCann cashed the run in again, this time with a line drive double into the right-center field gap. Most players would have scored from first on that play, but not Teixeira. Not with his balky knee. The Indians followed that by intentionally walking Chase Headley, and Starlin Castro made them pay with his first career grand slam. It was an opposite field job a row or two back in right-center. Just like that, the Yankees were up 6-0 in the third.


Pineda’s One Big Mistake
The Yankees finally gave Michael Pineda some run support and they picked a good night to do it. He started the game pretty well and kept the Indians off the board until the fifth inning, when a single and a double give Cleveland runners at second and third with two outs. Rather than limit the damage, Pineda threw one of his trademark two-out, two-strike, hanging sliders. Sigh.

Light-hitting catcher Chris Gimenez — he came into the game hitting .198/.234/.267 (32 wRC+) — sent that hanging slider into the left field seats for a three-run home run. SIGH. That cut the lead to 6-3. Pineda allowed a fourth run later in the game and he wasn’t even on the mound for that one; the bullpen let an inherited runner score. He finished the night with four runs allowed on six hits and one walk in six innings. Pineda struck out six. The quintessential Pineda outing, this was.

Tack On Runs
Gimenez’s three-run home run really stunk and it made it seem like the late innings would be tight. Instead, the offense went back to work. First, Gary Sanchez hammered a run-scoring double over the center fielder’s head in the fifth, then, in the sixth, Headley drove in a run with a single and Sanchez drew a bases loaded walk to give the Yankees a 9-3 lead. Indians southpaw Shawn Morimando walked four batters in that sixth inning, and it took a tremendous play by third baseman Jose Ramirez on a weakly hit Rob Refsnyder grounder to get out of the jam.

The Yankees scored two more runs in the seventh inning to stretch the lead to 11-3. Aaron Hicks socked a solo homer and Brett Gardner scored when the Indians outfield let Ellsbury’s routine fly ball drop in. They scored that a hit, but come on. It was a routine fly ball that should have been caught, but wasn’t due to miscommunication. That’s Anyway, Gardner tripled earlier in the inning to set that up. He singled in another two runs in the eighth. Tack on runs are great. The Yankees took an early big lead and they kept adding to it. We haven’t seen nearly enough of that this season.

Gary The Great
This was Sanchez’s fourth career start overall and his first start behind the plate, which is kind of a big deal. I thought his receiving was solid and he made one really nice block on a Pineda slider on the dirt. It was textbook. He dropped to his knees and kept the ball in front of him with a man on base. Perfect. Sanchez also threw not one, but two runners out. Here’s the first:

Gary Sanchez throw

Look at that throw. Just perfect. Right on the money. We’ve been hearing about Sanchez’s rocket arm for years now — gives him a 70 arm on the 20-80 scouting scale — and he showed it off Friday night. Twice.

Is Sanchez going to be Yadier Molina back there? Nope. But based on these nine innings, he looks like an adequate big league catcher. I didn’t notice any glaring deficiencies — he wasn’t stabbing at the ball or anything like that — and that’s good. It’s good when you don’t notice a catcher. Nice night for Gary behind dish. I’m looking forward to seeing more.

Johnny Barbato made a nice mess of things in the eighth inning by allowing all four batters he faced to reach base. Not good, Johnny. Adam Warren had to bail him out. Three runs scored in the inning to trim the lead from 11-4 to 11-7. Not the end of the world. Just annoying. Richard Bleier, Tyler Clippard, and Nick Goody all pitched as well. Five relievers in a game the Yankees scored 13 runs. Blah.

Every single starter had a hit. In fact, every starter reached base multiple times. Ellsbury led the way with four hits while Castro had two hits and two walks. The Yankees had 16 hits and drew eight walks against only four strikeouts. Those eight walks are a season high. Pretty great night for the offense. They scored in six of eight offensive innings and never once went 1-2-3.

Box Score, WPA Graph & Standings
Go to ESPN for the box score and updated standings, and for the video highlights. Don’t miss our Bullpen Workload and Announcer Standings pages either. Here’s the win probability graph:

Source: FanGraphs

Up Next
The Yankees and Indians will play game two of this three-game series Saturday afternoon … hopefully. The forecast isn’t looking too great at the moment. We’ll see. CC Sabathia and Corey Kluber, a pair of former Cy Young award winners with the Indians, will be on the mound. RAB Tickets can get you in the door for either of the two games left on the homestand.

DotF: Sheffield debuts, Torres goes deep in Tampa’s win

Steve Givarz of Baseball Prospectus (no subs. req’d) posted a ton of Gulf Coast League scouting reports earlier today. These are guys we never hear anything about, including RHP Juan Escorcia, who was a member of the 2014-15 international haul. Check it out.

Triple-A Scranton (5-1 win over Syracuse)

  • CF Ben Gamel: 2-4, 2 R, 1 2B, 1 SB — 8-for-16 in his last four games
  • LF Clint Frazier: 1-4, 1 R, 1 2B, 1 RBI, 1 K — first extra-base hit since the trade
  • DH Aaron Judge: 0-4, 3 K
  • 1B Ike Davis: 3-4, 2 R, 2 HR, 4 RBI, 1 K
  • RF Jake Cave: 0-4, 2 K
  • C Kyle Higashioka: 0-3, 1 K — his 14-game Triple-A hitting streak is over
  • RHP Luis Cessa: 7.2 IP, 5 H, 1 R, 1 ER, 1 BB, 11 K, 1 WP, 5/5 GB/FB — 74 of 101 pitches were strikes (73%) … one short of tying his career high in strikeouts
  • RHP Jonathan Holder: 1.1 IP, zeroes, 2 K, 1/1 GB/FB — 12 of 18 pitches were strikes

[Read more…]

Game 109: Win it for Teixeira

Earlier today Mark Teixeira announced he will be retiring after the season, and I have to say, I was surprisingly bummed out about that. Despite all the injuries and ground balls into the shift, Teixeira was a really productive player and a likeable guy. He was also a key piece of the Yankees’ most recent World Series title. That’s a pretty big deal.

Teixeira called the Yankees a “team in transition” during his press conference this afternoon and that defines the club perfectly. They’re transitioning out of the Teixeira/Alex Rodriguez/CC Sabathia era and into something new. What? We don’t know exactly. Hopefully the Clint Frazier/Gary Sanchez/Luis Severino era. Until then, how about winning some ballgames and sending Teixeira out on a high note? That sounds cool. Here is the Indians’ lineup and here is the Yankees’ lineup:

  1. LF Brett Gardner
  2. CF Jacoby Ellsbury
  3. 1B Mark Teixeira
  4. DH Brian McCann
  5. 3B Chase Headley
  6. SS Starlin Castro
  7. C Gary Sanchez
  8. 2B Rob Refsnyder
  9. RF Aaron Hicks
    RHP Michael Pineda

Not the greatest weather in New York today, but it’s good enough. There’s rain in the forecast overnight and into tomorrow, so it’s pretty sticky outside. Tonight’s series opener with the Indians is scheduled to begin at 7:05pm ET and it’ll be broadcast on YES. Enjoy the game.

Injury Update: Greg Bird (shoulder) has been doing all sorts of baseball activities (swinging, throwing, etc.) and he may be healthy enough in time to play in the Arizona Fall League, Joe Girardi said. The Yankees aren’t going to push him, but he’s progressing well.

Teixeira announces retirement following 2016 season

Teixeira Foul Territory

After 14 years in the big leagues and eight years in pinstripes, Mark Teixeira is planning to hang up his spikes after the season. Teixeira announced his retirement, effective at the end of the 2016 season, at a press conference at Yankee Stadium this afternoon.

“Every kid playing wiffle ball in the backyard or playing Little League, you dream of being a Major League Baseball player,” said an emotional Teixeira. “After 14 years, it’s time for me to do something else. After this season I’m going to retire and do something else.”

Here is Teixeira’s teary press conference:

Teixeira, now 36, is in the final season of his eight-year, $180M contract. I’ll never forget the day they signed him. We heard for weeks Teixeira was expected to sign with the Red Sox, and right when it appeared a deal was close, BAM the Yankees swooped and signed him. It was pretty awesome. One of my favorite days in RAB history, hands down.

So far this season Teixeira is hitting a weak .198/.287/.340 (69 wRC+) with ten homers in 77 games around a nagging knee injury and various other ailments. Just last season he hit .255/.357/.548 (143 wRC+) and swatted 31 home runs in 111 games. Teixeira’s 2015 season ended in August after a foul tip broke his shin. That was a real bummer.

Overall, Teixeira has hit .249/.348/.491 (121 wRC+) with 201 home runs during his eight seasons in pinstripes. That includes his monster .292/.383/.565 (142 wRC+) campaign in 2009, when he clubbed 39 homers and finished second to Joe Mauer in the AL MVP voting. I’d say Teixeira’s signature Yankee moment is his walk-off home run in Game Two of the 2009 ALDS.

On top of all the dingers, Teixeira was an outstanding defensive first baseman. One of the best I’ve ever seen. Even as his bat has lagged this year, Teixeira is still playing the hell out of first base. He’s a game-changer over there, saving his teammates countless errors over the years.

Of course, injuries have been a major problem in recent seasons. Everything from wrist to hamstring to calf to shin problems have kept him off the field. He has appeared in only 449 of 594 possible games (76%) since the start of the 2012 season. Teixeira is currently sidelined with a shin problem after being hit by a pitch Wednesday night. He went for precautionary x-rays yesterday.

Teixeira is one of the most productive power-hitting switch-hitters in baseball history. His 404 homers are fifth all-time among switch-hitters, and he joins Eddie Murray, Chipper Jones, and Carlos Beltran as the only switch-hitters with 400+ doubles and 400+ homers. Originally selected fifth overall in the 2001 draft, Teixeira spent time with the Rangers, Braves, and Angels before joining the Yankees.

“I got to live out my dream and had more success than I could have ever imagined,” said Teixeira. “It felt like it was the right time for me to step away from the game. I want to finish my season on a high note … I’m going to leave it all out there.”

The Yankees have only had four primary first basemen over the last 33 seasons, which is pretty incredible. It was Don Mattingly from 1983-95, Tino Martinez from 1996-2001, Jason Giambi from 2002-08, and Teixeira from 2009-16. Yeah, there were some Kevin Maases and Andy Phillipses and Lyle Overbays mixed in along the way, but those have been the four main guys. Pretty crazy.

“It’s an unbelievable blessing. It’s an unbelievable honor to put the pinstripes on everyday,” added Teixeira. “I want to thank all the Yankees fans, the greatest fans in the world. I wasn’t perfect. I was far from perfect. I want to let you know I appreciate your support. I gave you everything I had. It wasn’t always enough, but I tried to my best and I’m proud to have a World Series ring with the Yankees. It’s something I’ll never forget.”

As far as the Yankees are concerned, this doesn’t change a whole lot going forward. They were widely expected to move on from Teixeira after the season and install Greg Bird as their new first baseman. Bird’s shoulder surgery may throw a wrench into that plan, but hopefully not. Tyler Austin may have played his way into first base consideration this season as well.

Teixeira was a pretty darn good Yankee despite the injuries in recent years. He was a key part of their most recent World Series title and is generally just a fun, likeable dude. Foul Territory and the way he mocked Hansel Robles during the sign stealing nonsense the other night are pretty good examples. You’ve done good, Tex. See you at Old Timers’ Day.

8/5 to 8/7 Series Preview: Cleveland Indians

(Jason Miller/Getty)
(Jason Miller/Getty)

This quick little five-game homestand wraps up this weekend with a visit from the first place Indians. That means Andrew Miller is back in the Bronx for the first time since the Yankees traded him away five whole days ago. The Yankees took three of four from the Tribe in Cleveland right before the All-Star break.

What Have They Done Lately?

The Indians have been struggling a little bit recently. They managed to beat the Twins yesterday, which allowed them to avoid a four-game sweep at home by Minnesota. Yikes. That’s not good. The Tribe is still 61-45 with a +85 run differential overall. That’s the second best record (behind the Rangers) and second best run differential (behind the Blue Jays) in the AL.

Offense & Defense

When you’re as good as the Indians, chances are you have an above-average offense, and sure enough this club is scoring exactly 5.00 runs per game with a team 105 wRC+. That’s really good. They’re doing that without OF Michael Brantley, their best all-around hitter. He’s played only eleven games this season due to ongoing shoulder trouble. Brantley is still on the DL and won’t be active this series. C Yan Gomes (shoulder) is out too.

Naquin. (Jason Miller/Getty)
Naquin. (Jason Miller/Getty)

I mentioned this the last time these two clubs played, but Indians manager Terry Francona uses platoon leadoff hitters. OF Rajai Davis (94 wRC+) leads off against lefties while 1B/DH Carlos Santana (122 wRC+) gets the call against lefties. 2B Jason Kipnis (123 wRC+), SS Francisco Lindor (118 wRC+), and 1B/DH Mike Napoli (128 wRC+) follow as 2-3-4 hitters. Santana hits fifth when he’s not leading off, otherwise that lineup spot goes to 3B Jose Ramirez (111 wRC+).

OF Tyler Naquin (174 wRC+) and OF Lonnie Chisenhall (119 wRC+) are Cleveland’s other regular outfielders. C Chris Gimenez (32 wRC+) and C Roberto Perez (11 wRC+) split time behind the plate with Gomes out. If the Tribe had their way, Jonathan Lucroy would be their catcher, but he vetoed a trade last weekend. IF Erik Gonzalez (-12 wRC+), OF Brandon Guyer (114 wRC+), and OF Abe Almonte (97 wRC+) are the other bench players.

The Indians really improved their defense this year by putting Lindor at short and Naquin in center. Davis and Napoli help too, though going from Juan Uribe to Ramirez at the hot corner is a downgrade. (Uribe was designated for assignment a few days ago.) Chisenhall and Kipnis are just okay. Perez can really throw when he’s behind the plate. Gimenez? Not so much.

Pitching Matchups

Friday (7:05pm ET): RHP Michael Pineda (vs. CLE) vs. RHP Josh Tomlin (vs. NYY)
The internet tells me Tomlin broke into the big leagues in 2010 and is already 31. What?!? Doesn’t it feel like he just got called up? It does to me. Anyway, Tomlin has a 3.43 ERA (4.81 FIP) in 19 starts and 120.2 innings this season. He never walks anyone (2.8%), but his strikeout (17.6%), grounder (41.0%), and homer (1.86 HR/9) rates all leave something to be desired. Righties have hit him a bit harder than lefties, which is not unusual. He’s had a reverse split his entire career. Tomlin sits in the mid-80s with his cutter, which is his main fastball. He also throws an upper-80s four-seamer, but that’s basically a get-me-over pitch when he needs a strike. Low-80s changeups and mid-70s curveballs are his two secondary pitches. The Yankees did not see Tomlin in Cleveland a few weeks back.

Saturday (1:05pm ET): LHP CC Sabathia (vs. CLE) vs. RHP Corey Kluber (vs. NYY)
Kluber, 30, has firmly established himself as one of the best pitchers in the AL over the last few years. He’s pitched to a 3.27 ERA (2.86 FIP) in 21 starts and 143 innings this season, and his peripherals are phenomenal: 25.5% strikeouts, 5.8% walks, 46.7% grounders, and 0.69 HR/9. Pretty, pretty good. Lefties have had a tad more success against him than righties. The Klubot is a low-to-mid-90s sinker pitcher who uses a four-seam fastball at similar velocity in need-a-strike situations. His low-80s slider is one of the best breaking pitches in baseball. It’s filthy. He also throws upper-80s cutters and low-80 changeups. Filthy, filthy stuff. Kluber held the Yankees to one run in eight innings last month.

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

Sunday (1:05pm ET): RHP Masahiro Tanaka (vs. CLE) vs. RHP Carlos Carrasco (vs. NYY)
Last year the 29-year-old Carrasco became a stathead darling by having a much lower FIP (2.84) than ERA (3.63). This year the opposite is true (3.12 ERA and 4.30 FIP). Carrasco has thrown 95.1 innings in 16 starts around a hamstring injury, and aside from his homer rate (1.42 HR/9), his underlying numbers are pretty good (22.7 K%, 7.3 BB%, 50.4 GB%). He has no platoon split because he uses five pitches regularly, led by his mid-90s four-seamer and sinker. Both his upper-80s slider and low-90s changeup are legitimate put-away pitches, and he’ll also throw a bunch of mid-80s curveballs per start too. The Yankees roughed Carrasco up for five runs in 3.2 innings when these teams met in Cleveland before the All-Star break.

Bullpen Status

The Indians have remade their bullpen over the last few weeks, and not just by adding Miller. They’ve swapped out some middle and long relievers too as they try to find the right mix. Here is the seven-man relief crew Francona has at his disposal:

Closer: RHP Cody Allen (2.54 ERA/3.53 FIP)
Setup: LHP Andrew Miller (1.53/1.97), RHP Bryan Shaw (3.80/4.51)
Middle: LHP Kyle Crockett (5.40/2.04), RHP Zach McAllister (5.34/4.62), RHP Dan Otero (1.60/2.58)
Long: LHP Ryan Merritt (0.00/2.39)

That Miller guy is pretty good. I hear he has a nasty slider. Francona hasn’t had much of a chance to use his bullpen the way he wants of late, but he’s expected to match up with Miller and Shaw ahead of Allen, the closer. Otero is the trusted No. 4 guy and Crockett is more of a left-on-left matchup guy than a full inning lefty.

Francona has had to use his bullpen quite a bit the last few days. Otero (12), Miller (18), Shaw (18), and Merritt (12) all pitched yesterday. Otero has pitched each of the last three days and both Crockett and McAllister have pitched three times in the last five days. Our Bullpen Workload page will keep you updated on Joe Girardi‘s recent reliever usage.