The Yankees welcomed Francisco Cervelli back a two-month stint on the disabled list yesterday, so all of their position players are now healthy. Three-fifths of the rotation remain out, and Ivan Nova isn’t coming back this year following Tommy John surgery. Here are updates on the other two injured starters courtesy of Meredith Marakovits and Brian Heyman:
- CC Sabathia (knee) threw a 25-pitch bullpen session on Monday, fastballs and changeups only. No sliders. He said he felt fine and will throw another bullpen session today. “We’ll just continue to increase the amount of pitches and the pitches that he throws. If he gets through (today), then he’ll probably throw another bullpen and we’ll increase the number there. And then if he gets through that, eventually you start to see hitters and BP and then you get the game,” said Joe Girardi, who said they have to build Sabathia back up like he just arrived to Spring Training. (It’s common for pitchers to hold off on throwing breaking balls early in camp so they can build up arm strength.)
- Michael Pineda (shoulder) is scheduled to play catch on Saturday. It’ll be his first time throwing since suffering a setback at the end of last month. Like Sabathia, Pineda is basically at the start of his Spring Training routine. Expect the Yankees to be very careful with him during the rehab process given the nature of the injury and the fact that he’s already had one setback.
The Yankees have signed fourth round pick LHP Jordan Montgomery, according to Jim Callis. The southpaw from South Carolina received the full $424,000 slot bonus for the 122nd overall pick. Montgomery is a classic pitchability lefty who complements his low-90s fastball with a curveball, a cutter, and a very good changeup. He is cut from the David Phelps/Adam Warren cloth and should carve up the low minors after three years in an SEC rotation.
In other news, the Yankees announced the signing of sixth round pick RHP Jonathan Holder. MLB.com says he received a $170,000 bonus, below the $237,600 slot value for the 182nd overall pick. Holder, who was second round pick LHP Jacob Lindgren’s teammate at Mississippi State, is a pure reliever with a low-90s fastball and big breaking curveball in the low-70s. Lots of separation between his two pitches. Like Montgomery, he’s an SEC tested guy who should climb to Double-A fairly quickly, likely in the middle of next season.
You can see all of the team’s draft picks at Baseball America and keep tabs on the draft pool situation with our 2014 Draft Pool Tracker. The Yankees’ only unsigned picks in the top ten rounds are Texas OF Mark Payton (7th round), UC Irvine 1B Connor Spencer (8th), and Vanderbilt SS Vince Conde (8th). All three are still playing in the College World Series and can’t sign just yet. They also figure to receive a below-slot bonuses and it appears the Yankees will some extra pool money left over for an above-slot payout for a player(s) taken after the tenth round. · (29) ·
“Overall, I think my stuff wasn’t really there tonight.”
That’s what Masahiro Tanaka told Brian Heyman following last night’s start. A start in which he held the most powerful offense in the league to one run in six innings while striking out ten in the Yankees’ biggest game of the season to date. His stuff “wasn’t really there.”
That’s not the first time Tanaka has been hard on himself following an excellent start — he called the beginning of his first MLB season “okay” a few weeks ago — and it won’t be the last. That’s just who he is. We heard all about Tanaka’s off the charts competitiveness when the Yankees signed him and we’ve seen it firsthand for 14 starts now.
And my gosh, what a collection of 14 starts they’ve been. Tanaka leads the league with a 1.99 ERA and his 2.70 FIP is the sixth best. His 7.06 K/BB ratio would be the fourth best in AL history among qualified starters. Two of the three spots ahead of him are 1999 and 2000 Pedro Martinez, arguably the two greatest pitching seasons in the history of the universe. His 24.5 K-BB% would be the 17th best in history.
By any measure, Tanaka has been one of the best pitchers in baseball this year. Not one of the best rookie pitchers. Not one of the best AL pitchers. Not one of the best Japanese-born pitchers. One of the best pitchers in all of baseball, period. No qualifiers. When friend of RAB Drew Fairservice ranked the best starters in the league recently, he ranked Tanaka first, ahead of the usual suspects. That’s coming from a Blue Jays fan.
The performance has unquestionably put Tanaka among the game’s elite. It’s everything else that puts him over the top. The fact that he’s doing it in a tiny home ballpark. That’s he’s doing it while pitching on a five-day schedule for the first time in his life. That he’s doing it while transitioning to a new league with a tougher travel schedule. And, most impressively, that he’s doing it in a new city with an entirely new culture. Oh, and he has all the pressure of pitching for the New York frickin’ Yankees on his shoulders.
The Yankees paid a handsome price for Tanaka and the contract was heavily criticized because he had never thrown a pitch in MLB. How many times did we hear that? “He’s never thrown a pitch in MLB!” More times than I care to count. Well, now Tanaka has thrown a pitch in MLB. Over 1,400 of them in fact. And at this point he is exceeding even the biggest expectations and hitting on best case scenario stuff. I don’t know how anyone could have possibly predicted he would be this good, this soon.
Tanaka has emerged as not only the team’s ace, but as a rock in the rotation, a stabilizing force that sets everything right every fifth. He has been one of the best pitchers in the game in terms of pure performance, and when you add in all the cultural adjustments he’s had to make, no pitcher has been more impressive. It would have been totally understandable if Tanaka had an inconsistent, up and down rookie year. Most Japanese imports do. He hasn’t though. Instead it looks like he’s been here for years.
The Yankees did years and years worth of homework and they landed themselves a gem in Tanaka. He’s already an elite pitcher and at only 25 years old (!!!), he is a true franchise player the team can build around going forward. Tanaka is their present day ace and will be the cornerstone of the post-Derek Jeter Yankees.
For the 14th straight time, the Yankees beat the Blue Jays in Yankee Stadium on Tuesday night. Toronto has not won a game in the Bronx since August 2012 and they’ve won only two of their last 25 games in Yankee Stadium overall. Crazy. Tuesday’s series opening win came by the score of 3-1.
Second Look? No Problem
In his very first MLB start, Masahiro Tanaka allowed a solo homer to Melky Cabrera, the first batter he faced. In his second career start against the Blue Jays, Jose Reyes hit his first pitch out of the park for a leadoff homer. Two starts against Toronto, two leadoff dingers. Other than that, there was no indication seeing Tanaka once before helped the Blue Jays hitters. Maybe he should change it up and throw a first pitch splitter next time out to keep them honest.
Anyway, the Reyes homer was the only run Tanaka allowed on Tuesday night. He held the Jays scoreless over the next six innings, striking out ten while allowing two walks and five hits. It was his fifth double-digit strikeout game of the season, second most in baseball behind David Price’s six. Tanaka did not allow a runner to reach third base following the homer and only one made it as far as second. He is down to a 1.99 ERA on the season. On June 17th. In the AL East. Pitching his home games in Yankee Stadium. He could give up leadoff homers all year for all I care if he keeps this up.
Three Runs Is Enough
Brett Gardner‘s first-inning at-bat was very indicative of how rookie Blue Jays hurler Marcus Stroman’s night would go. The Yankees’ leadoff hitter grounded out to second — Munenori Kawasaki made a nice play on a ball to his right — but not before fouling off seven pitches as part of a 12-pitch at-bat. The Yankees forced Stroman to throw 98 pitches in 3.2 innings, fouling off 25 of those 98 pitches. Nineteen of those 25 fouls came in two-strike counts. Hughesian.
The Yankees made Stroman work all right, but it wasn’t until Kelly Johnson doubled into the right-center field gap with one out in the third that they recorded their first hit. Gardner followed that with a two-run homer, his second dinger in as many games. It was a total Yankee Stadium cheapie off the bottom of the right field foul pole. Gardner went deep in the final game against the Athletics and hit two balls against the Mariners that would have been out in the Bronx (one just foul, one to the wall at Safeco Field). He’s showing some pop lately. I dig it.
The two runs were all the Yankees would score off Stroman, but getting into the bullpen early in the first game of the series is a positive. They went 1-for-8 with a walk against the young righty the first time through the order and 3-for-7 with two walks thereafter. A Jeter infield single, a Jacoby Ellsbury ground ball, an Aaron Loup wild pitch, and a Mark Teixeira single back through the middle created New York’s third run of the night in the fifth inning. The Yankees did not have a hit after Teixeira drove in that run but three runs were all they needed. They even had one to spare.
Jeter continued his torrid stretch with two hits, and he’s now 12-for-27 (.444) with two walks and one strikeout since the start of the Mariners series. Johnson had two hits (why isn’t he playing more?) while Gardner and Teixeira had one apiece. The five through eight hitters went a combined 0-for-12 with three walks (Brian Roberts and two by Carlos Beltran). I don’t think three runs will be enough to beat the Blue Jays in the final two games of the series, but Tanaka is the kind of pitcher who can make that stand up.
Goliath & David
Tanaka was very good, but the Jays have a tough lineup and they did push his pitch count up to 104 after only six innings. Rather than try to squeeze another few outs out of him, Joe Girardi went to Dellin Betances for the seventh inning and it was the right move, both at the time and in hindsight. Betances retired the side on eight pitches in the seventh before doing the same on 13 pitches in the eighth. He cut right through Jose Bautista and Edwin Encarnacion, striking them both out on nine pitches combined. Those two were 1-for-7 (flare single to right by EE) with five strikeouts on the night. Mercy.
I love that Girardi stuck with Betances for the eighth inning for two reasons. One, he is the team’s best reliever and I want him facing Bautista and Encarnacion. Two, he only threw eight pitches in the seventh and has shown he can work multiple innings per outing. Use him for the two innings and leave Adam Warren and Shawn Kelley fresh for Wednesday’s game. Perfect. Loved the way Girardi used Betances. David Robertson got the ninth inning and pitching around a Gardner-aided triple for his 17th save. He struck out two and now 36 of his last 47 outs are strikeouts. Gardner slid for a Kawasaki line drive, missed it, and it rolled to the wall for the triple. A rare defensive misplay by Brett.
In addition to the awesome pitching, Tanaka also made two stellar defensive plays. They were nearly identical — hard-hit ground balls back up the middle that he slowed down with his glove, then hustled to grab from just behind the mound and fired to first for the out. The first ball literally knocked his glove off. Tanaka’s gonna end up winning Rookie of the Year, Cy Young, MVP, and Gold Glove this year. At all nine positions. He’s that good.
It appeared Brian McCann was hit by a pitch when he squared around to bunt in the fifth inning, but the Yankees elected not to review it for whatever reason. Replays made it look like it hit him on the way by. That would have made it first and second with one out, but instead McCann struck out and it there was a runner at first with two outs after the at-bat. Not sure why bench coach Tony Pena gave Girardi the “don’t challenge” signal. Maybe they didn’t see the same replay angle they showed on YES.
Jeter scored the team’s third run and it was the 1,900th run scored of his career. That is the 11th most in history. He’ll jump past Alex Rodriguez (1,919) and into the top ten relatively soon. Stan Musial (1,949) would be next and that seems like it’ll be doable before the end of the season. It’ll be close. The win was Girardi’s 600th as Yankees manager, by the way.
Last, but certainly not least, this week is HOPE Week. The Yankees honored Career Gear on Tuesday, an organization that “provides professional clothing, mentoring and life-skills to help men in poverty become stronger contributors to their families and communities.” Here’s the Career Gear website and here’s the HOPE Week video archive.
Box Score, WPA Graph & Standings
For the box score and video highlights, go to MLB.com. FanGraphs has some other stuff and the updated standings can be found at ESPN. The Yankees have climbed to within 3.5 games of first place with five more games against the Blue Jays coming up over the next week. Plus, you know, there are still more than 90 games left in the season.
Same two teams on Wednesday night, in the middle game of this three-game set. Rookie Chase Whitley and grizzled veteran Mark Buehrle will be the pitching matchup. Head over to RAB Tickets if you impulsively want to catch the game live.
The video is OF Mason Williams making a ridiculous catch in last night’s game. Here are two quick notes:
- RHP Brett Gerritse was placed on the High-A Tampa DL with an unknown injury, according to Nicholas Flammia. LHP Ramon Benjamin was added to the roster in his place. The Yankees signed him late last month and he’s more than filler. Benjamin is an ex-Marlins prospect who is finally healthy after battling a ton of injuries the last few years.
- Thursday’s Low-A Charleston game will air on CBS Sports Network, if you want to catch the game. I’m not sure who’s starting that night. Play-by-play guy Sean Houston is going to call the game while walking on a treadmill behind home plate. Minor league baseball, man.
Triple-A Scranton (8-7 win over Toledo)
- LF Jose Pirela: 2-5, 1 R, 1 2B, 1 RBI, 1 K — been playing nothing but left field or first base for a few weeks now
- 2B Rob Refsnyder: 1-5, 1 R
- CF-RF Zoilo Almonte: 1-3, 2 BB — wonder if we’ll start seeing him in center more these next few weeks as a trade showcase
- 3B Scott Sizemore: 2-4, 1 R, 1 3B, 2 RBI, 1 BB, 1 K — go ahead two-run single in the top of the ninth
- 1B Kyle Roller: 0-3, 2 R, 1 BB, 1 K
- C Austin Romine: 1-4, 1 R, 1 HR, 3 RBI, 1 E (throwing) — he’s about to lose a bunch of playing time to the just demoted C John Ryan Murphy
- LHP Jeremy Bleich: 4 IP, 7 H, 6 R, 5 ER, 2 BB, 4 K, 1 WP, 6/1 GB/FB — 53 of 88 pitches were strikes (60%)
- RHP Heath Bell: 1 IP, 0 H, 0 R, 0 ER, 2 BB, 0 K, 2/0 GB/FB — 10 of 19 pitches were strikes (53%)
This is the biggest game of the season. At least so far. There are still 90-something games left after tonight. The first place Blue Jays are in town for three games this week, and they currently sit 4.5 games up on the Yankees in the AL East. These two clubs will also play three games in Toronto next week. Best case scenario: Yankees win out and are in first place next week. Worst case: Yankees lose out and the braintrust makes a bunch of panic moves before the deadline.
Masahiro Tanaka will be on the mound tonight and he is absolutely the guy everyone wants starting this game. This is an ace game. Home against the team you’re chasing? And they have a kid pitcher making his
first fourth career start on the bump? I know the Blue Jays have the best and most powerful offense in the league, but this is a game you want to see Tanaka control and dominant. Start the series off with a win and inch closer in the standings. Here’s the Blue Jays lineup and here’s the Yankees lineup:
- LF Brett Gardner
- SS Derek Jeter
- CF Jacoby Ellsbury
- 1B Mark Teixeira
- C Brian McCann
- DH Carlos Beltran
- RF Ichiro Suzuki
- 2B Brian Roberts
- 3B Kelly Johnson
RHP Masahiro Tanaka
It’s nice and hot in New York. A few clouds too, but there’s no rain in the forecast tonight. First pitch is scheduled for 7:05pm ET and you can watch on MY9. Enjoy the game.
As expected, the Yankees have activated Frankie Cervelli off the 60-day DL, according to Mark Feinsand. John Ryan Murphy was sent to Triple-A Scranton in the corresponding move. The Yankees already had an open 40-man roster spot for Cervelli, so no other move was needed. The 40-man is now full.
Cervelli, 28, missed two months with a Grade II hamstring strain. He went 3-for-16 (.188) with a double in five games before getting hurt. The Yankees had Cervelli play some first base during his rehab assignment, so he could see time there this summer. The 23-year-old Murphy went 18-for-63 (.286) with a homer in 24 games as Brian McCann’s temporary backup. If he doesn’t get traded at the deadline, we’ll see Murphy in September or when Cervelli gets hurt again, whichever comes first. · (36) ·
The Yankees are home from their nine-game road trip and will play their biggest series of the season (to date) starting tonight. The first place Blue Jays are in the Bronx for a three-game series, giving the Yankees a chance to make up some ground in the AL East race. The alternative is getting buried. The Bombers took two of three in Toronto back in April.
What Have They Done Lately?
The Jays went on an insane run last month, winning 20 of 24 games at one point. They’ve since lost six of nine, including two against the Orioles this past weekend. Toronto comes into the series with a 41-30 record and a +39 run differential. They are 4.5 games up on the Yankees.
The Blue Jays have one of the very best offenses in all of baseball. They average 4.70 runs per game with a team 112 wRC+, and they currently lead baseball with 92 homers. The Yankees have hit 55, by comparison. Toronto is currently without OF Colby Rasmus (105 wRC+), DH Adam Lind (155 wRC+), and IF Maicer Izturis (78 wRC+) due to injury. Rasmus (hamstring) could be activated off the disabled list this week and Lind (foot) is only day-to-day with a bruise. Izturis (knee) is out long-term.
Manager John Gibbons builds his lineup around baseball’s best three-four hitter combination: OF Jose Bautista (173 wRC+) and 1B Edwin Encarnacion (152 wRC+). They have 35 homers, 70 extra-base hits, 86 walks, and 91 strikeouts combined. SS Jose Reyes (105 wRC+) leads off and former Yankee OF Melky Cabrera (119 wRC+) gets the cushy job of batting second between Reyes and Bautista. Add in a healthy Lind and the top five of the Toronto lineup is devastating. I remember when the Yankees had a lineup like that.
3B Brett Lawrie (92 wRC+) headlines the rest of the lineup, and he has been spending some time at second base so 3B Juan Francisco (135 wRC+) and his huge lefty power can play against righties. OF Anthony Gose (89 wRC+) has been playing center while Rasmus is out and IF Steve Tolleson (122 wRC+ in limited time) is the backup infielder. Yes, he is Wayne’s son. The Jays are currently carrying three catchers — former Yankee C Dioner Navarro (83 wRC+), former Met C Josh Thole (106 wRC+ in limited time), and C Erik Kratz (80 wRC+) — for whatever reason.
Tuesday: RHP Masahiro Tanaka (vs. TOR) vs. RHP Marcus Stroman (No vs. NYY)
Stroman, 23, was the 22nd overall pick in the 2012 draft and he zoomed to the big leagues in less than two years. He has a 5.18 ERA (3.04 FIP) in 24.1 innings spread across three starts and five relief appearances so far, and both his walk (1.11 BB/9 and 2.7 BB%) and ground ball (56.0%) rates are excellent. Stroman has also kept the ball in the park (0.74 HR/9 and 7.7 HR/FB%) and kept righties in check (.303 wOBA), though lefties have crushed him (.426 wOBA) and his strikeout rate isn’t anything special (7.77 K/9 and 18.9 K%). A mid-90s four-seamer is his main offering and he uses it a lot, nearly 60% of the time. Stroman also throws a low-90s cutter, mid-80s sliders and changeups, and a low-80s curve. He’s a tiny little guy at 5-foot-9 and 185 lbs., but he’s got a huge arm.
Wednesday: RHP Chase Whitley (No vs. TOR) vs. LHP Mark Buehrle (vs. NYY)
The 35-year-old Buehrle is currently in the middle of his best big league season, pitching to a 2.28 ERA (3.36 FIP) in 14 starts and 94.2 innings. His strikeout (5.23 K/9 and 14.2 K%) and ground ball (43.3%) rates are right in line with the rest of his career, but Buehrle has enjoyed an exceptionally low homerun rate so far (0.38 HR/9 and 4.0 HR/FB%). I can’t imagine that’ll stick given his division and home park. Buehrle is walking a career high number of batters (2.47 BB/9 and 6.7 BB%) and righties (.315 wOBA) are having some more luck against him than lefties (.273 wOBA). As always, Buehrle works in the mid-80s with his four-seamer, two-seamer, and cutter combination, mixing in some upper-70s changeups and low-80s curves. His current four-seam fastball average velocity (83.6 mph) is the lowest by a non-knuckleballer, non-Jamie Moyer pitcher during the PitchFX era.
Thursday: RHP David Phelps (vs. TOR) vs. RHP Drew Hutchison (vs. NYY)
Hutchison, 23, missed all of last season due to Tommy John surgery. He’s come back well, with a 3.62 ERA (3.88 FIP) in 14 starts and 82 innings so far this year. His peripherals — 7.68 K/9 (20.6 K%), 2.52 BB/9 (6.8 BB%), 1.10 HR/9 (9.5 HR/FB%), and 36.5% grounders — are solid but unspectacular across the board. He doesn’t have much of a platoon split at all, but it’s worth noting Hutchison has been far better on the road (.254 wOBA) than at home (.439) this season. A low-90s fastball is his bread and butter and he throws it a ton, more than 60% of the time. Mid-80s sliders and changeups round out the repertoire. The Yankees roughed Hutchison up for six runs in 3.1 innings back in April.
Like the Yankees, the Blue Jays were off yesterday, so both bullpens are pretty well rested coming into the series. Closer RHP Casey Janssen (1.73 FIP) anchors a relief crew that also includes setup men RHP Sergio Santos (5.75 FIP in limited time) and RHP Steve Delabar (5.24 FIP). LHP Brett Cecil (2.15 FIP) is currently dealing with a nagging groin issue and could be headed for the disabled list.
If Cecil does wind up on the shelf, Gibbons still has a solid southpaw in LHP Aaron Loup (3.37 FIP). He’s one of those classic funky delivery, low arm slot guys. RHP Todd Redmond (2.91 FIP) is the long man while RHP Dustin McGowan (4.70 FIP) and RHP Chad Jenkins (5.17 FIP) handle the middle innings. You can check up on the Yankees’ bullpen at our Bullpen Workload page. For everything you need to know about the Blue Jays, head over to Drunk Jays Fans.
The Yankees are back home in the Bronx following their five-win, nine-game trip west of the Mississippi. It felt a lot longer than that for whatever reason. Here are some scattered thoughts before tonight’s series opener against the Blue Jays.
1. I know it’s only June, but the Yankees are entering a crucial stretch of the schedule right now. After putzing around with the other AL divisions and interleague play for the last few weeks, they’ll play their next nine games against the Blue Jays (six games) and Orioles (three games), who have become their primary competition in the AL East. The Rays are completely out of it already and the Red Sox have quite a bit of ground to make up before being a real concern. The Yankees come into this nine-game stretch 4.5 games back of Toronto and a half-game up on Baltimore. It’s very simple: if they play well during these nine games, it’ll leave them right near the top of the division. If they don’t, they end up buried in the standings. These next three series will go a long way towards determining whether the Yankees can actually win the AL East. These head-to-head matchups are of paramount importance and even though there are still 90-something games left in the season, these games need to be treated with a sense of urgency. Kinda like playoff games.
2. Frankie Cervelli is expected to be activated off the disabled list tonight, meaning John Ryan Murphy will go back to Triple-A Scranton and play everyday. Whatever. I’d rather see Murphy stick around as Brian McCann‘s backup but it doesn’t really make much of a difference. I guess there’s a chance Murphy has already played his final game for the Yankees since the trade deadline is coming up in a few weeks, which would suck. I really like him and think he’s someone the team should keep going forward. McCann won’t be able to catch forever, Cervelli can’t stay healthy, Austin Romine is an afterthought, Gary Sanchez is being benched for disciplinary reasons in Double-A, and Peter O’Brien flat out can’t catch. Murphy is the only non-McCann guy at the upper levels the Yankees could legitimately run out there as an everyday catcher if need be. He is their top trade chip though, and the team has so many needs (infield, right field, rotation) that it’s tough to think Murphy will remain in the organization much longer. I am usually all in favor of trading prospects for MLB help, especially non-elite prospects, but he’s the one guy I think the Yankees would be wise to keep. Quality catching is too hard to find.
3. The Yankees are basically out of rotation depth at this point. CC Sabathia and Michael Pineda are still weeks away and I’m not even sure who would be next in line if another starter gets hurt. I guess David Huff? Either him or Alfredo Aceves again. Neither Shane Greene nor Bruce Billings has pitched all that well in Triple-A, and Manny Banuelos isn’t stretched out enough to be an MLB option. Maybe the Yankees have reached the point where pulling Adam Warren out of the bullpen and stretching him out is their best rotation option. Shawn Kelley just returned from his back injury, so the bullpen would more easily be able to absorb the loss. The problem with converting Warren back into a starter is a) it’ll take several weeks to stretch him back out at this point, and b) how much of an upgrade would he really be over Vidal Nuno? Warren’s excelled in short relief because he can air it out and not have to worry about facing a lineup multiple times. We saw last year that being asked the turn a lineup over wasn’t necessarily the easiest thing for him. I would prefer to leave Warren in his current role and not mess around, but if push comes to shove and more rotation help is needed, isn’t he the best option right now?
4. Since we’re already talking about pitching depth, I want to mention the Marlins designated the slightly interesting Kevin Slowey for assignment yesterday, clearing a roster spot for top prospect Andrew Heaney. (They also designated Randy Wolf for assignment, but there’s nothing to see there.) Slowey, 30, missed a month with shoulder inflammation in 2011 and a bunch more time from 2011-12 with non-arm injuries (abdominal strain, broken rib), and over the last two years he’s pitched to a 4.45 ERA (3.79 FIP) in 129.1 innings as a swingman for Miami. You might remember him from his time with the Twins, and he’s a classic low strikeout (17.7 K%), low walk (4.8%) Twins pitcher. There’s nothing sexy about Slowey at all, but he might be better than Vidal Nuno (5.24 ERA and 4.88 FIP since moving into the rotation). If nothing else, he’s better than Huff. The Yankees could pluck him off waivers, stick him in the bullpen in a long relief role for a few weeks, and see what happens. Even if they have to send Jose Ramirez down for a few weeks to make it happen, it wouldn’t be the end of the world. I like Ramirez as much as anyone, but his big league opportunity can wait a few more weeks if it means potentially upgrading the rotation.
5. Following the news of Tony Gwynn’s death yesterday, there were all sorts of fun information and hard-to-believe stats floating around the internet. My favorite (by far) comes from Chris Jaffe, who pointed out Gwynn has the highest batting average in two-strike counts in baseball history by 40 (!) points. Here’s the full list. Gwynn hit an absurd .302 in two-strike counts in his career. Fellow Hall of Famer and totally awesome hitter Wade Boggs is second with a .262 lifetime average in two-strike counts. Former Yankee Luis Polonia is third at .261. (Luis Polonia, huh? Alrighty.) Derek Jeter is tied for 67th all-time with a .228 average with two strikes. During Gwynn’s career, from 1988-2001, all of baseball hit a combined .187 in two-strike counts. He was 115 points better than everyone else. We’re talking thousands of plate appearances too, so this isn’t some small sample noise. Hitting .300+ in general is hard. Doing it in two-strike counts over a 20-year career blows my freaking mind.
Two very quick notes:
- As expected, OF Aaron Judge will be promoted to High-A Tampa after the Low-A South Atlantic League All-Star Game this week, according to Josh Norris. Judge hit .333/.428/.530 (166 wRC+) with nine homers in 65 games for the River Dogs. Pretty, pretty good.
- OF Dustin Fowler was named the Sally League Offensive Player of the Week. The team’s 18th round pick in last summer’s draft started the season in Extended Spring Training, but he has quietly hit .260/.324/.458 (116 wRC+) with three homers in 26 games for Charleston as a 19-year-old. Not too shabby.
Triple-A Scranton (4-2 win over Toledo)
- LF Jose Pirela & DH Corban Joseph: 2-5, 1 R — CoJo drove in a run
- RF Zoilo Almonte: 2-4, 1 2B, 1 RBI — 17-for-50 (.340) during his 12-game hitting streak, which started as soon as he was sent down
- 3B Scott Sizemore: 0-4, 1 RBI, 2 K
- 1B Kyle Roller: 2-4, 1 K
- 2B Rob Refsnyder: 1-3, 1 R, 1 K, 1 SB, 1 HBP
- C Austin Romine: 0-4, 1 K
- RHP Shane Greene: 6 IP, 2 H, 2 R, 2 ER, 4 BB, 3 K, 1 Balk, 6/6 GB/FB — 52 of 93 pitches were strikes (56%) … 23 walks in 48.2 innings this year after 30 walks in 154.1 innings last year
- RHP Danny Burawa: 1 IP, zeroes, 3 K — 13 pitches, nine strikes … 18/6 K/BB in his last 16 innings
- RHP Matt Daley: 1 IP, 1 H, 0 R, 0 ER, 1 BB, 0 K, 2/1 GB/FB — 12 of 21 pitches were strikes (57%)
- RHP Preston Claiborne: 1 IP, 2 H, 0 R, 0 ER, 0 BB, 1 K, 1/1 GB/FB — ten of 16 pitches were strikes (63%)