Sunday Night Open Thread

That was a nice series win. The Twins were 31-16 with a +51 run differential at home heading into that series, you know. The Yankees are rollin’ right now. Seven wins in nine games since the All-Star break and 14 wins in 19 games this month overall. Pretty, pretty sweet.

Here is tonight’s open thread. The ESPN Sunday Night Game is the Tigers at Red Sox (Rodriguez vs. Greene) because apparently ESPN still thinks it’s 2013. Talk about that game, this afternoon’s win, or anything else here.

Game 97: Love This Team

Shelley Duncan-esque. (Hannah Foslien/Getty)
Shelley Duncan-esque. (Hannah Foslien/Getty)

Still amped up from that game last night? I know I am. What a win. I love love love that we can talk about Alex Rodriguez as a serious MVP candidate this season. Who would have guessed that coming into Spring Training? This season is just the best I tell ya.

Anyway, yesterday is yesterday and today is today. The Yankees will try to win the series against the Twins this afternoon behind Nathan Eovaldi, who has not allowed an extra-base hit this month and has allowed just one home run in his last 61.1 innings. I can write that because I don’t believe in jinxes. Here is Minnesota’s lineup and here is New York’s lineup:

  1. CF Jacoby Ellsbury
  2. LF Brett Gardner
  3. DH Mark Teixeira
  4. C Brian McCann
  5. RF Carlos Beltran
  6. 1B Garrett Jones
  7. 3B Chase Headley
  8. SS Didi Gregorius
  9. 2B Stephen Drew
    RHP Nathan Eovaldi

It is cloudy, hot, and humid in Minneapolis today, which means rain is on the way. The forecast says the showers are not unexpected until later this afternoon though, so they shouldn’t be a problem unless the game goes long. First pitch is scheduled for 2:10pm ET and you can watch on YES. Enjoy the game.

Rosenthal: Royals acquiring Johnny Cueto from Reds

(Joe Robbins/Getty)
(Joe Robbins/Getty)

According to Ken Rosenthal, the Royals are set to acquire ace right-hander Johnny Cueto from the Reds. The two sides were close to a deal yesterday before things fell apart when Cincinnati got scared by something they found in the medicals of another player involved in the deal. Apparently the two sides were able to work out a trade anyway.

The Yankees had reportedly been scouting Cueto for weeks, which makes total sense. He’s both a great pitcher and also a rental, making him a perfect fit for a team in need of rotation help and wary of taking on long-term deals. It’s unclear if the Yankees ever had serious talks with the Reds about Cueto. We also don’t know who the Royals are sending to Cincy, so I can’t offer up a comparable Yankees package.

Even with Cueto and Scott Kazmir (traded to the Astros) off the board, there are still plenty of pitchers on the trade market. Cole Hamels is the big name, but he comes with a hefty contract. Jeff Samardzija, Mike Leake, Ian Kennedy, and Mat Latos are other rental options. The Tigers remain undecided about whether to trade David Price. The package for Cueto will give us an idea of what it would take to acquire Price, who would look might fine in pinstripes.

Update: Cueto was traded for left-handers Brandon Finnegan, John Lamb, and Cody Reed, both clubs announced. I’m not sure there’s a good Yankees equivalent. Jacob Lindgren, Manny Banuelos if they still had him, and Brady Lail? That doesn’t really work. Eh, whatever.

Pulling for Power

Remember May 17th? Yeah, me neither. That day, however, I published this piece on Mark Teixeira and his performance on pitches in and out of the zone. A Twitter conversation I had with ESPN’s Mark Simon last week brought this post to my mind (more on that later). My breakdown was mostly general and didn’t get specific as to what Tex was doing on pitches in certain parts of the zone or where those balls were ending up. In researching for this piece, I took a look at Tex’s splits, specifically his numbers based on location.

When pulling the ball as a right handed batter, Tex hits to a fantastic line: a .288 batting average; a .615 slugging percentage; a .327 ISO; a .386 wOBA; and a 148 wRC+. As a lefty, his pull numbers are even gaudier: .387 BA; .978 SLG; .591 ISO; .567 wOBA; 275 wRC+. Given his reputation, my assumption was that Tex was doing what seemed logical: dropping his (very powerful) bat head onto pitches on the inner part of the plate and mashing them to his pull field. However, the opposite seemed to be true. Recall, all the way from the first paragraph, my conversation with Mark Simon:

He tweeted that Tex was second in all of baseball (to Albert Pujols) on outer-half home runs this season, and posted the following heat map:


I asked Mark if he could give me the locations of all those homers and he obliged:


All but two of those homers–the shortest dots to the left field side, numbers nine and 11 on the year for Tex–were pulled. So it seems that, instead of ripping inside pitches, Tex is extending his arms and getting the sweet spot of the bat to the ball in front of outside pitches and muscling them over the fence. Rather than just going with the pitch, Tex is sticking to what he said way back in February. “We’ve talked about it ad nauseam,” he said. “Every time I try to slap the ball the other way, it doesn’t go well for anybody. That’s what the other team wants. They want to take a middle-of-the-order power hitter and turn him into a slap hitter….So if I can hit more home runs, more doubles, walk more, that takes care of the shift.” Thus far, going back to his pull happy roots has turned out pretty well for Teixeira. He already has more homers this year (24) than he did all of last year (22); he’s also hit more doubles in 2015 (21 to 14) and is walking more (13.1% to 11.4%) than in 2014.

When we talk about adjustments in baseball, we usually mean that a player is trying something new. Well, Tex adjusted back to something old and the results have greatly benefited both the Yankees and him. His offensive resurgence and reclaimed production are big reasons why the Yankees sit in first place in the AL East. Keep on pulling, Tex; keep on pulling.

DotF: Heathcott begins rehab assignment; Lail tosses shutout in Trenton’s win

OF Aaron Judge took batting practice today, according to Shane Hennigan. Judge said he isn’t injured, just “tight.” Okay then. He was reportedly walking around the clubhouse with his lower back wrapped last night.

Triple-A Scranton (10-2 win over Toledo)

  • CF Ben Gamel: 2-3, 2 R, 1 3B, 3 RBI, 2 BB, 1 K — back-to-back two-hit games with a triple
  • 3B Jose Pirela: 2-3, 2 R, 1 HR, 4 RBI, 1 BB — back at third base now
  • LF Ramon Flores: 1-4, 1 RBI, 1 BB
  • 2B Rob Refsnyder: 0-4, 1 RBI, 1 K
  • 1B Greg Bird: 1-5, 1 2B, 2 K
  • RF Tyler Austin: 1-2, 2 R, 2 BB
  • RHP Bryan Mitchell: 5 IP, 5 H, 2 R, 2 ER, 1 BB, 7 K, 1 WP, 5/3 GB/FB — 47 of 65 pitches were strikes (72%) … efficient! (not exactly his trademark!)
  • RHP Johnny Barbato: 2 IP, 1 H, 0 R, 0 ER, 2 BB, 2 K, 2/2 GB/FB — 18 of 32 pitches were strikes (57%)
  • RHP Wilking Rodriguez: 2 IP, zeroes, 2 K, 1/3 GB/FB — 14 of 22 pitches were strikes (64%)

[Read more…]

A-Rod’s three homers, Murphy’s three-run shot lead Yanks to 8-5 come from behind win over Twins

Source: FanGraphs

Holy smokes. I need a cigarette after that game. The Yankees battled back from a 5-0 deficit to beat the Twins 8-5 on Saturday night thanks to the oldest player on the roster and the second youngest player on the roster. What a win. It’s Saturday night, so let’s recap with bullet points:

  • Ten More Years!: Alex Rodriguez had had enough. The Yankees fell behind 5-0 (more on that in a bit), so he put the team on his back and carried them back into the game. Solo homer into the third deck in the fourth inning, two-run homer into the bullpen in the seventh, then a game-tying solo homer to center off Glen Perkins in the ninth. Three homers to lead the comeback. And they say he ain’t clutch.
  • Serial Killed: A-Rod merely tied the game in the ninth. His teammates took care of the rest. Mark Teixeira singled but was erased on Carlos Beltran‘s fielder’s choice. Beltran moved to third on Chase Headley‘s single to put the go ahead run at third with one out. Backup catcher/serial killer John Ryan Murphy just needed to hit a ball to the outfield, and he did that and then some. Murphy hit a three-run homer over the high wall in right-center field (oppo blast!) to give the Yankees the 8-5 lead. It was in a two-strike count too. What a stud. What a moment.

    John Ryan Murphy forearm smash

  • No No CC: The Yankees shouldn’t allow CC Sabathia to make another start, but you and I both know they will. He allowed five runs on six hits and three walks in 5.2 innings on Saturday, against a Twins lineup loaded with righties and switch-hitters. It was easy to foresee a rough night. Sabathia hasn’t gotten righties out at all this year. As long as Sabathia is in the rotation, the Yankees are not giving themselves the best chance to win. Simple as that.
  • Unsung Hero: A-Rod hit the three homers and Murphy gave them the lead, but Adam Warren is the unsung hero of the game. He replaced Sabathia in the fifth, escaping his bases loaded jam with a strikeout, then tossed two more scoreless innings to give the Yankees a chance to get back in the game. Warren stopped the bleeding and deserves the win. Andrew Miller tossed a perfect ninth for his 23rd save in 23 chances.
  • Leftovers: The three-homer game was the fifth of A-Rod’s career and his third with the Yankees. He last did it against the Royals in 2010. The other was the three-homer, 10 RBI game against Bartolo Colon in 2005. You remember that, right? … Teixeira had two hits and then Jacoby Ellsbury, Chris Young, Stephen Drew, Headley, and Murphy had one each … Brian McCann struck out with Ellsbury at second representing the tying run in the eighth, but who cares after that ninth inning.

Here are the box score, video highlights, updated standings, postseason odds, Bullpen Workload page, and Announcer Standings page. That’s a lot of stuff. The Yankees and Twins will wrap up this three-game series Sunday afternoon. Nathan Eovaldi and Kyle Gibson will be the pitching matchup in the matinee.

Game 96: Find A Way To Win On The Road

Don't do this again. (Hannah Foslien/Getty)
Don’t do this again. (Hannah Foslien/Getty)

The Yankees got their brains beat in by the Twins last night and it was just one of those games. Happens to every team a few times each season. It was another road loss however, the team’s 22nd loss in their last 35 road games. That’s not very good! The Yankees are 23-25 with a a -21 run differential on the road this year and I was surprised to see their record was that good.

Obviously this Yankees team is built for Yankee Stadium, but it’s not like they are completely helpless without the short porch. They rank middle of the pack with an average of 3.81 runs per game away from home. The real problem is the pitching staff — the Yankees have a 4.14 ERA on the road and a 3.76 ERA at home, which makes no sense. They’ve allowed four more earned runs on the road in 32.1 fewer innings.

The Yankees have built themselves a nice little lead in the AL East — emphasis on little, it is still only July — but they’re going to have to solve their road woes at some point to really run away with this thing. Last night was a clunker, just forget about it. Move on and try to win today. Here’s is Minnesota’s lineup and here is New York’s 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. C John Ryan Murphy
  8. SS Brendan Ryan
  9. 2B Stephen Drew
    LHP CC Sabathia

The weather in Minneapolis has been great for most of the day, but there have been some on and off showers this afternoon. The forecast says things will dry up right around game time, however, so it shouldn’t be a problem. First pitch is scheduled for 7:10pm ET and you can watch on WPIX. Enjoy.

Roster Move: Welcome to the big leagues, Nick Goody. Enjoy the affordable health care for life. The Yankees have called Goody up to give them a fresh arm in the bullpen, the team announced. Branden Pinder was sent down and Gregorio Petit was designated for assignment to clear a 40-man roster. Goody, the team’s sixth round pick in 2012, has a 1.68 ERA (1.86 FIP) with 35.5 K% and 7.1 BB% in 48.1 relief innings split between Double-A and Triple-A this year. He’ll be the 12th (!) Yankee to make his MLB debut this season whenever he gets into a game.

Rotation Update: Joe Girardi announced the Yankees will use a spot sixth starter on Tuesday to give everyone an extra day of rest. Right now Tuesday’s starter is TBA and Girardi said they could piggyback Adam Warren and Chris Capuano. Luis Severino started for Triple-A Scranton last night and Bryan Mitchell is starting tonight, so they aren’t options. The most likely minor league candidate is (gulp) Esmil Rogers. He threw 91 pitches last time out and lines up to start Tuesday if the team wants to go that way.