DotF: Sensley homers twice in Charleston’s win

Triple-A Scranton (6-2 win over Durham)

  • LF Mason Williams: 2-5, 1 R, 1 K — 8-for-23 (.348) during his little five-game hitting streak
  • 3B Miguel Andujar: 1-4, 1 R, 1 RBI, 1 BB, 1 K, 1 E (throwing)
  • DH Tyler Austin: 3-5, 2 R, 1 HR, 2 RBI, 1 K — in case you missed it earlier, he was activated off the disabled list and optioned down earlier today, so his rehab assignment is over
  • RF Billy McKinney: 2-5, 1 R, 1 2B, 1 HR, 3 RBI — career high 16 homers in 104 games this year after hitting eleven in 229 games in 2015 and 2016 combined
  • CF Jake Cave: 1-4, 1 2B, 3 K
  • RHP Chance Adams: 6 IP, 4 H, 2 R, 1 ER, 1 BB, 6 K, 1 WP, 4/4 GB/FB — 69 of 101 pitches were strikes … 11/2 K/BB in his last two starts after a weird little stretch in which he walked more batters than he struck out three times in the span of four starts
  • Nick Rumbelow: 3 IP, 2 H, 0 R, 0 ER, 0 BB, 4 K, 1/3 GB/FB — 26 of 39 pitches were strikes (67%) … 35/8 K/BB in 31.2 innings back from Tommy John surgery

[Read more…]

Game 114: The Biggest Game of the Season (Until Tomorrow)

(David Maxwell/Getty)
(David Maxwell/Getty)

So the latest “most important series of the season” has arrived. And gosh, this one is really important. The Yankees are 4.5 games back of the Red Sox in the AL East, so come Monday, they’ll either be within striking distance of the division title or buried. These two teams have two more series remaining after this one, so there’s still time to catch up, but the Yankees can’t really afford to fall further back this weekend.

Of course, to keep pace with the any team right now, the Yankees have to start scoring runs. They’ve failed to score more than two runs six times in the last eight games, and too many times during that stretch they were shut down by guys with an ERA in the 5s. The Yankees need the offense to turn it around today. Not next week. Not when Starlin Castro and Greg Bird return. Today. Here is the Red Sox’s lineup and here is the Yankees’ lineup:

  1. LF Aaron Hicks
  2. DH Gary Sanchez
  3. RF Aaron Judge
  4. SS Didi Gregorius
  5. 3B Todd Frazier
  6. 1B Garrett Cooper
  7. CF Jacoby Ellsbury
  8. 2B Ronald Torreyes
  9. C Austin Romine
    LHP Jaime Garcia

It is cloudy in New York this evening, and there’s rain in the forecast later on. It’s not supposed to arrive until midnight or so, but once it starts, it’s not going to stop until tomorrow morning. Hopefully this game doesn’t go long enough for the weather to be a factor. First pitch is scheduled for 7:05pm ET and both YES and MLB Network will have the broadcast. Enjoy the game.

Roster Moves: CC Sabathia was placed on the 10-day DL with right knee inflammation, the Yankees announced. The move is retroactive to Wednesday. Jordan Montgomery was called up to fill the roster spot. Also, Tyler Austin was activated off the 10-day DL and optioned down to Triple-A Scranton.

Injury Updates: Sabathia received cortisone and lubrication injections and is scheduled to throw a bullpen session Sunday. Sounds like he might be activated as soon as he’s eligible … Starlin Castro (hamstring) has started running, though not the bases yet. That’s the next step. He’s still on track to begin a minor league rehab assignment at some point next week.

8/11 to 8/13 Series Preview: Boston Red Sox

Hanley Ramirez & Rafael Devers. (Charles Krupa/AP)
Hanley Ramirez and Rafael Devers. (Charles Krupa/AP)

The Last Time They Met

The Yankees opened their second-half by splitting a four-game series in Boston. All four games were decided by three runs or less, including a walk-off walk in game one, and a sixteen-inning affair in game two. And, as per usual, only one game checked-in at under three hours – and that game went two hours and fifty-nine minutes. Some notes:

  • Poor defense and erratic pitching from Aroldis Chapman cost the Yankees game one. Mookie Betts singled, Dustin Pedroia singled, Xander Bogaerts reached on an error (scoring Betts), Hanley Ramirez was intentionally walked to load the bases, and Andrew Benintendi walked on five pitches to score Pedroia. And I distinctly remember being more angry at the IBB than anything else.
  • The bullpen (Tyler Clippard, Dellin Betances, Chasen Shreve, Adam Warren, Jonathan Holder, Chapman, Ben Heller) combined for a complete game shutout in game two, pitching to the following line – 9 IP, 4 H, 0 R, 2 BB, 6 K. The Yankees won 4-1 in 16 innings.
  • By winning the third game, the Yankees won back-to-back games for the first time in over a month. That wasn’t a fun stretch.
  • In the final game of the series, Aaron Judge was robbed of a home run by Jackie Bradley Jr. I would have been impressed if I wasn’t so annoyed.

Check out Katie’s Yankeemetrics post for more fun facts.

Injury Report

As has been the case throughout the season, the Red Sox simply aren’t all that healthy. David Price is back on the DL with left elbow inflammation, Carson Smith is still recovering from last year’s Tommy John Surgery, and Tyler Thornburg and Steven Wright are both done for the season. The offense is relatively healthy, though, with only bench players Marco Hernandez and Josh Rutledge currently sidelined with injuries. Though, it is worth noting that Dustin Pedroia is day-to-day with a tweaked knee, just a couple of days after returning from the DL.

Their Story So Far

Boston is currently in first place in the AL East, sitting at 65-49 with a +85 run differential. They’ve won 8 in a row by a combined score of 50 to 25, so it wouldn’t be a stretch to say that they’re playing their best baseball right now – which just so happens to coincide with the call-up of top prospect Rafael Devers. The basic sports narrative will credit Devers with the turnaround, which is a bit unfair – but the 20-year-old is hitting .319/.396/.553 (150 wRC+) with 3 HR in 12 games, and has been a key component of a resurgent offense.

And offense has been the problem for the Red Sox this season, even with all of the injuries to their pitching staff. Their 93 wRC+ places them 20th in all of baseball, with Betts, Bogaerts, Bradley, and Benintendi disappointing for the majority of the year. There is a great deal of talent here, of course, and that’s why they’re back in first place. Ugh.

The Lineup We Might See

Manager John Farrell has been tinkering with the lineup quite a bit of late, due mostly to the call-up of Devers and the acquisition of former Yankee Eduardo Nunez. The recent return Dustin Pedroia has led to some flip-flopping, as well. Nevertheless, I expect that we’ll see something like this:

  1. Mookie Betts, RF
  2. Eduardo Nunez, 2B
  3. Andrew Benintendi, LF
  4. Hanley Ramirez, DH
  5. Rafael Devers, 3B
  6. Xander Bogaerts, SS
  7. Mitch Moreland, 1B
  8. Sandy Leon, C / Christian Vazquez, C
  9. Jackie Bradley Jr., CF

Pedroia is the wild card in this situation. If he plays, he’ll bat near the top of the order, pushing everyone down. He might also DH, which would push Moreland to the bench and Ramirez to first.

The Starting Pitchers We Will See

Friday (7:05 PM EST): LHP Jaime Garcia vs. LHP Eduardo Rodriguez

Rodriguez was on the disabled list the last time these teams met, with a right knee injury sidelining him from June 2 to July 17. He has been solid when healthy, though, pitching to a 4.08 ERA (112 ERA+) in 81.2 IP, with a well above-average 25.8% strikeout rate. He’s a bit walk (3.5 BB/9) and home run (1.3 HR/9) prone, and he’s one of the more severe flyball pitches in the league, with just 34.2% of batted balls being on the ground.

The 24-year-old southpaw throws five pitches, but the vast majority of those are his four-seam fastball, which sits right around 93 MPH. His primary off-speed pitch is a solid mid-80s change-up, and he’ll mix in a low-90s sinker, a mid-80s cutter, and a low-80s slider.

Last Outing (vs. CHW on 8/4) – 6.0 IP, 4 H, 2 R, 2 BB, 5 K

Saturday (4:05 PM EST): RHP Luis Severino vs. LHP Drew Pomeranz

Pomeranz had a rocky first couple of months, but he has been quite good since the calendar flipped to June, pitching to a 2.71 ERA over 69.2 IP in his last 12 starts. He has a 3.36 ERA (136 ERA+) on the season, and he’s currently 10th in the American League in fWAR. The Yankees handed him his worst start in about two months the last time they faced, scoring four runs in 6 innings on July 14.

Last Outing (vs. CHW on 8/5) – 6.1 IP, 7 H, 1 R, 1 BB, 8 K

Sunday (8:05 PM EST): LHP Jordan Montgomery vs. LHP Chris Sale

Sale is currently leading the majors – hitters and pitchers, alike – in FanGraphs’ version of WAR. Baseball-Reference paints a much more modest portrait, ranking him third among all pitchers; either way, he has an argument for being the best pitcher in baseball right now. The 28-year-old also leads the majors in IP, K%, K-BB%, and FIP (by nearly half a run), as well as fourth in BB%. He dominated the Yankees the last time they squared-off, going 7.2 scoreless innings, allowing 3 hits and 2 walks, while striking out 13.

Last Outing (vs. TBR on 8/8) – 8.0 IP, 2 H, 0 R, 1 BB, 13 K

The Bullpen

Boston’s bullpen has been a strength for the entirety of the season, and they managed to improve it at the deadline by adding Addison Reed. The group leads the majors in park-adjusted ERA and RA9-WAR, and ranks second (behind the Yankees) in fWAR.

The absurdly good Craig Kimbrel is the team’s closer, and he’s striking out 50% of the batters he faces, while walking just 4.4%. He’s tied (with teammate and set-up man Joe Kelly) for third among MLB relievers in park-adjusted ERA, as well. Kelly and the newly acquired Reed handle the set-up duties, and Matt Barnes, Heath Hembree, and Blaine Boyer take the higher-leverage middle inning duties.

Who (Or What) To Watch

Rafael Devers was a consensus top-20 prospect heading into the season, and he has shown why by tearing through Double-A and Triple-A this year, and reaching the majors a few months shy of his 21st birthday. He’s worth watching purely in an “I want to see what this guy’s all about” way, while also recognizing that he’s going to be a big part of the Yankees/Red Sox rivalry for years to come.

Yankeemetrics: Nightmare north of the border (Aug. 8-10)

(AP)
(AP)

Where’s home plate?
The road trip continued with a trek north of the border, to a place that has been a house of horrors for the Yankees this decade. They entered the series in Toronto with a 27-41 record at the Rogers Centre since 2010, their worst winning percentage at an AL ballpark over the past eight years.

So, predictably, they dropped the first game on Tuesday, though the result had much more to do with their continued failure to cash in on scoring chances. They flooded the basepaths with 14 baserunners, but only two of them crossed the plate, the first time that’s happened in nearly a year, since last August 15 against … the Blue Jays.

Or maybe they lost because they failed to send a ball over the fences. The Yankees have just three wins when they don’t homer, the fewest in the majors this season, and after going homerless on Tuesday, their 3-20 record without a home run is the second-worst in baseball.

All of the damage by the Blue Jays came from Josh Donaldson, who belted two two-run homers off CC Sabathia in the first three innings. Sabathia later revealed that he was pitching with pain in his right knee, which was the likely cause of a troublesome drop in his fastball velocity.

(Brooksbaseball.net)
(Brooksbaseball.net)

He averaged 89 mph on his sinker and 88.4 mph on his cutter, both of which were his second-lowest marks on those pitches this season, ahead of only his start in Pittsburgh in April. The injury was likely the main reason for his struggles, though you have to wonder if the inevitable regression monster was lurking given these numbers entering the game:

Sabathia had a 2.29 ERA on the road, the best in the AL (min. 50 IP), and hadn’t allowed more than one earned run in each of his last six road outings before Tuesday. He also had held Donaldson without a homer in their previous 37 matchups, the most plate appearances Donaldson had in his career against a pitcher he had yet to take deep.

(AP)
(AP)

Dinger party
The Yankee bats returned with vengeance on Wednesday night, exploding for 11 runs and 17 hits, including eight for extra bases. It was the first time they reached each of those totals on the road in more than two years, since a 13-6 shellacking of the White Sox at Cellular Field on July 31, 2015.

Todd Frazier, Gary Sanchez and Didi Gregorius each went deep as the Yankees improved to 17-0 when hitting at least three homers, the best record in the majors. The only other team that’s unbeaten in three-homer games this season is the Red Sox (10-0).

Frazier had by far his finest game as a Yankee, with three hits — a homer, double and single — three RBIs and four runs scored. Those two extra-base hits on Wednesday were the same number that he had in his previous 18 games (70 plate appearances) in pinstripes.

The Toddfather is just the fourth Yankee third baseman to drive in three or more runs and score four or more times in a game, joining A-Rod (six times), Scott Brosius (1999), Graig Nettles (1976) and Bobby Brown (1949).

The inclusion of Brown here gives us a chance for our Yankeemetric History Lesson of the Week. Brown, who later became a practicing cardiologist and spent a decade as the president of the American League (1984-94), has one incredible stat from his eight seasons with the Yankees:

A career .279/.367/.376 hitter, Brown was a monster in the postseason, hitting .439 in 41 at-bats in 17 World Series games. That’s the second-highest World Series batting average in baseball history by any player with at least 40 plate appearances, behind David Ortiz (.455).

Garrett Cooper was the other standout player on Wednesday, going 4-for-5 with two RBIs, and producing a bevy of #FunFacts for the 26-year-old rookie. He is the …

  • Seventh Yankee ever with a four-hit, multi-RBI game within his first 10 career games. This might be one of the most eclectic lists of players we’ve ever produced: D’Angelo Jimenez (1999), Shane Spencer (1998), Rusty Torres (1971), Elston Howard (1955), Jerry Coleman (1949) and Chicken Hawks (1921) — yes, a real person and one incredible statistical claim to fame.
  • Third Yankee first baseman with at least four hits against the Blue Jays, joining Mark Teixeira (2010) and Don Mattingly (six times).
  • Fourth rookie first baseman in the last 100-plus years to have a four-hit game, along with Joe Collins (1950), Bud Souchock (1946) and Lou Gehrig (twice).

And, of course, this would not be a Yankeemetrics post without Aaron Judge re-writing the record books. He took his 82nd walk of the season in the fifth inning, breaking the Yankee rookie record set by Charlie Keller in 1939. The major-league rookie record in the modern era (since 1900) is 107 walks by Ted Williams in 1939, a number that is certainly within reach over the next seven weeks.

(USA Today Sports)
(USA Today Sports)

Stranded in Canada
One night after an offensive explosion — which now seems like a blip during this miserable and extended slump — the Yankees flipped the script on Thursday and were blanked by the Blue Jays, 4-0. It was deja vu all over again, as they had plenty of chances to score (11 baserunners) but left a small navy of men on base because of their horrid clutch hitting (0-for-9 with runners in scoring position).

But maybe we should have predicted this frustrating loss, given their recent struggles to light up the scoreboard at the Rogers Centre. It was the Yankees 10th shutout loss in Toronto since 2011, easily their most at any road stadium over the last seven seasons. Second on the list? Camden Yards and Tropicana Field, with five at each place.

Sonny Gray was okay on a night he needed to be perfect, but he did hold the Blue Jays to three runs (two earned) in six innings, his eighth start in a row with at least six innings pitched and no more than two earned runs allowed. That’s the longest such streak by an AL pitcher this season and tied with Max Scherzer for the second-longest in the majors, behind Aaron Nola (9).

Two of those starts have been with the Yankees, and he’s lost both of them, as the Yankees have scored a total of zero runs in the 12 innings he’s been on the mound. His consolation prize is being the proud winner of our Obscure Yankeemetric of the Series: Gray is the second pitcher ever to begin his Yankee career with two losses despite pitching at least six innings and allowing two or fewer earned runs in each game, joining Harry Byrd in 1954.

Aaron Judge inched closer to yet another record, although this is one he’d like to avoid. When he took a called strike three in the fifth inning against Marco Estrada, it was his 27th straight game with a strikeout. That’s the second-longest single-season streak by a position player in MLB history, trailing only Adam Dunn’s 32-game streak to start the 2012 season.

Mailbag: 40-Man Roster, Tanaka, Sanchez, Traded Prospects

Only nine questions this week, which qualifies this as a small mailbag. Once upon a time these things used to be three or four questions, you know. Anyway, RABmailbag (at) gmail (dot) com is where you should send all mailbag questions.

Gleyber. (Scranton Times Tribune)
Gleyber. (Scranton Times Tribune)

Joe asks: How does the off-season’s 40 man roster crunch look after the deadline deals?

Not nearly as severe as it did earlier this season. Part of that is the trades and part of it is players playing their way out of 40-man roster consideration. The Yankees traded away three prospects who will be Rule 5 Draft eligible after the season: Ian Clarkin, Zack Littell, Tito Polo. Here’s a quick breakdown of the notable players eligible for the Rule 5 Draft after the season:

  • Will be added to 40-man roster: Albert Abreu, Domingo Acevedo, Gleyber Torres
  • Won’t be added to 40-man roster: Abi Avelino, Rashad Crawford, Leonardo Molina, Erik Swanson
  • On the bubble: Daniel Camarena, Jake Cave, Thairo Estrada, J.P. Feyereisen, Billy McKinney, Stephen Tarpley

Camarena and Cave will be minor league free agents, so the Yankees would have to add them to the 40-man right after the World Series to keep them. They can’t wait until the November 20th deadline to set the roster for the Rule 5 Draft. I think Cave gets added and Camarena doesn’t.

Among the bubble guys, I’d say McKinney’s chances of being protected at this point are really good. Probably 90/10 or thereabouts. He’s having a strong season, he’s a former first rounder and top 100 prospect, and he’s only 22. There might not be a ton of upside there, but even a lefty platoon bat would be useful. Estrada and Feyereisen would be prime Rule 5 Draft fodder if they go unprotected, Estrada as a utility infielder and Feyereisen as a hard-throwing reliever. Tarpley has great numbers and is a lefty with good velocity, but he’s also never pitched above Single-A.

The Yankees have five players scheduled to become free agents after the season: Todd Frazier, Jaime Garcia, Matt Holliday, Michael Pineda, and CC Sabathia. (Possibly Masahiro Tanaka too.) That’s five open 40-man spots, though it’s really four because Pineda is on the 60-day DL right now and doesn’t count against the 40-man. The Yankees would be able to easily add Abreu, Acevedo, Cave, and Torres. They’d have to cut someone loose for Estrada, Feyereisen, and/or McKinney. (Plus any other offseason pickups.)

Anonymous asks: In Tanaka’s start against the Tigers, he threw only three (!) fastballs and 44 sliders. His usage rate according to Fangraphs has him basically abandoning the fastball altogether over his last 10 starts which have also coincided with a rebound in his performance. New Tanaka or is he buying into the new Yankees philosophy of throwing more offspeed stuff?

The Yankees in general throw fewer fastballs than any other team, though with Tanaka, I think it has more to do with his fastball not being very good than it does team philosophy. Tanaka’s not going to blow anyone away. Never has and never will. He succeeds by getting hitters to chase his slider and splitter, and lately he is using those pitches an extreme amount. From Brooks Baseball:

masahiro-tanaka-pitch-selection

Wednesday’s grind of a start against the Blue Jays notwithstanding, Tanaka has been pretty darn good over the last two months or so, and it coincides almost perfectly with the shift to the “no fastballs” approach. Here are the splits:

IP ERA FIP K% BB% HR/9 Fastballs
First 12 starts 66 6.55 5.68 19.7% 6.1% 2.32 47.8%
Last 11 starts 67.2 3.33 3.64 30.0% 5.4% 1.46 34.9%

Over those last eleven starts Tanaka has been close to the guy he was from 2014-16 (3.12 ERA and 3.53 FIP). The homers are still a problem and I think they always will be. What can you do? As long as most of them are solo homers — 19 of the 28 homers he’s allowed this year have been solo shots — you just kinda live with it, I think. There’s no other choice, really.

Is throwing essentially one-third fastballs a viable long-term approach? I don’t know. Maybe it is. Lots of sliders and splitters seems bad for the elbow. Then again, people have been waiting for Tanaka’s elbow to give for three years now, and it hasn’t happened. If he were that worried about the elbow, I can’t imagine he’d be throwing that many sliders and splitters. I think this is all a reaction to Tanaka’s fastball getting hit earlier this year. That’s all.

Eric asks: How long would it take one of our OF to learn to play 1B? Could McKinney or Cave start playing 1B in AAA, likely as Bird Insurance for 2018?

Depends on the player, right? One player might pick it up in a week and another might never get it at all. McKinney is the better first base candidate among those two guys because he’s not much of an outfield defender. He’s not bad, necessarily, but he’s not going to save you a ton of runs out there either. He’s a bat first prospect. Cave can play center field, so if you stick him at first base, you’re sacrificing a lot of defensive value. If you’re going to move one of these guys to first base, it should be McKinney. Let Cave use his speed to run down balls in the outfield.

Anonymous asks: Until recently the Yankees couldn’t draft their way out of a paper bag, on any round, early, middle or late, with the exception of the year the got Dellin, Robertson, Kontos, etc. Now, they seem to get good players in all 3 days of the draft. Maybe not all stars but projected major league contributors. Though it’s early, guys like Sensley and Wagaman, late rounders, from this year, already look good. Throughout, the draft was headed by Oppenheimer. What changed?

Nothing. The Yankees have been finding quality players in the late rounds of the draft for years now. Getting David Robertson in the 17th round in 2006 is the big coup, though other late round gems include David Phelps (14th round in 2008), Shane Greene (15th round in 2009), Bryan Mitchell (16th round in 2009), Ben Gamel (10th round in 2010), Tyler Austin (13th round in 2010), Chase Whitley (15th round in 2010), Rookie Davis (14th round in 2011), James Pazos (13th round in 2012), and Dustin Fowler (18th round in 2013). Those guys have all been useful to the Yankees in one way or another. That late in the draft, the expected return is basically zero. Turning a 15th round pick into someone like Greene, who gets traded for an above-average shortstop, is pretty great. The Yankees have had some big time misses in the first round over the last 20 years or so. Their mid-to-late round drafting has been really good though.

Adam asks: Does it seem to you as though Girardi made Gary Sanchez the scapegoat for the team’s recent struggles? I mean he’s not the only one that has made defensive miscues. Seemed like Girardi went out is his way to embarrass a young star possibly for his own self preservation. Love to hear your thoughts. Thanks.

There seems to be an insane amount of Sanchez criticism these days. Not necessarily from Girardi and the Yankees, but from the media and fans. It’s getting to be ridiculous. A 24-year-old catcher hitting .266/.344/.492 (122 wRC+) with 18 home runs in 80 games is a star, even if he does lead the league in passed balls. Maybe it’s just a function of expectations, or the whole “build it up so you can tear it down” mentality that exists. Whatever it is, it’s dumb.

Anyway, I don’t think Joe Girardi made Sanchez the scapegoat. I think as an ex-catcher, Girardi pays attention to that position more than any other. If he were an ex-infielder, maybe he’d have benched Starlin Castro for his slow double play turns or something. Sanchez allowed a lot of passed balls in a short period of time (five in 12 games before the benching) and Girardi wanted to nip it in the bud. It may have seemed silly to single out Sanchez when pretty much the entire team has been struggling, but that doesn’t mean Girardi shouldn’t have done anything.

Everything is Gary's fault. (Tom Szczerbowski/Getty)
Everything is Gary’s fault. (Tom Szczerbowski/Getty)

Kian asks: With the recent, and seemingly endless, struggles with RISP; can we get a look at where the stats put the yanks with RISP? See if it lines up with the eye test … which they aren’t passing lately. I feel like we struggle no more than other teams. RISP fail is such a big event I think we’re blowing it out of proportion a little out of frustration.

Every fan of every team thinks their team stinks with runners in scoring position. The team’s actual performance is irrelevant. The propagation of RISP stats is easily my least favorite current trend in baseball. Go 4-for-12 with RISP and you’re hitting .333, but 4-for-12 still looks bad and means you’ve missed a lot of opportunities. I hate everything about RISP stats. But, because I was asked, here’s where the Yankees ranked in RISP this year going into last night’s game:

  • AVG: .256 (17th in MLB, league average is .260)
  • OBP: .332 (20th in MLB, league average is .343)
  • SLG: .462 (6th in MLB, league average is .429)
  • wRC+: 106 (8th in MLB, league average is 98 wRC+)

The Yankees as a team are hitting .256/.332/.462 (106 wRC+) with runners in scoring position and .261/.337/.441 (107 wRC+) in all situations. Kinda weird they’re so close, huh? Funny how that works. It’s almost like if you gave everyone enough at-bats with RISP, their RISP numbers would look a lot like their overall numbers.

Daniel asks (short version): When farm systems are ranked, do they take into account the record of the minor league teams? Right now the Yankees farm system from top to bottom is leading their respective leagues. The farm system has done all this while losing some its best members to the majors, injuries and trades. Shouldn’t that make them the #1 farm system?

No and they shouldn’t. Minor league team records do not reflect prospect quality at all. Most organizations have 40-50 prospects with true MLB potential. The deepest teams might have 60-70. That’s true “hey if this guy clicks he could stick around for a while” ability, not “this guy might get called up for a few games at some point” ability. Most organizations have seven minor league affiliates: Triple-A, Double-A, High-A, Low-A, Short Season, rookie ball, Latin American summer league. Some teams, like the Yankees, have more.

Anyway, seven affiliates with 25-man rosters gives you 175 players. Those 100-something non-prospects and organizational guys are doing much more to drive minor league win-loss records than the actual prospects. It’s cool to see the Yankees’ minor league affiliates all leading their division, but it doesn’t mean much. Minor league win-loss record has close to zero correlation to farm system rank or future big league success. There’s way way way too much noise. So many non-prospects — both playing for you and against you — skew the results.

Steve asks (short version): Looking ahead toward the offseason, you think we should all brace ourselves for a Betances trade or at least “He’s available” rumors? With Green and Kahnle emerging and Chapman not going anywhere, would think Betances would make the most sense to trade from depth and get a really good return (prospects or MLB ready).

Oh yeah, it’s definitely coming. And there’s nothing wrong with listening to offers for Dellin Betances (or any player) as far as I’m concerned. Betances should bring a pretty nice return. Not an Andrew Miller return, but a pretty good return. If the Yankees do look to trade a reliever this winter, I wonder if they’ll look to trade Robertson rather than Betances. Robertson will make $13M next year and become a free agent after the season. Betances won’t become a free agent until after 2019, and he might make $13M total from 2018-19. Robertson won’t net the Yankees the same return as Betances, but he will help them get under the luxury tax threshold, and they’d be keeping the reliever with two years of control rather than the reliever with one. Ultimately, I think the Yankees wind up keeping both Robertson and Betances, and try to make a run with them next year.

Justin asks: How have Blake Rutherford and Jorge Mateo preformed since their trades?

It hasn’t been all that long since the trades, so these guys haven’t had a chance to log many games with their new organizations yet. Dietrich Enns got called up yesterday and made his MLB debut with the Twins. He allowed two runs (one earned) on five hits and one walk in 2.1 innings against the Brewers last night. He struck out zero in the start. Here’s how the other prospects have fared since the trades:

  • Ian Clarkin, White Sox: 5 IP, 5 H, 2 R, 2 ER, 5 BB, 4 K in one High-A start. He’s currently on the disabled list with an oblique strain.
  • Zack Littell, Twins: 11.2 IP, 13 H, 9 R, 7 ER, 4 BB, 11 K in two equally mediocre Double-A starts. It wasn’t one good start and one bad start.
  • Jorge Mateo, Athletics: 12-for-43 (.279) with two doubles and three triples in nine Double-A games. Last night was his first hitless game since the trade.
  • Tito Polo, White Sox: 7-for-26 (.269) with one double and one triple in seven Double-A games. He’s currently on the disabled list. Not sure what’s wrong with him.
  • Blake Rutherford, White Sox: 18-for-74 (.243) with four doubles in 18 Low-A games.

Dustin Fowler (knee) and James Kaprielian (elbow) are rehabbing from their surgeries, so they haven’t played yet (duh). It hasn’t even been a month since the trades, so I wouldn’t get too caught up in the results one way or another. And thus concludes your regularly scheduled “I can’t believe they traded that guy!” update.

Blue Jays 4, Yankees 0: Baserunners are made for strandin’

Remember the no shutout streak? That was fun. The Yankees have now been shut out twice in the last eight games and three times since the All-Star break. Wednesday night’s eleven-run outburst was followed with zero runs and RISPFAIL of epic proportions Thursday night. The Yankees lost 4-0 to the Blue Jays in the series finale. They are 39-42 in their last 81 games.

(Tom Szczerbowski/Getty)
(Tom Szczerbowski/Getty)

RI(S)P
Is it better to have chances and never score, or to never have chances at all? We’ve seen a little of both these last few weeks, but Thursday’s game was definitely the former. The Yankees has plenty of chances Thursday. Two runners in the first, one in the second, one in the third, two in the fifth, two in the sixth, one in the eighth, two in the ninth. All stranded. Every last one of ’em. Five walks, three doubles, three singles, zero runs.

I’d say the most annoying blown chance came in the fifth inning. Garrett Cooper started the inning with a single and Ronald Torreyes followed with a walk. Toe drew a walk! His seventh of the season. The Yankees were down 3-0 at the time, but the eight and nine hitters reached base to set things up for the top of the lineup with no walks. The next three batters: fly out, pop up, strikeout. Should Brett Gardner have bunted the runners up there? Maybe. I’m not sure it would have mattered anyway.

The Yankees went 0-for-9 with runners in scoring position overall and it was a total team effort. Every regular in the starting lineup had at least one at-bat with runners in scoring position except Todd Frazier. Also, fun fact: the Yankees had eleven baserunners but only one made it as far as third base. That was Aaron Judge in the first inning. He drew a walk and Didi Gregorius doubled him to third. Stranded. Stranded stranded stranded.

(Tom Szczerbowski/Getty)
(Tom Szczerbowski/Getty)

Sonny Grinds
Sonny Gray wasn’t particularly sharp in the early innings Thursday, and by time he found it, it was a little too late. He walked four batters and was generally up in the zone. Up and out of the zone at times. The end result: 6 IP, 4 H, 3 R, 2 ER, 4 BB, 6 K. He threw 103 pitches. This was one of those “a lesser pitcher probably gives up six runs early” starts for Gray. He battled to keep the Blue Jays to three.

Toronto scored their first run on a double, an error — Gray threw a pickoff into center field — and a weak tapper back in front of the mound. Gray didn’t have time to do anything other than shuffle it to Gary Sanchez with his glove, but he couldn’t do it quick enough. Run scores. And inning later a walk, a steal, and a Josh Donaldson single gave the Blue Jays a 2-0 lead. In the fourth a single, a bunt, a walk, and a single made it 3-0. Kevin Pillar went down for a two-strike curveball and chopped a grounder through the left side there.

Gray has now thrown 12 innings as a Yankee and there have been four errors behind him. One was his own error, so I guess it’s really three errors behind him. In those 12 innings, the Yankees have scored exactly zero runs. Gray’s run support is zero. The Yankees scored one run in his previous start — Sanchez hit a solo after Gray was out of the game — and none tonight. Rough. Sonny probably wishes he was back with the A’s to get some run support.

(Tom Szczerbowski/Getty)
(Tom Szczerbowski/Getty)

Leftovers
Cooper was the only Yankee with multiple hits. He had a single and a double. Gregorius and Judge each had a double as well. Sanchez and Frazier had singles. The walks belonged to Gardner, Judge, Sanchez, Torreyes, and Jacoby Ellsbury. I’m glad the Yankees are getting runners on base. That’s better than nothing, But geez, at some point cash those baserunners in.

Chasen Shreve was the only reliever used Thursday and he allowed a Jose Bautista solo homer in two otherwise uneventful innings. At least the top relievers got to rest. Good thing MLB juiced the ball this year so Bautista could get to 20 homers. (He now has 19.)

And finally, welcome back Aaron Hicks. He went 0-for-5 with a strikeout and looked like a guy still on a minor league rehab assignment. The Yankees did bring him back a day early, so I guess that’s to be expected. Welcome back, A-A-Ron.

Box Score, WPA Graph & Standings
Head on over to ESPN for the box score, MLB.com for the video highlights, and ESPN again for the updated standings. Here’s our Bullpen Workload page and here’s the loss probability graph:


Source: FanGraphs

Up Next
The road trip is over and the Yankees are heading home for a five-game homestand that might as well be a seven-game homestand because they’re playing two games at Citi Field. First up: three games against the Red Sox. The most important series of the season so far. Lefties Jaime Garcia and Eduardo Rodriguez will be on the mound in Friday night’s opener. RAB Tickets can get you in the door if you want to catch any of the Red Sox games or Mets games in person.