8/14 to 8/17 Series Preview: New York Mets

Conforto. (Hunter Martin/Getty Images)
Conforto. (Hunter Martin/Getty Images)

This may technically be two separate series, as it is a home-and-home affair. The Yankees will host the Mets tonight and tomorrow, and then travel to Queens on Wednesday and Thursday. I want to say something about facing a reeling/selling team like the Mets being just what the Yankees need – but the Mets have actually been slightly better this month, with one more win (5-7 to 4-8) and eleven more runs scored. Ugh.

The Last Time They Met

The Subway Series was a similar arrangement last year, as the Yankees visited Citi Field on August 1 and August 2, then played host to the Mets on August 3 and 4. They split each two-game set, and the series as a whole. Some notes:

  • This was the Yankees first series after last year’s trade deadline, with the first game occurring hours after they dealt Carlos Beltran and Ivan Nova to complete the sell-off. They dealt Andrew Miller the day before, and Aroldis Chapman a week prior.
  • The Yankees starters were hit hard in all four games, surrendering 22 runs (21 ER), 38 base-runners, and 7 homers  in 22.2 IP. The bullpen, however, was quite good, holding the Mets to just 2 runs (1 ER) in 13.1 IP.
  • Jacoby Ellsbury, Starlin Castro, and Didi Gregorius all reached base safely in all four games.

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

Injury Report

I wanted to put a snarky joke here about everyone being hurt, but that’s too easy (and hits too close to home, to boot).

Jeurys Familia, Matt Harvey, T.J. Rivera, Noah Syndergaard, Zack Wheeler, and David Wright are all on the disabled list, with no return date as of yet. I wouldn’t be shocked if all six were shut down at some point, given that the Mets are basically just playing out the string at this point. Robert Gsellman is close to returning, having made four rehab starts already, but he won’t be back this series. And Jacob deGrom left his last start early with a triceps bruise after getting hit by a line drive, but he’s slated to start tomorrow.

Their Story So Far

The Mets are 53-62 with a -54 run differential, and they have been selling off assets since late July. Lucas Duda and Addison Reed were sent packing just before the deadline, and Jay Bruce and Neil Walker were dealt over the last week. Of course, Yankees fans are well-aware of these moves, as the Mets seemingly refused to deal with the Yankees, even if it meant a much better return.

As has been the case for what seems like forever, the Mets hopes have been torpedoed by injuries this year. Yoenis Cespedes missed more than 40 games, Syndergaard hasn’t pitched since April, Familia hasn’t pitched since May, and three other starting pitchers have spent at least a month on the disabled list. And that ignores the nagging injuries that have kept several other players out for a few weeks at a time.

The Lineup We Might See

Manager Terry Collins has a reputation for being stubbornly adherent to old school lineup configurations and overly loyal to veterans, but he has been flexible with his lineup construction for the majority of the season. One could argue that his hand has been forced by injuries and non-performance, but Mets fans are pleased to see Michael Conforto hitting at or near the top of the order, and top prospects Amed Rosario and Dominic Smith getting playing time. Here’s the lineup that we’ll probably see in the Bronx:

  1. Curtis Granderson, RF/DH
  2. Asdrubal Cabrera, 2B
  3. Yoenis Cespedes, DH/LF
  4. Michael Conforto, CF
  5. Wilmer Flores, 3B
  6. Dominic Smith, 1B
  7. Travis d’Arnaud, C
  8. Brandon Nimmo, LF/RF
  9. Amed Rosario, SS

And here’s what we should see in Queens:

  1. Curtis Granderson, RF
  2. Asdrubal Cabrera, 2B
  3. Yoenis Cespedes, LF
  4. Michael Conforto, CF
  5. Wilmer Flores, 3B
  6. Dominic Smith, 1B
  7. Travis d’Arnaud, C
  8. Amed Rosario, SS
  9. [pitcher]

The Starting Pitchers We Will See

Monday (7:05 PM EST): RHP Luis Cessa vs. RHP Rafael Montero

Four years ago, Montero was a consensus top-100 prospect as a 23-year-old on the verge of reaching the majors. And four days ago, when asked about Montero’s future in the rotation, Collins said “We don’t have a lot of options right now. And if we can’t come up with an option, he’s going to go back out.” Such is life when you’re sitting on a career 5.58 ERA (71 ERA+) and 12.3 BB%.

Montero throws four pitches – a mid-90s four-seamer, a low-80s sinker, an upper-80s change-up, and a mid-80s slider. His stuff is quite good when taken at face value, but he struggles to locate his offerings, and is often hit hard when he nibbles with his fastball.

Last Outing (vs. TEX on 8/9) – 3.0 IP, 5 H, 4 R, 3 BB, 5 K

Tuesday (7:05 PM EST): RHP Sonny Gray vs. RHP Jacob deGrom

The 29-year-old deGrom came out of nowhere to win Rookie of the Year in 2014, when he pitched to the following line – 140.1 IP, 117 H, 43 BB, 144 K, 2.69 ERA (128 ERA+), 2.67 FIP. Many expected him to drop-off the following season, due to his lack of prospect hype and suddenly and almost inexplicably improved stuff, but he has gotten even better since then. deGrom is currently fourth in the NL in IP, fifth in bWAR, and 10th in ERA+. At this point, the argument isn’t about regression; it’s whether or not he’s an ace.

deGrom is a true five-pitch pitcher. He throws a mid-90s four-seamer, a mid-80s sinker, an upper-80s slider, an upper-80s change-up, and a low-80s curve, and he can throw all five for strikes.

Last Outing (vs. PHI on 8/10) – 6.2 IP, 4 H, 0 R, 0 BB, 9 K

Wednesday (7:10 PM EST): LHP Jaime Garcia vs. RHP Seth Lugo

There is a good chance that you know of Seth Lugo solely because of Statcast’s infatuation with his curveball. For those of you who aren’t aware, Lugo’s curveball has the highest spin rate in the game, and it is a heck of a pitch to see live. It would be a more impressive feat if he was better, though; Lugo currently has a 4.85 ERA (88 ERA+), and his 17.4 K% is well below the league-average of 21.6%. Having a scale-breaking pitch is cool, but it hasn’t led to success just yet.

In addition to that big-breaking mid-70s curveball, Lugo also throws a low-90s fastball, a mid-80s change-up, and a mid-80s slider.

Last Outing (vs. PHI on 8/11) – 5.1 IP, 8 H, 5 R, 4 BB, 8 K

Thursday (7:10 PM EST): RHP Luis Severino vs. LHP Steven Matz

Matz has had an arduous journey since being drafted, to say the least. He was drafted in 2009, but did not make his professional debut until 2012 due to Tommy John surgery and several complications therefrom. He was relatively healthy for the next four years, but he missed time with shoulder soreness last year, and needed surgery to remove bone spurs from that same elbow in the off-season. Matz has missed ten starts this season due to elbow and shoulder soreness, and has not looked good (5.54 ERA, 4.91 FIP) when healthy.

Matz is basically a three-pitch pitcher, utilizing a low-to-mid 90s sinker, a low-to-mid 80s change-up, and an upper-70s curve. He’ll also throw a mid-80s slider, but he has shelved that of late (perhaps due to the injuries).

Last Outing (vs. PHI on 8/12) – 5.2 IP, 4 H, 2 R, 2 BB, 1 K

The Bullpen

The Mets have one of the worst bullpens in baseball by some measures, including park-adjusted ERA (28th in the majors), WPA (26th), and walk rate (28th). And those numbers include Reed, who was the team’s best reliever by a significant margin, and now pitches for the Red Sox.

A.J. Ramos (recently acquired from the Marlins) is the team’s closer for the time being, and he has a track record of success in that role. Jerry Blevins is a quality LOOGY (lefties are batting .181/.230/.191 against him this year), but he’s extremely limited against righties. Paul Sewald, a 27-year-old rookie, handles the set-up duties (3.99 ERA, 3.20 FIP, 28.0 K%, 7.3 BB%), and he has been decent in that role. Erik Goeddel and Josh Smoker handle the middle innings.

Blevins, Sewald, and Ramos all tossed an inning apiece last night, so their availability tonight may be questionable.

Yankees Connection

Granderson played for the Yankees from 2010 through 2013, batting .245/.335/.495 (122 wRC+) with 115 HR and 55 SB in 512 games (2148 PA). The Yankees essentially let him walk in favor of Jacoby Ellsbury in the 2013-14 off-season, and that hasn’t worked out too well.

Who (Or What) To Watch

I’m most excited for the Gray vs. deGrom match-up on Tuesday, as I’m a sucker for a pitchers’ duel. Of course, I’d rather not see deGrom shut the Yankees offense down – but this has the makings of a terrific match-up.

Shortstop Amed Rosario and first baseman Dominic Smith bear watching, as well. Both have been top-100 prospects for three years running (with Rosario cracking the top-10 this year), and both are getting an opportunity to secure a starting gig at the highest level. And, even with the injury to Gleyber Torres, “Rosario or Torres” will likely be a New York baseball fan debate for the next half-decade or so.

The Yankees have a poorly constructed bench, but there’s not much they can do it about it right now

(Presswire)
(Presswire)

Last night the Yankees dropped a heartbreaker of a game to the Red Sox, mostly because Aroldis Chapman blew his fourth save in 19 chances this season. The Yankees turned a one-run lead over to their closer and he couldn’t make it stand up. Rafael Devers hit an insanely impressive home run to tie it, but still, this is a results business, and Chapman didn’t get the results.

The Yankees had a chance to win the game in the bottom of the ninth inning and geez, it was a mess of an inning, both in terms of execution and decision-making. For both teams, not just the Yankees. Red Sox manager John Farrell tried to make an illegal mound visit to change pitchers and had to be told to go back to the dugout. Can’t say I’ve ever seen that before.

A quick recap of the inning: Chase Headley walked, Ronald Torreyes bunted him over to second, pinch-hitter Jacoby Ellsbury grounded out, Brett Gardner struck out. Why didn’t Tyler Wade pinch-run for Headley? Who knows. Why didn’t Craig Kimbrel start the inning instead of coming in after the mess was made? Who cares. Why did the Yankees not have a better pinch-hitting option than Ellsbury? That’s the real question.

Right now the Yankees are carrying eight relievers and three bench players. Those three bench players for last night’s game: Wade, Ellsbury, Garrett Cooper. Wade never plays, Ellsbury has played so poorly this year he had to be demoted into the fourth outfielder’s role, and Cooper is a right-handed platoon first baseman who apparently doesn’t even start against left-handers anymore. (He didn’t start against lefties Saturday or Sunday.)

Usually Austin Romine is on the bench in place of Ellsbury or Cooper, though he was in the starting lineup for the fifth time in the last ten games last night (!), so Gary Sanchez was the DH. After Ellsbury pinch-hit for Romine in that ninth inning, the Yankees had to forfeit the DH to move Sanchez behind the plate. It didn’t matter — the pitcher’s spot never came up again — but still. Second time in three games the Yankees did that.

As it stands, the Yankees don’t have a whole lot of utility on the bench. Wade can pinch-run and play just about anywhere in a pinch, but clearly Girardi doesn’t trust him, so he never plays. Wade has played twice in the last eleven days, both times playing defense for a half-inning at the end of a blowout. The Yankees are fighting for a postseason spot and Girardi is going to stick with Torreyes at second, and he’s been fine. Great at times, bad at others, fine overall.

Wade doesn’t play. Cooper provides zero flexibility as a first base only guy. Ellsbury? Meh. He’s had his moments the last eight days or so, but generally speaking, he’s on the bench more often than not these days for a reason. The bench right now is not very good, and the worst part? There’s really nothing the Yankees can do about. There are three reasons for that.

  1. Injuries. Starlin Castro, Greg Bird, and Matt Holliday (and Clint Frazier) are all on the disabled list. Those guys, when healthy, would push Cooper, Wade, and the eighth reliever to Triple-A, and Torreyes and Romine to the bench more often than not. (At least in theory.)
  2. The pitching staff. The Yankees are without Masahiro Tanaka and CC Sabathia, and lately, getting length from the starter has been a tall order. Seven times in the last 17 games the starter failed to complete five innings. The Yankees need that eighth reliever given the state of the rotation.
  3. Lack of options. The Yankees have two healthy position players on the 40-man roster and not in the big leagues: Miguel Andujar and Tyler Austin. Austin is essentially a Cooper clone. Swap the two and nothing changes. The Yankees have clearly deemed Andujar not big league ready, and besides, he can only play third. Non-40-man options in Triple-A include, uh, Donovan Solano? Jake Cave? Billy McKinney? Not much there.

The Yankees could go out and make a waiver trade to bolster the bench — Neil Walker would’ve helped and I’m sure Jed Lowrie could be had — and I’m sure the Yankees are exploring every option. That said, it really feels like the Yankees are just trying to hang on and get by until the injured dudes return. Aaron Hicks came back late last week and both Castro and Bird are due to begin minor league rehab assignments this week. Holliday took batting practice yesterday. They’re coming.

For now, the Yankees can’t do much more than bide their time until the regulars get healthy or a sensible trade option becomes available. I’d bet on the former happening before the latter. Forfeiting the DH to pinch-hit for the backup catcher who starts way too often with less than ideal pinch-hitter options isn’t something that can last forever. The Yankees need to improve their bench, and the best way to do that is to get the regulars healthy.

Yankeemetrics: Bronx Bummer (Aug. 11-13)

(New York Post)
(New York Post)

It’s not over ’til …
Facing a late three-run deficit and their offense stuck in neutral, the Yankees seemed headed for another depressing loss in the Most Important Game of the Year. Then the Fighting Spirit kicked in and the Comeback Kids delivered another stunning rally to beat the Red Sox, 5-4, in the series opener.

How improbable was the victory? The Red Sox were 34-0 this season when leading by at least three runs at the start of the eighth inning before Friday. And the Yankees hadn’t beaten the Red Sox in a game when trailing by three-plus runs entering the eighth in nearly a decade, since a 8-7 win on September 14, 2007 at Fenway.

The comeback was ignited by Gritty Gutty Brett Gardner, who was hit by an Addison Reed slider to lead off the eighth. Reed hadn’t hit a batter since the second game of the 2014 season, and had faced more than 1,000 batters in that span before plunking Gardy.

Aaron Hicks then got the crowd into frenzy with a majestic two-run bomb that landed just over the short right field porch. Based on the combo of launch angle (41 degrees) and exit velocity (96.5 mph), that type of batted ball resulted in a hit just seven percent of the time this season.

Didi Gregorius followed with a game-tying opposite field single, a clutch hit that deserves a sweet #FunFact: Didi is the first Yankee shortstop with a game-tying hit in the seventh inning or later at Yankee Stadium against the Red Sox in more than 50 years! The last guy to do that was Tony Kubek on June 17, 1964, in a game that the Yankees would eventually lose in the 12th inning.

Todd Frazier capped the rally with another RBI single to left field, earning his first True Yankee Moment. It was his 17th hit as Bronx Bomber, but the first one that gave the Yankees a lead … at any point in the game, regardless of inning.

Of course, because this was a Yankees-Red Sox game, there had to be more drama. Aroldis Chapman provided it when he walked the bases loaded with no outs in the ninth, but got of the jam thanks to a spectacular throw by Aaron Hicks, who gunned down Eduardo Nunez at third base for a game-saving double play. It was the Red Sox 16th baserunning out at third base and 64th overall, both of which lead the majors this season.

Chapman’s white-knuckle outing to seal the win also gives us our Obscure Yankeemetric of the Series: He’s the first Yankee ever to get a save despite walking at least three batters and allowing a run, while pitching no more than one inning.

(Getty)
(Getty)

Baseball is cruel
In less than 24 hours, the Yankees went from experiencing one of their most exhilarating wins of the season, to one of their ugliest losses in 2017. The 10-5 rout was a lesson in regression to the mean, as several statistical trends for both teams came to a screeching halt in this game.

  • The Yankees suffered their first loss this season when hitting at least three homers, falling to 17-1 in those games. They were one of two teams that hadn’t lost when going deep three-plus times, leaving the Red Sox (10-0) as the lone team in that group.
  • Yankee pitchers had held the Red Sox to a .047 (.3-for-64) batting average with runners in scoring position over their first 10 matchups this season; the Red Sox surpassed that hit total in one game on Saturday, going 4-for-11.
  • Luis Severino, who started the day with the best ERA in the majors since the All-Star break (0.83) and had allowed a total of five runs in those five second-half starts, got pummeled for twice as many runs (10) in 4 2/3 innings of work. He also had given up just one run combined his two previous starts versus the Red Sox this season.

Those career-high 10 runs allowed made Severino the first pinstriper since Andy Hawkins on June 5, 1989 to cough up double-digit runs in fewer than five innings pitched at Yankee Stadium. That 1989 game might be the franchise’s most embarrassing loss, one that included six errors, a whopping 13(!) unearned runs allowed by the home team, and very very unhappy crowd in the Bronx.

Even more bad news:

(On a slightly more positive note, the last Yankee to allow 10 or more runs versus the Red Sox, regardless of innings pitched, was Hall of Famer Red Ruffing in 1939.)

Most of the damage was done by Boston’s 23-year-old rookie outfielder Andrew Benintendi, who crushed two three-run homers off Severino. He became the first Red Sox player since Jimmie Foxx in 1938 to hit multiple three-run bombs against the Yankees. Benintendi also is the youngest Red Sox ever with six RBI against the Yankees, and the youngest on any team to hit multiple homers and drive in at least six runs against the Yankees since Cleveland’s Pat Seerey in 1945.

(New York Post)
(New York Post)

Nightmare on River Avenue
In what has become an all-too-familiar and frustrating story for this Yankees team, they suffered yet another soul-crushing loss on Sunday night, snatching defeat from the jaws of victory. Once again, the bullpen imploded, flushing a 2-1 lead in the ninth and then losing the game in the 10th. Here’s the gory details of the meltdown:

  • 20th blown save, the second-most in MLB, and four more than they had all of last season.
  • Third loss when taking a lead into the ninth inning, their most in a season since 2013 — and two of those three have come against the Red Sox (hard to forget July 14, eh?).
  • 21st loss by one run, the most in the AL and third-most in MLB. Oh, and they had only 12 one-run losses last year.

The biggest goat horns were worn by Aroldis Chapman, who gave up the game-tying homer in the ninth to Rafael Devers. Devers’ blast is a perfect example of #YouCantPredictBaseball. The lefty swinger clobbered a 102.8 mph fastball into the seats, the fastest pitch ever hit for a homer in the PitchFX era (since 2008). Prior to Sunday, Chapman had faced 418 left-handed batters in his regular-season career and given up exactly one home run — to Luke Scott on June 26, 2011, the first homer surrendered by Chapman in his major-league career. Those 418 lefty hitters were by far the most faced by any pitcher in the last 50 years that had given up one or zero homers to lefties.

Before the late-inning sadness, this game was a classic pitchers duel. Jordan Montgomery matched Red Sox ace Chris Sale with another impressive outing, holding the Red Sox to one run on two hits while pitching into the sixth inning. It was his second straight game allowing one or fewer runs and no more than three hits, the youngest Yankee southpaw to have back-to-back starts like that since a 22-year-old Al Leiter in 1988.

Sale continued his dominance over the Bronx Bombers with another gem, striking out 12 and giving up just one run in seven innings. It was the third time in a row he’s struck out at least 10 Yankees, the first pitcher to do that since Pedro Martinez in 2001. And it was his second straight game with 12-plus strikeouts and no more than one earned run allowed, joining Indians lefty Sam McDowell as the only pitchers in MLB history to do that in back-to-back games against the Yankees.

Fan Confidence Poll: August 14th, 2017

Record Last Week: 2-4 (28 RS, 30 RA)
Season Record: 61-55 (598 RS, 488 RA, 69-47 pythag. record)
Opponents This Week: vs. Mets (two games, Mon. and Tues.), @ Mets (two games, Weds. and Thurs.), @ Red Sox (three games, Fri. to Sun.)

Top stories from last week:

Please take a second to answer the poll below and give us an idea of how confident you are in the team. You can view the interactive Fan Confidence Graph anytime via the Features tab in the nav bar above, or by clicking here. Thanks in advance for voting.

Given the team's current roster construction, farm system, management, etc., how confident are you in the Yankees' overall future?
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Red Sox 3, Yankees 2: Another defeat snatched from the jaws from victory

Right now, 116 games into the season, we know one thing for certain about the 2017 Yankees: they are annoyingly good at coming up with a new Worst Loss of the Season. They were two outs away from a win and a 3.5-game deficit in the AL East on Sunday night. Instead, they lost 3-2 in ten innings to the Red Sox and are now 5.5 games back in the AL East.

(Mike Stobe/Getty)
(Mike Stobe/Getty)

Gritty, Gutty Montgomery
Quite a week for Jordan Montgomery, huh? He was send down last Sunday, called up Friday, hit in the dang head with a line drive during batting practice Saturday, and started against Chris Sale on Sunday. Montgomery’s final results were quite good Sunday night (5.1 IP, 2 H, 1 R, 1 ER, 3 BB, 4 K) though he was living he good BABIP life. The Red Sox had five batted balls at 98+ mph exit velocity turn into outs against Montgomery, including three at 100+. They had nothing to show for a few rockets.

It wasn’t until the fifth inning that someone finally got on the board. It started with a walk. A bad walk at that. Montgomery walked Brock Holt on six pitches with one out. Threw him a 3-2 breaking ball. Brock Holt! Montgomery had the left-on-left matchup and a pretty punchless hitter at the plate, and he walked him on a 3-2 breaking ball. Oy vey. He got what he deserved for that.

Holt advanced to second on a wild pitch because a) the Red Sox are really aggressive on the bases (he took off as soon as the ball was in the dirt), and b) Austin Romine can’t really throw. Runners are 18-for-21 (86%) stealing bases against him this year. The throw was on target, but way late. Jackie Bradley Jr. followed with a ground ball single juuust out of the reach of a diving Didi Gregorius, and that was that. Run on the board.

Overall though, hard hit outs and all, Montgomery did well Sunday night. One run on two hits and three walks in 5.1 innings? Against a team that has been scoring a boatload of runs in August (6.44 per game)? I’ll take it every time. Especially when the guy got hit in the head by a dang line drive the day before the start. Nice work, Monty. Way to gut it out.

Rally To Tie, Rally For The Lead
Hey, give the Yankees credit. As soon as the Red Sox broke through for a run, they answered right back in the next half inning. Chase Headley ripped a one-out single in the bottom of the fifth, and Romine brought him home with a triple. A triple! A triple that absolutely should’ve been scored a three-base error on Mookie Betts. He was up against the wall and the ball clanked right off his glove. It was practically in the pocket.

austin-romine-mookie-betts

Either way, triple or three-base error, Headley chugged all the way around from first base to tie the game. Romine ripping a ball to the wall in an 0-2 count against Chris Sale is absolutely not something I expected to see, and I go into each game hoping to see something amazing.

In the eighth, with Sale out of the game, the Yankees took a 2-1 lead with some good ol’ fashion run-manufacturin’ baseball. Aaron Hicks worked a walk against Matt Barnes, Aaron Judge hit a single to right field, and Gary Sanchez worked another walk to load the bases with one out. Todd Frazier, as he did Friday night, drove in the go-ahead run. Friday night it was single. Sunday night it was a two-strike sac fly.

Impressively Good, Impressively Bad
The Yankees had the game all lined up exactly how they wanted it. David Robertson replaced Montgomery, finished off the sixth inning, then tossed a perfect seventh inning as well. Dellin Betances mowed down the top of the lineup in the eighth. The Yankees took the lead in the bottom of the ninth and handed a 2-1 lead over to their $86M closer. That’s how you draw it up.

Right away, you could tell Aroldis Chapman was feeling good about his fastball Sunday night. He struck out Hanley Ramirez, the first batter he faced, on three fastballs: 100.6 mph, 102.6 mph, 102.6 mph. Hanley had no chance. That brought rookie Rafael Devers to the plate, and he hammered a 102.8 mph two-strike fastball the other way into the visitor’s bullpen for a game-tying home run. Chapman missed his spot by a foot, but still, a rookie hitting that pitch the other way? Ridiculously impressive. Devers isn’t a highly regarded prospect for nothing. Fastest pitch hit for a home run since they started electronically tracking pitches in 2008. No joke.

Chapman against the Red Sox this year: 5.1 IP, 5 H, 6 R, 5 ER, 9 BB, 6 K and two blown saves. Very nearly three blown saves given Friday night. Impressively terrible. These are the games the Yankees signed Chapman to close out. The one-run wins over the Red Sox in a postseason race. Not those run of the mill three-run wins over the Twins or Athletics in June. Chapman is, at best, the fourth best reliever in the bullpen (behind Robertson, Betances, and Chad Green). He’s looked like himself — the pre-2017 version of Chapman — maybe five times this year. Cool cool.

(Another) Crushing Loss
I’m not sure why Joe Girardi asked Chapman to pitch a second inning — he did throw only 13 pitches in the ninth, so I guess that’s it? — especially since Chapman has made it no secret he doesn’t like going multiple innings, but he did, and it backfired. Chapman hit Bradley in an 0-2 count and walked Eduardo Nunez (Eduardo Nunez!) to put the Red Sox in business in the tenth. Second time this series Chapman walked Nunez. Heh.

Anyway, Tommy Kahnle came in and walked Betts on five pitches to load the bases, then served up the go-ahead single to Andrew Benintendi. Kahnle threw Benintendi four straight changeups that at-bat. Four! Love to get beat because you threw your third best pitch four straight times to a red hot hitter. Good grief. The single gave the Red Sox a 3-2 lead and that was all they needed. Craig Kimbrel, an actual shutdown closer, retired the side in order in the bottom of the tenth.

(Mike Stobe/Getty)
(Mike Stobe/Getty)

The Bottom Of The Ninth
The bottom of the ninth was so ridiculous it needs it’s own section. Addison Reed started the inning and immediately walked Headley. Once that happened, you could see the Ronald Torreyes bunt coming a mile away. Sure enough, Torreyes squared around, laid down a perfect sac bunt, and advanced Headley to second. A few things about this:

  1. Headley is so damn slow that it likely would’ve taken two singles to score him from second. He was not lifted for a pinch-run. Tyler Wade was the obvious choice there, but nope.
  2. They bunted to get to Romine. No, wait, they bunted to get to pinch-hitter Jacoby Ellsbury. Pretty cool having a three-man bench with one player (Wade) who never ever plays.
  3. Red Sox manager John Farrell at one point tried to remove Reed for Kimbrel. The problem? The pitching coach had already gone out to talk to Reed during that batter. Can’t make two mound visits during one at-bat. Farrell was on his way to the mound and had already signaled to the bullpen when the umpires told him to go back to the dugout. Kinda funny.

So anyway, Torreyes bunted Headley up, and Ellsbury predictably grounded out to the second baseman on the first pitch. Classic Ellsbury. Rolling over on the first pitch to second base is his thing. Kimbrel was then able to come in, and he struck out Brett Gardner to end the inning. The Yankees had a chance — an imperfect chance given the personnel involved, but a chance nonetheless — to end the game right there, but couldn’t.

Leftovers
The Yankees only had five hits on the night, one of which shouldn’t even have been scored a hit (Romine’s triple). Judge, Sanchez, Headley, and Hicks had singles. Hicks also made two great defensive plays in center field to take away extra-base hits behind Montgomery. Hicks, Judge, Sanchez, Headley, and Torreyes drew the five walks. Judge also stole a base. I hate when he does that. When he slides, it’s like two freight trains colliding head on. That’s a lot of human crashing down.

The home run Chapman allowed to Devers was only the second home run he’s allowed to a left-handed hitter in his career. Luke Scott got him way back in 2011. Coming into this game, left-handed batters were hitting .127/.245/.164 (.203 wOBA) with a 47.1% strikeout against Chapman in his career.

Box Score, WPA Graph & Standings
Head on over to ESPN for the box score and updated standings, and MLB.com has the video highlights. Don’t miss our Bullpen Workload page either. Here’s the loss probability graph:


Source: FanGraphs

Up Next
The Subway Series. Two games at Yankee Stadium and two games at Citi Field. I’m pretty sure Luis Cessa will start Monday night’s series opener in place of the injured Masahiro Tanaka, though I suppose it could be Caleb Smith since he’s already on the roster. We’ll see. Rafael Montero will be on the bump for the Mets. RAB Tickets can get you in the door for any of the Subway Series games, at either ballpark.

DotF: Dermis Garcia crushes two homers in Charleston’s win

Triple-A Scranton (4-2 win over Durham)

  • CF Jake Cave: 0-4, 1 K
  • 3B Miguel Andujar: 0-4
  • 1B Tyler Austin: 1-4, 1 K, 1 E (fielding) — 9-for-36 (.250) in ten games back from the injury
  • RF Billy McKinney: 1-3, 2 R, 1 BB — now hitting .336/.369/.664 in 36 Triple-A games
  • LHP Nestor Cortes: 4.2 IP, 1 H, 1 R, 0 ER, 0 BB, 8 K, 3/2 GB/FB — 44 of 65 pitches were strikes (68%) … making the spot start for Caleb Smith, who was called up to the big leagues … he’s allowed three earned runs in 33.1 career Triple-A innings (0.81 ERA)
  • RHP Colten Brewer: 2.1 IP, 3 H, 1 R, 1 ER, 1 BB, 2 K, 2/0 GB/FB — 23 of 42 pitches were strikes (55%)
  • RHP Ben Heller: 2 IP, 0 H, 0 R, 0 ER, 0 BB, 5 K, 1/0 GB/FB — 17 of 23 pitches were strikes (74%) … 23/2 K/BB in 12 innings since being sent down following that 16-inning game at Fenway Park

[Read more…]

Game 116: Rubber Game

Bat Gary 1-9 and maybe no one will notice. (Rich Schultz/Getty)
Bat Gary in all nine spots and maybe no one will notice. (Rich Schultz/Getty)

The Yankees and Red Sox have split the first two games of this game three-game series, which means tonight’s series finale is the difference between being 3.5 games back in the AL East or 5.5 games back in the AL East come Monday morning. There are still 46 games to play after tonight, but at some point the Yankees have to stop treading water, you know? The division title is within reach. It’s not going to win itself though.

Now, the bad news: tonight the Yankees are facing Chris Sale, who has been the best pitcher in the AL all season. His numbers are insane: 2.57 ERA (1.98 FIP) with 36.5% strikeouts and 4.6% walks. HOWEVA, the Yankees have won both times they faced Sale this season. Don’t get me wrong, he pitched great (two earned runs in 15.2 innings), but eking out a win is possible against him. Here is the Red Sox lineup and here is the Yankees’ lineup:

  1. LF Brett Gardner
  2. CF Aaron Hicks
  3. RF Aaron Judge
  4. DH Gary Sanchez
  5. 3B Todd Frazier
  6. SS Didi Gregorius
  7. 1B Chase Headley
  8. 2B Ronald Torreyes
  9. C Austin Romine
    LHP Jordan Montgomery

The weather was pretty much perfect for baseball all afternoon. Too bad this game had to be played tonight. It’s a little cloudy in New York right now, though there’s no rain in the forecast, and that’s the most important thing. Tonight’s game will begin at 8pm ET and ESPN will have the broadcast. Enjoy.

Injury Updates: Greg Bird (ankle) will begin a minor league rehab assignment Wednesday while Starlin Castro (hamstring) will begin one Friday … Matt Holliday (back) took batting practice today. I guess that means he’s inching closer to a return.

Roster Move: The Yankees sent down Gio Gallegos and called up Caleb Smith, the team announced. Smith was scheduled to start for Triple-A Scranton today, so he’s available for very long relief, which I hope is not necessarily. Joe Girardi said Luis Cessa is tentatively scheduled to start in Masahiro Tanaka‘s place tomorrow.