Game 124: Home Field Disadvantage

They need the rally pigeon back. (Al Bello/Getty)
They need the rally pigeon back. (Al Bello/Getty)

That weekend series against the Indians was pretty rough. One win in four tries and two of the losses were one-run losses. Blah. The Yankees have been much better at home (36-24, +52 run differential) than on the road (32-31, +15 run differential) overall this year, but not this month. They’ve won one six of 13 home games this month. That ain’t gonna cut it. The Yankees need to clean up at home the rest of the way.

The Astros, who are in the Bronx for a three-game series this week, are another team with a drastic home/road split. They’re 45-21 with a +71 run differential at home but only 24-35 with a +11 run differential on the road. This series is in Yankee Stadium and the Yankees are great at home while the Astros stink on the road. What could go wrong? Here is Houston’s lineup and here is New York’s lineup:

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

Pretty nice night for a ballgame in the Bronx. It’s a little cloudy out and there is a tiny little chance of rain, but nothing serious. I’m not worried about it. Tonight’s game is scheduled to begin just after 7pm ET and you can watch on WPIX locally and MLB Network nationally. Try to enjoy.

Injury Update: Mark Teixeira (leg) said he thinks he could pinch-hit today, but running is still an issue. He took batting practice right-handed today and the Yankees will face the lefty Dallas Keuchel tomorrow, which probably isn’t a coincidence … Dustin Ackley (back) also took batting practice today. He could begin a minor league rehab assignment later this week.

Roster Update: In case you missed it earlier, CC Sabathia was placed on the 15-day DL and Chris Capuano was brought back.

Yankees place CC Sabathia on 15-day DL, bring back Chris Capuano

(Al Bello/Getty)
(Al Bello/Getty)

As expected, the Yankees have placed CC Sabathia on the 15-day DL, the team announced. They’re officially calling it “right knee inflammation.” Chris Capuano was brought back to fill the roster spot and give the team a long man. It’s his fourth stint with the Yankees this year.

“Is it possible that he doesn’t pitch the rest of the year? It’s a possibility,” said Joe Girardi to reporters this afternoon when asked about Sabathia’s status for the rest of the season.

Sabathia, 35, left yesterday’s game with right knee pain and went for an MRI. That’s the same knee he has had surgically repaired three times over the years, including a season-ending clean out procedure last year. He’s had the knee drained at least twice this year and recently received a cortisone shot as well. Sabathia indicated the cortisone shot didn’t help a much while speaking to reporters yesterday.

Capuano, 37, has been on and off the roster for a few weeks now. He has a 6.55 ERA (60 ERA+) and a 4.94 FIP in 33 total innings with New York this year, and was designated for assignment over the weekend. The Yankees used a bunch of relievers after Sabathia left yesterday’s game, so Capuano is there in case they need distance tonight. Hopefully that’s not the case.

Michael Pineda is scheduled to come off the DL on Wednesday, so there’s a pretty good chance Capuano will be designated for assignment yet again in two days. It’s either that or send down Nick Rumbelow or Branden Pinder. That seems unlikely because the ten-day rule means neither would be able to return when rosters expand on September 1st. We’ll see.

8/24 to 8/26 Series Preview: Houston Astros

Houston Astros

Despite losing three of four to the Indians this weekend, the Yankees are still 4-3 in the first seven games of this ten-game homestand. The Astros are in the Bronx for a three-game series starting tonight. They split a four-game series with the Yankees in Houston back in late-June. That feels like an eternity ago.

What Have The Astros Done Lately?

The ‘Stros are red hot right now. They just swept three games from the Dodgers — Mike Fiers threw a no-hitter in the first game, then they beat Zack Greinke in the second game and Clayton Kershaw in the third game — and have won six of their last eight games overall. Houston is 69-56 with a +81 run differential this season, giving them a four-game lead in the AL West.

Offense & Defense

The Astros have an average-ish offense overall, scoring 4.26 runs per game with a team 100 wRC+. They do it with power (MLB leading 169 homers) more than on-base ability (22nd in MLB with a .306 OBP). Houston is currently without OF George Springer (131 wRC+), who has been out for a few weeks with a broken wrist and is not due to return for another week or two. IF Jed Lowrie (115 wRC+) left yesterday’s game with a thumb injury and is day-to-day for the time being.

Correa. (Presswire)
Correa. (Presswire)

Manager A.J. Hinch, who I have to think is the favorite for AL Manager of the Year at this point, builds his lineup around rookie SS Carlos Correa (138 wRC+), who might already be the best shortstop in baseball. If he’s not the best, he’s certainly on the short list of candidates. 2B Jose Altuve (114 wRC+) is having a nice year and the trio of OF Colby Rasmus (106 wRC+), IF Marwin Gonzalez (100 wRC+), and IF Luis Valbuena (98 wRC+) have been average or thereabouts. Valbuena has 22 homers and a .206 AVG. He’s the rich man’s Stephen Drew.

OF Carlos Gomez (87 wRC+) hasn’t done a whole lot since coming over at the trade deadline (25 wRC+ for the Astros) but I don’t think that will last much longer. He’s too talented. OF Jake Marisnick (69 wRC+) is Houston’s only other healthy outfielder at the moment. 1B Chris Carter (88 wRC+) is having a down year and C Jason Castro (79 wRC+) and C Hank Conger (116 wRC+) have split catching duties. (Castro’s the starter.) DH Evan Gattis (90 wRC+) is, well, the DH. Correa and Altuve are the two guys you really need to worry about right now.

The Astros are a much better defensive club now than they were at the start of the year. Correa and Altuve are very good on the middle infield and Gomez is unreal in center. He’s the best center field defender in baseball in my opinion. Both Marisnick and Rasmus are very good in the outfield — they’re center fielders playing the corners — and both Castro and Conger are good behind the plate. Gattis, Carter and Valbuena … not gonna win any games with the glove.

Pitching Matchups

Monday (7pm ET): RHP Nathan Eovaldi (vs. HOU) vs. RHP Scott Feldman (vs. NYY)
A knee injury has limited the 32-year-old Feldman to 16 starts and 97.2 innings this year, during which he’s pitched to a 4.05 ERA (4.31 FIP). He doesn’t walk anyone (5.4%) and his ground ball rate is very good (49.5%), but Feldman is homer prone (1.11 HR/9) and gosh, he misses no bats (13.0%). Righties (.355 wOBA) have hit Feldman harder than lefties (.287 wOBA) this year, though he historically has a very small platoon split. Feldman is a three-pitch pitcher, using upper-80s cutters, low-90s sinkers, and mid-70s curveballs as his main weapons. He will occasionally spin a low-90s four-seamer when he needs to throw a strike, and every so often he’ll break out a mid-80s change. The cutter, sinker, and curve are his go-to pitches through. They throws them 90% of the time combined. The Yankees did not face Feldman during the series in Houston earlier this season. I’m pretty sure he was still on the DL at the time.

Tuesday (7pm ET): RHP Ivan Nova (vs. HOU) vs. LHP Dallas Keuchel (vs. NYY)
Keuchel, 27, started the All-Star Game this year and has established himself as one of the top starters in all of baseball. He’s an ace. Keuchel has a 2.37 ERA (2.73 FIP) in 25 starts and 178.2 innings this year, and he does it by being the most extreme ground ball starter in the game (63.1%). He had a 63.5% grounder rate last year, which was the highest by a qualified starter in four years. Keuchel has added more strikeouts this year (22.3%) and he doesn’t walk anyone (5.9%), and he predictably keeps the ball in the yard (0.45 HR/9) thanks to all those grounders. He crushes left-handed batters (.158 wOBA) and is merely excellent against righties (.271 wOBA). Keuchel has three dominant ground ball pitches in his upper-80s sinker, upper-70s slider, and upper-70s changeup. All three have grounder rates far above the league average for those individual pitches. Keuchel will also throw a few upper-80s four-seamers and mid-80s cutters to keep hitters honest. The Yankees saw Keuchel a few weeks ago and he manhandled them: 12 strikeouts in a complete game shutout.

Keuchel is a great pitcher with a terrible beard. (Presswire)
Keuchel is a great pitcher with a terrible beard. (Presswire)

Wednesday (1pm ET): RHP Michael Pineda (vs. HOU) vs. RHP Collin McHugh (vs. NYY)
This has been a tale of two seasons for McHugh, who had a 5.04 ERA (4.44 FIP) in his first 14 starts and 85.2 innings, and has a 2.84 ERA (2.93 FIP) in his last 12 starts and 79.1 innings. That works out to a 3.96 ERA (3.66 FIP) in 25 starts and 159 innings overall. McHugh has average strikeout (19.0%) and grounder (45.8%) rates but better than average walk (6.1%) and homer (0.85 HR/9) numbers. He has a reverse split (.349 vs. .270 wOBA in favor of righties) that is the opposite of what he did last year. McHugh has a four-seam fastball right around 90 mph and he uses it only 35% of the time or so. He leans heavily on his mid-80s slider and low-70s curveball, throwing them almost 60% of the time combined. Crazy. He’ll also throw a handful of low-80s changeups per start. The Yankees scored one run in eight innings against McHugh a few weeks ago. That was the second start of this 12-start stretch of dominance.

Bullpen Status
One of the biggest reasons the Astros are atop the AL West this year is their much improved bullpen — the relief corps has a 2.63 ERA (3.20 FIP) this year, up from a 4.80 ERA (4.11 FIP) last year and a 4.92 ERA (5.09 FIP) the year before. Closer RHP Luke Gregerson (2.88 ERA/3.22 FIP) has pitched each of the last two days, but otherwise Hinch’s bullpen is in good shape.

RHP Pat Neshek (3.18/3.39) and LHP Tony Sipp (2.17/3.25) are Gregerson’s primary setup men, and RHP Will Harris (1.47/3.28) sees a lot of fireman work. Ex-Yankee RHP Chad Qualls (3.79/3.64), LHP Oliver Perez (2.78/2.78), and RHP Vincent Velasquez (3.61/3.03) round out the bullpen. The Yankees will likely add a reliever today following yesterday’s bullpen marathon. Check out the status of the team’s relievers at our Bullpen Workload page, then check out Crawfish Boxes and Astros County for the latest and greatest on the ‘Stros.

Yankeemetrics: The last-place curse (Aug. 20-23)

Rare celebration against the Indians (AP Photo/Julie Jacobson)
Rare celebration against the Indians (AP Photo/Julie Jacobson)

Cy Tomlin
This might have been the most boring game of the season, until Joe Girardi got himself ejected in the ninth inning and the Yankees’ rally fell just short, sending them to a 3-2 loss to the Indians in the series opener.

Josh Tomlin held the Yankees to just two hits and one run in seven innings, becoming the first Indians pitcher to give up no more than two hits in at least seven innings pitched at Yankee Stadium since Bartolo Colon on Sept. 18, 2000. Of course, Tomlin entered this game with a 11.57 ERA at the new Yankee Stadium, the fifth-highest by any pitcher with at least two starts at the ballpark.

Cy Carrasco
The Yankees lost their second in a row to the last-place Indians on Thursday, which gave them a 1-4 record vs the Tribe this season and guaranteed they’d lose the season series. Combined with their 3-4 record against them last year, this is the first time that they Yankees have lost the season series to the Indians in back-to-back seasons since 1968-69.

Carlos Carrasco became the latest Indians pitcher to silence the Yankee bats, striking out 11 guys in 6 2/3 innings. He’s the only Indians starter in the last 100 years with that many strikeouts in fewer than seven innings pitched against the Yankees. The last pitcher on any team to do that to the Yankees was the Rays’ Matt Moore on Sept. 22, 2011.

Carrasco has now allowed one run in 18 2/3 innings pitched over three starts in the Bronx against the Yankees in his career. That’s the fewest runs allowed by any visiting pitcher in his first three major-league starts at Yankee Stadium (old or new).

Welcome to the club
It’s amazing what a little run support will do … Luis Severino finally earned his first career win, throwing six innings of three-hit, one-run ball on Saturday afternoon as the Yankees beat the Indians, 6-2.

The Yankees had scored a total of two runs when he was on the mound in his first three starts combined. And then Brett Gardner matched that total with one swing of the bat, hitting a two-run homer in the first inning.

Brian McCann extended the lead with a solo shot, giving him 75 RBI this season, the seventh time in his career he’s reached that number. The only other catchers in MLB history with at least seven 75-RBI seasons within their first 11 major-league seasons are Bill Dickey, Johnny Bench, Ted Simmons, Yogi Berra and Mike Piazza.

This is the second time in four games Severino has pitched at least five innings and allowed no more than three hits. Here’s the list of Yankee pitchers besides Severino with two starts like that within their first four career games in the last 100 years: Dave Righetti and Johnny Broaca.

Babe Lindor
This habit of losing to cellar-dwellars might really come back to haunt the Yankees. They dropped another game to the Indians on Sunday and are now 14-15 vs last-place teams this season; the Blue Jays are 16-11 against last-place teams and the Orioles are 23-7.

Dellin Betances took the loss when he allowed a tie-breaking homer to Francisco Lindor — the first homer that Betances had ever given up to a player batting left-handed. He had faced 302 lefties in his career before Lindor’s eighth-inning blast.

Lindor finished the season with a .433 batting average (13 for 30) in seven games against the Yankees. Over the last 100 years, the only players in their age-21 season or younger to have a higher batting average (min. 25 at-bats) against the Yankees are Claudell Washington (.452 in 1976) and Alex Rodriguez (.434 in 1996).

Brett Gardner reached a milestone in this game, becoming the sixth Yankee with 200 career stolen bases. He’s also just the second player in franchise history to get 200 steals within his first eight seasons, joining Hal Chase, who racked up 243 steals in his first eight seasons from 1905-12.

Fan Confidence Poll: August 24th, 2015

Record Last Week: 4-3 (34 RS, 30 RA)
Season Record: 68-55 (585 RS, 518 RA, 69-54 pythag. record) 0.5 GB in ALE, 5.5 games up on WC spot
Opponents This Week: vs. Astros (three games, Mon. to Weds.), Thurs. OFF, @ Braves (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 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?

DotF: Gamel, Sanchez have big games in Scranton’s win

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

  • CF Ben Gamel: 2-4, 2 2B, 1 RBI, 2 K — he’s hitting .332/.379/.545 with 13 doubles, six triples, and five homers in his last 46 games … jeepers
  • 2B Rob Refsnyder & LF Jose Pirela: both 0-4, 1 K
  • C Gary Sanchez: 4-4, 2 R, 2 2B — slump’s over
  • RF Aaron Judge: 0-3, 1 R, 1 BB, 1 K
  • 1B Austin Romine: 1-3, 3 RBI, 1 K
  • RHP Kyle Haynes: 7 IP, 3 H, 1 R, 1 ER, 2 BB, 4 K, 7/6 GB/FB — 66 of 99 pitches were strikes (67%) … easily his best outing a Triple-A and it came at a good time, their bullpen has been taxed due an extra innings game and the recent shuttling
  • RHP Andury Acevedo: 2 IP, 2 H, 1 R, 1 ER, 1 BB, 2 K, 1/2 GB/FB — 25 of 39 pitches were strikes (64%)

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