A closer look at Nathan Eovaldi’s splitter

(Mitchell Layton/Getty)
(Mitchell Layton/Getty)

Nathan Eovaldi’s most recent start last Friday night against the Angels was a game most Yankee fans would like to forget — that’s what happens when you nearly blow a seven-run lead in the ninth inning — but it’s one that could potentially be an important milestone in the development of the 25-year-old right-hander.

As Mike mentioned in his recap, the key takeaway from Eovaldi’s outing was his surprisingly heavy splitter usage. According to the (revised) numbers from Brooksbaseball.net, 18 of his 93 pitches were splitters, the most he’s ever thrown in a game and his highest percentage (19.4) as well.

Eovaldi had never before thrown more than 14 splitters in a game, so the question is whether this is a one-game blip or a new trend. Prior to his start on June 5, he told MLB.com’s Bryan Hoch that he had “been working on” the splitter and that he’s “built up a lot more confidence in it, the last few outings.”

That last part of the quote is key — regardless of how nasty the pitch might be in terms of velocity or pure stuff, before a pitcher can really commit to using it, he has to be able to throw the offering with conviction. It’s a two-step process, really, where the mind and the arm have to be in sync before you are able execute the pitch successfully on a consistent basis.

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During the first two months of the season, Eovaldi showed he can get the results he wants with the splitter, throwing it primarily when he’s ahead in the count. It has been a really strong pitch for him, generating whiffs, grounders and outs at a high rate.

Eovaldi has thrown 90 splitters this season and batters have whiffed on nearly four out of every 10 swings against the pitch. When they do manage to make contact, it’s usually been either a foul ball (13), grounder (13) or harmless pop-up (1). Eovaldi has yielded just three singles off his splitter, which has also netted him 25 outs, including 12 strikeouts.

As you can see in the chart below, it has been arguably his most effective out-pitch this season, albeit in a very limited sample size.

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The key to the success he’s had with the pitch is two-fold. First, his location — he’s kept the splitter down and away to both righties and lefties — making it difficult for hitters to get solid wood on the ball.

image (6)

Second, his ability to get swings on the pitch, even though nearly three-quarters of his splitters have landed out of the strike zone. Batters have chased 40 percent of his out-of-zone splitters, indicating that the pitch has a ton of deception and good movement. More often than not, when a batter swings at a pitch off the plate, he’s going to either come up empty or make weak contact. Curtis Granderson took the swing-and-miss route on this filthy 2-2 splitter in late April:

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So we’ve seen that Eovaldi’s splitter definitely has the “stuff” to get batters out and be an effective weapon for him in favorable counts. But, before this week, the missing ingredient was the confidence to be able to execute the pitch in a put-away count on a consistent basis.

While 43 of his 90 splitters have been thrown in two-strike counts, that still represents only 15 percent of his two-strike pitches this season. Instead, he’s been heavily relying on his four-seamer (42 percent) and slider (38 percent) when getting to two strikes. That makes sense for Eovaldi — since he is very comfortable throwing those pitches — but it really hurts him when he’s trying to finish off batters, because it makes him way too predictable in those situations.

If its true that he now has more trust in his splitter, he needs to also start throwing it more often — perhaps increasing its two-strike usage to 20 or 25 percent — and relying less on his fastball, which has been crushed this season. Batters have hit .375 and slugged .531 off his four-seamer, and the numbers are just as ugly in two-strike counts (.325/.550).

Armed with a blazing fastball and plus breaking ball, Eovaldi has often been labeled as a high-upside pitcher with limitless potential — if he could harness his raw talent and (among other things) add a third out-pitch.

That’s why the recent development of this much-needed confidence in his splitter is so important, and could be the difference-maker in whether remains a back-end starter or can grow into a top-of-the rotation guy.

2015 Draft: Yankees add upside among bonus pool saving picks on Day Two

Since the spending restrictions were put in place a few years ago, Day Two of the annual amateur draft has mostly been a bore. Teams are focused on maximizing their bonus pool, which often means drafting players earlier than their talent dictates simply because they’ll sign quickly and below slot. Many of the best available players heading into Day Two are still available on Day Three because teams don’t want to risk losing draft pool space if the player doesn’t sign. That’s the case every year.

The Yankees once again leaned toward college players on Day Two yesterday — only two of the eight players they selected were high schoolers — though they were still able to squeeze in a few upside picks. Not future stars or anything like that, but players with a chance to go grow into above-average big leaguers down the line. Here’s my review of Day One, now let’s review Day Two. You can see all of New York’s picks at Baseball America.

Finley. (San Diego Union Tribune)
Finley. (San Diego Union Tribune)

The Upside Play
After a bland, less than exciting Day One, the Yankees went for upside and projectability with their first selection on Day Two, grabbing California HS RHP Drew Finley with their third round pick (92nd overall). Here’s my profile. They reportedly coveted him with one of their two first round picks and were able to get him in the third round, so that’s a nice coup.

Finley has a low-90s fastball, a good curveball, and a good changeup, plus he throws strikes well enough. He also stands out for the PitchFX data he generated during showcase events last year. From Keith Law (subs. req’d):

Rancho Bernardo HS right-hander Drew Finley was one of the top-rated pitchers on the showcase circuit in the summer of 2014, according to the pitch-tracking data from Trackman, which ranked the extension on his fastball and the spin on his curveball as among the two best in the draft class.

As Jeff Passan and Mike Petriello explained a few weeks ago, spin rate is all the craze these days because it correlates to swing-and-miss rate better than pure velocity. It’s a relatively new but very valuable tool, and Finley scored well compared to his peers last summer. The Yankees rely on analytics as much as any team, so they no doubt took this data into consideration when drafting Finley.

As for the more traditional stuff, Finley’s father David is currently a scouting executive with the Dodgers who previously worked with the Red Sox and Marlins — Drew is a Red Sox fan! — so he’s grown up around the game, which could make the transition to pro ball easier. There’s no ace upside here, those guys are all off the board way before the third round, but Finley already throws strikes with three pitches, so he’s further along in his development than most prep arms.

I’m sure the Yankees are going to sign Finley — they probably hammered out terms overnight Monday — but, if they don’t, he’s the kind of pitcher who could come out of college as the top ten pick in three years. The changeup is already there, the location is already there, all that’s left is filling out that frame and gaining experience.

Adams. (Dallas Baptist)
Adams. (Dallas Baptist)

The Token Reliever
This is becoming routine for the Yankees. At some point in the first ten rounds of the draft, they select a bat-missing college reliever who projects to climb the minor league ladder in a hurry. Last year it was LHP Jacob Lindgren, the year before that it was RHP Nick Rumbelow, and the year before that it was RHP Nick Goody. Scouting director Damon Oppenheimer has taken at least one college bullpen arm in the top ten rounds since the bonus pool system was implemented.

On Day Two, that college reliever was Dallas Baptist RHP Chance Adams (5th round). Adams was probably only the third best prospect in his own bullpen this spring — RHP Drew Smith and RHP Brandon Koch were drafted in the third and fourth rounds, respectively — but he has the best combination of present stuff, command, and results. The 6-foot-0, 205 lb. righty used a mid-90s fastball and a sharp slider to post an 83/13 K/BB in 59 innings this spring. Adams isn’t Lindgren, but there are similarities with Rumbelow as a short-ish bullpener.

Hendrix. (The Oregonian)
Hendrix. (The Oregonian)

All Bat Or All Defense
In the fourth and sixth rounds, the Yankees scooped up two players whose value comes primarily on one side of the ball. Oregon State OF Jeff Hendrix (4th) is a speed and defense type who steals bases and plays a quality center field. His left-handed bat is a question mark — Hendrix is said to have an exploitable hole on the inner half, though he covers the outer half well and slashes the ball all around the infield to use his speed. It’s a classic defense first fourth outfield profile.

Two rounds later, the Yankees drafted Howard College 2B Brandon Wagner (6th), a left-handed power hitter who slugging 22 home runs in 58 games this spring. He’s said to have power to all fields and good knowledge of the strike zone, allowing that power to play in games. Howard isn’t much of a defender though, and there’s some thought he’ll wind up at third base or left field. Either way, he’s a bat first prospect who stands out for his lefty pop, making him the polar opposite of Hendrix. (It’s worth noting Wagner is still only 19. He’s young even by junior college standards.)

Workout Stud
Arizona HS 3B Donny Sands (8th) was not a well-known prospect coming into the spring nor was he expected to be a high pick. The Yankees were impressed enough during his high school season that they invited Sands to Tampa for a private workout a week or two ago according to Chuck Constantino, where their scouts fell in love with “his mental approach to the game, his competitive streak and his relentless work ethic.” Sands played shortstop and pitched in high school — that’s fairly common, the best athlete plays short and if he has a strong arm, he winds up on the mound too — but the Yankees announced him as a third baseman. Either way, the private workout was an opportunity, and Sands took advantage.

Money-Saving Seniors
As usual, the Yankees took some college seniors on Day Two in an effort to save some draft pool space. Seniors have no leverage and tend to sign very cheap, usually in the low-to-mid-five figures, saving the club bonus pool space they can then use on other picks. Every team does it. That’s the most efficient way to game the system and not stick strictly to slot.

Anyway, the Yankees grabbed three college seniors on Day Two: Florida Southern OF Jhalan Jackson (7th), Michigan State 1B Ryan Krill (9th), and The Citadel LHP James Reeves (10th). Combined slot money for those three picks is $500,700 and the Yankees will spend maybe 25% of that to sign those three. Jackson (20 homers in 45 games) and Krill (13 homers in 56 games) are power hitters while Reeves uses a low arm slot to rack up strikeouts (115 in 95 innings). They’re fringe prospects who were drafted as high as they were for draft pool reasons.

Mo III. (Iona)
Mo III. (Iona)

No Mo III
Hands down, the most surprising selection of Day Two was Iona RHP Mariano Rivera III (my profile). Surprising because the Yankees didn’t take him! I was convinced it was only a matter of time until they grabbed Mo’s son — they drafted him in the 29th round last year but he opted to return to school — but instead the Nationals beat them to the punch, selecting him with their fourth round pick (134th overall). Jerks!

Mo III is a legitimate prospect who improved his stock tremendously this spring — Baseball America ranked him as the 142nd best prospect in the draft, for what it’s worth — and it just seemed inevitable the Yankees would take him again. The question was whether they would do it on Day Two and risk draft pool space should he decide to continue his education. The Nationals took the decision out of their hands.

It would have been fun to see the Yankees draft Mo III and track his progress in the minors, though it’s probably best for him to be in a different organization. He’s already facing big time expectations just because of his name. It’s unfair but it happens all the time. Those expectations would be even more unfair and unrealistic had Rivera been with the Yankees. Now he gets to go and create his own legacy with his own organization. Good for him.

* * *

Much of Day Two was focused on manipulating the draft pool and taking signable players, which is the case every year. The Yankees did get some upside in Finley, both according to traditional and analytical scouting measures, and they also landed a solid bullpen prospect in Adams. I find Wagner’s power to be very intriguing as well. It remains to be seen how much money the Yankees will save with these draft picks, though expect to see several big rolls of the dice on Day Three. There’s no risk taking a player and having him decline to sign now.

Tanaka outduels Scherzer in a Yankees 6-1 win over the Nationals

This game was an absolute nail-biter for the first six and a half innings. First off, the Max Scherzer vs. Masahiro Tanaka matchup lived up to its billing. Heck, even Bryce Harper’s home run power lived up to its billing. Tet Tanaka still threw a heck of an outing. Scherzer also lived up to his name value but unfortunately for him and the Nationals, a defensive miscue proved costly in the seventh inning as the game went from a 1-1 drama to a 5-1 laughter in few batters. The Yankees added another run in the 8th for a 6-1 victory. Oh yeah, also it’s their seventh straight victory.

Ma-kun

Webster definition of “mid-delivery” (Source: Getty)

Man, isn’t it more fun when Tanaka is back and is actually really, really good? Tanaka went on mound, did what he does when healthy and effective, and earned a win. I could easily end this section that way but nah, I’ll get more into it.

The only real mistake the righty made was on that 93-mph fastball to Bryce Harper in the fourth inning. McCann wanted the pitch outside but it caught too much of the plate. And well, as you know, the 2015 version of Harper punishes mistakes. That mistake also has better chance to end up in seats in the Yankee Stadium than Nationals Park and that’s exactly what happened. Thankfully, that was the only run Tanaka allowed all night. I feel like there’s no shame allowing a dinger to a monster like Harper, but then again, that ball went pretty far.

Besides that, Tanaka only allowed four baserunners for the entire game. His stuff was the usual – fastball, slider and splitter all working and being spotted well. The former Rakuten Golden Eagle pitched seven complete innings, allowed five hits, no walks and struck out six. His ERA is down to 2.48 and FIP is at a rock-solid 2.63. I think he’s not afraid of his elbow compromising the effectiveness.

Oh yeah, also, on June 9, Tanaka earned the game score of 69. Nice. 

One big missed opportunity

This is still a bit of an infuriating inning to look back on. In the bottom sixth, Mark Teixeira hit a double with one out. The game was then tied 1-1 so it would have been quite golden to scratch out a run in any way possible, especially against an ace like Scherzer. After fouling off several pitches, Brian McCann managed a single to left and it became one out with runners on first and third.

Then came the weird game moment. Carlos Beltran hit a liner to center that Nats CF Michael Taylor seeeeemed to make a diving/sliding play for it but didn’t. Teixeira seemed like he had enough time to score, but, for whatever reason, he didn’t charge in and Taylor got the ball just in time to get McCann for a force out in second. That should have been a 2-1 lead right there. Teixeira has to tag up.

Open the floodgates

The embedded Yankee Matt Thornton (Source: Getty)

After missing out on a run in the sixth, Yankees almost missed out on another in seventh. With one out, Ramon Flores singled and Brett Gardner added another. Chase Headley then hit a bullet to right but it just went right to Harper. Welp, BABIP will do that for you some times. With two outs and two runners on, it was up to A-Rod to see if the Yankee offense could muster anything.

Yankees got way luckier this time. A-Rod grounded one to short. Ian Desmond got the ball and it looked like an easy force out to first at a glance but he went third to get Flores out … and it hit the Yankee outfielder and got past Anthony Rendon. That allowed the run to score. Oh my. 2-1 Yankees. If you are Scherzer and had a heck of a game like that and that’s how it ends … I wouldn’t feel great.

Nationals went to former Yankee LHP Matt Thornton to stop the bleeding. Oddly, the first thing Thornton and the Nats did was intentionally walk Teixeira. Okay. That loaded the bases with two outs and McCann was up. The Yankee catcher hit a high inside fastball for a two-run single and Beltran followed it up with another RBI-single. 5-1 Yankees. Thornton’s embedded Yankee status confirmed? Maybe. In a matter of few batters, a nailbiter became a laugher. Strange but I’ll take it. I definitely did not think the game would end 6-1.

Sluggin’ Stephen (Source: Getty)

Leftovers

How about Stephen Drew? The man now has four homers in last four Yankee Stadium games. Yeah his batting average is still really like, not good (.175) and his 2015 overall run production ain’t great either (66 wRC+). But I do have to admit – that .198 isolated power does pop out.

With nine home runs after today’s game, the man has a legitimate chance to reach 20 home runs for the season – provided he continues to get consistent playing time, of course. The past few games probably lengthened his leash for several more games but if his hitting continues to improve to help the club, it wouldn’t be horrible.

Box Score, Highlights, Standings, WPA:

Here’s tonight’s box score, highlights, updated standings and WPA.


Source: FanGraphs


Tomorrow, the Yankees take on the field against the Nats on 1:05 ET. “(Sometimes) Nasty” Nathan Eovaldi takes the mound and hopefully, he’ll help deliver a two-game sweep.

DotF: Williams keeps hitting in Scranton’s two wins

1B Connor Spencer was the lone River Dog selected to the Low-A South Athletic League All-Star Game, the team announced. Here are the full rosters. Kinda weird they had just one All-Star in a 14-team league and seven-team division. Usually they take big name prospects regardless of what kind of year they’re having. Oh well. Minor league All-Star Games are exactly indicative of the future anyway.

Triple-A Scranton Game One (2-1 win over Buffalo) completion of yesterday’s game, which was suspended due to rain in the fifth inning

  • CF Mason Williams: 2-4, 1 RBI 1 BB — got picked off first
  • 2B Rob Refsnyder: 0-3, 2 BB, 1 K
  • RF Ben Gamel: 0-3, 1 BB, 2 K — 11/14 K/BB in his last 20 games
  • RHP Bryan Mitchell: 4 IP, 5 H, 1 R, 1 ER, 2 BB, 5 K, 3/1 GB/FB — 41 of 72 pitches were strikes (57%) … he started yesterday before the rain
  • RHP Diego Moreno: 3 IP, 1 H, 0 R, 0 ER, 2 BB, 2 K, 4/2 GB/FB — 20 of 35 pitches were strikes (57%)
  • RHP Chris Martin: 1 IP, zeroes, 2 K, 1/0 GB/FB — eleven pitches, seven strikes
  • RHP Jose Ramirez: 1 IP, zeroes, 1 K, 0-1 GB/FB — nine pitches, five strikes … he’s allowed one earned run in his last 10.2 innings

[Read more…]

Game 58: Tanaka Tuesday

(Rich Schultz/Getty)
(Rich Schultz/Getty)

Oh man, there is a lot going on tonight. For starters, Masahiro Tanaka is making just his third home start of the season and his first in almost exactly two months due to his wrist/forearm injury. Secondly, Tanaka is squaring off against Max Scherzer in what will probably be the best pitching matchup of the season. Third, the Yankees have a six-game winning streak and need to keep that sucker going.

And finally, future Yankee Bryce Harper is playing his first game in his future home ballpark, Yankee Stadium. He’ll get to take aim at that short right field porch and then go to bed tonight dreaming about all those future home runs he’ll hit. Harper’s not as stupidly hot as he was the last time these two teams played, but he can still flick his wrists and hit the ball into the second deck. Hopefully it doesn’t happen these next two days. Here’s Washington’s lineup and here’s New York’s lineup:

  1. CF Brett Gardner
  2. 3B Chase Headley
  3. DH Alex Rodriguez
  4. 1B Mark Teixeira
  5. C Brian McCann
  6. RF Carlos Beltran
  7. SS Didi Gregorius
  8. 2B Stephen Drew
  9. LF Ramon Flores
    RHP Masahiro Tanaka

It has been cloudy and kinda rainy most of the day, but the sun came out not too long ago and it’s turned into a nice night. Tonight’s game will begin at 7:05pm ET and can be seen on YES. Enjoy the game.

Injury Updates: Ivan Nova (elbow) is going to travel to New York to throw a bullpen session for pitching coach Larry Rothschild, then he’ll make a rehab start with Triple-A Scranton. The Yankees will then determine if he’s ready or needs another rehab outing.

All-Star Voting Update: MLB released their weekly All-Star Game voting update yesterday, and no Yankees are close to leading their respective positions. A-Rod is third among DHs and he’s closest. Fans in Kansas City are stuffing the ballot box, so unless MLB steps in or there’s a sudden shift in the voting, the All-Star Game will be Mike Trout and the Royals against the NL.

Righty reliever option off the board: Cubs sign Rafael Soriano

(Rich Lam/Getty)
(Rich Lam/Getty)

A right-handed bullpen option has come off the board. The Cubs signed Rafael Soriano to a minor league contract earlier today, the team announced. James Wagner says Soriano will get the pro-rated portion of a $4.1M base salary plus $4M in bonuses based on appearances and games finished. I’m guessing he’ll pitch in a few minor league games before joining Chicago’s bullpen, where they’ve had a bit of a revolving door at closer of late.

Soriano fired Scott Boras a week or two ago and was scheduled to throw for scouts later this week, but apparently the Cubs were aggressive and decided to make an offer before other teams got a look at him. Every team would take Soriano on a minor league contract, but Soriano has a say too, and he presumably felt Chicago was his best opportunity. Plus he played for manager Joe Maddon with the Rays, so there’s some familiarity there.

Late last week Brian Cashman said the Yankees want to add a right-handed reliever — “I do need to find a right-handed arm for the bullpen here at some point,” said the GM — to their five-lefty bullpen, and earlier today they signed righty Sergio Santos to a minor league contract, basically just to see if he has anything left. I expect them to cycle through internal options (Nick Rumbelow? Branden Pinder? Jose Ramirez?) and scrap heap guys like Santos before making any sort of trade.

The lack of right-handed relievers isn’t a major problem right now because those lefties can get righties out. Still, it would be nice to add some balance down the road. The Yankees were never connected to Soriano, but he was speculated as a bullpen target simply because he’s a righty and was available for nothing but money. Then again, the Yankees know him firsthand and might not have been interest in a reunion. Either way, expect the search for the righty reliever to continue.

6/9 to 6/10 Series Preview: Washington Nationals

(Presswire)
(Presswire)

It’s time for another round of interleague play, except this time the NL team is coming to the Bronx, so the Yankees don’t lose the DH. The Nationals will be in Yankee Stadium for two games this week to wrap up the season home-and-home series. The Yankees lost both games in Washington last month.

What Have The Nationals Done Lately?

The last time these two teams played, the Nationals were basically the hottest team in baseball and zooming their way to the top of the NL East standings. Now? Pretty much the exact opposite is true. They lost three of four to the Cubs over the weekend and have dropped eight of their last ten games overall, getting outscored 53-27 in the process. Washington is still 30-27 overall with a +2 run differential this season.

Offense & Defense

The Nationals are averaging 4.32 runs per game with a team 97 wRC+, so they’re close to league average in both measures. They’re currently missing three outfielders due to injury: OF Jayson Werth (wrist), OF Nate McLouth (shoulder), and OF Reed Johnson (foot). None are coming back anytime soon. Certainly not this series, at least. Also, OF Denard Span (116 wRC+) is day-to-day with back spasms.

(Presswire)
(Presswire)

Manager Matt Williams has the luxury of penciling baseball’s best young power hitter into his lineup every day. OF Bryce Harper leads MLB in homers (19), walks (48), SLG (.706), OPS (1.170), OPS+ (216), wRC+ (210), and total bases (132). He is also 22 years old. Fun fact: If Harper faces Jacob Lindgren this series, it will be the first time he faces a pitcher younger than him as a pro. Majors or minors. I’m not joking. That is a 100% true fact. Crazy.

Anyway, the rest of the lineup features just three other players who have been solidly above average this year: Span, IF Danny Espinosa (123 wRC+), and IF Yunel Escobar (119 wRC+). That’s all. IF Anthony Rendon (42 wRC+ in very limited time) just came off the DL a few days ago, and 1B Ryan Zimmerman (69 wRC+) has struggled all season. C Wilson Ramos (81 wRC+) and SS Ian Desmond (84 wRC+) are the other regulars.

OF Michael Taylor (76 wRC+) has played quite a bit this season thanks to all the injuries and we’ll see him this series at some point thanks to the DH, I’m sure. 1B/OF Tyler Moore (51 wRC+), 1B/OF Clint Robinson (71 wRC+), IF Dan Uggla (93 wRC+), and backup C Jose Lobaton (90 wRC+) fill out the bench. For what it’s worth, the Nationals used Robinson as the DH in their only other series in an AL park this season, way back in April. Who knows what they’ll do this week.

Washington generally has a good team defense with Harper, Span, Taylor, Espinosa, Escobar, Zimmerman, Ramos, and Rendon rating anywhere from good to great. Desmond had some major issues at shortstop earlier this season, and while he’s calmed down of late, he’s still nothing special there. Guys like Uggla, Moore, and Robinson are not on the team for their gloves. Let’s put it that way.

Pitching Matchups

Tuesday: RHP Masahiro Tanaka (No vs. WAS) vs. RHP Max Scherzer (Career vs. NYY)
Oh boy. Oh boy oh boy oh boy. Best pitching matchup of the season? I have a hard time thinking we’ll see a better one. Scherzer, 30, has been off-the-charts so far in 2015, pitching to a 1.85 ERA (2.18 FIP) in eleven starts and 77.2 innings. He’s got a career-high strikeout rate (29.3%), a career-low walk rate (3.9%), a career-low ground ball rate (34.3%), and a career-low home run rate (0.58 HR/9). What an extreme season. His platoon split is small too — lefties (.246 wOBA) have a tiny advantage over righties (.236 wOBA). Scherzer’s four-seam fastball velocity has actually ticked up this season, going from 92.8 mph last year to 93.4 mph this year. He also throws mid-80s sliders and changeups, and a handful of low-80s power curves per start. Nasty stuff. Scherzer is arguably the best right-hander in the business at the moment.

(Presswire)
Scherzer. (Presswire)

Wednesday: RHP Nathan Eovaldi (Career vs. WAS) vs. TBA
Washington’s starter for tomorrow’s game is still officially TBA, but they’re expected to start lefty Gio Gonzalez. It is Taylor Jordan’s turn, but Monday’s off-day allows them to skip the young righty and instead go with Gio. The somehow still only 29-year-old Gonzalez has pitched to a 4.57 ERA (3.07 FIP) this season, replacing some strikeouts (22.1%) with ground balls (56.1%). He’s still walking a few too many (8.9%) but is keeping the ball in the park (0.42 HR/9) as well as ever. Righties (.350 wOBA) have had more success against him than lefties (.313 wOBA), though his career split is tiny. Gonzalez is throwing more low-90s two-seamers than last year, resulting in more grounders, and his big upper-70s curveball remains his bread and butter. He’ll also throw some low-90s four-seamers and a low-80s changeup. The Yankees did face Gio when these teams met a few weeks ago, scoring six runs in five innings.

Bullpen Status
Like the Yankees, the Nationals had an off-day yesterday, so their bullpen is as fresh as can be in early-June. Ex-Yankees draft pick RHP Drew Storen (1.18 FIP) is the closer with RHP Aaron Barrett (1.98 FIP) and ex-Yankee LHP Matt Thornton (2.91 FIP) serving as his setup men. Thornton’s the high-leverage lefty specialist, not a full inning guy.

Williams also has RHP Casey Janssen (3.11 FIP), RHP Blake Treinen (3.56 FIP), LHP Felipe Rivero (1.61 FIP in very limited time), and RHP Taylor Hill (4.17 FIP in very limited time) in his bullpen. The middle relief can be a real problem for the Nationals. That’s where the Yankees can do some damage. Check out our Bullpen Workload page for the status of New York’s bullpen, then check out Federal Baseball for updates on the Nats.