Yankees take early lead, then bullpen nails down 5-4 win over Orioles

Was it easy? Nah. Was it a win? Yes it was. A win is a win is a win. The Yankees won for the 16th time in their last 21 games on Friday night, beating the Orioles by the score of 5-4. The Bronx Bombers — we can call them that unironically again! — are 14-9 (.609) against AL East opponents this year. They were 37-39 (.487) within the division last year.

(Elsa/Getty)
(Elsa/Getty)

Swinging 3-0 Makes It 3-0
Exactly one week ago, Alex Rodriguez unloaded on a 3-0 pitch at Fenway Park for his historic 660th career home run. On Friday night, Brian McCann did the same, except his homer wasn’t as historic. He took a healthy cut at Miguel Gonzalez’s 3-0 offering in the first inning for a two-run homer to right field. A Yankee Stadium special. The kind of home run the Yankees signed him to hit.

The homer gave New York a quick 3-0 lead. Jacoby Ellsbury and Brett Gardner — who else? those two are something else atop the lineup — set the inning up with a single and a double, and A-Rod plated the first run of the night with a sacrifice fly. It was well-struck but not “hey that might get out of here” well-struck. In the span of five batters, the Yankees scored three times as many runs as they scored in seven innings against Gonzalez three weeks ago.

Ellsbury and Gardner set up another multi-run rally in the third, this time with a leadoff walk and a single. The next two batters made outs and Gonzalez again fell behind 3-0 on McCann, but he knew better this time. He walked him intentionally to load the bases for Carlos Beltran. Zombie Beltran rose from the dead and whacked a double to right-center field, scoring two runs, though McCann was thrown out at home trying to score at first.

In hindsight, that was a pretty big out at the plate. I was too busy being happy Beltran actually got a hit to care about the out at the time. That would have been a nice insurance run to have in the late innings, but thankfully it wasn’t necessary. Through the first three innings, the Yankees went 6-for-13 (.462) with a two doubles, a homer, a sac fly, a walk, and a stolen base against Gonzalez.

Six innings, Adam. You can do it. (Elsa/Getty)
Six innings, Adam. You can do it. (Elsa/Getty)

Five & Fly
This was Adam Warren‘s sixth start of the season, and it followed the same script as his other five starts. Pretty good the first time through the order, not as good the second time through, terrible the third time through. Warren got some help from his defense early in the game and navigated the first four innings unscathed despite putting at least one man on base in each inning.

The fifth inning is where it got messy. Warren didn’t just walk the first two batters to start the inning, he walked the number eight and nine hitters to start the inning. Ouch. Manny Machado followed with a single to left to drive in Baltimore’s first run. Warren rebounded to strike out Jimmy Paredes, but Adam Jones laced a single to right to load the bases. He hit it so hard Ryan Flaherty was unable to score from second.

With his pitch count rising and his command deteriorating — a classic sign of fatigue and something we’ve seen from Warren in his other starts this season when his pitch count crossed 85 or so — Warren was able to get Delmon Young to weak tapper to shortstop, too weak to turn the double play. The out was made at second and the second run scored, ending his night. Justin Wilson came in and struck out Chris Davis to end the threat.

Warren finished the night with two runs allowed on five singles and two walks in 4.2 innings. He struck out two and recorded ten of his other dozen outs on the infield. That’s sorta cheating though — one runner was thrown out at the plate and another was thrown out trying to steal. Warren is averaging 91.5 pitches and 5.1 innings per start this year, so he’s the very definition of a five-and-fly pitcher. Not terrible, not great. The Warren as a starter story.

(Elsa/Getty)
(Elsa/Getty)

Hang On
The bloom seems to be off the Chris Martin rose. After Wilson put two men on base with two outs in the sixth, Martin came in, walked Machado on six pitches that weren’t particularly close to the strike zone (Manny’s a hacker), then allowed a two-run single to Paredes to make it a 5-4 game. Martin has inherited seven runners this year and five have scored. Probably not the best guy to use in a fireman role going forward.

Joe Girardi doubled down and left Martin in to start the seventh, and he rewarded his manager’s faith with two quick outs before blossoming Yankees killer Caleb Joseph singled up the middle. Martin has faced eleven batters in his last three outings and six have reached base. Slump or a crash back to Earth? Girardi went for the kill with two outs and a man on first in the seventh by bringing Dellin Betances.

Betances struck out Travis Snider to end the seventh, got two ground balls and a fly out to the warning track in the eighth, then gave way to Andrew Miller. A strikeout, a pop-up, and a ground out later, Miller had his 13th save in 13 chances. Dellin and Miller this season: 33.1 IP, 11 H, 2 R, 0 ER, 16 BB, 54 K. This is good. I enjoy this. Oh, and by the way, Girardi officially named Miller his closer after the game. Never woulda guessed it.

Meeeeanwhile, the offense stopped scoring after the third inning. They had runners on the corners in both the fifth and eighth innings, but failed to capitalize. After Beltran’s double, 15 of the final 19 Yankees to bat made outs, and two of the four guys who reached base did so on an intentional walk and an infield single. Coulda used an insurance run or five there, fellas.

Nope, out. (Elsa/Getty)
Nope, out. (Elsa/Getty)

Leftovers
Each of the top six hitters in the lineup had at least one hit, and that includes Stephen Drew, who came off the bench to replace Beltran for defense in the late innings. (Drew took over at second and Chris Young went to right, replacing Jose Pirela.) The bottom three hitters in the lineup went 0-for-10 with a strikeout. New York’s lineup is very top heavy. They rely an awful lot on that Ellsbury-Gardner-Rodriguez-Teixeira foursome. It would be nice if some other guys got going.

The Yankees had eight hits, five for extra bases: McCann homered, A-Rod tripled, and Gardner, Teixeira, and Beltran each doubled. A-Rod tripled off the very top of the wall in right-center. It looked the ball glanced off the glove of a leaping Adam Jones before rolling away from Snider. The Yankees have five triples this year: McCann, A-Rod, Beltran, Chase Headley, and Garrett Jones. Go figure.

Gardner threw Machado out at the plate to end the first inning — it was a really bad send, Gardner was scooping the ball before Machado even got to third — for the team’s fifth outfield assist of the season. It’s the first runner they’ve thrown out at the plate this year. Don’t ask me why I looked that up. Even I’m not sure.

Box Score, WPA Graph & Standings
Here are the box score, video highlights, and updated standings. Also make sure you check out our Bullpen Workload and Announcer Standings pages. Important stuff going on there. Here’s the win probability graph:


Source: FanGraphs

Up Next
Same two teams on Saturday afternoon, in the third game of this four-game series. Chase Whitley and Wei-Yin Chen will be the pitching matchup in the matinee. If Whitley wants to go out and throw a complete game, that would be swell. Check out RAB Tickets if you want to catch that game or Sunday’s game live. The Yankees won’t be back in the Bronx until May 22nd after this weekend.

DotF: Roller goes deep in Scranton’s win

What do you want first, the good news or the bad news? Okay, the good news: OF Aaron Judge placed seventh in this week’s Prospect Hot Sheet. He came into tonight 12-for-28 (.429) with two homers and two doubles during his six-game hitting streak.

Now, the bad news: 1B Greg Bird has been placed on the Double-A DL with a right shoulder injury, the team announced. Josh Norris says he’s heading for an MRI. Bird has a history of back issues but this is his first shoulder trouble as far as I know. 1B Matt Snyder was bumped up from High-A Tampa to Trenton to take Bird’s spot on the roster.

Triple-A Scranton (5-4 win over Indianapolis)

  • RF Slade Heathcott & DH Ramon Flores: both 1-4, 1 BB — Heathcott scored a run, stole a base, and threw a runner out at second … Flores struck out thrice
  • 2B Rob Refsnyder: 0-3, 1 R, 2 BB, 1 K — snaps his ten-game hitting streak
  • 1B Kyle Roller: 2-4, 2 R, 1 HR, 2 RBI, 1 BB — third homer in the last seven games
  • LF Tyler Austin: 2-4, 1 2B, 1 RBI, 1 K — came into the game in an 0-for-15 slump
  • C Austin Romine: 1-3, 1 RBI
  • LHP Matt Tracy: 5.2 IP, 6 H, 2 R, 2 ER, 1 BB, 2 K, 1 Balk, 7/1 GB/FB — 52 of 84 pitches were strikes (62%)
  • RHP Jared Burton: 1 IP, 3 H, 1 R, 1 ER, 0 BB, 2 K, 1/0 GB/FB — 12 of 17 pitches were strikes (71%)
  • RHP Jose Ramirez: 1 IP, 3 H, 1 R, 1 ER, 0 BB, 1 K, 1/0 GB/FB — 19 of 26 pitches were strikes (73%)

[Read more…]

Game 30: Hit the Split

There's the grip. (Presswire)
There’s the grip. (Presswire)

Three weeks ago Orioles right-hander Miguel Gonzalez dominated the Yankees, allowing one run in seven innings and striking out a career-high ten. He did it mostly with his splitter-changeup hybrid, getting 17 swings and misses, the second highest total of his career. The Yankees had no chance against his split-change that night — Gonzalez threw 27 of them, the Yankees swung at 20, and missed ten times. Yikes.

Tonight’s challenge will be to hit that splitter-changeup thing. Joe Girardi swapped out Stephen Drew for Jose Pirela in the lineup, which should help — Gonzalez throws the split-change roughly three times as often to lefties than righties. Plus, you know, pretty good chance Pirela is a flat out better hitter than Drew at this point of his career. Here is the Orioles’ lineup and here is the Yankees’ lineup:

  1. CF Jacoby Ellsbury
  2. LF Brett Gardner
  3. DH Alex Rodriguez
  4. 1B Mark Teixeira
  5. C Brian McCann
  6. RF Carlos Beltran
  7. 3B Chase Headley
  8. 2B Jose Pirela
  9. SS Didi Gregorius
    RHP Adam Warren

Another gorgeous day in New York and a perfect night for baseball. More weather like this, please. Tonight’s game will begin at 7:05pm ET and can be seen on YES locally and MLB Network nationally, depending on where you live. Enjoy the game, folks.

Injury Update: Masahiro Tanaka (wrist, forearm) played catch for the second straight day, this time making 60 throws at 90 feet after making 50 at 60 yesterday. Everything went well. Tanaka will take tomorrow off and throw again Sunday.

2015 Draft: Baseball America’s Mock Draft v1.0

Kaprielian. (Don Liebig/UCALA)
Kaprielian. (Don Liebig/UCALA)

The 2015 amateur draft begins one month from today, which means we’re now entering mock draft season. John Manuel at Baseball America released his first mock draft today — he’s going to publish a new one every Friday — and it’s free for everyone. You don’t need a subscription to read. The picks aren’t guesses either. They’re based on industry chatter and whatnot.

Manuel has the Diamondbacks taking UC Santa Barbara RHP Dillon Tate with the first overall pick but I’m guessing we’re going to see several different names in this spot in future mock drafts. There is no consensus top pick this year. The Astros and Rockies follow with Vanderbilt SS Dansby Swanson and Florida HS SS Brendan Rodgers with the second and third picks in the mock draft, respectively.

The Yankees have the 16th overall pick this year and Manuel has them selecting UCLA RHP James Kaprielian. Scouting director Damon Oppenheimer, a Southern California guy himself, has a known affinity for Southern California pitchers. LHP Ian Clarkin, RHP Ian Kennedy, and RHP Gerrit Cole are the most notable examples. Kaprielian fits right in. Here’s a snippet of his free MLB.com scouting report:

He didn’t have the best stuff in a U.S. collegiate national team rotation that included Louisville’s Kyle Funkhouser and Vanderbilt’s Carson Fulmer last summer, but Kaprielian did have the best “pitchability” and is the safest bet to become a mid-rotation starter in the big leagues. He works with an 89-92 mph fastball as a starter, and he’s effective at that velocity because he can locate it.

Kaprielian’s best pitch is his changeup, and he also has a solid slider and a curveball to give batters a different look. With his command and strong frame, he’s built to be a starter.

Kaprielian is a big dude who’s listed at 6-foot-4 and 200 lbs. on UCLA’s site. He has a 2.35 ERA with 91 strikeouts and 22 walks in 76.2 innings this spring. Kaprielian isn’t a huge upside guy but he’s a no-doubt first rounder and the type of pitcher who tends to go higher than expected because he’s considered “safe.” Teams eat up this profile.

Oppenheimer confirmed last year the Yankees lean towards college players these days because they get to MLB quicker and don’t have as much development ahead of them, so the connection to Kaprielian makes sense. The Yankees also pick 30th overall this year — that’s the compensation pick for David Robertson — and could roll the dice with an upside play there. That’s what they did in 2013, when the took 3B Eric Jagielo with the 26th pick before shooting for the moon with OF Aaron Judge as the 32nd pick.

RAB Live Chat

Yankees have rotation help on the way with Nova not far behind Capuano on rehab trail

(Presswire)
(Presswire)

Last night, left-hander Chris Capuano threw 72 pitches across 4.2 innings for Triple-A Scranton in his second minor league rehab start as he works his way back from a spring quad injury. Earlier this week Joe Girardi told George King they “would like to get (Capuano) to 90 pitches and see where we are at” before activating him off the DL, so Capuano figures to make at least one more rehab start before joining the Yankees.

Ivan Nova also continued his rehab from Tommy John surgery yesterday, throwing two innings in an Extended Spring Training game. Girardi told reporters everything went fine and Nova remains on track to join the team sometime in June. He could throw in another ExST game or two before beginning an official 30-day minor league rehab stint. Nova’s rehab has gone extremely well to date. No issues whatsoever.

Between Capuano and Nova, the Yankees have a pair of starting pitchers on the rehab trail and not too far from factoring into the MLB pitching staff. That doesn’t even include Masahiro Tanaka, who resumed throwing yesterday. It seems like Capuano will return first with Nova and Tanaka returning around the same time in a few weeks. Obviously lots can go wrong between now and then, but at least things are going well now.

Fitting them back onto the staff is a classic “worry about it when the time comes” situation. Chase Whitley has pitched well in his two starts yet we saw last year how quickly that can unravel. Adam Warren has pitched well enough in his first stint as a full-time starter but the numbers confirm what our eyes seem to be telling us — going through the lineup the second and third time has been a bit of a problem. Who knows what the rotation will look like in a week or two.

“It just gives us a lot more depth, which I think is really important during the course of a long season,” said Girardi to Vince Mercogliano yesterday, referring to Capuano and Nova moving closer to a return. The rotation has been fine overall, with the non-Michael Pineda starters typically doing just enough to keep the Yankees in the game. Capuano and Nova may or may not improve things, but at least they’ll give the Yankees options, something they’re running short on at the moment.

Mailbag: Harper, Harvey, Judge, Kazmir, 0.00 ERAs, Kuroda

Biggest mailbag in RAB history. I think it is, anyway. Sixteen questions. Sixteen! Some of the answers are short though. If you want to send us any questions, use the “For The Mailbag” form in the sidebar. If you want to inquire about writing a guest post, email me directly at mike (at) riveraveblues (dot) com. I can’t answer you through the mailbag form.

(Patrick Smith/Getty)
(Patrick Smith/Getty)

Marc asks: It’s the 2018-2019 offseason. Who is more likely to end up a Yankee and why: Bryce Harper or Matt Harvey?

Obviously this is going to depend heavily on what the roster looks like in three and a half years. In a vacuum, I think the Yankees would pursue Harper before Harvey for a few reasons, most importantly their ages. Harper will turn 26 early in the 2018-19 offseason while Harvey will turn 30 in Spring Training 2019. You’d be buying Harper’s peak years — in theory, of course — while Harvey’s best seasons would likely be behind him. Huge contracts for pitchers near or beyond their 30th birthday are generally really bad investments. Harper is a transcendent talent and I’d have no trouble whatsoever giving him ten years at that age. Heck, given Giancarlo Stanton’s contract, Scott Boras might be able to get 12-14 years for Harper. Maybe 15 years. If they need pitching more than they need an outfielder — the Yankees do have a bunch of young outfielders in the system, after all — they might go Harvey instead. Me? I think Harper is way too special to pass up.

Ryan asks: Could you see a scenario where the Yankees draft Mike Matuella and Brady Aiken (assuming both were available at respective picks) and shoot for the moon on talent? If one worked out and became a top of the rotation starter, they would make out. They won’t have many chances to grab elite talent in the next few years, and if they are patient, they can land two in one draft.

No and I don’t think I’d advise it. That’s a very risky strategy, putting all your eggs in the injured prospect basket. The draft pool will another issue — I’m not sure the team’s $7.885M pool would be enough to sign both of those guys, and they aren’t worth exceeding the pool and forfeiting future picks. I believe Aiken is an elite talent when healthy and would be more willing to roll the dice on him. Matuella’s a fine prospect but not someone I’d pin my entire draft on. There has to be a balance between upside and probability, especially when that upside may be compromised by the ol’ zipper. If the Yankees want to roll the dice on one or the other, that works. Both is way too much risk for a team that will be really limited in its ability to add amateur talent the next few years.

Samantha asks: 15 of Mark Teixeira‘s 18 hits this year have gone for extra bases. What’s the highest percentage of hits that have gone for extra bases in a season?

Teixeira added two singles and a double since this question was sent in, so it’s 16 extra-base hits (six doubles, ten homers) out of 21 hits total this year. Before I looked this up, my guess was late-1990s Mark McGwire or early-2000s Barry Bonds held the record. I would have said McGwire if I was forced to pick one. Here are the top five extra-base hits-to-singles ratios in MLB history among players who qualified for the batting title:

XBH Singles XBH/H
2001 Barry Bonds 107 XBH (32 2B, 2 3B, 73 HR) 49 68.6%
2010 Jose Bautista 92 XBH (35 2B, 3 3B, 54 HR) 56 62.2%
2009 Carlos Pena 66 XBH (25 2B, 2 3B, 39 HR) 41 61.7%
1999 Mark McGwire 87 XBH (21 2B, 1 3B, 65 HR) 58 60.0%
1998 Mark McGwire 91 XBH (21 2B, 0 3B, 70 HR) 61 59.9%

The highest Yankee on the all-time leaderboard is 1921 Babe Ruth at 58.3%, which ranks eighth all-time. Teixeira is on pace to smash the all-time XBH/H record this year (he’s at 76.2%), but so are a few other players, including Bautista. My guess is Bonds’ record is safe for a while.

Casey asks: What are the chances Derek Jeter would have grown a mustache if he were on this year’s Yankees? I say slim to none.

Yeah I’d say close to zero. Maybe a 1% chance Jeter would grow a mustache. My guess is there would be a lot of “Jeter gets it, he’s all about winning, not mustaches” articles as well. The mustaches are fun. Team bonding is good. Whatever makes the 162-game grind easier.

Bubba asks: Is it possible to send David Carpenter to SWB? It appears that pitching by appointment isn’t helping. Maybe regular work where results won’t matter would help.

Nope, he’s out of minor league options, so he can’t go to Triple-A Scranton without passing through waivers. Given his performance with the Braves from 2013-14 (2.63 ERA and 2.88 FIP), low salary ($1.3M), and three remaining years of team control, my guess is Carpenter would get claimed in a hurry. The Yankees sorta painted themselves into a corner with Carpenter. It seems like he needs more work to get straightened out, but he hasn’t pitched well in his limited time so Girardi is hesitant to use him. I think the only solution is biting the bullet and getting him out there more than once a week, even if it means bringing him into the seventh inning of a one-run game once in a while. Carpenter can be a real weapon out of the bullpen and the Yankees have to help get him back to being good.

Ben asks: Similar to Stephen Drew, how long is Carlos Beltran‘s leash? He has clearly taken a step back, and looks very sluggish in the field and at the plate. Is it time to call up Ramon Flores to see what he can do?

I think Beltran is going to get at least the rest of this season and possibly the first half of next season to show he’s not done. His contract really complicates things because it’s not cheap — his $15M annual salary is really $22.5M because of the luxury tax — and they’re stuck paying him next year no matter what. The Yankees decided to ride it out with Alex Rodriguez this year (and have been rewarded so far!) and I have no reason to think they’ll cut bait with Beltran anytime soon. I think the best case scenario is Joe Girardi starts using Beltran in a straight platoon with Chris Young.

(Trenton Thunder)
(Trenton Thunder)

Johnny O. asks: What’s the over/under on when Aaron Judge will be moved up to AAA? That .402 wOBA is looking awesome. Only concern is K/BB, anything else?

Judge was promoted from Low-A to High-A in mid-June last year and that’s when I expect him to be bumped up to Triple-A Scranton this year. You have to give him a chance to go through the league a second time to see how pitchers adjust, and what he needs to do to adjust back. Judge’s strikeout rate (24.6%) is in line with last year’s rate (23.3%) but his walk rate has dropped considerably (5.3% after 15.8% last year). I’m actually not too concerned about that — minor league walk rates aren’t all that predictive because there are so many pitchers in the minors who have absolutely no idea where the ball is going, and that doesn’t necessarily mean they miss the plate, it also means they catch too much of it. I’d give him 60-70 games in Double-A and if he’s still mashing, bump him up. We go through this every year it seems. Twenty-five awesome games to start the season doesn’t necessarily mean a prospect is ready to be promoted.

Steve asks: Way too early obviously but would a guy like Scott Kazmir make sense for the Yankees to look into? No long term commitment, shouldn’t be as expensive prospect-wise as Johnny Cueto, others who might be available but he is also kind of a sneaky-solid pitcher.

Yes, I think Kazmir is a potential option for the Yankees. He has a 2.75 ERA (3.82 FIP) so far this year after pitching to a 3.77 ERA (3.42 FIP) in 348.1 innings from 2013-14. Kazmir is still only 31 and his comeback has been remarkable. He was out of baseball entirely due to arm problems a few years ago and worked his way back through an independent league and winter ball. The guy deserves a ton of credit not only for getting back to MLB, but having this much success in the second phase of his career.

Kazmir isn’t missing bats like he did in his prime but both his strikeout (22.8%) and walk (6.8%) rates have been a tick better than league average since resurfacing in 2013. He doesn’t get many grounders (42.4%) but his hard contact rate (28.4%) is basically identical to the league average (28.3%), so it’s not like all the fly balls are rockets. Kazmir is a rental, he’s making $13M this season, and I think the A’s would be willing to make him a qualifying offer after the season, so they’d presumably want something more valuable than a supplemental first round pick in a trade. Kazmir could definitely help the Yankees if they’re willing to pay what figures to be a high price.

CanGuest asks: First, what do you think of the Josh Hamilton trade? Seems like a great deal for the Rangers, with the Angels covering all but 7m of the deal. Second, one of the reasons I heard for the Angels for making the trade was for additional room under the luxury tax. I thought that if a team is paying a portion of a player’s salary, that amount counts toward their luxury tax. Am I wrong, or do the Angels only save like 2m/year in luxury tax room?

It’s a win-win-win trade, good for all three parties. The Angels get rid of a player they clearly didn’t want, Hamilton gets away from a toxic situation and back to an organization that knows him well, and the Rangers get a potentially productive player on the cheap. I’m not sure how the money is broken down in the trade, but as far as the luxury tax is concerned, the Angels save whatever the Rangers are playing him in a given year. So take Hamilton’s $25M luxury tax hit, then subtract whatever Texas is paying him that year. If they’re paying him $1M this year, he counts as $24M against the tax for the Angels. And if the Rangers pay him $5M next year, the Halos are stuck with a $20M luxury tax hit. Got it? Course you do.

George asks: If the Yankees don’t acknowledge A-Rod‘s 660th as a milestone, could he design and market his own merchandise? Possibly a generic A-Rod, not in Yankee garb with some reference to 660?

Yes with limitations. Alex can use his likeness on merchandise but he could not use any Yankees or MLB logos without a license, something I highly doubt they would be willing to negotiate given the circumstances. A-Rod’s camp could come up with a slogan or a logo like DJ3K (AROD660?) and sell that. A-Rod can design and sell merchandise with his likeness and the number 660 on it — MLB and the Yankees don’t hold the rights to that stuff — but there can’t be anything linking it to the team or the league without their approval. It would have to be a real generic design.

George asks: Why don’t the Yankees and A-Rod agree to give the $6M milestone bonus to a charity of their choice?

Knowing the Yankees and A-Rod, they’d probably end up in front of an arbitration panel fighting over who gets to claim the tax deduction.

(Gregory Shamus/Getty)
(Gregory Shamus/Getty)

Dan asks: So, is that Shane Greene for Didi Gregorius trade staring to look a little better for the Yankees? Or is it still too soon to tell?

It’s too soon to tell. It was too soon to tell last month, it’s too soon to tell this month, it’ll be too soon to tell next month. We just went through this — and still are, really — with the Michael PinedaJesus Montero trade. When you’re talking about two players this young and this early in their careers, it’s going to take years before you can tell which team got the better end of the trade. Years. I know no one wants to hear that, we all want answers now, but that’s not possible. This trade was never about instant gratification.

Bailey asks: Michael Pineda has only pitched over a 100 innings once in his MLB career, and that was four years ago (171). Do we need to worry about him hitting a IP limit/cap? Assuming he stays healthy.

Definitely. Worry maybe isn’t the right word. It’s just something the team has to monitor. There’s a natural concern Pineda may get hurt again given his history, I’m not sure how that couldn’t be in the back of anyone’s mind, but what if he simply runs out of gas in August or September after throwing 124.2 total innings from 2012-14? I think the Yankees are smart to use a sixth starter every once in a while to give Pineda and others the extra rest. I’d like to see them shuffle the rotation around the All-Star break to give Pineda a nice long 10-12 day break if possible too.

Bavarian Yankee asks: I just realized that both Dellin Betances and Andrew Miller had a 0 ERA in April. Was this the first time the Yankees had their two best relievers start the season with a 0 ERA during the first month?

Betances and Miller threw 12.1 and 11.1 innings in April, respectively, so let’s use ten innings as our minimum. Here is the full list of Yankees pitchers who threw at least ten innings with a 0.00 ERA in March/April (via Baseball Reference):

Rk Player G Year ERA GS SV IP H R ER BB SO BF WHIP SO9 SO/W OPS+
1 Dellin Betances 11 2015 0.00 0 0 12.1 5 1 0 7 19 49 0.973 13.9 2.71 8
2 Andrew Miller 10 2015 0.00 0 8 11.1 3 0 0 4 20 43 0.618 15.9 5.00 -6
3 David Robertson 11 2012 0.00 0 0 11.0 7 0 0 3 18 42 0.909 14.7 6.00 27
4 Mariano Rivera 10 2008 0.00 0 8 11.0 4 0 0 0 11 37 0.364 9.0 -40
5 Lee Guetterman 10 1989 0.00 0 3 14.2 12 0 0 3 6 53 1.023 3.7 2.00 56
6 Dooley Womack 7 1967 0.00 0 0 11.0 7 1 0 5 7 43 1.091 5.7 1.40 85
7 Hal Reniff 5 1967 0.00 0 0 10.2 9 1 0 1 8 43 0.938 6.8 8.00 58
8 Bob Turley 2 1958 0.00 2 0 18.0 5 0 0 11 13 70 0.889 6.5 1.18 -11
9 Don Larsen 2 1958 0.00 2 0 14.0 11 0 0 6 10 57 1.214 6.4 1.67 45
10 Hank Thormahlen 2 1920 0.00 1 0 11.2 10 2 0 3 2 47 1.114 1.5 0.67 77
11 Ray Fisher 2 1914 0.00 2 0 17.0 13 2 0 4 5 66 1.000 2.6 1.25 13

That’s it. Only eleven times in history has a pitcher — starter or reliever — thrown at least ten innings in March/April with a 0.00 ERA for the Yankees. Dellin and Miller are the third set of teammates to do it, joining Womack and Reniff in 1967 and Turley and Larsen in 1958. I’m surprised Rivera only did it once in all those years of excellence. Then again, there always seemed to be a What’s Wrong With Mo Week™ every April. So yeah, what we watched Betances and Miller do last month hadn’t been done in nearly 50 years.

Paco asks: NYY 2B has a higher OPS than the Seattle 2B. Is Robinson Cano already in decline, or too early in the season to tell?

It’s too early to tell. Robbie is hitting .263/.306/.377 (92 wRC+) in 121 plate appearances this year. He hit .255/.303/.355 (75 wRC+) in his first 119 plate appearances as recently as 2012. He also hit .269/.319/.352 (76 wRC+) in his first 119 plate appearances back in 2007 as well. As great as Cano is, getting off to a slow start isn’t unprecedented. This slow start could be considered more of red flag given the fact he’ll turn 33 later this year, but hey, that’s not the Yankees problem anymore. If anything, Robbie is struggling because I went big on offense in fantasy this year and paid way more than I was comfortable paying to get him in my auction. Blame me.

Dan asks: How is Hiroki Kuroda doing in Japan?

Kuroda has made six starts for the Hiroshima Carp so far this season and is 3-2 with a 3.46 ERA and a 1.28 WHIP. He’s struck out 24 and walked eight in 31 innings. Kuroda is also 2-for-15 (.133) with eight strikeouts at the plate. In his six starts, Hiroshima has scored two, zero, seven, two, eleven, and four runs for an average of 4.33 runs of support per game. The Yankees gave Kuroda an average of 3.74 runs of support per game from 2012-14, so at least his new team is taking care of him offensively. The Carp are 13-18 and in last place in the Central Division, which stinks. I’m hoping Kuroda goes out a champ. Dude deserves it.