Sherman: Yankees called about Donaldson last offseason

(Victor Decolongon/Getty)
(Victor Decolongon/Getty)

This is not surprising at all. According to Joel Sherman, Brian Cashman called Athletics GM Billy Beane about third baseman Josh Donaldson early in the offseason, but was told he would not be traded. It’s been reported over the last few months that other teams were told the same thing. Donaldson wasn’t available … and then suddenly he was.

Sherman says Blue Jays GM Alex Anthopoulos called about Donaldson and basically wouldn’t take no for answer. He kept upping his offer until the A’s said yes. “Alex is and was certainly relentless. That is his personality. But we didn’t trade Josh to make Alex go away,” said A’s assistant GM David Forst.

Furthermore, Sherman says the Athletics did not shop Donaldson around after getting an offer they liked from Toronto. That seems … unwise. Don’t you have to try to get max value for a player of that caliber? The four-player package sent to Oakland in the trade — Brett Lawrie, Kendall Graveman, Sean Nolin, and prospect Franklin Barreto — looked light at the time and ridiculous now.

The Yankees needed a third baseman this past offseason and opted to re-sign Chase Headley, who’s had a poor year mostly because he suddenly forgot how to throw to first base. Alex Rodriguez can’t play the field anymore and the only other free agent third baseman on the market was Pablo Sandoval, who has been a total disaster with the Red Sox.

Of course, the Yankees could have kept Martin Prado at third base, but a) that means no Nathan Eovaldi, and b) Prado hasn’t been anything special this year either. Donaldson would have been an incredible pickup this winter. You don’t need me to tell you that. It’s hard to believe the A’s traded him for what they did. My guess is if they opened it up to the highest bidder, the Yankees would have priced out. So it goes.

Sabathia is the right man at the right time for the Yankees


There were times earlier this season when you couldn’t help but wonder how CC Sabathia would ever get another out. He struggled not only in the first half of this season, but dating back to the start of the 2013 season. All those innings and an arthritic landing knee were starting to catch up to Sabathia in his mid-30s. Father Time, as they say, is undefeated.

Sabathia’s knee gave out last month, and you knew it was bad when he removed himself from the game without even lobbying to stay in or attempting a test pitch. This is a guy who pitched the Yankees to a division title with a bone spur in his elbow in 2012. He suffered a Grade II hamstring strain in September 2013 and finished the start. I can’t imagine how much knee pain he’s dealt with over the years. Sabathia’s performance has declined. His toughness? Never. He’s a warrior.

The knee injury was potentially season-ending — both Joe Girardi and Brian Cashman admitted as much after the big lefty went for tests — but Sabathia never though about it that way. “No matter what, I was coming back. For sure,” he said to reporters following Sunday’s win over the Mets. As poorly as he’d pitched earlier this season, the Yankees needed Sabathia back too. Nathan Eovaldi landed on the DL and Ivan Nova pitched his way out of the rotation. They needed someone to help. Anyone.

That someone, as it turns out, is Sabathia. Since returning from the DL, Sabathia has allowed two earned runs in 17.1 innings across three starts, holding opponents to a .190/.292/.254 batting line. Three starts is three starts, we know better than to make too much out of that, but those three starts count. They’re in the bank. They helped the Yankees win games and improve their spot in the standings. Those three starts have had a real, tangible benefit.

The arthritic knee is severe enough that Sabathia admitted he will one day need knee replacement surgery — “Eventually, but that’s the price you pay,” he said to Barry Bloom — and right now he’s managing the condition with a new, clunkier knee brace. Before he was wearing more of a sleeve during his starts. Now it’s an actual brace that prevents (or limits, at least) bone-on-bone contact each time he throws a pitch.

“I think I needed the rest,” said Sabathia to Chad Jennings following Sunday’s game when asked about the knee injury and the new brace. “Obviously the brace has been helping. Just a few adjustments we made in the rehab, and I’ve been feeling pretty good, so hopefully I can keep that up … I don’t have to worry about every pitch. Or this pitch, if I’m trying to go in, if that’s going to hurt. I can just go out and throw my game and not have to worry about it.”

Sabathia pitched well in the handful of starts prior to his knee injury — he actually has a 2.56 ERA (3.69 FIP) in his last seven starts and 38.2 innings — though he admitted he stopped trying to protect the knee and decided to air it out before getting hurt. It worked for a while, his fastball velocity jumped a tick …

CC Sabathia velocity

… but eventually the knee acted up. I don’t know if Sabathia is airing it out with the new knee brace now — if he is, it isn’t showing up in his velocity, just look at the graph — but I’ve always felt location was his biggest issue the last few years, not raw velocity. Oh sure, there’s a big difference between 93-95 and 88-91, but whenever Sabathia got burned, it was because he missed his spot and left a pitch out over the plate.

With a 93-95 mph fastball, you can get away with some of those mistakes over the plate. That’s the advantage of velocity. More margin for error. That isn’t the case with 88-91 mph though, and Sabathia was paying for it dearly whenever he made a mistake. Since coming off the DL, those mistakes have been more infrequent. Here are Sabathia’s pitch locations in his last three starts (via Baseball Savant):

CC Sabathia pitch locations

The fastballs are bunched on the edges of the strike zone with much fewer in the middle of the zone. (Interestingly, it appears Sabathia uses his four-seamer to the gloveside and sinker to the armside.) At this stage of his career, that’s where Sabathia needs to live. On the edges of the zone. New knee brace or not, he really doesn’t have the raw velocity to pitch over the plate anymore.

If the new knee brace is allowing Sabathia to pitch pain-free (or even with reduced pain) and better maintain his mechanics, his recent performance might actually be sustainable and not a blip. (Alec Dopp wrote more about this yesterday.) He’s probably not a true talent sub-3.00 ERA guy — he wasn’t that in his prime, after all — but he could be better than what he was earlier this season. Even league average Sabathia would be huge at this point. That would be a major upgrade over what he’d been doing since the start of 2013.

Regardless of whether the new knee brace has led to tangible improvement or this is all just a dumb luck hot streak, Sabathia has stepped up of late and is now helping the Yankees get to the postseason. He’s the right man to help the rotation too. Sabathia’s a Grade-A competitor who cares so deeply about his teammates — “I think if anybody knows me, it hurts me more to let the team down than for myself,” he said to Wally Matthews — and has been through the late-season wars before. He knows what it takes to be ace, to bear the responsibility of being The Man. CC is the right man to give the staff a lift.

“I’ve always said that he’s important to us,” said Girardi to Jennings. “Because he’s been through this, and he’s a competitor. I’ve said, I didn’t think we were going to get him back, when he left that game. I really didn’t. But he did, and he’s important to us.”

Dustin Ackley is the short-term solution at second base for the Yankees

(Adam Hunger/Getty)
(Adam Hunger/Getty)

Life after Robinson Cano has not been too pretty for the Yankees. Their second baseman have hit a combined .219/.273/.364 (74 wRC+) since the start of last season, and their -1.3 fWAR during that time is dead last among the 30 clubs. The Yankees went from the best second baseman in baseball to the collective worst. It’s been a shock to the system.

That wasn’t entirely unexpected though. Cano is the best second baseman in baseball — or he was his last few years in New York, at the very least — and that made him irreplaceable. A drop off at second base was expected, though I didn’t think it would be this much of a drop off. Stephen Drew has held down the position most of the season and, even though he’s been better in recent months, he still has a .201/.271/.381 (76 wRC+) batting line on the season. Bad.

Lately though, Drew has been losing playing time to trade deadline pickup Dustin Ackley, who has forced Joe Girardi‘s hand. Ackley got a rare start at first base against the Blue Jays in the second game of their September 12th doubleheader, and while the Yankees didn’t win, Ackley went 1-for-4 with a walk. He started again the next day because he had good career numbers against R.A. Dickey, and went 2-for-2 with a homer. Ackley drove in three of the team’s four runs.

It was going to take a game like to get Ackley more playing time. He landed on the DL almost immediately following the trade, and, after returning when rosters expanded, he received one plate appearance from September 1st through 8th. “I’m going with the guys that have gotten us here,” said Girardi to Chad Jennings when asked about the second base job. Girardi was talking about Rob Refsnyder, but he might as well have been talking about Ackley. Drew (and Brendan Ryan) was his man.

But again, Ackley forced the issue. He had a pinch-hit single with two outs in the ninth against the Rays on September 14th, which sparked the Yankees’ four-run rally (the Slade Heathcott homer game). Ackley came off the bench the next day and singled in his pinch-hitting appearance. His first start at second base — it was only his second start at second since 2013 — came the next day, and while he went 0-for-2, he did rebound with a pinch-hit double against the Mets Friday. Ackley started at second again Saturday and tripled to dead center. He started at second again Sunday and hit a big three-run homer to break the game open.

Ackley got the start again last night, though this time the lefty David Price was on the mound. That was unexpected. (He went 1-for-3.) Ackley has gotten the last three second base starts against right-handed pitchers and the last start against a left-hander as well. He’s keeping himself in the lineup with his performance. Add in all the pinch-hits and this guy is 9-for-30 (.450) with four extra-base hits in his last nine games. How could Girardi take him out of the lineup right now?

When the Yankees acquired Ackley, I figured the move was geared more towards next season — as I’ve said, I think the team believes Ackley could be a candidate for a Brock Holt-esque role — and was likely to have little impact down the stretch. It was easy to understand why the Yankees made the move though. Ackley replaced Garrett Jones after all, plus he’s still only 27 and has talent. The guy wasn’t the second overall pick in the country by accident. Considering what they gave up (extra pieces in Ramon Flores and Jose Ramirez), it made sense.

And right now it makes sense to keep Ackley in the lineup as the starting second baseman, even if only against righties. Drew has been better in the second half overall but has gone cold of late — he’s currently in a 2-for-27 (.074) skid — and these games are simply too important to wait around hoping he has another three or four-game hot streak. There’s not that much time left in the season. The Yankees should stick with what’s working. Starting Ackley against Price last night was indication Girardi will do just that.

“I like the way he’s swung the bat,” said Girardi to Dan Martin over the weekend. “We expected he would be able to help us out at different positions. Since he had played a number of positions in Seattle, we could move him around and that he would play well in our ballpark. He’s pinch hit, played against a knuckleballer and played against a guy who throws 100 [Noah Syndergaard on Saturday]. That’s why we went and got him.”

Ackley makes the most sense for the second base job at this moment, and we should leave it at that. We have an entire offseason to worry about where he fits in next season — starting second baseman? supersub? seldom used utility man? — and I’m sure that will be a much discussed topic. The priority right now is winning games and qualifying for the postseason. Right now, Ackley give the Yankees a better chance to do that than Drew. He’s the short-term solution at the position.

“He has been swinging a great bat and we continue to give him opportunities,’’ said Girardi to George King. “He has gotten a lot of big hits for us and will continue to get opportunities.’’

Yankees have no answer for Price in 4-2 loss to Blue Jays

Once again, the Yankees were out-hit, out-pitched, and out-defended by the Blue Jays. That’s been happening since literally Opening Day. Toronto won Monday night’s series opener 4-2 and is now 12-5 against the Yankees in 2015. They’ve outscored New York 77-50. Total domination.


Over Early
The Blue Jays can score in a hurry, and it didn’t take long for the Yankees to fall behind 3-0 on Monday. Adam Warren gave up a single to Ben Revere and hit Josh Donaldson with a pitch — more like he grazed Donaldson’s jersey, but it is what it is — to set up the first inning rally. Jose Bautista slapped a singled back up the middle to score the first run, a wild pitch advanced the runners, then Edwin Encarnacion hit a grounder to short to score the second run.

Up to that point, Warren did not allow a hard-hit ball. Well, I guess Revere made solid contact, but it’s Ben Revere. It was a fliner more than a liner. That all changed when Justin Smoak scalded a double over Carlos Beltran‘s head in right to drive in the third run of the inning. A non-Beltran right fielder might have been able to make the catch, but it’s not like it was a routine play. Smoak crushed it. Warren needed 19 pitches to get one out, which was very bad because he was on an 80-85 pitch limit.

To his credit, Warren did settle down after the three-run first inning, at least until he hit his pitch limit in the fourth inning. He retired nine of the final dozen batters he faced and one of the three base-runners was an infield single. (Chase Headley made yet another throwing error, allowing the runner to go to second.) Too bad that first inning happened. With David Price on the mound, that three-run deficit was a huge hill to climb.


One Chance Against Price
The Yankees had four base-runners in seven innings against Price and three of the four came in the third inning, which was by far New York’s best chance to get back into the game against the southpaw. After a quick ground out by Didi Gregorius, the Yankees loaded the bases on a Cliff Pennington error (Dustin Ackley reached), a single (Jacoby Ellsbury), and a walk (Brett Gardner). Bases loaded with one out and the three-four hitters due up? Perfect!

Runs did not happen though. Alex Rodriguez put up a real good fight against Price before striking out on the ninth pitch of the at-bat for the second out of the inning. The eighth pitch of the at-bat was a little weak pop-up that landed juuust foul on the right field side. We’re talking an inch or two from a two-run bloop single. Maybe even three runs. Check it out:

Alex Rodriguez foul ball

A game of inches, man. Game of inches. Brian McCann followed A-Rod‘s strikeout with an inning-ending fly ball to center field. The Yankees got nothing out of their best chance against Price, who, predictably, got locked in and dominated the rest of the way. Following the walk to Gardner to load the bases, Price retired the final 14 batters he faced. He’s allowed five runs in 26.1 innings against the Yankees as a Blue Jay. Pretty much the difference in the AL East race right there.


Bullpen on Parade
Once Warren was out of the game, I set the over/under at 5.5 relievers the rest of the night. It was under, surprisingly. First up: James Pazos. He retired Pennington and Revere to close out the fourth inning. It was Caleb Cotham‘s turn next, and he cut through Donaldson (strikeout), Bautista (fly out), and Encarnacion (fly out) in order in the fifth. That was cool. Cotham started the sixth, got the first two outs, then gave way to Chasen Shreve. Nice work, Caleb.

Shreve, on the other hand, continued to look nothing like the guy who was so excellent earlier this season. He allowed an infield single to Ryan Goins, which, whatever, kinda dopey, but then Shreve walked Kevin Pillar (!) and Matt Hague (!!) to load the bases. Not good! Thankfully Revere flew out loudly to Beltran in right field to end the inning. Shreve threw seven strikes out of 16 total pitches. He has allowed 22 of the last 45 batters he’s faced to reach base (.489 OBP). What a downturn.

Anyway, whenever you use six pitchers in a game, it’s only a matter of time until you run into someone who doesn’t have it, and that someone was Branden Pinder (and Shreve, I guess). Pinder walked Donaldson leading off the seventh, gave up a double to Bautista, then was ordered to intentionally walk Encarnacion for some reason. Second and third with no outs against the best offense in baseball wasn’t bad enough, so the Yankees did the Blue Jays a solid and gave them a free base-runner. Not sure I like that move.

Andrew Bailey, reliever No. 5, inherited the jam and was able to limited the damage to just one run, which I guess was the best case scenario. Ex-Yankee Russell Martin lifted a two-strike sac fly to center to score Toronto’s fourth run of the evening. Bailey then tossed a perfect eighth as well. He looked really sharp. Easily the best he’s looked since coming up. Bailey might now be in the Circle of Trust™ by default. Joe Girardi definitely needs one more reliable reliever.

Nope. (Presswire)
Nope. (Presswire)

Last Chance
The Yankees had their last chance to get back into the game in the eighth inning, when they scored their first run. Aaron Sanchez gift-wrapped them a leadoff walk, then Ackley poked a single through the left side to put runners at the corners. That was it for Sanchez. His night was done. Blue Jays skipper John Gibbons went to lefty relief ace Brett Cecil, who allowed a run-scoring single to Ellsbury. I have no idea how Ellsbury hit that pitch. It was at the shoestrings and he slapped it up the box.

The Yankees were in business, with one run in and runners at first and second with the 2-3-4 hitters coming up. Rather than rally, Cecil struck out Gardner, A-Rod, and McCann on 15 total pitches. Those three took ten swings and missed four times. Cecil did get a favorable called strike three on Gardner — the breaking ball sailed in high (strike zone plot) — but I’m not sure it would have changed the outcome anyway. Cecil was dominant. A-Rod and McCann were completely overmatched. Those two came up empty not once, but twice Monday night in huge spots.


Greg Bird launched a solo home run to dead center off Roberto Osuna with two outs in the ninth, but by then it was too little, too late. The Yankees had just five hits — Bird’s homer and singles by Ellsbury (two), A-Rod, and Ackley — and two walks in the game. This was their 30th game with no more than five hits in 2015, sixth most in baseball.

The five relievers combined: one run on three hits and four walks (one intentional) in 4.2 innings. That’s pretty good! I think we all would have signed up for that when Warren walked off the mound in the third inning. The middle relief has been crazy shaky of late but they kept the Yankees in Monday’s game. Couldn’t ask for any more.

Box Score, WPA Graph & Standings
Here are the box score and video highlights for the game, and here are the updated standings and postseason odds for the season. The magic number to clinch a postseason spot remains eight. Make sure you check out our Bullpen Workload and Announcer Standings pages as well. Here’s the loss probability graph:

Source: FanGraphs

The Yankees and Blue Jays play the middle game of this three-game series Tuesday night. The pitching matchup will be Luis Severino and Marco Estrada. Severino’s two worst big league starts have come against Toronto. He’s allowed nine runs in 8.1 innings against the Blue Jays and seven runs in 35 innings against everyone else. Hopefully Severino can reverse that trend Tuesday.

Game 149: The Biggest Game of the Season, Again

(Adam Hunger/Getty)
(Adam Hunger/Getty)

Once again, the Yankees and Blue Jays are set to play their biggest game of the season. The Yankees arrived in Toronto today 2.5 games back of the Blue Jays in the AL East — two back in the loss column! — which means a sweep of this three-game series puts them in first place. A sweep against this Jays squad feels like it would be a minor miracle, however.

One game at a time though. Gotta win one before you can win three, as I’m sure someone said once upon a time. Adam Warren vs. David Price is tonight’s pitching matchup, and since this will be Warren’s second start back in the rotation, he’ll still be on a limited pitch count. That means we’ll see the bullpen at some point. Good thing the big three relievers all got a chance to rest last night, huh? Here is Toronto’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. 3B Chase Headley
  7. 1B Greg Bird
  8. SS Didi Gregorius
  9. 2B Dustin Ackley
    RHP Adam Warren

The internet tells me it was a very nice day in Toronto today. Sunny and cool with temperatures in the mid-60s. Looks like they’ll have the Rogers Centre roof open tonight and probably the rest of the series too. Tonight’s game will begin at 7:07pm ET and you can watch on YES. Enjoy the game.

Injury Update: Masahiro Tanaka (hamstring) remained in New York and went through a normal workout. He’s expected to either make his next start, or even pitch before that … Nathan Eovaldi (elbow) still has inflammation and will not throw for another week. That pretty much guarantees he won’t come back as a starting pitcher, even if the Yankees make a deep postseason run. There’s just not enough time to get him stretched all the way back out.

9/21 to 9/23 Series Preview: Toronto Blue Jays


Once again, it’s time for the biggest series of the season. It’s been the biggest series of the season the last three times the Yankees and Blue Jays met. They’ll play three games in Toronto this week, starting tonight. The Blue Jays have dominated the Yankees this season. They’re 11-5 against New York and have outscored them 73-48. That said, these clubs are an even 3-3 at Rogers Centre in 2015.

What Have The Blue Jays Done Lately?

Believe it or not, the Blue Jays lost their last series. The Red Sox did the Yankees a solid and took two of three in Toronto this weekend. The Blue Jays are 85-64 with +213 run differential overall. That’s the second best record in the AL and by far the best run differential in baseball. The Cardinals are a distance second at +113. A hundred run gap. Sheesh. The Yankees are 2.5 games back of Toronto in the AL East (two in the loss column).

Offense & Defense

By now you know the Blue Jays have a powerhouse offense. The best in baseball by a not small margin. They’re averaging 5.51 runs per game with a team 115 wRC+ this year, both the best marks in MLB, and that includes 5.57 runs per game and a team 125 wRC+ at home. It’s a great offense that’s even better at home. Toronto is currently without SS Troy Tulowitzki (shoulder), 2B Devon Travis (shoulder), OF Michael Saunders (knee), and IF Maicer Izturis (shoulder). None are due back this series.

Donaldson. (Presswire)
Donaldson. (Presswire)

Even without Tulowitzki, manager John Gibbons has three elite hitters in 3B Josh Donaldson (155 wRC+), OF Jose Bautista (146 wRC+), and 1B Edwin Encarnacion (148 wRC+). They have 39, 36, and 34 home runs, respectively. The Play Index tells me the last team to have three qualified hitters with at least 30 homers and a 145 OPS+ was the 2004 Cardinals (Albert Pujols, Jim Edmonds, Scott Rolen). Donaldson, Bautista, and Encarnacion are on pace to become the sixth such trio in history. Somehow the Yankees have never done it.

OF Ben Revere (96 wRC+), C Russell Martin (111 wRC+), OF Kevin Pillar (79 wRC+), and the first base platoon of 1B Justin Smoak (109 wRC+) and 1B/OF Chris Colabello (145 wRC+) is the supporting cast. IF Ryan Goins (84 wRC+) is playing short with Tulowitzki hurt and IF Cliff Pennington (53 wRC+) is at second. C Dioner Navarro (83 wRC+) is the backup catcher and OF Dalton Pompey is the designated September pinch-runner. C Josh Thole, IF Munenori Kawasaki, UTIL Matt Hague, OF Ezequiel Carrera, and IF Darwin Barney are the extra September players.

The Blue Jays are a very good defensive team even without Tulo. Their only below-average gloveman is whoever is playing first base on a given day. Martin, Donaldson, and Pillar are all elite at their positions while Goins, Bautista, and Pennington are above-average. Revere is average overall because he can’t throw at all. Arguably the worst outfield arm in the game. He does have range though. Toronto doesn’t get enough credit for being so well-rounded.

Pitching Matchups

Monday (7pm ET): RHP Adam Warren (vs. TOR) vs. LHP David Price (vs. NYY)
This is the fourth Yankees-Blue Jays series since the All-Star break, and, predictably, Price will pitch in all four. The 30-year-old southpaw has a 2.42 ERA (2.80 FIP) in 30 starts and 208.1 innings this season, making this the best year of his career. It’s even better than his Cy Young season back in 2012. His strikeout (25.9%), walk (5.4%), and homer (0.69 HR/9) rates are all great, and while his grounder rate (41.1%) is below-average, it doesn’t matter because he generates so much weak contact. Lefties (.289 wOBA) have actually hit Price harder than righties (.269 wOBA), which is a trend that started last year. Price is a pure power pitcher, living in the mid-90s with his two and four-seam fastballs, and a notch below that with his cutter. He also throws a nasty mid-80s changeup and a few upper-70s curves. Price locates everything very well. The best combination of power and command in the game. The Yankees have faced Price four times this season: eight runs in 2.1 innings in April, seven scoreless inning in early-August, three runs in 7.1 innings in mid-August, and two runs in five innings earlier this month.

Tuesday (7pm ET): RHP Luis Severino (vs. TOR) vs. RHP Marco Estrada (vs. NYY)
Estrada, 32, has a 3.14 ERA (4.42 FIP) in 160.1 innings spread across 25 starts and six relief appearances this summer. He started the year as the long man before moving into the rotation. His walk rate (7.9%) is about average but everything else is below-average: 18.1 K%, 32.3 GB%, and 1.18 HR/9. Estrada has been very homer prone throughout his career (career 1.36 HR/9), and while he was able to keep the ball in the park earlier this season, he’s now allowed ten homers in his last eight starts. Thanks to his upper-80s changeup, Estrada has had more success against lefties (.273 wOBA) than righties (.289 wOBA) both this year and throughout his career. An upper-80s four-seam fastball sets up that changeup as well as his upper-70s curveball. Like Price, Estrada has started against the Yankees four times this year: five runs in 4.2 innings in May, 6.1 scoreless innings in early-August, two runs in six innings in mid-August, and four runs in five innings last week.

Estrada. (Presswire)
Estrada. (Presswire)

Wednesday (7pm ET): RHP Ivan Nova (vs. TOR) vs. RHP Marcus Stroman (vs. NYY)
A torn ACL suffered during a fielding drill in Spring Training was supposed to end Stroman’s season, but his rehab went exceptionally well, and he was able to rejoin the rotation a week and a half ago. The 24-year-old has allowed four runs on ten hits and three walks in 12 innings so far, striking out five with a 68.4% ground ball rate. He had a 3.65 ERA (2.84 FIP) in 130.2 innings last year, his big league debut. Stroman throws six pitches regularly, led by his low-to-mid-90s two and four-seam fastballs. He also throws a low-90s cutter and sliders, curveballs, and changeups in the mid-80s. Stroman uses all of ’em. He’s quite unpredictable. The Yankees saw him in his first start off the DL last week, and scored three runs in five innings.

Bullpen Status
Thanks to some trade deadline pickups and roster shuffling, Gibbons now has a strong and deep bullpen at his disposal. Rookie RHP Roberto Osuna (2.38 ERA/2.91 FIP) is closing with ex-starter RHP Aaron Sanchez (3.27/4.77) and LHP Brett Cecil (2.77/2.71) handling setup duties. RHP Mark Lowe (1.53/2.15) will also see some high-leverage work from time-to-time.

RHP Drew Hutchison (5.33/4.25) was moved to the bullpen after Stroman rejoined the rotation. He joins RHP LaTroy Hawkins (2.57/3.15), RHP Liam Hendriks (2.52/1.99), LHP Aaron Loup (4.76/3.80), and RHP Bo Schultz (3.46/4.78) in the middle innings. RHP Steve Delabar, LHP Jeff Francis, RHP Chad Jenkins, and RHP Ryan Tepera are the extra September arms. Hendriks, Cecil, Lowe, and Hawkins all pitched yesterday.

Our Bullpen Workload page can keep you updated on the status of Joe Girardi‘s heavily used bullpen. Andrew Stoeten’s site is the place to go for Blue Jays news and analysis, though the language is not exactly family friendly. Consider yourself forewarned.

Yankeemetrics: Kings of New York (Sept. 18-20)

(AP Photo)
(AP Photo)

Queens Bombers
On Friday night the Yankees decided to go with a lineup that was missing their top-3 power bats and run producers (combined 86 homers and 249 RBI entering Friday) — Alex Rodriguez, Brian McCann and Mark Teixeira — to try and beat a Mets team that leads the NL in homers and runs scored in the second half of the season. The result was a three-homer barrage by the Mets and a 5-1 loss for the Yankees in the Subway Series opener at Citi Field. Sigh.

They wasted another solid outing by Masahiro Tanaka, who was pitching on regular rest for the second start in a row. After allowing two runs in six innings, he now has a 2.56 ERA in five starts on four days rest this season (and a 3.61 ERA in 18 starts on five-plus days rest).

Round number alert! This was Greg Bird’s 30th major-league game, and with seven homers and 21 RBI, he’s just the second player in franchise history to reach each of those totals within his first 30 career games. The other? Mr. Shane Spencer, who had 10 home runs and 29 RBI through 30 MLB games.

How do ya like them apples?
The Bronx Bombers reclaimed their nickname in Saturday’s 5-0 win, with all five runs scored on homers by Carlos Beltran and Brian McCann. Not only did those home runs help the Yankees win the game, but they also linked Beltran and McCann together with pretty good Hall of Fame backstops.

Beltran’s three-run shot in the first inning was his 389th career home run, tying Johnny Bench for 61st on all-time list. McCann extended the lead five frames later with a two-run blast, his 17th career home run against the Mets. The only catchers with more homers against the Mets are Gary Carter (24), Bench (23) and Javy Lopez (19).

Michael Pineda was pitching on extended (six days) rest, a situation that has caused a ton of problems for him in the past. He had no trouble in this game, though, throwing 5 1/3 scoreless innings. Before getting this win, Pineda was 0-6 with a 5.16 ERA in nine starts on six-plus days rest in a Yankee uniform.

There were a couple notable oddities in this game that probably would only happen in a September matchup. One was that the Yankees somehow used four second baseman: starter Dustin Ackley, Stephen Drew, Brendan Ryan and Rob Refsnyder. The only other time in the last 100 seasons that the Yankees used that many second baseman in a nine-inning game was June 22, 1978 in a 4-2 win over the Tigers.

Despite holding a 5-0 lead, Joe Girardi decided to use six relievers to get the final 11 outs because, in the words of the wise manager, “this is a game you can’t afford to give away.” Anyways, it made for a record-breaking afternoon. This is the first time in franchise history the Yankees used seven pitchers in a shutout win. And the 5-0 score is the largest shutout win by any major-league team in the last 100 years that used seven pitchers in the game. September baseball, gotta love it.

New York’s Ace
The Yankees made a statement on Sunday night with their 11-2 blowout victory over the Mets, clinching a series win in what probably was the most meaningful regular-season matchup between the two New York clubs. The nine-run win matches the Yankees’ biggest ever on the road against the Mets and the 11 runs are the most they’ve ever scored in the Queens.

If not for a thing called “innings limits,” the Yankees might never have won this game. Matt Harvey dominated the Yankees, striking out seven and allowing just one hit in five scoreless innings. He is the only Mets pitcher to pitch at least five innings and give up no more than one hit in a game against the Yankees.

With that near-perfect performance, he now has a 1.25 ERA with 24 strikeouts in three Subway Series starts. The only other active pitchers with an ERA that low and that many strikeouts against the Yankees are Chris Sale and Dallas Keuchel.

CC Sabathia was masterful in limiting the Mets to just one run on five hits in six innings pitched. He’s allowed no more than one earned run in each of his last three starts since coming off the DL, the first time he’s had a streak like that since a five-start run from June 25-July 16, 2011.

Dustin Ackley and Greg Bird had two of the biggest swings of the night, each hitting three-run homers once Harvey had departed. Those were the Yankees’ major-league-best 44th and 45th home runs with at least two men on base this season; next on the list is the Blue Jays … with 27.