Yankeemetrics: Massive skid extends into break (July 7-9)

(AP)
(AP)

Groundhog Day in July
Another series, another bullpen failure, and the epic freefall continued with an embarrassing 9-4 loss on Friday night against the Brewers. The all-too-familiar late-inning implosion led to the Yankees 17th blown save, tying the Rangers for the most in MLB, and officially passing their total from last year. Yup, it’s July 10th.

Tyler Clippard once again was the conductor of this bullpen trainwreck, surrendering the game-losing runs in the seventh inning on a tie-breaking grand slam by Jesus Aguilar. Getting pummeled in key late-inning situations is nothing new for Clippard. Batters are slugging .711 against him in high-leverage plate appearances, the highest mark among major-league pitchers this season (min. 50 batters faced). And, for reference, Aaron Judge was slugging .701 after Friday’s game.

Clippard now has 11 Meltdowns – a metric at FanGraphs which basically answers the question of whether a relief pitcher hurt his team’s chance of winning a game. Those 11 Meltdowns are the most for any AL pitcher and tied with Blake Treinen (Nationals) and Brett Cecil (Cardinals) for the major-league lead.

And if the late-inning self-destruction wasn’t depressing enough, the Yankees also failed to take advantage of a sloppy five-error defensive performance by the Brewers.

You have to go back more than five years to find a team that lost a game despite their opponent committing five errors – the Giants against the Diamondbacks on April 8, 2012. And the last time the Yankees suffered such a mistake-filled loss was July 9, 1995 vs. the Rangers.

The one thing that salvaged this game from being another W.L.O.T.S. (Worst Loss of The Season) was – no surprise – another record-breaking performance by Aaron Judge. He hammered his 30th home run of the season in the fifth inning, becoming the first Yankee rookie ever to hit 30 homers. Forget the rookie qualification, Judge is only the third player in franchise history to hit 30-or-more homers before the All-Star break, joining Alex Rodriguez (30 in 2007) and Roger Maris (33 in 1961).

(USA Today Sports)
(USA Today Sports)

Boom goes Frazier!
With the Yankees down 3-2 in the bottom of the ninth and staring at another soul-crushing defeat on Saturday afternoon, Clint Frazier came to the rescue and stunningly flipped a near-disaster loss into a rousing walk-off party, drilling a 97-mph fastball over the left field fences for the win.

Showing off his “legendary bat speed,” Frazier made a serious dent in the Yankee record books:

  • Before Frazier, the last Yankee to hit a walk-off homer against the Brewers was Roberto Kelly on Sept. 18, 1991.
  • He is the youngest Yankee (22 years, 305 days) with a walk-off dinger since a 21-year-old Melky Cabrera on July 18, 2006 versus the Mariners.
  • Frazier is the first Yankee rookie to hit a walk-off homer that turned a deficit into a win since Bobby Murcer on Aug. 5, 1969 against the Angels.
  • And, he is the youngest Yankee ever to launch a walk-off home run with his team trailing.

frazier-walk-off-gif

Frazier’s historic game-winning hit capped off a three-hit, four-RBI day by the red-headed rookie:

First, his single in the bottom of the fifth inning broke up Brent Suter’s no-hit bid and also completed the “career cycle” – Frazier’s first three hits in the majors were a home run, triple and double. Then, his run-scoring triple in the seventh inning cut the Yankees deficit to 3-2, and made him the youngest Yankee with a triple in back-to-back games since a 22-year-old Don Mattingly on July 30-31, 1983.

Finally, let’s hand out our Obscure Yankeemetric of the Series to Mr. Frazier: He is the first Yankee to be a double short of the cycle in a game since Derek Jeter on April 30, 2010, and the youngest to do that since Mickey Mantle on May 22, 1954.

As the late-game struggles have become a recurring nightmare in recent weeks, it’s easy to forget that we had anointed this team as the Comeback Kids during the first two months. Saturday was the third time the Yankees won a game in which they trailed entering the ninth inning, matching their entire total from all of last season.

Luis Severino struggled out of the gate when he put the Yankees in a 3-0 hole after giving up a three-run bomb in the first inning. Aside from that rocky start, the 23-year-old right-hander was brilliant in blanking the Brewers for six more frames. He finished with 10 strikeouts, the fourth time this year he’s struck out double-digit guys. Severino is the youngest Yankee ever with four 10-strikeout games this early into the season (game number 85).

Aaron Judge didn’t give us any home run heroics, but still added to his unprecedented statistical rookie season on Saturday with his 60th walk – highlighting his rare combo of patience, power and production. Judge is the first player in major-league history age-25-or-younger to pile up at least 30 homers, 60 walks and 95 hits before the All-Star break.

(Getty)
(Getty)

Bad Tanaka is back
There would be no inspiring comeback, no walk-off magic, no wild celebration in Sunday’s rubber game as the Yankees headed to the All-Star break on the heels of another disheartening loss. They ended the unofficial first half of the season with one of their worst extended slumps in the last quarter century, going 0-7-1 in their final eight series and losing 18 of their last 25 games.

The last time the Yankees went eight straight series without a series win — and lost at least seven of them — was August/September 1991. Before this season, they hadn’t endured a 25-game stretch that included at least 18 losses since May/June 1995. And then there’s this sobering fact … the last time the Yankees actually won a series (June 9-11), the Cleveland Cavaliers were still the reigning NBA champions.

The most frustrating part of the game was the Yankees endless string of bad clutch hitting, as they went 1-for-16 with runners in scoring position. It was their worst single-game performance in that situation (min. 15 at-bats) since a 1-for-17 effort on June 8, 2014 against the Royals.

Aside from the pathetic Yankee bats, the biggest culprit in Sunday’s loss was Masahiro Tanaka, who put the Yankees in an early 4-0 hole after the Brewers crushed two homers in the first two innings off him. That brought his dinger total to 23, one more than he coughed during the entire 2016 season.

While much has been made of his weird day/night splits (7-3, 3.10 ERA in night games; 0-5, 14.81 ERA in day games), the more troubling split is his performance versus teams with a .500 or better record compared to a losing record. He’s now 1-5 with a 10.87 ERA in six starts against winning teams, and 6-3 with a 3.66 ERA in 12 starts vs losing teams.

For the second straight day Clint Frazier did his best to rally the troops, belting a two-run opposite-field homer in the fourth inning to cut the Yankees deficit to one run. It was his third home run in seven career games, the fourth Yankee to go yard that many times within their first seven major-league contests. It’s quite an eclectic list: Shelley Duncan, Jesus Montero and Steve Whitaker are the others.

Aaron Judge went 1-for-4 with a walk and heads to the All-Star festivities with an unreal batting line of .329/.448/.691. Since the first Mid-Summer Classic in 1933, Judge is the only Yankee right-handed batter to enter the break with at least a .320 batting average, .440 on-base percentage and .690 slugging percentage (min. 200 at-bats).

Fan Confidence Poll: July 10th, 2017

Record Last Week: 2-4 (25 RS, 31 RA)
Season Record: 45-41 (477 RS, 379 RA, 52-34 pythag. record)
Opponents This Week: All-Star break (Mon. to Thurs.), @ Red Sox (four games, Fri. to Sun.)

Top stories from last week:

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

Given the team's current roster construction, farm system, management, etc., how confident are you in the Yankees' overall future?
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DotF: Holliday continues rehab, McKinney homers in AAA loss

2017 Futures Game (USA wins 7-6)

  • RHP Domingo Acevedo: 1 IP, 4 H, 3 R, 3 ER, 0 BB, 0 K, 0/1 GB/FB — 18 of 22 pitches were strikes (82%) … the first five batters squared him up pretty good … clearly Acevedo is a bust and the Yankees should trade him for [insert random middle reliever] before his stock drops any further
  • RF Estevan Florial: 0-1, 1 R, 1 BB, 1 K — he entered the game in the fifth inning … Florial struck out against Royals LHP Foster Griffin and walked against Athletics LHP A.J. Puk … he also tagged up from first and advanced to second on a foul pop-up near the first base dugout, which is pretty nuts (here’s video)

Triple-A Scranton (5-2 loss to Lehigh Valley)

  • CF Mason Williams: 1-4, 1 R, 1 K, 1 SB — threw a runner out at second
  • DH Matt Holliday: 1-4, 1 RBI, 1 K — 3-for-8 (.375) with two strikeouts in his two rehab games
  • LF Billy McKinney: 1-4, 1 R, 1 HR, 1 RBI, 1 K — four homers in his last eight games
  • 3B Miguel Andujar: 1-4
  • SS Abi Avelino: 0-4, 1 K
  • RHP Domingo German: 3.1 IP, 1 H, 2 R, 2 ER, 1 BB, 4 K, 1/5 GB/FB — 29 of 44 pitches were strikes (66%)
  • RHP Gio Gallegos: 2 IP, zeroes, 4 K, 0/1 GB/FB — 19 of 26 pitches were strikes (73%)

[Read more…]

Wasted chances send Yankees to 5-3 loss to Brewers


Source: FanGraphs
The Yankees were able to squeeze in one last frustrating loss before the All-Star break. Thanks for that, guys. The offense left a small army of runners on base in Sunday afternoon’s 5-3 loss to the Brewers. The Yankees are now 0-7-1 in their last eight series. That is: bad. It’s Sunday, so I’m going to take the easy way out with a bullet point recap:

  • Early Deficit: Masahiro Tanaka has pitched pretty darn well the last month or so, but his home run troubles returned Sunday, and they put the Yankees in an early 4-0 hole. Travis Shaw clubbed a long three-run home run into the right field bleachers in the first inning, then Stephen Vogt tacked on a solo shot in the second. Tanaka couldn’t make it out of the fifth and finished the afternoon having allowed five runs on six hits and one walk in 4.1 innings. Hopefully this was just a blip and Tanaka can built on those last few good starts in the second half.
  • Back In The Game: The Yankees made things interesting in the fourth and cut Milwaukee’s lead to 4-3. A single (Jacoby Ellsbury), a stolen base, another single (Chase Headley), and a homer (Clint Frazier) accounted for those three runs. Frazier can really hit, eh? Also, props to the bullpen. Chasen Shreve allowed one of Tanaka’s inherited runners to score, otherwise five relievers (Shreve, Adam Warren, Tyler Webb, Chad Green, Aroldis Chapman) combined for 4.2 IP, 3 H, 0 R, 2 BB, 8 K. They gave the offense a chance.
  • Blown Opportunities: The last few innings were the mother of all RISPFAILs. The Yankees had the tying run on base in each of the last five innings and the go-ahead run on base in the sixth, seventh, and eighth. Leadoff single and walk in the sixth? Wasted. One-out single and two-out walk in the seventh? Wasted. Two-out strikeout/wild pitch and walk in the eighth? Wasted. Wasted wasted wasted. The Yankees went 1-for-16 (.063) with runners in scoring position. Dude.
  • Leftovers: Headley narrowly missed a go-ahead three-run home run in the sixth inning. It sailed maybe a foot foul down the right field line. The umpires originally called it a homer and Headley trotted around the bases. It was overturned on replay. Alas … two hits for Headley and one each for everyone in the starting lineup except Didi Gregorius and Ji-Man ChoiBrett Gardner stole two bases and Ellsbury had one. This was the sixth game with at least three steals by the Yankees this season. Felt like the first.

Here are the box score, video highlights, and updated standings. Don’t miss our Bullpen Workload page either. The Yankees are now scattering for the All-Star break — Aaron Judge, Gary Sanchez, Starlin Castro, Luis Severino, and Dellin Betances will be at the All-Star Game (Judge and Sanchez are in the Home Run Derby) — and will reconvene at Fenway Park for the start of the second half on Friday. Enjoy the break, guys. Come back and kick butt.

2017 Futures Game Thread

Acevedo. (Icon Sportswire)
Acevedo. (Icon Sportswire)

The Yankees are wrapping up their first half at home against the Brewers this afternoon, and, down in Miami, baseball’s best young players are being showcased at Marlins Park. It’s the Futures Game, in which the game’s top prospects are put together on one field for the express purpose of promoting baseball’s future.

OF Estevan Florial and RHP Domingo Acevedo are representing the Yankees in the Futures Game this year. SS Gleyber Torres almost certainly would have been there had he not blown out his elbow a few weeks ago. It’s possible the Yankees held RHP Chance Adams out of the Futures Game because they’re planning to call him up at some point soon. I guess we’ll find out soon enough. Here are the lineups.

Team USA
1. SS Nick Gordon, Twins
2. CF Lewis Brinson, Brewers
3. LF Derek Fisher, Astros
4. 1B Rhys Hoskins, Phillies
5. 3B Nick Senzel, Reds
6. RF Kyle Tucker, Astros
7. DH Brian Anderson, Marlins
8. C Chance Sisco, Orioles
9. 2B Brendan Rodgers, Rockies
RHP Bent Honeywell, Rays

World Team
1. 2B Yoan Moncada, White Sox
2. LF Alex Verdugo, Dodgers
3. SS Amed Rosario, Mets
4. 3B Rafael Devers, Red Sox
5. CF Ronald Acuna, Braves
6. RF Eloy Jimenez, Cubs
7. DH Vlad Guerrero Jr., Blue Jays
8. 1B Josh Naylor, Padres
9. C Francisco Mejia, Indians
RHP Yadier Alvarez, Dodgers

Acevedo is tentatively scheduled to pitch the fourth inning for the World Team. Florial is going to come off the bench at some point. Everybody plays in the Futures Game. It’s not like the All-Star Game where some guys stay on the bench. Acevedo, Florial, and every other Futures Gamer will play at some point this afternoon.

The Futures Game will begin at 4pm ET and you can watch on MLB Network and stream live on MLB.com. The Marlins Park roof is closed, so the weather isn’t an issue. Enjoy the game.

Game 86: End the Half on a High Note

Welcome to the Bronx, Clint. (Al Bello/Getty Images)
Welcome to the Bronx, Clint. (Al Bello/Getty Images)

Within a span of thirty seconds yesterday, Clint Frazier made much of the annoyance and consternation of the last four weeks feel, at the very least, a bit less severe. Yes, the Yankees are still 3.5 games out of first; and, yes, one moment does not erase one of the most disappointing stretches in recent memory. However, watching Frazier round the bases as the team crowded home plate reminded us of two things – one, this team is capable of greatness, and, two, the Yankees are still fun.

Let’s see more of that today.

The pitching match-up could be described as a battle of aces, with the recently resurgent Masahiro Tanaka squaring-off against Jimmy Nelson. Here’s the Brewers lineup that Tanaka will face. The Yankees will trot out:

  1. Brett Gardner, LF
  2. Aaron Judge, RF
  3. Didi Gregorius, SS
  4. Gary Sanchez, C
  5. Jacoby Ellsbury, CF
  6. Chase Headley, 3B
  7. Clint Frazier, DH
  8. Ji-Man Choi, 1B
  9. Tyler Wade, 2B

The first pitch is scheduled for 1:05 PM, and you can catch it on the YES Network.

Selling Points

brian-cashman-deadline
(Getty)

What a difference a month makes, huh? Through June and early July, the Yankees have suffered both injuries and insults–mostly in the form of bullpen meltdowns–on their way out of first place in the AL East. Still, they’re in playoff position as they lead in the wildcard spot, which is of comfort; they are also within striking distance of the now first place Red Sox with plenty of baseball left to play. In a vacuum, this team would be in buy-like-crazy mode, especially given the problems its had at first base all year and the bullpen recently, not to mention the rotation. Like always, though, there isn’t a vacuum and there’s a big mitigating factor at play.

This success–however tempered by the last five weeks or so–is unexpected. 2017 was not the year the Yankees were supposed to compete for anything more than a shot at the second wildcard. Now, the playoffs seem a real possibility. While that’s great for obvious reasons, it does somewhat betray the long term plan the organization had going into this year. Once again, the team will have to strike the delicate balance that defines the Yankees: win now AND later. They’re finally set up to do the latter more than the former, but they’ve also managed to do the former.

How the Yankees could buy is obvious. By all accounts, their farm system is–at worst–top five in the league. Even with Gleyber Torres injured, they have a blend of depth and upside in the minors that is (likely) the envy of many around baseball. Should they choose to, the Yankees could deal from a position of strength and depth by upgrading the major league roster at the expense of the minor league one.

But what happens if the Yankees continue to slip? It’s not likely as they’ll soon have players like Starlin Castro and Matt Holliday rejoining them from the disabled list, but let’s play what if. What if the Yankees find themselves in a position to sell again? Ask this a month ago–which was unthinkable at the time, really–and things would’ve seemed a lot better. Despite that, the Yankees do have some valuable pieces they could auction off.

The cons of trading all of these players are obvious–the Yankees need them for the stretch run. Each may have his own reasons, too, but that’s the overarching one.

First up are those two who’ll be returning: Matt Holliday and Starlin Castro. Both have obvious value as bats in any lineup, especially contending ones. Holliday, though, would likely be limited to AL teams. As for Castro, many might recognize this as the absolute top of his market–despite the injury–and avoid paying said cost.

Tyler Clippard would be next, but he completely demolished his own value over the last month plus, pitching like someone who hardly belongs in the big leagues.

Then there’s the real wildcard, Masahiro Tanaka. While he was shaky to start the year, that’s clearly atypical of him; he’s proven his mettle and worth over the last three plus seasons and on talent alone, he’s probably the Yankees’ best Major League trade piece not named Judge, Sanchez, or Frazier. But with his opt out, his trade value is diminished. No one likes uncertainty.

In all likelihood, the Yankees will not be sellers at this deadline. They’re going to be close and they’re going to owe it to their players to give an honest shot at things, even if this is ahead of schedule. If they’re lucky, they can maybe pull off the best of both worlds: improve the major league team by dealing prospects and selling off a major league piece to help replenish the minor league depth. That’s probably a pipe dream, but this season has sort of been one itself, hasn’t it?