Offense breaks out late in 6-1 win over White Sox

That series went pretty darn well. The Yankees took three of four from the White Sox this weekend thanks to Sunday afternoon’s 6-1 win. The offense broke out in the late innings and the pitching staff did a wonderful job for the second day in a row.

(Mike Stobe/Getty)
(Mike Stobe/Getty)

Early Opportunities
The Yankees had runners on base in every single inning against Erik Johnson except the fifth yet scored just one run, and they needed two errors to get that much. Jacoby Ellsbury drew a walk to leadoff the first, then Brett Gardner and Carlos Beltran reached on errors towards first base. They both hit grounders to Jose Abreu, who bobbled the ball, then botched the flip to the pitcher. Abreu was charged with both errors.

The walk and two errors loaded the bases with no outs, though the Yankees scored just one run on a Brian McCann sacrifice fly. Greg Bird struck out and Dustin Ackley was robbed of a two-run extra-base hit by J.B. Shuck in the right-center field gap. It was a great running catch. I didn’t think Shuck had any chance to run that ball down — I thought it was gone off the bat, actually — yet he made the catch at full speed. No dive necessary.

The following innings brought more opportunities but no more runs. There was a single in the second inning, two singles and a hit batsman in the third, and then a double and a walk in the fourth. None of those rallies led to runs. A mix of strikeouts and popups and even a caught stealing short-circuited the offense. It was … frustrating. The Yankees have been letting too run-scoring chances slip by of late.

(Mike Stobe/Getty)
(Mike Stobe/Getty)

Severino and the Double Plays
Precocious right-hander Luis Severino tossed six scoreless innings against the White Sox on Sunday despite having only one 1-2-3 inning. That was the third. Severino benefited from four double plays. Abreu singled in the first and was erased on Melky Cabrera‘s 6-6-3 double play. An error in the second — Severino missed the flip on a grounder to first — was erased on a strike ’em out, throw ’em out double play. Those are my favorite.

A 3-6-1 double play in the fourth helped Severino escape a jam after allowing back-to-back singles to start the frame. Severino did a great job stretching and making the scoop on the play. It was Teixeira-esque. With runners on first and third with one out in the fifth, Melky banged into another 6-6-3 double play to end the threat. Severino put some runners on base but was impressively able to bear down to make the pitches he needed. Lots of young pitchers would have let those situations spiral out of control.

All told, Severino allowed four singles, a double, and a walk in his six innings. He also made the error to allow another base-runner. Severino only struck out two — he only has five strikeouts in his last two starts (13.5%) — but did get 12 of his other 16 outs on the ground. That includes the double plays. Works for me. Outside of that one disaster start against the Blue Jays, Severino’s been pretty awesome. Couldn’t ask for anything more from the kid.

(Mike Stobe/Getty)
(Mike Stobe/Getty)

Insurance Runs!
A wild second run appeared in the sixth inning courtesy of Ackley’s leadoff home run into the second deck in right. He had that near double off Johnson in the first inning and was able to get another good swing against him in the sixth. The Yankees were winning at the time, but yeah, more runs were appreciated. Ackley continues to be pretty awesome in his new role as Not Stephen Drew.

The Yankees managed to score another run that inning thanks to back-to-back singles (Slade Heathcott and Brendan Ryan), a walk (Gardner), and a wild pitch. A good ol’ manufactured run. They scored their first run without the benefit of a hit and their third run scored on a wild pitch. Given how much the Yankees have been struggled to score runs of late — they came into Saturday having scored seven runs in his last four games — I’ll take ’em any way they come.

Two more runs scored in the eighth inning after Beltran started the rally with a leadoff single off the wall. One of those “he hit it so hard it was only a single” jobs. Pinch-runner Rico Noel made it all the way to third when Daniel Webb threw away a pickoff throw, then Bird singled him in for the team’s fifth run. A Chase Headley double, a Didi Gregorius walk, and a Heathcott sacrifice fly created run No. 6.

(Mike Stobe/Getty)
(Mike Stobe/Getty)

The Yankees went 3-for-19 (!) with runners in scoring position. One of the hits didn’t score a run either. That was Alex Rodriguez‘s pinch-hit infield single the seventh. I have no idea how to look it up, but the Yankees have to lead MLB in hits with runners in scoring position that don’t actually score a run. Ellsbury followed that with a single to left to score the team’s fourth run.

With the Yankees up three runs after six, Joe Girardi went to his usual late-inning relievers. Justin Wilson allowed a solo homer to pinch-hitter to Avisail Garcia in an otherwise perfect seventh inning. Dellin Betances pitched around a two-out double with a 4-1 lead in the eighth — his first 14 pitches were fastballs, which is unusual for Dellin — and Bryan Mitchell mopped things up with a 6-1 lead in the ninth.

Believe it or not, the Yankees had 13 hits in the game. Every starter had one except McCann, who drove in the first run with the sac fly. Ellsbury, Bird, and Heathcott each had two hits. Ten of the final 17 batters they sent to the plate reached base. That’s much more like it.

Box Score, WPA Graph & Standings
Here are the box score, video highlights, updated standings, and postseason odds. The magic number to clinch a postseason spot is three and the tragic number in the AL East is four. Here are our Bullpen Workload and Announcer Standings pages, and here’s the win probability graph:

Source: FanGraphs

Up Next
The Red Sox are coming to the Bronx for the final home series of the regular season. Ivan Nova and Eduardo Rodriguez will be the pitching matchup Monday night. Head over to RAB Tickets if you want to catch that game or any of the other three remaining home games live at Yankee Stadium.

Game 155: Severino Sunday


One week from today, the 2015 regular season will come to an end. The Yankees have a magic number of four to clinch a postseason spot, so it could happen as soon as tomorrow. That doesn’t mean they can rest easy though. First clinch, then rest. The sooner they clinch, the sooner we can start to look ahead to the wildcard game.

Luis Severino is on the mound this afternoon and as soon as he records his second out of the first inning, he will lose his rookie eligibility. No big deal, really, it just means he won’t be eligible for the Rookie of the Year next season. The same applies to Greg Bird — he lost his rookie eligibility with his second at-bat of yesterday’s game. Severino and Bird will just have to settle for the Cy Young and MVP next season instead of Rookie of the Year. No biggie. Here is the White Sox’s lineup and here is the Yankees’ lineup:

  1. CF Jacoby Ellsbury
  2. LF Brett Gardner
  3. DH Carlos Beltran
  4. C Brian McCann
  5. 1B Greg Bird
  6. 2B Dustin Ackley
  7. SS Didi Gregorius
  8. RF Slade Heathcott
  9. 3B Brendan Ryan
    RHP Luis Severino

It’s cloudy and cool in New York, though there’s no rain in the forecast this afternoon. Today’s game will begin a bit after 1pm ET and you can watch on YES. Enjoy the game.

Severino’s Sleeping Giant?

(Brian Blanco/Getty)
(Brian Blanco/Getty)

Back in April, if I told that Greg Bird and Luis Severino were getting significant time in August and September, y0u’d likely think that something had gone horribly wrong and the Yankees were no where near contending. Luckily, that hasn’t been the case and the Yankees are inching ever-closer to a playoff spot, thanks in large part to the contributions of Bird and Severino.

Severino was pressed into Major League service earlier than anticipated and he’s done much better than anticipated. Coming into today’s start against the White Sox, he owns a shiny 129 ERA+ and respectable strikeout numbers: 8.8 K/9 and a 23.07% strikeout rate. His walk rates (~10% and 3.8 per nine) and homer rates (15.9 HR/FB% and 1.3 per nine) are a touch high, but that’s excusable for a 21-year old in his first big league action. Along with Nathan Eovaldi‘s post-disaster start stretch, Severino’s performance has been the most pleasant pitching surprise for the Yankees in 2015.

One of the biggest problems young starters tend to face is turning a Major League lineup over multiple times during the course of the game. For the most part, Severino hasn’t run into this problem. His numbers tend to get better as the game goes on; take that with a grain of salt, though, as the first-time numbers could be skewed thanks to his 9/11 start against the Jays in which he gave up five hits–four for extra bases, including two homers–in the first inning alone. Still his numbers against teams the second and third times he sees them are solid. Severino’s three-pitch arsenal helps this, as he has a dynamite fastball, a strong slider, and a developing changeup. In fact, it’s that changeup that has helped him be so successful in turning lineups over.

Like most pitchers, Severino throws his fastball the most in any time through the order: 57.65 the first time; 44.88 the second; and 54.82 the third. His changeup, as you can see in the chart/graph, is least utilized each time through the lineup as well: 12.46; 16.17; 16.27. Changeup usage does ramp up slightly from first to second, then stays pretty consistent during the third. The changeup, though, has one interesting result that differentiates it from other pitches; it generates more whiffs-per-swing as the game goes on, whereas the other two pitches see a drop-off in whiff-per-swing, especially the slider.

In fact, of all his pitches, we could argue that the changeup has been Severino’s most effective pitch. It has the best whiff/swing rate; the best groundball rate; and the lowest home run rate (0.00!). This could be a result of relative scarcity: he’s thrown the pitch least often, so batters may not be used to it and aren’t able to do much to it. However, the results on the pitch seem encouraging enough for him to consider trying it more often. This will be dictated by whoever he’s facing because an RHP like Severino is less likely to throw a changeup to a lineup full of RHB. Still, given the velocity on the pitch, it acts a bit like a splitter, which is something a pitcher is able to throw to batters of both handedness (see Masahiro Tanaka).

Severino has three pitches, which is key to any pitcher’s success–remember all the frustration of A.J. Burnett‘s two-pitch assault? The next step for him in transitioning to big-time, big-league starter is feeling comfortable and confident enough to throw any pitch in any count to any batter. Given what we’ve seen so far, Severino’s changeup has the potential to be a great pitch; if he can learn to use it more frequently, he’ll go from potential great pitcher to great pitcher.

Yankees rally in the sixth for 2-1 win over White Sox

Source: FanGraphs

On Saturday, two runs were just enough. The Yankees rallied in the sixth inning for a 2-1 win over the White Sox in the third game of their four-game series. Give the pitching staff a gold star for this one. It’s Saturday, so let’s recap with bullet points:

  • Not A Starter: Adam Warren‘s third start back in the rotation was his best even though he allowed three hits and a run in the first inning. He escaped the jam, completed six full innings, and picked up a well-earned win. Warren struck out four and walked three — all three walks came in the fifth inning too — while throwing 88 pitches. After the messy first, Warren retired 16 of the final 19 men he faced. That’ll do nicely. Probably time to ship him back to the bullpen.
  • Two Two-Baggers: The offense sleepwalked through the first five innings of Saturday’s game, mustering three scattered singles and two walks. They were able to break the game open scratch across two runs in the sixth thanks to back-to-back doubles. Jacoby Ellsbury started the inning with a single, stole second, then scored on Chase Headley‘s ground-rule double into the left-center field gap. Alex Rodriguez drove in Headley with a ground-rule double off third baseman Mike Olt. It was a hard-hit grounder that deflected off Olt’s glove and hopped into the stands. That works. The Yankees will take runs however they can get ’em these days.
  • The Formula: One-run lead after six innings? We all knew what was coming next. Joe Girardi was going to his big three relievers. Justin Wilson struck out two in a perfect seventh, Dellin Betances got three quick outs in a perfect eighth, and Andrew Miller struck out two in a perfect ninth. Those three hits off Warren in the first inning? They were Chicago’s only hits of the day. Warren & Co. retired the final 13 White Sox batters.
  • Leftovers: The Yankees had seven hits, including two each by Ellsbury and Rob Refsnyder. It’s too bad they waiting so long to give Refsnyder Brendan Ryan‘s platoon at-bats at second … Headley, A-Rod, and Didi Gregorius also had hits while A-Rod, Carlos Beltran, Chris Young (two), and Brett Gardner drew walks … and finally, the Yankees have set a new AL single-season record with 573 strikeouts by their relievers. The old record? The 2014 Yankees with 571.

Here are the box score, video highlights, updated standings, and postseason odds. The magic number to clinch a postseason spot is four and the tragic number in the AL East is five. Here are our Bullpen Workload and Announcer Standings pages. The Yankees and White Sox wrap up this four-game series Sunday afternoon. It’ll be Luis Severino against Erik Johnson, not Jeff Samardzija.

Saturday Night Open Thread

Here is your open thread for the evening. FOX Sports 1 is showing the Brewers and Cardinals tonight, plus MLB Network will air a regional game as well. There’s also a bunch of college football on. Talk about those games or anything else right here.

Game 154: Nine to Go


Counting today, there are only nine games left in the regular season. That kinda sucks. The good news is the Yankees are in position to go to the postseason this year, though they haven’t clinched anything yet. The magic number for a wildcard spot is five — it’s five for the first wildcard spot as well since the Astros and Angels have the same number of losses — and it would be cool to clinch during the homestand. Six games to get to get the job done.

Of course, the Yankees would actually need to score some runs for that to happen. The offense has been scuffling for weeks now — they’re averaging 3.75 runs per game in their last 12 games but man, it sure feels like less — because way too many players have hit the skids in the second half. Half the lineup, basically. Nine games left in the regular season to get the offense back on track. Here is the White Sox’s lineup and here is the Yankees’ lineup:

  1. CF Jacoby Ellsbury
  2. 3B Chase Headley
  3. DH Alex Rodriguez
  4. RF Carlos Beltran
  5. C Brian McCann
  6. LF Chris Young
  7. 1B Greg Bird
  8. SS Didi Gregorius
  9. 2B Rob Refsnyder
    RHP Adam Warren

There are a few clouds in the sky this afternoon but not many. No rain in the forecast or anything like that. Pretty nice autumn afternoon for a game. First pitch is scheduled for 4:05pm ET and you can watch on WPIX. Enjoy.

Injury Updates: Masahiro Tanaka (hamstring) continued to undergo treatment and feels better. Joe Girardi said they haven’t decided when he will make his next start, but they expect him to pitch again in the regular season … Nathan Eovaldi (elbow) played catch for the first time Friday. He’ll throw again this week. Girardi stated the obvious, saying if Eovaldi does return at some point this year, it’ll be as a reliever.