Archive for Series Preview

No George Springer this week. (Presswire)

No George Springer this week. (Presswire)

After a six-game turned five-game because of a rainout road trip, the Yankees are back home in the Bronx for a six-game homestand. They’re going to face two really bad teams and winning four of the six is the bare minimum at this point if they want to get back in the postseason race. The Astros are in town for three games starting tonight. The Yankees lost two of three in Houston way back in April, the very first series of the season.

What Have They Done Lately?

Like the Yankees, the Astros were off on Monday. They split a four-game series with the Red Sox up in Fenway Park over the weekend and have lost eight of their last 13 games overall. Houston is 52-73 with a -91 run differential in 2014, both the third worst marks in baseball. To their credit, Houston has already won more games this year than they did last year (51-111).

Offense

Manager Bo Porter’s club averages 4.01 runs per game with a team 97 wRC+, so they’re just a touch below-averageoffensively. Better than the Yankees (3.94 and 92, respectively), anyway. The Astros are currently without OF George Springer (125 wRC+) and OF Alex Presley (82 wRC+) due to quad and oblique injuries, and neither will return this series. Bummed we won’t see Springer. UTIL Jesus Guzman (56 wRC+) is out with a back problem but could be activated off the disabled list sometime this week.

Altuve. (Getty)

Altuve. (Getty)

The Houston lineup revolves around 2B Jose Altuve (131 wRC+), who leads the league in average (.339) and steals (46). His reputation outweighed his production the last few years — I’m convinced it’s because he’s really short, similar to how Melky Cabrera was overrated while with the Yankees because he had a cool name — but he is definitely performing like a true star right now. 1B/OF Chris Carter (127 wRC+) strikes out a ton (30.4%) but he has ten homers and a 186 wRC+ over the last 30 days. OF Dexter Fowler (129 wRC+) just came off the disabled list a week ago. Altuve, Carter, and Fowler are the stars of the show with Springer injured.

The rest of Porter’s lineup includes former first rounders C Jason Castro (94 wRC+) and 3B Matt Dominguez (72 wRC+). Castro has had a disappointing follow up to last summer’s breakout year. OF Robbie Grossman (94 wRC+) and OF Jake Marisnick (53 wRC+) both see time in the outfield and 1B Jon Singleton (87 wRC+) plays first. He signed a five-year, $10M extension before ever playing in a MLB game. I bet the lefty swinger takes advantage of the short porch at least once this week. IF Gregorio Petit (100 wRC+ in very limited time) and IF Marwin Gonzalez (96 wRC+) share time at shortstop. 1B/OF Marc Krauss (78 wRC+) and C Carlos Corporan (88 wRC+) fill out the bench.

Pitching Matchups

Tuesday: LHP Chris Capuano (vs. HOU) vs. LHP Brett Oberholtzer (vs. NYY)

Oberholtzer, 25, has gone down to Triple-A a few times this year despite a solid 3.87 ERA (3.68 FIP) in 17 starts and 104.2 innings at the MLB level. He excels at limiting walks (1.89 BB/9 and 5.0 BB%) and does keep the ball in the park (0.77 HR/9 and 5.9 HR/FB%), but both his strikeout (5.68 K/9 and 14.9 K%) and ground ball (37.0%) numbers are unimpressive. Righties (.326 wOBA) have hit him a bit harder than lefties (.300 wOBA), and he’s been more successful on the road (.305 wOBA) than at home (.330 wOBA). Oberholtzer is a classic finesse southpaw, sitting right around 90 mph with his fastball while throwing both his changeup and curveball in the low-80s. He held the Yankees to three runs in 5.2 innings back in April.

Wednesday: RHP Michael Pineda (vs. HOU) vs. RHP Scott Feldman (vs. NYY)

The Astros finally decided to spend some money this past offseason, and most of it went to the 31-year-old Feldman. He got three years and $30M. Feldman has a 4.45 ERA (4.40 FIP) in 22 starts and 129.1 innings this year — he missed time with a biceps injury — even though his walk (2.78 BB/9 and 7.1 BB%), homer (0.84 HR/9 and 8.4 HR/FB%), and ground ball (44.7%) rates are more or less in line with his career norms. His strikeout rate (4.94 K/9 and 12.6 K%) is way down though, plus he has minimal platoon and home/road splits. Feldman is primarily a low-90s sinker/upper-80s cutter/mid-70s curveball pitcher, though he will throw the occasional mid-80s splitter that serves as his changeup. The Yankees did not score in 6.2 innings against the right-hander on Opening Day.

(Brian Garfinkel/Getty)

(Brian Garfinkel/Getty)

Thursday: RHP Brandon McCarthy (vs. HOU) vs. LHP Dallas Keuchel (vs. NYY)

Keuchel, 26, has broken out in a huge way this season, pitching to a 3.11 ERA (3.31 FIP) in 23 starts and 156.1 innings. His strikeout (6.91 K/9 and 18.8 K%), walk (2.30 BB/9 and 6.3 BB%), and homer (0.58 HR/9 and 10.6 HR/FB%) rates are lower than the league averages, and his 61.8% ground ball rate is the highest in baseball by roughly five percentage points. Also, as Mark Simon notes, Keuchel has the tenth lowest hard-hit ball rate in baseball, so he’s getting a ton of weak contact on the ground. That’s a great way to keep runs off the board. Righties (.311 wOBA) are a bit more successful than lefties (.286 wOBA), though he does not have a significant home/road split at all. Keuchel gets all those weak grounders with upper-80s two and four-seam fastballs, plus he’ll mix in some mid-80s cutters. An upper-70s slider is his top secondary pitch and he’ll also throw a handful of upper-70s changeups per start. He’s basically a two-seamer/slider pitcher who will show a four-seamer and changeup. The Yankees did not see Keuchel when these two teams met in April.

Bullpen Status

The Astros spent some money on relievers this year, and ex-Yankee RHP Chad Qualls (3.11 FIP) has taken over as closer. RHP Jesse Crain has not pitched at all in 2014 due to continued arm problems and RHP Matt Albers has missed most of the season with a shoulder issue. Veterans LHP Tony Sipp (2.87 FIP) and ex-Yankee RHP Jose Veras (4.92 FIP) are Qualls’ primary setup men, though RHP Josh Fields (2.17 FIP) will see important innings as well.

The rest of Porter’s bullpen includes RHP Jake Buchanan (4.36 FIP), LHP Kevin Chapman (7.88 FIP in very limited time), LHP Darin Downs (3.29 FIP), and RHP Mike Foltynewicz (5.26 FIP in very limited time). Foltynewicz is a top prospect who was called up not too long ago and he throws very, very hard. Like every other team these days (it seems), the Astros are carrying eight relievers at the moment. Both of these teams were off Monday, so the bullpens are as fresh as it gets in mid-August. Check out our Bullpen Workload page for details on Joe Girardi‘s bullpen, then check out Astros County and Crawfish Boxes for the latest and greatest on the Astros.

Update: The Astros activated Guzman off the disabled list and sent Downs to Triple-A, the team announced. There you go.

Categories : Series Preview
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(Getty)

(Getty)

A few weeks ago, this series looked it would be a battle for postseason position. Instead it’s a trade deadline seller against an almost non-contender. The AL East isn’t what it once was, folks. The Yankees have lost seven of ten games to the Rays this season. They split four games at Tropicana Field back in April.

What Have They Done Lately?
The Rays just took three of four from the awful Texas Rangers and went 6-4 on their ten-game road trip overall. At 60-61 with a +21 run differential, Tampa is in fourth place in the AL East, two games behind the Yankees. The Bombers have to win at least one game this weekend to avoid falling into fourth place.

Offense
With an average of 3.99 runs per game and a team 104 wRC+, the Rays are both below-average and above-average offensively at the same time. They’re getting hits, just not bunched together. Tampa is currently without OF Wil Myers (94 wRC+) and OF David DeJesus (134 wRC+), who are on the disabled list with wrist and shoulder injuries, respectively. Myers is on a rehab assignment but is not expected to rejoin the team this weekend. C Ryan Hanigan (88 wRC+) is also on the disabled list with an oblique problem and IF Desmond Jennings (106 wRC+) is day-to-day with a shoulder issue.

(Marilyn Indahl/Getty)

(Marilyn Indahl/Getty)

As usual, manager Joe Maddon’s lineup is built around 3B Evan Longoria (103 wRC+), though he is having a very down year by his standards. His six-year, $100M extension doesn’t kick in until 2017. They better hope this year is just a blip. OF Matt Joyce (130 wRC+) is having a strong year, ditto 2B/OF Ben Zobrist (128 wRC+). OF Kevin Kiermaier (130 wRC+) has been a pleasant surprise since coming up to replace Myers. 1B James Loney (105 wRC+) is having a typical James Loney year, which means not 2013.

C Jose Molina (31 wRC+) splits catching duty with C Curt Casali (41 wRC+ in limited time) now that Hanigan is on the disabled list. OF Brandon Guyer (111 wRC+) backs up in the outfield while UTIL Sean Rodriguez (111 wRC+) and UTIL Logan Forsythe (94 wRC+) play just about everywhere. Rodriguez destroys the Yankees, as I’m sure you know. SS Yunel Escobar (91 wRC+) is the everyday shortstop. Tampa Bay is carrying only three bench players at the moment.

Pitching Matchups

Friday: RHP Brandon McCarthy (vs. TB) vs. RHP Alex Cobb (vs. NYY)
With David Price traded away and Matt Moore out following Tommy John surgery, the 26-year-old Cobb is the team’s de facto ace. He has a 3.41 ERA (3.43 FIP) in 18 starts and 108.1 innings this year while missing a few weeks with an oblique strain. His strikeout (8.47 K/9 and 22.5 K%), walk (2.66 BB/9 and 7.1 BB%), homer (0.75 HR/9 and 10.6 HR/FB%), and ground ball (57.5%) rates all range from very good to excellent. Thanks to his knockout mid-80s changeup, lefties (.266 wOBA) have actually had less success against Cobb (.315 wOBA) than righties. His two and four-seamers sit in the low-90s and he’ll also throw a bunch of low-80s curveballs. The Yankees have not faced Cobb this year.

Saturday: RHP Shane Greene (No vs. TB) vs. LHP Drew Smyly (vs. NYY)
Smyly, 25, was part of the Price trade, arguably the centerpiece. He has a 3.73 ERA (3.84 FIP) in 118.1 innings across 20 starts and three relief appearances in 2014, though only his walk rate (2.74 BB/9 and 7.2 BB%) stands out. His strikeout (7.91 K/9 and 20.9 K%), homerun (1.06 HR/9 and 9.6 HR/FB%), and ground ball (37.0%) numbers are nothing to write home about. Righties (.376 wOBA) have hit him a ton harder than lefties (.208 wOBA). Smyly has one of the biggest platoon splits in the game. He operates with a mid-80s slider and three fastballs: low-90s four-seamers, upper-80s two-seamers, and mid-80s cutters. He’ll also throw a handful of low-80s changeups per start. Smyly has not faced the Yankees this year and he went three runs in 5.1 innings and 7.2 shutout innings in his first two starts with the Rays.

Hellickson. (Brian Blanco/Getty)

Hellickson. (Brian Blanco/Getty)

Sunday: RHP Hiroki Kuroda (vs. TB) vs. RHP Jeremy Hellickson (vs. NYY)
Elbow surgery kept the 27-year-old Hellickson on the shelf until early last month, so he’s only made five starts and thrown 26.2 innings this year. His walk rate (2.03 BB/9 and 5.5 BB%) is low, as are his strikeout (6.75 K/9 and 18.4 K%) and ground ball (30.5%) rates. Aside from 2013, Hellickson has consistently outperformed his peripherals because he’s adept at getting infield pop-ups and other weak contact. His homer rate (1.01 HR/9 and 7.3 HR/FB%) is about average and lefties (.274 wOBA) have had a tougher time against him than righties (.330 wOBA). Hellickson works with both a four-seam and two-seam fastball at right around 90 mph, and his go-to secondary pitch is an upper-70s changeup. He’ll also throw some mid-70s curves per start. Hellickson has failed to complete five full innings of work in three of his five starts off elbow surgery.

Bullpen Status
RHP Grant Balfour (4.16 FIP) has struggled this year, so Maddon has been using a closer by committee for several weeks now. LHP Jake McGee (1.22 FIP) has been outstanding and gets the ball in the most important spots regardless of inning. Sometimes the seventh, sometimes the eighth, sometimes the ninth. RHP Joel Peralta (3.73 FIP) and RHP Brad Boxberger (2.66 FIP) also work the late innings.

The rest of the bullpen includes LHP Jeff Beliveau (3.92 FIP in limited time), RHP Brandon Gomes (5.34 FIP), RHP Kirby Yates (3.00 FIP), and LHP Cesar Ramos (4.25 FIP). McGee, Boxberger, and Beliveau all pitched yesterday. The Yankees had two of the last three days off, so their bullpen is generally well-rested. Dellin Betances might not be available tonight after his extended outing on Wednesday, but that’s it. Check out our Bullpen Workload page for recent reliever usage, then check out The Process Report for everything you need to know about the Rays.

Categories : Series Preview
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(Rob Carr/Getty)

(Rob Carr/Getty)

For all intents and purposes, this three-game series against the Orioles in Camden Yards will determine whether the Yankees have a realistic chance of winning the AL East this season, or if they’ll have to focus solely on the wildcard. The O’s have won two of three in each of the first three series these two teams have played this year.

What Have They Done Lately?
The Orioles outscored the Cardinals 25-13 this weekend but “only” won two of three. They’ve won six of their last eight games and are 15-8 since the All-Star break. Baltimore is 67-50 with a +48 run differential, giving them the biggest division lead in baseball at five games. The Yankees are six games back.

Offense
At 4.29 runs per game with a team 105 wRC+, the Orioles are only a slightly above-average offense despite leading baseball with 147 homeruns. They don’t get enough guys on base in front of the power hitters. Baltimore is without C Matt Wieters (131 wRC+), who is done for the year following Tommy John surgery. SS J.J. Hardy (94 wRC+) is currently day-to-day with a thumb sprain and may or may not be available this series.

(Otto Greule Jr/Getty)

Jones. (Otto Greule Jr/Getty)

Manager Buck Showalter’s lineup is built around the 30-homer power of OF Adam Jones (117 wRC+) and OF Nelson Cruz (129 wRC+). Cruz already has 30 homers and Jones will get there before season’s end. (He’s at 22.) 1B Chris Davis (90 wRC+) is having a relatively awful year, but OF Steve Pearce (139 wRC+) has picked up some of the slack. Steve Pearce, huh? Both OF Nick Markakis (114 wRC+) and 3B Manny Machado (107 wRC+) have been productive on both sides of the ball.

C Caleb Joseph (95 wRC+) recently went deep in five consecutive games. Corban’s brother splits catching duties with C Nick Hundley (68 wRC+) in the wake of Wieters’ injury. DH Delmon Young (129 wRC+ in limited time), OF David Lough (71 wRC+ in limited time), IF Jonathan Schoop (59 wRC+), and UTIL Ryan Flaherty (62 wRC+) fill out the rest of the bench. Flaherty has been filling in at short while Hardy’s been banged up.

Pitching Matchups

Monday: LHP Chris Capuano (vs. BAL) vs. RHP Bud Norris (vs. NYY)
The 29-year-old Norris has arguably been his team’s most consistent starting pitcher, with a 3.68 ERA (4.36 FIP) in 19 starts and 115 innings. His peripherals don’t jump out at you — 6.73 K/9 (17.9 K%), 2.90 BB/9 (7.7 BB%), 1.02 HR/9 (10.4 HR/FB%), and 42.3% grounders — but he has essentially zero platoon split and simply keeps runs off the board. After years of underperforming his peripherals, he’s now doing the opposite. Maybe it’s dumb luck. Norris is basically a two-pitch pitcher with two other pitches. He relies heavily on his low-90s four-seamer and mid-80s slider, throwing them roughly 80% of the time combined, but he’ll also throw a handful of mid-80s changeups and low-90s two-seamers per start. He held the Yankees to one run in five innings back in June.

Tuesday: RHP Shane Greene (vs. BAL) vs. LHP Wei-Yin Chen (vs. NYY)
Chen, 29, has a 3.90 ERA (4.16 FIP) in 22 starts and 129.1 innings this year, his third straight year pitching at almost exactly the same level. The only thing he does exceedingly well is limit walks (1.60 BB/9 and 4.2 BB%). His strikeout (6.68 K/9 and 17.7 K%), homer (1.32 HR/9 and 12.8 HR/FB%), and grounder (40.9%) numbers aren’t special at all. Like Norris, he also has what amounts to no platoon split whatsoever. Chen has the standard issue four-pitch mix, so a low-90s fastball, mid-80s changeup, low-80s slider, and low-70s curveball. The changeup is his go-to offspeed pitch. The Yankees scored four runs in five innings when they faced the Taiwanese southpaw back in April.

It’s worth noting the Orioles will be the first team to see Greene a second time as a starting pitcher, which is always a big test. That mid-90s sinker and hard upper-80s slider won’t sneak up on them this time.

(Greg Fiume/Getty)

(Greg Fiume/Getty)

Wednesday: RHP Esmil Rogers (vs. BAL) vs. RHP Chris Tillman (vs. NYY)
Tillman started Opening Day for the Orioles but he’s been unable to build on last year’s success, instead posting to a solid 3.73 ERA (4.22 FIP) in 149.2 innings across 25 starts. His strikeout rate (6.13 K/9 and 15.9 K%) is his lowest since breaking into the league full time three years ago while his walk rate (3.19 BB/9 and 8.3 BB%) is its highest. Tillman has done a much better job of keeping the ball in the park this season (0.90 HR/9 and 8.2 HR/FB%) even though his ground ball rate (41.1%) continues to be no better than okay. Again, like Norris and Chen, he has zero platoon split, but he has pitched quite a bit better at home (.281 wOBA) than on the road (.332 wOBA) in 2014. Low-90s four-seamers and cutters set up Tillman’s mid-80s slider, low-80s changeup, and big-breaking mid-70s curveball. He’s lost about one mile an hour off his fastball for the second straight year. The Yankees have seen Tillman twice this year: seven shutout innings in June and three runs in 6.2 innings in July.

Rogers is still listed as the starter for the series finale though there are rumblings Michael Pineda may rejoin the rotation that day. He got up 72 pitches in his second rehab start this weekend, meaning he should be good for 85-90 pitches next time out. “That’s something we’ll have to talk about,” said Joe Girardi to Brian Heyman over the weekend. “Ideally you’d like to get someone to 90 pitches … We’ll sit down, Brian (Cashman) and the people who saw it, and decide what’s next for him.”

Bullpen Status
The Cardinals did the Yankees a favor by both forcing Kevin Gausman out of yesterday’s game early and keeping the score close enough that Showalter used his key relievers. Both closer RHP Zach Britton (3.15 FIP) and setup man/deadline pickup LHP Andrew Miller (1.73 FIP) not only pitched, but they also allowed runs and threw longer than usual innings. LHP T.J. McFarland (3.58 FIP) threw 51 pitches across two innings of work as well.

The rest of Showalter’s bullpen includes RHP Brad Brach (3.59 FIP), RHP Tommy Hunter (3.44 FIP), LHP Brian Matusz (4.30 FIP), and RHP Darren O’Day (2.88 FIP). Matusz is a pure lefty specialist while McFarland is a multi-inning lefty and Miller is a one-inning high-leverage guy who will face both lefties and righties. The eight-man Yankees bullpen is in relatively good shape. Check out our Bullpen Workload page for details and then check out Camden Chat for the latest on the Orioles.

Categories : Series Preview
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Official photo of Yankees-Indians series previews. (AP Photo/Tony Dejak)

Official photo of RAB Yankees-Indians series previews. (AP Photo/Tony Dejak)

One AL Central opponent leaves town and another comes in. The Indians are in the Bronx for a three-game series this weekend. They split a four-game set with the Yankees in Cleveland last month.

What Have They Done Lately?
The Indians just lost three straight to the Reds but they had won four straight before that. They are 9-11 since the All-Star break and 57-58 with a +7 run differential overall this year, good for third place in the AL Central. They are 3.5 games back of the Yankees (and Mariners and Blue Jays) in the wildcard race, so this series is not nothing.

Offense
Cleveland quietly has one of the best offenses in the game, one that averages 4.43 runs per game with a team 104 wRC+. They are currently without OF Michael Bourn (97 wRC+) and DH Jason Giambi (26 wRC+) due to hamstring and knee injuries, respectively. Bourn just started a rehab assignment and is unlikely to return this weekend. Giambi is out long-term and there’s a decent chance he’s played his last MLB game. I’ll miss Big G.

Santana. (Ed Zurga/Getty)

Santana. (Ed Zurga/Getty)

Manager Terry Francona’s lineup is built around OF Michael Brantley (151 wRC+), who has emerged as one of the best two-way players in baseball. He’s excellent. 1B Carlos Santana (131 wRC+) has been tearing the cover off the ball for two months after a terrible start while 3B Lonnie Chisenhall (135 wRC+) is going the other way — he started out hot and has slowed down big time of late. C Yan Gomes (127 wRC+) has established himself as one of the best hitting catchers in baseball these last two seasons.

2B Jason Kipnis (95 wRC+) and OF David Murphy (102 wRC+) have been just about average this year while ex-Yankee OF Nick Swisher (73 wRC+) has been awful. IF Jose Ramirez (21 wRC+ in very limited time) has taken over at short since Asdrubal Cabrera was traded away. UTIL Ryan Raburn (52 wRC+) and ex-Yankee OF Chris Dickerson (122 wRC+ in limited time) see platoon duty while IF Mike Aviles (71 wRC+) and C Roberto Perez (87 wRC+ in very limited time) fill out the bench.

Pitching Matchups

Friday: RHP Esmil Rogers (vs. CLE) vs. RHP Trevor Bauer (vs. NYY)
Bauer, 23, has finally found some success at the MLB level after years of tinkering and having coaches try to “fix” his unique mechanics and workout routines. He has a 4.20 ERA (3.99 FIP) in 16 starts and 92.1 innings with a good strikeout rate (8.31 K/9 and 21.3%) and an okay walk rate (3.27 K/9 and 8.4 K%). Righties (.346 wOBA) have hit him harder than lefties (.325 wOBA) and he’s been worst on the road (.351 wOBA) than at home (.326 wOBA). Bauer is an extreme fly ball pitcher (32.4% grounders) who gives up homers (1.03 HR/9 and 8.3 HR/FB%), but that is by design — he’s said he likes pitching up in the zone because fly balls are higher percentage outs than ground balls, and he’ll live with the homers as a byproduct. He is definitely in the minority when it comes to that approach. Bauer throws a mid-to-high-90s fastball, a mid-to-upper-80s cutter, a mid-80s changeup, a low-80s slider, and an upper-70s curveball. He throws all five pitches regularly with the slider and curve being his go-to offspeed pitches. New York scored three runs (two earned) in seven innings against him last month.

Saturday: RHP Brandon McCarthy (vs. CLE) vs. RHP Corey Kluber (vs. NYY)
The Yankees lucked out and did not face the Klubot during their four-game series in Cleveland a few weeks. That aren’t getting that lucky twice. The 28-year-old Kluber has a 2.55 ERA (2.49 FIP) in 24 starts and 165.2 innings this year, and his peripherals are excellent across the board: 9.62 K/9 (26.7 K%), 1.90 BB/9 (5.3 BB%), 0.54 HR/9 (7.4 HR/FB%), and 49.2% grounders. Lefties (.309 wOBA) have had much more success against him than righties (.236 wOBA). Kluber is primarily a three-pitch pitcher with a low-to-mid-90s sinker, a hard upper-80s slider, and power low-80s curveball. Both breaking balls are legit out pitches. He’ll also throw a handful of mid-80s changeups per start, but it is his clear fourth pitch. Kluber is not a big name, but the guy has pitched like an ace this year. He’s outstanding.

Kluber. (Jim Rogash/Getty)

Kluber. (Jim Rogash/Getty)

Sunday: RHP Hiroki Kuroda (vs. CLE) vs. RHP Carlos Carrasco (vs. NYY)
The Tribe have had a revolving door at the back of their rotation all year. Carrasco, 27, is coming out of the bullpen to make this start after spending most of the season as a long reliever. He has a 3.88 ERA (3.20 FIP) in 26 relief appearances and four spot starts in 2014, and across the board he has very good strikeout (8.58 K/9 and 23.2 K%), walk (2.49 BB/9 and 6.7 BB%), homer (0.69 HR/9 and 9.4 HR/FB%), and ground ball (56.4%) numbers. Lefties (.309 wOBA) have been more successful against him than righties (.269 wOBA). Obviously his numbers in relief will not translate perfectly over into a starting role. Carrasco sits in the mid-90s with his four-seamer when he comes out of the bullpen, and he uses it to set up his upper-80s changeup, mid-80s slider, and low-80s curveball. He throws all three secondary pitches at least 11% of the time, so he’s a true four-pitch pitcher. Carrasco made two relief appearances against the Yankees last month, three scoreless innings in one and one scoreless inning in the other.

Bullpen Status
Francona is currently on his third different closer in RHP Cody Allen (2.44 FIP). RHP John Axford (4.23 FIP) lost the job early in the season and RHP Bryan Shaw (3.45 FIP) only had it for about a week. Those two plus RHP Scott Atchison (3.32 FIP) serve as Allen’s primary setup men. Like the Yankees, the Indians are carrying eight relievers at the moment.

The rest of the Tribe bullpen includes LHP Marc Rzepczynski (2.93 FIP), LHP Kyle Crockett (3.28 FIP), LHP Nick Hagadone (3.36 FIP), and RHP C.C. Lee (3.96 FIP). Yes, the Indians have a dude named C.C. Lee in their bullpen. It’s like the ghost of Cy Young winners past has come back to haunt them. Lee threw two innings yesterday but the rest of the bullpen had the day off. Check up on the Yankees’ bullpen at our Bullpen Workload page. Once you’ve done that, head over to Wahoo’s on First for everything you need to know about the Indians.

Categories : Series Preview
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Weird. (Leon Halip/Getty)

Weird. (Leon Halip/Getty)

The soft part of the schedule is over. The Yankees played six games against the last place Rangers and Red Sox last week, went 3-3, and today they start a four-game set against the first place Tigers. This is their first meeting of the season — Detroit is the only AL team the Yankees had yet to play this season.

What Have They Done Lately?
The Tigers just swept three games from the awful Rockies, but before that they lost five of six games. They sit atop the AL Central with a 51-47 record and a +50 run differential, the third and sixth best marks in baseball, respectively.

Offense
At 4.72 runs per games with a team 111 wRC+, the Tigers have one of the best offensive attacks in baseball. They did just trade OF Austin Jackson (101 wRC+) though, so the lineup took a bit of a hit. Rookie manager Brad Ausmus is also without OF Andy Dirks (back) and SS Jose Iglesias (shins), both of whom have been out all season with injuries.

Martinez. (Duane Burleson/Getty)

Martinez. (Duane Burleson/Getty)

As always, Detroit’s lineup revolves around reigning two-time AL MVP Miguel Cabrera (146 wRC+), who is having a down year by his insane standards. DH Victor Martinez (154 wRC+) has been outstanding and both 2B Ian Kinsler (110 wRC+) and OF Torii Hunter (113 wRC+) have been strong supporting players. OF J.D. Martinez (163 wRC+) made some mechanical changes after being picked up off the scrap heap and has been a monster for the Tigers in 70 games worth of playing time. Those five are the core of their lineup.

With Jackson traded, OF Rajai Davis (115 wRC+) has taken over as the everyday center fielder even though his defense leaves a lot to be desired. 3B Nick Castellanos (94 wRC+) is having a good but not great rookie year and SS Eugenio Suarez (99 wRC+ in limited time) is the shortstop du jour. C Alex Avila (94 wRC+) and C Bryan Holaday (68 wRC+) form the catching tandem and the bench is filled out by OF Ezequiel Carrera (two plate appearances), IF Andrew Romine (44 wRC+), and UTIL Don Kelly (75 wRC+). Yes, Andrew is Austin’s brother.

Pitching Matchups

Monday: RHP Brandon McCarthy (vs. DET) vs. RHP Max Scherzer (vs. NYY)
Scherzer, 30, has a 3.27 ERA (3.00 FIP) in 22 starts and 146 innings this year after posting a 2.90 ERA (2.74 FIP) while winning the AL Cy Young last year. His peripherals — 10.29 K/9 (28.0 K%), 2.53 BB/9 (6.9 BB%), 0.86 HR/9 (8.7 HR/FB%), and 37.4% grounders — are ever so slightly worse than last season’s across the board but are obviously still excellent. Lefties (.312 wOBA) have given him a harder time than righties (.279 wOBA). Scherzer’s fastball is more low-to-mid-90s than mid-to-high-90s these days, though he will still run it up to 97 on occasion. Both his mid-80s slider and mid-80s changeup are out pitches — you don’t win a Cy Young without multiple dominant offerings — while his upper-70s curveball is a quality fourth offering. In a rotation full of aces, Scherzer has the best pure stuff at the moment.

Tuesday: RHP Hiroki Kuroda (vs. DET) vs. LHP David Price (vs. NYY)
The 28-year-old Price will make his first start for the Tigers against a familiar opponent. Just the Yankees’ luck, eh? He has a 3.11 ERA (2.94 FIP) in 23 starts and 170.2 innings and has been especially tough since the end of May, with a 2.03 ERA (2.58 FIP) in his final 12 outings with Tampa while averaging 7.2 innings per start. His strikeout (9.97 K/9 and 27.4 K%) and walk (1.21 BB/9 and 3.3 BB%) rates are elite, his homer (1.05 HR/9 and 11.2 HR/FB%) and ground ball (40.5%) rates less so. Lefties (.302 wOBA) have had a bit more success than righties (.279 wOBA) against the southpaw, surprisingly. As always, Price is a fastball machine, throwing his low-to-mid-90s two and four-seamer and mid-80s cutter more than 70% of the time combined. His ability to backdoor the cutter to righties is why he’s so effective against them. It’s an unhittable pitch. Mid-80s changeups and upper-70s curveballs round out his repertoire. The Yankees have already seen Price three times this year and he’s gotten progressively better each time: six runs in five innings in April, two runs in seven innings in May, and one unearned run in seven innings in July.

(Leon Halip/Getty)

(Leon Halip/Getty)

Wednesday: LHP Chris Capuano (vs. DET) vs. RHP Justin Verlander (vs. NYY)
Between Scherzer (2013), Price (2012), and Verlander (2011), the Tigers have the last three AL Cy Young Award winners on their roster. (They also have the last three AL MVPs in Cabrera and Verlander as well.) The 31-year-old Verlander has fallen victim to Ace Sucking Syndrome (ASS) this year, with a 4.66 ERA (4.00 FIP) in 23 starts and 150.2 innings this year, including a 5.77 ERA (4.59 FIP) in his last 15 starts. His strikeout rate (6.57 K/9 and 16.7%) is way down while his walk rate (3.11 BB/9 and 7.9 BB%) is way up compared to his peak years. He is also allowing more homers (0.84 HR/9 and 7.3 HR/FB%) than ever before despite a ground ball rate (42.3%) in line with his career average. Verlander was always a weak contact guy who consistently posted lower than average BABIPs thanks to soft liners and pop-ups, but hitters are making harder contact this year. Righties (.376 wOBA) have hit him way harder than lefties (.302 wOBA) this season. Verlander’s fastball still sits in the low-to-mid-90s, though he doesn’t reach back for 100-101 anymore, topping out at “only” 98 this year. Mid-80s sliders and changeups as well as an upper-70s curve round out his repertoire. Verlander can still dominate on occasion, but he is no longer the pitching titan he was just a few years ago.

Thursday: RHP Shane Greene (No vs. DET) vs. RHP Rick Porcello (vs. NYY)
Porcello, a New Jersey native, continues to get better and better and he gains experience — turns out jumping from High-A to the big leagues at age 20 isn’t always as easy as Jose Fernandez made it look last season — posting a 3.18 ERA (3.66 FIP) in 21 starts and 141.1 innings this year. His strikeout rate (5.60 K/9 and 15.8 K%) stinks, but Porcello has always been more of a low walk (1.91 BB/9 and 5.4 BB%), high ground ball (49.7%) guy. He doesn’t give up many homers (0.76 HR/9 and 9.8 HR/FB%) and his platoon split is kinda small — lefties has a .289 wOBA against him this year while righties are at .300. Low-90s two and four-seam fastballs are Porcello’s main weapons, and he’ll also use mid-80s sliders, low-80s changeups, and upper-70s curveballs to keep hitters off balance. He’s scaled back on his slider and emphasized his curveball in recent years.

Joba Rules Returns. (Duane Burleson/Getty)

Joba Rules Returns. (Duane Burleson/Getty)

Bullpen Status
The bullpen has been the Tigers’ Achilles heel all season. Closer RHP Joe Nathan (3.87 FIP) has been a disaster (5.45 ERA), and he’s remained in that role even after they traded for RHP Joakim Soria (2.03 FIP). Soria’s the setup man. Former Yankee RHP Joba Chamberlain (2.90 FIP) also sees plenty of important late-inning situations. Ex-Yankee LHP Phil Coke (4.13) is the primary matchup southpaw.

The rest of Ausmus’ bullpen includes RHP Al Alburquerque (4.33 FIP), LHP Blaine Hardy (3.19 FIP in limited time), and LHP Pat McCoy (4.34 FIP in limited time). Ausmus’ bullpen is very fresh — his relievers have thrown a total of four innings in the last three days. Check out the status of Joe Girardi‘s bullpen at our Bullpen Workload page, then check out Bless You Boys and Tiger Tales for everything you need to know about the Tigers.

Categories : Series Preview
Comments (90)
(Elsa/Getty)

(Elsa/Getty)

This series will certainly have a different feel to it, don’t you think? Both teams remade their rosters with a series of moves prior to yesterday’s trade deadlines, though what the Yankees did was mere tinkering compared to the moves the Red Sox made. We will get our first look at several new faces in this series in addition to the usual Yanks-Sawx hoopla. The Yankees have won six of ten against the BoSox this year, including two of three at Fenway Park back in April.

What Have They Lately?
Oh, you mean besides take a sledgehammer to the roster that won the World Series ten months ago? The Red Sox were off yesterday, but before that they got swept by the Blue Jays at home in a three-game series. They have lost eight of their last nine games overall and currently sit in last place in the AL East at 48-60 with a -55 run differential. Something tells me they will be even worse these next two months because they’re going to allow all of the runs. All of them.

Offense
The Red Sox come into today’s game averaging 3.81 runs per game with a team 91 wRC+, so while they’ve been below-average overall, they did just add several new faces to the lineup. OF Shane Victorino (86 wRC+) is currently dealing with a back problem and GM Ben Cherington told reporters yesterday that he is a candidate to be placed on the disabled list.

(Jason O. Watson/Getty)

(Jason O. Watson/Getty)

Manager John Farrell’s new-look lineup still revolves around DH David Ortiz (124 wRC+) and 1B Mike Napoli (134 wRC+), though now they’ll have help from the just acquired OF Yoenis Cespedes (113 wRC+). He is expected to be in the lineup tonight. Ortiz and Napoli always destroy the Yankees. Adding Cespedes to the mix isn’t going to make life any easier. 2B Dustin Pedroia (98 wRC+) is having a down year and both CF Jackie Bradley Jr. (67 wRC+) and SS Xander Bogaerts (89 wRC+) have been very disappointing.

The just acquired 1B/OF Allen Craig (81 wRC+) will probably be in the lineup tonight but I’m not sure what position. He hasn’t hit much since hurting his foot/ankle last season. UTIL Brock Holt (114 wRC+) has cooled off but has still been very good overall. OF Daniel Nava (85 wRC+) and 1B/OF Mike Carp (73 wRC+) are platoon bats and there’s a good chance one will be dropped off the roster to make room for Craig today. C Christian Vazquez (75 wRC+) and C David Ross (71 wRC+) form the defensive-minded catching tandem. 3B Will Middlebrooks (75 wRC+) is expected to be called up from Triple-A today, likely replacing Victorino.

Pitching Probables

Friday: LHP Chris Capuano (vs. BOS) vs. RHP Anthony Ranaudo (No vs. NYY)
With Jon Lester and John Lackey traded away, the Red Sox will turn to the 24-year-old Ranaudo to fill a rotation spot, at least temporarily. The New Jersey native has a 2.41 ERA (3.69 FIP) in 21 starts and 119.1 Triple-A innings this season, though his strikeout (7.47 K/9 and 20.3 K%), walk (3.70 BB/9 and 10.1 BB%), and ground ball (38.1%) rates aren’t all that impressive. He does keep the ball in the park though (0.45 HR/9). Ranaudo is a big guy at 6-foot-7 and 230 lbs., and he uses that size to unleash low-to-mid-90s four-seamers. Ranaudo throws a power curveball in the low-80s as well as an okay changeup.

Saturday: RHP Shane Greene (vs. BOS) vs. RHP Allen Webster (vs. NYY)
Webster, 24, was part of that huge blockbuster with the Dodgers a few years ago and he took over the just traded Jake Peavy’s rotation spot recently. He allowed one run in 5.1 innings against the Rays while walking more batters (five) than he struck out (four) in his lone MLB start of the season last weekend. Webster has a 3.10 ERA (3.91 FIP) in 122 Triple-A innings this year and a 7.82 ERA (6.20 FIP) in 35.2 MLB innings over the last two years. His Triple-A strikeout (7.38 K/9 and 19.7 K%) and walk (3.25 BB/9 and 8.6 BB%) numbers are just okay while his ground ball (48.2%) and homer (0.66 HR/9) rates are good. Webster sits in the low-to-mid-90s with two and four-seam fastballs, backing them up with low-80s sliders and changeups. The changeup has been his preferred secondary pitch in his brief big league time.

(Hannah Foslien/Getty)

(Hannah Foslien/Getty)

Sunday: RHP David Phelps (vs. BOS) vs. RHP Clay Buchholz (vs. NYY)
In the span of one afternoon, the 29-year-old Buchholz became the ace of the Boston staff. He has a 5.87 ERA (4.64 FIP) in 17 starts and 96.2 innings this year. Yikes. Buchholz has underwhelming peripherals across the board — 6.52 K/9 (16.0 K%), 3.07 BB/9 (7.6 BB%), 1.21 HR/9 (11.5 HR/FB%), and 45.4% grounders — and he gets hit harder by lefties (.368 wOBA) and at home (.392 wOBA) than by righties (.350 wOBA) and on the road (.335 wOBA). As always, Buchholz uses low-90s two and four-seamers as well as an upper-80s cutter to set up his knockout low-80s changeup and occasionally knockout upper-70s curveball. He faced the Yankees back in April and allowed four runs (two earned) in six innings.

Bullpen Status
Like the Yankees, the Red Sox were off yesterday, so Farrell’s bullpen is rested. They traded away setup man LHP Andrew Miller but still have closer RHP Koji Uehara (2.47 FIP) and setup man RHP Junichi Tazawa (2.68 FIP) for the late innings. I assume LHP Craig Breslow (4.78 FIP) will take over as the primary matchup lefty.

At the moment, RHP Burke Badenhop (3.11 FIP) and RHP Edward Mujica (4.31 FIP) are the only other relievers on the team’s active roster. They’re going to have to make a series of roster moves before tonight’s game to accommodate all the new players, and part of that will be calling up some extra bullpen arms. Here is their 40-man roster if you want see the call-up candidates. I haven’t the slightest idea who it will be and won’t even bother to guess. Check out our Bullpen Workload page for the status of the Yankees’ bullpen and then check out Over The Monster for everything you need to know about the new-look Red Sox.

Categories : Series Preview
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The fans in Texas can hardly contain their excitement this year. (Presswire)

The fans in Texas can hardly contain their excitement this year. (Presswire)

After a successful ten-game homestand to open the second half, the Yankees now head out on the road for a six-game, seven-day road trip against two last place teams. They open a three-game set at Texas tonight. The Yankees won three of four against the Rangers in the Bronx just last week.

What Have They Done Lately?
Texas dropped two of three to the Athletics over the weekend and they’ve lost seven of ten games since the All-Star break. They are 41-64 overall with a -119 run differential, both the worst marks in all of baseball.

Offense
As you saw last week, the Rangers currently have a below-average lineup due to injuries. Their overall season averages of 3.99 runs per game and a team 88 wRC+ don’t tell the whole story either. 1B Prince Fielder (neck), 1B Mitch Moreland (ankle), 3B Kevin Kouzmanoff (back), and IF Jurickson Profar (shoulder) are out for the rest of the season. C Geovany Soto (groin) and OF Jake Smolinski (foot) were placed on the disabled list since the last time these two clubs played as well.

Choo. (Rich Schultz/Getty)

Choo. (Rich Schultz/Getty)

Even with all the injuries, manager Ron Washington still has one outstanding hitter in 3B Adrian Beltre (140 wRC+). He’s the guy the Yankees can’t let beat them these next three games. OF Alex Rios (101 wRC+) is a nice supporting piece and OF Shin-Soo Choo (101 wRC+) has been very disappointing during his first year with the Rangers. OF Leonys Martin (89 wRC+) and 2B Rougned Odor (91 wRC+) have been good enough considering their defense.

SS Elvis Andrus (76 wRC+) has taken a big step back offensively these last two years at an age when he should be taking big steps forward. C J.P. Arencibia (28 wRC+) is now at first base and the trio of OF Jim Adduci (96 wRC+), IF Adam Rosales (63 wRC+ in limited time), and OF Daniel Robertson (69 wRC+ in limited time) are helping cover for the injuries. C Chris Gimenez (92 wRC+) and C Robinson Chirinos (75 wRC+) are the catching tandem. Keep Choo and Andrus off base in front of Beltre and everything should be okay.

Pitching Matchups

Monday: RHP David Phelps (vs. TEX) vs. RHP Yu Darvish (vs. NYY)
The Yankees lucked out and beat Darvish with the help of Mother Nature last week. The 27-year-old has a 2.92 ERA (2.80 FIP) in 19 starts and 129.1 innings this year with spectacular peripherals: 11.33 K/9 (30.4%), 2.99 BB/9 (8.0 BB%), 0.78 HR/9 (8.1 HR/FB%), and 34.1% ground balls. Yeah, he gives up a lot of fly balls, but he has one of the highest infield pop-up rates in baseball. Not every ball in the air is hit to the warning track, you know. Lefties (.322 wOBA) hit him a lot harder than righties (.245 wOBA) and he’s been much better at home (.253 wOBA) than on the road (.245 wOBA). Darvish throws six different pitches and uses his mid-80s splitter and slow upper-60s curveball the least, just a little more than 9% of the time combined. He throws his low-90s four-seamer, low-90s two-seamer, upper-80s cutter, and upper-70s slider regularly. The Yankees managed to score two runs in 4.1 innings against Darvish before the rain last week.

Tuesday: RHP Brandon McCarthy (vs. TEX) vs. RHP Nick Martinez (vs. NYY)
Martinez, 23, has a 4.73 ERA (5.74 FIP) in 72.1 innings across 12 starts and five relief appearances this year after making the jump from Double-A to help cover for the team’s injuries. He has exactly as many walks as strikeouts (3.98 per nine and 9.9%) and he gives up both a lot of homers (1.49 HR/9 and 9.8 HR/FB%) and a lot of fly balls (32.0%). Lefties pound him (.403 wOBA vs. .336 for RHB) and he’s been much worse at home (.443 wOBA vs. .339 on the road). A low-90s four-seamer is Martinez’a primary fastball, though he will also throw a few low-90s two-seamers and upper-80s cutters per start. His two secondary pitches are a slider and a changeup, both in the mid-80s. Martinez managed to throw 5.1 shutout innings in Yankee Stadium last week, annoyingly.

Lewis. (Jim McIsaac/Getty)

Lewis. (Jim McIsaac/Getty)

Wednesday: RHP Hiroki Kuroda (vs. TEX) vs. RHP Colby Lewis (vs. NYY)
The Rangers have been hit so hard by injuries this year that the 34-year-old Lewis and his 6.23 ERA (4.13 FIP) have made 18 starts and thrown 95.1 innings. They’ve simply run out of alternatives. Lewis’ strikeout (7.55 K/9 and 17.8 K%), walk (3.02 BB/9 and 7.1 BB%), and homer (1.04 HR/9 and 8.0 HR/FB%) rate are not great but not terrible either. He doesn’t get any grounders (33.2%) and lefties (.426 wOBA) have been less forgiving than righties (.353 wOBA). Home (.426 wOBA) hasn’t been as kind as the road (.364 wOBA) either. At this point of his career, Lewis works with an upper-80s four-seamer and a low-80s slider as his two main pitches. He’ll also throw a few low-to-mid-80s changeups and mid-70s curveballs per start. Lewis held the Yankees to three runs in 6.1 innings last week.

Bullpen Status
As you might remember, the Rangers traded closer Joakim Soria in the middle of their series with the Yankees last week. RHP Neftali Feliz (5.79 in limited time) has moved back into the ninth inning with RHP Roman Mendez (3.41 FIP), RHP Shawn Tolleson (4.81 FIP), and LHP Neal Cotts (2.76 FIP) handling setup duty. Both Mendez and Tolleson threw an inning yesterday.

The Rangers are currently carrying eight relievers (like the Yankees!), so the rest of Washington’s bullpen includes RHP Nate Adcock (13.14 FIP in very limited time), RHP Scott Baker (4.65 FIP), LHP Ryan Feierabend (2.87 FIP), and RHP Jerome Williams (4.33 FIP). Williams made a spot start over the weekend and won’t be available right away. Feierabend threw multiple inning yesterday. Check out our Bullpen Workload page for the status of the Yankees’ relievers and Lone Star Ball for everything you need to know about the Rangers.

Categories : Series Preview
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So this is kind of a big series. The Yankees and Blue Jays are essentially tied in the standings and chasing the same AL East title/second wildcard spot. The Jays have lost 16 (!) consecutive games in Yankee Stadium dating back to 2012. That includes a three-game sweep earlier this year. The Yankees are 6-3 against Toronto overall this year.

What Have They Done Lately?
The Blue Jays just won three straight at home against the Red Sox and they’ve won five times in seven tries in the second half. At 54-49 with a +22 run differential, Toronto is percentage points behind the Yankees in standings. Like I said, big series.

Offense
Manager John Gibbons’ team averages 4.54 runs per game with a team 107 wRC+ this year, so they’ve been solidly above-average overall. Their lineup is decimated by injuries, however. 1B Edwin Encarnacion (161 wRC+), DH Adam Lind (142 wRC+), and 3B Brett Lawrie (96 wRC+) are currently on the disabled list with quad, foot, and finger injuries, respectively. None are expected back this weekend. IF Maicer Izturis, OF Nolan Reimold, and OF Cole Gillespie are hurt as well.

Reyes. (Getty)

Reyes. (Getty)

Even with all those injuries, Gibbons still trots out an upper third of the lineup with SS Jose Reyes (106 wRC+), OF Melky Cabrera (129 wRC+), and OF Jose Bautista (151 wRC+). Those three are as dangerous as it gets and the key to this weekend for New York is keeping them in check. The lineup really softens after that. OF Colby Rasmus (96 wRC+), C Dioner Navarro (88 wRC+), and the just called up DH Dan Johnson (93 wRC+ in very limited time) have been hitting in the middle third of the lineup, for example.

IF Juan Francisco (128 wRC+) has power as big as the holes in his swing. OF Anthony Gose (78 wRC+), IF Steve Tolleson (99 wRC+), IF Ryan Goins (33 wRC+ in limited time), and IF Munenori Kawasaki (78 wRC+) rotate in and out of the lineup on a daily basis. C Josh Thole (94 wRC+ in limited time) backs up Navarro and is on the roster primarily because he is knuckleballer R.A. Dickey’s personal catcher. They’ve been paired together since their days with the Mets. The Yankees are catching a huge break with Encarnacion, Lind, and Lawrie out.

Pitching Matchups

Friday: RHP Hiroki Kuroda (vs. TOR) vs. LHP Mark Buehrle (vs. NYY)
Buehrle was an All-Star for the first time in five years a few weeks ago thanks to his excellent start to the season. The 35-year-old has a 2.86 ERA (3.68 FIP) in 20 starts and 132.1 innings this year, and he’s been outperforming his FIP for about a decade now. No reason to think it’ll stop anytime soon. Buehrle’ strikeout (5.30 K/9 and 14.1 K%), walk (2.38 BB/9 and 6.3 BB%), and ground ball (40.9%) rates are the same as they always been, though his homer rate (0.61 HR/9 and 5.8 HR/FB%) is his lowest in a long, long time. It was lower earlier in the year and it’s started to correct in recent starts. Lefties (.327 wOBA) have hit Buehrle slightly harder than righties (.311 wOBA). As always, he works in the mid-80s with his four-seamer, two-seamer, and cutter, mixing in some upper-70s changeups and low-80s curves to keep hitters (even more) off balance. The Yankees have faced Buehrle twice this season, scoring three runs in six innings at Yankee Stadium and four runs in 6.2 innings at Rogers Centre, both back in June.

Saturday: RHP Shane Greene (No vs. TOR) vs. RHP Drew Hutchison (vs. NYY)
Hutchison, 23, has made 20 starts and thrown 113 innings this year, his first following Tommy John surgery. There’s been some talk of shutting him down or at least easing up on his working in the coming weeks. Hutchison has a 4.54 ERA (3.80 FIP) in those 20 starts with a very good strikeout rate (8.12 K/9 and 20.9 K%) and solid walk (3.03 BB/9 and 7.8 BB%) and homer (0.96 HR/9 and 8.2 HR/FB%) numbers, though he doesn’t get any grounders (34.9%). Lefties (.347 wOBA) have hit him a ton harder than righties (.299 wOBA), and it’s worth noting he’s been much better on the road (.279 wOBA) than at home (.407 wOBA). A low-90s fastball is Hutchison’s main pitch, and he throws it a lot, more than 60% of the time. Sliders and changeups in the mid-80s round out the repertoire. The Yankees have faced him three times this year and he’s been progressively better: six runs in 3.1 innings in April, four runs in 4.1 innings in mid-June, and four runs in six innings in late-June.

Still mad at Happ for hitting Curtis last spring. (Abelimages/Getty)

Still mad at Happ for hitting Curtis last spring. (Getty)

Sunday: RHP Chase Whitley (vs. TOR) vs. LHP J.A. Happ (vs. NYY)
These teams have played three series this year and yet somehow the Yankees have not seen Happ. The 31-year-old has a 4.55 ERA (4.18 FIP) in 83 innings across 14 starts and four relief appearances this year, with mostly mediocre peripherals: 7.37 K/9 (18.5 K%), 3.69 BB/9 (9.3 BB%), 0.98 HR/9 (8.9 HR/FB%), and 41.9% grounders. Happ’s platoon split is tiny. He throws a lot of fastballs, using his low-90s two and four-seamers more than 70% of the time combined. A mid-80s changeup is his top offspeed pitch and he’ll also mix in a few low-80s sliders and low-70s curveballs.

Bullpen Status
The Jays blew out the Red Sox yesterday and rookie righty Marcus Stroman went seven innings, so Gibbons was able to rest his key late-inning relievers. Only RHP Todd Redmond (3.05 FIP) and LHP Rob Rasmussen (4.96 FIP in limited time) pitched, and they threw an inning apiece. Closer RHP Casey Janssen (2.69 FIP) has pitched three times in the last five days, just not yesterday.

As they’ve been doing just about all year, the Jays are currently carrying eight relievers. RHP Dustin McGowan (5.02 FIP), LHP Brett Cecil (2.56 FIP), and LHP Aaron Loup (3.54 FIP) are Janssen’s primary setup crew these days. Top prospect RHP Aaron Sanchez (1.14 FIP in two innings) was just called up and will be given high-leverage work right away. They aren’t going to be shy with him. RHP Esmil Rogers (5.41 FIP) is the last guy in the ‘pen. Check out our Bullpen Workload page for the status of Joe Girardi‘s relievers, then check out Drunk Jays Fans for everything you need to know about the Blue Jays.

Categories : Series Preview
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This is how the Rangers' season is going. (Leon Halip/Getty)

This is how the Rangers’ season is going. (Leon Halip/Getty)

The Yankees have taken care of business so far in the second half. They swept the Reds over the weekend and now welcome the last place Rangers to the Bronx for a four-game series. It is their first meeting of the season. These two teams will play seven games in the next ten days, so the scheduling gods have been kind to the Bronx Bombers.

What Have They Done Lately?
The Rangers dropped two of three to the Blue Jays in Toronto over the weekend, and, immediately before the All-Star break, they lost eight straight and 22 of 25 (!). These aren’t the same Rangers that won back-to-back AL pennants a few years ago, that’s for sure. Texas is 39-59 overall with a -110 run differential, both of which are the worst marks in baseball.

Offense
With a team 89 wRC+ and an average of 4.14 runs per game, the Rangers have had a below-average offense overall this season. Their lineup has been decimated by injuries though, so this isn’t the same lineup manager Ron Washington was trotting out there earlier in the year. Texas has 14 players (!) on the disabled list right now, including six position players. Among the notables are 1B Prince Fielder (neck), 2B Jurickson Profar (shoulder), 1B Mitch Moreland (ankle), and 3B Kevin Kouzmanoff (back). All four are done for the year. Here is the full list of injuries, if you’re interested.

At least he can play defense. (Cooper Neill/Getty)

At least he can play defense. (Cooper Neill/Getty)

Among those still left standing, Washington does have one top notch hitter in 3B Adrian Beltre (145 wRC+). His defense isn’t as good as it once was — that means it is merely very good instead of elite — but he can still rake. OF Alex Rios (103 wRC+) is day-to-day with an ankle issue but is expected to avoid the disabled list and return to the lineup sometime this week. OF Shin-Soo Choo (100 wRC+) has been very disappointing in his first year with Texas. OF Leonys Martin (92 wRC+) has been okay and OF Jake Smolinksi (142 wRC+) is their only other above-average hitter, and he has all of 36 plate appearances.

SS Elvis Andrus (77 wRC+) has regressed at the plate these last two seasons and his eight-year, $120M extension doesn’t even kick in until next year. Sure, he’s great defensively, but yikes. 2B Rougned Odor (90 wRC+) has shown flashes of why he was considered a top prospect coming into the season. Journeymen IF Adam Rosales (71 wRC+ in limited time) and OF Daniel Robertson (65 wRC+ in limited time) are helping cover for the injuries. Texas is carrying four (!) catchers at the moment: C J.P. Arencibia (23 wRC+), C Chris Gimenez (90 wRC+), C Robinson Chirinos (84 wRC+), and C Geovany Soto (just off the DL). Arencibia has been playing first base and Soto’s been spending time at DH after knee surgery. Can’t say this is the scariest lineup the Yankees will see this year.

Pitching Matchups

Monday: RHP Shane Greene (No vs. TEX) vs. RHP Miles Mikolas (vs. NYY)
Injuries have hit the Rangers’ rotation hard as well, which is why Mikolas, a career reliever, is now in the rotation. The 25-year-old will be making his fourth start with Texas tonight — it is his tenth start of the season and 21st of his six-year career overall, so he is their Chase Whitley — and he’s pitched to a 10.05 ERA (4.11 FIP) in the first three. Mikolas has a dozen strikeouts and three walks in 14.1 innings so far, also allowing two homers. His numbers in six Triple-A starts before being called up were alright: 3.58 ERA (3.36 FIP) with a 7.99 K/9 (20.4 K%), 0.83 BB/9 (2.1 BB%), and 0.83 HR/9. Mikolas heavily uses his low-90s two and four-seamers, throwing them roughly 85% of the time combined, while mixing in a handful of low-80s changeups and mid-70s curveballs.

Tuesday: RHP Chase Whitley (No vs. TEX) vs. RHP Nick Martinez (No vs. NYY)
Martinez, 23, jumped straight from Double-A to the Opening Day roster thanks to the various injuries on the staff. He has a 5.10 ERA (5.99 FIP) in 67 innings across eleven starts and five relief appearances while issuing more walks (4.16 BB/9 and 10.2 BB%) than strikeouts (3.90 K/9 and 9.5 K%) and not getting any ground balls (31.5%). Martinez is also pretty homer prone (1.61 HR/9 and 10.3 HR/FB%) and lefties (.415 wOBA) hit him hard, though righties (.350 wOBA) don’t have much trouble either. A low-90s four-seamer is his primary fastball, though he will also throw a few low-90s two-seamers and upper-80s cutters per start. Martinez’s two secondary pitches are a slider and a changeup, both in the mid-80s.

(Rick Yeatts/Getty)

Two fewer MLB complete games than Masahiro Tanaka. (Rick Yeatts/Getty)

Wednesday: RHP David Phelps (vs. TEX) vs. RHP Yu Darvish (vs. NYY)
It’s a four-game series, so the odds were against the Yankees missing Darvish. The 27-year-old is in the middle of his best MLB season with a 2.88 ERA (2.75 FIP) in 18 starts and 122 innings, and of course he has piled up a ton of strikeouts (11.36 K/9 and 30.5 K%). His walk rate (3.10 BB/9 and 8.3 BB%) is his lowest in three years with Texas and so is his ground ball rate (33.9%). Darvish’s homerun rate (0.74 HR/9 and 7.8 HR/FB%) is probably lower than it should be given his grounder rate and home ballpark. Lefties (.323 wOBA) have been much more successful against him than righties (.239 wOBA). Darvish throws six different pitches and uses his mid-80s splitter and slow upper-60s curveball the least, just a little more than 9% of the time combined. He throws his low-90s four-seamer, low-90s two-seamer, upper-80s cutter, and upper-70s slider regularly. The slider is devastating. That’s his moneymaker. Darvish will be a handful on Wednesday.

Thursday: RHP Brandon McCarthy (vs. TEX) vs. RHP Colby Lewis (vs. NYY)
Lewis, 34, is having an awful season (6.37 ERA and 4.10 FIP in 17 starts and 89 innings) for an awful team and the frustration is starting to boil over — he ripped Colby Rasmus for bunting to beat the shift in the fifth inning of a two-run game following his last start. That’s as silly as it gets. Lewis’ strikeout (7.89 K/9 and 18.5 K%) and walk (2.93 BB/9 and 6.9 BB%) rates are fine, his homer (1.11 HR/9 and 8.5 HR/FB%) and ground ball (33.1%) rates aren’t. Same goes for his platoon splits: lefties have tagged him for a .443 wOBA while righties have a comparatively better .352 wOBA. At this point of his career, Lewis works with an upper-80s four-seamer and a low-80s slider as his two main pitches. He’ll also throw a few low-to-mid-80s changeups and mid-70s curveballs per start.

Future Tiger. (Hannah Foslien/Getty)

Future Tiger. (Hannah Foslien/Getty)

Bullpen Status
Like I said, the Yankees and Rangers will play seven times in the next ten days, and there’s a decent chance Texas will trade closer RHP Joakim Soria (0.84 FIP) and LHP Neal Cotts (2.63 FIP) at some point during that stretch. They already traded away RHP Jason Frasor (to the Royals) and those two are said to be on the block. RHP Neftali Feliz (6.48 FIP in limited time) was recalled from Triple-A not too long again and figures to retake the closer’s job once Soria is traded.

The rest of Washington’s bullpen includes RHP Scott Baker (4.69 FIP), LHP Ryan Feierabend (2.80 FIP in very limited time), RHP Roman Mendez (2.99 FIP in limited time), RHP Shawn Tolleson (4.94 FIP), and RHP Matt West (2.39 FIP in limited time). Baker is the swingman and has four relief appearances of at least five innings this year. He’s the first pitcher to do that since Tom Bolton had five such relief appearances for the 1993 Tigers. Tolleson, Feliz, and West all pitched yesterday. Check out our Bullpen Workload page for the status of the Yankees’ relievers, then check out Lone Star Ball for everything you need to know about the Rangers.

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(Photo Credit: Flickr user mfillhart via Creative Commons license)

(Photo Credit: Flickr user mfillhart via Creative Commons license)

The All-Star break is finally over and the Yankees are back at the office starting tonight. They kick off the second half-opening ten-game homestand with three games against the Reds this weekend. Needless to say, they need to start winning at home if they want to make a run at the postseason, and this homestand is the time to do it. This is their final interleague series of the season, by the way.

What Have They Done Lately?
The Reds won two of three from the Pirates before the All-Star break and they’ve won eight of their last eleven games overall. They are 54-44 with a +28 run differential, which puts them in third place in the NL Central, 1.5 games back of the first place Brewers.

Offense
With an average of 3.97 runs per game and a team 91 wRC+, Cincinnati is a bit below the league average offensively. They are really banged up right now too. 1B Joey Votto (127 wRC+) and 2B Brandon Phillips (92 wRC+) are both out long-term with quad and thumb injuries, respectively. UTIL Skip Schumaker (66 wRC+) is out with a concussion, IF Jack Hannahan has not played at all this year following shoulder surgery, and IF Ramon Santiago (91 wRC+) is day-to-day with a shoulder issue. We won’t see any of them other than possibly Santiago this weekend.

Hamilton. (Andy Lyons/Getty)

Hamilton. (Andy Lyons/Getty)

With all of those injuries, rookie manager Bryan Price relies on OF Jay Bruce (97 wRC+), 3B Todd Frazier (137 wRC+), and C Devin Mesoraco (170 wRC+ in somewhat limited time) to carry his offense. Bruce is having a very down year by his standards. OF Billy Hamilton (104 wRC+) is the fastest man in baseball and he sets the tone from the leadoff spot. He’s gone 38-for-53 (72%) in stolen base chances this year and has torn the cover off the ball for a month now (161 wRC+ in the last 30 days). Keeping him off base is imperative this weekend.

OF Ryan Ludwick (104 wRC+), SS Zack Cozart (61 wRC+), and OF Chris Heisey (84 wRC+) are the other names in the Reds lineup you might recognize. C Brayan Pena (76 wRC+) is the backup catcher and part-time first baseman with Votto out. OF Donald Lutz (32 wRC+ in very limited time), IF Neftali Soto (-50 wRC+ in very limited time), and IF Kristopher Negron (268 wRC+ in very limited time) are up to help fill in for all the injuries. I’m guessing Bruce, Hamilton, Heisey, and Ludwick will all be the lineup thanks to the DH this weekend.

Pitching Matchups

Friday: RHP David Phelps (vs. CIN) vs. RHP Mike Leake (vs. NYY)
Leake, 26, continues to be unspectacularly solid for the Reds, with a 3.54 ERA (3.72 FIP) in 19 starts and 127 innings this season. Across the board he has posted career best strikeout (6.87 K/9 and 18.3 K%), walk (1.91 BB/9 and 5.1 BB%), homer (0.92 HR/9 and 12.7 HR/FB%), and ground ball (54.1%) rates. Lefties (.374 wOBA) have hit him much harder than righties (.272 wOBA) this year. Leake is a true six-pitch pitcher, using three upper-80s/low-90s fastballs (four-seam, sinker, cutter) to set up his mid-80s changeup, low-80s slider, and mid-70s curveball. He throws all six pitches at least 7% of the time and everything but the changeup at least 10% of the time. Leake and Phelps are actually pretty similar in terms of their pitching style.

Saturday: RHP Brandon McCarthy (vs. CIN) vs. RHP Alfredo Simon (vs. NYY)
Simon was an All-Star this year thanks mostly to his league-leading 12 wins. The 33-year-old has a 2.70 ERA (4.34 FIP) in 18 starts and 116.2 innings after spending the the last few years as a full-time reliever. Simon doesn’t miss bats (5.79 K/9 and 16.0 K%) and isn’t especially good at keeping the ball in the park (1.08 HR/9 and 13.1 HR/FB%), but he limits walks (2.16 BB/9 and 6.0 BB%) and gets grounders (49.3%). He also has a small platoon split. Simon is an extreme fastball pitcher, using his upper-80s cutter and mid-90s two and four-seamers more than 70% of the time combined. His top secondary pitch is a mid-80s splitter, though he’ll also throw a handful of upper-70s slurves per start. There’s no mystery here. Simon will come right after hitters with hard stuff.

(Joe Robbins/Getty)

(Joe Robbins/Getty)

Sunday: RHP Hiroki Kuroda (vs. NYY) vs. RHP Johnny Cueto (vs. NYY)
Believe it or not, the 28-year-old Cueto was a first time All-Star this year. I figured he would have gone to at least one by now. He had some downright brilliant seasons from 2011-12. Anyway, the 28-year-old Cueto has a 2.13 ERA (3.16 FIP) in 20 starts and 143.2 innings so far this season. He is striking batters out at a career best rate (8.83 K/9 and 25.1 K%) while his walk (2.19 BB/9 and 6.2 BB%), homerun (0.75 HR/9 and 10.1 HR/FB%), and ground ball (49.7%) numbers are right in line with his career averages. His platoon split is small. Cueto throws two and four-seam fastballs in the low-to-mid-90s while mixing in plenty of upper-80s cutters as well. Both of his secondary pitches are excellent — a mid-80s changeup and a low-80s slider. Cueto is very, very good.

Bullpen Status
It all starts at the back-end for the Reds, who have an elite closer in LHP Aroldis Chapman (0.54 FIP). He actually tweaked his hamstring covering first base during the All-Star Game, but apparently it’s only a minor issue and he is expected to be ready for this weekend. RHP Jonathan Broxton (3.14 FIP) is setting up while LHP Manny Parra (3.98 FIP) handles the left-on-left stuff.

RHP Sam LeCure (3.85 FIP) and RHP J.J. Hoover (4.96 FIP) are Price’s primary middle innings guys while RHP Logan Ondrusek (3.46 FIP), RHP Carlos Contreras (2.66 FIP in limited time), and RHP Jumbo Diaz (5.42 FIP in limited time) handle everything else. Here is the requisite photo of the 6-foot-4, 315-pound Diaz. It’s an eight-man bullpen for the time being. Both teams have well-rested bullpens thanks to the All-Star break, but check out our Bullpen Workload page anyway. For the latest and greatest on the Reds, I recommend Redleg Nation.

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