Game 122: Jorge Posada Day

Jorge Posada is not my all-time favorite Yankee but he is definitely in the top three. A switch-hitting catcher with power, patience, and a fiery attitude? How did anyone not like the guy? Posada is one of the four best catchers in franchise history, and, among all catchers in MLB history, he ranks third in walks (936), eighth in homers (275), ninth in OBP (.374), 15th in OPS+ (121), and 17th in WAR (48.4).

I don’t know if Posada will ever get into the Hall of Fame, he’s a borderline candidate, but he is going into Monument Park this afternoon. The Yankees are retiring his uniform No. 20 and will also honor Posada with a plaque. He helped the team to five World Series titles — he was a key contributor to four of them — and holds several franchise records, including games caught (1,518). Simply put, he is one of the best catchers in both Yankees and baseball history.

The Yankees want fans in their seats by noon for the pre-game ceremony, but, knowing how these things go, the ceremony itself probably won’t start until 12:15pm or 12:30pm ET. Will Derek Jeter make his second appearance at Yankee Stadium since retiring? I have to think so. The whole gang will probably be there. The weather’s great and it should be a really fun day.

As for the regularly scheduled afternoon game, here is the Indians’ lineup and here is the Yankees’ lineup:

  1. CF Jacoby Ellsbury
  2. LF Brett Gardner
  3. RF Carlos Beltran
  4. DH Brian McCann
  5. 1B Greg Bird
  6. 3B Chase Headley
  7. SS Didi Gregorius
  8. 2B Stephen Drew
  9. C John Ryan Murphy
    RHP Luis Severino

This afternoon’s game is scheduled to begin at 1:05pm ET and you can watch on YES locally and MLB Network nationally. The Posada ceremony will only be on YES, I believe. MLB Network usually doesn’t carry that stuff. For shame. Enjoy the ceremony and the game, folks.

Injury Updates: Michael Pineda (forearm) will rejoin the rotation Wednesday, Joe Girardi announced. Barring something unexpected, the team will do with a six-man rotation. Predictable … Bryan Mitchell (face) has passed all concussion tests and will throw a bullpen session tomorrow. Geez, sounds like he might be back fairly soon, huh?

Roster Moves: The Yankees have called up Branden Pinder and designated Chris Capuano for assignment, the team announced. Pinder was sent down ten days ago, so the Yankees brought him back as soon as possible.

Game 121: Three-Fourths

Tonight marks the three-quarters point of the season. Well, kinda. I guess the true three-quarters point would be the middle of the fifth inning of tomorrow’s game, but 121 games is close enough for me. The days are starting to get a little shorter, there weather was crisp this morning … it’s starting to feel a little bit like fall, which means time is running out on the 2015 season. These next few weeks should be pretty intense.

The Yankees dropped last night’s series opener against the Indians and, until that ninth inning rally, it was the most nondescript game of the year. Nothing interesting happened whatsoever. What can you do. Can’t win ’em all. The Yankees have still won six of their last eight games and that’s a pretty good pace. I’ll take more of that going forward. Here is the Cleveland lineup and here is the New York lineup:

  1. CF Brett Gardner
  2. 3B Chase Headley
  3. DH Alex Rodriguez
  4. C Brian McCann
  5. RF Carlos Beltran
  6. 1B Greg Bird
  7. LF Chris Young
  8. 2B Stephen Drew
  9. SS Brendan Ryan
    RHP Masahiro Tanaka

Very nice day in New York today. Blue sky, nice breeze, and a few clouds. Good day for a game. Tonight’s contest will begin just after 7pm ET and you can watch on YES. Enjoy the game.

Injury Updates: Mark Teixeira (leg) is getting better but is unlikely to play this weekend … Bryan Mitchell (face) played catch today … Dustin Ackley (back) went through fielding drills and could begin a minor league rehab assignment next week … Jacoby Ellsbury and Didi Gregorius are fine. Just getting the night off during this long stretch of games.

Game 120: Ivan and the Indians

(Presswire)
(Presswire)

The ten-game homestand is off to a pretty swell start. The Yankees just swept the Twins, coming from behind in all three games, and they’ve stretched their lead in the AL East back to two full games. (Three in the loss column!) There’s a lot of season left, but gosh, I would have signed up for being two games up on August 20th back in Spring Training in a heartbeat.

Ivan Nova will be on the mound tonight and although the raw results in his last two starts haven’t been great (seven runs in 12.1 innings), I feel like he’s finally starting to settle into a groove following Tommy John surgery. That last start in Toronto was pretty gutsy. That seems to be a common trait among the starters, these dudes really battle when they don’t have their best stuff. Hopefully tonight goes a little more smoothly. Here is the Indians’ lineup and here is the Yankees’ lineup:

  1. CF Jacoby Ellsbury
  2. LF Brett Gardner
  3. DH Alex Rodriguez
  4. C Brian McCann
  5. RF Carlos Beltran
  6. 1B Greg Bird
  7. 3B Chase Headley
  8. SS Didi Gregorius
  9. 2B Stephen Drew
    RHP Ivan Nova

It has been a lovely day in New York. Warm but not hot with a nice little breeze, bright blue sky with a few poofy clouds. The sky looks like a Bob Ross painting. I guess that would make them happy little clouds then, right? Not poofy? Anyway, tonight’s game will begin at 7:05pm ET and you can watch on YES. Enjoy.

Injury Updates: Mark Teixeira (leg) is doing better but he is still not available off the bench. He hasn’t started any baseball activities yet but should fairly soon … Bryan Mitchell (face) could start some physical activity soon. Nothing major yet, just some cardio work, but that’s a good sign.

Yankees have no shortage of candidates for September call-ups this year

Didi and Slade. (Presswire)
Didi and Slade. (Presswire)

Twelve days from now, the Yankees and every other team in baseball will be able to expand their rosters and carry up to 40 active players. September call-ups are somewhat controversial, lots of people don’t like seeing the final month of the season played with different rules, but I’m a fan of expanded rosters. Players get worn down during the course of the season, so the extra bodies in September are welcome.

For the 2015 Yankees, expanded rosters will be about much more than adding a third catcher or some spare arms for blowouts. They will be in position to add some real weapons to the roster even though most call-ups will be used in limited roles. Still, adding the extra players will be very beneficial. The Yankees have used their depth quite a bit this season and next month they’ll be able to have everyone on the roster at once.

During an interview with YES over the weekend, Brian Cashman said the player development staff has been told to prepare for mass call-ups on September 1st, so the Yankees won’t waste any time. They’re not going to wait for the Triple-A postseason to end or anything like that. The big league team is the priority and the Yankees are going to call guys up as soon as possible. Here’s a breakdown of who we will and could see next month.

Locks To Be Called Up

During that YES interview, Cashman said “any and all” of the relievers who have been shuttled up and down this summer will return in September, and it’s a long list. Caleb Cotham, Nick Goody, Branden Pinder, and Nick Rumbelow are the notables. (Rumbelow is up right now but that could change in a day or two the way things have been going this year.) Those are four extra arms on the 40-man roster who will be able to soak up any miscellaneous innings.

On the position player side, Slade Heathcott and Jose Pirela are safe bets to be called up to serve as the extra outfielder and extra infielder, respectively. Both are still on the 40-man and were up earlier this year — Pirela was sent down due to performance, Heathcott got hurt — and both offer different things. Heathcott adds speed and defense, Pirela offers versatility and another right-handed bat. Heck, I wouldn’t be completely surprised if Heathcott snuck onto the potential postseason roster as a pinch-running specialist.

Called Up If Healthy

Lindgren. (Presswire)
Lindgren. (Presswire)

Bryan Mitchell was just placed on the 7-day concussion DL after taking a line drive to the face, though earlier this week Joe Girardi told Chad Jennings there’s a chance Mitchell will be back in the bullpen within a week. That sounds … optimistic. Either way, Mitchell will be on the roster in September if he’s healthy. No reason to expect otherwise. He’s been on the 25-man roster for a big chunk of the year already.

Righty Chris Martin and lefty Jacob Lindgren are both on the Triple-A DL with elbow problems and figure to return in September, if healthy. Lindgren had surgery to remove bone spurs and the Yankees have said they expect him to return this year, so it’s just a question of whether he gets through his rehab in one piece. The nature of Martin’s injury is unknown. We’re just going to have to wait and see whether he’s healthy and able to pitch in September.

The Obligatory Third Catcher

Cashman confirmed the Yankees will call-up a third catcher because duh. Every team brings up a third catcher. The only catcher on the 40-man roster aside from Brian McCann and John Ryan Murphy is Gary Sanchez, who has hit a bit of a wall with Triple-A Scranton after crushing the level immediately after his promotion. Austin Romine has had a nice year too, but he’s not on the 40-man roster. My guess is Sanchez gets the call as the third catcher but rarely catches, sorta like Jesus Montero in 2011. (Also, Romine would require clearing a 40-man spot.) That is especially true if the race for a postseason spot goes right down to the wire, as expected. Sanchez might only catch in blowouts or after the team clinches all it can clinch.

Likely To Be Called Up, But Not Locks

There’s really only one player in this category: Rob Refsnyder. He’s had a good year in Triple-A, not a great year, and his brief four-game cameo in pinstripes earlier this year was a bit of a mixed bag. Some good, some not so good. There have been unconfirmed reports floating around that the Yankees were less than enthused with Refsnyder’s attitude during his call-up — not so much that he didn’t work hard, but that he was arrogant and acted entitled — and I suppose the club could keep him down in September as something of a wake-up call. My guess is Refsnyder comes up and takes second base platoon at-bats away from Brendan Ryan. I just wouldn’t put his chances at a call-up at 100%. Maybe it’s more like 95% or so.

Unlikely To Be Called Up

Among the healthy 40-man roster players, the only one who I think has less than a 50/50 chance of getting a September call-up is Tyler Austin. Another righty bat would be neat, but Austin’s had a very rough year and was recently demoted from Triple-A Scranton to Double-A Trenton. Players who have struggled like Austin usually don’t get called up unless there’s no other option. There’s a “reward” aspect to being a September call-up, and he didn’t earn this year.

Judge. (Presswire)
Judge. (Presswire)

The biggest name among non-40-man players is Aaron Judge, the team’s top prospect. The Yankees added both Refsnyder and Greg Bird to the 40-man early and called them up this year, but they were both performing in Triple-A. Judge has been striking out a ton of late and he won’t be Rule 5 Draft eligible for another few years, not another few months. I would be surprised if the Yankees tied up another 40-man spot by adding Judge. His time will come eventually. Just probably not this September.

Other non-40-man players I don’t expect to be called up in September: Ben Gamel, Brady Lail, James Pazos, and Johnny Barbato. Lail and Barbato just reached Triple-A and there are too many arms ahead of them on the depth chart to add them to the 40-man roster early. Gamel’s had a breakout season and I wouldn’t necessarily put his call-up chances at 0%. Heathcott will fill the “extra lefty hitting outfielder” role though, and I’m not sure the Yankees should clear a roster spot to add another. Pazos could be a victim of the number’s crunch more than anything. There simply might not be any room for another lefty reliever.

The Non-40-Man Wildcard

The non-40-man player who I think has the best chance of being called up in September is Andrew Bailey. He’s working his way back from shoulder surgery and been able to stay healthy for a few weeks now, plus he’s pitched effectively in all sorts of situations (back-to-back days, multiple innings, etc.) in the minors. The Yankees have put a lot of time and effort into helping him rehab these last two years, remember.

Cashman admitted Bailey was recently held out of a Triple-A game in case he needed to be called up to help the tired bullpen, but that didn’t happen. Bailey wasn’t needed. That they’ve already come thisclose to calling Bailey up this month leads me to believe they will bring him to the show once rosters expand. Bailey hasn’t pitched in MLB since getting hurt in July 2013. It’s been a long and difficult road back. Hopefully he stays healthy these next two weeks and gets the call in September.

The 40-Man Situation

The 40-man roster is full right now. It’s actually extra full. The Yankees have four players on the 60-day DL (Sergio Santos, Diego Moreno, Mason Williams, Chase Whitley) and none of them will be ready to be activated in September following their season-ending surgeries. The Yankees will need to clear a spot to call up, say, Bailey or Romine, and there are a few ways to do that.

First and foremost, the Yankees could call up an injured 40-man roster player and place them on the 60-day DL. Martin (elbow) and Domingo German (Tommy John surgery) are two candidates for that move. The Yankees haven’t done the call-up/60-day DL thing often — they did it with Justin Maxwell and Heathcott a few years ago, that’s pretty much it — but it is an option. Not wanting German to accumulate service time is understandable. Martin though? Who cares. Of course, he’d have to actually be hurt to pull this move. Can’t 60-day DL a healthy player.

Figueroa. (Presswire)
Figueroa. (Presswire)

The Yankees could always outright or designate a player for assignment to clear 40-man space. There just aren’t many obvious candidates. Perhaps they’ll decide to cut Chris Capuano again in September since they’ll have all the extra relievers and won’t necessarily need a long man. Cole Figueroa could also get the axe, especially if Refsnyder does get called up and/or Dustin Ackley gets healthy. Martin? He could lose his 40-man spot if healthy as well.

Capuano, Figueroa, and Martin are the three main 40-man casualty candidates. It would be a surprise if the Yankees dropped someone like Austin, Pirela, or Cotham from the roster. Those guys are probably the next three in line, if anything. Aside from Bailey and maybe Romine, the Yankees don’t figure to need any 40-man spots this September, though they could clear two with the call-up/60-day DL move. We’ll see.

* * *

Once September rolls around, the Yankees will obviously add a bunch of pitchers and a third catcher, plus a few extra position players. The extra arms will be a huge help, the bullpen has worked a ton this year, and Refsnyder could really help if he gets those platoon at-bats instead of Ryan. If not him, then Pirela. Also, Heathcott could be a factor as a defensive replacement/pinch-runner.

No one in their right mind is an expecting major impact from a September call-up — guys who do what Francisco Rodriguez did in 2002 are extremely rare — but they can help in limited roles. Those extra pitchers and platoon bats and pinch-runners are valuable in their own way. Given how tight the AL East race is at the moment, every little upgrade helps. September call-ups this year will be about more than resting regulars in blowouts.

Yankees place Mitchell on 7-day concussion DL, send down Cotham, add Capuano and Rumbelow

(NY Daily News)
(NY Daily News)

As expected, the Yankees made some moves this afternoon to bolster their bullpen following last night’s marathon. Bryan Mitchell was placed on the 7-day concussion DL and Caleb Cotham was sent down, the Yankees announced. Chris Capuano and Nick Rumbelow are up from Triple-A Scranton to replace them on the roster.

Mitchell, 24, was hit in the face by a line drive last night and suffered a small nasal fracture, which is probably good news. It could have been a lot worse. Mitchell will be monitored for concussion symptoms in the coming days. The 7-day concussion DL comes with all sorts of protocol — he has to pass a bunch of tests and be cleared by MLB’s doctors before he can return to action.

Cotham threw two innings and 44 pitches in relief of Mitchell last night and was an obvious choice to go down today. Capuano was designated for assignment Saturday, cleared waivers and accepted his outright assignment yesterday, and is back with the Yankees today. It’s his third stint with the team this year. Rumbelow is fresh — he threw 18 pitches Sunday and had three days off before that.

As our Bullpen Workload page shows, Joe Girardi‘s relief crew is going to be really shorthanded tonight. I have to think Dellin Betances, Adam Warren, and Chasen Shreve are all out of commission due to their recent workloads, leaving Capuano, Rumbelow, Andrew Miller, and maybe Justin Wilson behind CC Sabathia this evening.

Rotation depth stretched pretty thin following Mitchell’s injury

(Presswire)
Man down. (Presswire)

Early in last night’s win, the Yankees lost right-hander Bryan Mitchell to a small nasal fracture after he was hit in the face by a line drive in the second inning. It was a really scary moment and all things considered, Mitchell escaped with minor damage. He’ll be monitored for concussion symptoms the next few days but otherwise there is no significant facial fracture or eye damage. It could have been really, really bad.

“You’re sick. Sick to your stomach, praying for the best,” said Brian McCann to reporters after the game. “You’re just hoping for the best outcome. When I went out there, I was like ‘Are you alright?’ and he said ‘I’m alright, I just need to get off the field.’ So it was good that he was responsive.”

The injury was a total fluke. Mitchell had a split second to react and there was nothing anyone could have done about it. That’s one of the more brutal aspects of baseball. Mitchell started the game because the Yankees wanted to give their other starters extra rest. He’d been sitting in the bullpen has the long reliever for a few weeks now. Mitchell figured to be first in line whenever the team wanted to use a spot starter again going forward as well.

In the short-term, the Yankees will need to replace Mitchell as the long man. Chad Jennings reported last night that Chris Capuano has cleared waivers and accepted his outright assignment to Triple-A, though I bet he doesn’t make it to Scranton. I expect to see Capuano in the bullpen tonight. No, Capuano is not very good, but he can throw multiple innings and is by far the best candidate for the long man job right now. It makes sense to bring him back.

More importantly, the Yankees are now down their sixth starter, and, at this very moment, they only have five healthy Major League caliber starters. They have some warm bodies in Triple-A who could soak up innings if need be (Kyle Davies, for example), but as far as actual big league caliber players, there are only five such healthy starters in the organization right now. Mitchell’s hurt and so is Michael Pineda.

Being down to five starters is sorta scary, but the good news is the Yankees won’t have to ride this out too much longer. Big Mike is on a minor league rehab assignment and it seems likely he will make at least one more rehab start before rejoining the rotation. Pineda himself said he feels he needs another start just to build his pitch count a bit more — he threw 42 pitches in his first rehab start Sunday — and get a better feel for his changeup and slider.

In addition to Pineda’s return, rosters expand two weeks from today, so the Yankees will be able to call up plenty of extra pitchers to give Joe Girardi as many options as possible. They’ve been cycling through relievers all season and I’m guessing they’ll call all of those guys up on September 1st. Not after the Triple-A postseason or anything like that, the first day they’re eligible. The big league team is the priority.

So with Pineda returning and rosters set to expand, the Yankees only need their current rotation to hold down the fort for another two weeks. (I fully expect them to use a six-man rotation in September with Pineda joining the current starting five.) No, adding a bunch of relievers on September 1st doesn’t replace a lost starter like Mitchell, but innings are innings, and they’ll have plenty of bodies available.

The Yankees opted to stick with their internal rotation options rather than make a trade at the deadline, and hey, Luis Severino has made them look pretty smart so far. Mitchell’s injury was a total fluke, though it really stretches the club’s rotation depth nonethless. They need Pineda back soon and need to get by these next two weeks until rosters expand. Another rotation loss would be very tough to overcome at this point.

Update: Bryan Mitchell suffers small nasal fracture after being hit by line drive

(Presswire)
(Presswire)

8:00pm ET: Scary moment Monday night. Bryan Mitchell left tonight’s game in the second inning after being hit by a line drive in the face. It looked as though he was able to turn away at the last moment to avoid a direct shot, but it still hit him and deflected far into the outfield. Maybe it got him in the cheek or nose? Hopefully not the eye.

Here’s the play:

Mitchell was on the ground for a few moments but was eventually able to walk off the field with help from the trainer. He was bleeding quite heavily though and had a towel to his face. The Yankees have not yet given any updates on Mitchell but I’m sure one is coming soon enough. That was really scary. Hopefully it’s just a flesh wound.

Update (8:45pm ET): The Yankees announced Mitchell was taken to the hospital for a “full evaluation” but did not say where exactly the ball hit him. I’m sure he’s undergoing x-rays, concussion tests, the whole nine.

Update (10:05pm ET): Mitchell suffered a small nasal fracture and has been released from the hospital, the Yankees announced. He will be monitored for concussion symptoms going forward. All things considered, good news.