Yankeemetrics: Light at the end of the tunnel? [May 13-15]

Chase "Mr. Clutch" Headley (AP Photo)
Chase “Mr. Clutch” Headley (AP Photo)

Raise the white flag
Friday’s pitching matchup between Chris Sale and Luis Severino looked like a complete mismatch on paper, and that’s how it played out in real time as the White Sox crushed the Yankees, 7-1, in the series opener.

Sale went the distance, dominated the Yankees lineup and moved to 8-0 with a 1.67 ERA this season. He also lowered his career ERA versus the Yankees to 1.17, the best mark against the Yankees by any pitcher in major-league history who has made at least five starts against the team.

Holding the Yankees to one run on six hits, Sale also became the first White Sox pitcher with a complete game win at Yankee Stadium since Jim Abbott on July 18, 1995. The last White Sox pitcher to allow one run or fewer in a nine-inning complete-game win at Yankee Stadium was Neil Allen in 1986.

Severino was removed in the third inning after surrendering seven runs, and fell to 0-6 with a 7.46 ERA in seven starts. The only other Yankees in the last 100 years to go winless in their first seven starts of the season, and lose at least six of those games, were Chien-Ming Wang (2009), Doyle Alexander (1982) and Stan Bahnsen (1969).

Two good to be true
The Yankees bounced back from Friday’s deflating loss with a 2-1 victory on Saturday afternoon, improving to 9-2 against the White Sox at Yankee Stadium since the start of 2013, their best record in the Bronx against any team over the past four years.

The win was also their first this season when scoring fewer than three runs; entering Saturday, the Yankees were 0-16 in those games, the worst record among all MLB teams.

Ivan Nova, making his second start of the season, was outstanding in giving the Yankees 5 2/3 innings of one-run ball. He’s now allowed one run or fewer in six of his seven starts against the White Sox, including all three at Yankee Stadium. His 2.42 career ERA versus Chicago is the best by a Yankee pitcher in the Wild Card era (min. 44 innings).

Dellin Betances relieved Nova in the sixth inning and struck out all four of the batters he faced. That’s the second time in his career he’s thrown more than an inning and punched out every guy.

He is the only Yankee pitcher in the last 100 years to have multiple outings like that. Two other active pitchers have two such games on their resume: Steve Geltz (Rays) and Kenley Jansen (Dodgers).

Milestone Man (mlb.com)
Milestone Man (mlb.com)

Don’t call it a comeback
Slowly, but surely, the Yankees are starting to dig themselves out of the massive hole they dug themselves into during the first month of the season. After taking the rubber game on Sunday afternoon against White Sox, the Yankees clinched their third series in a row and finished off a strong 10-game homestand at 7-3.

Carlos Beltran, hitless in his previous three games, broke out of that mini-slump in style with a towering home run in the sixth inning to give the Yankees a 5-4 lead. It was also the 400th of his career, putting Beltran in rare company with some of baseball’s greatest sluggers. He is the:

  • 54th player in MLB history with 400 career homers;
  • eighth player to reach the 400-homer milestone in a Yankee uniform (Babe Ruth, A-Rod, Lou Gehrig, Mickey Mantle, Reggie Jackson, Gary Sheffield, Alfonso Soriano);
  • fourth switch-hitter to reach the milestone (Chipper Jones, Mickey Mantle and Eddie Murray);
  • third Puerto Rican in the exclusive club (Carlos Delgado and Juan Gonzalez).

Beltran’s legacy is more than just homers, though, he’s one of the best all-around, five-tool players. There are now three players in major-league history with at least 400 homers, 75 triples, 1,000 walks and 300 stolen bases in a career: Beltran, Willie Mays and Barry Bonds.

While Beltran provided the biggest milestone moment of the game, Chase Headley delivered the decisive blow with a two-out, pinch-hit RBI double in the bottom of the seventh that broke a 5-5 tie. It was his fifth go-ahead hit in the seventh inning or later since his debut in pinstripes on July 22, 2014. That’s tied with A-Rod for the most go-ahead hits in the seventh inning or later among Yankees during that span.

5/13 to 5/15 Series Preview: Chicago White Sox

$40M+ in career earnings for Melky. (Matt Hazlett/Getty)
$40M+ in career earnings for Melky. (Matt Hazlett/Getty)

For the first time since 2012, the White Sox are visiting the Bronx in the first half of the season. These series have been a staple of the September schedule the last few years for whatever reason. The Yankees and White Sox kick off a three-game series tonight. This is the only trip the South Siders will make to New York this year.

What Have They Done Lately?

The two best teams in baseball this season both play in Chicago. The Cubs have the game’s best record at 25-8 and the White Sox have the second best record at 23-12. The ChiSox’s +35 run differential is sixth best in MLB. They had an off-day yesterday and did lose two straight to the Rangers before that, but still. They’re really good. The White Sox have won 13 of their last 19 games overall.

Offense & Defense

As you’d expect given their record, the White Sox have a good offense this season, one that has averaged 4.43 runs per game with a team 101 wRC+. They started really slow before picking up the pace the last few weeks. Kinda like the Yankees, I guess. Manager Robin Ventura has one injured position player and he’s not really injured: 3B Todd Frazier (117 wRC+) cut up his lip pretty bad Wednesday falling into the stands to make a catch. He’s listed as day-to-day and I would be shocked if it keeps him out of the lineup tonight.

Frazier. (Tom Pennington/Getty)
Frazier. (Tom Pennington/Getty)

The ChiSox generally have a set lineup. RF Adam Eaton (122 wRC+) leads off, 1B Jose Abreu (104 wRC+) and Frazier bat third and fourth, and LF Melky Cabrera (122 wRC+) and 2B Brett Lawrie (137 wRC+) back them up as the No. 5 and 6 hitters. SS Jimmy Rollins (87 wRC+) and CF Austin Jackson (72 wRC+) have been sharing time in the No. 2 spot. OF Avisail Garcia (117 wRC+) and UTIL Jerry Sands (74 wRC+) are splitting DH time while C Alex Avila (82 wRC+) and C Dioner Navarro (64 wRC+) split catching duties. That’s the regular lineup. IF Tyler Saladino (41 wRC+) and IF Carlos Sanchez (30 wRC+) are the other bench players.

Last season the White Sox were the worst defensive team in baseball by almost every objective measure. They ranked dead last in UZR (-39.5) and third to last in DRS (-39) among the 30 clubs. The additions of Frazier, Rollins, Lawrie, and Jackson have improved things substantially. Melky still takes funny routes and Lawrie has a tendency to get a little crazy and make mistakes by rushing things, but otherwise the ChiSox have solid or better defenders all around the field. Huge, huge improvement defensively from last season.

Pitching Matchups

Friday (7pm ET): RHP Luis Severino (vs. CWS) vs. LHP Chris Sale (vs. NYY)
There was a time a few weeks ago when folks were talking about the possibility of a Sale trade in the wake of the Drake LaRoche nonsense. That blew over quickly, huh? Sale, who just turned 27, has a 1.79 ERA (2.76 FIP) in seven starts and 50.1 innings this season. He talked about trying to get quicker outs back in Spring Training, and the result is his lowest strikeout rate (24.9%) and second highest ground ball rate (45.2%) as a starter. He still doesn’t walk anyone (5.3%) and he’s tough to take deep (0.54 HR/9). Sale is death on left-handed batters and he chews up righties pretty good too. He averages about 94 mph with his four-seamer and sits a tick below that with his sinker. A sweepy upper-70s slider is Sale’s trademark pitch, but his mid-80s changeup is really good too. Everything plays up because he has that funky delivery as well. Sale is on the very short list of the best pitchers in baseball. He’s a Cy Young candidate year after year because his stuff is phenomenal and he’s as cold and calculated as it gets (GIF via @Nick_Pants):

Chris Sale bat

Saturday (1pm ET): RHP Ivan Nova (vs. CWS) vs. LHP Jose Quintana (vs. NYY)
The one who got away. Quintana, 27, spent the 2010-11 seasons in the Yankees’ minor league system, but the team opted not to add him to the 40-man roster to prevent him from becoming a minor league free agent, so he signed with the White Sox prior to 2012. He ranks tenth among all pitchers in WAR since then. D’oh! Quintana is off to the best start of his career this season, pitching to a 1.38 ERA (2.12 FIP) in seven starts and 45.2 innings. His strikeout (24.0%), walk (5.1%), and homer (0.20 HR/9) numbers are all excellent, though I’m not sure that homer rate is sustainable given his home ballpark and low ground ball rate (40.3%). Quintana is been hard on lefties throughout his career. Righties too, but not as much. He operates with low-90s four-seamers and sinkers, as well as a 90 mph cutter he didn’t have while with the Yankees. Pitching coach Don Cooper is renowned for teaching the cutter and that’s how Quintana picked it up. An upper-70s curve and low-80s changeup are his two secondary pitches. This dude’s tough. The White Sox are 13-1 in the 14 games started by Sale and Quintana this season, by the way.

Sunday (1pm ET): RHP Masahiro Tanaka (vs. CWS) vs. RHP Miguel Gonzalez (vs. NYY)
The Yankees tried to sign Gonzalez to a minor league contract a few weeks back, but he instead opted to join the White Sox because they offered a clearer path to a rotation spot. The ChiSox pulled the plug on John Danks a few days ago, creating a spot for Gonzalez. The 31-year-old former Oriole has allowed six runs on 14 hits and five walks in eleven innings so far this season. He’s struck out ten and made two starts. Gonzalez’s platoon split has traditionally been small because his mid-80s splitter/changeup hybrid is an equalizer against lefties. His fastball has sat in the low-90s early this season, and he also throws upper-80s cutters and upper-70s curves. Gonzalez’s game plan is get ahead in the count so he can go to the split-change. That’s it.

A good ex-Yankee. (Mike McGinnis/Getty)
A good ex-Yankee. (Mike McGinnis/Getty)

Bullpen Status

The White Sox were able to improve their bullpen over the winter by doing nothing. Two key setup relievers, RHP Matt Albers and RHP Nate Jones, returned from injuries midway through last season and gave the bullpen a nice boost. This year those two have been available since Opening Day. Here is their relief crew:

RHP Matt Albers: 16.1 IP, 12 H, 6 R, 4 ER, 4 BB, 11 K, 2 HR
RHP Scott Carroll: 2.1 IP, 2 H, 3 R, 3 ER, 1 BB, 2 K, 0 HR
LHP Zach Duke: 13.2 IP, 12 H, 4 R, 4 ER, 3 BB, 13 K, 0 HR
LHP Dan Jennings: 14.1 IP, 15 H, 4 R, 4 ER, 5 BB, 11 K, 1 HR
RHP Nate Jones: 14.2 IP, 6 H, 3 R, 3 ER, 3 BB, 14 K, 0 HR
RHP Zach Putnam: 13.1 IP, 10 H, 5 R, 5 ER, 3 BB, 14 K, 1 HR
RHP David Robertson: 14.2 IP, 8 H, 2 R, 2 ER, 6 BB, 17 K, 0 HR

Robertson is the closer — he did throw an inning in Yankee Stadium last year, so if he pitches this series, it won’t be his first appearance in the Bronx as a visitor — and Jones is the primary setup man. Jones throws really, really hard. Albers is in the setup mix too. Duke is manager Robin Ventura’s go-to lefty in the late innings. Putnam and Jennings are the middle men and Carroll is the long man.

The White Sox had an off-day yesterday, so their bullpen is as fresh as it’s going to get. Check out our Bullpen Workload page for the status of Joe Girardi‘s bullpen.

The Rest of MLB [2016 Season Preview]

(Presswire)
(Presswire)

The new season is upon us. Opening Day is Monday, which means it’s time to wrap up our annual Season Preview series. As always, we’ll end the series with a quick look around the league. Some of this is serious, most of it isn’t. Enjoy.

Arizona Diamondbacks
Why They’ll Suck: The middle infield is a mess and their corner outfield defense is going to be pretty bad if Yasmany Tomas plays left everyday. Also, they’ll probably trade some good players to unload a bad contract again.
Bold Prediction: Shelby Miller actually pitches well. I have no idea why so many analysts think he’s bad.

Atlanta Braves
Why They’ll Suck: Because they are trying to suck. Rebuilding is just a nice way of saying tanking.
Bold Prediction: Nick Markakis beats his ZiPS projection and slugs .370.

Chicago Cubs
Why They’ll Suck: They’re going to strike out way too much. It’s also only a matter of time until someone gets bit by some wild animal Joe Maddon brings into the clubhouse.
Bold Prediction: Adam Warren is their best starter. Boom!

Chicago White Sox
Why They’ll Suck: They lost their leader, Drake LaRoche.
Bold Prediction: We find out Adam LaRoche was the one who complained about Drake LaRoche being in the clubhouse all the time.

Cincinnati Reds
Why They’ll Suck: Their rotation is Homer Bailey, Anthony DeSclafani, Michael Lorenzen, Jon Moscot, and John Lamb. No, wait, that’s the list of their injured starters. Now they have to turn to the B-team.
Bold Prediction: Joey Votto finally loses his mind, but in a polite, Canadian way. He’s already doing this between pitches:

Joey Votto

Cleveland Indians
Why They’ll Suck: In all seriousness, their entire starting outfield is either hurt (Michael Brantley, Lonnie Chisenhall) or suspended (Abe Almonte). They’re a Corey Kluber or Carlos Carrasco injury away from 85 losses. Beware.
Bold Prediction: Francisco Lindor leads all shortstops in WAR.

Colorado Rockies
Why They’ll Suck: The Rockies exist in a perpetual state of suck. Fun Fact: They have never once won a division title. They’ve finished as high as second place only three times in their 23 years of existence.
Bold Prediction: They finally trade Carlos Gonzalez. I’m thinking … Orioles.

Detroit Tigers
Why They’ll Suck: They’ve punted defense at the four corner positions and, inevitably, the relievers they acquired this winter will stink.
Bold Prediction: Justin Verlander bounces back and finished in the top five of the Cy Young voting.

Houston Astros
Why They’ll Suck: Karma for doing very little in the offseason outside of adding a new closer and fifth starter. The rebuild is supposed to be over.
Bold Prediction: Carlos Correa is more Alex Gonzalez than Alex Rodriguez.

Kansas City Royals
Why They’ll Suck: They replaced Johnny Cueto and Ben Zobrist with Ian Kennedy and Christian Colon. Like, on purpose.
Bold Prediction: Kennedy wins 18 games and Colon hits .310. Eff the Royals, man.

Los Angeles Angels
Why They’ll Suck: The Angels have surrounded Mike Trout with as little position player talent as possible in an effort to make him look even greater by comparison.
Bold Prediction: Jered Weaver’s fastball hits 84 mph once or twice.

Los Angeles Dodgers
Why They’ll Suck: The Dodgers have surrounded Clayton Kershaw with as little pitching talent as possible in an effort to make him look even greater by comparison.
Bold Prediction: It becomes clear Yasiel Puig peaked early.

Miami Marlins
Why They’ll Suck: The fans and players are doomed to pay for Jeffrey Loria’s evil villian-ness. Fun Fact: They’ve never won a division title either. They’ve also never lost a postseason series.
Bold Prediction: Christian Yelich breaks out and puts up Andrew McCutchen numbers. I’m serious about that one.

Milwaukee Brewers
Why They’ll Suck: They’re another team that is going to suck on purpose. Before long they’re going to trade Jonathan Lucroy too.
Bold Prediction: Ramon Flores hits 15 dingers with a .350 OBP.

Minnesota Twins
Why They’ll Suck: I don’t know, but I’m sure Twins fans will blame it on Joe Mauer.
Bold Prediction: Miguel Sano plays right field better than Torii Hunter did last year.

New York Mets
Why They’ll Suck: They’re still the Mets. Case in point: the recent Matt Harvey bladder story. Last year’s pennant didn’t change anything in that regard.
Bold Prediction: They have to trade for a starting pitcher at the deadline.

Oakland Athletics
Why They’ll Suck: No joke, I can name only one A’s starter (Sonny Gray) and one A’s infielder (Marcus Semien). Is Bobby Crosby still playing?
Bold Prediction: Josh Reddick gets traded for a holy crap package at the trade deadline. I’m thinking … Royals.

Philadelphia Phillies
Why They’ll Suck: Still reeling from the 2009 World Series, obviously.
Bold Prediction: Someone not named Maikel Franco or Ryan Howard hits a home run.

Pittsburgh Pirates
Why They’ll Suck: The baseball gods will not let John Jaso’s hair go unpunished.

(Presswire)
(Presswire)

Bold Prediction: Mark Melancon is traded at the deadline. I’m thinking … Dodgers.

St. Louis Cardinals
Why They’ll Suck: The Cardinals will never suck. The only thing they suck at is sucking. Their ace made four starts and their highest paid position player hit four home runs last season, and they still won 100 games. The Cardinals, man.
Bold Prediction: Three years after learning to play second base and one year after learning to hit for power, Matt Carpenter picks up pitching and saves 46 games.

San Diego Padres
Why They’ll Suck: I’m not entirely convinced the Padres exist at this point. Are we sure MLB still lets them into the league? What an amazingly nondescript franchise.
Bold Prediction: Someone throws the first no-hitter in franchise history. I’ll go with Colin Rea, who is a real player and definitely not someone I just made up.

San Francisco Giants
Why They’ll Suck: They buy into the “even year trend” a little too much and give Buster Posey and Madison Bumgarner weeks off at a time this summer.
Bold Prediction: Bumgarner out-slugs the starting outfield.

Seattle Mariners
Why They’ll Suck: I don’t know how it will happen exactly, but they’ll suck. The Mariners are the Wile E. Coyote of MLB. Every time they looked poised for success, they crash into the mountain with a tunnel painted on the side of it.
Bold Prediction: Bob Cano mashes 30 taters and finishes in the top three of the MVP voting. I’m expecting a big year from Robbie.

Texas Rangers
Why They’ll Suck: They won’t suck. They’ll be just good enough to get thisclose to winning something meaningful before having it ripped away again. Think Game Six of the 2011 World Series, or the seventh inning of Game Five of last year’s ALDS. That’s how the Rangers roll.
Bold Prediction: Josh Hamilton leads the team in home runs.

Washington Nationals
Why They’ll Suck: They’re the NL version of the Red Sox. They have talent and everyone buys the hype. It should work! But it doesn’t.

Homer Simpson

Bold Prediction: Bryce Harper is even better this year.

Recent free agent signings clear up trade possibilities for Brett Gardner

(Elsa/Getty)
(Elsa/Getty)

Over the last week, the two best unsigned free agent outfielders came off the board when Justin Upton signed with the Tigers and Yoenis Cespedes agreed to return to the Mets. Others like Alex Gordon and Denard Span signed a few weeks back, so, with Spring Training a little less than a month away, Dexter Fowler (tied to draft pick compensation) and Austin Jackson are the top available free agent outfielders.

The Upton and Cespedes signings took away two potential trade partners for Brett Gardner, though a trade with the Mets was never all that likely. I think Brian Cashman and Sandy Alderson would do a deal if they felt it improved their teams, but a crosstown trade might make the ownership groups a little queasy. No one wants to lose a trade to their geographic rival.

Anyway, with Upton and Cespedes (and Gordon and Span) off the board, the trade market for Gardner has become a little more clear. Gardner has been on the market all winter as the Yankees look for ways to land a young pitcher, though the crowded free agent outfield class complicated things. Now the free agent market isn’t so crowded. Here are the teams that could be in play for Gardner.

Baltimore Orioles
The Orioles did bring back Chris Davis recently, yet their outfield situation remains Adam Jones and some combination of Hyun-Soo Kim, Nolan Reimold, L.J. Hoes, and Rule 5 Draft pick Joey Rickard. And I guess Mark Trumbo too. There’s a clear fit for Gardner in Baltimore — the O’s could bat him leadoff and drop Manny Machado into a run-producing lineup spot — but the chances of a major Yankees-Orioles trade are tiny.

Chicago Cubs
The Cubbies have been after Gardner for a while — they originally wanted Gardner in the Starlin Castro trade — and they could still use a true center fielder and leadoff hitter. Chicago does have a full outfield at the moment (Kyle Schwarber, Jason Heyward, Jorge Soler), though Soler’s name has popped up trade rumors, so a Gardner deal could rekindle those efforts. But, again, the problem with a Cubs trade all winter has been their lack of young pitching to offer. I’d argue the Yankees should focus on getting the best possible talent for Gardner regardless of position, but they’re focused on arms.

Chicago White Sox
Reports indicate the White Sox were in on both Upton and Cespedes in recent weeks, though they were not willing to extend their offer beyond three years. The ChiSox have added both Todd Frazier and Brett Lawrie this offseason in an effort to fix one of MLB’s least productive infields, and they shouldn’t stop there. They’re not good enough to be AL Central favorites and not bad enough to rebuild. With Chris Sale, Jose Quintana, and Jose Abreu in their primes, the White Sox should continue adding in an effort to contend, and Gardner would be a massive upgrade over Avisail Garcia. Quintana or Carlos Rodon for Gardner isn’t happening, but could Erik Johnson? That’s the extent of Chicago’s pitching depth.

Cleveland Indians
The Indians, again. They talked to the Yankees about an outfielder for pitcher trade earlier this winter, though obviously nothing came of it. Cleveland has plenty of pitching to spare and they need outfield help — Michael Brantley will be out until at least May following shoulder surgery, so their outfield mix right now is Rajai Davis, Abe Almonte, Lonnie Chisenhall, and Collin Cowgill — so it seems like there should be a match. The problem? The Indians operate with a very strict budget and don’t have room for a $13M a year outfielder. The Yankees would have to pay down some of Gardner’s salary, which of course means they should expect more in return. The Tribe likely have their eyes on cheaper outfield options.

Los Angeles Angels
It never seemed like the Angels were going to make a serious run at Cespedes or Upton. They have a clear need for a left fielder — the currently have a Daniel Nava/Craig Gentry platoon planned, and yikes — and some pitching depth to spare, namely Nick Tropeano, Tyler Skaggs, Andrew Heaney, and Matt Shoemaker. Some are more available than others, obviously. (Heaney’s close to untouchable, I think.)

Calhoun. (Stephen Dunn/Getty)
Calhoun. (Stephen Dunn/Getty)

I think there’s a real possibility for an Angels trade right now. Angels GM Billy Eppler is said to be a big Gardner fan and the Halos really need both a leadoff hitter and another lefty bat. Gardner would push Kole Calhoun into a middle of the lineup spot. He’s a great fit for them, assuming it works financially. (The Angels want to stay under the luxury tax threshold and have about $12M in wiggle room.) I don’t think I would call a trade likely, but I do think if Gardner is dealt, the Angels are the favorite to land him.

St. Louis Cardinals
The Cardinals have a lot of outfielders (Matt Holliday, Tommy Pham, Randal Grichuk, Stephen Piscotty, Brandon Moss) but no true center fielder. Grichuk’s the most athletic of the group so he has the center field job by default. St. Louis doesn’t strike me as the kind of organization to make a knee-jerk reactionary move, but it’s tough to ignore all the improvements the Cubs made this winter, so the Cardinals could feel some pressure to keep pace. Gardner would solve a clear roster problem and the Cards have some young pitching to offer (Marco Gonzales, Tim Cooney). Money is no issue either — St. Louis bid big for Heyward and David Price, and were in the market for Chris Davis, yet they’ve only walked away with Mike Leake this offseason.

Washington Nationals
I’m not sure the Nationals are a possibility for Gardner following the Ben Revere trade. Yes, they made a run at Cespedes, so they’re still willing to add an outfielder, but Gardner and Cespedes are very different types of players. Washington might not want another left-handed hitting leadoff type with Revere on board. Never say never, but it appears the Nationals are no longer a match for Gardner following the Revere trade.

* * *

Keep in mind the Yankees are not the only team with a spare outfielder at the moment. The Dodgers would probably love to move Andre Ethier before he gains ten-and-five rights in April, plus the Rockies have four outfielders for three spots (Carlos Gonzalez, Charlie Blackmon, Corey Dickerson, Gerardo Parra). The outfield trade market is not limited solely to Gardner. Outfield needy teams have options.

Realistically, the Angels and Cardinals appear to be the best possible fits for Gardner. The White Sox, Cubs, and Indians are also potential suitors to a lesser extent. I still don’t expect the Yankees to trade Gardner before Spring Training, but at least now the trade market is a bit more clear with the big name free agents off the board. That also means there are fewer suitors, though there are still several clubs out there in need of outfield help.

Yankeemetrics: Stayin’ alive (Sept. 24-27)

(AP Photo)
(AP Photo)

Not for Sale
It was another one-man offensive show on Thursday night, this time starring the 38-year-old Carlos Beltran. His bullet line-drive three-run homer in the third inning was the difference in the Yankees 3-2 win over the White Sox.

Beltran turned on a 98-mph fastball from lefty Chris Sale, the second time in less than a week he’s hit a pitch that fast over the fence. (On Sept. 19 against the Mets, he crushed Noah Syndergaard’s 99-mph heater into the right field seats.) Since Pitch F/X tracking began in 2008, those are the only two home runs Beltran has hit off pitches 98 mph or faster.

One of the guys on base for Beltran’s blast was Alex Rodriguez, who scored his 2,000th run on that play. A-Rod joined Willie Mays and Barry Bonds as the only players in major-league history with at least 2,000 runs scored, 300 homers and 300 stolen bases in a career.

Michael Pineda scattered eight hits over six strong innings, allowing just one run with six strikeouts and no walks. That pinpoint control is something we’ve probably taken for granted with Pineda — he’s riding a streak of 43 straight starts with two or fewer walks, including all 38 with the Yankees. The former streak (43 starts) is tied for the eighth-longest in the last 100 years by any pitcher, and the latter streak (38) is the longest by a Yankee since at least 1914.

Double trouble
Another night of wasted opportunities doomed the Yankees on Friday night against the White Sox. Despite putting 14 guys on base, they scored just two runs in a crushing 5-2 loss that dropped them further behind the can’t-lose Blue Jays in the AL East race.

The loss also snapped a nine-game home win streak against the White Sox, which was the team’s longest since winning nine in a row against the South Siders at Yankee Stadium in 1951-52.

Yankees had their chances against White Sox starter Carlos Rodon, who couldn’t find the strike zone, but four rally-killing double plays really hurt them. The Yankees entered the game with the second-fewest double plays grounded into in the AL and third-fewest in MLB.

Rodon’s lack of control resulted in five walks, two hit by pitches and a wild pitch. The last pitcher to reach each of those totals in a game versus the Yankees was Chan Ho Park in 2003. To find a guy that did all that, plus allow just two or fewer runs like Rodon did against the Yankees, you have to go back more than 50 years — Jim Kaat with Twins in 1962.

Double your pleasure
Two runs weren’t enough to win on Friday, but it got the job done on Saturday thanks to a terrific performance from not-fill-in starter Adam Warren and a lockdown bullpen effort from the Circle of Trust.

Warren allowed just one run on three hits in six innings pitched, and then handed the ball off to the Justin WilsonDellin BetancesAndrew Miller trifecta, who sealed the 2-1 win with three perfect frames. It was an important victory in more ways than one — it was win No. 85 on the season, one more than they had all of last year.

Warren isn’t flashy but he gets the job done — this was his 12th straight start of no more than three runs allowed dating back to the beginning of May. That the longest streak of its kind in a single season by a Yankee pitcher since Ron Guidry in 1981, and the longest by a righty since Jim Bouton in 1965.

Severino stops Sox
It is rare when a pitching prospect lives up to the hype, especially in the Bronx, but Luis Severino is doing that and more this season. He dominated the White Sox on Sunday afternoon with six scoreless innings for his fifth win, lowering his ERA to 2.77 in 10 starts.

Severino is the first Yankee in the last 100 years with eight starts of no more than two runs allowed within his first 10 career games. He wasn’t the only Yankee rookie that shined on Sunday, though.

Greg Bird chipped in with two hits and an RBI. He now has eight doubles and 10 homers in his 39 games, becoming the only Yankee in the last 100 years to reach each of those totals before his 40th career game.

Slade Heathcott went 2 for 3 and now owns a .391/.400/.696 line in 14 games. That’s the best batting average, on-base percentage and slugging percentage of any guy on the Yankees roster right now.

9/24 to 9/27 Series Preview: Chicago White Sox

Robin Ventura

It’s not often the Yankees play a non-AL East team this late in the season — they’ve played only six series against a non-division rival after September 20th since 2005 — but the final homestand of the season begins tonight with the first of four against the White Sox. There are only eight regular season games at Yankee Stadium remaining in 2015. Hopefully there will be many more in October. The Yankees took two of three from the White Sox in Chicago in early-August.

What Have The White Sox Done Lately?

The ChiSox just split four games with the Tigers — they won the first two games then lost the last two — and have won only three of their last eight games overall. Chicago is 72-80 with a -69 run differential on the season. Amazingly, the White Sox are still mathematically alive in the wildcard race. Barely alive, but alive nonetheless.

Offense & Defense

Runs have not come easily for the ChiSox this season. They average only 3.97 runs per game with a team 88 wRC+, both of which are bottom five marks in MLB. U.S. Cellular Field is pretty hitter friendly, remember. Manager Robin Ventura’s only injured player is 1B Adam LaRoche (78 wRC+), who is day-to-day while nursing a knee injury.

The Melkman. (Presswire)
The Melkman. (Presswire)

Ventura has had two even average hitters in his lineup all season: leadoff man OF Adam Eaton (114 wRC+) and three-hole hitter 1B Jose Abreu (133 wRC+). That’s it. OF Tryace Thompson (162 wRC+) has done quite well in a sample of 94 plate appearances. (Tryace is Klay’s brother.) Ex-Yankee OF Melky Cabrera (95 wRC+) started very slow but has been better in recent weeks, posting a 121 wRC+ since the All-Star break. OF Avisail Garcia (84 wRC+) doesn’t look like he’s ever going to live up those “mini-Miguel Cabrera” comparisons he got as a prospect.

SS Alexei Ramirez (72 wRC+) has had the worst season of his career in 2015. 2B Micah Johnson (62 wRC+ in limited time) and IF Carlos Sanchez (66 wRC+) are platooning at second and IF Mike Olt (63 wRC+ in limited time) has taken over as the everyday third baseman. IF Tyler Saladino (71 wRC+) started hot but has since played his way onto the bench, where he joins IF Gordon Beckham (59 wRC+) and OF J.B. Shuck (97 wRC+ in limited time). C Geovany Soto (96 wRC+) somehow gets fewer at-bats than C Tyler Flowers (71 wRC+). UTIL Leury Garcia and C Rob Brantly are the September call-ups.

The White Sox are also a sneaky bad defensive team. Eaton has a reputation for being good but the defensive stats hate him this year and have pretty much every season of his career aside from 2014. Melky has a strong arm but his routes are as bad as ever, and while Garcia has a penchant for robbing homers, he lacks range. Sanchez is a very good defender and Ramirez remains solid — not what he once was, but still solid — but otherwise the rest of the infield is below-average. For what it’s worth, Flowers rates exceptionally well as a pitch-framer. He’s also thrown out roughly one-quarter of attempted base-stealers, which is below-average.

Pitching Matchups

Thursday (7pm ET): RHP Michael Pineda (vs. CWS) vs. LHP Chris Sale (vs. NYY)
The Yankees almost missed Sale this series. Almost. He was scheduled to start yesterday’s game, but the ChiSox decided to give rookie righty Frankie Montas a spot start instead, so Sale goes tonight. For shame. Sale, 26, has a 3.47 ERA (2.67 FIP) in 29 starts and 194.2 innings this year. His strikeout rate (32.5%) leads qualified AL starters and is second in MLB to Clayton Kershaw (32.9%). Sale’s walk rate (5.0%) is very good while both his grounder (42.9%) and homer (0.97 HR/9) numbers are hovering around the league average. He has a negligible platoon split (.285 vs. 282 wOBA in favor of righties). Sale actually added velocity this year and now sits in the mid-90s with his two-seamer and will occasionally touch 97-98. He was more low-90s and touching 95-96 the last few years. Both his mid-80s changeup and upper-70s slider are swing-and-miss pitches. The relatively high ERA has more to do with the team defense than anything Sale has done. He’s tremendous.

Friday (7pm ET): LHP CC Sabathia (vs. CWS) vs. LHP Carlos Rodon (vs. NYY)
The White Sox selected the 22-year-old Rodon with the third overall pick in last summer’s draft, and he was in the big leagues by April. Rodon has a 3.78 ERA (3.81 FIP) in 133.1 innings spread across 22 starts and three relief appearances, and he’s been excellent of late, pitching to a 1.66 ERA (3.41 FIP) in his last seven starts and 48.2 innings. Chicago has been spacing out his starts to keep his workload down these last few weeks. Maybe that’s helping his performance. Anyway, Rodon walks too many batters (11.4%) but otherwise has good to great strikeout (23.3%), grounder (47.4%), and homer (0.74 HR/9) rates. He’s crushed lefties (.227 wOBA) and gotten crushed by righties (.354 wOBA). Rodon lives in the mid-90s with his two and four-seam fastballs, and his moneymaker is a filthy upper-80s slider. That’s the pitch that got him drafted so high. Rodon also throws a few mid-80s changeups per start. The Yankees pounded Rodon for eight runs in three innings in their meeting last month.

Rodon. (Presswire)
Rodon. (Presswire)

Saturday (4pm ET): RHP Adam Warren (vs. CWS) vs. LHP John Danks (vs. NYY)
The Yankees have Andrew Bailey on the roster trying to come back following shoulder capsule surgery. The 30-year-old Danks is a reminder Bailey may never get back to where he was before surgery. Danks had his shoulder capsule repaired in 2012 and has a 4.69 ERA (4.78 FIP) in 498.2 innings since returning, including a 4.59 ERA (4.57 FIP) in 28 starts and 166.2 innings this year. It was a 4.12 ERA (4.19 FIP) in 971.1 innings before the injury. Danks is actually one of the lucky ones. Many don’t make it back from a torn capsule at all. Anyway, Danks has a good walk rate (7.0%) but below-average strikeout (16.3%), grounder (38.7%), and homer (1.30 HR/9) numbers this year. Righties (.351 wOBA) have hammered him compared to lefties (.304 wOBA). Danks lives in the upper-80s with his two and four-seam fastballs post-shoulder surgery, and a notch below that with his cutter. A low-80s changeup is his go-to offspeed pitch, and he’ll also flip a few mid-70s curveballs per start as well. He held New York to one run in 5.2 innings last month. Danks always seems to pitch well against the Yankees, doesn’t he? The numbers are not as good as I expected though.

Sunday (1pm ET): RHP Luis Severino (No vs. CWS) vs. TBA
Chicago’s starter for Sunday is still listed as TBA, but in all likelihood it will be right-hander Jeff Samardzija, who is having a yucky walk year. The 30-year-old has a 5.04 ERA (4.18 FIP) in 31 starts and 207 innings this season, though to his credit, he chucked a one-hit shutout against the Tigers last time out. Only threw 88 pitches too. Samardzija’s walk rate (5.6%) is very good but his strikeout (18.1%), grounder (39.4%), and homer (1.17 HR/9) numbers are all below-average. He’s also been hit way harder by lefties (.356 wOBA) than righties (.302 wOBA). Samardzija operates with a mid-90s four-seamer and a low-90s cutter, which set up mid-80s sliders and splitters. The slider is for righties, the splitter for lefties. The Yankees scored nine runs in 4.2 innings against the former Notre Dame wide receiver back in August. If Samardzija doesn’t start Sunday, it figures to be either righty Erik Johnson or lefty Jose Quintana.

The Yankees, meanwhile, have listed Pineda, Sabathia, Warren, and Severino as their starters for this series in that order, though it’s possible they will change gears and re-insert Masahiro Tanaka into the rotation at some point. They have several options to get him lined up for the wildcard games. If Tanaka doesn’t pitch this series, then he figures to make just one final regular season tune-up start against the Red Sox in the next series.

Bullpen Status
Unsurprisingly, Ventura is working with a stinky bullpen. Former Yankee RHP David Robertson (3.34 ERA/2.47 FIP) is the closer, and although he’s struggled a little of late, he’s been pretty good overall. (The Yankees didn’t see him in Chicago a few weeks ago.) LHP Zach Duke (3.64/4.67) and RHP Nate Jones (3.44/4.94) are Robertson’s primary setup men. Former Yankees draft pick Jake Petricka (3.73/3.42) will see high-leverage work as well.

RHP Matt Albers (1.29/3.51), LHP Dan Jennings (4.15/3.57), and RHP Zach Putnam (3.91/4.21) are Ventura’s other regular relievers. The crop of September call-ups includes RHP Scott Carroll and RHP Daniel Webb. Carroll, Webb, Putnam, and Jennings all pitched yesterday. Our Bullpen Workload page can keep you updated on Joe Girardi‘s bullpen. Head over to South Side Sox for the latest and greatest on the ChiSox.

(GIF via @cjzero)

Update: White Sox pull Robertson back off trade waivers

(Jon Durr/Getty)
(Jon Durr/Getty)

2:11pm ET: As expected, the White Sox pulled Robertson back off trade waivers, reports Heyman. The Yankees couldn’t work out a trade before the 2pm ET deadline. Robertson can not be traded to the Yankees or any other team now. (Well, that’s not true. The White Sox could put him on trade waivers again, but they would not be revocable the second time around.)

11:00am ET: According to Jon Heyman, the Yankees have claimed their former closer David Robertson off trade waivers from the White Sox. A deal is considered unlikely, however. The claim expires at 2pm ET today, meaning the two sides have until then to work out a trade. If they don’t, the White Sox will either pull Robertson back (yup) or let him go to the Yankees for nothing (nope).

Robertson, 30, is having another excellent year, pitching to a 2.60 ERA (2.09 FIP) with a career best 5.4% walk rate in 52 innings. His strikeout rate is still elite (35.0%) but he is getting fewer grounders than he has at any point in the last five seasons (38.3%), though that’s not necessarily a red flag. D-Rob has always gotten a ton of weak pop-ups. Robertson’s been Robertson. Pretty much the same guy we watched in pinstripes all those years.

The Yankees let Robertson walk this past offseason for big picture reasons. They decided they were better off signing Andrew Miller to a smaller contract and getting the draft pick for Robertson, which makes sense. Miller signed a four-year, $36M deal while Robertson took four years and $46M from Chicago. So the Yankees ended up with a comparable reliever, a draft pick (used to take shortstop Kyle Holder), and an extra $2.5M per year.

Prior to the trade deadline the Yankees reportedly spoke to the Padres about closer Craig Kimbrel, and were said to be willing to part with top shortstop prospect Jorge Mateo to make it happen. Robertson is not as good as Kimbrel and he’s owed more money ($38M through 2018 vs. $27M through 2017), though that doesn’t mean he would come cheap. Consistently great relievers are very hard to find. Robertson’s a valuable commodity.

Last week Brain Cashman confirmed the Yankees have placed a lot of waiver claims this month, though obviously none of those players ended up in pinstripes. I think claiming Robertson was more about blocking him from potentially going to the Blue Jays or Astros, two other AL contenders the Yankees will have to deal with either again in the regular season or possibly in the postseason, than it was bringing him back to New York.

Teams don’t claim players unless they are comfortable taking on the contract, though I don’t think the White Sox would let Robertson go for nothing. The contract isn’t that onerous. The Yankees were hesitant to trade close to MLB prospects at the deadline and there’s no reason to think they’d be more willing to trade them for Robertson now, not when they already have a great bullpen.