The Up & Down Arms [2015 Season Review]

Davies. (Presswire)
Davies. (Presswire)

The big league roster portion of our 2015 Season Review series comes to an end today. All that’s left are the spare pitchers who made cameos with the Yankees this summer. These guys were on the bullpen shuttle but weren’t regulars, if you know what I mean. They came up to the big leagues once or maybe twice in 2015 and that was it. The average number of big league innings thrown by the players in this post this season: four. Let’s get to it.

Danny Burawa

The Yankees selected Burawa, a Long Island kid, out of St. John’s in the 12th round of the 2010 draft. He went unselected in the 2013 Rule 5 Draft, but the Yankees didn’t want to risk it again last offseason, so he was added to the 40-man roster. The Yankees saw him as part of that pipeline of power arms they stashed in Triple-A.

Burawa, 26, started the season in the Triple-A Scranton bullpen. He was called up to MLB for the first time in late-June and appeared in one game, allowing four runs in two-thirds of an inning against the Tigers. Burawa was sent back to Triple-A the next day, demoted to Double-A a month later, then in mid-August he was claimed off waivers by the Braves after being designated for assignment to clear a 40-man spot for Garrett Jones, who re-signed with the Yankees following Dustin Ackley‘s injury.

All told, Burawa had a 2.55 ERA (3.56 FIP) in 49.1 Triple-A innings with the Yankees this year. He was called up by the Braves in September and saw a fair amount of work, allowing five runs in 12.1 innings. Burawa has nasty raw stuff — PitchFX says his fastball averaged 94.9 mph and his slider 85.4 mph — but his lack of control always held him back.

Kyle Davies

The 32-year-old Davies was signed last offseason to be the designated Triple-A veteran innings eater. He spent the entire season in the RailRiders rotation aside from one MLB appearance, when he gave the Yankees 2.1 scoreless innings of long relief on April 12th. That was the ESPN Sunday Night Game when the Bombers scored seven runs against Clay Buchholz in the first inning. You remember that.

That was actually Davies’ first appearance of the season. (The Triple-A season started April 9th.) The Yankees designated him for assignment the next day, he accepted the outright assignment, and he spent the rest of the season soaking up innings for the RailRiders. Davies had a 3.30 ERA (3.35 FIP) in 152.2 innings for Triple-A Scranton. He was the first pitcher to throw 140+ innings for the RailRiders since Ramon Ortiz (169.1) and Adam Warren (152.2) in 2012. Davies is now a free agent.

Jose DePaula

Last winter the Yankees signed DePaula to a Major League contract, which was curious because he had been hampered by injuries in recent years and didn’t have a whole lot of experience above Single-A. They saw something they liked though, so they gave him a split contract worth $510,000 in the big leagues and $175,000 in the minors.

DePaula, 27, came down with a shoulder problem in Spring Training and did not make his regular season debut until early-June. He made three starts with Triple-A Scranton, then was called up in mid-June for long relief work. On June 21st, the same day Burawa made his debut, DePaula made his big league debut and allowed one run in 3.1 mop-up innings against the Tigers.

Back to Triple-A went DePaula (and Burawa) the next day. DePaula made three more starts with Triple-A Scranton before coming down with another shoulder problem, one that ended his season. He finished the year with 5.20 ERA (3.48 FIP) in 27.2 Triple-A innings plus the one MLB appearance. The Yankees designated DePaula for assignment in late-June to clear a 40-man spot for Ivan Nova. He became a minor league free agent after the season.

Lindgren. (Presswire)
Lindgren. (Presswire)

Jacob Lindgren

Unlike most of the other players in this post, Lindgren came into the season as a well-regarded prospect. He was New York’s top draft pick (55th overall) in the 2014 draft and he zoomed through the system as a college reliever. Lindgren pitched at four levels in 2014 and nearly made the Yankees out of Spring Training this season. They instead sent him to Triple-A for more fine tuning.

After 15 appearances with the RailRiders, the Yankees called Lindgren up in late-May and showed they were planning to stick with him. When they needed to clear a roster spot a few days later, they designated David Carpenter for assignment when they could have easily sent Lindgren back to Triple-A. I guess that was part of the team’s sudden youth movement this past season.

Lindgren, 22, appeared in seven games with the Yankees and allowed four runs on five hits and four walks, including three homers. He struck out eight. The team sent him back to Triple-A in mid-June because they desperately needed a fresh long reliever, and soon thereafter Lindgren told the trainers he’d been pitching with some elbow pain. He had season-ending surgery a few days later to remove a bone spur from his elbow.

All told, Lindgren had a 1.23 ERA (1.88 FIP) in 22 Triple-A innings plus a 5.14 ERA (8.13 FIP) in seven MLB innings this past season. He’s expected to be ready in time for Spring Training — there was some thought he’d be ready to pitch in September, but the team decided not to rush it — and again figures to compete for a bullpen spot. Even if Lindgren doesn’t win a big league job in camp, I’m sure we’ll see him at some point in 2016.

Diego Moreno

The Yankees originally acquired the 28-year-old Moreno from the Pirates in the A.J. Burnett trade a few years ago. He’s spent the last few seasons in the farm system either pitching or going through the Tommy John surgery ordeal. Moreno started 2015 in the Triple-A bullpen and stayed there until late-June, when he was called up to MLB for the first time. He appeared in two games (two runs in two innings) before being sent back down.

Moreno returned to the RailRiders soon thereafter but did get a second call up in late-July. The Rangers knocked Chris Capuano out of the game in the first inning on July 28th, then Moreno came in and chucked 5.1 scoreless and hitless innings to earn his first MLB win.

Rather than be sent right back to Triple-A for a fresh arm, the performance earned Moreno some more time with the big league team. He allowed four runs in three innings against the White Sox four days later, and a few days after that he landed on the 15-day DL. Moreno later had season-ending surgery to remove bone chips from his elbow.

In 53.2 innings with the RailRiders, Moreno had a 2.18 ERA (2.73 FIP) this year. He also allowed six runs in 10.1 big league innings. The Yankees dropped Moreno from the 40-man roster after the season and he became a minor league free agent.

James Pazos

People can’t help but overreact to Spring Training stats, I’m guilty of it too, so when Pazos allowed two hits in 4.1 innings during Grapefruit League play, there was some thought he could crack the Opening Day roster. That didn’t happen. He actually suffered an undisclosed injury at the end of camp and started the season on the shelf.

Pazos. (Presswire)
Pazos. (Presswire)

Pazos, 24, was the team’s 13th round pick in the 2012 draft. Once healthy, he joined Double-A Trenton in late-May, stayed there for a six-game tune-up, then was promoted to Triple-A Scranton. He remained there until being called up to the big leagues for the first time on September 1st. Pazos was Rule 5 Draft eligible this offseason, so the Yankees got a head start on things and added him to the 40-man roster in September.

Joe Girardi used Pazos fairly regularly in September — he appeared in eleven of the team’s final 28 games — but he was limited almost exclusively to left-on-left matchup work. Pazos threw five scoreless innings in pinstripes and stranded four of five inherited runners. Left-handed batters did go 3-for-11 (.273) with one walk and one strikeout against him though. Not too great.

Pazos finished the season with a 1.09 ERA (2.46 FIP) in 33 Triple-A innings plus those five MLB innings. He was on the wildcard game roster but didn’t pitch in the game. As a hard-throwing lefty — PitchFX says his fastball averaged a healthy 93.2 mph in September — it’s easy to understand why the Yankees added Pazos to the 40-man roster. We’ll see him plenty next summer, I reckon.

Jose Ramirez

The 25-year-old Ramirez has been on the prospect radar an awfully long time. He’s always had explosive stuff but injury problems and generally unreliable command never allowed him to really break through. I thought there was a chance Ramirez would make the team out of Spring Training, but that didn’t happen (seven runs in 8.2 Grapefruit League innings didn’t help his case) and he started the season in Triple-A.

Ramirez spent some time as the RailRiders’ closer and was called up to the big leagues for the first time this year in mid-May. He got hammered by the Royals on May 15th (four runs in one inning) and was sent right back down. Ramirez was called up again in mid-June, allowed one run in two innings across two appearances, then was sent back down once again. The Yankees traded him to the Mariners with Ramon Flores for Ackley at the deadline.

Seattle called Ramirez up when rosters expanded in September and he got hammered again (nine runs in 4.2 innings). The stuff is electric, though in an admittedly small sample size (17.2 innings), he hasn’t come close to positive results (20 runs!). Ramirez had a 2.90 ERA (2.67 FIP) in 49.2 innings for the RailRiders this summer. He’ll be out of minor league options next year and the Yankees simply wouldn’t have a spot for him in the bullpen. I’m sure that factored into the decision to trade him.

Sergio Santos

Santos, 32, has had a pretty long and interesting career. He was a first round pick (27th overall in 2002) as a shortstop, developed into a very good prospect (Baseball America ranked him No. 37 on their 2004 top 100 list), was traded in a deal that involved Troy Glaus and Orlando Hudson in 2005, converted to pitching when he stopped hitting in 2009, then became a 30-save guy with the White Sox. How about that?

The Yankees picked Santos up off the scrap heap in mid-June after the Dodgers cut him loose and he never went to Triple-A. He immediately joined the big league team. Santos pitched in two games with the Yankees: he allowed two runs in two innings against the Orioles on June 13th, then he inherited a bases loaded, no outs jam against the Marlins on June 15th and escaped without allowing a run.

Four days later Santos was placed on the 15-day DL with right elbow inflammation. A few days after that he underwent Tommy John surgery, ending his season. Santos remained on the MLB DL the rest of the season and collected a big league paycheck, so good for him. He elected free agency after being dropped from the 40-man roster after the season.

Matt Tracy

The Yankees drafted Tracy in the 24th round of the 2011 draft and he was a sleeper prospect for a little while there, but he never did take that next step forward in his development. He still reached the big leagues though. On April 11th, the day after the 19-inning marathon loss to the Red Sox, Tracy was called up to the show for the first time to give the Yankees a fresh long arm.

Tracy, 27, allowed three unearned runs in two innings against Boston that afternoon. The Yankees designated him for assignment the next day — clearing a 40-man spot for Davies — and the Marlins claimed him off waivers. Four days later, the Yankees re-claimed him on waivers when Miami tried to drop him from the 40-man roster. Tracy was then optioned to Triple-A Scranton.

On April 26th, after the call-up and waivers shenanigans, Tracy finally made his season debut with Triple-A Scranton. He spent the summer bouncing back and forth between Triple-A and Double-A — he went wherever an extra arm was needed, basically — and was unceremoniously outrighted off the 40-man roster in mid-June. No one claimed him on waivers that time.

Tracy finished the 2015 season with a 3.79 ERA (3.77 FIP) in 90.1 minor league innings. He had just the one brief stint in the big leagues. As far as I know Tracy remains in the organization, and if so, he figures to again do the Double-A and Triple-A shuttle thing in 2016.

* * *

And finally, a special shout-out goes out to right-hander Joel De La Cruz, who was called up in April but didn’t appear in a game. He was called up on April 13th to replace Davies, sat in the bullpen for two days before being optioned back to Triple-A, then was outrighted off the 40-man roster a few days after that. That is the extent of his big league service.

De La Cruz, 26, is most notable for being the guy Brian Cashman tried to trade for Alfonso Soriano two years ago before ownership jumped in and dealt Corey Black. De La Cruz had a 3.31 ERA (4.04 FIP) in 84.1 innings split between Double-A Trenton and Triple-A Scranton this summer. He became a minor league free agent after the season and recently signed a minor league deal with the Braves. De La Cruz didn’t get to pitch during his time with the Yankees, but hey, two days of big league pay plus health care for life is pretty cool.

DotF: Sanchez and Pirela off to great starts in winter ball

Got some minor league notes and links to pass along before we get to the first round of performance updates from winter ball:

  • Keith Law (subs. req’d) posted some Arizona Fall League scouting notes, saying LHP Ian Clarkin “looked great in a four-inning stint” in his first game of the year. “Clarkin was 89-93 mph, mostly 90-92, for his entire outing, with a plus curveball that he really controlled well, 73-75 with tight spin. His changeup needs some work, and was actually better at 82 mph (where it had more action) than at 85-86 mph (where it was more like a bad fastball),” wrote Law. He added Clarkin’s ceiling as a potential No. 2 starter remains unchanged despite the elbow injury.
  • In a separate post (subs. req’d), Law says RHP Domingo Acevedo was “throwing 94-98 mph” with bad command, plus an 84-87 mph slider that “took a lot of effort for him to get to it.” He kinda sorta likened Acevedo to Dellin Betances because of his “high-effort delivery and long arm swing as well as a general lack of athleticism.”
  • Sam Dykstra posted some really simple Triple-A park factors for both 2015 and 2013-15. Once again, Triple-A Scranton’s PNC Field ranked among the toughest parks to hit, with a 0.876 (!) park factor this year. That means it suppressed offense to 87.6% of the league average. It was 0.926 from 2013-15. The four full season affiliates play in what have historically been pitchers’ parks.
  • Some transaction news from Matt Eddy: both IF Gregorio Petit and RHP Kyle Davies elected free agent after the end of the season, as expected. Also, Eddy reports the Yankees signed 16-year-old Venezuelan OF Jhon Moronta. I can’t find much about him, just this.

Now on to the performance updates from fall and winter ball, which take place at the same time of year. As a reminder, Ramiro Pena used to crush winter ball every year. The guy was like Babe Ruth down there. Don’t take the numbers too seriously. Small samples and the caliber of competition is not good.

Arizona Fall League

  • OF Tyler Austin: 8 G, 9-29 (.310), 6 R, 2 2B, 2 HR, 4 RBI, 4 BB, 7 K, 1 SB, 1 CS (.310/.394/.586) — had a rough regular season — that included getting dropped from the 40-man roster — so it would be great if he could rake here and head into the offseason feeling good about things
  • OF Dustin Fowler: 4 G, 5-18 (.278), 4 R, 1 RBI, 1 BB, 4 K, 3 SB (.278/.316/.278)
  • C Gary Sanchez: 10 G, 17-44 (.386), 7 R, 2 2B, 1 3B, 5 HR, 15 RBI, 2 BB, 6 K, 2 SB, 1 CS (.386/.404/.818) — leads the AzFL in homers (by one), RBI (by five), and total bases (by five)
  • IF Tyler Wade: 9 G, 5-29 (.172), 2 R, 2 2B, 5 RBI, 1 BB, 4 K, 1 SB, 1 CS (.172/.219/.276)
  • LHP Ian Clarkin: 3 IP, 3 GS, 12.1 IP, 15 H, 7 R, 7 ER, 9 BB, 8 K, 1 HB, 1 WP (5.11 ERA, 1.95 WHIP) — ugly numbers, but he’s a) healthy!, and b) shaking off an entire season of rust
  • LHP Chaz Hebert: 5 G, 0 GS, 8 IP, 7 H, 4 R, 4 ER, 2 BB, 4 K, 1 HR (4.50 ERA, 1.13 WHIP) — he had a breakout regular season (2.46 ERA and 3.07 FIP in 139 innings) and is Rule 5 Draft eligible, plus he’s left-handed, but I’ll be surprised if the Yankees protect him … 40-man roster space is pretty tight
  • LHP Tyler Webb: 5 G, 0 GS, 6 IP, 5 H, 3 R, 3 ER, 0 BB, 4 K, 1 HR (4.50 ERA, 0.83 WHIP) — first game action since late-June … he missed a bunch of time with a tendon problem in his hand

Dominican Winter League

  • IF Abi Avelino: 1 G, 0-1
  • RHP Andury Acevedo: 3 G, 0 GS, 4.1 IP, 4 H, 3 R, 3 ER, 1 BB, 5 K, 1 HR, 2 HB (6.23 ERA, 1.15 WHIP)
  • RHP Joel De La Cruz: 1 G, 0 GS, 2 IP, 2 H, 2 R, 2 ER, 1 BB, 3 K (9.00 ERA, 1.50 WHIP)
  • UTIL Jose Rosario and SS Jorge Mateo are listed on rosters but have yet to appear in a game. They might not play at all, especially Mateo, who ended the regular season on the DL. (Albeit with a minor injury.) They’re listed on the rosters because the clubs hold their winter ball rights.

Mexican Pacific League

  • OF Rico Noel: 3 G, 1-12 (.083), 1 R, 1 2B, 1 RBI, 1 BB, 2 K, 1 SB (.083/.154/.169) — he’s a runner, not a hitter
  • RHP Gio Gallegos: 8 G, 0 GS, 5.2 IP, 12 H, 9 R, 9 ER, 2 BB, 9 K, 2 HR, 1 WP (14.29 ERA, 2.47 WHIP) — he’s allowed multiple runs in four of those eight outings, so it’s not just one disaster outing skewing the numbers
  • RHP Luis Niebla: 4 G, 4 GS, 24 IP, 15 H, 5 R, 5 ER, 7 BB, 14 K, 1 HR, 1 HB, 1 WP (1.88 ERA, 0.92 WHIP)
  • RHP Cesar Vargas: 8 G, 0 GS, 7 IP, 9 H, 1 R, 1 ER, 0 BB, 11 K, 1 HR (1.29 ERA, 0.92 WHIP)

Roberto Clemente Professional Baseball League (Puerto Rico)

  • RHP Bryan Mitchell, IF Cito Culver, and 2B Angelo Gumbs are listed on rosters but have not yet appeared in a game. The season just started yesterday. Mitchell threw only 104.2 innings during the regular season. He might be down here to get some more under his belt. His career high is 145.1 innings set back in 2013.

Venezuelan Winter League

  • C Francisco Arcia: 12 G, 11-32 (.344), 3R, 3 2B, 1 3B, 5 RBI, 5 BB, 4 K (.344/.432/.500)
  • IF Ali Castillo: 4 G, 3-15 (.200), 2 R, 1 2B, 2 RBI, 1 BB, 3 K (.200/.294/.267)
  • OF Ben Gamel: 13 G, 13-48 (.271), 7 R, 4 2B, 2 HR, 10 RBI, 7 BB, 12 K, 1 SB, 1 CS (.271/.351/.479) — following up his excellent regular season with a nice showing in winter ball … I’m sure the Yankees were happy to let him play winter ball this year, it gives them more time to evaluate him before deciding whether to protect him from the Rule 5 Draft this offseason
  • OF Ericson Leonora: 12 G, 4-22 (.182), 5 R, 1 HR, 4 RBI, 5 K, 1 SB, 1 HBP (.182/.217/.318)
  • OF Teodoro Martinez: 18 G, 20-69 (.290), 2 3B, 7 RBI, 3 BB, 8 K, 2 SB (.290/.318/.348) — I’m not even sure if he’s still in the organization, to be honest … the Yankees signed him at midseason when they needed some outfielders to help cover for injuries and promotions … that’s usually a part-time gig
  • UTIL Jose Pirela: 6 G, 11-20 (.550), 5 R, 1 2B, 1 HR, 4 RBI, 5 BB, 1 K (.550/.640/.750) — he always rakes in winter ball
  • RHP Luis Cedeno: 3 G, 0 GS, 2.2 IP, 3 H, 0 R, 0 ER, 1 BB, 1 K (0.00 ERA, 1.13 WHIP)
  • RHP Jaron Long: 4 G, 4 GS, 23.2 IP, 20 H, 5 R, 5 ER, 4 BB, 11 K, 1 HR (1.90 ERA, 1.01 WHIP) — between the regular season and winter ball, the ex-hitting coach’s kid has thrown 178.1 innings this year
  • RHP Mark Montgomery: 8 G, 0 GS, 6.2 IP, 6 H, 7 R, 7 ER, 5 BB, 9 K, 1 HR (9.45 ERA, 1.65 WHIP) — allowed three runs in two of those eight outings … everything else has been pretty good
  • IF Thairo Estrada is listed on a roster but has not yet played in a game.

Game Nine: Eovaldi For The Series Win

(AP Photo/Bill Kostroun)
(AP Photo/Bill Kostroun)

The Yankees tried and failed to win their first series of 2015 last night, but they have another chance in the rubber game against the Orioles tonight. The last time the Yankees lost three straight series to start the season was that awful 1991 season, when they didn’t win their first series of the year until mid-May. I feel like we’ve said “this is the first time the Yankees have done that since 1991” an awful lot the last few years.

Anyway, Nathan Eovaldi will be on the mound tonight, making his second start in pinstripes. The first was uneven — Eovaldi showed a big fastball and promising offspeed pitches, but struggled to put hitters away. Then again, everyone’s struggled to put the Red Sox away this year it seems. Hopefully the free swinging O’s have a tougher time with Eovaldi tonight. Here’s the starting lineup:

  1. CF Jacoby Ellsbury
  2. 3B Chase Headley
  3. RF Carlos Beltran
  4. 1B Mark Teixeira
  5. C Brian McCann
  6. DH Alex Rodriguez
  7. 2B Stephen Drew
  8. LF Chris Young
  9. SS Didi Gregorius
    RHP Nathan Eovaldi

The Orioles are sending right-hander Bud Norris to the mound. He got clobbered in his first start of the season by the Rays, allowing eight runs in three innings. Here is Baltimore’s lineup.

There’s no threat of rain at Camden Yards like last night. It’s cool and cloudy without only a slight breeze. Tonight’s game will begin a little after 7pm ET and you can watch on YES locally and MLB Network nationally. Enjoy the game.

Injury Update: Brett Gardner (wrist) told Chad Jennings he feels “much better today” and expects to return to the lineup Friday. He is available pinch-run and play defense tonight … Joe Girardi told reporters both Chris Capuano (quad) and Ivan Nova (elbow) are progressing well in their rehab. Capuano could be back within a month.

Roster Moves: The Yankees have called up RHP Branden Pinder for tonight’s game, the team announced. RHP Joel De La Cruz was optioned to Double-A Trenton to clear a roster spot. Also, RHP Kyle Davies was outrighted to Triple-A Scranton after being designated for assignment the other day.

Game Seven: Big Mike in Baltimore

BIG MIKE IS HERE

The Yankees needed last night’s win in the worst way and they have the right guy on the mound tonight to help turn that singular win into the start of a winning streak. With Masahiro Tanaka not pitching like 2014 Masahiro Tanaka at the moment, Michael Pineda is the staff ace, the one starter with no real performance concerns. It’s all health with him.

Alex Rodriguez is making his first start of the season at third base and I like that Joe Girardi is sending him out there during a Pineda start. Big Mike is not a ground ball pitcher (career 37.4% grounder rate), he’s a pop-up pitcher, so A-Rod‘s lack of range won’t be as much of an issue with him on the mound. I’m sure Buck Showalter will have one of his guys bunt towards third though. Maybe even Alejandro De Aza leading off the game. Here’s the starting lineup:

  1. CF Jacoby Ellsbury
  2. LF Brett Gardner
  3. DH Carlos Beltran
  4. 1B Mark Teixeira
  5. 3B Alex Rodriguez
  6. RF Chris Young
  7. C John Ryan Murphy
  8. SS Didi Gregorius
  9. 2B Gregorio Petit
    RHP Michael Pineda

The Yankees are in Baltimore to start a three-game series with the Orioles. Here is the O’s lineup.

It is on the cool side (mid-60s) and, as always, humid as hell in Baltimore. There is some rain in the forecast but not until later tonight, after midnight or so. It shouldn’t be an issue unless they play another 19 innings or something. Tonight’s game will begin a little after 7pm ET and you can watch on WPIX locally and ESPN nationally. Enjoy the game.

Daily Roster Move: RHP Kyle Davies was designated for assignment and RHP Joel De La Cruz was called up, the Yankees announced. De La Cruz threw three innings for Double-A Trenton on Friday and should be good for a few innings of long relief today, if necessary. He’s the guy the Yankees tried to send to the Cubs for Alfonso Soriano rather than Corey Black two years ago.

Injury Update: Jose Pirela (concussion) has been cleared to resume baseball activities and should begin playing in games next week. Brendan Ryan (calf) is making progress and hopes to return to the team in early May. [Ryan Hatch, Dan Barbarisi]

Game Six: All Eyes on Masahiro

(Presswire)
(Presswire)

So the first five games of the season have been pretty awful for the Yankees. I’m struggling to remember another five-game stretch when they looked this inept in just about all phases of the game. Thankfully, teams are never as bad as they look when they’re playing their worst (they’re also never really as good as they look when they’re playing their best), it just feels that way.

Masahiro Tanaka is making his second start of the season tonight, and yesterday he told reporters he watched some video and fixed some mechanical issues between starts. “I think I was able to make some adjustments after my first start up until today … I needed time to settle down and work on what I had to work on. I think the past four days were good for me,” he said to Josh Thomson.

Pitchers watch video and make adjustments between starts all the time, so this isn’t exactly out of the ordinary. But, because it’s Tanaka, it’s newsworthy. I just want to see him have some more confidence in his fastball tonight and not rely on his offspeed stuff all the time. Shying away from the fastball is no way to go through life. Also, maybe win? Could be cool. Here’s the starting nine:

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

Clay Buchholz will be on the mound for the Red Sox. Here’s their lineup.

It was a gorgeous day in New York today and the weather will be just as nice tonight. Tonight’s game will begin just after 8pm ET and you can watch on ESPN. Over/under on the number of “he should just have the surgery” comments is set at 19.5. Try to enjoy the game.

Roster Move: The Yankees have designated Matt Tracy for assignment and called up Kyle Davies, the team announced. Davies takes Tracy’s place on both the 25-man and 40-man rosters. Davies was scheduled to start for Triple-A Scranton tomorrow and should be good for many innings tonight, which I hope isn’t necessary.

Capuano injury, plan for Tanaka could change way Yanks build early-season bullpen

Whitley on the Opening Day roster might not be far-fetched. (Presswire)
Whitley on the Opening Day roster might not be so far-fetched. (Presswire)

Last week the Yankees lost projected fifth starter Chris Capuano for several weeks with a Grade II right quad strain. Capuano is the team’s most replaceable starter but that doesn’t mean the loss is insignificant. Someone else has to fill that rotation spot now and chances are it will be someone who was slated to open the year in the bullpen, either Adam Warren or Esmil Rogers, most likely. The loss will be felt somewhere.

The Yankees have also been discussing using a six-man rotation early in the season — not necessarily a strict six-man rotation, but rather strategically using a sixth starter on occasion to give the other guys rest. That makes sense considering Masahiro Tanaka, CC Sabathia, and Michael Pineda all have some kind of health concern. In fact, the team is planning to use Tanaka specifically every sixth day early in the season, according to Kevin Kernan.

The Yankees have a plan to keep Masahiro Tanaka as healthy as possible, and that means giving him an extra day of rest now and during the season so he pitches every sixth day.

“It’s something we’d like to do,’’ one Yankees official told The Post on Friday of keeping the rotation on a six-day spin.

Tanaka worked on a six-day schedule in Japan until signing with the Yankees last winter, and given his elbow situation, the extra day could be beneficial both short and long-term. April off-days and a strategic sixth starter will help the Yankees accomplish their goal of starting Tanaka every sixth day, though Capuano’s injury complicates things a little bit because it changes the bullpen construction.

Assuming Warren or Rogers replaces Capuano in the rotation — I think it’ll be Warren personally, but there are still three weeks of Spring Training to go — five of the seven bullpen spots are set:

  1. Dellin Betances
  2. Andrew Miller
  3. David Carpenter
  4. Justin Wilson
  5. Warren or Rogers
  6. ?
  7. ?

There are no shortage of candidates for those last two spots. Finding bodies won’t be difficult. The Yankees have the luxury of filling those spots any way they want because of all the available options. And with Capuano hurt and the Yankees wanting to start Tanaka every sixth day, the most practical way to fill both spots may be with long men. At least temporarily.

Baker. (Presswire)
Baker. (Presswire)

The thinking is one of those two long men — it would really be three long men in the bullpen when you include the Warren/Rogers spot — could step in as the sixth starter as needed to spell Tanaka (and the other starters) every so often. That would leave at least one more long man for other days, in case Warren/Rogers or any of the other starters go short. This isn’t rocket science, the more relievers in the bullpen who can throw multiple innings, the better.

Planning to carry multiple long men is one thing, but actually having multiple viable long men is another. The Yankees started last season with three relievers who could have been considered long relievers (Warren, David Phelps, Vidal Nuno), but that was a bit of an outlier. You don’t see many teams break camp with three guys like that. (I thought the Yankees would sent at least one to Triple-A to stay stretched out as the sixth starter, but nope.)

Here are the club’s long man candidates still in big league camp (listed alphabetically), assuming Warren and Rogers will be on the Opening Day roster in some capacity no matter what:

  • Scott Baker: Veteran guy who threw 80.2 generally ineffective innings (5.47 ERA and 4.78 FIP) for the Rangers last year. He’s thrown four innings across a pair of appearances this spring.
  • Kyle Davies: Threw 154.1 innings between Double-A and Triple-A last year and hasn’t pitched in MLB since 2011. He’s thrown four innings in three appearances during Grapefruit League play.
  • Jose DePaula: DePaula has dealt with numerous injuries in recent years and was limited to 51.1 innings in Triple-A last year. He’s made just one appearance this spring, throwing two innings.
  • Bryan Mitchell: Eleven innings in MLB last year and another 103 in the minors. He threw 145.1 minor league innings back in 2013. Mitchell has thrown four innings in two appearances this spring.
  • Chase Whitley: Made the conversion from bullpen to rotation last year and threw a career high 107 innings, including 75.2 in MLB. He’s thrown seven innings this spring, appearing in three games.

We can group these five guys into three different … well, groups. The Yankees have nothing invested in Baker and Davies long-term. They’re older pitchers trying to hang on and the team will not hesitate to run them into the ground, then designate them for assignment. It sounds rough but that’s baseball. Baker and Davies aren’t stupid, they know where they are at this stage of their careers.

Mitchell is an actual prospect and the Yankees do have reason to protect him with an eye towards the future. Mitchell will turn 24 next month and he’s also the least MLB ready of the bunch despite making his debut last season. He could use some more Triple-A time for fine-tuning. DePaula and Whitley are somewhere in the middle. Not really potential pieces of the long-term puzzle like Mitchell but probably not guys the Yankees would abuse a la Baker and Davies either.

The Yankees don’t have to decide on those final bullpen spots for a few weeks and by then they should have a better idea of Capuano’s timetable. If he’s expected back relatively soon, within the first week or two of the regular season, they could opt to take a short reliever who can be optioned down when Capuano’s healthy to make life easy. If he’ll miss a few weeks and not return until closer May, carrying two long relievers like, say, Baker and Whitley early on could make sense if the Yankees intend to stick to their strategic sixth starter plan.

Yankees sign right-hander Kyle Davies to minor league deal

(Jamie Squire/Getty)
(Jamie Squire/Getty)

The Yankees have signed journeyman right-hander Kyle Davis to a minor league contract, the team announced. Davies did receive an invitation to Spring Training and will be the team’s 27th non-roster invitee. Fun fact: Davies gave up Alex Rodriguez‘s 500th career home run (video).

Davies, 31, has not pitched in MLB since 2011, when he had 6.75 ERA (4.39 FIP) in 61.1 innings for the Royals. He has a career 5.59 ERA (4.89 FIP) in 768 career big league innings with Kansas City and the Braves. Davies spent last season in Triple-A with the Indians, where he had a 4.11 ERA (3.98 FIP) in 124.2 innings. He was out of baseball entirely in 2012 before resurfacing with the Twins in 2013.

Obviously the Yankees need rotation help, but I think Davies was signed to be the veteran innings guy for Triple-A Scranton rather than be a serious MLB option. The Yankees figure to dip into their minor league pitching reserves quite a bit this summer and someone has to pick up those innings for the RailRiders, like Bruce Billings and Brian Gordon last year or Chris Bootcheck the year before. Davies is that guy in 2015.