Scouting the Trade Market: Brandon McCarthy

(Dustin Bradford/Getty)
(Dustin Bradford/Getty)

Now that they have a new DH, the Yankees figure to focus on “pitching, pitching, pitching” this offseason. The free agent class really stinks though, especially with Rich Hill now off the board. Hal Steinbrenner recently said the Yankees could go into Spring Training with competition for two rotation spots, but I know I’m not alone when I say I’d like to see the Yankees add some pitching depth. Starters and relievers, ideally.

Because the free agent class is so thin, the Yankees and every other team figure to turn to the trade market. A young pitcher with considerable upside would be ideal given the club’s long-term outlook. Unfortunately every other team is looking for the exact same player, which complicates things. Acquiring a pitcher like that is going to cost you. The Yankees might have to get creative to address their rotation this winter, both short and long-term.

The Dodgers are among the few teams with excess pitching depth, so much so that Buster Olney reports they are shopping some veteran starters, including Brandon McCarthy. This isn’t the first time the Dodgers have shopped McCarthy — reports at the trade deadline indicated he was part of a proposed Yasiel Puig-for-Ryan Braun trade as a way to offseason salary — so he’s very available. Does a reunion make sense? Let’s look.

Recent Performance

The Dodgers gave the 33-year-old McCarthy a four-year deal worth $48M two offseasons ago, and in the first two years of the contract, he threw only 63 total innings due to Tommy John surgery. He had a 5.29 ERA (4.62 FIP) in those 63 total innings, including a 4.95 ERA (3.70 FIP) in 40 innings this past season. McCarthy’s strikeout rate (25.7%) was good. The walk (15.2%) and ground ball (34.7%) rates … not so much.

McCarthy returned from Tommy John surgery as a starter this past July, and after five good starts back, the wheels came off. He completely lost the zone in August and walked exactly five in three consecutive starts. McCarthy is usually an extreme strike thrower — he hadn’t walked as many as four in a start since 2009 — and he admitted to developing a case of the yips.

“Coming back from Tommy John, you’re not worried your career is over. The yips was a whole different thing,” said McCarthy to Eric Stephen in September. “(You’re thinking) ‘I don’t ever know if I can throw a baseball in a competitive Major League Baseball game.'”

McCarthy bounced back with a strong start in September — he walked one in 5.2 innings — before being shifted to the bullpen as part of a postseason roster audition. He made one relief appearance, faced six batters, and retired none of them. Five hits, one walk, six runs, zero outs. Ouch. That disaster outing raised McCarthy’s overall season numbers from a 3.60 ERA (3.62 FIP) to that 4.95 ERA (3.70 FIP).

Back in 2014, his last healthy season, McCarthy authored a 4.05 ERA (3.55 FIP) in exactly 200 innings. That includes a 2.89 ERA (3.22 FIP) with 22.2% strikeouts, 3.5% walks, and 49.1% grounders in 14 starts and 90.1 innings with the Yankees after coming over from the Diamondbacks. That’s the McCarthy whatever team acquires him will be hoping to get.

Current Stuff

When the Yankees had McCarthy for those few months in 2014, he operated with three low-to-mid-90s fastballs (four-seam, sinker, cutter) and a hard low-80s slurve. The Yankees famously allowed him to start throwing the cutter again after Arizona had him put him on the shelf for whatever reason. “I feel like myself again … I feel like I need that pitch to be successful,” he said after the trade.

That was two years and one elbow ligament ago. Things change. In his nine starts back following Tommy John surgery this year, McCarthy averaged right around 92 mph with his three fastballs — he did hump the four-seamer up as high as 95.5 mph — and 80 mph with the breaking ball. That’s down a tick from his time in New York. Here’s some video from his first start back from elbow reconstruction this year:

Let’s quickly compare the effectiveness of McCarthy’s individual pitches this year to his time with the Yankees, just to see how far away he is from being that guy.

  • Four-seamer: 11.9% whiffs/25.0% grounders in 2016 vs. 12.3%/40.4% in 2014
  • Sinker: 5.4%/54.5% in 2016 vs. 10.6%/54.1% in 2014
  • Cutter: 8.9%/30.0% in 2016 vs. 7.9%/44.4% in 2014
  • Slurve: 5.6%/34.2% in 2016 vs. 12.5%/61.7% in 2014

A decline pretty much across the board, which isn’t the most surprising thing in the world considering it was his first few starts back from major elbow reconstruction. Also, keep in mind we’re dealing with small sample sizes here. We have no choice, really. McCarthy didn’t spend much time with the Yankees and he hasn’t thrown much since returning from Tommy John surgery.

There are two pieces of good news, I’d say. One, McCarthy retained most of his velocity. He didn’t come back throwing in the upper-80s or anything like that. And two, he still has all his pitches. He’s regained feel for everything. Acquiring McCarthy means hoping he looks more and more like the 2014 version of himself as he gets further away from elbow reconstruction. Reasonable? Sure. Not guaranteed to happen though.

Injury History

This is where it gets really ugly. McCarthy has been on the disabled list every season but one since 2007. That was his 2014 season with the D-Backs and Yankees, conveniently his contract year. Good timing, I’d say. McCarthy’s list of injuries is scary. He’s not a guy who missed some time here and there with a pulled hamstring and things like that. Check it out:

  • 2007: Missed more than two months with a blister and a stress fracture in his shoulder.
  • 2008: Missed almost the entire season with a finger tendon strain and forearm soreness.
  • 2009: Missed more than three months with a stress fracture in his shoulder.
  • 2010: Missed almost the entire season with a stress fracture in his shoulder.
  • 2011: Missed seven weeks with a stress fracture in his shoulder.
  • 2012: Missed three months with a shoulder strain. Also took a line drive to the head in September that required emergency surgery to treat a skull fracture and epidural hemorrhage. Eek.
  • 2013: Missed two months with shoulder soreness.
  • 2014: Healthy!
  • 2015: Missed almost the entire season with Tommy John surgery.
  • 2016: Missed the first three months of the season with Tommy John surgery. Also missed six weeks late in the season with a hip issue.

Goodness. Guys get blisters and the line drive to the head was nothing more than a tragic fluke. But fractured shoulders and torn elbow ligaments? That’s scary. The stress fractures are recurring too. If it happens once, you kinda hope that’s the end of it. When it happens year after year, you have to be concerned going forward. How could you not be?

It’s important to note McCarthy changed up his workout program during the 2013-14 offseason in an effort to keep his shoulder healthy. It wasn’t just offseason workouts either. He does more intense work during the season as well. Nick Piecoro wrote about it a few years ago. The new workouts and elbow ligament could bode well for the future. Given his history though, it’s hard to count on McCarthy to be a 30-start guy going forward.

Contract Status

(Jayne Kamin-Oncea/Getty)
(Jayne Kamin-Oncea/Getty)

The Yankees tried to re-sign McCarthy two years ago, but they weren’t going to come anywhere close to guaranteeing him four years given his injury history. I wanted McCarthy back too, and I was hoping two years would get it done. Three years made me really nervous. Four years? Forget it. It was perfectly reasonable to walk away at that point.

Los Angeles gave McCarthy that four-year deal worth $48M, and guess what? It was front-loaded. He received a $6M signing bonus and $11M in salary in both 2015 and 2016. He’s owed $10M in both 2016 and 2017. What kind of pitcher can you buy for $10M annually in this free agent class? Not a very good one. Ivan Nova might get $13M a season this winter. Maybe more. Ivan Nova!

Now, $10M a season is not nothing. In the world of starting pitchers though, paying $20M across two years would be a relative bargain if McCarthy gives you, say, 300 league average innings. The pitching market is getting out of hand. The Yankees are trying to get under the luxury tax threshold at some point soon, and taking on a $10M luxury tax hit for a starter who is no lock to a) stay healthy, or b) be effective, is a bit dicey.

What About The Yankees?

The key to a potential McCarthy trade would be the intentions of the Dodgers. Are they looking to salary dump him? The Dodgers are reportedly working to lower payroll, partly because they have to meet MLB’s mandated debt limit within two years. Trading McCarthy and freeing up $10M this year and next would certainly help do that.

Or do the Dodgers see him as a legitimate trade piece and expect something of substance in return? That’s my guess. The free agent pitching market stinks and I’m sure more than a few teams would be willing to roll the dice with McCarthy on what is essentially a two-year deal worth $20M. His trade value isn’t high given the injuries, but chances are you won’t get him for a player to be named later or cash either.

The Yankees know McCarthy, and the fact they tried to re-sign him two years ago is an indication they like something about him. Maybe the Tommy John surgery and case of the yips — to be fair, McCarthy seemed to get over that, he walked only two of the 26 batters he faced after those three straight starts with five walks — has changed their mind. It’s certainly possible. Lots can change in two years.

McCarthy wouldn’t solve New York’s need for long-term rotation help, but he would give the team some depth behind Masahiro Tanaka, CC Sabathia, and Michael Pineda. They wouldn’t have to reply on youngsters like Luis Cessa and Luis Severino quite as much right out of the gate next year. Taking pressure off the kids would be pretty cool, I think. McCarthy’s contract is not a burden and it might not cost much to get him in a trade. If that’s the case, I think the Yankees should definitely be interested.

One thing the Yankees can learn from each of the four remaining postseason teams

(Thearon W. Henderson/Getty)
(Thearon W. Henderson/Getty)

At the moment, four teams still have a chance to win the World Series. Someone will end a long title drought this year too. Among the four clubs still alive, the Blue Jays have the shortest title drought, and they last won in 1993. The Dodgers last won in 1988 and the Indians last won in 1948. The Cubs? There were only 46 states in the union the last time they won a championship. Seriously. Look it up.

Obviously the four teams still alive are all very good, and any time a team has success, there’s something that can be learned from them. Front offices around the league wouldn’t be doing their jobs if they didn’t look at these four clubs and try to figure out what they’re doing better than everyone. The Yankees, who have been thoroughly mediocre the last four years, are no different. Here’s one thing they can take from each of the four teams still playing.

Cubs: You can have a great defense without shifting

The Cubs had a historically great defense this season. Truly historic. In terms of simple defensive efficiency, which is the percentage of batted balls they turned into outs, the 2016 Cubs were the 75th best defensive team in history (out of over 2,000 team seasons). Baseball Prospectus rates them as the best defensive team ever in park adjusted defensive efficiency. Whether they’re first best or 75th best doesn’t really matter. The Cubs were a phenomenal fielding team in 2016. No doubt about it.

Now here’s the kicker: no team in baseball used fewer infield shifts than the Cubs this season. The shifts didn’t follow Joe Maddon from Tampa, apparently. Huh. Chicago used the shift for only 10.1% of the batters their pitchers faced in 2016. The next lowest rate belongs to the Royals at 10.6%. The Astros used by far the most shifts this summer (33.2%) and the Yankees used the seventh most (26.5%). They’re weren’t all that far away from being second (Rays, 29.3%).

How did the Cubs field such a great team without shifting? Well, it starts with having tremendously athletic players gifted with defensive tools. That’s kind of a prerequisite for a great team defense. The Yankees have a few of those players themselves. The Cubs also seem to emphasize their pitchers’ strengths rather than the hitter’s tendencies. They get the hitter to hit the ball where they want him to hit the ball, not where he wants to hit the ball. Make sense? It’s hard to explain, but they do it.

The Yankees allowed a .284 BABIP with normal defensive alignments this year and a .304 BABIP when using some kind of shift, which is, uh, backwards. You should be allowing a lower BABIP with the shift. This isn’t to say the Yankees should abandon the shift all together. That’s an overreaction. Perhaps scaling back on the shift would make sense though. I’m not really sure. Point is, the Cubs showed this year you don’t need to shift heavily to be a great defensive club.

Indians: Keep all your pitching depth. All of it.

It’s amazing the Indians are so close to the World Series considering they are without their No. 2 (Carlos Carrasco) and No. 3 (Danny Salazar) starters. Also, No. 4 starter Trevor Bauer cut his finger fixing his drone over the weekend and had to have his ALCS start pushed back from Game Two to Game Three. Injuries like that can cripple a team in the postseason. Could you imagine if the 2009 Yankees had lost A.J. Burnett and Andy Pettitte in September, and then Chad Gaudin cut his finger fixing his stupid drone in October? They’d be done.

(Elsa/Getty)
(Elsa/Getty)

And yet, the Indians have won every single game they’ve played this postseason despite those injuries because of their pitching depth. Josh Tomlin, Cleveland’s nominal fifth starter who at one point in September was demoted to the bullpen, has given the team two strong outings in the playoffs. Lefty Ryan Merritt, who has eleven big league innings to his credit, will get the ball in Game Five tomorrow, if necessary. Rookie Mike Clevinger is the backup plan.

The Yankees do have some rotation depth at the moment. I’m looking forward to seeing more Luis Cessa and Bryan Mitchell next year. Chad Green too. Then there are Chance Adams and Jordan Montgomery. Chances are the Yankees will need most of these guys at some point next year, if not all of them. That’s baseball. That isn’t to say the team should make their pitching depth off-limits, because there’s always a point when it makes sense to trade someone, but hanging on to all of these guys sure seems like a smart move.

Dodgers: Postseason narratives are meaningless

The Dodgers have won four games this postseason. Noted playoff choker Clayton Kershaw has pitched in all four of them. Sunday night, when everyone expected him to melt down in the seventh inning because he had a 20-something ERA in the seventh inning of postseason games, he tossed a scoreless frame. It’s almost like there is no such thing as a bad seventh inning pitcher.

Anyway, I have no doubt the Yankees (and pretty much every other team) have bought into some of this stuff over the years. You can’t convince me Carlos Beltran‘s postseason reputation didn’t factor into New York’s decision to sign him three years ago. (Beltran, by the way, has hit a less than stellar .250/.351/.393 in his last 25 postseason games.) These narratives are just that. Narratives. They’re fun stories to tell. They have no predictive value. Don’t get caught up in the hoopla. Just focus on getting the best talent possible and having it on the field more than everyone else.

Blue Jays: Don’t be whiny children

Does anyone actually like the Blue Jays? Outside Toronto, I mean. They’re the Rasheed Wallace of baseball. They complain about every call then bitch about it after the game. The other day Jose Bautista said “circumstances” were working against the Blue Jays in the first two games of the ALCS, and by “circumstances” he meant the home plate umpires. Late in the season the Blue Jays refused interviews with certain reporters — they literally hung media head shots in the clubhouses with giant red X’s across them — because they didn’t like some of the criticism.

Imagine scoring three runs total in three ALCS games and blaming it on the umpires. Imagine being so upset by something a reporter said or wrote that you boycott them entirely. Could they be any more thin-skinned? The Yankees are pretty good at avoiding this stuff, thankfully. Joe Girardi will occasionally say something about the umpires when there’s an egregious mistake, but I can’t remember the last player to openly complained like Bautista. So, the lesson to be taken from the Blue Jays is this: don’t be jerks. Give people a reason to like you. People around the country have enough reasons to dislike the Yankees as it is.

Yankeemetrics: It’s getting late early [Sept. 12-14]

(AP)
(AP)

Growing pains
On Monday night, the Yankees hit another speed bump in their surprising three-week sprint to the playoffs, getting hammered by the Dodgers, 8-2. It was an all-around sloppy game, where — for the most part — their fielders didn’t field well, their pitchers didn’t pitch well and their hitters didn’t hit well. The Yankees hit the trifecta, I guess.

Bryan Mitchell was not nearly as effective as he was in his debut last week against the Rays when he tossed five scoreless innings, getting hit hard early before being pulled in the third inning after giving up six runs on eight hits. He did get burned by two costly errors from a couple of his fellow Baby Bombers (Judge and Sanchez), so only two of those six runs were earned.

It had been more than five years since a Yankee pitcher gave up at least four unearned runs in fewer than three innings pitched. The last guy to do it was Bartolo Colon on July 14, 2011 against the Blue Jays. Colon didn’t make it out of the first inning thanks to a two-out error by Eduardo Nunez (NunEEEEEEE!) that loaded the bases and ultimately resulted in an ugly eight-run frame.

Richard Bleier saved the bullpen and held the Dodgers scoreless through the seventh with four hitless innings. You have to go back more than 15 years to find the last Yankee reliever to pitch at least four innings without allowing a hit at Yankee Stadium, when Todd Erdos did so against the Mets on June 6, 1999. The starting pitchers in that game? Al Leiter and Roger Clemens.

Aaron Judge did his best to try to make up for his untimely error by crushing a monster 436-foot shot into the left-center bleachers in the fifth inning, a ball that left his bat at 115.2 mph. Judge the only Yankee over the last two seasons — since Statcast tracking began — to hit a fair ball that far (436 feet) and that hard (115.2 mph).

(NY Post)
(NY Post)

Bench mob leads the way
The $200 million Little Engine That Could kept its postseason dreams alive — for one day, at least — and snapped out of its mini two-game funk with a resounding 3-0 win over the Dodgers on Tuesday night.

CC Sabathia held LA’s lineup in check with a truly turn-back-the-clock effort. He threw 6 1/3 shutout innings and gave up just three hits while striking out seven. It was a stellar outing that might be surprising given Sabathia’s late-season fade, but less improbable when you consider the pre-game matchup numbers. The Dodgers are the worst-hitting team against left-handed pitchers in the majors this season, ranking last among all teams in batting average, slugging percentage and OPS versus southpaws.

The hero on the offensive side was Jacoby Ellsbury, who replaced an injured Aaron Judge in the fifth inning and then delivered the Yankees’ latest clutch hit two frames later. Ellsbury won a nine-pitch battle with Dodgers reliever Ross Stripling, pummeling a full-count breaking ball into the right field seats to break a scoreless tie in the seventh.

He is just the third Yankee over the last two decades to hit a go-ahead homer in the seventh inning or later in an at-bat of nine-or-more pitches; Curtis Granderson (Sept. 17, 2011 vs. Blue Jays) and Derek Jeter (June 9, 2004 vs. Rockies) are the others.

Didi Gregorius (pinch-hitting for Ronald Torreyes) followed up Ellsbury with his own solo homer on the very next pitch, completing a historic sequence of longballs in the Bronx. Gregorius and Ellsbury became the first set of Yankees in 60 years to come off the bench and hit back-to-back homers in a game.

Moose Skowron and Tommy Byrne (who also got the win with 4 1/3 scoreless innings in relief) were the last pair to do it on July 14, 1957 against the White Sox. Byrne was one of the best power-hitting pitchers in franchise history, slugging .393 with 11 homers in 425 at-bats as a Yankee in the 1940s and ‘50s. Among Yankee pitchers with at least 60 at-bats for the team, he ranks second in slugging percentage behind Bullet Joe Bush (.449).

Looking just at position players going deep in consecutive at-bats after not starting the game, the last Yankees to do that were Bob Serv and Elston Howard on July 23, 1955 in a 8-7 loss against the Kansas City A’s.

(USA Today Sports)
(USA Today Sports)

Yankees get Kershaw’d
The Yankees stumbled again in their desperate push to make the playoffs, losing another mistake-filled game to the Dodgers on Wednesday.

Two errors in the ninth led to the only two runs of the game, both of them unearned, as the team from the west coast left the Bronx with a 2-0 victory. This was just the third time in the last 20 years that the Yankees lost a game in which they didn’t allow an earned run. The other two similarly ugly losses occurred in a three-day span in 2014, against the Royals on September 5 and 7.

Playing their final non-division game of the season, the Yankees wrapped up their Interleague schedule at 8-12, clinching their second-worst Interleague record in franchise history. The only year they had a worse mark against NL teams was 1997 when they went 5-10.

Led by an efficient and utterly dominant performance from Clayton Kershaw, the Dodgers completely shut down the Yankee bats. The Best Pitcher on the Planet struck out five, walked none and allowed one hit, needing just 64 pitches to get through five scoreless innings.

In the 94-year history of Yankee Stadium, just two other starting pitchers have finished with a line of zero walks, at least five strikeouts and no more than one hit allowed in a game against the Yankees. The first was Hank Aguirre for the Tigers on August 3, 1960 and the second was Pedro Martinez in his epic 17-strikeout, 1-hitter on Sept. 10, 1999.

9/12 to 9/14 Series Preview: Los Angeles Dodgers

(Presswire)
(Presswire)

For the last time this season, the Yankees will play a series against a non-division rival this week. The NL West leading Dodgers are in the Bronx for a three-game set starting tonight. This is only the second time the Dodgers have visited Yankee Stadium during interleague play, you know. They were here back in 2013 for a quick little two-game series. There’s an awful lot of history between these two franchises, though none of it is recent.

What Have They Done Lately?

The Dodgers dropped two of three to the Marlins in Miami over the weekend — the one win was Rich Hill‘s near perfect game — and they come to the Bronx with an 80-62 record and a +74 run differential. That’s the third best record in the NL and tied for the sixth best record in all of baseball. The Yankees are looking to continue their playoff push while the Dodgers are trying to extend their NL West lead.

Offense & Defense

Los Angeles has a pretty good offense by NL standards, though it’s only middle of the pack among the 30 clubs. They’re averaging 4.47 runs per game with a team 99 wRC+ (106 wRC+ for non-pitchers). The Dodgers have already set a Major League record by placing 28 players on the DL this season, though most are pitchers. Platoon players OF Scott Van Slyke (wrist) and OF Trayce Thompson (back) are their only injured position players. Van Slyke is done for the year. Thompson might be.

Seager. (Jayne Kamin-Oncea/Getty)
Seager. (Jayne Kamin-Oncea/Getty)

Rookie manager Dave Roberts platoons 2B Chase Utley (93 wRC+) and UTIL Howie Kendrick (98 wRC+) in the leadoff spot, with SS Corey Seager (147 wRC+), 3B Justin Turner (125 wRC+), 1B Adrian Gonzalez (116 wRC+), and C Yasmani Grandal (123 wRC+) his regular 2-3-4-5 hitters. Seager is really special. He’s got the Rookie of the Year locked up and could very well finish in the top three of the MVP voting too. RF Josh Reddick (100 wRC+) is the regular right fielder, and since being called up from Triple-A, OF Yasiel Puig (101 wRC+) has spent more time on the bench than in the lineup.

CF Joc Pederson (129 wRC+) platoons in center with UTIL Enrique Hernandez (73 wRC+), and OF Andrew Toles (170 wRC+) gets spot start duty. C Carlos Ruiz (98 wRC+) is the backup and OF Andre Ethier (0-for-4) just came off the DL. He broke his leg with a foul ball Mark Teixeira style in Spring Training and returned a few days ago. C Austin Barnes, OF Charlie Culberson, and former Yankees farmhand UTIL Rob Segedin are the extra players. I’m not sure what Roberts has planned for the DH spot this series. Ethier and Puig will probably factor in there.

The Dodgers are a good team defensively, especially when Reddick is in right and someone other than Kendrick is in left. (Yes, Kendrick plays left field now.) Puig’s a good defender with a great arm too, he just has a knack for boneheaded plays. Turner, Seager, and Gonzalez are all above-average and Utley is closer to average these days. Generally speaking, Los Angeles has a good defensive team. There’s not many butchers on their roster.

Pitching Matchups

Monday (7:05pm ET): RHP Bryan Mitchell (No vs. LAD) vs. RHP Jose De Leon (No vs. NYY)
The Yankees are going to see some fun pitchers this week. De Leon, 24, was a top 100 prospect coming into the season and this will be his second career start. He allowed four runs (three earned) in six innings in his first start against the Padres last week. Struck out nine, walked none. De Leon had a 2.61 ERA (3.24 FIP) with a 32.5% strikeout rate and a 5.9% walk rate in 86.1 Triple-A innings around a shoulder problem earlier this year. His fastball sits 91-94 mph and he can hump it up to 97 mph on occasion. A mid-80s changeup in his top secondary pitch, and these days his breaking ball is a mid-70s curveball. De Leon’s low-80s slider hasn’t been much of a factor this year for whatever reason. He didn’t throw it at all during his start last week. As John Flaherty would say, De Leon is proud of his fastball. He throws hard and he throws the heater a lot.

Tuesday (7:05pm ET): LHP CC Sabathia (vs. LAD) vs. LHP Julio Urias (No vs. NYY)
The 20-year-old Urias came into the season as arguably the top pitching prospect in baseball — it was either him or Nationals RHP Lucas Giolito — and he’s done nothing but justify the hype. The southpaw has a 3.69 ERA (3.15 FIP) in 68.1 innings spread across 13 starts and two relief appearances. He’s 20, remember. Three months younger than Justus Sheffield and nine months older than Blake Rutherford. Yeah. Urias has a very good strikeout rate (25.5%), though he walks a few too many (8.7%) and doesn’t get many grounders (41.6%). His homer rate (0.66 HR/9) figures to climb a bit unless the ground ball rate gets better. His platoon split is small. Urias works in the low-to-mid-90s with his four-seamer and he throws three secondary pitches regularly: mid-80s slider, low-80s changeup, and mid-70s curveball. Two things worth noting: one, Urias is well over his previous career high in innings and he’s had trouble holding his velocity the last few times out. And two, he throws a lot of pitches. Urias averages 4.18 pitches per plate appearance and 18.2 pitches per inning. He’d lead all pitchers in pitches per inning if he had enough innings to quality for the ERA title.

Kershaw. (Marc Serota/Getty)
Kershaw. (Marc Serota/Getty)

Wednesday (4:05pm ET): RHP Michael Pineda (vs. LAD) vs. LHP Clayton Kershaw (vs. NYY)
The Yankees will indeed see the best pitcher in the world this series, though they won’t see him at full strength. Kershaw missed more than two months with a back injury, and in his first start off the DL last week, he was limited to three innings and 66 pitches. The expectation is Kershaw will throw five innings and about 80 pitches on Wednesday. They’re slowly building him up. I’m a bit surprised the Dodgers didn’t give him more time in the minors on his rehab assignment, but whatever.

Kershaw, 28, has a 1.89 ERA (1.73 FIP) in 17 starts and 124 innings, and his underlying stats are absurd: 33.0% strikeouts, 2.0% walks, 49.7% grounders, and 0.51 HR/9. In his last start he became the first pitcher in history to strike out 150 batters before walking ten. Ridiculous. Inner-circle Hall of Famer, no doubt. Righties have more success against Kershaw than lefties, but that’s relatively speaking. Righties are hitting .200/.233/.313 (.230 wOBA) against him. Kershaw sits 92-95 mph with his four-seamer and has two lethal breaking balls in his upper-80s slider and mid-70s curveball. He doesn’t have a changeup. Everything plays up because of the deception in his delivery and his 80 command. Best pitcher on the planet. Spare me the Madison Bumgarner in the postseason argument.

Bullpen Status

Like the Yankees, the Dodgers are carrying 13 relievers in their bullpen. They have 35 players on their active roster at the moment. Rosters expanded and the Dodgers are taking advantage. I don’t blame ’em. Here’s the bullpen they’re carrying:

Closer: RHP Kenley Jansen (1.75 ERA/1.36 FIP)
Setup: RHP Joe Blanton (2.44/3.47), LHP Grant Dayton (1.77/3.34)
Middle: RHP Pedro Baez (3.50/4.19), RHP Luis Coleman (3.50/3.28), LHP J.P. Howell (4.34/3.63), LHP Adam Liberatore (3.20/2.99)
Long: RHP Jesse Chavez (4.16/4.28)
Extra: LHP Luis Avilan, RHP Josh Fields, RHP Bud Norris, RHP Josh Ravin, RHP Ross Stripling

The Dodgers have so many extra relievers that I’m not even sure their recent workload matters. Avilan (eight pitches) and Chavez (26 pitches) were the only relievers they used yesterday, so all the key end-game arms had the day off. Baez will see some high-leverage work along with Blanton and Dayton. I’m not sure why, but he does. Roberts loves him.

Our Bullpen Workload page can keep you updated on the Yankees’ relievers. Everyone is in good shape except Luis Severino, who had an extended outing yesterday and will be down for a few days.

2016 Trade Deadline Rumors Open Thread: Tuesday

(Elsa/Getty)
(Elsa/Getty)

Yesterday afternoon the Yankees made their biggest trade in quite some time, sending Aroldis Chapman to the Cubs for Adam Warren and three prospects. One of those prospects, shortstop Gleyber Torres, ranks among the top 25-ish prospects in baseball. It’s a significant haul for a rental reliever, even one as good as Chapman, and it very well might be the team’s biggest move at this year’s trade deadline.

“This one move doesn’t necessarily create a domino effect of selling, and it doesn’t prevent a domino effect of buying,” said Brian Cashman to reporters on yesterday’s trade conference call. “This is an easy call, and this was the right call. Easy because we traded from an area of strength, and we are excited about the players that we received for someone that obviously was only under control for two more months.”

With Chapman gone, the focus figures to shift to the team’s other rental players, namely Carlos Beltran and Ivan Nova. Andrew Miller‘s name has been out there as well, ditto basically everyone in the rotation other than Masahiro Tanaka. Here are Monday’s trade deadline rumors. We’ll again keep track of today’s rumors right here, in this one post, so check back often. All time stamps are ET.

  • 9:30am: Trading Nova is the next priority, and the Marlins are among the interested teams. “They’re shooting high, but it’s early. They know what the pitching market looks like right now and they’re trying to capitalize on that,” said a source to Mark Feinsand. I guess there’s a chance Nova has already thrown his last pitch as a Yankee.
  • 9:30am: Brett Gardner is a consideration for the Dodgers, though he is not atop their list of targets. Los Angeles is without Andre Ethier (leg) and Trayce Thompson (back), plus Yasiel Puig isn’t hitting, so they need outfield help. Howie Kendrick in left isn’t going too well. [Joel Sherman]
  • 9:30am: The Nationals were “deep in conversations” with the Yankees about Chapman before he was traded to the Cubs. They didn’t put enough on the table though, so to the Cubs he went. The Nats could change gears and focus on Miller now. [Buster Olney]
  • 10:21am: The Nats declared Joe Ross, Lucas Giolito, Trea Turner, Victor Robles, and Reynaldo Lopez off-limits in Chapman trade talks. That’s a lot of untouchables. The Indians were “seemingly” unwilling to part with top outfield prospects Bradley Zimmer and Clint Frazier. [Ken Rosenthal]
  • 10:51am: Rival clubs say the Yankees are buying and selling, and are looking for controllable pitching in particular. “We’re not playing in a narrow-minded world. We want to be open to any and all ideas. Buy, sell, long, short. It’s in our best interests to be creative and open-minded, not just now,” said Cashman. [Ken Rosenthal]

Reminder before you comment: Your trade proposal sucks.

Update: Yanks moving closer to trading Aroldis Chapman

(Presswire)
(Presswire)

Sunday, 7:52pm: The Yankees and Cubs are working on a deal that would send Chapman to Chicago for top prospect Gleyber Torres plus a second piece (!), report Jon Heyman and Buster Olney. Apparently the Cubbies want Chapman to agree to an extension before consummating a trade. Sounds like the deal could be completed as soon as tomorrow.

Sunday, 1:58pm: Jack Curry, who will inevitably break the Chapman trade news, says nothing is imminent and the Yankees are still mulling offers. For what it’s worth, John Harper says Hal Steinbrenner gave the okay to deal Chapman before the Giants series. Here’s the latest:

  • The Cubs are “strong” in the mix for Chapman, says Ken Rosenthal. The Giants, Dodgers, Nationals, and Indians are all involved too. That sounds like a last minute leak from the Yankees to get someone to raise their offer. He’s currently on the DL with a minor shoulder injury and is due back soon.
  • The Yankees have interest in Nats righty Joe Ross, reports Jon Heyman. One source told him there is “no chance” they’ll trade Ross for a rental though. Here’s my offseason Scouting the Market post on Ross.
  • Keith Law hears the Yankees would get righty Erick Fedde, righty Koda Glover, and a third piece if the deal with the Nationals goes through. That is a lot. Here is MLB.com’s Nationals top 30 prospects list so you can familiarize yourself with those guys.
  • The Yankees “love” Cubs shortstop prospect Gleyber Torres, according to Buster Olney. I wrote about Torres in our Scouting the Market: Cubs post a few days ago.

Sunday, 12:41am ET: Rosenthal says a trade is not necessarily imminent. The Yankees are preparing to wrap-up the process though. I guess that means they’re sorting through final offers and things like that.

Saturday, 10:38pm ET: The Yankees are telling teams they are close to trading Aroldis Chapman and will hold on to Andrew Miller, reports Ken Rosenthal. There’s no word on where Chapman may be heading or when a deal may be completed. For what it’s worth, the Nationals have been connected to him most frequently.

Following Saturday’s loss, the Yankees are now 49-48 on the season and 7.5 games back in the AL East. They’re 4.5 games back of a wildcard spot with four teams ahead of them. FanGraphs puts their postseason odds at 8.3% as of this writing, which should have the team firmly in sell mode. I’m not sure what else ownership needs to see.

Now, that said, trading Chapman would make sense even if the Yankees were in the race. They were able to get him at a very discounted rate due to his pending domestic violence suspension, and now that the suspension has been served, they can market him as a full price rental elite reliever. That’s pretty darn valuable and should fetch a lot.

In addition to the Nationals, the Rangers, Cubs, and Giants have all been connected to Chapman to some degree. Washington tried to acquire Aroldis in the offseason following his domestic dispute incident, but the Yankees beat them to the punch. Nationals manager Dusty Baker had Chapman with the Reds and has reportedly been pushing to acquire him.

As for keeping Miller, it’s certainly a sound strategy considering his general awesomeness and the two years left on his affordable contract. It’s been reported that the Yankees will have to be blown away to move him. That could still happen before the deadline, it’s not like there’s a shortage of teams in on Miller. We’ll see. The trade deadline is one week from Monday.

DotF: Green dominates; Scranton wins Teixeira’s second rehab game

Got some notes to pass along:

  • The Dodgers have claimed RHP Layne Somsen off waivers from the Yankees, both teams announced. The Yankees designated Somsen for assignment to make room on the 40-man roster for Ike Davis last week. The 27-year-old threw six scoreless innings with Triple-A Scranton after being claimed off waivers from the Reds a few weeks back.
  • The Yankees have apparently signed Marshall C Aaron Bossi as an undrafted free agent, according to his Twitter feed. He was an infielder at Marshall but the tweet seems to indicate he’ll catch going forward. Bossi hit .333/.380/.484 with six homers in 55 games this spring.
  • OF Aaron Judge earned a place in Baseball America’s daily Prospect Report after hitting two home runs last night, so make sure you check that out. It’s not behind the paywall.

Triple-A Scranton (1-0 win over Toledo in seven innings)

  • CF Ben Gamel & LF Aaron Judge: both 0-4 — Gamel struck out once, Judge twice
  • DH Mark Teixeira: 1-2, 1 BB — second rehab game … he’s scheduled to play nine innings at first base tomorrow
  • C Gary Sanchez & RF Nick Swisher: 0-3 — Swisher struck out once … Sanchez is 8-for-39 (.205) since coming back from the thumb injury
  • 1B Tyler Austin: 1-3, 1 R, 1 HR, 1 RBI
  • RHP Chad Green: 7 IP, 2 H, 0 R, 0 ER, 1 BB, 9 K, 9/1 GB/FB — 62 of 94 pitches were strikes (66%) … 76/18 K/BB in 75.2 Triple-A innings … I’d like to see him get Ivan Nova‘s next start, but I doubt it’ll happen
  • RHP Conor Mullee: 1 IP, zeroes, 2 K, 0/1 GB/FB — nine of 12 pitches were strikes

[Read more…]