Game 79: Up Goes Frazier

(Presswire)
(Presswire)

Another day, another big league debut for one of the Yankees’ top prospects. It was Tyler Wade on Tuesday, Miguel Andujar on Wednesday, Dustin Fowler on Thursday, and now Clint Frazier on Saturday. Frazier will make his MLB debut this evening, largely because Fowler suffered that truly awful injury the other day. I don’t think Frazier is here if Fowler is healthy.

More important the Frazier’s debut is tonight’s game itself. The Yankees made a great comeback last night to earn the blowout win, and now they’re trying to win back-to-back games for the first time in more than two weeks. They haven’t won two straight since that bloodbath series against the Orioles. Win it for Dustin. That’s the motto the rest of the season. Here is the Astros’ lineup and here is the Yankees’ lineup:

  1. LF Brett Gardner
  2. CF Jacoby Ellsbury
  3. DH Gary Sanchez
  4. SS Didi Gregorius
  5. 3B Chase Headley
  6. 2B Ronald Torreyes
  7. C Austin Romine
  8. 1B Chris Carter
  9. RF Clint Frazier
    LHP Jordan Montgomery

It’s another hot and humid day in Houston, which means the Minute Maid Park roof will be closed. Tonight’s game will begin at 7:15pm ET and FOX will have the broadcast. Enjoy the game.

Injury Updates: CC Sabathia (hamstring) is tentatively scheduled to rejoin the rotation Tuesday. That’s the plan as long as the hamstring doesn’t act up again … Adam Warren (shoulder) will throw a simulated game tomorrow. If that goes well, he’ll be activated next week. I guess neither he nor Sabathia will go out on a minor league rehab assignment … Aaron Judge is fine. Joe Girardi is trying to give him some rest because he’s played right field basically every day so far this season. Judge is available to pinch-hit and will play the outfield tomorrow.

Roster Moves: Andujar was sent down to Triple-A Scranton to clear a 25-man roster spot for Frazier and Fowler was transferred over to the 60-day DL to clear a 40-man roster spot. Andujar needs to play every day and that’s not going to happen in the big leagues.

Game 78: Win it for Dustin

This sucks so much. (David Banks/Getty)
This sucks so much. (David Banks/Getty)

Yesterday was, by a frickin’ mile, the toughest day of the season for the Yankees. Forget about the loss to the White Sox. The game is whatever. Dustin Fowler, in the first inning of his first MLB game, blew out the patella tendon in his right knee crashing into the side wall chasing a fly ball. His season is over. His day to remember turned into a day to forget. It’s awful.

I suppose the good news is Fowler is in good spirits. The Yankees got together this afternoon and FaceTimed with Fowler to let him know they’re thinking about him. Fowler said the surgery went well and he’s facing a six-month rehab, which means he should be ready for Spring Training. It won’t be easy, but Fowler is a no nonsense guy who will no doubt attack his rehab. Go out and win a ballgame for him. Here is the Astros’ lineup and here is the Yankees’ lineup:

  1. LF Brett Gardner
  2. CF Jacoby Ellsbury
  3. DH Aaron Judge
  4. SS Didi Gregorius
  5. 3B Chase Headley
  6. C Austin Romine
  7. 2B Ronald Torreyes
  8. RF Tyler Wade
  9. 1B Chris Carter
    RHP Michael Pineda

It is very hot and humid in Houston right now, so the Minute Maid Park roof will be closed. Thank goodness for air conditioning. Man’s greatest achievement. Tonight’s game will begin at 8:10pm ET. You can watch on YES locally and MLB Network nationally. Enjoy the game.

Roster Moves: In addition to Fowler being placed on the 10-day DL — they’ll slide him over to the 60-day DL next time they need a 40-man spot — the Yankees also sent down Ronald Herrera. Miguel Andujar and Bryan Mitchell were called up.

Roster Update: Tyler Clippard is away from the Yankees. His grandmother passed away. Our condolences go out to him and his family. Clippard will rejoin the team tomorrow.

Yankeemetrics: Invasion of the Baby Bombers (June 26-29)

(AP)
(AP)

Too close for comfort
The Yankees started their seven-game road swing with a win over the White Sox on Monday night, a game that nearly became an epic disaster thanks to this month’s recurring nightmare – The Bullpen Meltdown. The Yankees took a 6-1 lead into the ninth inning, but Chasen Shreve and Aroldis Chapman combined to surrender four runs before escaping with the 6-5 victory.

Getting back to the positives … Jordan Montgomery played the role of Streak Stopper with seven strong innings, eight strikeouts and one run allowed.

That performance capped off his best month in the big leagues, going 4-0 with a 2.59 ERA and 31 strikeouts over five June starts. He is just the sixth Yankee lefty under the age of 25 to put together a month with a sub-2.60 ERA and at least 30 strikeouts. The most recent guy to do it was Andy Pettitte in September 1996. The rest of the list: Dave Righetti (three times), Al Downing (August 1963), Whitey Ford (August 1953) and Lefty Gomez (twice).

Breaking news: Aaron Judge did not hit a homer in this game. But he was still a key offensive sparkplug with his 48th, 49th and 50th walks of the season. The only other Yankee age 25 or younger with at least 25 homers and 50 walks before the All-Star break (since 1933) was Mickey Mantle in 1956.

(EPA)
(EPA)

Rock bottom
We have a new contender for W.L.O.T.S. (Worst Loss Of The Season). Tuesday’s gut-wrenching loss established new levels of bullpen frustration and dreadfulness, as the Yankees snatched defeat from the jaws of defeat with an epic meltdown in the bottom of the ninth inning.

The Yankees entered the game as one of six teams this season without a loss when leading at the start of the ninth inning, and ended the game with their unfathomable 14th blown save of the season.

To put that into context, they had five (!) blown saves through 75 games last year – and nearly the same number of save opportunities: 28 in 2016 and 30 in 2017. So, yes, the state of the bullpen is as bad as the numbers say.

Dellin Betances got tagged with the loss and blown save, surrendering a walk-off single with the bases loaded and two outs in the ninth inning. Before the game-losing hit, batters were 3-for-36 (.083) with the bases loaded against Betances in his career, the lowest mark among active pitchers that had faced at least 35 guys in that situation.

The most excruciating part of the loss is that the dumpster-fire relief corps ruined yet another Luis Severino gem. It was the sixth time this season that Severino was in line for the win but the game was blown by the bullpen. That’s the most such games for any pitcher in baseball through Tuesday’s slate.

Severino was dazzling and dominant, striking out 12 batters with no walks while giving up just one run in seven brilliant innings. At age 23 and 127 days, he became the youngest Yankee ever with at least 12 strikeouts and no walks in a game.

He is also one of just two pitchers this season to have 12 or more strikeouts, no walks, one or fewer earned runs allowed in a game, and not get the win. The other? His teammate, Masahiro Tanaka, on May 26 against the A’s. The Yankees are the first team in major-league history with two such games pitched in a single season. Welp.

Welcome to the bigs, Miggy
Less than 24 hours after suffering one of their most devastating losses of the season, the Yankees bounced back with one of their most enjoyable wins, a 12-3 romp in Chicago on Wednesday night.

The star of the show was 22-year-old Miguel Andujar, who re-wrote the record books with an unforgettable major-league debut. Let’s go through it plate appearance-by-plate appearance:

(AP)
(AP)
  • No. 1: two-RBI single. Youngest Yankee (22 years, 118 days) with an RBI in his major-league debut since a 21-year-old Deion Sanders in 1989.
  • No. 2: single. Youngest Yankee with a hit in each of his first two plate appearances of his MLB debut since Billy Martin did it in 1950.
  • No. 3: groundout. Booooooooooo.
  • No. 4: walk, stolen base. Joined Marv Throneberry (1955) as the only Yankees age 22 or younger with multiple hits, multiple RBIs and a steal in his first career game.
  • No. 5: two-RBI double. Became the first Yankee ever with four RBIs in a major-league debut, surpassing the previous record of three set by Martin in 1950 and Throneberry in 1955.

But that’s not all. We’ve got some bonus fun facts!

He is just the second major-league player since RBI became official in 1920 with at least three hits, four RBIs and steal in his first career game. The other was Roy Weatherly (Indians) in 1936.

And, finally, Andujar is the youngest Yankee with at least three hits, four RBIs and steal in any game since a 19-year-old Mickey Mantle on June 19, 1951 against the White Sox.

Aaron Judge also took his turn in the spotlight when he crushed his 27th homer of the season, a 115-mph laser over the left-field fence. It was his sixth home run of at least 115 mph this season, an astonishing number considering that:

  • every other player in baseball this season combined to hit just 10 such homers through Wednesday
  • no player in either 2015 or 2016 hit more than five such homers for the entire season

Before that homer, he walked in the fifth inning, extending his on-base streak to 30 games. Judge is just the third Yankee rookie since 1913 to reach base safely in 30 straight games, along with Truck Hannah (38 in 1918) – yes, a real person! – and Charlie Keller (40 in 1939).

Judge also finished the night with some nice round-number totals for the month of June: 30 runs, 10 homers and 25 walks. The most recent Yankee to reach those numbers in a single month was Mickey Mantle in July 1958. Besides Judge and Mantle, only two others in franchise history have ever put up those stats in a calendar month: Lou Gehrig (four times) and Babe Ruth (13 times, LOL).

(Getty)
(Getty)

Let’s forget this one and go to Houston…
The buzz at the start of Thursday’s game was yet another Baby Bomber coming-out party, the third in three games here in Chicago. This time it was outfielder Dustin Fowler, who became the ninth Yankee to make his big-league debut in 2017. That’s the third-most MLB debuts this early into the season (77 games) for any Yankee team since 1913 — the only years with more were 2015 (10) and 1944 (11).

Unfortunately, Fowler’s showcase ended in heart-breaking fashion as he suffered a ruptured patella tendon on the very first play he was involved in, crashing into the wall in right field trying to catch a foul ball in the first inning, before he even got an official major-league at-bat. Awful, just awful.

As for the rest of the game … the Yankees lost 4-3, their 15th one-run defeat of the season and three more than they had in all of 2016.

So that we don’t have to end this on a depressing note, let’s finish it off with an Obscure Yankeemetric of the Series, featuring our human highlight film, Aaron Judge.

He was walked three times, including once intentionally with the bases empty in the seventh inning. Judge became the third Yankee in the Divisional Era (since 1969) to be walked intentionally with nobody on base, joining Jason Giambi on July 7, 2003 against the Red Sox, and Reggie Jackson on August 29, 1980 against the Mariners.

At age 25, he’s the youngest Yankee ever — or at least since intentional walks became an official stat in 1955 — to get the “Barry Bonds treatment.” That last player as young as Judge on any team to get an intentional free pass with the bases empty was a 24-year-old Prince Fielder in 2008 against the Cubs.

Game 77: Another day, another new Baby Bomber

(Presswire)
(Presswire)

For the third straight day and ninth time this season overall, the Yankees will have a player make his MLB debut tonight. Outfield prospect Dustin Fowler has been called up and is in tonight’s lineup. Tyler Wade on Tuesday, Miguel Andujar on Wednesday, and now Fowler on Thursday. Three days, three top 100-ish prospect debuts. Pretty cool.

Anyway, the Yankees have a chance to clinch the four-game series win tonight. They won two of the first three games, and they had a lead with one out to go in the other game. The Yankees were thisclose to coming into tonight riding a three-game winning streak. Alas. Just get the series win tonight. Here is the White Sox’s lineup and here is the Yankees’ lineup:

  1. LF Brett Gardner
  2. DH Aaron Judge
  3. SS Didi Gregorius
  4. C Gary Sanchez
  5. CF Jacoby Ellsbury
  6. RF Dustin Fowler
  7. 1B Austin Romine
  8. 2B Tyler Wade
  9. 3B Ronald Torreyes
    RHP Luis Cessa

It is warm, humid, and cloudy in Chicago today. And there’s rain in the forecast. Not as much as last night, but some. We’ll see how it goes. Tonight’s series finale will begin a bit after 8pm ET and you can watch on WPIX. Enjoy the game.

Injury Updates: CC Sabathia (hamstring) threw a three-inning simulated game and declared himself ready to return to the rotation. He doesn’t get to make that call though. I’m guessing the Yankees will wait to see how Sabathia feels tomorrow before determining the next step … Tyler Austin (hamstring) has been placed on the 10-day DL with a “high grade” hamstring strain, the Yankees announced. He said he’s been nursing the hammy for a few weeks now. Austin is going to Tampa for more tests.

Roster Moves: Welcome back, Chris Carter. He was brought back to the big league team today. I guess the Yankees want another first baseman with Austin hurt. Carter was designated for assignment last week and outrighted to Triple-A a few days ago … to clear 25-man roster space for Carter and Fowler, Austin was placed on the disabled list and Andujar was sent down. They want Andujar to play third base everyday. To clear 40-man roster space, Greg Bird (shoulder) was transferred to the 60-day DL and Mason Williams was designated for assignment. This is already Bird’s 59th day on the DL. Going from the 10-day DL to the 60-day DL doesn’t change anything. As for Williams, he loses his 40-man spot to Fowler, who is a younger and better version of Williams.

Update (9:12pm ET): The game is in a rain delay and there’s no estimated start time. The White Sox say they hope to play the game “at some point” tonight.

Update (10:27pm ET): First pitch is tentatively scheduled for 11pm ET. Wheeee.

Game 76: Save Us, Masahiro

(Jim McIsaac/Getty)
(Jim McIsaac/Getty)

Five days ago Masahiro Tanaka chucked his second best start of the season. He struck out nine Rangers in eight scoreless innings, and looked like the Masahiro Tanaka we saw most of last season. It was awesome. We haven’t seen enough of that guy this year. The Yankees are going to need him tonight, because the lineup is short and the bullpen is taxed (again). The Yankees are capital-R Reeling. Here is the White Sox’s lineup and here is the Yankees’ lineup:

  1. CF Brett Gardner
  2. RF Aaron Judge
  3. C Gary Sanchez
  4. SS Didi Gregorius
  5. 3B Chase Headley
  6. 1B Austin Romine
  7. DH Miguel Andujar
  8. LF Tyler Wade
  9. 2B Ronald Torreyes
    RHP Masahiro Tanaka

It is cloudy in Chicago and there’s a bunch of rain in the forecast too. The rain is supposed to start right about now, and continue for a little while. We might be looking at a delay or two here. That’s not good. Hopefully the forecast is wrong. Tonight’s game is scheduled to start a little after 8pm ET. You’ll be able to watch on YES. Try to enjoy.

Injury Updates: Matt Holliday was placed on the 10-day disabled list with what the Yankees are calling a viral infection. He’s going back to New York for tests. The move is retroactive to Sunday, so Holliday can return as soon as next Tuesday … CC Sabathia (hamstring) will throw a simulated game tomorrow. If it goes well, I wonder whether he’ll be activated right away, or throw one more simulated game … Adam Warren (shoulder) threw 20 pitches in the bullpen. He’ll do that again in the coming days, and it’s possible he could be activated without going on a minor league rehab assignment … Tyler Austin (hamstring) could be headed to the disabled list … Greg Bird (ankle) worked out with Triple-A Scranton today, though he still has soreness and swelling. Joe Girardi acknowledged there is concern Bird may not make it back this year.

Roster Move: As expected, Andujar was called up. Duh. He’s in the lineup. He replaced Holliday on the roster. Told you this would happenChris Carter cleared waivers and accepted his outright assignment to Triple-A, the Yankees announced. So he’s still in the organization as a non-40-man roster player.

Miguel Andujar is reportedly coming to the big leagues, which could mean any of a number of things

(Presswire)
(Presswire)

Last night, another one of the Yankees best young prospects made his MLB debut. Tyler Wade, who came up as an injury replacement for Starlin Castro, made his debut as a pinch-hitter and worked a walk that helped spark a go-ahead rally. It was a fun and exciting moment the bullpen quickly ruined with another meltdown. Sigh.

Wade is already the seventh player to make his MLB debut with the Yankees this year, joining Gio Gallegos, Domingo German, Ronald Herrera, Kyle Higashioka, Jordan Montgomery, and Tyler Webb. Number eight may be arriving tonight. Miguel Andujar is getting called up to the Yankees. Both Matt Kardos and the Dominican Prospect League are reporting it.

Andujar, 22, is hitting .312/.346/.491 (128 wRC+) with eight home runs in 74 total games this season. He was promoted to Triple-A Scranton last week, in the wake of the Gleyber Torres injury, and since then he’s gone 8-for-26 (.308) with a double and a homer in six games. I ranked him as the sixth best prospect in the system a few weeks ago. Andujar is pretty darn talented. And a third baseman too! The Yankees need one of those long-term.

So what, exactly, does today’s apparent call-up mean? It could mean any one of a number of things. Here is a list of potential explanations, from most likely to least likely:

  1. Matt Holliday is going on the disabled list with his mystery illness and Andujar is one of only three healthy position players on the 40-man roster and not in MLB (Jorge Mateo and Mason Williams are the others), making him the easy call-up option.
  2. Tyler Austin, not Holliday, is going on the disabled list. He’s been dealing with a nagging hamstring injury the last few days. Austin did play last night, however. He was the designated hitter.
  3. Chase Headley, not Holliday nor Austin, is going on the disabled list. He missed time with a back problem last week, which was bad enough to require an epidural. Headley has played third base the last three days though.
  4. Rob Refsnyder is being sent down because he doesn’t really bring anything to the table other than the ability to stand in different positions and make everyone hope the ball doesn’t get hit to him.
  5. The Yankees are sending down the eighth reliever (German?) to get back to a normal four-man bench, and Andujar’s righty bat will help against tonight’s opposing starter (lefty Carlos Rodon).
  6. The Yankees feel the team needs a shake up, so they’re calling up Andujar with the intention of playing him at third base. Headley either goes to the bench or first base.

The most boring answer is often the correct answer. Holliday has been out of the lineup the last three days, and even after going for tests yesterday, the Yankees said they still don’t know what’s wrong with him. Kinda scary! Joe Girardi said putting Holliday on the disabled list and sending him back to New York was a strong consideration. How much longer can you play with a three-man bench when one of the three can’t actually play?

So, with Holliday going down, Andujar is the easy call-up candidate since he’s already on the 40-man roster. The Yankees don’t want to shuffle the 40-man around for what might only be a short-term call-up. Holliday could be back as soon as next week. Andujar’s third base defense is still a little rough around the edges, meaning he could wind up at designated hitter most of the time, and maybe give Headley a breather at the hot corner once in a while.

Sound good? That’s what I think is happening. The Yankees have not yet announced the Andujar call-up, though we can follow the trail of breadcrumbs. Holliday is sick with who knows what, the Yankees need another bat for the time being, and Andujar is the best available without making a 40-man roster move. Simple explanation. I enjoy a good conspiracy theory as much as anyone, though this seems a little too straightforward.

The bullpen is far and away the Yankees’ biggest problem right now, and while calling up Andujar doesn’t fix the bullpen at all, it does get the Yankees closer to whole on the position player side. I don’t think this is anything more than a short-term injury fill-in. Once the Yankees get some players back, Andujar will return to Triple-A to continue his development. This is likely a band-aid move, not a potential long-term sitaution.

Gleyber, Chance and the Trenton Thunder’s home opener

(Steven Tydings/ River Ave. Blues)
(Steven Tydings/River Ave. Blues)

With the minor league season a week old, the Trenton Thunder finally came home Thursday night to open up the Arm & Hammer Park portion of their season.

If you’ve never been to the park, it’s a great experience, especially with a relatively packed crowd like last night. It’s a quintessential minor league experience with multiple mascots, a bat dog (!) and a chance to see future major leaguers up close for really cheap prices. That’s pretty ideal. Arm & Hammer Park is the place to be this spring/summer with how stacked the Yankees’ farm system is right now.

Here are my observations from Thursday’s game.

(Steven Tydings/River Ave. Blues)
(Steven Tydings/River Ave. Blues)

1. Gleyber mania: All of the Yankees’ top prospects over the last 15 years have come through Trenton at some point. Robinson Cano, Jesus Montero, Phil Hughes, Joba Chamberlain, etc. They were all with the Double A Yankees at some point. Having been a teenaged autograph hawk back in the day, I remember the reception for each player at this level.

For his first game, the reception for Gleyber Torres may have been the most fanatical. The Thunder were prepared with having their people near the first base line, but fans were lined up a couple rows deep mostly for Torres. I saw more Torres Topps cards than I thought existed. He dealt with it well, signing and going about his business.

Andujar and Torres (Steven Tydings/River Ave. Blues)
Andujar and Torres (Steven Tydings/River Ave. Blues)

2. Gleyber a pro at the plate: Even though a 1-for-4 day wasn’t Torres’ best in Double A, he still put together an impressive night. He grounded out softly his first AB and was called out on a questionable third strike his second AB. Portland Sea Dogs lefty Jalen Beeks pounded him with strikes and didn’t face Torres after his command collapsed in the fourth inning.

Torres then got two ABs against the Sea Dogs’ bullpen, the first one being his best. He worked the count to 2-1 with a solid eye and then pounced on the fourth pitch. With Rashad Crawford trying to steal second, the second baseman covered the bag and Torres lined a ball right where he would have been. Just a solid piece of hitting. He grounded into a double play his last AB.

As for in the field, he wasn’t challenged much. He helped turn a DP in the eighth. That was about it for his fielding chances.

3. A tale of two Chance Adams: For four innings, Adams looked like Michael Pineda from Monday. He was getting ahead of hitters, pounding them with his 92-94 mph fastball and putting them away with either his slider or a second helping of fastball. He went to a full count and caught Red Sox’ top prospect Rafael Devers looking in an impressive at-bat.

Devers lined a ball up the middle to end Adams’ no-hit bid in the fifth inning and things came unraveled in the sixth. An infield hit and an error (more on each in a bit) set up the Sea Dogs and Adams simply didn’t look as comfortable in the stretch. He slowed down significantly after moving at a considerable pace in the first few innings. He walked his second batter of the evening, fought back with a strikeout, but then gave up a monster two-run double. He recovered to get another out and his night was done after 5 2/3.

Overall, not a bad outing. He really has some solid strikeout stuff and proved he can put away hitters, flashing his fastball, slider and changeup all night. He’s now 10-1 with a 1.89 ERA over 81 innings in Trenton and he may be ready for a new challenge.

4. Rafael Devers is a problem: With Andrew Benintendi in the majors, Devers is now atop the Red Sox’ prospect lists. He’s considered the top third base prospect in all of baseball by many outlets. He was No. 13 overall in Baseball Prospectus’ preseason list, No. 17 for MLB.com and No. 18 for Baseball America. Just two months older than Torres, he won’t turn 21 until October.

He put together four impressive plate appearances Thursday night. He worked a full count on Adams when Chance was cruising. He picked up the first hit of the game with a liner that nearly took over Adams’ head. With the bases loaded in the sixth, he clobbered an Adams’ pitch to deep centerfield. It would have been a three-run double if the runner from first didn’t slip rounding third.

Devers added another single in the eighth for good measure. The lefty with some strong power looked ready to go at the plate and showed it with his performance. His swings were strong. He struggled to field a ball to begin the Thunder’s five-run fourth (it went as a hit), but he’s a prospect known for his bat first.

Justus Sheffield signing (Steven Tydings/River Ave. Blues)
Justus Sheffield signing (Steven Tydings/River Ave. Blues)

5. Best of the rest: Billy McKinney had a line drive triple to the right field gap and a walk. The triple was perhaps the most impressive hit for a Yankees’ prospect during the game. Princeton product Mike Ford had a deep double to right and catcher Jorge Saez had a homer that cleared the high left field wall in left.

Miguel Andujar had an infield single but struggled with the rest of the game. His error in the sixth led to Portland’s three-run inning that included two unearned runs. As Mike pointed out in DotF, that’s three errors in seven games so far. Yikes.

Portland shortstop Tzu-Wei Lin led off that sixth inning with an infield single. He was easily exploited at the plate most of the night, but his blazing speed gave him the single. For a lot of players, it would have been a routine ground out to second. He beat it out with what has to be at least 65/70-grade speed.