Yankeemetrics: Kings of New York (Sept. 18-20)

(AP Photo)
(AP Photo)

Queens Bombers
On Friday night the Yankees decided to go with a lineup that was missing their top-3 power bats and run producers (combined 86 homers and 249 RBI entering Friday) — Alex Rodriguez, Brian McCann and Mark Teixeira — to try and beat a Mets team that leads the NL in homers and runs scored in the second half of the season. The result was a three-homer barrage by the Mets and a 5-1 loss for the Yankees in the Subway Series opener at Citi Field. Sigh.

They wasted another solid outing by Masahiro Tanaka, who was pitching on regular rest for the second start in a row. After allowing two runs in six innings, he now has a 2.56 ERA in five starts on four days rest this season (and a 3.61 ERA in 18 starts on five-plus days rest).

Round number alert! This was Greg Bird’s 30th major-league game, and with seven homers and 21 RBI, he’s just the second player in franchise history to reach each of those totals within his first 30 career games. The other? Mr. Shane Spencer, who had 10 home runs and 29 RBI through 30 MLB games.

How do ya like them apples?
The Bronx Bombers reclaimed their nickname in Saturday’s 5-0 win, with all five runs scored on homers by Carlos Beltran and Brian McCann. Not only did those home runs help the Yankees win the game, but they also linked Beltran and McCann together with pretty good Hall of Fame backstops.

Beltran’s three-run shot in the first inning was his 389th career home run, tying Johnny Bench for 61st on all-time list. McCann extended the lead five frames later with a two-run blast, his 17th career home run against the Mets. The only catchers with more homers against the Mets are Gary Carter (24), Bench (23) and Javy Lopez (19).

Michael Pineda was pitching on extended (six days) rest, a situation that has caused a ton of problems for him in the past. He had no trouble in this game, though, throwing 5 1/3 scoreless innings. Before getting this win, Pineda was 0-6 with a 5.16 ERA in nine starts on six-plus days rest in a Yankee uniform.

There were a couple notable oddities in this game that probably would only happen in a September matchup. One was that the Yankees somehow used four second baseman: starter Dustin Ackley, Stephen Drew, Brendan Ryan and Rob Refsnyder. The only other time in the last 100 seasons that the Yankees used that many second baseman in a nine-inning game was June 22, 1978 in a 4-2 win over the Tigers.

Despite holding a 5-0 lead, Joe Girardi decided to use six relievers to get the final 11 outs because, in the words of the wise manager, “this is a game you can’t afford to give away.” Anyways, it made for a record-breaking afternoon. This is the first time in franchise history the Yankees used seven pitchers in a shutout win. And the 5-0 score is the largest shutout win by any major-league team in the last 100 years that used seven pitchers in the game. September baseball, gotta love it.

New York’s Ace
The Yankees made a statement on Sunday night with their 11-2 blowout victory over the Mets, clinching a series win in what probably was the most meaningful regular-season matchup between the two New York clubs. The nine-run win matches the Yankees’ biggest ever on the road against the Mets and the 11 runs are the most they’ve ever scored in the Queens.

If not for a thing called “innings limits,” the Yankees might never have won this game. Matt Harvey dominated the Yankees, striking out seven and allowing just one hit in five scoreless innings. He is the only Mets pitcher to pitch at least five innings and give up no more than one hit in a game against the Yankees.

With that near-perfect performance, he now has a 1.25 ERA with 24 strikeouts in three Subway Series starts. The only other active pitchers with an ERA that low and that many strikeouts against the Yankees are Chris Sale and Dallas Keuchel.

CC Sabathia was masterful in limiting the Mets to just one run on five hits in six innings pitched. He’s allowed no more than one earned run in each of his last three starts since coming off the DL, the first time he’s had a streak like that since a five-start run from June 25-July 16, 2011.

Dustin Ackley and Greg Bird had two of the biggest swings of the night, each hitting three-run homers once Harvey had departed. Those were the Yankees’ major-league-best 44th and 45th home runs with at least two men on base this season; next on the list is the Blue Jays … with 27.

9/18 to 9/20 Subway Series Preview: New York Mets

Don Draper

Time for another round of the Subway Series. This weekend is way more important to the Yankees than it is the Mets, who have a comfortable lead in the NL East. Of course, their fans seem to be worried about a potential collapse given what happened in 2007, but I’d say their lead is safe. The Yankees won two of three when these two clubs met in Yankee Stadium in late-April.

What Have The Mets Done Lately?

Lose, believe it or not. They just dropped two straight to the Marlins at home, though before that they won eight straight. The Mets are 83-63 with a +68 run differential right now. They have a comfortable eight-game lead over the Nationals. FanGraphs puts their odds to win the NL East at damn near 100%.

Offense & Defense

The Mets are averaging a 4.25 runs per game with a team 99 wRC+ this season, though that doesn’t really tell the story. They were dreadful in the first half (3.48 R/G and 85 wRC+) but have been much, much better since the All-Star break (5.46 R/G and 118 wRC+). Manager Terry Collins has a completely healthy team on the position player side right now. Two September call-ups are on the 60-day DL (Darrell Ceciliani and Wilfredo Tovar) and that’s all.

(Mitchell Layton/Getty)
(Mitchell Layton/Getty)

Much has been made of the impact of trade deadline pickup OF Yoenis Cespedes (139 wRC+), who has indeed been fantastic for the Mets (173 wRC+), but he’s not the only reason they’ve started scoring runs. C Travis d’Arnaud (152 wRC+) returned from the DL and is quietly one of the best hitting catchers in the game. 3B David Wright (130 wRC+) came off the DL as well. SS Wilmer Flores (98 wRC+) has been hitting since he was nearly traded for Carlos Gomez, and OF Michael Conforto (156 wRC+) has been mashing since he was called up as well.

Of course, ex-Yankee OF Curtis Granderson (131 wRC+) has been their best player since Opening Day, and 1B Lucas Duda (122 wRC+) has been good, but not what he was a year ago. 1B/OF Michael Cuddyer (101 wRC+) has been reduced to a platoon player and 2B Daniel Murphy (99 wRC+) has gotten things straightened out after a slow start. IF Ruben Tejada (98 wRC+), OF Juan Lagares (82 wRC+), 3B Juan Uribe (102 wRC+), and UTIL Kelly Johnson (112 wRC+) are the supporting cast. Among the September call-ups on the roster are C Kevin Plawecki, C Johnny Monell, C Anthony Recker, UTIL Eric Campbell, IF Dilson Herrera, and pinch-runner OF Eric Young Jr.

The Mets are a pretty strong defensive club, though Cuddyer, Flores, and Murphy are definitely below-average. Cespedes is a good defender with a strong arm — he’s been playing center field — and both Granderson and Conforto are solid in the corners. You can run on Grandy’s arm though. Wright, Tejada, and Uribe are above-average defenders as well. d’Arnaud is about average at controlling the running game and currently rates as one of the top pitch-framers in baseball.

Pitching Matchups

Friday (7pm ET): RHP Masahiro Tanaka (vs. NYM) vs. LHP Steven Matz (No vs. NYY)
Matz, a local kid from Stony Brook, has a 1.88 ERA (4.73 FIP) in four starts and 24 big league innings around a lat injury this season. His strikeout (22.9%) and grounder (48.4%) rates are a tick above-average, though walks (9.4%) have been a bit of an issue, as have home runs (1.50 HR/9). Lefties (.299 wOBA) have had more success against him than righties (.273 wOBA) so far, but that’s sample size noise. He’s faced 25 left-handed batters since being brought up. Matz, 24, pitches off a mid-90s sinker with a hammer upper-70s curveball and a quality low-80s changeup. He is very good. The only issue here is health. Matz has had all sorts of injury problems in his career. He had not yet been called up when the Yankees and Mets played earlier this season.

Saturday (1pm ET): RHP Michael Pineda (vs. NYM) vs. RHP Noah Syndergaard (No vs. NYY)
The Mets acquired Syndergaard in the R.A. Dickey trade a few years ago and the 23-year-old has a 3.20 ERA (3.28 FIP) in 21 starts and 129.1 innings this season, his MLB debut. His strikeout (26.2%) and walk (5.7%) numbers are excellent while his grounder (45.8%) and homer (1.04 HR/9) numbers are about league average. Left-handed hitters (.286 wOBA) have hit Syndergaard a bit harder than righties (.277 wOBA), and it’s worth noting he’s been way better at home (2.15 ERA and 2.98 FIP) than on the road (4.47 ERA and 3.64 FIP) as a big leaguer. Syndergaard has a huge fastball — only Nathan Eovaldi (96.6 mph) has a higher average fastball velocity than Syndergaard (96.4) among the 130 pitchers who have thrown at least 100 innings this season — and he uses it to set up his power low-80s curveball and upper-80s changeup. Everything this guy throws is hard. Like Matz, Syndergaard was still in the minors when the Yankees and Mets played in Yankee Stadium.

(Todd Kirkland/Getty)
Syndergaard. (Todd Kirkland/Getty)

Sunday (8pm ET): LHP CC Sabathia (vs. NYM) vs. RHP Matt Harvey (vs. NYY)
The Mets have the 26-year-old Harvey on a very strict schedule right now, and rumor has it he will be limited to five innings Sunday night. We’ll see. He’s thrown 171.2 innings across 26 starts in his first season back from Tommy John surgery, pitching to a 2.88 ERA (3.30 FIP) with dynamite peripherals: 23.9 K%, 5.3 BB%, 46.1 GB%, and 0.94 HR/9. Harvey has been hit much harder by lefties (.303 wOBA) than righties (.241 wOBA) this year. He works with a mid-to-upper-90s heater and has a devastating upper-80s slider. He’ll also throw quality mid-80s changeups and low-80s curveballs. Harvey is one of the very few pitchers who legitimately takes four out pitches to the mound on his best days. He and Felix Hernandez are pretty much the only guys who can say that. Harvey’s shown he’s an adrenaline junkie, so expect him to be amped up for the ESPN Sunday Night game. He held the Yankees to two runs in 8.2 innings back in late-April.

Bullpen Status
Like the Yankees, the Mets had an off-day yesterday, so their bullpen is as fresh as it’s going to get in mid-September. Closer RHP Jeurys Familia (1.63 ERA/2.70 FIP) has been brilliant this season, and these days he’s being set up by ex-Yankee RHP Tyler Clippard (2.77/4.41) and RHP Addison Reed (3.44/2.82). RHP Hansel Robles (3.33/3.41) and RHP Erik Goeddel (2.70/2.71) have also had nice years. Goeddel missed a bunch of time with an elbow issue, however.

The one thing the Mets lack is a reliable left-on-left matchup reliever. Rule 5 Draft pick LHP Sean Gilmartin (2.87/2.55) has had a nice year, but he has a big reverse split (.301 vs. .244 wOBA in favor of lefties) and is more of a long man than a matchup guy. LHP Eric O’Flaherty (7.67/4.44) hasn’t been good at all. RHP Bobby Parnell (5.82/4.21) is having a rough go of it following Tommy John surgery and RHP Carlos Torres (4.45/3.60) is the do-everything rubber arm guy. RHP Tim Stauffer, LHP Dario Alvarez, and RHP Logan Verrett are the September call-ups. Verrett’s the sixth starter more than anything. They’ve been using him to give the other starters extra rest, not out of the bullpen.

Our Bullpen Workload page can keep you updated on Joe Girardi‘s bullpen, which has been rather shaky of late. Hopefully the off-day did those guys some good. Head over to Amazin’ Avenue and Metsblog for everything you need to know about the Mets.

(GIF via Mets Police)

Yankeemetrics: April 24-26 (Mets)

We love to hit homers! (Photo: NJ.com)
We love to hit homers! (Photo: NJ.com)

The two hottest teams in baseball met in the Bronx on Friday night but only one left the stadium with their win streak intact. The Yankees handed the Mets their first loss in 12 games and won their fourth game in a row, taking the opener of the first-ever edition of the Subway Series between two first-place teams.

Mark Teixeira provided nearly all of the offense, hitting two homers and driving in four of the Yankees six runs. He joined Tony Clark (2004) as the only Yankee first baseman with a multi-homer game against the Mets.

Following Friday’s game, Tex had 12 hits and 11 of those were for extra bases (seven homers, four doubles). According to the Elias Sports Bureau, he is just the second player since 1900 that had at least 11 extra base hits among his first 12 hits of the season. Adam Dunn did it for the Reds in 2005.

Michael Pineda delivered an ace-like performance, allowing one run on five hits while pitching into the eighth inning. He pounded the strike zone all night, throwing 78 of his 100 pitches for strikes. That is a career-high number of strikes for Pineda, and also the highest strike percentage (min. 100 pitches) by any Yankee pitcher since Randy Johnson threw 86 strikes among his 110 pitches (78.2 percent) on June 16, 2005 against the Pirates.

Large Lefty comes up small
Coming off a vintage performance against the Tigers (8 IP, 2 R) and facing a team he has dominated in his career (2.14 ERA in five starts), CC Sabathia entered Saturday’s matchup vs. the Mets looking to clinch the series for the Yankees. Instead, he had his worst outing of the season and fell to 0-4 in four starts this year.

Sabathia is the second Yankee in the last 30 years to lose his first four starts of the season. Kevin Brown also went 0-4 in his first four outings of the 2005 season. The last Yankee southpaw to do it was Fritz Peterson in 1972. Sabathia also extended his winless streak to seven starts dating back to last year, the longest such drought of his career.

The lone highlight for the Yankees was once again Teixeira, who went 3-for-4 and clubbed another homer. That gave him eight home runs in the team’s first 18 games, a feat achieved by only five other Yankees: Alex Rodriguez (2007), Graig Nettles (1974), Mickey Mantle (1956, 1961), Yogi Berra (1956), Babe Ruth (1921).

Matt Harvey dominated the Yankees lineup for the second time in two career starts against the team he rooted for as a kid growing up in Connecticut. He is one of two pitchers in the last 100 years with at least eight innings pitched, seven strikeouts and no more than two runs allowed in each of his first two career games against the Yankees. The other is Ray Culp, who did it for the Red Sox in 1968.

What a relief
The Yankees earned bragging rights in New York City with a 6-4 victory on Sunday night, giving them the Subway Series win. The hero of the game was the bullpen, which threw 4 2/3 scoreless, hitless innings after starter Nathan Eovaldi got rocked by the Mets.

Andrew Miller, the team’s fifth reliever of the game, closed out the win with a scoreless ninth inning for his seventh save of the season in seven tries. Since saves became an official statistic in 1969, he is now the first pitcher to convert his first seven save chances in a Yankee uniform, without allowing more than one hit in each of those games.

This was not a pretty game from a defensive standpoint. The Mets committed four errors in the game, the most they’ve ever had in a game against the Yankees, and the home team also committed two errors. The six combined errors is one shy of the record for a Subway Series game, set on May 20, 2006 when the Yankees had four and the Mets had three.

Alex Rodriguez drove in the Yankees first run with his 659th career homer. So when’s he gonna hit the next one to tie Willie Mays for fourth on the all-time list? Facing the pressure of reaching a couple other milestones, he went 51 plate appearances between No. 599 and 600, and 37 plate appearances between No. 499 and 500.

4/24 to 4/26 Subway Series Preview: New York Mets

Subway Series

The 2015 Subway Series begins tonight. Unlike the last few years, when the Mets and Yankees played a four-game home-and-home series, they’re playing three games at Yankee Stadium this weekend and another three games at Citi Field in September. I like that. It gives you a winner for each series. Both teams are playing well right now, so this should be the most exciting Subway Series we’ve seen in years.

What Have The Mets Done Lately?

Unless you’ve been completely unplugged from the baseball world, you know the Mets are riding an eleven-game winning streak coming into the series. All eleven wins came against the Braves, Phillies, and Marlins, but hey, you can only play who the schedule says you have to play. The Mets outscored their opponents 57-31 in the eleven games, though seven of the eleven were decided by two runs or less (five by one run). The Amazin’s have baseball’s best record at 13-3.

Offense & Defense

Manager Terry Collins has an offense that has been a tick better than average in terms of runs per game (4.56) but basically average in terms of wRC+ (99). Timing is everything. They’re getting hits at opportune times. The Mets are currently without both 3B David Wright (hamstring) and C Travis d’Arnaud (fingers), two of their three best position players, and they’re not due to return for a few weeks now. Big losses.

(Kevin C. Cox/Getty)
Duda. (Kevin C. Cox/Getty)

With Wright and d’Arnaud out, the Mets’ best player is 1B Lucas Duda (179 wRC+), who may be getting over his career-long inability to hit lefties thanks to some help from current Mets hitting coach and ex-Yankees hitting coach Kevin Long. It’s too early to say definitively though. OF Michael Cuddyer (125 wRC+) is off to a nice start and ex-Yank OF Curtis Granderson (93 wRC+) hasn’t hit (.200 AVG and .020 ISO), but he leads baseball with a ridiculous 21.9 BB%. Betcha the Grandyman hits at least one homer in the Bronx this weekend.

SS Wilmer Flores (128 wRC+) is getting hot at the plate and 2B Daniel Murphy (46 wRC+) has generally looked lost. UTIL Eric Campbell (109 wRC+) and C Kevin Plawecki (102 wRC+) are filling in at the hot corner and behind the plate, respectively. OF Juan Lagares (61 wRC+) had a huge Spring Training but a small regular season so far. OF John Mayberry Jr. (183 wRC+) platoons against righties and joins C Anthony Recker, IF Daniel Muno, IF Ruben Tejada, and OF Kirk Nieuwenhuis on the bench.

With Wright and d’Arnaud injured, Lagares is the only clearly better than average defender on the field for the Mets. He’s a stud in center. The scouting reports say Plawecki is strong behind the plate but he’s only played two games, so we haven’t seen him much. Flores and Murphy are a brutal double play combination, maybe the worst defensively in baseball, and Duda is no great shakes at first. To his credit, he’s worked hard to go from abysmal to playable. Cuddyer is below-average in left and Granderson is average at best in right, but he can’t throw. Just don’t hit it to Lagares, basically.

Pitching Matchups

Friday: RHP Michael Pineda (Career vs. NYM) vs. RHP Jacob deGrom (Career vs. NYY)
The 26-year-old deGrom is the reigning NL Rookie of the Year, and he actually made his MLB debut against the Yankees at Citi Field last season. (Chase Whitley also made his MLB debut in that game.) deGrom has a 0.93 ERA (2.45 FIP) with good strikeout (21.8%) and ground ball (44.4%) rates to go with excellent walk (3.9%) and homer (0.47 HR/9) rates this year. He’s been much stingier against righties (.256 wOBA) than lefties (.298 wOBA) so far in his young career. When he’s on, deGrom has maybe the best fastball command in baseball, sitting in the mid-90s with both his two and four-seamers, and locating both pitches flawlessly. His array of secondary pitches include an upper-80s slider, a mid-80s changeup, and a low-80s curveball. The curve is his fifth pitch but he still uses it regularly, about 10% of the time or so. deGrom is a late bloomer who played shortstop in college, yet he has developed into one of the best starters in the game right now.

"The Dark Knight" is a terrible baseball nickname. (Al Bello/Getty)
“The Dark Knight” is a terrible baseball nickname. (Al Bello/Getty)

Saturday: LHP CC Sabathia (Career vs. NYM) vs. RHP Matt Harvey (Career vs. NYY)
Harvey has allowed seven runs in 18 innings in his first three starts back from Tommy John surgery (3.50 ERA), but his underlying performance has been insane. He’s struck out 24 (32.0%) and walked just one (1.3%), leading to a 2.34 FIP. Harvey’s ground ball rate is about average (40.0%) and he’s served up two homers, both in his last start to the Phillies. He has a reverse split both this year and throughout his MLB career — lefties have a .228 wOBA against Harvey in his career while righties have a .274 wOBA. Weird. Elbow reconstruction has not sapped any of Harvey’s stuff. The 26-year-old still sits mid-to-upper-90s with his heater and has a devastating upper-80s slider. He’ll also throw quality mid-80s changeups and low-80s curveballs. Harvey is one of the very few pitchers who legitimately takes four out pitches to the mound on his best days. He and Felix Hernandez are pretty much the only guys who can say that. Harvey’s shown he’s an adrenaline junkie, so expect him to be amped up Saturday.

Sunday: RHP Nathan Eovaldi (Career vs. NYM) vs. LHP Jon Niese (Career vs. NYY)
Compared to deGrom and Harvey, the 28-year-old Niese is a bore. He has a 1.50 ERA (4.79 FIP) in 18 innings so far this year with strikeout (12.9%) and walk (9.4%) rates that are a little too close together in the early going. Niese is getting a ton of grounders (58.1%) and he’s traditionally been a bit better against lefties than righties throughout his career. Some arm injuries — both elbow and shoulder — have sapped Niese’s velocity in recent years, so he now sits in the upper-80s with his two and four-seamer and mid-80s with his cutter. Low-80s changeups and upper-70s curveballs are his go-to secondary pitches. Niese has been a really good pitcher for several years now. Just because he’s not deGrom or Harvey doesn’t mean he isn’t a tough draw for the Yankees.

Jeurys. (Elsa/Getty)
Jeurys. (Elsa/Getty)

Bullpen Status
Injuries have really decimated the Mets bullpen. They’re without closer RHP Bobby Parnell (Tommy John surgery), backup closer RHP Jenrry Mejia (elbow), setup man RHP Vic Black (shoulder), lefty specialist LHP Jerry Blevins (forearm), and secondary lefty specialist LHP Josh Edgin (Tommy John surgery). That’s a lot of quality relievers out of action for extended periods of time.

So, with all those guys hurt, Collins is using RHP Jeurys Familia (2.86 FIP) as closer and RHP Buddy Carlyle (1.57 FIP) as the setup man. Carlyle spent some time with the Yankees in 2011. He and Familia have each pitched in the last two games, by the way. LHP Alex Torres (3.07 FIP) is now the team’s go-to lefty and RHP Carlos Torres (2.91 FIP) does a little of everything. Setup work, middle relief, long relief, you name it. Rule 5 Draft pick LHP Sean Gilmartin (6.07 FIP), RHP Erik Goeddel (5.32 FIP), and RHP Hansel Robles round out the bullpen. Robles was just called up and has yet to make his MLB debut.

Head over to our Bullpen Workload page for the status of Joe Girardi‘s relievers. Then head over to Amazin’ Avenue and Metsblog for everything you need to know about New York’s fourth most historically relevant baseball franchise.

A Haiku for the Rest of MLB [2015 Season Preview]

Does Donnie like Haikus? Of course. (Presswire)
Does Donnie like haikus? Of course. (Presswire)

Opening Day is now only three days away. We’ve spent the last four weeks previewing the Yankees and the upcoming season, and yesterday we broke down the rest of the AL East. Today we’re going to wrap up our 2015 Season Preview series with a quick preview of the other 25 teams in baseball. After all, the Yankees are going to have to try to beat those teams this season too.

If you’ve come here looking for a serious preview post, you’re not going to get it. It’s Friday afternoon, Opening Day is right around the corner, and this year’s preview series is over. Instead, we’re going to have some fun and preview those other 25 teams in Haiku form. I encourage you to tell me how much my haikus suck and to make some of your own — pro tip: use the Haiku Counter to make sure you have the right number of syllables — and leave ’em in the comments. Enjoy.

Atlanta Braves
Traded their best bats
For a whole bunch of pitchers
They know scoring’s down?

Arizona Diamondbacks
Is Nuno their ace?
The answer just might be yes
Payback for ’01!

Chicago Cubs
Bleachers aren’t ready?
No prob, Bryant won’t notice
He’s in Iowa

Chicago White Sox
D-Rob and Melky
Back together in ChiTown
Growing ugly beards

Cincinnati Reds
Good enough to win?
Nah, not in that division
Can we have Cueto?

Cleveland Indians
Brantley is awesome
Kluber is really great
World Series pick? Eh

Colorado Rockies
Troy’s still a Rockie
Kyle Kendrick, OD SP?
Wait for ski season

Detroit Tigers
Miggy, Price, V-Mart
Lots of stars and real big names
Bullpen still a mess

Houston Astros
I don’t understand
You won “process World Series?”
That doesn’t exist

Kansas City Royals
Pennant last season
Volquez is replacing Shields?
For real? Yeah, for real

Los Angeles Angels
They have that Trout guy
I wish the Yankees had him
It’s Teixeira’s fault!

Los Angeles Dodgers
Kershaw is the best
Donnie Baseball gets his ring?
If not, just blame Puig

Miami Marlins
Paid Giancarlo
They’re going for it again
When’s next fire sale?

Milwaukee Brewers
They all hate Ryan Braun
But not as much as A-Rod
This team is boring

Minnesota Twins
Phil’s still homer prone
Nunez’s helmet still falls off
Just like the old days

New York Mets
Take back New York, huh?
Orange and blue like the Knicks
But with fewer fans

Oakland Athletics
Ballpark is ugly
Beane traded everyone again
What’s a Stephen Vogt?

Philadelphia Phillies
Rebuild? Finally!
Cole will be traded real soon
Then skip to next year

Pittsburgh Pirates
Cervelli pumps fist
McCutchen cut his dreads
A World Series team?

St. Louis Cardinals
Contender again
Such a boringly good team
Gets boring haiku

San Diego Padres
Kemp, Upton, Myers, Shields
But what about Yangervis?
Solarte Partay!

San Francisco Giants
The World Series champs
But it’s an odd number year
So no repeat then

Seattle Mariners
You can have Robbie
You are still stuck with Jack Z.
Yankees win the trade

Texas Rangers
Could this be the year
That Elvis Andrus will hit?
Hah, made myself laugh

Washington Nationals
Awesome rotation!
Future Yankee Bryce Harper
Has nice ring to it

Supply and demand match up, but Yankees and Mets are imperfect trade partners

Niese. (Presswire)
Niese. (Presswire)

Spring Training has not been so kind to the Mets so far. Earlier this week they lost young right-hander Zack Wheeler to a torn elbow ligament, meaning he will soon have Tommy John surgery. That comes just a few days after the team learned top lefty reliever Josh Edgin also needs his elbow rebuilt. That’s two members of the projected Opening Day pitching staff going down with Tommy John surgery in the span of four or five days. Ouch.

The Mets have an enviable amount of rotation depth — they are probably best equipped to deal with a major pitching injury of any team in MLB right now — and have plenty of options to replace Wheeler. Edgin is a different matter. Their best option to replace him is probably Rule 5 Draft pick Sean Gilmartin, and I imagine a Rule 5 guy is not someone they want to thrust into the primary lefty relief role. GM Sandy Alderson has already said they will explore the market for a lefty reliever.

That’s where the Yankees come in. The Yankees have lefty relievers in spades and are in need of rotation depth, something they needed even before Chris Capuano strained his quad last week. The Mets, as I said, have a ton of rotation options. Enough to fill in for Wheeler, trade someone, and still have enough arms for depth. I mean, seriously. Look at their rotation depth chart without Wheeler:

  1. Matt Harvey — totally awesome
  2. Jacob deGrom — just named NL Rookie of the Year
  3. Jon Niese — boringly effective
  4. Bartolo Colon — Bartday!
  5. Dillon Gee — generic fifth starter who won’t kill his team
  6. Rafael Montero — 3.60 ERA (3.66 FIP) in Triple-A in 2014, named 68th best prospect in baseball by Baseball America prior last year
  7. Noah Syndergaard — ranked as 11th best prospect in baseball by Baseball America this spring
  8. Steve Matz — ranked as 33rd best prospect in baseball by Baseball America this spring

That’s a lot of pitching! Montero and Syndergaard are basically MLB ready while Matz has yet to reach Triple-A and is more of a second half option this coming season. Either way, the Mets are loaded with high-end rotation help, so much so that they spent all winter trying to unload Gee’s $5.3M salary. Given their depth, I don’t think Wheeler’s injury would stop them from trading Gee either.

The Yankees, meanwhile, have a whole lot of left-handed relievers. They made a point of acquiring southpaw relievers this winter similar to how the Mets focused on adding to high-end pitching prospects while trading away veterans in recent years. The Yankees sending a lefty reliever to Flushing for a spare starter makes sense in a vacuum, but in reality it might not be easy to find a match on value. Take a look at Yankees’ lefty bullpen depth chart:

  1. Andrew Miller — not getting traded
  2. Justin Wilson — tradeable
  3. Chasen Shreve — tradeable
  4. Jacob Lindgren — unlikely to be traded, but either way he can only be dealt as a player to be named later until June since he was just drafted last year, meaning he wouldn’t be able to help the Mets come Opening Day
  5. James Pazos — throws hard, zero MLB experience
  6. Tyler Webb — doesn’t throw hard, zero MLB experience

So that’s six lefty relievers but only two are tradeable right now. Maybe the Mets really like Pazos and/or Webb, but if they’re going to go with someone who has no MLB experience, they’d probably stick in house with Gilmartin or Jack Leathersich, who had great minor league numbers (3.16 ERA and 2.46 FIP between Double-A and Triple-A) last year like Pazos and Webb. Wilson and Shreve are the only movable pieces right now.

On the other hand, the Mets sure as hell won’t trade Harvey, deGrom, Syndergaard, or Matz. They might be willing to move Montero in the right deal — there was talk of a Montero for Nick Franklin swap last spring but that didn’t happen even though the Mets desperately need a shortstop — but I’m not sure a lefty reliever is that right deal. Even a dirt cheap lefty reliever under control for multiple years. That leaves Colon, who the Mets would probably give away right now, Gee, and Niese as the tradeable starters.

Shreve. (Presswire)
Shreve. (Presswire)

The Yankees wouldn’t trade Wilson or Shreve for Colon or Gee, who barely move the needle at this point. On the other hand, the Mets wouldn’t trade Niese for Wilson or Shreve. Heck they wouldn’t trade Niese for Wilson and Shreve. Niese is good! And he has a favorable contract too. He’s not someone they’re looking to dump for the sake of shedding salary like Colon or Gee. A straight up spare lefty reliever for spare starter trade isn’t happening between these two clubs, which means the pot would have to be sweetened somehow. (Brendan Ryan doesn’t count.)

The Yankees and Mets haven’t made a trade involving actually big league players (sorry, Gonzalez Germen) since the Mike Stanton-Felix Heredia swap way back in December 2004. I don’t think Alderson or Brian Cashman would hesitate to trade with one another, however. Maybe one (or both) of the ownership groups would be hesitant, but Alderson and Cashman are smart guys looking to improve their teams however they can. If that means trading with a geographical rival, so be it. Finding common ground on a trade like this seems like it would be difficult.

On paper, the Yankees and Mets match up well for a trade. The Yankees need a starter and have a ton of lefty relievers while the Mets need a lefty reliever and have some extra starters. But, when you take a deeper look at who actually is and isn’t available, there isn’t a great match. Maybe the Mets love Webb and the Yankees are willing to take on Colon’s hefty salary, that’s always possible. It just seems unlikely. Perhaps the situation will change in the weeks before Opening Day, but, as of this moment, it’s tough to see how these two clubs can find common ground without substantially expanding the trade.

5/12-15 Subway Series Preview: New York Mets

(Al Bello/Getty)
(Al Bello/Getty)

It’s that time of year again, the Subway Series. The Yankees and Mets will meet four times this week, and, like last season, they will play a four-game home-and-home series. The battle for bragging rights opens tonight at Yankee Stadium and will wrap-up on Thursday at Citi Field. Two games at each building.

What Have They Done Lately?
Following a surprisingly strong start to the season, the Mets have lost eight of their last ten games. They did win yesterday (via walk-off), however. The Amazin’s are 17-19 with a -8 run differential overall this season, which has them tied for last in the top heavy NL East.

The Mets have a below league average offense at 3.94 runs per game with a team 83 wRC+. They also have a 23.0% strikeout rate as a team, the seventh highest in baseball, so they struggle to score runs and struggle to put the ball in play. Manager Terry Collins does not have any position players on the DL but 1B Lucas Duda (118 wRC+) has missed the last few games with a stomach problem.


As usual, the Mets’ lineup is anchored by 3B David Wright (104 wRC+), who is off to a relatively slow start. Former Yankee OF Curtis Granderson (72 wRC+) got off to a brutally slow start but has been much better over the last two weeks or so (151 wRC+). Defensive wiz OF Juan Lagares (121 wRC+) has had an unexpectedly strong start to the season. He was always a glove first guy. 2B Daniel Murphy (133 wRC+) has been excellent and Duda has been more than solid since taking over as the full-time first baseman following the Ike Davis trade.

Other than those five, the Mets have OF Chris Young (97 wRC+), C Travis d’Arnaud (67 wRC+), OF Eric Young Jr. (79 wRC+), and SS Ruben Tejada (54 wRC+) playing everyday. IF Wilmer Flores and UTIL Eric Campbell were just called up to add some spark. Flores has played three games and Campbell made his MLB debut yesterday. C Anthony Recker (103 wRC+) and former Yankee OF Bobby Abreu (91 wRC+) round out the bench. Yes, Bobby Abreu is in the big leagues.

It’s worth noting Mets’ pitchers are 0-for-63 this year, the longest hitless streak by a pitching staff to start a season in baseball history. The chances of them picking up their first pitcher hit on Wednesday or Thursday is roughly 10,000%.

Pitching Matchups

Monday: RHP Hiroki Kuroda (vs. NYM) vs. RHP Bartolo Colon (vs. NYY) (Pitcher GIFs)
Remember when the Yankees dragged Colon out of winter ball and we all laughed? Three years later, he’s still going strong in the big leagues. Who would have guessed? The 40-year-old Colon has a 5.36 ERA (4.09 FIP) in seven starts and 43.2 innings this year, with his best strikeout (7.01 K/9 and 17.8 K%) and walk (1.03 BB/9 and 2.3 BB%) rates since his stint in pinstripes. Homers (1.44 HR/9 and 12.1 HR/FB%) and a lack of grounders (37.4%) have been his biggest problems. Colon still throws almost nothing but fastballs, upper-80s four-seamers and mid-80s two-seamers. His velocity isn’t what is was three years ago. On occasion he’ll throw low-80s sliders and changeups. There’s no mystery here. Colon comes right at guys with fastballs.

(Doug Pensinger/Getty)
(Doug Pensinger/Getty)

Tuesday: LHP Vidal Nuno (vs. NYM) vs. RHP Zack Wheeler (vs. NYY) (Pitcher GIFs)
Wheeler, 23, is the second of the Mets’ three big pitching prospects, sandwiched between Matt Harvey and Noah Syndergaard. He has a 4.35 ERA (3.13 FIP) in seven starts and 39.1 innings this season, and his only real problem has been walks (4.12 BB/9 and 10.6 BB%). Young pitchers, man. The two things they do better than anything is walk guys and get hurt. Wheeler has very good strikeout (8.92 K/9 and 22.9 K%), homerun (0.46 HR/9 and 6.3 HR/FB%), and ground ball (52.3%) rates, though he’s been getting clobbered by left-handers (.393 wOBA). Righties haven’t had as much luck (.277 wOBA). Two mid-90s fastballs (four and two-seamer) set up his upper-80s slider and upper-70s curveball. Wheeler throws only a handful of changeups per start. He’s got nasty stuff, but like most young pitchers at this point of their careers, Wheeler is still rough around the edges.

Wednesday: RHP Masahiro Tanaka (No vs. NYM) vs. TBA
This start was supposed to go to RHP Jenrry Mejia, but after three straight rough outings, Collins told David Lennon they may skip his start and give him some time in the bullpen. They need to limit his workload anyway. If that does happen, either RHP Rafael Montero or RHP Jacob deGrom figures to get the call for the spot start. Both would be making their big league debuts. Montero, 23, has a 3.67 ERA (3.97 FIP) in 42.2 Triple-A innings this season and is by far the better prospect of the two. He was really impressive in Spring Training. Everything (delivery, ball out of his hand, etc.) looks easy. The 25-year-old deGrom has a 2.58 ERA (3.73 FIP) in 38.1 innings at Triple-A this season. He spent all of last year at Triple-A, so if the Mets make this decision based on seniority, deGrom would be the guy.

Thursday: TBA vs. RHP Dillon Gee (vs. NYY) (Pitcher GIFs)
Gee, 28, turned his season and to some extent his career around during the Subway Series last season, when he held the Yankees to one run in 7.1 innings while striking out 12. He went into that start with a 6.34 ERA and has pitched to a 2.72 ERA (3.85 FIP) in 202 innings since. Gee comes into this series with a 2.73 ERA (4.28 FIP) and just okay peripherals — 5.64 K/9 (15.6 K%), 2.56 BB/9 (7.1 BB%), 1.03 HR/9 (9.5 HR/FB%), 40.9% grounders, .302 wOBA against lefties, and .262 wOBA against righties — though he’s obviously doing something right. He’s one of those guys who defies the usual ERA/FIP relationship. Gee has the standard issue four-pitch mix: upper-80s fastball, mid-80s changeup, low-80s slider, and mid-70s curveball. Far from flashy, but it’s damn effective, especially over the last year.

As for the Yankees, they seem likely to start Alfredo Aceves in the series finally now that CC Sabathia is on the 15-day DL with a knee issue. Chase Whitley, the other starter candidate, is pitching for Triple-A Scranton today according to Donnie Collins. It could be a short tune-up outing for Thursday or remove him from consideration all together. If that happens, maybe they’ll just stick with Matt Daley as the extra reliever.

Update: Whitley threw only one inning and seven pitches this afternoon, so it was just a tune-up appearance. He is very likely coming up to either make the spot start or replace Aceves as the long man. I assume it’s the latter.

(Christian Petersen/Getty)
(Christian Petersen/Getty)

Bullpen Status
It seems like the Mets have had one of the very worst bullpens in baseball this year thanks to some high-profile meltdowns, but they’re closer to middle of the pack with a 3.99 ERA (4.31 FIP). It could be worse, I guess. Believe it or not, former Yankee RHP Kyle Farnsworth (4.39 FIP) is closing with RHP Daisuke Matsuzaka (3.52 FIP) getting most of the setup innings. That’s a real thing that is happening. RHP Carlos Torres (2.94 FIP) will also see some late-inning time.

LHP Scott Rice (3.97 FIP) is Collins’ only lefty right now. RHP Gonzalez Germen (4.21 FIP), RHP Jeurys Familia (3.77 FIP), and RHP Jose Valverde (5.36 FIP) fill out the rest of the bullpen, which could get a boost from Mejia this week. We’ll find out soon enough. Dice-K threw two innings and 34 pitches yesterday, so he might not be available tonight. Valverde, Familia, and Rice also pitched briefly on Sunday. Our Bullpen Workload page has the status of the Yankees’ relievers. Check out Amazin’ Avenue for the latest and great on the Mets.