Trade Deadline Notes: Lopez, Nats, Giants, Rangers, Gallo

Lopez. (Mitchell Layton/Getty)
Lopez. (Mitchell Layton/Getty)

The Yankees have won six of their last nine games, and during that time they’ve gained exactly zero games in wildcard race. Not one. They’re still five games back, though now there’s only three teams ahead of them instead of six. Yay? Here’s the latest batch of trade deadline rumors.

Yankees scouted Lopez, others Tuesday

Vice president of baseball operations Tim Naehring was at Nationals Park last night to scout rookie right-hander Reynaldo Lopez and other players, reports George King. Lopez got knocked around in his MLB debut, allowing six runs on ten hits and a walk in 4.2 innings, but he did strike out nine. Baseball America ranked him 48th in their midseason top 100 update, and Lopez has long been speculated as a possible center piece for an Aroldis Chapman or Andrew Miller trade.

The only other notable young players to play in last night’s Nationals-Dodgers game were Joc Pederson and Trea Turner. I’d be surprised if the Dodgers traded Pederson. Turner though? He could definitely be a trade chip with Washington so committed to Danny Espinosa at short (and prospect Wilmer Difo on the way). Turner went 1-for-4 with a two-run triple and a strikeout last night. Here’s video of the triple. For what it’s worth, Lopez strikes me as way more available than Turner.

Giants lingering in Chapman, Miller race

The Giants continue to linger in the Chapman/Miller market according to Jerry Crasnick, though they might be outbid by other clubs with more young talent to offer. San Francisco is focusing on other relievers for the time being, including Jeremy Jeffress and Will Smith of the Brewers, and Jeanmar Gomez and David Hernandez of the Phillies.

As I said a few weeks ago, it’s hard to find a match between the Yankees and Giants because the Giants don’t have a great farm system. Most of their top prospects are either having down years or are far away from MLB. And even if San Francisco was willing to trade off their big league roster, who could they offer? Joe Panik or Matt Duffy? That ain’t happening. The Giants want to add to their MLB team, not subtract from it.

Yankees “intrigued” by Gallo, Rangers scouting Yanks

(Kyle Rivas/Getty)
(Kyle Rivas/Getty)

The Rangers have been scouting the Yankees for several weeks now, according to Evan Grant and George King. They’ve specifically been looking at Miller, Chapman, Dellin Betances, Ivan Nova, Nathan Eovaldi, and even CC Sabathia. Texas had trusted scout Russ Ardolina at Yankee Stadium on Monday to see Nova. The big three relievers pitched that game too. The Rangers need all sorts of pitching help and the Yankees have a bunch to offer.

King says the Yankees are “intrigued” by dinger mashing prospect Joey Gallo, and Grant says that while Gallo isn’t untouchable, it’s going to take a lot to get him. Texas turned down Gallo for Drew Pomeranz, for example. There are concerns about Gallo’s ability to make consistent contact against MLB caliber arms, but he has true 80 power on the 20-80 scouting scale, the kind that will produce 40 bombs in any park even if he hits .230. He’s also a good defender at third base, so while he’s a flawed player, Gallo has a chance to a middle of the order force long-term.

Trade Deadline Notes: Beltran, Royals, Nationals, Rangers

(Harry How/Getty)
(Harry How/Getty)

Thanks to last night’s win over the BoSox, the Yankees improved their postseason odds to … 5.2%. That’s not so good. Ownership still has not whether to buy or sell at the trade deadline according to Buster Olney, which is no surprise. I’m guessing they won’t make that decision until the very last moment. I just hope none of their top trade chips get hurt between now and then. Anyway, here are some miscellaneous trade notes.

Yankees, Royals talked Beltran

According to George King, the Yankees and Royals discussed a trade involving Carlos Beltran earlier this season. Apparently reliever Luke Hochevar’s name came up. The Royals are short on offense at the moment and they have a huge hole in right field, so while Beltran doesn’t fit their mold as a premium defender, he’d sure as heck improve their lineup. Remember, Kansas City tried to sign Beltran as a free agent two offseason ago.

Hochevar being part of trade talks is interesting if not a little weird. He’s a solid middle reliever (3.86 ERA and 3.83 FIP) and an impending free agent, but trading rental Beltran for a rental reliever makes no sense for the Yankees. I think Hochevar would have been part of the deal as a way to offset money on Kansas City’s end. (He’s making $6M total this year.) Beltran for Hochevar and a prospect or two seems like the final outcome there. There’s no word on whether talks were serious or are ongoing.

Yankees scouting Nationals, Triple-A affiliate

The Yankees spent the weekend scouting the Nationals’ Triple-A affiliate and will cover the big league team this week, reports Barry Svrluga. It’s hard not notice Washington will be calling up pitching prospect Reynaldo Lopez from Triple-A to make his MLB debut tomorrow night. Pitching prospects Austin Voth and A.J. Cole are currently with Triple-A Syracuse as well.

Lopez, who Baseball America ranked as the 48th best prospect in baseball in their midseason top 100, has long been speculated as a possible trade target for New York. That said, he didn’t pitch in Triple-A this weekend, so Yankees’ scouts in Syracuse didn’t see him. He threw an inning in the Futures Game in San Diego on Sunday. Voth and Cole pitched Friday and Saturday in Triple-A, respectively, for what’s it worth. The Nationals have interest in Andrew Miller and Aroldis Chapman, so it’s no surprise the Yankees are scouting their system. They’re scouting everyone’s system.

(Denis Poroy/Getty)
(Denis Poroy/Getty)

Rangers want Yankees to take on money in potential Miller trade

According to Jeff Wilson, the Rangers would like the Yankees to eat some money in a potential Miller trade. Miller is owed whatever is left of his $9M salary this season plus another $9M in both 2017 and 2018. That’s certainly very reasonable given his on-field production, but who knows what Texas’ financials look like. A $9M a year reliever may not be feasible to them.

Of course, given their financial might, the Yankees should be willing to eat money to facilitate any trade as long as it means a greater package of players coming back. It seems silly to pay someone as good as Miller to play elsewhere, but you know what? If it’s the difference between getting a very good prospect and an elite prospect, why not? The Yankees have the money. That’s a good way to leverage their financial firepower.

Cubs, others continue to scout Yankees

Yet another high-ranking Cubs official was at Yankee Stadium this weekend, presumably to scout their bullpen pieces, reports George King. They’ve now had three different scouts and pro scouting director Jared Porter watch New York’s end-game relievers in recent weeks. That ain’t routine coverage. The Cubs are getting multiple eyes on these guys because they want as much information as possible before getting serious about a trade.

King says the Braves, Rangers, Marlins, Cardinals, Nationals, Royals, and Giants have also been scouting the Yankees recently. I’m not quite sure what the Braves were doing there. Maybe they were checking guys out in the case the Yankees decide to buy or something? The other five clubs all make sense though. They’re all contending and they all have some kind of clear need New York may be able to address via trade. The deadline is exactly two weeks away.

Report: Yanks, Pirates have discussed Nathan Eovaldi deal

(Tasos Katopodis/Getty)
(Tasos Katopodis/Getty)

According to Rob Biertempfel, the Yankees and Pirates have discussed a potential Nathan Eovaldi trade. It’s unclear how serious talks were or whether they’re still ongoing. Biertempfel says the Rangers have some interest in Eovaldi as well. Both Pittsburgh and Texas are contending and in need of rotation help.

Eovaldi, 26, started the season well but has crashed hard late, so hard that he was demoted to the bullpen before the All-Star break. (He’s going to return to the rotation Tuesday.) He has a 5.11 ERA (5.04 FIP) in 98.2 innings spread across 16 starts and three relief appearances. Eovaldi is under team control as an arbitration-eligible player for one more season before becoming a free agent. I have some thoughts on this.

1. This rumor passes the sniff test. Some trade rumors flat out don’t make sense. This is not one of them. This one makes sense. The Pirates and pitching coach Ray Searage have had success turning good stuff/bad command starters like Eovaldi into above-average pitchers the last few years. Francisco Liriano and A.J. Burnett are the most notable examples. They did it with Edinson Volquez too. (It didn’t work with Juan Nicasio this year.)

Also, the Yankees and Pirates are frequent trade partners. Brian Cashman and Pirates GM Neal Huntington have hooked up for four trades since 2012 (Burnett, Casey McGehee, Chris Stewart, Frankie Cervelli) and if nothing else, that indicates the two have a good working relationship. Between their recent trade history and the type of pitchers Pittsburgh tends to acquire, this rumor definitely has teeth. I’m buying this.

2. So what can the Yankees get in return? Even though he’s been traded twice himself, not many pitchers like Eovaldi have been traded within the last few years. I’m talking about an enigmatic 20-something a year and a half away from free agency. Eovaldi’s two prior trades don’t work as benchmarks because he had more years of team control. We’re stuck guessing at his trade value, which is unfortunate.

The Pirates have a loaded system — they landed six players on Baseball America’s midseason top 100 — and it should be noted it’s been a while since Huntington last traded anything more than a decent prospect. This isn’t a club that will go out and trade a big prospect package for a big name MLB player. Not that Eovaldi is a big name, but you know what I mean. If you’re hoping for a top prospect, forget it. Huntington’s track record says it ain’t happening.

Here is MLB.com’s top 30 Pirates prospects list. Down-list players who seem interesting include lefty Stephen Tarpley, infielder Kevin Kramer, righty Trevor Williams, and infielder Max Moroff. That’s just me pulling names off the list. The Pirates do have a lot of talent in their system though, so even if the top tier and second tier guys are off the table, there are still some nice prospects to be had.

(Joe Sargent/Getty)
(Joe Sargent/Getty)

3. The Niese factor scares me. One of the reasons the Pirates need rotation help now and next year is lefty Jon Niese, who came over from the Mets in the offseason and has had a brutal season (5.13 ERA and 5.49 FIP). Like Eovaldi, Niese was recently demoted to the bullpen and he’s said to be on the trade block. It’s easy to understand why, really.

The Yankees have reportedly had interest in Niese in the past, but things were never going to come together because of the Mets-Yankees factor. Would it happen now that he’s with the Pirates? Niese and a prospect for Eovaldi? Niese’s contract includes club options for 2017 ($10M) and 2018 ($11M), so he’d satisfy their stated goal of adding pitching controllable beyond next season.

Just to be clear, there’s nothing connected the Yankees to Niese now. This is just my speculation. They’ve had interest in Niese, he’s very much available, and he’s under control beyond 2017. This is a little too close for comfort. I guess as long as Niese is the second piece, it wouldn’t be the end of the world. I’d rather see the Yankees focus on younger players, not veterans.

4. So, what about the Rangers? Biertempfel says the Rangers have interest in Eovaldi as well, and again, that passes the sniff test. They just welcomed Yu Darvish back from the DL, but are still without Derek Holland (shoulder) and Colby Lewis (lat), so they need rotation help. Texas also needs bullpen help in a big way, and the Yankees have some really good relievers to offer. I guess that means there’s potential for a larger deal here. Eovaldi and, say, Aroldis Chapman for something. That sorta thing.

Trade Deadline Notes: Rangers, Nats, Miller, Moore, Hill

Hill. (Brian Blanco/Getty)
Hill. (Brian Blanco/Getty)

With 82 games in the books, the Yankees are 40-42 and 4.5 games back of the second wildcard spot. There are six teams ahead of them in that wildcard race. FanGraphs puts their postseason odds at a mere 7.0%. Contention is a long shot at this point, which means the trade deadline could be very, very interesting. Buster Olney (sub. req’d) says the Yankees are taking offers right now, which strikes me as the kind of thing they’d do anyway, regardless of their record. Anyway, here are some miscellaneous trade notes with the deadline three weeks and six days away.

Rangers, Nationals, Cubs scouting Yankees relievers

Scouts from the Rangers, Nationals, and Cubs were on hand to see the Yankees’ big three relievers in San Diego over the weekend, reports George King. The Cubs have been on those guys for a while now, but the Rangers and Nationals are new to the party. Then again, it’s not exactly a surprise they’re watching New York’s end-game arms. All three of those clubs are in contention and they all could use varying levels of bullpen help.

I know it seems sorta silly that teams are scouting Dellin Betances, Andrew Miller, and Aroldis Chapman. It’s not like they need to send a scout to San Diego to tell them they’re awesome. They’re just doing their due diligence though. They want to see if someone’s mechanics have changed or anything like that. Basically, they’re looking for red flags. Everyone knows these guys are great. Is there reason to believe they may suddenly not be great?

Yanks tell Miller they haven’t “discussed or planned” trading him

Should the Yankees decide to sell, their best trade chip is most likely Miller. He’s awesome, he’s signed affordably for another two years, and he’s the ultimate team player. Lots and lots of clubs would love to add him to their roster. For now, the Yankees have told Miller they haven’t “discussed or planned” trading him, writes Barry Bloom.

“The media has been throwing a few things out there, but I’ve had reassurances from them at the times I’ve talked to them that it’s something that hasn’t been discussed or planned for or anything like that,” he said. “I think that’s kind of nice … But I have no trade protection. I’m at the mercy of that what they decide to do. I get it. It’s a business. I want to be here. I want to play here. But it’s impossible to avoid sometimes.”

I’ve seen that quote misconstrued as “the Yankees told Miller they aren’t trading him” and that’s not true. Well, I guess they may have told him that at some point, but that’s not what Miller is saying there. He’s only saying the Yankees have told him they haven’t yet had any trade talks about him. Miller’s not stupid. He knows he’s good and teams are going to want him. It comes with the territory.

Moore. (Brian Blanco/Getty)
Moore. (Brian Blanco/Getty)

Yankees interested in Matt Moore

The Yankees are one of several teams with interest in Rays left-hander Matt Moore, reports Nick Cafardo. Tampa Bay is said to be ready to trade away their starters in an effort to take advantage of the seller’s market. The Rays are are not only in last place, they’re in the middle of a free fall right now. They’ve won only three of their last 19 games and are 10.5 games out of a wildcard spot.

Moore, 27, held the Angels to two runs in 6.2 innings yesterday. He has a 4.54 ERA (4.53 FIP) in 103 innings this year, which is better than the 5.43 ERA (4.82 FIP) he had in 63 innings last season, after returning from Tommy John surgery. Moore is signed super cheap (owed $28.5M through 2019 if the options in his deal are exercised) and he’s got a fantastic arm, but he’s now three years removed from the last time he was even an average starter. I can’t imagine the Rays would be eager to trade with the Yankees either.

Yankees scouting Rich Hill

According to Susan Slusser, the Yankees were among the many teams with a scout in attendance for Rich Hill’s start over the weekend. Hill returned from a groin strain to hold the Pirates to two runs in six innings. The 36-year-old has a 2.31 ERA (2.71 FIP) with a 27.8% strikeout rate in 12 starts and 70 innings this season. Simply put, he’s been one of the best starters in the AL in 2016. Go figure.

Hill, who is signed to a one-year deal worth $6M, figures to be an extremely hot rental commodity at the deadline. He might very well be the best starter traded this summer. In a vacuum, adding Hill to the rotation would make the Yankees a better team. I mean, duh. At this point though, giving up prospects for a 36-year-old rental is pretty much the last thing the Yankees should do at the deadline. They have to build for next year, not continue to fake contention this year.

Yankeemetrics: Riding the .500 roller coaster [June 27-30]

(Photo credit: Getty Images)
(Photo credit: Getty Images)

Mother Nature 1, Yankees 0
In a season filled with crushing losses, embarrassing performances, horrible blown leads and frustrating games, Monday’s contest against the Rangers just might surpass them all. It will certainly go down in the record books as one of the most surreal games played at Yankee Stadium, and likely one of the most deflating defeats in recent years. Joe Girardi summed it in his postgame comments to reporters:

“It’s hard for me to understand what happened tonight, how it got to this point. But it did, and we lost.”

The two teams played through a rainstorm that got progressively worse during the night, until the umpires finally called for the tarp in the ninth inning with Aroldis Chapman on the mound to protect a 6-5 Yankees advantage.

chapman rain
(Getty)

When the delay finally ended 3 hours and 35 minutes later, the closer was on the bench and Kirby Yates was in to save the game.

Instead, he suffered an unprecedented meltdown on the mound, coughing up the lead as he hit three batters and surrendered three runs before getting the final out of the ninth.

Yates became the first pitcher in more than 100 years to hit at least three batters, pitch no more than one inning and get tagged with the loss. The last guy to do it was Earl Moore of the Buffalo Buffeds in a Federal League game on June 17, 1914 against the Indianapolis Hoosiers.

As unwatchable as the Yankees middle relief has been in the past few years, they’ve still maintained a lockdown back of the bullpen to close out games. So what happens when you’re forced to call upon that dicey non-Big 3 reliever to try and seal a win? You get an incredibly rare loss for the Yankees.

This was the first time the Yankees lost a game when taking a lead into the ninth inning since June 1, 2014 against the Twins. They had won 160 straight games in that situation, including a 34-0 mark this year and an 81-0 mark last season.

The Hangover
The best thing to be said about Tuesday’s lifeless 7-1 defeat was that it only took 2 hours and 37 minutes. Alas, here’s a few more words about the utterly forgettable loss.

CC Sabathia made one mistake in the first inning — a two-run homer to Adrian Beltre — but then retired 18 of 21 batters in the second through seventh innings. The large lefty unraveled in the eighth inning, however, as the first four guys reached base before he was pulled from the game.

It was the first time all season he threw a pitch in the eighth inning, and predictably, things didn’t go well as Sabathia was ultimately charged with six runs in seven innings. He has allowed 11 earned runs in his last two starts (11 1/3 innings), compared four earned runs allowed in his previous seven starts (44 innings).

It appears that Sabathia is experiencing some regression in his fly ball luck. Through his first 11 starts of the season he allowed two homers and had an incredibly low homer-to-flyball ratio of 3.1 percent. He’s now surrendered a homer in each of his last two starts, and while his fly ball rate remained unchanged, his homer-to-flyball ratio shot up to 14.3 percent in that span.

(Photo credit: Getty Images)
(Photo credit: Getty Images)

The Miracle on 161st Street and River Avenue
Buried in the standings and left for dead by much of the New York media, the Yankees pulled off arguably the most stunning win of the season — and perhaps its biggest so far — on Wednesday night, staging an epic comeback for the ages to beat the Rangers 9-7.

Trailing by five runs with five outs to go and three runs with two outs to go, the Yankees capped off a furious ninth inning rally with a pair of dramatic home runs, snatching victory from the jaws of defeat and breathing life into a team on the brink of irrelevance.

The win came with a few notable milestones:

  • it was their largest comeback win of the season
  • it was their first win this season when trailing entering the ninth inning (and it came less than 48 hours after they lost their first game in two years when leading entering the ninth inning!)
  • it was the first time they erased a deficit of at least four runs in the ninth inning or later since Sept. 22, 2012 against Oakland
  • it was their third win when trailing by four or more runs in the seventh inning or later in the past two weeks, after having only two such wins in the previous three seasons combined

The two biggest blows came from the bats of Brian McCann, who tied the game with a towering three-run homer in the final frame, and Didi Gregorius, who won the game with his first career walk-off shot. If that sounds like a rare type of rally … you’d be correct.

It was the first time since at least 1930 that the Yankees hit a game-tying homer when trailing by at least three runs in the ninth inning and then ended the game with a walk-off homer.

McCann became just the fourth Yankee in the past 70 seasons with a game-tying homer when facing a deficit of at least three runs at Yankee Stadium. He joins the illustrious group of Shelley Duncan (Aug. 15, 2007), Tino Martinez (July 2, 1998), and Joe DiMaggio (July 31, 1937 and Aug. 29, 1940).

Didi also put himself in some nice company with his historic blast. Only four other Yankee shortstops have hit a walk-off homer in the past 85 seasons: Derek Jeter (April 5, 2005 and Game 4 of the 2001 World Series), Gene Michael (June 23, 1971), Mickey Mantle (July 22, 1954 in a game he started in center field and then moved to shortstop in the ninth inning) and Phil Rizzuto (April 23, 1941).

(Photo credit: Joseph D. Sullivan)
(Photo credit: Joseph D. Sullivan)

Be Like Mike
What’s better than a walk-off win against the best team in the AL? How about two of them in a row. The Yankees beat the Rangers, 2-1, on Thursday afternoon thanks to a passed ball in the bottom of the ninth that scored Chase Headley from third base.

This was just the second time in the last 50 years that the Yankees enjoyed a walk-off win via a passed ball; the other game was April 27, 2012 versus the Tigers.

It was also their second straight victory in walk-off fashion (duh), third on this nine-game homestand (also June 22 vs. Rockies) and fourth of the season. The last time the Yankees had three walk-off wins in a span of fewer than 10 days was May 15-23, 2009, when they had back-to-back-to-back (!) walk-off wins against the Twins and one six days later against the Phillies.

The uplifting victory wouldn’t have been possible without another stellar performance from Michael Pineda, who finished with 12 strikeouts and one run allowed on two hits. It was the 13th time in last 100 years that a Yankee pitcher struck out at least 12 batters while giving up no more than two hits and one run — but only once before had that pitcher also not been credited with the win, like Pineda. On April 11, 1997, David Cone tossed seven scoreless innings and had 12 strikeouts against the A’s in a game the Yankees lost 3-1.

Pineda capped off an excellent June (2.75 ERA in six starts) with perhaps his two best outings of the season: a two-hit, one-run, eight-strikeout effort on June 25 against the Twins and Thursday’s two-hit, one-run, 12-strikeout masterpiece. He’s the third Yankee in the last century to strike out at least eight batters and allow no more than two hits in back-to-back starts, matching David Cone (1997) and Al Downing (1965).

His stuff was especially nasty when he got into two-strike counts, as he induced a swing-and-miss on strike three for all 12 of his punch outs. Pineda is just the fourth pitcher in baseball this season to record 12 swinging strikeouts in a game, along with Clayton Kershaw (12 on June 10), Vince Velasquez (13 on April 14) and Max Scherzer (14 on May 11). No other Yankee pitcher has done that in a game since at least 2008 (the Pitch f/x era).

6/27 to 6/30 Series Preview: Texas Rangers

View post on imgur.com

It’s gut-check time. The Yankees have spent the last few weeks beating up on the likes of the Twins, Angels, Rays, and Athletics. Now they have to prove their mettle against arguably the best team in the AL and inarguably one of the best in all of baseball. The Rangers are in town for a four-game series. The Yankees want people to believe they can contend? Then go out, put up a fight, and win some games against Texas this week.

What Have They Done Lately?

The Rangers have been insanely hot of late. They took two of three from the Red Sox over the weekend and have won 22 of their last 28 games overall to push their record to 49-27, best in the AL by 3.5 games. The Giants are the only other team in baseball with as many as 49 wins. The Yankees and Rangers played three games in Arlington in late-April. The Rangers won two of the three.

Offense & Defense

Do the Rangers ever have a bad offense? They always seem to be really good at scoring runs. So far this year they’ve averaging 4.88 runs per game with a team 95 wRC+. (The runs per game/wRC+ disconnect always intrigues me.) Manager Jeff Banister has two injured position players: OF Josh Hamilton, who won’t play at all this season due to knee problems, and OF Drew Stubbs. Stubbs is out with a toe injury and it doesn’t look like he’ll be back this series.

Desmond. (Ronald Martinez/Getty)
Desmond. (Ronald Martinez/Getty)

Banister puts his four best hitters right at the top of the lineup. RF Shin-Soo Choo (136 wRC+) leads off, CF Ian Desmond (135 wRC+) bats second, rookie LF Nomar Mazara (101 wRC+) bats third, and future Hall of Famer 3B Adrian Beltre (101 wRC+) cleans up. Choo has a .418 OBP in the leadoff spot and Desmond has been off-the-charts the last two months. He has a 159 wRC+ in his last 57 games. Crazy. DH Prince Fielder (60 wRC+) has been awful, but he stays in the lineup because the Rangers owe him more than $80M through 2020. Egads.

SS Elvis Andrus (94 wRC+) is having his best offensive season in a few years and 2B Rougned Odor (97 wRC+) has been just okay to date. IF Jurickson Profar (134 wRC+) has been something of super utility guy getting regular at-bats all over the infield. 1B Mitch Moreland (84 wRC+) and OF Ryan Rua (123 wRC+) are platoon options. Texas is carrying three catchers: C Robinson Chirinos (105 wRC+), C Bryan Holaday (77 wRC+), and C Bobby Wilson (77 wRC+). Three catchers is a hell of a thing.

The Rangers are a very good defensive team with two major sore spots: right field and first base. Choo is not a good defender — he does throw very well, but his range stinks — and regardless of whether Fielder or Moreland (or Profar) is at first, they’re a liability. (Profar lacks experience.) Beltre, Mazara, Odor, and Andrus are all above-average glovemen. So is Desmond in center field, believe it or not. He’s never going to play the infield again. The transition to the outfield has worked so, so well.

Pitching Probables

Monday (7:05pm ET): RHP Ivan Nova (vs. TEX) vs. RHP Chi Chi Gonzalez (vs. NYY)
The Rangers are currently without Yu Darvish (shoulder), Derek Holland (shoulder), and Colby Lewis (lat), so they’ve had to dip deep into their pitching depth. Gonzalez, 24, is coming up from Triple-A to make the start in place of Lewis tonight. He threw 67 innings for the Rangers last summer and was serviceable (3.90 ERA and 4.97 FIP). So far in Triple-A this year Gonzalez has a 5.04 ERA (3.91 FIP) in 14 starts and 80.1 innings. He wasn’t missing bats (15.9%) or limiting walks (7.4%), but Chi Chi did limit homers (0.34 HR/9) and keep the ball on the ground (58.0%). Gonzalez is a classic sinker/slider pitcher. He sits 91-94 mph with the sinker and in the upper-80s with his slider, so he throws it hard. A mid-80s changeup is his third pitch. Every once in a while he’ll flip a low-80s curveball to keep hitters guessing.

Tuesday (7:05pm ET): LHP CC Sabathia (vs. TEX) vs. LHP Cole Hamels (vs. NYY)
The 32-year-old Hamels is in his first full season with the Rangers, and in 15 starts he’s given the team 96.2 innings of 2.79 ERA (4.58 FIP) ball. His strikeout (23.5%) and grounder (50.8%) numbers are very good, though he’s been walk (9.1%) and homer (1.40 HR/9) prone, which is out of the ordinary. He’s been quite a bit better against lefties than righties this year, though he’s had a tiny platoon split throughout his career. Hamels is one of those ultra-rare veteran pitchers who has added velocity over the years. Check it out (via Brooks Baseball):

Cole Hamels velocity

Every pitcher should be so lucky. Hamels backs up his low-to-mid-90s four-seamer and sinker with a world class mid-80s changeup. It’s one of the best changeups in baseball and the reason he’s been so good for so long. He throws it with the same arm speed as his heater, so by time it starts fading, the hitter’s brain has already said “fastball!” and told his arms to start swinging. An upper-80s cutter and an upper-70s curveball are his fourth and fifth pitches. Hamels uses all five pitches regularly too. The Yankees didn’t see him when they were in Texas earlier this season.

Wednesday (7:05pm ET): RHP Masahiro Tanaka (vs. TEX) vs. RHP Nick Martinez (vs. NYY)
Martinez, 25, is in the rotation because of all those injuries. He’s made two starts and two relief appearances for the Rangers this year, allowing eight runs on 16 hits and seven walks in 13 innings. Martinez has struck out only five. He had a 4.50 ERA (3.97 FIP) in 64 Triple-A innings this year before getting called back up Texas. Martinez lives and dies with his low-90s sinker and mid-80s slider. He’s going to throw some mid-80s changeups and upper-70s curveballs too, but the sinker and slider are his moneymakers. They’re why he’s in the show. Martinez was still in Triple-A when the Yankees and Rangers played in April.

Thursday (1:05pm ET): RHP Michael Pineda (vs. TEX) vs. RHP A.J. Griffin (vs. NYY)
After losing the 2014 and 2015 seasons to Tommy John surgery and shoulder issues, the now 28-year-old Griffin has a 3.08 ERA (3.55 FIP) in seven starts and 38 innings for Texas this season. He did miss a few weeks with more shoulder problems, however. Griffin has a strong strikeout rate (21.9%) and he’s kept the ball in the yard (0.71 HR/9), but his walk (9.7%) and grounder (36.8%) numbers aren’t all that good. Left-handed batters have had more success against him this season than righties. Griffin is averaging 88 mph with his four-seamer and 83 mph with his little cutter/slider hybrid. His changeup is in the low-80s and his hilariously slow curveball still sits in the mid-to-high-60s. That slow curve makes his heater play up quite a bit. The Yankees did see Griffin back in April, and he held them to one run in eight innings. I remember that game being the one when it really set in that this year’s offense stinks.

Griffin. (Rick Yeatts/Getty)
Griffin. (Rick Yeatts/Getty)

Bullpen Status

Despite their success, the Rangers have one of the least effective bullpens in baseball. They rank 28th in bullpen ERA (4.73) and 29th in bullpen FIP (4.67) among the 30 clubs so far this year. That’s going to have to be fixed at some point. I happen to know a team with some spare relievers. Anyway, here is Banister’s bullpen:

Closer: RHP Sam Dyson (1.93 ERA/2.81 FIP)
Setup: LHP Jake Diekman (2.83/3.38), RHP Matt Bush (2.29/2.83)
Middle: LHP Cesar Ramos (4.42/5.48), RHP Shawn Tolleson (6.84/5.61), RHP Tony Barnette (3.13/3.35)
Long: RHP Luke Jackson (7.27/7.52)

That’s the same Matt Bush who was the first overall pick in the 2004 draft … as a shortstop. He had drug and alcohol problems in the minors and got into some big time legal trouble; Bush spent 51 months in prison following a DUI hit-and-run in Florida in which he hit and nearly killed a 72-year-old man on a motorcycle. Geez. Bush was released from prison a few months ago and the Rangers felt he is truly a changed man, so they signed him, and now he’s one of their setup relievers.

Bush (22 pitches), Diekman (5 pitches), and Tolleson (15 pitches) all appeared in yesterday’s game. Tolleson pitched Saturday as well, which figures to limit his availability tonight. Head over to our Bullpen Workload page for the status of Joe Girardi‘s bullpen.

Rosenthal: Five clubs already lining up for Andrew Miller

(Presswire)
(Presswire)

The trade deadline is now only six weeks away, and unless the Yankees get hot and go on an extended run between now and then, they’re going to have to seriously consider selling. The Yankees are four games back of the second wildcard spot with four teams ahead of them. FanGraphs pegs their postseason odds at 13.8%.

According to Ken Rosenthal (video link), five contending teams are already showing interest in ace lefty reliever Andrew Miller: Cubs, Giants, Nationals, Dodgers, and Rangers. We’ve already heard that the Giants and Nationals want Miller, and that the Cubbies have been scouting New York’s bullpen. The Dodgers and Rangers are obvious fits too. I have some thoughts on this.

1. Push Chapman on the Nationals. Because Aroldis Chapman will be a free agent after the season, there should be a greater sense of urgency to trade him than Miller, who has two years left on his deal. The Nationals don’t have a history with Chapman but they kinda do. Dusty Baker was his first manager with the Reds and Washington reportedly tried to trade for him this offseason, even after the domestic violence incident. The Yankees just beat them to it. Hopefully the Yankees can exploit that interest, send Chapman to the Nats for a big package, then look to move Miller elsewhere.

2. The Rangers have more to offer than anyone. To me, no team has as much to offer for Miller (or Chapman) as the Rangers. They have both high-end young big leaguers (Jurickson Profar, Nomar Mazara) and high-profile prospects (Joey Gallo, Chi Lewis Brinson, Luis Ortiz) to trade, though obviously some are more available than others. I’d be stunned if Texas traded Mazara, and I think it would take a lot to pry Profar loose. Certainly more than a reliever, even a great one like Miller.

That said, Rangers GM Jon Daniels has a history of being aggressive and paying big at the trade deadline. He gave up a lot to get Ryan Dempster and Matt Garza a few years back, most notably. Texas has the best record in the AL (45-25), a huge lead in the AL West (8.5 games), and an awful bullpen (4.76 ERA). I can’t imagine Daniels will not address his relief crew at the deadline. The Yankees have great relievers to offer and the Rangers can offer a lot in return. It’s a really great match.

3. A bidding war between the Giants and Dodgers would be sweet. The Giants have won eight straight games to open a 6.5-game lead in the NL West, and while that is hardly insurmountable in mid-June, it sure is better than being neck-and-neck. You know the Dodgers don’t want to fall behind any further. Both teams have some bullpen issues and, of course, they’re big time historic and intradivision rivals.

Creating a bidding way between the Giants and Dodgers could be awfully beneficial to the Yankees. The Dodgers have more to offer if you look at prospect lists and whatnot, but I wouldn’t rule out the Giants cobbling together enough to beat them out for Miller (or Chapman). Either way, the best possible thing for the Yankees would be the Dodgers closing the NL West gap a bit in the next few weeks. If the San Francisco bullpen could blow a few games during that time, that would help too.

4. More teams will get involved. The Cubs, Giants, Nationals, Dodgers, and Rangers are the most notable contenders looking for bullpen help, but they’re far from the only teams in need of relievers. The Orioles, Red Sox, Blue Jays, Indians, and Mets all figure to be in the market for bullpen arms at the deadline. Would the Yankees trade with another AL East team? I doubt it but they shouldn’t rule it out. If that’s the team that offers the best return, why not take it? In theory, an intra-division trade means you’d be improving your organization and making a rival’s worse, right? Just go into the deadline with an open mind. There will be plenty of suitors. Listen to them all.