Author: Randy Page 1 of 16

Game 12: Another Short Start

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That was a frustrating loss. The Yankees were in an early hole and despite a valiant effort were unable to pull off the comeback. They lose the rubber game of this series against the Phillies by the score of 5-4. Their record now sits at 9-3. Here are the takeaways.

Monty Continues The Starters’ Woes

Jordan Montgomery was excellent in his first start of the year against Boston. In his second start of the year, he was anything but that. Monty was effective against Boston because of efficient effectiveness. That wasn’t the case tonight. Montgomery was fighting his command and control all night. It led to high pitch count innings. He was falling behind the hitters a ton forcing him to throw hittable pitches in the zone. All you have to do is look at this pitch chart to get an idea of how wild he was:

This is a mess. It is important to point out that a lot of these strikes were foul balls. This leads to a concerning trend early on in the season for the Yankees’ pitchers. It is becoming increasingly clear that the staff is struggling to put batters away with two strikes and/or two outs. The JT Realmuto three run home run in the first inning was on a 1-2 hanging curve ball. The Bryce Harper single prior to the home run was on a 1-2 sinker. Rhys Hopkins walked on a 3-2 change up. The big double by Phil Gosselin in the third inning came on a 1-2 change up with two outs. You get the point.

This isn’t just a Montgomery issue. We’ve seen it from Paxton, Happ, and Loaisiga amongst others. This leads to long innings, high pitch counts, and damage from the opposing lineup. It is emerging as a trend that needs to halt sooner than later. There are too many pitchers on the staff right now who can’t put hitters away when they have the chance. Outside of Gerrit Cole, the staff struggles to get to the fifth inning let alone qualify for a quality start. The Yankees have a great bullpen, but most games shouldn’t come down to the pen and lineup. The starters have to step it up.

Montgomery is a good pitcher on an off night. This isn’t a Paxton or Happ situation. Gumby faced a pretty good lineup without his best command. He paid for it. I fully expect Montgomery to bounce back in his next start.

Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Sanchez

It is hard to criticize the Yankees lineup. They are top three in almost every team offensive category. The Yankees sluggers were able to muster a comeback against a weak Phillies bullpen. This is despite some major pieces struggling so far. Gleyber Torres is in a major slump. Aaron Hicks hasn’t found his power stroke yet. Giancarlo Stanton has cooled down a bit. Gary Sanchez is the lineup’s biggest issue at the moment. So of course, he hits a big opposite field home run to bring the Yankees back.

We all know Gary’s horrid start to the year. His K% is over 53.3. His wOBA is .141. He has a ton of swing and miss in his at bats. His plate discipline is poor. Despite all of this, Gary is still hitting the ball hard. He sits in the 88th percentile of exit velocity and the 76th percentile of hard hit percentage. It feels like his issues are timing, pitch recognition, and plate discipline. If he gets a pitch in the zone he’s stinging the ball. That was the case with this home run:

Gary is driving the ball well to the opposite field this year when he swings at strikes. He drove a good pitch on the outer third to the seats. I’ve said this a few times, but a lot of Gary’s success comes down to his timing. Now, he’s been displaying terrible plate discipline lately, but the slump started with poor timing. We like to say that big moments like this could be the breakthrough moment. I’m not sure we’re there yet. It is nice to see him drive the ball to the opposite field though.

The Bullpen Is Great Again

You can really appreciate the Yankees bullpen when you see the Phillies’ pen. Even with lower guys on the depth chart, the Yankees relievers give the offense a chance to compete throughout the entire game. David Hale and Jonathan Holder came on after Jordan Montgomery with four effective innings of no-run ball. Holder was especially effective with three strikeouts in 1 2/3 innings. If Luke Voit’s drive in the ninth inning finds a gap or goes over the wall, we’re praising the work of the two relievers.

The duo were still important in this game. They were the main reason the ninth inning was interesting. Holder had five swing and misses out of his 12 change ups. The pitch induced soft contact as well. The exit velocity on the change was 52.6 MPH. He was able to get some big strikeouts in the latter stages of the game to give the Yankees a chance late.

David Hale did the heavy lifting on the pitching end. He came on in relief of Montgomery and slowed the Phillies bats down. Despite a few walks, Hale challenged hitters with his four seamer with success. This was an especially important outing because the Yankees were down some quality arms after yesterday’s double header. Hale was able to save some arms and keep the game within reach. That is exactly what you’re looking for from a guy like Hale. That has value.

Leftovers

Despite the loss, the Yankees are off to a great start. Some of their stars are struggling. The non-Cole starters haven’t hit their stride. With that said, the Yankees still have a 3.5 game lead in the division. That is important because they’ve already completed 20% of their weird season. It is crazy to say that, but it’s true. They have an opportunity to put some significant distance between them and the Tampa Bay Rays starting tomorrow night. It will be Masahiro Tanaka against Blake Snell. Blake Snell apparently enjoys beating the Yankees, which is weird because he doesn’t do it much. The game starts at 6:40pm ET. Have a great night.

Game 6: Gumby

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The Yankees win train keeps rolling. This is about as strong a start to the season as you could get. The Yanks are the best team on paper in the league and their record is reflecting that. The Yankees won the home opener against the Boston Red Sox by the score of 5-1. The Bronx Bombers look like they’re on a mission to end this season with a title. The win gives the Yankees a record of 5-1. Here are the takeaways.

Jordan Montgomery Dominates

Jordan Montgomery will be a mainstay in the Yankees rotation for years to come. In spring training, there was a great deal of focus on Monty’s bump in velocity. It was worth talking about. Another sign of growth from the tall lefty is his efficiency. Earlier in his career, Montgomery was notorious for nibbling on the edges. It led to high pitch counts and early exits. That wasn’t the case tonight. He was much more aggressive in the zone. This was complemented by a much more nuanced use of throwing pitches out of the zone. Here is his pitch chart:

Montgomery was filling up the zone. What this chart doesn’t capture is the sequencing. Jordan did a fantastic job of changing the eye levels of the hitters and setting them up for his incredibly effective changeup. This plan of attack also allows Monty to induce contact and stay away from walks. He finished his night allowing just one walk in the sixth inning to J.D. Martinez during an at-bat that started off 0-2. For his first start of the season, Jordan pitched pretty deep into the game especially considering his past. Montgomery had a plan and executed it well.

The changeup was Jordan’s best pitch on the night. He had good arm action and command of the pitch. Of his 81 total pitches, 20 were changeups. He induced 6 swinging strikes, which was the highest amongst his offerings. The change also had the lowest exit velocity at 74.5mph. Overall, Montgomery was creating soft contact all night. These are the exit velocities from his start:

There isn’t a lot of red in that chart. This was all due to impressive pitchability. We didn’t see the velocity bump from the spring tonight. This may be due to the pandemic break and abbreviated Summer Camp. There was plenty of velocity to be effective. In previous seasons, Montgomery heavily relied upon his sinker and curveball. If he can keep this changeup all season, his status in the rotation will jump up.

This was a great season debut for Gumby. We saw the evolution of a young pitcher. He was aggressive. There was a clearer understanding of how to set hitters up. And we saw improved command. With James Paxton’s issues and J.A. Happ being J.A. Happ, the Yankees need as many steadying forces in the rotation behind Cole as possible. Jordan Montgomery can be one of those guys.

Aaron Judge Is Pretty Good

So Aaron Judge is my 2020 MVP pick. One reason for the choice is his elite two-way play ability. He is one of the few players that can alter any game on both sides of the field. That was on display tonight. On a night when the Yankees didn’t look particularly imposing, Judge did everything in his power to win the game.

In the third inning, the Red Sox had first and second with one out and J.D. Martinez up at the plate. Martinez lifted a fly ball to Judge. And this is how the play turned out:

Let’s get the obvious out of the way. This is comically bad baserunning. I have no clue what Kevin Pillar was looking at. He was right to go halfway, but it is pretty obvious Judge was making that catch with ease. Pillar should’ve been breaking earlier.

Now that we have that out of the way, this is a great throw from Judge. He peeked at the runner before making the catch and knew he had a play. The release was quick. The throw was strong and accurate. There aren’t a lot of right fielders who could turn that play into an out. This was a pretty important play because Rafael Devers was up next. I would much rather see the Red Sox third basemen leading off an inning than in an RBI situation even with two outs. Judge was there for his pitcher.

All of you can insert your own cliché about a nice defensive play leading to a big offensive play. In the bottom of the third, Judge followed up a DJLM single with a two run blast to right field. Here is the video:

This is a fantastic piece of hitting. Weber missed his spot, but it isn’t easy to take a breaking pitch running in on your hands and go oppo taco. That requires a good deal of skill and power to accomplish. He was able to keep his hands in tight to the body, but more importantly, keep his body in the proper position for his bat path. Aaron was able to get the barrel as a result and his strength took over. Again, there aren’t a ton of hitters who can do this. This home run was the biggest hit of the game for the Yankees. On a night where the team largely looked lackluster offensively, the team’s best player came through big time.

The Bullpen Remains A Treasure

As most of you know, Tommy Khanle received some unsettling injury news earlier today. There is a very real possibility that he is lost for the season. Despite having a deep bullpen, this is a pretty big blow for the team. Kahnle is one of a few pitchers who allows Boone to not worry about the three batter rule. Tommy Tightpants is effective against both lefties and righties. Losing an effective piece like that is significant.

With that said, it is really nice to still have guys like Chad Green and Adam Ottavino to call from the bullpen. As noted earlier, Jordan Montgomery was fantastic, but the game was still close. We didn’t want a replay of what happened in Baltimore last night. Chad Green didn’t allow that to happen. He gave the Yankees two innings of shutout ball with four strikeouts. Otto came on in the eighth to record one out as well. After Brett Gardner’s two-run home run in the bottom of the eight, Jonathan Holder came on and looked pretty good as well.

Aaron Boone needs to manage the innings of the pen well with Kahnle down. The return of Aroldis Chapman is a big boost, but we don’t know when he will be active. Remember, he didn’t have a Summer Camp. And yes, the thirty man roster gives more options, but not every pitcher is in the circle of trust™. The Yankees don’t want to stress their bullpen arms too early in the season especially with potential double headers on the horizon. As the Yankees rotation continues to find its footing, Boone’s bullpen management will be in full focus.

Leftovers

  • The Yankees had a fantastic pre-game ceremony celebrating the frontline workers of New York City. Both the Yankees and Red Sox banged on trash cans as a nod to the 7pm celebration for essential workers during the height of the pandemic in the tri-state area. It was awesome.
  • The legend Suzyn Waldman sang the national anthem for her radio booth. For those that don’t know, Suzyn is an accomplished stage actress and singer. This wasn’t a gimmick. She did a fantastic job as usual. There is a great story about Waldman telling Gerrit Cole back in 2011 that she would sing the national anthem when Cole signed as a free agent with the Yankees. Cole and Waldman shared a great moment saluting one another once the anthem ended. Suzyn is a treasure.
  • The series continues tomorrow night as Masahiro Tanaka makes his season debut. It will be great to see Masa on the mound after taking that Giancarlo Stanton line drive off his head in Summer Camp. The game will be on FOX at 7:05 pm. Have a great night everyone.

The Views From 314ft. Episode 21: Drinking Out Of A Fire Hose

Bobby and Derek join Randy this week. The blog brothers discuss the fall out from the Marlins COVID outbreak and the first weekend of Yankees baseball. The COVID spread amongst the Miami players pushes the 2020 season closer to the brink. We get into the domino effect of the positive test results. The conversation turns to the role Rob Manfred and the league have in these matters. There is also the whole competitive integrity thing. From there, we give our impressions of the Yankees weekend series with the Washington Nationals.

Despite New York City entering Phase 4, we are still recording remotely. We are operating over Skype so we apologize in advance for any sound quality issues. We hope you continue to bear with us as internet connections can always be tricky during recording.

The podcast is now available on Apple PodcastsSpotify, and Stitcher so please subscribe, drop a five-star rating, and spread the word. We hope this gives you some distraction from all the craziness in the world right now. 

Again, we apologize for any sound quality issues. We’re making the most of an inconvenient situation as all of you are. Please don’t forget to subscribe to the pod and spread the word.

Game 2: Yuck

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Well, that wasn’t much fun to watch. After an exciting win behind Gerrit Cole on Thursday night, the Yankees laid a huge egg tonight. Outside of Giancarlo Stanton and some nice moments from Michael King, the performance ranged from lackluster to flat out bad. With the 9-2 loss tonight, the Yankees drop to 1-1 in this sprint of a season.

1. Paxton needs more Summer Camp: We’ll cut right to the chase here. James Paxton was terrible. When Summer Camp broke, James mentioned concerns regarding his mechanics. According to Jack Curry from the YES network, Paxton said he was having difficulty getting “full extension” on his delivery. That lack of extension was making it hard for him to get the extra ticks on his fastball.

That was clearly the case tonight. His fastball was 91-93MPH in his 1+ innings of work. It is natural to have some concerns about the drop in velocity, but I don’t have any yet. Paxton was clear he wasn’t comfortable with his mechanics and we didn’t see enough of his outing to really come to any conclusions.

His appearance was short simply because he didn’t have anything. He didn’t have his slider. He didn’t have command. There was no control. He just had a bad night and it feels worse coming off a nice win on Thursday in a shortened season. It was frustrating to watch, but not a cause for alarm yet. This start becomes alarming if we hear news of Paxton dealing with a health issue. I tend to trust the players when they address their performances directly. Hopefully, it is just an issue of mechanics. He needs to get those ironed out quickly. He is obviously a crucial piece to the Yankees success this season.

2. A Mixed Bag For King: Mike King entered the game in relief of Paxton and did a great job early on of keeping the Yankees in the game. He found himself in a second-inning bases-loaded jam with no outs. What a way to start off your 2020 season. King was able to get a huge double play from Trea Turner and then a fly out from Adam Eaton to get out of Paxton’s mess. It was an impressive display. He was able to continue that strong momentum with a clean third inning.

The fourth inning began with Brett Gardner unable to make a diving catch on a short fly ball from Kurt Suzuki. It was a challenging play, but one we all expect Gardy to make. The ball popped out of his glove and Suzuki ended up on first base. King struck out Carter Kieboom for the first out. Victor Robles stepped up and hit a home run on a pitch up in the zone, but looked way off the plate. Robles got his hands inside the ball and knocked it off the foul pole for a two-run home run.

The homer felt like a pretty big blow since it halted the momentum from Stanton’s home run. It was equally a great piece of hitting from Robles and King leaving the ball too high in the zone for a pitcher that needs to be around the lower third of the zone to be successful.

King had more issues in the fifth inning. He gave up a leadoff single to Eaton, and following a strikeout of favorite ex-Yankee Starlin Castro, committed an error on a pickoff throw to first. The next batter was longtime Yankees nemesis Howie Kendrick who doubled in Eaton. Boone made the switch to Jonathan Holder who promptly gave up a double to Asdrubal Cabrera. King’s final line was 3.1IP, 4H, 4ER, 0BB, 2K.

There was some chatter on Twitter regarding King’s overall stat line. Many felt King’s line wasn’t indicative of his performance. As the subheading indicates, I thought it was pretty representative. He kept the team in the game in the second and third innings, but the longer he was in the game the less effective he became. The biggest indicator for me was his location. As previously noted, King needs the lower third of the zone to be successful. This plot showed he had some struggles with that tonight:

There are too many pitches hovering around the middle to the upper part of the zone for a pitcher like King. Out of his 24 fastballs, he only had one swinging strike. And out of his 13 curveballs, he generated three swinging strikes. I thought King was effective, but this feels like a case where the stat line was pretty indicative of the performance.

Overall, King’s night was encouraging for the future. He was big time in the second and third innings when the team really needed him. As is the case with many young pitchers, he needs to figure out how to navigate through a lineup more than one time. I believe he will.

3. The Offense Misses One Too Many Opportunities: Stephen Strasburg was unable to make his start tonight due to a nerve issue in his pitching hand. The Nats replaced him with Eric Fedde. On paper, this looked like a mismatch. But that is why you play the games. The Yankees had a great chance to blow this game wide open in the first inning. DJ LeMahieu reached base on a Howie Kendrick error. After a frustrating Aaron Judge strikeout (he was ahead 3-0 in the count), Gleyber Torres reached on an error by Castro. Giancarlo Stanton came up to bat. It felt like young Fedde would be in for a long night. Instead, he induced a ground ball double play and escaped the jam.

In the fourth inning, Giancarlo Stanton came up again looking to atone for his double play. It is safe to say mission accomplished:

There isn’t much to say about this moon shot. Stanton is easily the most dangerous hitter in the Yankees lineup early on. Here is the data on that bomb:

It is great to see Stanton start off the season on fire. We all know the criticism he receives. If he remains healthy and maintains his balance at the plate, he is going to be a devastating force all season.

Unfortunately, Stanton was alone this evening. Despite the Nationals committing five errors, the Yankees could only muster two runs. The Yanks had the bases loaded again in the fourth, but DJLM grounded out weakly to first base. There was only one hit amongst the group of Judge, Torres, Hicks, Voit, and Sanchez. You’re not going to do much damage when that happens. It is obviously early on so there shouldn’t be any panic. It was just one of those frustrating nights.

Leftovers: Let’s just remove this disaster from our minds shall we? The Yankees will be back in action tomorrow afternoon at 1:05pmET. The Nationals will send Patrick Corbin to the mound while the Yankees will go with an opener. The team hasn’t announced who it will be, but you can safely bet it’s either Chad Green or Jonathan Loaisiga. Have a great night everyone.

The Views From 314ft Podcast Episode 20: The Calm Before The Storm

Randy and Derek team up to discuss their impressions of Summer Camp and the latest roster news heading into Opening Day. After that conversation, the blog brothers give their awards and league predictions. You’ll be shocked to find out who we picked to win it all. There are some surprises in there so be sure to check this great episode out.

Despite New York City entering Phase 4, we are still recording remotely. We are operating over Skype so we apologize in advance for any sound quality issues. We hope you continue to bear with us as internet connections can always be tricky during recording.

The podcast is now available on Apple PodcastsSpotify, and Stitcher so please subscribe, drop a five-star rating, and spread the word. We hope this gives you some distraction from all the craziness in the world right now. 

Again, we apologize for any sound quality issues. We’re making the most of an inconvenient situation as all of you are. Please don’t forget to subscribe to the pod and spread the word.

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