Game 103: Why Does This Keep Happening?

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The Yankees have surrendered 64 runs in their last 6 games. That’s the most in any 6 game stretch in franchise history. Gross. The Yankees were absolutely embarrassed again at Fenway Park, losing 10-5. Although they fell in a huge hole early, the Yanks chipped away and were a hit or two away from making it interesting in the 9th. Alas.

They have a firm grip on the AL East and remain one of the most dangerous teams in the league. It’s just a frustrating stretch of baseball–there’s always at least one of these a year. That it’s coming against Boston just raises its profile, but remember: the Yankees have a huge cushion. I chose the photo at the top for a reason, after all.

Let’s get on with it, but only because we have to.

1. A Very Bad James Paxton: Two unfortunate trends continued tonight, with James Paxton unable to successfully navigate the first inning and with the Yankee starting pitching struggling overall. For the third straight game, Paxton surrendered a leadoff homer. Tonight’s was courtesy of Mookie Betts. Check it out:

Watch Paxton watch that ball go out. You can tell he’s every bit as frustrated as we are by the absurd struggles in the first, and they truly are absurd. Check this out from YES’ James Smyth:

Out of all the pitchers in Major League history, only four (4!) have done what Paxton has done. Good lord. But the bad times would continue because right now the Yankees are just in one of those stretches. Paxton allowed a single to phenom Rafael Devers, retired Bogaerts on strikes, and then surrendered this to J.D. Martinez:

Just like that, and it was 3-0 in the first inning. This is a really worrisome trend for Big Maple, and I think folks are right to be irritated. I mean, he’s basically two different pitchers. Look:

Now, tonight, Paxton was rough again later in the game (more on that in a moment) but I mean, jeez. I don’t know what could possibly be the cause of it, or how to fix it, but it is very frustrating. I suspect it’s just one of those “haha baseball is weird things” but who the hell knows. All I know is that the Paxton we’ve seen so far simply isn’t cutting it. He’s very good and I do have faith in him turning it around (even tonight he had 9 strikeouts), but oof.

Tonight was a 4.0 IP, 9 H, 7 R (7 ER), 0 BB and 9 K. No walks is nice to see–an increased walk rate has been a problem for him–but yeah. Not good. For the hell of it, here was his strike zone plot:

Like Tanaka last night, a ton of balls way out of the zone, a ton right over the heart of the plate, and nothing else. Just gross.

2. Tomorrow, the Yankees Should Try Getting Mookie Betts Out: Believe it or not, the Yankees had actually done a pretty good job of stifling Mookie Betts’ production this year. The Red Sox star was hitting only .161/.316/.194 against New York, but regression to the mean can be a nasty thing. Betts went 2-4 with a walk, 2 runs scored and 2 RBI last night, but tonight was when he really shined. In addition to the homer above, Betts also did this:

And then this:

He added a double off David Hale after punishing Paxton all night. He went 4-5, with 4 runs, 5 RBI and 4 extra-base hits. Not great! The Yankees have way too big of a lead for them to be hearing footsteps, but Betts is now up to .290/.400/.509 (135 wRC+) on the season. Boston is a lot scarier when he’s going, and he’s going right now.

3. Doing Nothing Against Andrew Cashner is Bad: The Yankee offense mustered 10 hits off Andrew Cashner in his 6.2 innings of work, which is nice, but there’s a catch: the first 8 were all singles. They did add two doubles–Tauchman and Judge–in the 7th, but the game was already well out of hand at that point. Still, the Yankees couldn’t capitalize all night.

With one out in the 1st inning, the Yanks attempted a double steal that didn’t work out. DJLM was gunned down at 2nd as Edwin Encarnación struck out. They threatened again in the 5th (down 7-0), with Maybin and Tauchman adding 2 out singles. Romine hit a liner right at Jackie Bradley Jr. to end the inning.

Then, in the 6th, the Yanks had another two our rally after Encarnación and Didi added singles. Voit followed that up with an RBI single to make it 7-1. Then this happened:

That third pitch was, of course, called a strike, which seemed to really agitate Gleyber Torres. And for good reason–it was definitely outside the zone and it absolutely killed that rally. But honestly, it was 7-1 and almost all of the Yanks’ hits had been 2-out singles at that point. The umpires may not have been helping, but the Yanks didn’t help themselves, either. Very frustrating.

They did add more runs in the 7th, finally cracking Andrew Cashner’s code, but it was by that points 9-1. Too little, too late. Gah.

4. Mike Tauchman Stays Red Hot: Things are pretty gloomy for the Yanks right now, and this recap is depressing as hell, so let’s make the final one of these a positive one, why don’t we? Well, Mike Tauchman made that pretty easy, because man, he is just red hot. He’s up to .283/.366/.503 (129 wRC+) on the season in 160 plate appearances. That is just nuts to me. It really is.

Anyway, this is all powered by an extremely impressive recent stretch. Tauchman kept it up tonight, going 3-4 with a double and a run scored. Coming into tonight, he was hitting .447/.512/.763 in his last 43 plate appearances since June 29, and he kept that going. Let’s just hope this keeps rolling. It sure is fun to be proven wrong, isn’t it? I love it, myself.

Leftovers

  • Cashman Update: Cashman told YES Network’s Jack Curry that the Yanks have a plan to upgrade at the deadline, but also that “the Yanks also will have the ‘built-in discipline to walk away’ if they’re not comfortable with how a potential deal is matching up.” That prompted a whole lot of extremely predictable Twitter complaining, but here’s what I have to say to that: come on. Everyone should understand how the media is a tool for teams as they negotiate. It is in Cashman’s interest to act as though he’s not desperate to upgrade to improve his leverage in talks with other teams. I wouldn’t read anything into this at all.
  • David Hale Struggled: The Yankee reliever had been good recently, but tonight was not his finest appearance. He surrendered 5 hits and 3 runs in 2.2 innings pitched. He needed 44 pitches to get through those innings, so he’s probably unavailable for the next few days. At least the rest of the pen is rested now since they’ve been blown the hell out the last two nights.
  • Adam Ottavino and Zack Britton Were Good: Here’s another positive! Britton and Ottavino pitched 1.1 innings tonight, and here was their line: 1.1 IP, 0 H, 0 R, 0 BB, 2 K. Very nice. That’s what you like to see! Next time let’s get those outs with a lead, but hey, production is production.

Up Next

The Yankees will try to right the ship tomorrow against Boston at 4:05 pm. CC Sabathia (5-5, 4.50 ERA) will try to give the Yankees an even-half decent performance, matching up against Eduardo Rodriguez (12-4, 4.10 ERA). Enjoy the rest of your night, everyone. Tomorrow is a new game, and the Yankees are super good, bad week or not. I like their chances. You should too.

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6 Comments

  1. BillyMartinVanBuren Boys

    Remember when we could’ve had Patrick Corbin for nothing but money in the off-season?? Good times

  2. Dani

    As good as the Yanks are when it comes to acquire batters (and they might very well be the best in that area), they’re equally bad when it comes to acquire pitchers. Grey, Happ, Paxton … all waste of money and prospects. It’s been a while since they acquired a reliable starter.

    Also: I sure hope the Yanks won’t meet the Sox in the postseason, that has disaster written all over it.

  3. Wire Fan

    When you look at Paxton’s strikezone plot there is one thing not mentioned. There is not a single damn pitch arm side off the plate (outside to righties) and there are only 2 pitches above the strikezone. Might as well tell Boston where the pitches were going.

    As David Cone said during the game, where is Plan B, where is the change of speed (for Paxton, a curve – he threw only 9 all night, 3 balls/6 strikes and not a single one was put in play) , where are the pitches off the outside corner to righties?

    Paxton threw 19 pitches to Betts. 18 of them were either a fastball or cutter. And Romine was pretty much exclusively setup inside or down. Where is Rothschild between innings? Where are the adjustments?

    ——

    Since coming to the Yankees, Paxton has significantly ramped up the cutter usage and ramped down the curve. His zone% (pitches in the strike zone) has gone from 48-49% the last few years with SEA to just under 42% this year as he tries to get hitters to chase out of the zone. And they aren’t, his chase rate is down a bit – maybe because his pitch usage and location is becoming increasingly predictable?

    The result has been a lot more walks (though that wasn’t an issue tonight), and much higher pitch counts and shorter outings. Paxton is now averaging less than 5 innings per start. This seems like the Rothschild/FO philosophy – chase the strikeout, to hell with pitch efficiency. Works for relievers who don’t have to worry about 25 pitch innings or getting guys out three times, it’s debatable if it is a good strategy for starters.

    /end rant

  4. CU

    What you’re seeing now is The Problem, same as you’ve seen all those times before.

    And whatever Cashman says, The Problem is his and it ain’t going away anytime soon.

  5. I think Cashman should trade everybody for a marginal pitcher because people just don’t have enough to complain about.

  6. dasit

    time for my annual “stop following the yankees for a week and remember that sports is entertainment” break

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