The Yankees remain allergic to the sweep. I know they swept Miami just last weekend, but this has been a constant issue all year long. Today, they lost 2-0 to the Mariners with a chance for the rare four game sweep. Oh well. At least Boston lost again, but it was at the hands of the Blue Jays, who are now just a half game behind the Yanks. Tampa Bay won too, moving six games up on the Yankees in the loss column.
Today’s loss is mostly on the offense, which went 0-for-11 with runners in scoring position. Aaron Boone didn’t put his best foot forward with the bullpen in the eighth inning, but at the same time, it’s impossible to win without scoring a run (obviously). Hey, at least Luis Gil looked very good once again. Let’s get to the takeaways:
Aaron Boone bungled the eighth inning. Again, you can’t win a game without scoring runs, but I think it’s fair to quibble with Boone’s usage of Lucas Luetge in the eighth inning of a 0-0 game. Were neither of Chad Green or Zack Britton available? Both pitched back-to-back days on Thursday and Friday, but were off yesterday. Is three games in four days asking for too much? Perhaps.
Today's "Bullpen Budget" for the Yankees as they go for the sweep and their 6th straight win pic.twitter.com/1ZgYdoYvl6— James Smyth (@JamesSmyth621) August 8, 2021
And yet, Britton warmed up while the Yankees were trailing in the bottom of the ninth. Where was he when the game was still tied? Especially when Luetge didn’t look good. Granted, Rougned Odor’s error to start the frame hurt, but it took just three batters for the Mariners to take a 1-0 lead.
Luetge needed 28 pitches to finish the eighth, but was very lucky he didn’t need to throw more. The home plate umpire gifted him a called strike three against Jarred Kelenic, who along with his manager got ejected thereafter. Then, on Cal Raleigh’s RBI single, Joey Gallo made a perfect throw to the plate to prevent a second run from scoring on the play (out call was made on replay, initial call was safe).
So, not only was Britton apparently available in the first place, but he also wasn’t considered an option until the Yankees were already behind. Not good. Terrible bullpen management from Aaron Boone.
Luis Gil is going to carve out a role for the rest of the year if he keeps this up. The Yankees have an entire starting rotation on the injured list right now — Gerrit Cole, Jordan Montgomery, Corey Kluber, Luis Severino, and Domingo Germán — but Luis Gil is making a case to stick around down the stretch. Perhaps he’ll be crowded out of the rotation, but at the very least, he’s shown why he could be a prominent multi-inning relief arm this season. Today, Gil shut out the Mariners across five innings and struck out eight batters.
Like his previous outing, Gil’s stuff was terrific this afternoon. He overpowered the Mariners mostly with his fastball and slider, though there were a few good changeups in there too.
|Pitch type||Usage%||Whiffs/Swings||Whiff%||Avg. Velocity (MPH)||Avg. Spin Rate (RPM)|
That’s a top-30 in MLB four-seamer spin rate and well above the 2,283 RPM league average. The slider is only slightly above average in terms of spin, but it gets a ton of movement: 53 percent more horizontal movement than the average slider. Gil’s changeup is still a work in progress, and he’ll need it as a third pitch to remain a starter long-term, but it flashes the ability to be an above average offering.
Although the box score makes Gil’s day look dominant, I’d be remiss not to mention his second inning, which was not so easy. A defensive gaffe didn’t help (no one covered second base on a potential 3-6-3 double play, causing Luke Voit’s throw to go into left field), but the Mariners also made Gil work. Seattle loaded the bases against him with one out, yet the 23 year-old escaped unscathed after 31 pitches. It’s not always easy to bounce back from a defensive mistake, especially as a young pitcher, but Gil did an excellent job to bear down. That frame was arguably more impressive than anything else we saw from him this afternoon.
Gil’s going to remain in the rotation for the time being. He’s earned it and there are spots open anyway. And if he keeps putting up zeroes, he may not ever be taken out of the rotation. Of course, a lot can change between now and the next couple of weeks as players return from the injured list. Nonetheless, Gil’s stuff is too good to toil away at Triple-A the rest of the year. He’s got one of the best arms in the organization, and at the minimum, should get a chance in relief where he could dominate in short spurts.
Luke Voit looked rusty. Today was the first baseman’s first game back with the Yankees since July 11th. He figured to be back fairly soon, but perhaps not this soon. Anthony Rizzo tested positive for COVID-19 after yesterday’s game, adding yet another to the list for this team, which necessitated Voit’s return despite just three rehab games in Scranton. And maybe to no surprise, Voit did not look quite ready at the plate.
Voit went 0-for-4 with two strikeouts and five runners left on base this afternoon. Yuesei Kikuchi overpowered Voit with fastballs today. The whiffs were either middle-middle or up:
It’s one thing to swing through a fastball or two, but Kikuchi went to the well a bunch of times against Voit without concern. That’s definitely a sign of rust on the batter’s part.
At least Voit played a fine first base this afternoon. And regardless of Voit’s offensive performance, this was an all-around poor game from the lineup. The team stranded eleven runners and went 0-for-11 with runners in scoring position. Gleyber Torres had three hits including a double, but the rest of the offense was pretty lifeless. The only other knocks were Joey Gallo’s bunt single and Brett Gardner’s single off the pitcher.
Anyway, Voit should be a boon to this lineup as he dusts off the cobwebs. Good thing they didn’t trade him now that Rizzo is out for a little while.
- Gleyber Torres jammed his right hand sliding into second base in the fourth inning today. He stayed in the game after getting checked on, but later was removed on defense in the top of the ninth inning for Tyler Wade. Torres struck out in the bottom of the eighth before his removal, but didn’t swing, so I’m not sure he aggravated it. Or, he may not have been comfortable swinging in the first place. In any event, he’s getting an MRI on his thumb.
- As noted in the Voit section, Anthony Rizzo was placed on the COVID-19 injured list. While still with the Cubs, he said that he chose not to receive the vaccine against the virus because he wanted to see more data. Assuming he hasn’t changed his mind, he’s going to be down for a minimum of ten days. Hopefully he is OK.
- Yet another couple of nice outings for Stephen Ridings and Albert Abreu. They combined to strike out five in two innings. Wandy Peralta also tossed a clean inning out of the ‘pen.
While not a great finish to the homestand, the Yankees did go 5-2 against the Orioles and Mariners this week and are playing much, much better. They start a road trip against the Royals and White Sox next, including the Field of Dreams game on Thursday.