Game 125: 10 wins in a row

Someone’s nine-game winning streak was coming to an end tonight, but not the Yankees’. The Bombers dropped the Braves by the score of 5-1 in Atlanta to extend the team’s winning streak into double-digits.

Jordan Montgomery wasn’t his best, but Jonathan Loaisiga and the bullpen shut things down behind him. Meanwhile, Giancarlo Stanton carried the offense as the Yankees made easy work of the second-hottest team in the league. Things are good right now for the Yankees, huh? Let’s get to tonight’s takeaways:

Giancarlo Stanton remains an extremely good hitter. News at 11. But seriously, Stanton feels vastly underappreciated. Yes, his slumps tend to be ugly and leave one wondering how he could swing at certain pitches. But far more often than not, Stanton is a force in the heart of the order who delivers in big spots. Tonight, Stanton went 2-for-3 with a solo homer and a two-run double.

There’s been plenty of talk about Stanton’s performance at the plate when he’s in the field vs. as the DH. Some splits to consider:

  • As an OF: .294/.400/.559, 163 wRC+ in 40 PA
  • As a DH or PH: .261/.362/.454, 127 wRC+ in 392 PA

Entering tonight, Stanton has hit .301/.420/.521 (162 wRC+) since his first game in the outfield this year (July 30th). Now, Stanton has still DH’d a bit since that date, so it’s not like his recent hot streak is all about where he fits in defensively. He’s hit well as a DH during this run, too. Stanton’s at .308/.438/.487 (162 wRC+) in 48 plate appearances as a DH or PH since that date. I’m not sure exactly where I’m going with this, but I think the point is this: Stanton’s scalding hot right now regardless of where he fits in the lineup. Playing in the field some days could be benefiting him too, which carries over into his DH days.

It’s not just this season though. His career splits are more favorable when he’s in the field as well (143 wRC+ as an outfielder vs. 132 as a DH/PH). And of course, playing the field benefits his team too. The Yankees started Stanton, Aaron Judge, and Joey Gallo in the outfield in a National League park today, which was beautiful.

Jordan Montgomery had to grind through five innings today. The tall lefty didn’t have his best stuff or command this afternoon, but pitched five innings of one run ball anyway. He certainly got some help defensively — Joey Gallo and Aaron Judge made some nice plays in the outfield — but it was impressive to see Monty work out of trouble against a tough lineup. He had just one 1-2-3 inning, which came against Atlanta’s top of the order in the third. Otherwise, he was constantly pitching with runners on base.

I actually thought Monty was working with good stuff in his first inning (five whiffs on 13 swings), but it didn’t hold for the rest of his start. The Braves made plenty of hard contact (90.3 MPH average EV) and swung-and-missed only five more times in the next four innings (on 23 additional swings). Decreased pitch velocity was part of Montgomery’s problem (-0.9 MPH on his sinker and -1.5 MPH on his four-seamer), but I wouldn’t make too much of that. He’s not a hard thrower in the first place. Rather, his command wasn’t particularly good:

Montgomery either threw over the heart of the zone or off the plate with little on the edges, hence the four walks on the night and lots of loud contact. We typically see Montgomery induce lots of soft contact with good control, but tonight was the opposite.

Aaron Boone deserves some credit for yanking Montgomery when he did, by the way. His starter had just 75 pitches through five and possibly could have gone a sixth inning, but better to go to a fresh (and dominant) arm in Jonathan Loaisiga against Atlanta’s 5-6-7. There was no reason to push Montgomery with a fresh bullpen in tow after yesterday’s rainout and the upcoming day off Wednesday.

Jonathan Loaisiga might be the best reliever in the majors. Ho hum, another great outing for the fireballing righty. Coming into tonight’s game, Loaisiga had allowed just one run in his last 11 appearances dating back to July 27th. Tonight he shoved again, retiring six of seven batters faced and striking out four of ’em.

Everything Loaisiga had to offer tonight was downright filthy. Seriously, everything. His sinker averaged 99.2 MPH, up a full 1.0 MPH from his season’s mean. He racked up four whiffs on five swings against his breaking ball. His changeup was literally unhittable: three swings, three misses, a called strike, and a called ball. Wow.

After watching what we saw tonight, it’s kind of difficult to understand how Loaisiga has struck out fewer than one batter per inning this year. That hasn’t mattered of course. The righty now has a 2.30 ERA in 62.2 innings and has given up just two home runs all season. That’ll do.

So, about the best reliever in the majors claim: let’s take a look at how Loaisiga stacks up (stats coming into tonight):

  • fWAR: 2.2, 1st
  • RA9WAR: 2.2, 2nd
  • WPA: 2.5, 6th
  • Shutdowns: 33, 1st
  • ERA: 2.37, 23rd
  • FIP: 2.48, 11th

Sure looks like a pretty strong case for best reliever in the majors to me. If not, he’s certainly in the conversation.

Leftovers

  • The Yankees made a few roster moves ahead of tonight’s game. Zack Britton‘s lost season continues as he was placed on the 10-day injured list with an elbow sprain. Meanwhile, Clay Holmes was activated off the COVID-19 injured list. Jonathan Davis was recalled and Estevan Florial was optioned to Triple-A. Lastly, the Yankees transferred Miguel Andújar to the 60-day injured list.
  • Aroldis Chapman pitched a 1-2-3 ninth inning with a strikeout in a non-save situation. That’s good to see.
  • Anthony Rizzo went 0-for-5 with two strikeouts and is quietly in a bit of a rut. He’s got one hit in his last 30 plate appearances dating back to before his stint on the COVID-19 injured list. Joey Gallo is also slumping. He came into tonight with one hit and three walks in his last 20 plate appearances, and tonight, he went 0-for-2 with two walks. Made a very nice defensive play, at least.
  • Gary Sánchez’s two-run single in the eighth gave the Yankees some breathing room.

The Yankees go for the two-game sweep tomorrow with Andrew Heaney on the bump. See you then.

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14 Comments

  1. Joey Galleddardo

    I thought it was the best win of the season, Derek. Stanton needs to be playing OF most days. He hits better and it allows Voit to play. That ball he hit out he just flicked his wrists and 400 feet later it was gone. He takes a lot of crap but Gallo strikes out twice as much. Rizzo needs to sit tomorrow. Voit is AL player of the week and Boone sat him on the bench! The second coming of Babe Ruth and he’s a pinch hitter. And Rizzo did nothing. Monty labored but it was hot and he had covid so we’ll give him a break. Loisaga is the ’96 Mariano and possibly our future HOF closer. Boy that Velazquez kid can hit cant he. Another double last night. He can field, throw, run, hit and has now shown some pop in his bat. He reminds me a lot of another underappreciated Yankee, Derek Jeter. Jete had all 5 tools too and has the gold gloves to prove it. Velasquez should remain starting SS for as long as he wants it and be given the C on his jersey. What is Boone waiting for?

  2. Dani

    Is Gallo/Judge/Stanton the tallest outfield in MLB history? I’m sure that was answered at some point during the last games but I missed it.

  3. JerseyJerry

    I was just wondering why the Yanks skipped Gil and are pitching 2 lefties against the Braves who seem to have mostly right handed hitters other than Freeman? I saw that they had won 10 in a row against LHPs (although they seem to win almost every game anyway)! Is it just a quirk in the rotation or are they setting up the rotation for the Oakland Series (which will probably be Taillon, Cole, Cortes and Monty)?

  4. DZB

    Speaking of Torres coming back and the quality of play in the infield, here are some stats:

    games PA wRC+ fWAR
    Torres: 99 401 91 1.6
    Wade: 79 122 97 1.0
    Odor: 87 321 92 1.0

    I find the fWAR and wRC+ of Wade remarkable given the eye test. He is ahead of the other light hitting infielders in terms of wRC+ and his WAR per inning played (reflected in PAs since a lot of those games were as a late replacement) is pretty impressive against the others. He is certainly miles ahead of Odor given the difference in playing time, and I imagine he would be ahead of Torres if we scaled things to innings played. For Wade, that could be a ca. 5 WAR pace for a full time player, though who knows how he would perform if playing every day. Anyway, it certainly highlights his quality of play.

    • DZB

      p.s., how amazing is it that this team is now tied for the second best record in the AL and the third best record in MLB? That feels insane, especially after all those lost opportunities earlier in the season (wow, imagine where they would be if they could have held onto some of those games!)

  5. dasit

    stanton hitting a ball almost 400 feet with that swing is one of more impressive displays of strength i can remember

    • DZB

      Indeed, that was insane. That ball had no business leaving the park after what looked like a pathetic hack at the ball. Crazy

  6. Harristotle

    People hate Giancarlo Stanton because the Yankees have made him into a very expensive DH and while the production has been good, it hasn’t been worth the allocation of resources in a world where guys productive DH types are incredibly easy to find (see CJ Cron – $1M salary). He also hasn’t stayed healthy over the course of his deal. None of these are because of a lack of effort or care and it’s not his fault that the fanbase has been forced to think of all of their assets in the context of the luxury tax.

    With that said, let’s not give him the underappreciated label or act like people aren’t justified in feeling the above. The Yankees cry poor every year while allocating some $55M of their luxury-tax payroll to Stanton, Chapman, and Britton – who have combined for 1.7 fWAR this season. Makes you wonder what type of problems the fleet of Harvard educated analytics staffers actually solve.

  7. Disco

    Yep I’m kinda dreading Torres coming back & being mindlessly handed the SS job back. Hope I’m wrong.

  8. Kansas

    We are a whole lot better with a legit shortstop on the field

    • Normally I want offense over defense, but seeing Velazquez playing short makes me favor him over Gleyber, especially since Torres has lost his power stroke. The difference in fielding is huge.

  9. That Guy

    Who remembers ‘96 when Mo was a lockdown 2 inning set up man for Wetteland? No one will ever compare to Mo, but I do love me some lasagna.

    • Joewhar

      A good memory indeed. In my dreams the Yanks dump Chapman on someone next year by eating salary and move Loaisiga into the closer role. As for Britton, an elbow sprain never sounds good for a pitcher. This could clearly be age related wear and tear decline for him. An initial diagnosis of “elbow sprain” can wind up as a UCL tear when all the testing get done. This makes Loaisiga even more important. I have no confidence in Chapman.

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