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.
- 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.