That was a gross game in a lot of ways–and Houston is winning, so they’re about to retake the HFA mantle from the Yankees–but honestly, there were some real positives from the game. Jordan Montgomery! Dellin Betances!! Taking the long view, the return of Betances is super exciting. He looked good, too. Anyway, more on that in a moment. The Yanks lost this one 6-4. Here is the box score.
Let’s get right to the takeaways, which tend to dwell on today’s positives.
1. Chad Green, Opener (But Hopefully Not for Long): Chad Green: Opener Edition™ returned again today, and the results were about what we’d expect: one scoreless inning. He did allow a hit but recorded two strikeouts, needing 19 pitches to get the job done. Here is his strike zone plot:
Green has been an effective opener this season–it really is a shame his numbers won’t recover from that hideous first month–which has left a lot of fans asking if Green will start in the playoffs. I hope not, personally. We will have more thoughts on this as we near the postseason, but to me, Green’s most valuable as a multi-inning reliever coming out in support of a more traditional starter.
Back in the Joe Torre-era and early-Girardi days, he would be known as a “bridge” type reliever. The one who could close the gap between the dominant back-end of the pen and the rotation. As I said, we’ll have more on this in the days to come, so I won’t get too into it now, but hopefully, this is one of the last time we see Green start a game in 2019. Regardless, though: nice job today, Chad.
2. Welcome Back, Jordan Montgomery: Well would you look at that. 2017’s best rookie pitcher, Jordan Montgomery, finally made it back to an MLB mound after what was a brutal 16-month period for the 26-year-old. That sure was nice to see, wasn’t it? It’s important to remember–and the YES booth did a great job of reminding folks of this–that this is functionally a rehab appearance for Monty. Were this mid-July, for example, there’s no way he’d be with the big league squad. He’d be doing this in Double-A or Triple-A. So, with that important context in mind, here is Montgomery’s line today: 2.0 IP, 4 H, 3 R, 0 BB, 2 K.
He got hit around a bit–3 of the 4 hits went for extra-bases, including a HR to Yankee-killer Randal Grichuck. The outs were loud outs, too. Check it out:
Oh well, really. The results here don’t really matter to me. It is patently unreasonable to expect Montgomery to be anything other than rusty at this point, and these are functionally tune-up starts for the 2020 campaign. Here’s hoping that he can build on this appearance and get some better results. Here is his strike zone plot:
As expected, there was some wildness there–but he also threw a number of strikes, too. He seemed limited with his repertoire, throwing just two variations on a fastball (4-seam and 2-seam), his change, and his effective curve. He was sitting 91-92 with his fastball and topped out at 93. No red flags there at all.
Also as expected, the curve was his best pitch. He threw 12 of them, 7 of which went for strikes. All 7 of those strikes were swung at, and 2 of those swings came up empty. The results may not have been there, but there was nothing under-the-hood to suggest that Montgomery won’t be able to regain his effectiveness from 2017. Obviously, 2 innings isn’t the biggest sample here, but it’s worth noting. Overall, it was great to see Monty back on the mound.
3. Welcome Back, Dealin’ Dellin Betances: Now this is one I’ve been looking forward to for a long, long time. The Yanks reinstated Betances before today’s game and quickly got him in the game. He replaced Montgomery after the 3rd inning. He was clearly on a limited leash–today was his first time in the rehab stint throwing without 2 days rest in between–and that’s okay.
Remember, there’s a lot more to rehab assignments than raw pitch count. The Yanks may even plan to get him into action again on Tuesday (after another long-awaited season debut) to see how he does pitching on shorter rest. The same caveats regarding rehab from above apply here to Dellin, too. I say all of this because he faced just 2 batters and threw just 8 pitches. But what an appearance it was. He retired both, which is nice, but also retired both by strikeout. Both looking, too. It was great. Check out these locations!
8 pitches, 7 strikes, and 5 pitches just absolutely buried in the bottom half of the zone. That is just absolutely beautiful. It calls for some video, in my opinion. Check it out:
That is just beautiful. It really is. It was also great how Betances was so jazzed up to make an appearance that he forgot how many outs there were in the inning. You can clearly see him jogging off the mound and his teammates absolutely loved it. Let me let you in on a little secret: I loved it, too. Great stuff.
Anyway, Betances featured a 4-seamer, 2-seamer, and his vintage knuckle-curve today, sitting 94-95 mph. That’s fine. As I noted earlier today, Betances is a notoriously slow starter in terms of velocity, so this is about what you’d reasonably expect. What’s more important–and always has been for him–is his command. That 7 of his 8 pitches were strikes is the most encouraging sign we could have asked for today, and we got it. Let’s hope that Dellin’s MLB-rehab stint continues to move along and that we get to see him play a huge role in October. Dellin is one of my favorites.
4. Tyler Wade, Potentially Useful: Imagine if Tyler Wade could hit? He’s a career .192/.263/.283 (48 wRC+) batter in over 200 MLB plate appearances. There’s a word for that, and that word is “awful.” Nonetheless, Wade has gotten some burn in each of the last three seasons–and you don’t have to squint that hard to see why.
Per Statcast, Wade’s 29.0 feet per second sprint second is the fastest on the team–he ever-so-slightly edges out Brett Gardner–and there is value in a speedy utility infielder. There really is. We saw some of that value today. Wade was on first after a base hit, and he easily scored from first on this double:
There are plenty of power bats on the Yankees, as we know, and I love that. I really do. It’s insane that people think hitting home runs is somehow bad. But it’s nice to have a guy with some speed on the basepaths, too. He also didn’t look awful in the outfield today, which is also nice. Speedy guys who can be plugged into the lineup at any position have a lot of value in the playoffs, especially if you need a stolen base or a sac fly. Wade is auditioning for that role. (The Yankees also have Terrance Gore.)
For what it’s worth, Wade is hitting .353/.421/.529 (153 wRC+) in September…although it’s only been 20 plate appearances. That’s virtually nothing, but it’s the best I can ever remember Wade looking at the plate. Even if he settles in at a slightly-below average offensive clip (think 90-95 wRC+), he could be a useful bench piece. The Yankees clearly love him. It would be awesome if he could put it together.
- Aaron Judge: Good grief, how good is Aaron Judge? It’s been a frustrating, injury-filled 2019 for the Yankees’ best player, but check out his line. Our man is hitting .273/.385/.520 (138 wRC+) on the season, which is crazy good. And this is a down year, supposedly. Judge manages so be so freaking underappreciated, almost all of the time. Although he went just 1-5 today, here is the one hit. Enjoy:
- Not-So-Nasty Nestor: Nestor Cortes Jr. has some fun deliveries, that’s for sure. But what’s also for sure is the fact that Cortes has not been good for a while now. He has a 6.86 ERA in 21 innings since August 1, and today will not help the cause. Our guy was tagged for 3 runs on 3 hits (plus two walks!) in 1.1 innings pitched today. It is what it is at this point, but man has Cortes not been effective for a while now. This was the big blow, to Randal Grichuck (because of course):
- Randal Grichuk Can Go Away Now: Speaking of, I am so very sick of this guy. That is all I have to say about him, who has turned into a certifiable Yankee killer. (Related side note: remember Pedro Ciriaco? That one was truly ridiculous.)
An off-day! The Yankees are making their way back to New York for what will be the final regular season homestand of the season. Can you believe that? I can barely believe it. The Yankees will take on the Trout-less Angels beginning on Tuesday. Luis Severino (!) will start that game! That rules. Enjoy your Sunday, everyone. It’s a beauty out there.