Back in the win column! The Yankees’ five-game losing streak came to an end in tonight’s 3-1 victory over Atlanta. The pitching was great, as it has been for the majority of this year. The non-Gio Urshela hitters? Not so much. Fortunately, three runs were plenty given Jameson Taillon’s good start and the bullpen’s work in relief.
It wasn’t the prettiest of wins, of course. Other than Urshela’s homer, the team’s other two runs came thanks to a wild pitch and bases loaded walk in the eighth. Probably should have been a lot more, but: baby steps. Anyway, let’s get to the takeaways:
Jameson Taillon looked great. I wish we got to see more of him, in fact. He threw 80 pitches in five innings after getting up to 84 in his last start. I had figured we’d see Taillon get closer to 95 pitches, especially watching how well he threw tonight. A 15 pitch clean sixth didn’t seem out of the cards, but what do I know.
Taillon allowed just one run on four hits and a walk. The righty also struck out five, all of which can be seen in the above video. Three came on high fastballs, the other two on painted (if a little pitcher friendly) backdoor curveballs.
Those backdoor hooks were pretty, but Taillon’s fastball was his most impressive offering of the night. Atlanta hitters whiffed on 8 of 23 swings against his heater (35 percent), which Taillon kept up in the zone most of the night.
Maybe there are a couple too many middle-middle in there, but there’s a clear plan of attack. His high-spin fastball is best used up in the zone, and what’s more: the spin-rate on his four-seamer was averaged 2528 RPM, up 93 RPM from 2435 entering this game. Spin on his slider (+118) and curve (+92) increased compared to his previous two starts, too.
Again, I only wish Taillon could have had a chance to pitch one more frame. Aside from how well he was pitching, an extra inning would have helped the bullpen as the Yankees enter a stretch without a day off until May 3rd. It’s also not like Taillon labored in his last inning — he threw just 13 pitches. I’m sure we’ll get Aaron Boone’s reasoning for pulling him in the postgame press conference. Maybe the manager didn’t want him to face the lineup for a third time?
Bad Yankees offense or Yankee-killer Charlie Morton? There’s no doubt that the Yankees have had difficult times against Morton in the past. Tonight was no different. And to the veteran righty’s credit, his curveball was filthy this evening. This is a work of art:
Part of me says that no team would have done much damage against Morton tonight considering those locations on his yakker. A third of his curves were either called strikes or whiffs, which is ridiculous. 44 percent of swings against it resulted in air. Its spin rate stood above 3000 RPM. Not much you can do with that.
Unless you’re Gio Urshela, I guess. Urshela was the only guy to actually get to Morton. He doubled in the fourth inning after Morton had retired the first eight Yankees in order. Then, in the fifth, Gio went deep:
Now, for as sharp as Morton looked, the Yankees’ bats were nearly as bad. They finally got things going the eighth against lefty Tyler Matzek, only for the offense to nearly self-sabotage. Aaron Hicks pinch hit for Mike Tauchman and led off with a walk, and then DJ LeMahieu and Aaron Judge notched back-to-back singles to load ’em up. Hicks probably should have scored on Judge’s knock, but the bases were still full with no one out at least. It just couldn’t be easy, though.
Another pinch-hitter in Clint Frazier (for Brett Gardner) came up next, who faced newly entered reliever Nate Jones. It’s a good thing Atlanta had its own self-inflicting wounds…
…because the Yankees made some ugly outs to strand the bases loaded. First, Frazier proceeded to pop out against a pitch way inside (ugh). Jones intentionally walked Giancarlo Stanton next, which brought up the struggling Gleyber Torres. Naturally, just after I write about Gleyber’s good approach but lackluster results, he pops out on a 1-0 fastball up.
But once again, Atlanta handed the Yankees a run when Jones walked in Mike Ford with the bases still loaded and two out. That made it 3-1, the final score.
A win is a win, but gosh, it would have felt good to see the offense bust out in that eighth frame. The table was set perfectly too. Alas.
Debating Boone’s 7th inning management. Our Slack had a bit of a debate about Boone’s handling of the bullpen in the seventh inning. After Lucas Luetge pitched a scoreless sixth and the tally remained even at 1-all, Boone had him start the seventh with switch-hitting Pablo Sandoval due up, rather than start the inning clean with Chad Green. Sandoval’s splits are clearly why Boone made the move:
- vs. LHP: .250/.283/.296 (56 wRC+)
- vs. RHP: .289/.343/.477 (122 wRC+)
Not sure why Sandoval bothers switch-hitting, but whatever. The Braves have used him as a platoon guy too: he had only hit right-handed once this season.
Anyway, this didn’t work out as Sandoval walked to lead off. Chad Green worked into some trouble himself, loading the bases with one out before he struck out Ehire Adrianza. That’s when Boone summoned Justin Wilson to retire Freddie Freeman in a left-of-left matchup, which was a success.
I think Boone’s decision-making was sound in this instance, so I’ll give him some credit here. I definitely can see the case for just having Green — an undeniably better pitcher than Luetge — pitch the seventh inning from the beginning.
- So, how did the replacements do today? Brett Gardner, Mike Ford, and Mike Tauchman went 0-for-8 with three strikeouts and a walk (the RBI walk by Ford).
- The bullpen does its thing: Luetge, Green, Wilson, Jonathan Loaisiga, and Aroldis Chapman tossed four shutout frames. Chapman fanned two in his second save of the season. He also walked one.
The Yankees are now 6-10 and can finish a two-game sweep of Atlanta tomorrow night. Corey Kluber will be on the bump against Ian Anderson. Have a good night, everyone.