The Yankees will finish their magical 2019 season with a 103-59 record, tying that very fun 2009 team. They did not set the single-season home run record. Only one guy got hurt. It could have been worse. I’m sure some people out there will be really nervous that the team “limped” into the playoffs, but dear reader, don’t be that fan. This weekend has nothing to do with next weekend. I promise you that.
Anyway, let’s get right to the takeaways from this stinker of a last game of the (regular) season.
1. Chad Green, Opener: I think I’ve said this all year, but I strongly prefer Chad Green as a multi-inning weapon out of the pen instead of using him as an opener. I really, really hope that’s how he’s used during October, but hey, I have no clue. Whatever. Anyway, today Green opened in front of Tanaka and he looked pretty good, all things considered. Better than his line, I’d say. Here’s his strike zone plot:
As you can see, not much over the plate at all. He worked inside and outside and kept the ball on the corners. He was also pumping 98 throughout the outing. Good stuff.
Now, that said, Green surrendered a walk and a hit. Choo walked to open the game and Andrus hit a ground-ball single. They proceeded to both steal second and third, which prompted a throwing error from Gary Sánchez that led to a run. Green would strike out two during the rest of the frame.
Not the cleanest inning of the season, but hey, whatever. It was irrelevant. At least Green looked good.
2. Not-So-Sharp Masahiro: Tanaka, on the other hand, did not look nearly as good as Green did. It’s perhaps worth noting that this was Tanaka’s first-ever relief appearance as a Major Leaguer–his last relief appearance came in Game 7 of the 2013 Japanese Series, a game after he threw 160 pitches in Game 6. I suspect this was more of a trial than it was anything else. I’ve said this a lot now, but I’d be really surprised to see Tanaka used out of the bullpen in October. It just doesn’t make any sense to me. It feels like overthinking it.
Anyway, here is Tanaka’s line: 3.0 IP, 5 H, 2 R (1 ER), 1 BB, 2 K. It wasn’t his finest day but it also was not his worst outing. It was just kind of meh. Here was his strike zone plot:
And here was his pitch usage, since that’s always an interesting thing to watch with Masahiro these days:
- Fastball: 19
- Slider: 18
- Splitter: 14
- Curveball: 2
He generated 4 swings-and-misses on the day, 2 on the fastball and 2 on the splitter. It sure seems to me that the splitter is back to being an effective pitch since the whole changed grip thing. He’s using it more and it’s not worthless anymore. That’s good news. Not really a whole lot more to say about this one. See you next Monday, Masahiro. I don’t know about you, but I can’t wait to see the return of Playoff Tanaka, he of the 1.50 career postseason ERA.
3. Bullpen Tune-Ups: As expected, the Yanks used this game to get their top bullpen arms a final tune-up before October. Here are all of their lines, and I’ve added some commentary below:
- Tommy Kahnle: 1.0 IP, 2 H, 2 R, 1 BB, 0 K
- Adam Ottavino: 1.0 IP, 1 H, 1 R, 1 BB, 0 K
- Zack Britton: 1.0 IP, 1 H, zeros, 1 K
- Aroldis Chapman: 1.0 IP, zeros, 1 K
Alright, I know we’re all nervous about the relievers’ workload these days. I personally am not. I implicitly trust the Yankees when it comes to pen management–it’s tough to argue with their results over the past, what, decade?–but I get it. They haven’t had a lot of work, and that can lead to some rust. And…well, it sure seemed like there was some rust today, at least with Kahnle and Ottavino. Both have struggled a bit recently and today was no exception. They weren’t really around the zone and didn’t look very sharp. Both guys have had seriously dominant seasons this year, though, so I would be lying if I said I was nervous. I am treating this one like a Spring Training game, myself, which means I am not reading anything into it. I suggest you do the same to help quell your nerves over the next week. It’s not worth it.
Britton looked very good though. He did give up a hit, though it was a grounder. It was a sharp grounder, to be sure, but it was a grounder nonetheless. He then got a double-play grounder and a swinging strikeout. That’s more like it.
Chapman needed just 9 pitches to record his 3 outs and the last two pitches of his outing were 100 mph. I’d say that will get the job done. Pretty incredible how good he’s been in 2019. It will make his opt-out decision all the more fascinating to watch.
4. And Thus Concludes the 2019 HR Race: Coming into today, the Yankees had a 1 HR lead (305) over the Twins (304) for the single-season HR record. Well, the Twins hit 3, which brought their total to 307.
Unfortunately, the Yankees were not able to keep pace with the Twins today. They will finish at least one home run behind Minnesota (as the Twins game is still going as of this writing). But Aaron Judge did his part, launching an absolute blast into the left field seats in the third inning. Here is the video:
May we see many more of those over the next month! That was number 306 for the Yankees on the season and the 27th of Judge’s year. That means he finished one behind Gardner in their personal competition. Judge only played 102 games but still pretty remarkable that Gardner outslugged him. 2019 sure was a season of baseball that happened. That’s for sure.
It’s too bad the Yankees couldn’t get this job done but hey–there’s a more important competition coming up against Minnesota pretty soon. I’d rather win that one.
- Brian Cashman in the Booth: Brian Cashman joined Michael Kay and Buck Showalter in the booth for the entirety of the 4th inning. As you’d expect, he repeated what has already been said publicly and otherwise said a whole lot of nothing. In other words, the team is playing it safe with Encarnación but expects him to be ready for Friday; Gary Sánchez is fully healthy; they are taking their time with the roster and don’t know if they’ll carry 12 or 13 pitchers; these are always tough conversations to have; and, while he’s “disappointed” Houston has a better record, it is like walking a tightrope to balance rest and going for it. He also mentioned that he’s surprised at how well they’ve handled the injuries. He was in the booth for the Gio injury and sounded positively defeated. Same.
- Lance Lynn, Somehow an Ace: I am happy for Lance Lynn. I really am. I just wanted to get that out of the way because holy crap does his resurgence annoy me. It’s completely a me issue, to be fair, as you’d think I’d be over the fact that he came into Game 3 of the ALDS last year in relief of Severino over…literally anyone else. It’s not even his fault! Oh well. I do my best to be rational around here (and I think I do a good job of that) but this is one that still haunts my dreams, and I reserve the right to have a little sports hate for Lance Lynn, unfair though it may be. Anyway, he had a truly dominant 2019 (his 6.4 fWAR coming into the game ranked 2nd in the AL behind just Gerrit Cole) and he was dominant again today. Blah. Good for him though, seriously. He deserved every second of that ovation he got in the 8th inning. I’ll get over myself. Maybe.
- DJLM, 2nd Place in the Batting Crown: DJ LeMahieu will not be the first player in the modern era to win the AL and NL batting crowns…at least not in 2019. 2020 is a different year, after all. Our man had an incredible season but just couldn’t finish strong enough to outlast Chicago’s Tim Anderson, who really had himself a fantastic season. Anderson is a great dude by all accounts, so I’m happy for him. Too bad for DJLM, but I think he–and all of us–are pretty damn happy with how his season worked out.
- Yankee Defense, Not So Great: The Yankees played this one like they didn’t care at all about it. Good thing they didn’t have to. I remind you all that this game didn’t matter. They were sloppy in a lot of regards–Tanaka throwing the ball away, Gary throwing the ball away, a weird play during Ottavino’s 6th, etc. etc. Whatever. I could be much more worried. I could be worried at all, honestly, and let me assure you: I am not. The Yankees will show up next week. Don’t read anything into this.
- Gio Urshela’s Defense, Though: Before getting hurt (insert upside-down smiley face here) Gio Urshela flashed his leather at the hot corner. Here’s a replay of his play, which was honestly phenomenal:
Rest, rest, and more rest. Obviously, this was the final game of the regular season. There are four days between today and the start of the ALDS, so the Yankees will spend that time figuring out their roster, making final tune-ups before the playoffs begin, and watching the Wild Card games.
As for us here at Views, we’ll be keeping you up to date on all of that and more, and I truly cannot say thank you enough for sticking with us throughout the regular season. It’s been a fun one, and I can only hope we have another fun month ahead of ourselves.