Game 3: Bats go quiet in spite of King’s relief heroics

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The Yankees dropped this afternoon’s rubber game to the Blue Jays, 3-1. The offense was lifeless and the Blue Jays hit two early homers against Domingo Germán to put this one away. The one saving grace: Michael King. He was brilliant across six shutout innings in order to keep the Yankees in the game. With that, let’s get to today’s takeaways:

Toronto teed off against Domingo Germán, but it could have been worse. 

It was not a very good season debut for the righty, making his first regular season appearance since 2019 after serving a suspension under the league’s domestic violence policy. Toronto hit two homers against Germán (Vladimir Guerrero Jr. and Randal Grichuk), but the Yankees are fortunate that those two dingers were it. Take a look at this sea of red:

Yeah, that’s not great. Seven of twelve batted balls were classified as hard hit, including three barrels. Here are the two homers:

Vlad Jr. went oppo on a fastball up in the zone and Grichuk yanked a hanging changeup. But in particular, Toronto hitters pounced on Germán’s fastball today. Guerrero’s homer was obviously the big blow against it, but it was far from the only loud contact against the offering. Toronto hitters swung nine times against Germán’s heaters and didn’t miss one, averaging a 100.8 MPH exit velocity against the pitch with all batted balls hit 97.2 MPH or greater.

Now, Germán’s no stranger to the long ball. He gave up 30 homers in 143 innings in 2019 and has surrendered 48 in 246 career innings, including today’s game. It’s always going to be part of his game. The Blue Jays also aren’t a great matchup for him given the team’s lengthy lineup.

But regardless of Germán facing a powerful Toronto lineup or a lesser offense, he’ll need to locate better than he did today. As you can see below, the 28 year-old left everything other than his curveball up:

Yeah, that’s not going to work. He pitched really well in spring training, so I wouldn’t say this was indicative of rust or anything like that. More likely some combination of regression, a good opponent, and maybe even some jitters in his return.

It’s not clear if Germán will take his next turn in the rotation, but that has nothing to do with how he pitched today. Aaron Boone mentioned that the Yankees won’t have a traditional fifth starter in April given all of the off days. We could see some creativity here.

Michael King shows his promise

This afternoon’s relief appearance was easily King’s best performance in the major leagues to date. The righty blanked Toronto over the five innings and finished up by retiring 16 consecutive hitters in a row. 16! His command of his sinker, which he threw 63 percent of the time, was brilliant:

That’ll work. So it’s no surprise that with that sort of command, King held Toronto to a mere 81.4 MPH average exit velocity against. This came right after Toronto had no problem against Germán.

King has a lifetime 2.93 ERA and 3.36 FIP in 387 minor league innings, though he’s been through some downs over the last two seasons. A stress reaction in his elbow cost him much of the 2019, and as you recall from last year, he got knocked around in the majors. King had a 7.22 ERA in 28.2 innings with the Yankees entering today’s outing and notably struggled when turning over the opponent’s lineup for a second time.

That certainly wasn’t an issue today! Now, no one is going to make big proclamations about his ability to face a lineup twice after one excellent performance. Nonetheless, it’s still a positive. King might be able to be a successful short reliever, but he’d be much more valuable to the Yankees as a starter right now.

The offense will come around

Look, it was no fun watching the Yankees bats scuffle once again today. Worst of all is that the team never really threatened all that much. And once again, even when opportunities arose, no one could come through. The Yankees went 0-for-5 with runners in scoring position and scored the team’s only run of the afternoon in a rather unconventional way.

Frankly, the team may not have scored at all if not for Clint Frazier’s baserunning. He hit a no man’s land pop-up double behind first base, tagged up to third on a fly ball to center, and scored on Brett Gardner’s groundout to second. Nice to see Clint contributing with his speed and aggression.

Now, this performance with runners on base isn’t going to continue all season. The #RISPfail trope is tired and selective memory, mostly. I’ll point back to this tweet again from Opening Day and again if I have to:

A few hitters are off to rough starts, namely the Aarons Judge and Hicks. Judge bounced into what feels like his 11th double play of the season this afternoon and Hicks had another 0-fer. When your two (Judge) and three (Hicks) hitters have .429 and .298 OPS marks, respectively, the offense probably isn’t going to do all that well. Slumps happen and it’s annoying to see it out of the gate, but it’s not going to last all year long. Now’s not the time to rearrange the lineup or bench guys. The bats are too talented to be held down for long.

Leftovers
  • The Yankees defense wasn’t pretty again this afternoon. Gleyber Torres’s adventures at shortstop continue: he made a throwing error today although I wouldn’t hold him entirely accountable for it. Was it a good throw? No, but Jay Bruce also could have hauled it in at first. His lack of experience at the position showed a bit. Additionally, Gary Sánchez was busted with a catcher’s interference this afternoon.
  • Former Yankees-prospect update: Boston’s Garrett Whitlock made his major league debut today and was very good. He didn’t allow a run in 3.1 innings and also struck out five. The Red Sox took Whitlock in the Rule 5 draft this past offseason.
  • The Yankees’ Alternate Site is facing the Phillies’ Alternate Site this afternoon in Scranton. Conor Foley is live tweeting the action if you’re interested. Deivi García is the starter.

Tomorrow’s a new day and a new series, at least. It comes against the vaunted undefeated Baltimore Orioles, who just wrapped up a three game sweep at Fenway park today. Enjoy the rest of your Sunday, everyone.

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5 Comments

  1. MikeD

    The Yankees offense has been a bit flat going back a week or 10 days in Spring Training, at least that’s my general feeling. Didn’t they run off like 8 or 10 straight wins, and then played losing ball at the end? ST stats mean nothing, so I don’t follow the team record, but I was aware as the Spring Training was ending they were not in a good place. That seems like it’s carried over into the first series. Liked the pitching overall, but need to get the hitting on track. It will. That’s the beauty of the 162-game season.

  2. Wire Fan

    3 runs allowed in each of the games… Most series that would be a sweep.

    Maybe just a small sample thing, but I wonder if Urshela is 100% after the elbow surgery in the off-season. His AB’s don’t look great and the few times I caught a ST game, his swing didn’t look great then either.

  3. DFA German

    Seriously

    As a long time fan (over 60 years) I have no interest in watching any game that he pitches for the Yankees.

    Actions have consequences and it’s bad Kharma to have him on the team let alone in a key spot in the rotation.

    • Alex

      He’s also just not good. Almost already 30 years old and he had a close to 5 FIP in the “best season” of his career. I know its hyperbole to expect Cashman to address starting rotation needs in earnest but he should have cut bait with German and gotten a starter to fill that rotation spot.

      For what it’s worth, I don’t think Bauer is a good human being and I’d still much rather have him on this team than someone with domestic violence baggage who isn’t even very good at pitching.

      • MikeD

        He has decent stuff, but his weakness is his command. I doubt that’s going to improve after a full season off, at least out of the gate. Hey, if King shows what he did today, more than fine if they flip their position in the rotation and bullpen.

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