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Game 37: Yankees Fail To Sweep The Rays

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This game was rough. There were hopes of the Yankees putting the bow on this series with a sweep. Unfortunately, those dreams dissipated almost immediately due to inconsistent pitching and a futile offensive effort. The Yankees comfortably lose this one to the Rays by the score of 9-1. They are 20-17 on the season. Here are the takeaways.

Jameson Taillon Throws a Mixed Bag

Jameson Taillon is a good pitcher. He has a nice three-pitch mix. Unfortunately, the results and consistent length aren’t there yet. The long layoff after the second Tommy John surgery is the biggest culprit. All this means is the process to return to consistent and high-end performance will take longer for Taillon than other pitchers. As a result, there will be starts where the performance will be less than stellar. This is especially true when considering Taillon’s new mechanics and pitch approach.

The latter, coupled with inconsistent command, laid at the heart of Jameson’s rocky start tonight. We all know by now the Yankees are emphasizing changeups with their pitching staff. Taillon is the one pitcher who has not increased his changeup usage. Quite frankly, the pitch isn’t very good. At the least, it hasn’t shown to be good this season. Therefore, the biggest pitch to focus on with Taillon is the fastball. More specifically, we need to pay attention to both his command and the location of the pitch.

Coming into the year, there was a strong emphasis on scrapping Taillon’s two-seamer and elevating the four-seamer. We’re all well aware of the stark difference in pitching philosophies between the Pirates and Yankees. There have been conversations amongst really knowledgeable pitching analysts questioning whether or not Taillon’s fastball profile lends itself to living up in the zone. It doesn’t have the highest spin rate in the world, so that carry through the top of the zone could be tough. Here is a heatmap of Taillon’s heater:

It’s pretty clear to see Taillon is struggling to locate four-seamers up in the zone consistently. Too many fastballs sit middle in a nice hitting zone for hitters to drive the ball. Outside of the obvious, one issue is Taillon trusting his fastball. It has the highest usage amongst his four pitches, but it doesn’t feel like he’s in sync with it. His pitch chart tonight is a pretty strong indicator of this:

There are command issues here. This is pretty obvious. There are a lot of pitches either outside of the zone or right in the middle. But I want to focus on the number of fastballs that aren’t up in the zone. If the plan is to attack the upper quadrants of the strike zone, this plot isn’t encouraging. There are enough fastballs below those quadrants that make me believe Taillon is still growing comfortable with the re-imagining of his fastball. There is missing your spot, and there is not committing to hitting the spots. It feels like a bit of both tonight.

The interesting thing is the fastball’s effectiveness tonight. Despite tonight’s score, the Rays have a bad offense. They struggle against fastballs. They struggled against fastballs last year as well. Taillon threw 58(!!!) fastballs tonight with a 38% CSW rate. 22 of the 58 fastballs generated a strike. That is pretty damn good. But herein lies the problem for Jameson:

Even the worse of fastball hitters will do damage on pitches in the middle of the plate. You’re headed for trouble if the plan is to go fastball heavy and the fastballs don’t live up in the zone. It doesn’t help when the offspeed stuff isn’t particularly effective either. The home run to Austin Meadows came on a bad changeup, and the slider was almost non-existent tonight.

It feels like we’re witnessing a painstaking process of a pitcher’s reinvention. You are going to have nights like this. However, this reimagination won’t be fully realized overnight. The one positive is the nine strikeouts. It tells us the fastball can be a weapon. Taillon will need improved command, and maybe more importantly, full commitment to the change in approach.

The Offense Stalls Again

The Yankees are still experiencing issues on the offensive side of the ball. The bottom of tonight’s lineup featured a pretty ineffective group of hitters. Losing Gleyber Torres in the short term is a pretty big blow for the team. You’re losing a potentially potent bat and replacing it with a below-average one. It also didn’t help to lose Aaron Hicks to a potential wrist injury. And if that wasn’t enough, the Yankees are rightfully load managing Luke Voit’s return. It was going to be a struggle for the Yankees’ 5-9 hitters.

Rich Hill proved to be a terrible matchup for the Yankees. Throughout the late bloomer stages of his career, Rich Hill has done a tremendous job of limiting lineups’ power game. However, he is a two-pitch pitcher, and neither pitch is particularly good anymore. He didn’t throw a fastball above 91, and you never knew when he was going to throw a good curveball. He was effectively wild as baseball parlance goes.

Hill had no business dominating as he did even with a compromised lineup. His command was awful to compliment his weakened arsenal. Look at this pitch chart:

LMAO. What?

The Yankees are one of the most disciplined lineups in the league. They’ve been this way since the Jeter era. Unfortunately, that was not on display tonight. Here are a few pitch charts of swinging strikes by Yankees’ hitters:

When an offense is struggling, hitters really need to simplify things. They need to control at-bats, so they get pitches to drive. You’re not going to win matchups swinging at pitches nowhere near the hitting zone. Rich Hill doesn’t need help escaping at-bats. This is a pretty clear indication that hitters are still pressing. They’re expanding their zones and missing pitches to drive when they do enter the hitting zone.

We have yet to see this offense click as a full unit. There are flashes, but in most cases, it’s due to a few hitters catching fire. We have yet to see that circular lineup. Of course, guys are in and out of the lineup. The ball is moving all over the place. Offense is down across the league. The one thing a lineup can control is plate discipline. That wasn’t the case tonight. The Yankees allowed a porous pitcher to dominate them with ineffective stuff. It would be nice to see the whole lineup turn it around and turn into the offense we expected to see all season.


The Yankees are back at it tomorrow when they face the Orioles. The game starts at 7:05pm. It will be Kluber versus Kramer. Enjoy your night everyone.

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17 Comments

  1. BillyMartinVanBuren Boys

    Call me crazy here but Taillon should be able to give up 4 runs and still get the win. Especially matching up against someone like Rich Hill. This team’s inconsistent performance in no way falls at the feet of their pitching staff. You can’t expect all five guys to be Gerrit Cole every time out and the Yankees to win 1-0 ball games on small ball. Again, maybe I’m nuts but this team should be able to spot Taillon 5-7 runs in a matchup like tonight.

  2. DZB

    Weird set of comments here today. Some thoughts:

    1. Tauchman has a .656 OPS (87 OPS+) for the Giants, so he has regressed back to the mediocre bat he has shown to be. He had three hits in his first game there and a scattering of one hit games since. Yes, those hits count, but without that first game is is under .200 there. He is basically a replacement level player and I think they can pick up a similar quality player if needed (or call up Florial in an emergency, though he needs the time in the minors)

    2. I actually think it could make sense to send Taillon down. He has an option and there is no logical reason to save it (especially given he will be getting close to give years of service time). He has good stuff and I think it was a good trade, but it might make sense to allow him to work off the rust in AAA given how rusty he looks (and the new motion might be taking more getting used to). The key is having him ready to rock at the end of the season.

    3. Thinking about starters, I will be surprised if Severino returns as a starter. I am betting on him coming back as a reliever this year. That can ease him back, and also makes sense for a postseason run. If the current starters stay healthy (big if, I know), they have a good enough rotation for a series, but could use a really good long man in the bullpen to make it even more of a lockdown.

  3. Wire Fan

    5 runs in 3 games… The Yankees are fortunate they didn’t get swept.

    Also I think we need to reconsider calling the Rays offense bad when they have scored 20 runs more than the Yankees this year. There are only 3 teams in the AL who have scored fewer runs than the Yankees and one of those three is only because they have played fewer games.

    I’m not sure when, but at some point the Yankees need to look for an OF bat (maybe June?). Hicks has turned it around a little, but his plate discipline is still not there and he is an injury waiting to happen.

    They also need an IF bat – Odor and Wade are not the answer. If the rest of the Yankees were hitting, they could endure a weak spot, but with no production from C, CF, LF and the Yankees penchant for resting players, that is too many dead spots in the lineup.

    • Randy

      The Rays offense is bad. You have to look beyond runs scored.

      • Brent Lawson

        Randy, no you don’t. With the following offensive giants. Sanchez, Frazier, Ford Andujar and Gardner. 5 of your 9 starters are not batting .200. You will not beat anyone but yourself.

        • Randy

          Brent, yes you do. And what does the Yankees lineup have to do with the Rays lineup being terrible?

  4. Jason

    Taillon is the easy target, but I am legitimately disgusted by what we saw from our bats. You absolutely do not have to hand it Rich Hill fossil ass. Embarrassing loss tonight, but we take the 2 out of 3 in that disgusting excuse of a stadium.

    Hopefully Taillon is reliable come October when it matters. I’m okay with letting him figure it out all year, but man is it boring to watch him pitch. Having 6+ Ks but digging us in a hole is tiring. Especially with our hitters slumping for 1month+.

  5. Gerreddardit Cole

    I thought it was the worst loss of the season, Randy. Tallion needs to be sent down to Scanton, along with Michael King. Recall Deivi and see what he can do. If Tallion can’t pitch on the road and gives up bombs to a weak Rays lineup then what use is he. Hurry back Sevy.

    The lineup is putrid. Stanton was carrying us for a while but now he’s cooled off. DJ still ain’t hitting and Judge had two good games in the series. Ford should not play another game. I don’t care if you have to put a scarecrow at 1st base when Voit rests. If Odor is coming back soon then cut Ford and Wade loose into the abyss like in Vertical Limit. Call up Florial and see what he can do. Cash needs to get us another OFer. Maybe he shouldn’t have traded the great Mike Tauchman. Having both Clint and Gardy play at the same time means there are two black holes instead of one and Gary ate both of them. We need more bats, Cash.

  6. daryl

    At what point, are we able to close the book on this jameson character? I get it, injuries, hasn’t pitched in 2 years, he’s a good guy, Yada Yada. His only plus is he’s cheap. He’d be blocking Schmidt, garcia, king and eventually severino.

    So at what point do you say enough’s enough. Because I’m starting to fear the “he needs to knock the rust off” crew is perfectly content watching this junk for the entire season in hopes of ” a good October and 2022″

    • Randy

      Close the book? He’s started seven games.

      • Alemad

        They should pair him with Higashioka, Kluber got much netter after that.

  7. Idaho Nuke

    Taillon is NOT a good pitcher. He does have good potential.

    • Randy

      Without running down all the numbers here, he has a career 3.8 ERA. He’s good. He’s also trying to be effective after his second tommy john.

      • Idaho Nuke

        I understand that. It’s also been a few years since he has been good. That’s like saying Pujols is a good hitter.

        • Randy

          It is definitely not like saying Albert Pujols is still a good hitter.

        • Gerreddardit Cole

          Or Gary Sanchez, which they keep telling us but he’s been a .180 hitter for 3 years. Bill Parcells says you are what your record says you are. And they dont give Higgy credit for making adjustments and becoming a better hitter. Why can’t he get better? They just say oh it won’t last and he’ll fall off a cliff. But nobody says that about Gio Urshella.

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