What is it with these Yankees/Blue Jays games this year? They’re mostly awful blowouts that go on forever. I can’t wait for this season series to end tomorrow. The Yankees drop this slog by a score of 14-1. Their record stands at 32-24. Let’s get to the takeaways.
1. Tanaka’s Tune-Up: In all honesty, it is hard to evaluate Tanaka’s start knowing this was a tune-up. The most important thing is he got his work in and made it out healthy. In that respect, this was a productive start. In regards to the actual game, this was a mediocre start at best. Masa did not have great command. It led to long at-bats and long innings. He threw 91 pitches in 4 innings and couldn’t dictate many at-bats on the night.
Tanaka didn’t have his trademark offspeed command tonight. His slider was his primary pitch and it was all over the place. The one positive is his ability to get a decent amount of swing and miss on the pitch but it just wasn’t effective enough to induce weak contact and shorten at-bats. Here is his pitch chart according to pitches thrown:
There are a bunch of sliders here that are non-competitive or sitting in the middle of the plate. We know Tanaka works backward so if the slider isn’t effective he is going to run into some problems. That is what happened tonight. He may be able to get away with it if he has another pitch working but that wasn’t the case. It appears that a familiar bugaboo popped up tonight much to the dismay of Masahiro.
Using the pitch chart again, we’ll see Tanaka’s “changeup” wasn’t good. I’m using quotation marks because he doesn’t throw a changeup. That is most likely Tanaka’s splitter and the results for that pitch were not good. It feels like Masa has this weird love/hate relationship with the splitter ever since last season. There are way too many green dots sitting high in the zone. A pitcher does not want that pitch in those locations. Even the ones around the lower third of the zone are poorly located splitters.
If you need more evidence of the pitch’s lack of bite, all you have to do is look at the swing and miss rate. Tanaka threw 21 splitters and didn’t get one swing and miss. It doesn’t take a blogger and amateur analyst to tell you that isn’t good. Overall, it was a poor performance that won’t have much impact on the Yankees season.
Again, we don’t know how much of this was just an outing to get some work in. For all we know, Tanaka could have been tinkering with his grip or something else. Of course, he wants a good performance but the most important thing is simply getting through it. I have no doubts Masahiro will have his A-game next Wednesday.
2. Sloppiness Rules The Day: Under Aaron Boone, the Yankees have multiple stretches of sloppy play. There are defensive miscues and head scratching decisions. The sloppiness is one of the main reasons for their slow jumps out of the gate in recent seasons. Tonight wasn’t a banner night for the boys in road greys.
As mentioned earlier, these last few games are essentially a tuneup for the playoffs. The key is making sure guys get their reps and leave the game healthy. Is home field advantage important for the Wild Card Series round? It is but we’ve seen the Yankees punt home field multiple times over the years. They give it lip service but it’s clear it isn’t a priority. This is especially true this year with no fans and a potential stay in the postseason bubble lying ahead. The immediate focus is on guys getting their work in to get ready for next Tuesday.
With that said, the team is starting to slip into some bad habits at the wrong time. The infield defense left much to be desired. Gleyber Torres is not having a banner year defensively. He had another miscue tonight at short. Luke Voit will never be confused with Mark Teixeira but there are routine plays that he continues to struggle with. Gary made an inexcusable error. In most cases, I would say this is the result of a team going through the motions but these mistakes have popped up time and time again throughout this season. They really need to tighten this up heading into the playoffs. The porous defense cannot be a reason why the team’s title hopes come crashing down. Some of this is coming down to concentration and simple execution. That has to improve.
The Yankees also had some poor at-bats today. It is hard to criticize too much because the bats are largely alive and well but tonight was a weak performance. The heart of the lineup should be able to drive in some runs against former Yankees great AJ Cole. They didn’t have productive at-bats with runners in scoring position. I don’t think this will be a long term issue but again the team can’t start falling into bad habits. The lineup still needs to have productive at-bats even when it feels like the stakes are dropping day by day.
This game stunk. It is on to the series finale tomorrow night at 6:30pm. It will be Montgomery against Ryu. Maybe the Yankees will blow out the Blue Jays and get some series ending payback. Have a good night.