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Game 94: Sure, why not

I have to say, I’m a little delirious after watching that one. It wasn’t pretty, but a win’s a win. The Yankees topped the Phillies 6-5 in 10 innings and have now won 9 of 12 games as they head into a pivotal four game series with the Red Sox at Fenway Park.

Once again, the Yankees got heroics from the places you’d least expect. Greg Allen had a big RBI double early in this one, Brooks Kriske pitched a scoreless 10th inning during Manfred-ball, and Ryan LaMarre walked it off in the bottom of the 10th. Hell, even Asher Wojciechowski was fine. There were some big moments from the regulars too, but still, the replacements stole the show. What a weird, wacky game:

To the takeaways:

The replacements have saved the Yankees season. It’s incredibly strange to say such a thing with a star-studded roster, but it’s true. They’ve won 9 of 12 as a club and 4 of 5 since the All-Star break without a number of stars available.

There’s a little magic akin to the Next Man Up frenzy of 2019, but at the same time, this is different. That 2019 club was good all year long, and while the likes of Mike Tauchman and Mike Ford were huge boosts, that ballclub was far more consistent than this year’s version.

Now, back to the 2021 team. Let’s take a look at tonight’s WPA leaders:

  1. Brooks Kriske, +.485
  2. Giancarlo Stanton, +.297
  3. Ryan LaMarre, +.170
  4. Justin Wilson, +.166
  5. Aroldis Chapman, +.142
  6. Greg Allen, +.092
  7. Albert Abreu, +.068

Only Stanton, Chapman, and Wilson were supposed to be key cogs on this club. Instead, there’s Kriske, LaMarre, Allen, and Abreu playing pivotal roles in an important July game. Just like we all drew it up.

By the way, Allen has the third-most WPA among Yankees position players this season. It’s been just four games. That’s purely small sample size theater, but it’s amusing nonetheless. Today, Allen had a clutch game-tying double.

Obviously, the Kriske 10th inning escape and LaMarre’s walkoff were bigger moments, but Allen has been a really nice contributor on a daily basis since the break.

Come back soon, Jonathan Loaisiga. That eighth inning was miserable to watch, wasn’t it? Aaron Boone started the frame with Zack Britton, who threw 19 pitches yesterday. It was the first back-to-back for Britton this season, and with a three-run lead at the time and the latter part of the order due up, it seemed like a reasonable test.

Britton was wild, but he also didn’t get much help defensively. Gleyber Torres’ fielding error started the inning off on the wrong foot, and then walks to Didi Gregorius and Ronald Torreyes were pretty awful. Just look at this pitch chart:

Britton picked up one out in between those walks, but Boone had seen enough. With just 10 of 21 pitches thrown for strikes and with him tossing 19 pitches yesterday, the manager went to Nick Nelson.

Nelson definitely wasn’t the ideal choice, but Boone clearly didn’t want to go to Chad Green, who threw 13 bullets yesterday and 29 on Sunday. And not that Luis Cessa or Lucas Luetge are typical 8th inning guys, but both of them pushed 30 pitches yesterday anyway.

Perhaps predictably, Nelson coughed up the lead. He was probably lucky to escape with the score 5-5.

I expect Boone to get some heat for the management of the eighth, but at the same time, where was he supposed to turn? I know Gleyber didn’t help, but Britton could have pitched better, especially against the end of the Phillies’ order. Ultimately, Jonathan Loaisiga can’t come back soon enough. Funny how reliever depth can thin out quickly.

The Yankees might be right about Rougned Odor. I’ll admit I’m still on the fence about Odor — the last few years in Texas are difficult for me to ignore — but there’s no denying how important he’s been to this team. I was ready to cut him loose back in June when he had a .180/.266/.342 (70 wRC+), but since then, he’s been on a tear.

Today, he delivered a big two-run homer against Héctor Neris in the eighth to give the Yankees a 5-2 advantage. It seems like Odor has a knack for hitting the big dinger.

While there were clearly luxury tax motivations in acquiring Odor, there were also things to be intrigued by, as Jaime wrote about previously. His defense has been good by the eye test and by advanced metrics, for one. More importantly, and especially of late, the Yankees hope that his batted ball profile portended better fortune has paid off thus far.

Odor is better off not in an everyday role, but the good news is that he’s making the most of his opportunity with Luke Voit and Gio Urshela sidelined. Even if I’m being too cautious on Odor’s outlook, there’s no denying that his performance is much needed and appreciated.

Sometimes curious decisions work out. No one foresaw Asher Wojciechowski starting tonight except the Yankees of course. It’s not great to resort to an Orioles-reject to make a start! Wojciechowski entered tonight’s game with a lifetime 5.95 ERA and 5.42 FIP in 198 big league innings, and at 32 years of age, it’s pretty hard to see any upside. And yet, he managed to pitch four innings and allow only two runs tonight.

Wojciechowski teetered on disaster but managed to work out of danger. He gave up a home run to Jean Segura on the first pitch of the game and allowed multiple baserunners in each of the first three innings in this one. He did close out his outing with a 1-2-3 fourth, at least.

I don’t think the Yankees wanted to start Wojciechowski tonight, but rather, felt like they were left with little choice. The most logical alternative was Deivi García, who the Yankees could have brought up today instead of having him start for Scranton last night. That said, it’s been a rough year for García, particularly with his control. Perhaps the Yankees simply wanted him to continue working on things in the minors.

Some folks are probably looking at the RailRiders box score tonight (or DoTF) and have noticed that Luis Gil dominated tonight. And as a 40-man roster guy, he would have been easy to promote to the majors. Hindsight is 20/20, though. Gil’s a good prospect, but he’s really struggled in Triple-A since he was bumped up from Somerset earlier this year. Tonight was his breakout game.

As long as Michael King and/or Nestor Cortes return soon, we likely won’t see Wojciechowski again barring emergency. Yeah, starting him was a head scratcher, but at least it didn’t blow up in the team’s face. I’d have understood anyone’s anger or frustration if he got torched, though.

Leftovers

  • Solid work by Albert Abreu and Justin Wilson in relief. There were some shaky at-bats, but the two combined to toss three shutout innings behind Wojciechowski.
  • Even though, Gleyber made a costly error, it was good to see him go yard again. It’s the third time he has done so in the last four games.
  • Aroldis Chapman tossed a scoreless ninth inning, but clearly, his fingernail is an issue again. He was able to complete the inning, though a trainer did have to come out and check on him.
  • Allen, Tyler Wade, and Estevan Florial stole bases today. Allen/Wade were on a double steal, whereas Florial was a swipe of second. Florial came around to score on Giancarlo Stanton’s single in the seventh, which at the time, gave the Yankees a 3-2 lead. As we’ve written, it’s fun to see them run like this.
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8 Comments

  1. Esteddardban Florial

    I thought it was the best win of the season, Derek. This team of misfits and vagabonds has given us a jolt of energy, and you’re right Derek they have saved the season. Boone finally seems to have gotten with the program that Florial and Greg Allen belong and deserve to play every day. Allen reminds me so much of Grandy and he’ll be a star if they let him keep playing. It’s so nice to have that element of speed instead of nine slow and plodding dinosaurs walking station to station. And to his credit Boone has unleashed the speed. It distracts the pitcher and causes him to make mistakes per Coney. Even when Judge returns these two kids need to be playing every single day. Rougned continues to be every bit the hero I thought he was. He’s given us a LH power bat and a solid #3 hitter that can either hit the ball out of the park or bunt for a base hit.

    I thought Wojstershire sauce did ok. I wouldn’t want him to start again, though. We need Nestor back. We need Loisaga back for the Sox series. Nick Nelson looked like a deer in headlights last night. I just don’t know what they see in him and his 10 ERA. Nelson needs to be sent down never to return. Britton don’t look good. Velocity is down and no command. He was working back to back days but Green couldn’t? Chappy just needs to amputate that finger. Cash needs to go get another reliable arm at the deadline since his O’Day signing crashed and burned.

    We’ve got a chance now but we’ve got to take 3 out of 4 in Boston.

  2. Mungo

    Ryan LaMarre is a journeyman player. Ryan LaMarre is one of the greatest baseball players in the world. Both statements can be true. Both statements are true. He’s in his 30s, has bounced around multiple organizations, clinging to every precious AB because it might be his last . A journeyman. He’s also a professional MLB player, the highest professional baseball league in the world. A former high draft pick. One of the most talented athletes in the world when it comes to playing baseball. He’s done what few have — he’s made it to the majors…multiple times. I felt bad for him, just like I did Locastro, when he injured himself earlier this year, figuring that could be his last chance. It wasn’t. That’s why I felt he’d do exactly what he did last night with a runner on third. He wouldn’t try to do too much. Just loft the ball into the air and get the man in from third with less than two outs.

    Nice bunt by Gleyber. I say that because he so rarely is called on to bunt, and it had to be a good one because Sanchez at second is slow, slow, slow. I remain consistently surprised at infrequently MLB teams don’t do what Boone did last night. Bunt the man over, especially at home. Put pressure on the defense and the pitcher.

    The Nelson meltdown was frustrating and predictable, yet it was still a fun game.

  3. DZB

    The recent games have been a lot of fun, with all the speed etc. This is not a playoff roster, but it is nice to see them have success while we wait for the regulars to return. They are 3.5 out of the second WC (two in the loss column by my count), which is promising. Six losses behind the division lead isn’t out of the question, but they will need to make some trades for that to happen, and I just don’t see the greedy ownership spending the necessary money (just look at some of their non-moves already, where players could be had for a good trade cost, but the salary implications would be a problem).

  4. Steve W in Philly

    Does WPA correctly account for the extra runner in extra innings? I’m asking because I was surprised that Kriske had such a high WPA for pitching the 10th. Does WPA realize that the Yankees also get to start the bottom of the 10th with a runner on second, so that their probability of winning is not as low as it would usually be at the top of the 10th with the Phillies having a runner on second?

    I never heard of Wojciechowski before, but I thought he and his brother did a good job on The Matrix.

    • DZB

      Good question, and I would bet it makes that error since it is hard to account for the future situation when calculating the current win probability (and the model presumably has never previously had to deal with a known future, which really complicates the probabilities).

  5. Wire Fan

    Only saw the highlights – was there any mention / update of when the Covid folks might be back?

    Nice spot start by Woj, but clearly both the starters and relievers are pretty thin. Hopefully Britton can round into form quickly and Chapman can get it together. Severino coming back would be great, but even getting back Nasty Nestor would be nice

    Not sure I see Torres as the SS of a WS winning team. The glove just seems too inconsistent – he should be an averagish SS but the throwing and glove is just too inconsistent. Sadly there is not much to do with DJL signed for a long time and Gio being both a good bat and glove at 3rd (heck he might be a better SS than Gleyber right now)

    Maybe long term the Yankees go with a 5 IF rotation (Gio, Torres. SS TBD, DJL, Voit) for 4 positions. That is 80% playing time for everyone and if the Yankees can free up Stanton to play the OF 50% of the time, it would be 90% playing time for everyone.

    • Mungo

      Wire, the one thing I’ve noticed is there never are updates on players who go on the Covid IL. No hard timetable is given for their returns. We just hear when they return, often hours before game time. Some players go on for 24 hours (likely false-positives), some are gone for a couple weeks. It wouldn’t shock me at all if we heard Urshela was back tonight, or Higgy, or Judge, or if none return for another week. I hope all are ok. When there was an outbreak among the coaches and traveling staff earlier, we never heard any updates. Nevin, meanwhile, was hospitalized, but we didn’t know the severity of his case until he returned.

  6. MikeD

    I always look more closely when the Yankees pick up players like Wojciechowski in the offseason. I pray they never need to be used, but I also knew Wojciechowski was going to have a start or two. I didn’t have high hopes for this game because it was going to be a bullpen game with all second-tier pitchers outside of Britton. I’ll go with the positive. It was going to be a tough game, it was, and they won!

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