Spring Training News & Notes: Aaron Judge, Giancarlo Stanton, Masahiro Tanaka, Clarke Schmidt, & More

It is somehow only Tuesday, but the good news is that the Yankees played a game today. They beat the Red Sox 9-1, which is always cool with me. Beating the Red Sox is always good, whether it comes in the Grapefruit League, May, August, or, ideally, in October. More on the game down below after some unfortunate injury news.

But first, there are some updates about streaming the Yankees. YES Network, Amazon, and the Yankees announced today that 21 games would be available for streaming on Amazon’s new streaming service. You can find out more info about that here, but here is the schedule of games that will be available to stream:

With that out of the way, let’s get right to today’s news and notes.

The Big Story: 2019, The Year Won’t Leave Us

Come back to us soon, big man.

Well, we finally got that Aaron Judge update we all wanted. It was…not great. Tests were inclusive, per the team, and he’ll likely miss Opening Day. Blah. It is, as they say, not what you want. He’s feeling discomfort in his right pectoral muscle in addition to his shoulder. It’s unfortunate. Here’s the video of Brian Cashman speaking to press about it (via Bryan Hoch):

He also noted that Giancarlo is going to miss Opening Day too, which, blah. It is just all very frustrating, but, hopefully, these are just “minor” things like Aaron Boone says they are. Missing a few weeks early in April is not the end of the world. But it would be nice to get those guys back on the field soon. They’ll have to go through a whole Spring Training, essentially.

In any case, today’s game basically showed us the likely Opening Day lineup. The Yankees will still be pretty, pretty good. Check it out:

Game Takeaways

The Yankees defeated the rival Red Sox 9-1, which is cool. I know I said that above. Don’t care. Anyway, let’s get right to today’s takeaways.

1. Tanaka’s Splitter Looks to be Back on Track: I’m not going to read anything into Grapefruit League stats, but it is worth pointing out that Tanaka looked pretty good today. He threw three perfect innings today with five strikeouts, which is cool. But even cooler was the fact that his splitter looked good! Check out this GIF, (via Pitching Ninja):

This is nice to see especially because Tanaka’s splitter was absent for most of last year. It was a big reason why he struggled so much – he was resistant to making a change to his grip until around the trade deadline – and is why he’s potentially adding a cutter to his arsenal. He should still consider doing that! But I’ll feel very, very good about Tanaka going into the year if his splitter looks good, and so far it does (I think). Not to mention, he says the ball is back to normal, which should help matters, too.

2. Clarke Schmidt Still Looks Good: What more can you say about Clarke Schmidt? This dude is really pitching himself into the fifth starter conversation. In fact, I think he’s earned it, ala 2017 Jordan Montgomery. I don’t see many better options. The argument against him at this point seems to be one of team control, which no thanks. He is 23, not 20, and the Yankees are World Series contenders who need the help. If Schmidt is the guy to do it right away, bring him up. It’s that simple.

His stats have been good – 5 H, 1 R, 2 BB, and 6 K in 5 IP – but his stuff has looked even better. That’s really what I care about. Check out highlights from today’s game (via MLB Pipeline):

I’ll take it. If I were a betting man, I’d wager on Schmidt being the prohibitive favorite for the fifth spot in the rotation, behind Cole, Tanaka, Happ, and Montgomery. There don’t even seem to be many other contenders. It’s surprising but pretty damn cool for a guy with Schmidt’s history.

3. Jonathan Loáisiga, Bullpen Extraordinaire: Even with a slate of injuries in the rotation, it’s always felt as if Jonathan Loáisiga was never really in the running for that fifth starter role. That was true before Schmidt really burst on the scene, too. We’ve been over this before: Loáisiga features truly disgusting stuff but has some command issues. That’s a combination that screams bullpen to me, and it always has. (It sure worked out for another Yankee with this description!) Add in the injury concerns, and it makes a lot of sense.

I bring all of this up because Loáisiga’s usage this spring – and postseason, honestly – screams bullpen option. He didn’t get into today’s game until the 8th inning, for example, and he hasn’t pitched on five days rest. Sure sounds like they’re prepping him for a bullpen role. That’s more than fine with me, honestly. I think there’s a very, very real chance Loáisiga emerges as the Yankees’ next elite bullpen option. As you all know, I really am in love with this guy’s stuff. I mean, check out this GIF (via Lucas Apostoleris):

Yeah. He was touching 97 on those fastballs, too. Sign me up for this. Anyway, Loáisiga has thrived this spring so far. He turned in another great performance today, striking out 4 in two hitless (and walkless!) innings at the end of today’s game. Good stuff. That brings him to 9 strikeouts in 5 innings without a walk or hit allowed all spring. It’s Grapefruit League, of course, but that’s what you want to see right there.

Boone, for his part, left the options open. “You see that dynamic stuff. We’ll continue to stretch him out a little bit; what role it ends up being, it could be multiples. It’s just good to see him throwing the ball well and on the attack”, he told Erik Boland. That’s all well and good, but don’t be fooled. Loáisiga will be in the bullpen when camp breaks. His usage pattern leaves almost no doubt about it. If he makes the team, that is. After all, he is facing MiLB players at the end of the game, so do with that what you will.

4. Adam Ottavino Got Some Burn: Adam Ottavino is starting to get his work in, too. He threw an inning the other day and added another today. He’s walked one and struck out three in three hitless innings so far, but that doesn’t really matter. We all know how good Ottavino is and we know he’ll be good again this year, ALCS notwithstanding. I really am just bringing this up to share this outrageous GIF (via Pitching Ninja):

I could watch that all day. Yankees baseball, how I’ve missed you.

Leftovers

As always, here is the best of the rest:

  • Brian Cashman also told the media today that he is not looking to trade for a starter, which also includes Steven Matz. (Bryan Hoch) Randy touched on that rumor earlier today, which is still worth checking out.
  • However! Brendan Kuty says that they’re interested in Jon Gray, which is A-OK with me, a noted Jon Gray fan. (Brendan Kuty)
  • A-Rod really went in on the Astros on today’s ESPN broadcast, which was oddly satisfying. Check out the video here:

On that note, let’s sign off. Have a good night, everyone.

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5 Comments

  1. JG (Melky Mesa)

    Fire our quack doctor

  2. DanGer

    I’m legit curious what a package for Gray and Arenado would look like.

    Gray is 27 with 3 years of control and meh results. And it’s not a Coors thing – his road numbers are nearly identical. And Arenado is owed a boatload of $$ into this mid-30’s, plus the opt-out.

    The (Sonny) Gray and Stanton deals come to mind as fairly similar deals.

    MTP very much S but… Hicks (offset salary), Garcia, Florial, Seigler, and a couple lottery tickets? Maybe Andujar or Frazier if Arenado agrees to waive opt-out? It would hurt but I would seriously consider it.

  3. RetroRob

    Clarke Schmidt has earned it with 5 innings of Spring Training baseball? I don’t think so. He may still get it, but he’s earned nothing at the moment.

    • Yeah, Gumby had a longer track record at higher levels before he got the nod, so this wouldn’t be even close to a similar situation, other than “rookie joins the MLB roster w/ no 40 man spot going into camp.”

  4. PETER PANAGIS

    Don’t need him . . . and he won’t come cheap. Mets can keep him

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