Category: Summer Camp Page 1 of 3

July 21 Yankees Camp Notes: Masahiro’s Recovery, Clarke Schmidt Optioned, & Much More

It is Tuesday and we are now about 48 hours away from Opening Day. Can you believe that? As delayed and beleaguered as the last few months have been, Opening Day really came fast once the Yanks got back to camp. As expected, there was a ton of Yankees news today. I’ll get to that in a second, though.

First, let’s all take a minute to wish happy birthday to our collective favorite, CC Sabathia. The big man turns 40 today. As a tribute, let’s all walk down memory lane and enjoy his first postseason start as a Yankee:

Can you believe that was 11 years ago? I personally cannot. Remember it like it was yesterday. Anyway, like I said, a ton happened today. Let’s get to it.

The Big Story: Masahiro Tanaka is Getting Healthy

Folks, Masahiro Tanaka is healthy again. This is today’s big story because it clearly impacted some of the day’s other, perhaps more obvious, big stories regarding the pitching staff. Tanaka threw off the mound at the Stadium today, which was the next step in his rehab. He threw 20 pitches – without an L screen. Here is some video from today:

And here is some more:

The next step for him is to throw 35-40 pitches again on Sunday. That’s July 26, for the record, the day of the third game of the season for the Yankees. They will use a to-be-announced opener in that game. It’s not a mystery as to why those two things are happening simultaneously: it sets Tanaka up to make his return to the Yankees rotation against Boston on July 31 five days later in the Bronx. It works out perfectly.

That sets up the Yankee rotation pretty neatly, as well. Gerrit Cole starts Opening Day followed by James Paxton. Then they use the opener, followed by J.A. Happ and Jordan Montgomery. Slot Tanaka in to the opener’s slot and you get the rotation we all would have expected on July 3 before Tanaka’s concussion. His rapid recovery likely influenced the Yanks rostering Mike King, optioning Clarke Schmidt, and using an opener in the third game of the season. Imagine that! Things are connected.

Ultimately, this was the best-case scenario for Tanaka and the Yankees. Tanaka’s return is happening way faster than I thought it would – that injury was scary as hell – and I’m glad for it. Head injuries are no joke so I’m really glad for Tanaka’s sake that he avoided a potentially very serious one. As for the Yankees, they’re obviously much with Tanaka in the rotation. The Yanks are about as healthy as they’ve been since the first day of 2019’s Spring Training. Go figure.

Leftovers

  • King of the Hill: Mike King, on the other hand, will remain with the Yanks in the Bronx. King is an option to open the third game of the year, and “he has a chance to really impact” the Yankees this year, according to Aaron Boone. I’ve liked King since he joined the organization, and I’m glad he made his way back from that injury last year. He’s looked very good so far and even added some velocity. Good stuff.
  • Summer of Thairo: Speaking of making your way back from injury, it’s hard not to feel great for Thairo Estrada. The Yankees’ camp MVP will be on the Opening Day roster two years after getting shot in the 2018 offseason and stifling his development. He had three home runs in camp and is as feel-good of a story as you can find.
  • Jordan Montgomery Optioned (For Now): Okay, don’t freak out, but the Yankees optioned Jordan Montgomery today. Have no fear, though. Everything is okay. This is just a temporary move to get an extra reliever before the Yankees use him on July 28. It’s a smart move, especially considering the bullpen game on Sunday.
  • Other Roster Moves: In addition to optioning Gumby (and those listed above), there were a bunch of other moves, none of which were especially surprising. Check them all out here:
  • New Road Protocol: Luke Voit says the Yankees gave players a “disinfectant kit” for when they’re on the road. Pandemic baseball, baby.
  • Yankees Protesting: The Yankees are discussing some sort of a protest before Thursday’s game, including kneeling during the national anthem. Aaron Judge opened up a bit about that today and Aaron Boone said he’d support his team no matter what they do.
  • New Yankee Captain: After the Yankees were eliminated by the Astros in Houston last year, Aaron Judge gathered his teammates in the locker room and said to “‘remember this feeling, this silence, this emptiness and just use it as fuel.  Don’t use it to mope about it, linger about it. Use it as fuel going into this next season to, you know, just take care of business.” Boone said it made an impression. While it’s not exactly a surprising thing to say, especially from Judge, it’s yet another example of the leadership role Judge has assumed. With CC gone and Brett Gardner set to retire, there is no doubt who the Yankees’ leader is set to be for years to come.

No intrasquad or anything tonight, obviously. The Yanks got in some final tuneups before heading down to D.C. for Opening Day. It should be a quiet night. If anything interesting happens, we’ll keep you covered – until then, have a good night, everyone.

July 20 Yankee Camp Notes: The Final Exhibition Tuneup Before Opening Day

Some old friends are returning to the Bronx tonight for the final exhibition game of Summer Camp. The Phillies, led by manager Joe Girardi, are coming to town and Didi Gregorius and Ronald Torreyes are making the trip. (So is Neil Walker!) Like Dellin Betances before him, I’m not ready to see Gregorius in a new uniform, but it’s better to get it over with now. On that note:

https://twitter.com/BryanHoch/status/1285295314891673602

I’m structuring this one like a traditional game thread because it’s that time of year again. This will be the way we cover the lineups and daily news before each regular season and postseason game, which will also be followed by takeaways. You remember the drill. It’s good to be back in earnest.

Before we get into this, check out Derek’s preview of the AL East from earlier today and my takeaways from a weekend filled with Yankee baseball. Here are tonight’s lineups:

Philadelphia Phillies
1. Roman Quinn, CF
2. Jean Segura, 3B
3. Didi Gregorius, SS
4. J.T. Realmuto, C
5. Rhys Hoskins, 1B
6. Scott Kingery, DH
7. Adam Haseley, LF
8. Neil Walker, 2B
9. Nick Williams, RF
10. Alec Bohm, DH
Vince Velasquez, SP

New York Yankees
1. DJ LeMahieu, 2B
2. Aaron Judge, RF
3. Gleyber Torres, SS
4. Giancarlo Stanton, DH
5. Aaron Hicks, CF
6. Gary Sánchez, C
7. Luke Voit, 1B
8. Brett Gardner, LF
9. Gio Urshela, 3B
Deivi Garcia, SP

Gosh, look at that Yankee lineup. It sure is beautiful. That is almost certainly the Yankees’ opening day lineup – assuming DJ LeMahieu is healthy enough to start, which it seems like he is – and I love it. I’m surprised the Yanks are rolling with four righties to open it up but I love it. The Yanks should score a ton of runs in 2020.

Leftovers

  • The Yankees plan to use DJ LeMahieu for 3-5 innings tonight defensively. (Pete Caldera) Even after he comes out of the game, though, he’ll continue to hit – Phillies manager Joe Girardi agreed to let the Yankees use 10 batters to facilitate this. Always did love Joe Girardi. (Bryan Hoch)
  • James Paxton took part in a simulated game today, throwing 84 pitches. He lines up to throw against the Phillies next week, so the Yanks wanted to keep him away from their lineup tonight. Makes sense. (Bryan Hoch)
  • Also taking part in that sim game is Luis Cessa, who is apparently back in camp after being diagnosed with COVID-19. (Kristie Ackert) He threw 31 pitches in the session. (Brendan Kuty) Cessa, who tested positive in Arizona, was asymptomatic aside from losing his sense of smell. (Bryan Hoch) To stay in shape, he threw into a net and went on nightly runs. (Lindsey Adler) Glad Cessa is back in action. The righty reliever was very solid in his role last year.
  • Patrick McGeehan of the New York Times has a good story today about the impact of the baseball shutdown on businesses in the South Bronx. None of this is particularly surprising, but it’s worth a read.

First pitch is scheduled for 6:05 pm. The game will be on YES Network locally and MLB Network nationally. Of course, WFAN has the radio call with John and Suzyn. Tonight’s goal? Keep everyone healthy. If the Yanks do that, I’m happy. Enjoy the game, everyone.

July 17 Yankees Camp Notes: Gerrit Cole’s Tuneup, DJLM Back in Camp, & More

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(Via Yankees)

Tonight is the last intrasquad game before the Yankees start taking on the Mets and Phillies in exhibition matchups this weekend. Those will be on Saturday, Sunday, and Monday, respectively. After that, it’s two days off and then Opening Night against the Nationals in the capital. Real baseball is (almost) back and it’s (maybe) here to stay.

Notes from around Yankees camp are below, but let’s start with an update from yesterday: it turns out I was right for once. Yesterday’s Washington Post story was indeed just a negotiating tactic. Per Jeff Passan, the Yanks and Nationals will open up the season in Washington as planned, as D.C. gave the Nats the exemption they wanted. Just like we all expected.

Also, Clint Frazier still rules:

Anyway, onto today’s news and notes.

The Big Story: Gerrit Cole’s Final Tuneup

Gerrit Cole is on the bump for the Yankees tonight. It will be his final tuneup appearance before Opening Day. After tonight, we won’t see him until he squares off against Max Scherzer, so so it’s an important one. Not important in terms of results, of course, but in terms of getting reps and staying healthy. He is supposed to throw about 85 pitches tonight, which would put him on track to be fully stretched out by Thursday.

That’s the most important storyline of the night, in my opinion. Getting Cole up to his maximum pitch count and getting him through the night healthy. (That’s never something to take for granted around these parts.) There’s nothing fancy to say about this, really. Cole has reportedly been hitting 99+ mph and has looked every bit as dominant as the Yankees can hope so far. Everything is moving along as expected. Now we just have to keep it that way.

“Gerrit Cole is ahead of everybody”, Mike Tauchman told reporters last week. That’s why the Yankees gave him a $324 million contract in December – and tonight is the final step before we get to see that investment start to pay off next week. I’m looking forward to it.

Leftovers

  • Tanaka Time: A day after throwing his first bullpen since getting smacked in the temple, Masahiro Tanaka was out on the field throwing again. That’s good news, and hopefully, it portends good things about a quick recovery. Tanaka himself says he feels good.
  • Exhibition Games: We have some clarity on the weekend’s exhibition games. Mike King will start tomorrow, and Jordan Montgomery and Jonathan Loáisiga will pitch on Sunday against the crosstown Mets.
  • The Importance of a Good Start: Ben Clemens over at FanGraphs had an interesting read about the importance of a fast start in the 2020 season. It’s something we’ve talked about before here, and it’s worth noting. Personally, I think starting 10-10 should have higher than a 14% playoff expectancy, but maybe I’m missing something. The point is the Yanks should start out hot so it becomes irrelevant. Anyway, check out the post. It’s a good one.
  • COVID Testing Update: MLB and MLBPA released their latest testing data. The numbers are all low, which is good, and it seems like some of the potential spreader incidents over the last week didn’t materialize (unless testing hasn’t caught up yet). As the Daily News’ Bradford Davis notes, though, their data is selectively chosen.
  • Luis Gil, Represented: It’s easy to forget in the crazy times, but the Yankees have prospects! One of the better ones, Luis Gil, just hired REP 1 to represent him. They also rep Gio Urshela, Luis Severino, and Domingo Germán.
  • Fake Crowd Noise: The Yanks tested out their fake crowd noise today. Check it out in all of its “glory” here:

The final intrasquad game is at 7 pm tonight, and I’m glad they’re over. They have been fun, but if we’re going to go ahead with this thing, we might as well get some games going that count. Or, at the very least, against another team. That will happen tomorrow, thankfully. Until then, here’s the final lineup:

We’ll keep you posted if anything significant happens. Until then, have a great night, everyone.

July 16 Yankees Camp Notes: Gary Sánchez’s Pitch Framing, Aaron Judge Homers, & More

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There was no intrasquad game today, but the Yankees did practice. J.A. Happ pitched and Aaron Judge hit a home run. There are notes on that below, but this feels like an important development to tackle first: next Thursday’s Opening Day may not take place in D.C. At least, that’s what the Nationals are saying. There is a predictable hiccup involving local regulations, quarantine, and the pandemic.

Here’s the key part: “The main reason for the uncertainty is that players, coaches and staff have to quarantine for 14 days if they are exposed to the novel coronavirus, per the city’s health protocols. D.C. is unwilling to bend that requirement for the Nationals, according to a person with direct knowledge of the situation, and the team is now wary of its ability to compete under those guidelines.” As a result, the Nats are exploring alternative sites.

I’m not sure what will happen yet, but this feels like a classic negotiating tactic. The Nats (and league) are not happy with their negotiations with the City, so they went to the Post to exert pressure, or vice versa. The thing is that both sides are being reasonable toward working toward their goals here. The City is right to want to enforce a mandated quarantine, while that quarantine would make it completely impossible for this season to proceed as planned. Just one of many challenges facing the league. My guess? This is all a big nothing and the Nats get their exemption.

While that gets sorted out, here’s what’s going on in Yankeeland.

The Big Story: Gary Sánchez’s Pitch Framing

(Via Lindsey Adler)

The Yankees hired Tanner Swanson away from Minnesota last offseason to be the team’s new catching and quality control coach. Swanson has a reputation for improving catcher framing success and Derek immediately wondered how that would impact Gary Sánchez, particularly low in the zone.

On the first day of camp, we got word that Swanson and Sánchez were trying out the same program that worked so well for Twins backstop Mitch Garver. (He jumped from 110th to 24th overall by Baseball-Prospectus’ catcher FRAA after working with Swanson.) Swanson emphasizes a one-kneed stance behind the plate to better frame low pitches. He believes that maximizes framing while maintaining the flexibility needed to block balls.

That, obviously, is of interest to Sánchez. He has a reputation for being a good framer but a poor blocker, but last year that relationship flipped. Even still, Sánchez has always struggled toward the bottom of the zone. Thanks to Statcast, we can compare the rate of strikes called on pitches on the lower edge of the strike zone to other catchers. It’s a useful way to measure framing. Here are Sánchez’s called-strike rate with league rank in parentheses:

  • 2019: 43.2% (56th out of 64 qualified catchers)
  • 2018: 47.3% (34th out of 60)
  • 2017: 38.1% (57th out of 62)

He clearly has some work to do in this area, and that’s where the new stance comes in. You can see that in the photo above and of it in action here:

Look at the difference between that and this screengrab from opening weekend 2019:

It’s a marked difference for Gary. It was one of the storylines I was following closely before the pandemic. We hadn’t heard much about it before yesterday, though, and I hadn’t noticed it in action in any games (though I probably was just paying attention to other stuff).

Swanson and Gary both talked to Bryan Hoch about it. The two had weekly video conferences during the shutdown where they talked about video of Gary experimenting with the stance. According to Gary, it’s paid off, as he told Hoch that he “definitely [has] gotten better, especially with pitches low in the zone.”

Let’s hope so. This could finally put to bed the absurd focus on Gary’s blocking while also helping the Yankees get better at the margins. This is definitely something to keep an eye on during the exhibitions and beyond.

Leftovers

  • Masahiro in the Bullpen: New pitching coach Matt Blake said that Masahiro Tanaka threw 30 pitches in a bullpen session today. He was apparently sitting 88-91 with his velocity, so he’ll have some work to do, but the session was more “intense” than expected. Next up is another bullpen on Sunday before facing live batters next week. Hopefully, he’ll be good go to in about two weeks.
  • Roster Decisions Ahead: According to Blake, the Yanks will roster 15-17 pitchers out of of camp, which makes sense to me. Rosters are expanded and every arm is going to count in this spring. The team has not made decisions yet.
  • Cole’s Final Tuneup: Gerrit Cole will throw tomorrow in the intrasquad game. He’s expected to throw 85 pitches, and it will be the last time he’s on the mound until Opening Day.
  • Aaron Judge Alert: Aaron Judge, who says he’ll be healthy enough for Opening Day in a characteristically confusing update, hit another home run. That’s two in a row now. Here’s the video, because we all need some Aaron Judge homers in our life:

There shouldn’t be any major Yanks news tonight, since it seems like they’re all wrapped up for the day. If anything big happens, we’ve got you covered, of course. Enjoy your night, everyone.

July 15 Yankees Camp Notes: Aaron Judge is Healthy, Jonathan Loáisiga in the Bullpen, & More

Happy Wednesday. Tomorrow is the one week mark before Opening Day, which is crazy. We got a lot more clarity on some important roster matters – James Paxton starting Game 2 of the season! Aaron Judge is healthy! – and that will only continue over the next few days. We’re in the home stretch now.

Before we get into today’s news, check out our latest podcast episode. I promise it’s not irrelevant already. I also encourage you to send in any mailbag questions to viewsfrom314 [at] gmail [dot] com. We’ll answer those on Friday. Finally, check out this video of the Yankees being clowns:

The Big Story: Jonathan Loáisiga, Bullpen Extraordinaire

Today’s real big story is that Aaron Judge is healthy and playing. There’s not really a lot of room to elaborate there. He’s healthy! That’s good. But, as I’m sure you could have guessed, I’m very excited to hear about the team’s plans for Jonathan Loáisiga. I have been the Views resident Jonathan Loáisiga fan since we started this thing and that’s not going to change soon. As such, I’ve been waiting to hear how they’re going to use him in 2020 – and it turns out Aaron Boone views him as a reliever. This isn’t a surprise, given the fact that he was rostered for the ALCS as a reliever, but I think it’s good news regardless.

As I argued at the end of 2019, I think his display last year highlighted just how dangerous of a bullpen weapon he could be. He clearly has the stuff to dominate. I mean:

I could watch that a thousand times and it would never get old. Anyway, his fastball & curveball combination is a Statcast favorite – he throws upwards of 98 with a high-spin curve – that helps him strike out more than a quarter of all batters he faces. You can’t doubt his stuff.

What you can doubt, and what even I’ll admit, is his ability to harness that stuff. He has always had an issue with walks, last year giving a ghastly 11% of all batters faced a free pass. That is not going to cut it. There is some evidence, if you squint, that the trend reversed toward the end of the year: although he managed to avoid walking a batter just 5 times in his 15 appearances, 4 of those games were in his last 7 games. It’s a start, at least.

Add in persistent health challenges and struggles the second time through the order (.677 OPS against vs. .977 OPS against) and it becomes clear that he could be a good fit for the pen. Its a great idea to put Loáisiga in the pen and tell him to let it fly. It might just work, and his stuff is too good not to give it a shot, in my opinion. I mean…

Leftovers

  • Aaron Judge is Back: Folks, our week-long national nightmare is over. Aaron Judge is back in action. First, we saw him taking BP this afternoon. Second, Boone indicated that he thought Judge would play. We watched this same movie yesterday, so I was skeptical, but then we got the lineup and Judge was in it. Hooray for that. (Maybe all that cupping therapy paid off.) Let’s go into this bizarre season as healthy as possible, shall we? (He even hit a home run!)
  • James Paxton, Game 2 Starter: I spent time mapping out the Yankees rotation yesterday under one set of assumptions and then the Yankees totally upended those. As I should have expected. Anyway, Aaron Boone announce that Paxton will start next Saturday’s game against Washington. Let’s hope he pretends this August and September is the same as last year.
  • Daily Masa Update: It’s time for today’s Masahiro Tanaka update. He’s expected to throw a bullpen tomorrow, which is great. “If things go well, we’d hope that he’d be able to see live hitters before Opening Day,” Aaron Boone said. That’s about as quick as anyone could have expected and means that he’ll probably be ready to go after just missing a few weeks.
  • Masks Behind the Plate: We’ve already seen Kyle Higashioka wear a mask behind the plate. Now, Gary Sánchez says he might, too – at least once the weather gets colder. I suppose we’ll have to see who does and doesn’t wear masks while playing.
  • 10th Inning Strategy: We got a taste of the Yankees’ 10th inning strategy yesterday, and it led to some…interesting results. I’m all for using Tyler Wade to steal 3rd, but the Yankees should absolutely not bunt in most cases. (With the sluggers they have, they should let the team swing away. The runner is already in scoring position!) It also got me thinking about Adam Ottavino’s potential extra innings role (or lack thereof.)
  • COVID and the Yankees: Aroldis Chapman may have COVID, but it’s apparently not stopping him from working out at home. Relatedly, apparently the Yankees are getting tests back within 1-2 days now (as they’re supposed to). That’s good news, because this entire exercise is going to fall apart if that’s not the case.

The Yankees are playing right now, actually, so turn on YES if you want to get a taste of that action. Here are the lineups for that game:

We’ll keep you posted if anything else notable happens tonight. Until then, enjoy your night, everyone.

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