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Game 38: Aaron Hicks has torn tendon sheath in wrist, Giancarlo Stanton scratched

Update, 6:10pm: More good news.

Well that’s just great. I’m sure we’ll find out more in the postgame. As a result, Luke Voit is now batting second instead of fourth. Gary Sánchez will clean up and DH.

Original post: Ugh. Yesterday, the Yankees sat center fielder Aaron Hicks due to wrist soreness and sent him for imaging. Today, we get the word that he has a torn tendon sheath in his wrist. That’s the same injury Mark Teixeira suffered in 2013, limiting him to just 15 games before surgery in July ended his season.

Now, the Teixeira comparison is a bit dramatic, but surgery is a possibility. For the time being, he’s taking medication in hope that it will resolve itself in the next few days. This injury likely explains a good deal of Hicks’s struggles at the plate this season.

For the time being, expect Brett Gardner everyday in center field. That said, someone else is going to have to play there on occasion. We saw Aaron Judge out there in recent years, though that’s certainly not an ideal place to put him in order to keep him healthy. Ultimately, this could force the Yankees hand to promote Estevan Florial, whether he’s ready or not. Florial was just bumped up to Triple-A today, by the way. As Bobby noted in our Slack, this seems partially procedural to get him into the Tier 1 status for a quick promotion, if needed.

So, Hicks is out of the lineup today, but not on the injured list yet. That leaves the lineups as follows for tonight’s series opener:

New York Yankees (20-17)

  1. DJ LeMahieu, 2B
  2. Giancarlo Stanton, DH
  3. Aaron Judge, RF
  4. Luke Voit, 1B
  5. Clint Frazier, LF
  6. Brett Gardner, CF
  7. Miguel Andújar, 3B
  8. Kyle Higashioka, C
  9. Tyler Wade, SS

RHP Corey Kluber

Baltimore Orioles (16-21)

  1. Cedric Mullins, CF
  2. Austin Hays, LF
  3. Trey Mancini, 1B
  4. Freddy Galvis, SS
  5. Ryan Mountcastle, DH
  6. DJ Stewart, RF
  7. Maikel Franco, 3B
  8. Pedro Severino, C
  9. Pat Valaika, 2B

RHP Dean Kremer

News & Notes

  • Apparently, Gleyber Torres might not have to sit out 10 days after all. Should he clear protocols, he can return sooner. (Bryan Hoch)
  • The team had another day of negative tests, which puts them closer to being past this COVID-19 outbreak. (Erik Boland)
  • Gio Urshela sits again tonight, but his knee is doing better per Aaron Boone. He could be an option tonight. (Lindsey Adler)
  • So, how about Giancarlo Stanton in the outfield? Boone isn’t committed, but it’s under consideration. (Jack Curry)
  • Zack Britton will throw to hitters tomorrow for the first time since bone chip surgery. Additionally, Luis Severino is essentially at the start of spring training stage. He threw 96-97 MPH yesterday and mixed in sliders and changeups. (Pete Caldera)

Got all that? What a whirlwind. Still have a game to play, of course. It starts at 7:05pm eastern. You can watch on WPIX, Amazon Prime, or MLB Network (out-of-market only). WFAN and WADO has the radio call. Have a good night everyone.

Game 31: A Game Of Thrones-like Bad Finale

Let’s keep it short as it was a 1 pm start on a work day. The great Yankees bullpen couldn’t do the job today to get the sweep against the Astros. It happens and they will blow some games here and there. They are still awesome and will be awesome more times than bad. So it ends the winning streak, but let’s get another one going.

Still in the Sticks

A little less than a month ago, I wrote about Aaron Hicks and his slow start. Since then, it really hasn’t gotten better. Hicks is still scuffling at the plate, to be generous, despite some flashes here and there.

Back then, the issue was strikeout rate and pop-up rate. The former has come down to a more manageable level at about 24%, but that’s still high for him. The latter number has ticked up to 16.1%, so he’s still getting under things too much.

At the time, the one positive for Hicks was his walk rate, checking in at the 63rd percentile in MLB. Now, that’s dropped down to 58. Still better than average, but way off for Hicks, who’s routinely in the mid to high 90’s with his walk rate percentiles. Last year and at other times, walks kept Hicks’ production afloat.

This year, they’re dropping and that’s concerning when he’s not hitting. Let’s take a look at why.

The logical place to start is, as always, chase rate. Is Hicks expanding the zone? The answer is yes, on all pitch types. After what were essentially career low chase rates in 2020, he’s setting career highs in the worst way.

It seems as if Hicks’ normally patient approach, that’s paired with good strike zone judgement, is faltering a bit this year. To boot, he’s got a first pitch swing % of 27.4, a mark so high he hasn’t hit it since 2016. We should note that, per B-R, he’s 1-11 on the first pitch this year, so even when he’s trying to jump on something, it’s not working.

Perhaps that’s because, first pitch or not, he’s not attacking the right pitches. His meatball swing% is down to a career low 73.1%. If he’s letting good pitches go by and then chasing other ones, well, you can guess what happens.

If there’s any consolation here, it’s that, per Statcast, he’s got some positive regression coming…maybe. His “X” stats, expected stats, show he should be doing better, but…he’s not. Maybe once he stops chasing and stops getting so under the ball things will even out. There’s still plenty of time.

Game 27: Taillon and Judge pave the way to victory

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The Yankees took care of business against the Tigers this afternoon, winning 6-4. Jameson Taillon pitched five strong innings and Aaron Judge delivered a couple of big hits to seal this one. The Yanks have now won the first two of this series and can complete a sweep of the lowly Tigers tomorrow afternoon.

I think it’s safe to say that this team has turned a corner, no? They’re 7-3 over the last ten games and it doesn’t necessarily feel like they’ve quite hit their stride. There are still some players scuffling and some fundamental mistakes, but as a whole, the offense is scoring and the rotation is rounding into shape.

Now, let’s break down today’s W:

Mailbag: Florial vs. Frazier, lineup replacement, and Hicks’s future as a switch-hitter

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Happy Friday, everyone. I just got my second vaccine dose yesterday and am feeling good for the most part. Hoping all of you have been able to or will be fully vaccinated in the not so distant future.

Like every Friday, it’s mailbag day. We answer our favorites every week, including three today. Send us your questions to viewsfrom314 at gmail dot com for a chance to be included in a future edition. With that, let’s get to the questions.

Andrew asks: I love Clint, but if he keeps struggling, wouldn’t it be worth a shot to send him down for a month and give Estevan Florial a chance to invigorate this lineup?

Clint Frazier is down to .163/.265/.209 (44 wRC+) in 49 plate appearances after last night’s 0-for-3. The left fielder is still walking a good deal (12.2 percent), but he’s hitting for absolutely no power (.047 ISO) and striking out a ton (34.7 percent). It’s bad. Really bad. He does have one minor league option remaining, so theoretically, the team could option him to the Alternate Site. I don’t see that happening, though.

I wrote a defense of Frazier last week, but things haven’t gotten better since even with a little more playing time. He’s 1-for-13 with two walks since that post. Even so, does sending him down and replacing him with Estevan Florial really make sense? No.

Florial, 23, got into one major league game last year, but otherwise, has yet to reach Double-A (other than the 2017 postseason). He’s posted astronomical strikeout rates in the minors, and overall, hasn’t hit all that well since 2017. That’s a long time ago! Not to mention the injuries he’s dealt with since. This isn’t someone the Yankees can just plug and play to invigorate the lineup. He needs more time in the minors.

Now, Florial apparently has done well in Alternate Site exhibition games, but I don’t think it’s worth making too much of that. Let’s see him perform in the minors for an extended period before considering him. Florial’s development (really, getting him back on track) is more important than hoping to catch lightning in a bottle in the Bronx right now.

Clint’s been frustrating to watch, like many other Yankees, but a swap of him and Florial isn’t going to fix this lineup overnight even if Florial raked from the start. This lineup needs the likes of Gleyber Torres, Aaron Judge, and Giancarlo Stanton cooking in the heart of the order. That’s the bottom line.

If the Yankees had a surefire upgrade of Frazier, I’d be open to it. They don’t, though. Florial’s not it. Brett Gardner is in a rut himself: .212/.333/.273 (83 wRC+) in his last 40 plate appearances. I don’t really want to see Mike Tauchman play everyday. Look, Frazier’s at-bats have been dreadful, including taking hittable fastballs over the heart of the plate. I can’t really blame Aaron Boone for playing Gardner more at this point, but Frazier is the most talented of the bunch. Again, none of these guys are rescuing the lineup on their own — that’s the middle of the order’s job. But ultimately, now’s not the time to demote Frazier.

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