Wow. It is hard to overstate how big that game was. Staring down the barrel of an 8 game losing streak and losing their hold on a playoff spot, the Yankees fought back in this one. After going up 5-0 only to find themselves down 7-5 after 7 innings, the team showed a ton of resilience putting across 3 runs in the 8th to retake the lead. And after some shaky middle relief, Albert Abreu and Aroldis Chapman locked things down to secure to victory. Aaron Boone described it as “just about a perfect night” and in the end it was. Let’s get to the takeaways:
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When it seems like half of the current 26-man roster has COVID and the Yankees are running out names in the lineup that even die-hard fans barely recognize, you might see “bullpen day” and think the team is throwing in the towel. Not so. The Triple-A Yankees and Everyone in the Bullpen got it done today, beating the Kansas City Royals 5-2 to cement a series win before heading out to Iowa to play baseball in a cornfield. To the takeaways:
Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre RailRiders
The RailRiders comeback fell short in a 4-2 loss to the Buffalo Bisons dropping them to 21-10 on the year.
- Starting Pitcher: RHP Brody Koerner: 4.0 IP, 3 H, 1 ER, 4 BB, 5 K – 56% strikes in a short outing.
- In Relief: RHP Albert Abreu: 1.1 IP, 3 H, 3 ER, 3 BB, 2 K – 53% strikes and his ERA went up to 3.38 after tonight.
- In Relief: RHP Kyle Barraclough: 1.2 IP, 1 H, 0 R, 1 BB, 1 K – 66% strikes
- In Relief: LHP Trevor Lane: 1.0 IP, 1 H, 0 R, 0 BB, 0 K
- Hit Streak Watch: DH Trey Amburgey: 2-4, 1 HR – has a hit in 19 straight. Call him up?
- Walk the Park: 2B Hoy Jun Park: 0-2, 2 BB – 5 BB in his last 6 PA
- Leftovers: RF Socrates Brito had 2 hits…CF Estevan Florial and 1B Mike Ford both took 0-fers.
Double-A Somerset Patriots
Homeruns by Oswald Peraza and Oliver Dunn powered the Patriots to a 5-2 win over Erie giving them a 21-12 record on the season.
- Starting Pitcher: RHP Shawn Semple: 5.0 IP, 5 H, 2 ER, 0 BB, 7 K – 66% strikes to pick up the win.
- In Relief: RHP Reid Anderson: 2.1 IP, 1 H, 0 ER, 1 BB, 2 K – 65% strikes in middle relief.
- In Relief: RHP Kevin Gadea: 0.2 IP, 0 H, 0 R, 1 BB, 2 K – 44% strikes and has a 1.74 ERA on the season.
- In Relief: RHP Stephen Ridings: 1.0 IP, 1 H, 0 R, 0 BB, 2 K – 65% strikes and picked up the save.
- Peraza Watch: DH Oswald Peraza: 2-5, 1 HR – led off the game with a homerun for his first AA hit. Video below.
- Offensive Star: 2B Oliver Dunn: 1-4, 1 HR, 3 RBI – had the go ahead homerun
- Offensive Star 2: SS Oswald Cabrera: 3-5, 2 2B – feeling the pressure with another Oswald in town
High-A Hudson Valley Renegades
Ken Waldichuk and the Renegades dominated the Brooklyn Cyclones in this 8-0 win raising them to 18-14 on the year.
- Starting Pitcher: LHP Ken Waldichuk: 6.0 IP, 1 H, 0 R, 3 BB, 10 K – 64% strikes…hasn’t allowed a run in 30.2 IP this year with 55 K. Time for a call-up.
- In Relief: RHP Elvis Peguero: 2.0 IP, 0 H, 0 R, 0 BB, 2 K – 70% strikes
- In Relief: RHP Charlie Ruegger: 1.0 IP, 1 H, 0 R, 0 BB, 1 K
- Offensive Star: LF Oliver Alexander: 1-4, 1 HR, 2 RBI
- Catcher Watch: C Anthony Siegler & DH Josh Breax each had 1 hit. Breax had an RBI
- Leftovers: SS Ezeqial Duran, 3B James Nelson, 2B Eduardo Torrealba, & CF Isiah Pasteur had the remaining RBI.
Low-A Tampa Tarpons
Homeruns by Chad Bell and Austin Wells powered the Tarpons to a 6-4 victory over Clearwater. The win gives them a 24-10 record on the year.
- Starting Pitcher: RHP Sean Boyle: 3.0 IP, 5 H, 2 R, 0 ER, 1 BB, 4 K – 57% strikes in his 3 innings of work.
- In Relief: RHP Randy Vasquez: 3.2 IP, 2 H, 2 R, 1 ER, 3 BB, 6 K – 56% strikes in picking up the victory.
- In Relief: LHP Clay Aguilar: 1.1 IP, 1 H, 0 R, 1 BB, 4 K – 66% strikes and recording all outs via the K
- In Relief: Carson Coleman: 1.0 IP, 0 H, 0 $, 1 BB, 1 K – 60% strikes and got the save.
- Offensive Star: 3B Chad Bell: 3-4, 2 R, 3 RBI, 1 HR
- Hauver Heat Check: 2B Trevor Hauver: 0-4, 1 K – rare o-fer for Hauver
- First Round Watch: SS Anthony Volpe: 1-5, 1 K & C Austin Wells: 1-3, 1 HR, 2 R, 2 RBI – slugging .556 in June after a slow power start
Veteran reliever Darren O’Day: “We have a great stable of arms here.”— Erik Boland (@eboland11) March 3, 2021
Newbie Darren O’Day sure knew how to endear himself to a fanbase, huh? There clearly was some intent in that comment early this month. As you may recall, Rays’ manager Kevin Cash touted his stable of guys who throw 98 last year in response to the beef the Yankees and Rays had. It sounded a bit threatening after Aroldis Chapman threw some chin music to Mike Brosseau. Granted, the Rays got the last laugh. It’s a new year though, and this bullpen is clearly pretty good, as O’Day said.
Although Aroldis Chapman‘s high octane fastball is no longer unique among his peers, he’s still one of the league’s best closers. He’ll continue to blow his upper-90s heat by hitters in 2021, but that might not be his only big threat anymore. Sure, his slider has been effective at times in the past, but this year, Chapman plans to incorporate the splitter he teased last season. It’s looked pretty nasty in camp.
Aroldis Chapman, Filthy Splitter. 😷 pic.twitter.com/GdWeP45txT— Rob Friedman (@PitchingNinja) March 11, 2021
As tantalizing as that split looks, there’s one ultimate goal for Chapman this season: to record the clinching out of the World Series rather than end his year like the previous two postseasons. One last note: Chapman will serve a two-game suspension to start the season as a result of this aforementioned incident against the Rays last season.
Last week, Aaron Boone told the media that he envisions one or two bullpen openings on his ballclub. Yet, unless that means Jonathan Loaisiga’s spot is in jeopardy, or the team will carry four starters until a fifth one is needed (April 7th), there’s really just one spot up for grabs.
At the outset of spring training, Albert Abreu looked like the odds-on favorite. We went all offseason assuming that Abreu was out of minor league options. If the Yankees didn’t want to keep him in the Bronx, he’d have to pass through waivers before getting to Scranton. Given his tantalizing 100 MPH fastball and nasty secondaries, there was no way he’d go unclaimed. Not even his poor control would prevent another team from nabbing him. However, it’s apparent that the assumption that he’s out of options was incorrect, as noted in last night’s notes.
It’s a bit unclear how Abreu (and others) has an option remaining: either he qualified for the mysterious fourth option year or the 2020 option didn’t count. Regardless, his updated roster status significantly levels the competition. It also means that the Yankees could keep trying Abreu as a starter.
Enter Nick Nelson, Brooks Kriske, and a collection of non-roster invitees.