Tag: Cavan Biggio

Game 116: Winning Streak Ends at 9, Jays Best Yanks 8-2

Embed from Getty Images

Alas, the Yankees could not extend their winning streak to 10 games. They have now lost their first game since the trade deadline. They were defeated by the Blue Jays 8-2 on Friday night, “falling” to 76-40 on the season. As you know, the AL East lead is commanding and the Yankees are fighting for home-field advantage. It’s baseball. Sometimes you lose, but the Yankees don’t really do that.

Let’s get right to the takeaways for this crappy, no good game of baseball.

1. J.A Happ, Home Run Extraordinaire: It’s no secret that J.A. Happ has struggled this year, significantly underperforming even what his harshest offseason critic would have predicted. Yet, if you squinted, you could see some encouraging signs–he’d surrendered fewer than 3 runs in 8 of his last 12 starts, for example. Not great, to be clear. But much closer.

Anyway, tonight was one of his frustrating ones. Coming into tonight, batters were hitting .278/.326/.497 off him–essentially making every batter he faces Andrew Benintendi–and he’s allowed more than 2 home runs per 9 innings pitched. Yeesh. Tonight will make all of those figures worse. Here is his pitch plot:

All over the place, with a lot of balls right down the heart of the plate. J.A., that is not what you want. As you can see, too, there are a lot of balls–only 58 of his 99 pitches (58%) went for strikes. Add all that up, and you get his line from tonight: 5.0 IP, 4 H, 6 R, 3 BB, 4 K, 3 HR.

Most frustrating, as usual, was the home runs. He has now allowed 29 (!) home runs on the season. That’s more than any player on the Yankees has hit. That’s right: J.A. Happ has allowed more home runs than any Yankee has hit. I might have to keep track of this going forward. Here is the video of the first two:

The third one was a whole different animal, though. I’ll get to that more in the below section, but the Yankees blew a chance at getting Happ out of the inning not once but twice. It was frustrating. It’s true. Happ then did this:

Which resulted in this:

Bad defense is bad defense, but my man, you have got to be better than that. Completely changed the game, bringing the score to 6-1 from 3-1.

2. Bad, Bad Infield Defense Costs the Yanks: So, about that defense. The weird part about it was that the two blunders came from Gio Urshela and DJ LeMahieu, the two men almost singlehandedly responsible for turning around the Yankees infield defense this year. Here’s what happened.

Happ quickly retired the first two batters, but then allowed a two-out double to old friend Brandon Drury. Happ then threw a wild pitch that got away from Romine, allowing Drury to try for third–which he did, despite Romine’s throw beating him handily. Gio tried to aggressively tag Drury instead of just covering the base with his glove, and Drury did a “swim move” slide that beat the tag. He should have been out, but Gio’s poor tag resulted in the call on the field (out) to be overturned. The inning continued. Check out the video:

Happ then walked Derek Fisher on 5 pitches, setting up runners on the corners and two outs for Jansen (highlighted above). Jansen popped the ball up just off first base, but DJ LeMahieu lost it in the twilight. Again, there is no video but the ball should have been caught. It was not. Happ was understandably exasperated but proceeded to throw a meatball on the next pitch that was absolutely crushed.

Still, extremely annoying. Oh well, I guess–it happens–but it’s frustrating when a pitcher who’s trying to turn around his season has to get 5 outs. I’m not making excuses for Happ, but it is just frustrating. Good news is that these blunders are exceptionally rare for the 2019 Yankees.

3. The Sock Man Continues To, Well, Sock ‘Em: It’s another night, which means that Mike Tauchman hit a home run. It’s true. Our man is unstoppable, and he is on a mission to be the best Mike T. in baseball. I covered Tauchman’s recent run in last night’s takeaways, so check that out for a more detailed analysis. But the TL;DR is this: Tauchman has been so, so good. Basically the best player in the league in recent weeks. After today’s 2-4 performance, he’s now up to .297/.372/.578 (146 wRC+) on the season. Incredible. Here’s the video of his home run:

4. The Blue Jays Core Looks Legit: You know, I said this on Twitter last night, but the Blue Jays really do have some encouraging pieces on their team. Vladimir Guerrero Jr. may not have had the immediate impact that many expected, but I fully expect that dude to rake. You can already see the signs. The recent call ups of Bo Bichette and Cavan Biggio also seem to have made a real difference, as Toronto is an above-average offense since the start of July.

We saw Bichette’s impressive power last night, but tonight he made a spectacular catch against Didi Gregorius, for which there is inexplicably no video yet. After the lead was extended to 6-1, the Yankees loaded the bases with two outs in the top of the 5th following a Valera walk, a LeMahieu double (obviously), and an Urshela walk. Didi Gregorius hit a scorcher up the middle at 97 mph with an expected batting average of .620–only Bichette had other plans. He snagged the ball impressively, ending the Yankees best chance for a comeback of the night.

If the Blue Jays start spending on starting pitching at any point to supplement their budding offensive core, then I think we’d have to watch out for them. Now, the good news (not really, but only from narrow Yankee self-interest) is that GM Mark Shapiro is literally allergic to “spending money”, “paying players”, and “consciously improving a team”, so I’m sure this will go to waste. But it’s something to keep an eye on, for sure. For more context on the state of the Blue Jays’ rebuild, check out this phenomenal meditation on the team and its relationship with its fanbase by Shi Davidi on SportsNet.

Leftovers

  • Rough Night for HP ump Chris Segal: Boy was that a rough night for the home plate ump. Embarrassing, really. It was bad umpiring all around, but it was the top of the 4th that will make its mark. After a close (but not egregious) call that went against Maybin in the top of the 4th, Josh Bard and Aaron Boone all shouted at him. Notably, Brett Gardner did not join in on the fun. He was sitting there, silently. Annoyed, perhaps. But silent. Anyway, without looking, Segal turned and ejected…someone from the game. Turns out it was Gardner, who, again, did not say a word. Absolutely ridiculous. Ruocco and Cone ripped into him during the broadcast, but that was nothing compared to Gardner’s reaction. Check it out:
  • Aaron Judge is Struggling: Jeez, Aaron Judge is struggling, isn’t he? He was supposed to get tonight off, but obviously, Segal had other plans. Judge entered the game for Gardner after the top of the 4th, going 0-2 and not looking right at the plate. He is hitting .164/.292/.273 (42 wRC+) since July 25, and what he is hitting, he is pounding the ball into the ground. I am not worried about Judge at all, and neither should you. Happens to everyone. He’ll be carrying the team soon enough.
  • Nestor Cortes Jr. With A Nice Appearance: A nice appearance for Nestor Cortes Jr. tonight. He replaced Happ in the 6th and threw two scoreless innings, allowing just one walk. That’s a nice appearance, and he gave the Yankees a shot to come back.
  • Kahnle, Not So Much: That was not Kahnle’s night. He walked Vlad Jr. right after nearly hitting him on the first pitch, resulting in a staredown, and never really seemed to be in control. Although he quickly got a double play, he allowed a quick double and a moonshot to Teoscar Martinez, for his second home run of the game. His line: 1.0 IP, 2 H, 2 R, 1 BB, 1 K. Check out the video:
  • Built Ford Tough: Even in the losses, the replacement Yankees step up. Tonight it was Mike Ford, who hit a home run to bring the deficit to 6-2. It’s wild how this keeps happening. Here’s the video:

Up Next

The Yankees and Blue Jays will play the third game of this four-game weekend set tomorrow, with Jacob Waguespack (3-1, 4.00 ERA) set to take on a to-be-announced Yankee starter (they’re wisely giving Tanaka an extra day of rest). We’ll keep this updated when they do announce. That game will take place at 3:07 pm at the Rodgers Centre. You can catch it on YES and WFAN, as usual. Have a good night, everyone.

Toronto Blue Jays Series Preview: 6/24-6/26

Hey Kawhi, what place are the Yankees in? (MLB Gifs)

To close a red-hot homestand, the Yankees welcome their friends from up north, the Blue Jays

Their Story Thus Far

I call the Blue Jays the Yankees’ friends because they just took two of three from the Red Sox in Boston. They’ve gone 6-10 since taking two of three from the Bombers a few weeks ago and are 29-49, a good 20.5 games behind the Yankees.

The Jays have a general outline of a good team: A few great prospects, some respectable veteran hitters, a couple good starters and a fire-balling closer. The rest … meh.

Toronto has been better offensively this month — 94 wRC+ vs. 81 wRC+ for the full season — with Vladimir Guerrero Jr., Cavan Biggio and others leading the charge. The Yankees get lucky and avoid the Jays’ top starter, trade target Marcus Stroman.

Injury Report

The Blue Jays have seven players on the 60-day IL: Pitchers Ryan Borucki, Clay Buchholz, Elvis Luciano, Matt Shoemaker and Ryan Tepera as well as 2B Devon Travis and RF Dalton Pompey. Of those, only Borucki is closing in on a return.

Starter Edwin Jackson was recently played on the 10-day IL while first-baseman Justin Smoak is eligible to return during this series, though he isn’t expected back just yet. RHP Jacob Waguespack could be activated this week.

Biggio, son of Craig (MLB Gifs)

Player Spotlight: Cavan Biggio

When a big-name prospect gets called up, you’ll often see them struggle to maintain a high walk rate as they adjust to the Majors. Cavan Biggio isn’t just any prospect.

The 24-year-old son of a Hall of Famer has drawn 18 walks in his first 97 plate appearances and shown the plate discipline of someone well past arbitration. It doesn’t come as a complete shock: He walked often at every level in the minors en route to his May call-up.

Still, you don’t often see a rookie posting a .218/.362/.449 batting line in their first month of the bigs. He’s flashed power with five home runs and even stole one of his three bases off Gary Sanchez.

Last weekend, he was the bane of Boston’s existence with an RBI double Sunday following a pair of key hits in Saturday’s Toronto victory. Fangraphs wrote about his approach at the plate, but in short, his pitch identification is fabulous as he doesn’t swing at pitches off the plate. New York could be seeing a lot of him over the next half decade.

Potential Lineup

  1. Eric Sogard, DH (.305/.371/.505, 133 wRC+)
  2. Vladimir Guerrero Jr., 3B (.246/.315/.410, 94 wRC+)
  3. Lourdes Gurriel Jr., LF (.286/.338/.558, 134 wRC+)
  4. Randal Grichuk, RF (.221/.279/.412, 81 wRC+)
  5. Teoscar Hernandez, CF (.210/.284/.376, 74 wRC+)
  6. Cavan Biggio, 2B (.218/.361/.449, 119 wRC+)
  7. Freddy Galvis, SS (.262/.302/.434, 93 wRC+)
  8. Rowdy Tellez, 1B (.225/.285/.459, 91 wRC+)
  9. Danny Jansen, C (.168/.253/.237, 35 wRC+)

Their bench consists of utility man (and former Yankee) Brandon Drury (58 wRC+), former NYY 1B/OF Billy McKinney (74 wRC+) and backup catcher Luke Maile (33 wRC+).

Don’t sleep on Gurriel, who has raked since he was recalled from Buffalo and has turned into a decent outfielder to boot.

Trent Thornton (MLB Gifs)

Pitching Matchups

Monday (7:05 PM ET) CC Sabathia (vs. Blue Jays) vs. Aaron Sanchez (vs. Yankees)

Aaron Sanchez isn’t far removed from being a top pitching prospect for the Blue Jays with potential knockout stuff. Remember his All-Star 2016 season when he finished seventh in Cy Young voting? Feels like forever ago.

Since 2016, Sanchez’s ERA has risen every year and now sits at 5.49, right in line with a 5.48 FIP. He’s walked five batters per nine innings every year since 2017 while his strikeouts have plateaued. He allows a league-average number of home runs.

He still throws in the mid-90s with his sinker and fastball, but hitters get to those pitches consistently. Meanwhile, his best pitch — a high-spin curveball — gets used just 20 percent of the time, similar usage to his changeup.

Sanchez (Baseball Savant)

Tuesday (7:05 PM ET) Chad Green (vs. Blue Jays) vs. Clayton Richard (vs. Yankees)

Richard, 35, is a soft-tossing left-hander who the Yankees should be able to hit around after only breaking through for two runs last month. The left-hander has allowed a homer in all but one start this year and walks more batters than he strikes out.

He allows a league-worst 93.4 mph avg. exit velocity and strikes out just 12 percent of batters. He uses his sinker to keep the ball on the ground to an extent, yet he allows 1.78 home runs per nine innings.

Overall, he sports a 7.46 ERA and 6.64 FIP through 25 1/3 innings and six starts. He hasn’t completed more than five innings. He throws 62 percent sinkers and 26 percent sliders, occasionally peppering hitters with four-seamers or changeups.

Richard (Baseball Savant)

Wednesday (1:05 PM ET) James Paxton (vs. Blue Jays) vs. Trent Thornton (vs. Yankees)

Thornton faced the Yankees at the start of the month and shut them down until coming unglued the second time through the order. Gary Sanchez helped knock him out, but the rookie right-hander held his own against a tough lineup.

Since his first outing against New York, he’s put forth two of his best outings of the year, tossing a combined 13 innings of two-run ball against the Astros and Red Sox. In those two games, he struck out 14 and walked four, lowering his season ERA to 4.25 in the process.

The UNC product comes at hitters with a high-spin fastball around 93 mph as well as a high-spin 80-mph slider, working in a cutter and splitter. The slider has been an effective putaway pitch while hitters have hit his four-seamer for power.

Thornton (Baseball Savant)

Bullpen Status

The Blue Jays’ bullpen all leads up to Ken Giles, the fire-balling closer who has figured things out this season. He has a 1.33 ERA with a 47:8 K/BB ratio in 27 innings. Don’t let Toronto take a lead into the ninth.

Setting him up are right-handers Daniel Hudson, Joe Biagini and David Phelps. Hudson and Biagini have been midly effective, the former with an elevated walk rate, while Phelps just returned from Tommy John surgery.

Left-hander Tim Mayza is the only lefty in the pen and often gets matchup work. RHP Nick Kingham just came over from Pittsburgh as a former starter and can give the team length. Sam Gaviglio sits somewhere in middle relief.

Meanwhile, Sean Reid-Foley was called up over the weekend. He’s a starter, so he could give the team plenty of innings if needed.

Phelps, Mayza and Biagini each threw an inning Sunday while Gaviglio tossed 3 2/3 innings Saturday followed by two frames from Kingham.

Keys to watch:

Young talent

The Rays’ farm system is loaded, but the Jays don’t look half shabby with their collection in the high Minors and Majors. Vladito, Gurriel Jr. and Biggio will be thorns in the Yankees’ side with Bo Bichette coming soon.

Beatable starters

Thornton has had a respectable rookie year, but both Sanchez and Richard are pitchers the Yankees should torment with their patient approach. It was a similar story last time in Toronto, yet the Yankees lost two of three.

Powered by WordPress & Theme by Anders Norén