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Game 59: Deivi and the offense bounce back

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The Yankees toppled the Marlins today, 11-4. Deivi García pitched excellently in spite of some bad luck and the offense finally woke up after an inauspicious start. Let’s get right to the takeaways:

After an ugly start, we were reminded of this offense’s potency. The Yankees hit into five double plays yesterday and hit into another in the first inning today. DJ LeMahieu and Aaron Judge reached base to start the game, but Giancarlo Stanton bounced into a 6-4-3 DP thereafter. From there, Marlins’ starter Trevor Rogers retired six of the next seven Yankees he faced to end his outing. It was an ugly start and had the feeling of “here we go again”, especially after the Marlins scored three fluky runs in the third (more on that momentarily).

That sentiment was erased in the fifth and sixth innings, thankfully. As you’d expect, Tyler Wade got the Yankees on the board with a two-run dinger against Ryne Stanek.

Again, just as you’d expect. But the run scoring didn’t end there. The Yankees tied it with a two out rally from Judge and Stanton. Judge walked, and after Don Mattingly summoned James Hoyt from the bullpen to replace Stanek, Stanton drove in Judge.

The offense blew this one wide open in the next inning against old friend Stephen Tarpley. The lefty faced six batters and recorded just one out: a sacrifice bunt by Wade (the team’s first sac bunt this season, by the way). The big blows: Aaron Hicks’s two-run homer to make it 5-3 and and LeMahieu’s 2-run double to make it 7-3.

Later, with Nick Vincent in to relieve Tarpley, Voit tallied his league leading 22nd homer of the season to make this one a laugher.

It was good to see this offense break out even if it wasn’t against some of the best pitchers a team has to offer. The Yanks had scored just five runs in the last three games, all losses. A lineup this deep, especially now at full strength, can only be held down for so long though. I’d love to see today be the catalyst for a hot run of hitting into the playoffs.

Deivi García is unshakeable. Another really impressive start from the 21 year-old righty today. Deivi finally took some lumps in his previous start, but bounced back nicely in this one against Miami. Hell, Deivi had to overcome some adversity today too. The Marlins got a ton of breaks in the third inning and scored three runs against García. All you really need to see is this:

That’s a lot of weak contact for three runs to score on. The only ball hit remotely hard was Miguel Rojas’s RBI double, which made it 1-0. But even that wasn’t struck too hard. In fact, it probably should have been a lineout and a double play. Take a look:

The Marlins called for a hit-and-run with Monte Harrison on first. You typically see the second baseman cover second with a right-handed hitter up, but the Yankees had shortstop Tyler Wade break to second instead. I guess they were banking on Rojas trying to go to the right side. But uh, his spray chart for grounders and line drives says otherwise:

It was frustrating to watch the Yankees fall behind 3-0 on a bunch of seeing eye hits, but it clearly didn’t bother García. Deivi pitched into the seventh inning of this one before getting pulled due to a pitch count (103).

The rookie’s final line: 6 2/3 innings, 7 hits, 4 runs, 1 walks, and 7 strikeouts. That 4th run came with Adam Ottavino on the mound, who gave up back-to-back singles upon Deivi’s exit. Anyway, that’s a good line for Deivi although he pitched better than it reflects. He was getting whiffs and soft contact against all of his pitches and had good command too.

Pitch TypeUsage (%)Exit Velo (MPH)Whiffs / Swings
4-Seamer55.389.87 / 30
Changeup14.646.51 /6
Curveball18.477.93 / 9
Slider11.781.82 /5

I’m very happy with how Deivi pitched even with Miami not running out its best lineup. Yes, the Marlins sat Starling Marte, Corey Dickerson, Brian Anderson, and Jesús Aguilar, but you have to like this kind of response from a rookie after his first bad start. It’s no wonder that the team is prepared to hand him the ball for a postseason start. Now it’s just a matter of what game it will be. He’ll be on regular rest for Game 3 of the Wild Card round.


  • Keep your eyes on the scoreboard tonight. The Yankees can clinch the fifth seed if the Orioles beat the Blue Jays tonight. If not, the Yankees will need either another victory or a Blue Jays loss tomorrow.
  • Nice job by Miguel Yajure in the last two innings. He struck out three batters in a row after a walk and single to lead off the eighth inning. He then finished the game off with a scoreless ninth.
  • Every Yankee hitter had a base hit except for Judge, Clint Frazier, Gary Sánchez. Even so, the Judge and Sánchez combined to reach base five times via base on balls. Judge has struggled since returning from the injured list and Gary’s season has been a mess, but it’s good to see them find some way to contribute.
  • Clint’s in a bit of a slump, by the way. He entered today with one hit (a single) and four walks in his last 21 plate appearances. Today: 0-for-3 with a hit by pitch and stolen base.
  • The season finale is tomorrow at 3:05 p.m. EDT. See you then.

Mailbag: 2021 rotation, Voit’s contract, COVID-19 opt-outs, and Urshela’s metrics

Got a few questions to answer as we head into the final weekend of the regular season. Before we dive in, remember to send your questions to viewsfrom314 [at] gmail [dot] com for a chance to be included in a future mailbag. Now, to this week’s questions:

A few people asked: What does the Yankees’ 2021 rotation look like?

People sure love to talk about next year’s team when this season isn’t over, huh? Nonetheless, I’ll oblige.

As you likely know, the Yankees can lose Masahiro Tanaka, James Paxton, and JA Happ in free agency this offseason. That leaves a number of holes to fill, though the team does have enough big league caliber starters to fill out a staff. It just may not be as good as this year (or before this year). The players under contract for 2021: Gerrit Cole, Luis Severino, Jordan Montgomery, Domingo Germán, Deivi García, Clarke Schmidt, and Michael King.

Of course, there are caveats with the seven pitchers I just rattled off. Severino is recovering from Tommy John surgery and will start the 2021 season on the injured list. Germán will have just finished his suspension under the league’s domestic violence policy, so who knows how much rust he will have to shake off. Montgomery was a roller coaster this season. King was terrible. Schmidt will have just one big league start to his name entering 2021. At least Cole and Deivi looked great.

Now, if all goes well, that group could look pretty good by 2021’s end! Cole and Severino could make for a formidable one-two punch. García and Schmidt have a ton of upside. Germán and Montgomery are more than capable back-end guys, with the former having shown flashes of better than that in 2019.

That said, count on the Yankees reinforcing the rotation this year. For one, I’d bet on Tanaka’s return, but I expect Paxton and Happ to depart. Don’t expect any free agent splurges like Trevor Bauer to replace those guys, though. A trade or middle-market free agent (Kevin Gausman? Marcus Stroman? Mike Minor?) signing seems more likely. Here’s what I envision as the Yankees’ ideal rotation come Opening Day 2021:

  1. Gerrit Cole
  2. Masahiro Tanaka
  3. Trade/Free Agent
  4. Deivi García
  5. Jordan Montgomery

By season’s end, you can slot in Sevy. Forget about who that boots from the staff as that sorta thing always seems to sort itself out. Injuries and unexpected performances happen.

Paul asks: Should Luke Voit’s contract be extended?

Everyone at this here blog loves Voit, but this answer is a pretty easy no. Voit turns 30 in February and won’t be a free agent until after the 2024 season. It stinks for the first baseman, but he was a late bloomer who won’t hit the open market until his mid-thirties. That leaves the Yankees very little motivation to extend him beyond 2024 at the moment.

Voit’s now a lifetime 138 wRC+ hitter in over 1,000 big league plate appearances and should still get paid fairly well in arbitration. He’s going to be super-two eligible this offseason and should get a nice raise over the near league-minimum pay he’s gotten over the last couple of seasons. More traditional stats like home runs and RBIs pay in arbitration, and Luke’s got those aplenty.

Aside from age and team control considerations, I think Voit’s position and health are detractors from any extension. I just don’t see much of a reason to lock up a 1B/DH type when the team already has a number of those guys on the roster already. Additionally, though Voit has played through “foot stuff” this season, I can’t help but worry about his health over the long run. Last year’s oblique injury really held him back too.

Dan asks: I recall speculation before the season started that players who were on teams that were clearly eliminated would be compelled to opt-out, to avoid playing in meaningless games.  Obviously, that hasn’t happened.  Are you surprised at all?

I’m a little surprised, but I think that there are two big reasons we haven’t seen a bunch of opt-outs.

First, The expanded playoffs have definitely played a big part here. 21 of the league’s 30 teams are still alive with just three games remaining. Had the league stuck to 10 playoff teams for this season, perhaps we’d see a lot more guys bowing out early.

Additionally, perhaps players have become more confident in the league’s health protocols as the season’s gone on. The amount of positive tests and team-wide outbreaks has slowed down the stretch. Earlier this season, it was a lot easier to imagine players dropping out as playoff hopes dwindled because of the numerous positive tests and postponements.

All that said, one high profile player has opted out this week: Andrelton Simmons. The Angels (26-31) are technically still alive too, though it’ll take a lot going right for them to overcome the Astros (29-28) for second place in the AL West.

Jeremy asks: Gio Urshela is the man. I’m hoping you can help me understand something about his advanced stats (and advanced stats in general). His Exit Velo (86th percentile), xBA (98th), and xSLG (86th) are elite. Why are those stats so high when his Hard Hit% (56th) and Barrel% (48th) are fairly average? His K% (90th) is pretty elite but I feel like that only explains part of the xBA and not much of anything else. Is it more so because his GB%/FB%/LD% mix (38.3%/19.2%/38.3%) is seemingly much better than the MLB average (45.3%/21.9%/25.7%)?

It’s definitely strange that Gio’s hard hit percentage and barrel percentage aren’t up to snuff with his average exit velocity. I do think that Jeremy is on the right track with the batted ball type mix, but there’s one other thing I’d like to add.

ComparisonWeak %Topped %Under %Flare/Burner %Solid %Barrel %

Gio’s distribution of batted ball quality is excellent. He may not have a ton of hard hits or barrels, but he almost never makes weak contact. He also doesn’t get on top of the ball too often either. Further, the “under” or “flare/burner” category isn’t necessarily a bad thing. Many of those are bloopers that dunk in. Better than a weak hit or chopper that’s almost an automatic out.

We should also keep in mind what this means for Gio’s hard hit and barrel percentages. Remember, a hard hit ball is 95 MPH or greater exit velocity in any direction. Grounders, pop-ups, or line drives can all get the same treatment under hard hit percentage. So just because Urshela isn’t great there doesn’t mean his exit velocity and xStats are inflated. Rather, it appears that Urshela’s distribution of hit quality helps him in the exit velocity department, while his launch angle helps him rarely hit into easy outs.

As Jeremy noted, Gio hits grounders well below league average and hits liners well above league average. Consider that with his hit quality distribution and elite bat-to-ball skills and you can see why Urshela’s had so much success.

Game 53: All good things must come to an end

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The Yankees’ ten game winning streak came to a halt this afternoon at Fenway Park. The Red Sox toppled the Yankees, 10-2. In a battle of rookie starters, Deivi García struggled and Tanner Houck pitched well. Boston jumped out to a 6-0 lead by the third inning and didn’t look back. The Yankees will have to wait and see if the Mariners lose today in order to clinch, otherwise, tomorrow’s another opportunity. Let’s break this one down.

Deivi García didn’t have much working. His final line was pretty indicative of how he pitched: 3 innings, 8 hits, 6 runs, 1 walk, 2 strikeouts, and 2 homers. It was unlike the Deivi we had seen in his first four big league starts. Previously, García induced a good deal of soft contact, missed bats, and was incredibly efficient. Today was the opposite. Boston was all over him and García needed 76 pitches to complete three frames.

Two things jumped out at me in this one. First, García’s fastball velocity just wasn’t there. He averaged 90.8 MPH and maxed out at 92.8 on his heater. Deivi had an average fastball velocity of 92.3 entering this game. I don’t think it’s anything to be alarmed about as García isn’t known for a high velocity fastball. He can reach back for mid-90s when he needs it, but he’s usually sitting in the low 90s anyway. Still, losing a tick off the heater does help the hitters a bit. Boston put 10 of his fastballs in play at an average exit velocity of 98.4 MPH.

The other takeaway from Deivi’s start: he didn’t have any feel for his breaking pitches. That’s bigger than losing fastball velocity. The young righty is known for his knee-buckling curve and his developing sharp slider. Not today, though. He threw 9 breaking balls today, well below the rate he usually uses them. Mind you that Deivi typically throws the combination of his slider and curve almost a quarter of the time. Here are the locations on the ones he threw today:

Not great! A couple of these were hanging sliders that Michael Chavis hit homers against.

Deivi wasn’t going to be great each and every time out. No one is, of course. On the bright side, he didn’t look flustered on the field. I’m sure he’s disappointed since he was looking forward to pitching on the same mound as his idol Pedro Martínez once did. Oh well. Just wasn’t his day, unfortunately. We’ll see how he bounces back in his next start, likely his final one of the regular season.

Congratulations to the Red Sox for finally finding a competent starting pitcher. Rookie Tanner Houck shut down the Yankees’ lineup today. He allowed just one hit and three walks in six innings today and didn’t run into much trouble until his final frame. In fact, he held the Yankees hitless through five innings before Tyler Wade broke the no-no up with a double to lead off the sixth. The righty held down the Bombers’ resurgent offense thanks to excellent command of his sinker.

Houck’s sinker heat map.

The Yankees’ average exit velocity against his sinker was 80.7 on five balls in play, though Giancarlo Stanton’s 49.8 MPH groundout skews things a tad.

Houck’s lone run allowed was unearned. After Wade led off with a double in the sixth, Christian Vázquez allowed a passed ball which moved him to third. DJ LeMahieu walked to put runners on the corners and it seemed the Yankees might have had a chance to rebound and get back in the game (down 6-0 at the time). But Luke Voit bounced into a run-scoring double play to effectively end the threat.

So, a nice performance by Houck. It’s about time the Red Sox found a starter, I guess. The 24 year-old now has thrown 12 innings and has allowed just one unearned run. He was the team’s first round pick back in 2017, so it’s not as if his success was a total surprise. You know, maybe they could have ran him out before going to the scrap heap for guys like Zack Godley or Dylan Covey or whoever other no names they started this season. But these Red Sox are committed to the tank this year. If you know, you know.

Erik Kratz pitched. Lol. Aaron Boone turned to the Yankees’ third-string catcher to pitch the eighth inning of this one with the game already out of hand. J.D. Martinez hit a homer against him. Good for J.D., who’s really struggled this year as I wrote in the series preview. Heh.

The veteran righty topped out at 86.3 on the gun and mixed in a knuckler! The homer was Kratz’s only mistake.

It’s a lot easier to chuckle and take a loss like this in stride after a ten game winning streak. Clinching a postseason spot will just have to come another day. I’ll trade that in for watching Kratz get on the bump in a mostly meaningless game.

The one downside is that the Yankees are still fighting for that fourth seed with the Twins, likely the team’s opponent in the first round. Whoever gets that fourth seed will be the home team for the Wild Card round. Minnesota, 32-22, plays tonight against the Cubs. The Yankees are 31-22.


  • This is the last time we’ll see the Red Sox in 2020. The Yankees took 9 of 10 from Boston this season.
  • Luke Voit hit his league leading 21st homer in the ninth inning against Jeffrey Springs. He may be in pain (you know, foot stuff), but it’s certainly not holding him back performance-wise. Voit’s dinger was the only other hit for the Yankees aside from Wade’s double.
  • Someone broke into Fenway Park during this game and started throwing things on the field. WTF?

The Yankees now head off to Buffalo for a four game series against the Blue Jays starting tomorrow night. Enjoy the rest of your Sunday.

Game 48: That was easy

This one was over pretty early. The Yankees put up crooked numbers in the second, third, and fourth innings en route to a 20-6 victory. Rookie Deivi García was great again, the offense socked a bunch of homers, and Toronto’s gaffes in the second inning opened things up. The winning streak is up to six and the Bombers are back in second place in the AL East. To the takeaways we go:

But first, we interrupt this recap to bring you a few words from David Cone and Michael Kay:

Yes, yes, we agree. Now, back to your regularly scheduled recap.

The Yankees are finally catching some breaks. It wasn’t that long ago when the Yankees couldn’t help but trip over themselves. Remember that awful loss to the Mets in extras? Those were the bad times when the team was making tons of sloppy plays and players were hitting the injured list on a daily basis. The tides have turned of late, though. Tonight, especially.

If not for Derek Fisher, the Yankees might have not scored in the second inning. Instead, one error and a misplay scored a single really allowed things to unfurl. Jays’ starter Taijuan Walker couldn’t stop the bleeding and pick up his outfielder, either.

First, with Gio Urshela (welcome back!) on second and one out, Clint Frazier hit what should have been a routine fly out to right:

Brett Gardner followed with a fly ball in the gap that Fisher couldn’t track down:

Two brutal miscues, but Walker still had a chance to get out of this with just one run allowed. After the Gardner hit, Walker struck out Gary Sánchez for the second out of the frame. That left just Tyler Wade between Walker and a trip to the dugout with the score just 1-1. Walker got to 0-2 on Wade, but couldn’t finish him off. A few pitches later, Wade delivered:

That’s just inexcusable for Walker. Wade, a lifetime .188/.264/.293 hitter coming into this game, should be an easy out especially when he’s behind 0-2 and is the final batter before the top of the order. Instead, after the Wade knock, DJ LeMahieu singled in another run to make it 3-1. That’s when things really snowballed.

Those back-to-back homers knocked Walker out of the ballgame. The offense continued to pour it on against Toronto’s next two arms, Shun Yamaguchi and Anthony Kay. The bats wound up scoring 20 runs, though this one was effectively over after the second inning.

All this happened as a result of a few things going the Yankees way. It’s nice to be the beneficiary of fielding gaffes and poor execution, isn’t it?

Deivi García was up for the challenge. This was the rookie’s second straight start against the Blue Jays. I wrote about the adjustments that he or the Jays could make for today’s game. Whatever either side did, Toronto didn’t do much better this time. García gave up 3 runs in 7 innings after he allowed 2 in 7 in Buffalo.

There were a couple of differences in Deivi’s approach against Toronto tonight, though I’m not so sure they were voluntary. First, He threw just 3 curveballs all night, which indicates that he didn’t have great feel for the pitch. It’s typically his most-used breaking ball, as you know. He threw one in the second, one in the third, and one in the fourth inning. The last one was a hanger that Lourdes Gurriel hit for a two-run homer. At that point, García probably had seen enough of the pitch.

The other difference: fastball command. Take a look at where he spotted his heater tonight:

Now, take a look at where he put it last week:

He was much more over the middle with that pitch tonight and Toronto made plenty of hard contact against it. Most notably, Vladimir Guerrero Jr. took Deivi deep on one of his heaters down the middle. Toronto had a 95.8 MPH average exit velocity on the pitch.

In spite of not having his best fastball command, it’s pretty impressive that Deivi was able to still use it 58 percent of the time (he used it 59 percent last week). It might sound as if he was fortunate considering the high exit velocity, but keep in mind that Deivi tends to generate a lot of harmless pop ups and fly balls. Toronto recorded six outs on fastballs hit between 92 and 100 MPH off the bat. Five were fly outs, none with an xBA above .230. The other was a groundout. Clearly, it’s hard to square up the righty even when he’s missing his spots.

What more can you say about García? He’s been impressive in all four of his starts with the Yankees and is just 21 years-old. Even when he doesn’t have his best stuff (i.e. tonight) he’s able to succeed. Can’t wait to watch him pitch next.

  • Welcome back Gio Urshela. The third baseman went 3-for-4 with 2 doubles and a walk.
  • Giancarlo Stanton went 0-for-4 in his return, but he did draw a walk. He also scalded a 111 MPH lineout. He was the only starter to go hitless in this one.
  • Toronto wound up using infielder Santiago Espinal to pitch in the eighth inning. He gave up a solo homer to DJ LeMahieu, but otherwise left unscathed. He was probably the team’s best pitcher all night!
  • A few other home runs to note: Voit delivered his second of the night in the sixth inning. It came against Ken Giles, who was getting some work in after returning from the injured list. Voit leads the league with 18 homers. Gary Sánchez and Clint Frazier also contributed homers of their own.
  • Michael King pitched the eighth and ninth innings for the Yankees. He gave up a few runs in the ninth, but they were harmless.

The series resumes tomorrow. Same time, same place. Have a good night everyone.

Deivi García’s next challenge

It’s been just three starts, but it’s pretty easy to see that Deivi García belongs in the major leagues. That’s not just because of his terrific numbers thus far. Yes, a 3.06 ERA in 17 2/3 innings is great, but his presence on the mound has also stood out. It’s hard to envision a more composed 21 year-old pitcher on the mound than Deivi. Overcoming nerves and jitters as a rookie is a challenge for most, but apparently not a difficult one for García. Perhaps tonight’s start against the Blue Jays will be a bigger challenge. Toronto is familiar with Deivi now after facing him last week.

In his last start, García handled the Blue Jays with relative ease. In fact, the righty got better as the game went on, times through the order penalty be damned. His lone blemish in seven strong innings was Derek Fisher’s two-run homer in the second inning. Clearly, familiarity didn’t burn Deivi as the game went on. But going into tonight’s start, Toronto has had more time to prepare. Of course, García has an opportunity to review how he attacked the Blue Jays last time out and adjust as necessary.

Deivi threw fastball after fastball against the Jays to get things started previously. He shied away from it after the first and was a bit more unpredictable as things went on. In some innings, he went far more often to his secondaries (i.e. the 3rd and 5th). But in others, his fastball was his go to offering. Lastly, and perhaps most impressively, he started to introduce his slider at the end of the game to wrap things up. It was brilliant pitching through and through. Toronto was off balance all night.

Prior to that game against the Jays, Deivi had been much more consistent with his arsenal. Of course, we’re talking about just two previous starts, so take it for what it’s worth. That said, he was pretty comfortable pouring in fastballs almost two-thirds of the time. He also appeared to like going to his changeup more as things moved forward.

Maybe tonight Deivi doesn’t go all-in on the heater to start. Perhaps he leans on his slider earlier rather than turning to it later in the game. But who knows? Maybe as he’s warming up in the pregame bullpen, he realizes that he doesn’t have feel for his slider. Best laid plans and all. Further, there’s also something to be said about pitching toward one’s strengths. Deivi’s fastball is just that. He may be able to dominate with it again from the get go.

Now, that leaves us with how the Blue Jays might adjust. Toronto was extremely aggressive against Deivi and swung at 79.2 percent of pitches in the zone against him. That’s well above the league average 66.2 percent zone swing rate. Their logic? García is around the plate a lot. His 50.9 zone rate is higher than the 47.7 percent league rate. Might as well swing more if he’s gonna throw tons of strikes, right? Not necessarily.

Hindsight is 20/20, but it does seem like Toronto was a bit too antsy against Deivi. The rookie has shown that he’s adept at generating soft contact, much in part due to a ton of deception on his fastball. Toronto had a ton of trouble against the pitch last week. The only real damage was Fisher’s homer, which came against a fastball over the middle and a little down.

That’s pretty much the only location where Deivi’s fastball can be hit, because if it’s up in the zone, forget it. Take a look:

Toronto’s launch angle vs. Deivi’s fastballs.

Pop ups and foul balls galore when Deivi gets his heater upstairs. Maybe this time, Toronto will try to lay off García upstairs a bit more often. Easier said than done, of course, especially if Deivi has his usual good command.

García has become appointment viewing this season and tonight looks like his most intriguing start yet. We’ll see if Toronto has any answers for the Yankees’ budding star.

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