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DoTF: Siegler Powers Hudson Valley to Wild Comeback Win

Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre RailRiders

The RailRiders dropped this one 6-3 to the Lehigh Valley IronPigs behind another poor start from Deivi García. The loss gives them a still stellar 30-13 record on the year, tops in the minors.

  • Starting Pitcher: RHP Deivi García: 2.0 IP, 5 H, 5 R, 2 BB, 1 K – 30 of 54 strikes (56%)…don’t think anyone had Deivi with an 8.80 ERA in AAA in the plans this year
  • In Relief: RHP Braden Bristo: 1.0 IP, 2 H, 1 R, 0 BB, 4 K – 66% strikes…had the elusive 4 K inning in this one
  • Rehab Watch: LHP Justin Wilson: 1.0 IP, zeroes, 1 K – 67% strikes, see you in the Bronx soon
  • In Relief: RHP Greg Weissert: 2.0 IP, zeroes, 4 K – 67% strikes, 25 K in 16.1 IP on the season allowing no runs
  • In Relief: LHP Trevor Lane: 2.0 IP, 1 H, 0 R, 1 BB, 2 K – 70% strikes
  • Offensive Star: CF Estevan Florial: 1-2, 1 HR, 2 R, 2 RBI, 3 BB – nice to see three walks on the night for Florial
  • Leftovers: 1B Chris Gittens, 2B Derek Dietrich, and DH Greg Allen had one hit each rounding out the offense that struggled against former first overall pick Mark Appel

Double-A Somerset Patriots

Janson Junk kept his amazing season going leading to a 7-4 victory for the Patriots over the Portland Sea Dogs. They are 30-15 on the season.

  • Starting Pitcher: RHP Janson Junk: 7.0 IP, 3 H, 1 R, 0 BB, 3 K – 55 of 79 strikes (70%)…the reigning AA player of the week has a 1.07 ERA on the year and is deserving of a promotion to AAA soon
  • In Relief: RHP Kevin Gadea: 2.0 IP, 5 H, 3 R, 0 BB, 2 K – 69% strikes and struggled big time to close this one out
  • Offensive Star: SS Diego Castillo: 3-5, 1 HR, 3 R – has a .967 OPS on the season
  • Peraza Watch: DH Oswald Peraza: 2-5, 2 R, 3 K
  • Platinum Sombrero Watch: 1B Dermis Garcia: 0-5, 5 K…yikes
  • Leftovers: C Donny Sands had 2 hits including a solo homerun

High-A Hudson Valley Renegades

The Renegades scored 4 each in the 7th and 8th to complete a comeback 11-9 win over the Wilmington Blue Rocks to move to 29-16 on the year.

  • Starting Pitcher: RHP Reid Anderson: 4.0 IP, 2 H, 1 R, 1 BB, 7 K – 64% strikes…bet the Renegades wish he lasted longer in this one because…
  • Providing No Relief: RHP Nelson Alvarez: 0.1 IP, 4 H, 6 R, 2 BB, 1 K – 54% strikes…ERA jumped from 4.50 to 9.58 after this one
  • In Relief: LHP Matt Minnick: 2.2 IP, 2 H, 1 R, 1 BB, 2 K – 58% strikes…has a 1.89 ERA so far
  • In Relief: RHP Charlie Ruegger: 2.0 IP, 2 H, 1 R, 0 BB, 2 K – 72% strikes and picked up the victory
  • Offensive Star: C Anthony Seigler: 2-4, 1 2B, 4 RBI – had a bases clearing double in the 7th to spearhead the comeback (video below)
  • Offensive Star 2: DH Ezequiel Duran: 3-5, 2 R, 1 RBI
  • Leftovers: 1B Kyle MacDonald and 2B Eduardo Torrealba both went 2-4 with a double each…LF Isaiah Pasteur had a homerun in the 7th.

Low-A Tampa Tarpons

Tampa’s game against Lakeland was rained out. It will be made up as part of a doubleheader tomorrow.

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Needs

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Every team has needs. Sometimes big, sometimes small. Aside from size, they can be categorized temporally, too: immediate and future, short-term or long-term. Given that designation, the Yankees have both immediate and future needs.

In the short-term, the Yankees just need to hit better. Better at bats, better swings, better…something. Recent injuries haven’t helped, of course, but whatever the reason, whatever the process, the Yankees need better results.

For the long-term, meaning the rest of the 2021 season and playoffs, the Yankees need to figure out center field and the right side of the infield. Derek outlined some potential outfield trade targets recently and I agree with him; outfield is where the focus should be. Given the lack of internal options–barring a Brett Gardner rebound or dead cat bounce–going external is the only path to replacing Aaron Hicks with someone worthy of a playoff/World Series run.

The infield situation can be solved internally and the solutions may already be playing themselves out. That is to say there isn’t really a solution beyond the two-pronged approach on the field right now.

As it stands, the Yankees have at least two players who can man second in DJ LeMahieu and Rougned Odor and another who could if needed in Gleyber Torres, not to mention Tyler Wade. But the prolonged absence of Luke Voit has forced and will continue to force the Yankees’ hand in a less than ideal right side alignment. So, really, a first base issue has affected second base as well.

One ‘prong’ has them playing Mike Ford at first with DJ LeMahieu at second and Gio Urshela at third. The other has them playing LeMahieu at first with Odor at second and Urshela at third. Both options have warts, like DJ playing away from a position where he’s a premium defender and Mike Ford playing at all.

Even with some clutch hits and generally good defense, Odor isn’t exactly a shining option out there, either. Perhaps he could be hidden if others were hitting up to their potential, but they’re not and his flawed bat is becoming more and more exposed. The argument could be made that they should trade for an upgrade at second, but I doubt the Yankees will do that. Having already spent resources in the form of prospects to get Odor, I doubt they do it again for another second baseman (or shortstop to move Gleyber back to second).

However, either approach would more or less cement LeMahieu as a first baseman, which is, as mentioned, a waste of his defensive talent. And given his relatively low offensive output this year, LeMahieu looks a lot worse as a first baseman instead of a second baseman.

If the Yankees could find a solution at first–which is likely easier than acquiring a middle infielder–it would shift Odor back to the bench where he should be and let DJLM play his natural position.

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Before looking outside, the Yankees do have two more options in Scranton: Chris Gittens and Derek Dietrich. Our Derek discussed Gittens here and I, once again, agree. Dietrich, alternatively, offers the Yankees a little more assurance since he’s done it at the Major League level before, but there’s also some Odor potential in him.

Both choices let them kick the can down the road a bit, whether that road is waiting for Voit to get healthy or looking for an external upgrade. Again, I doubt the external road is taken; they have internal options and it’s not like Voit is going to be out the whole season.

If you asked me two months ago if I thought the Yankees would need to upgrade offensively in some way, I would’ve thought you were crazy. But, as a certain announcer might say…

The Yankees have nailed it, more or less, on the pitching front and find themselves in such a position that just modest improvement on offense would really complete them as a team. Whether they fill that need internally or externally remains to be seen. But they need to fill it.

Yankees Spring Training News & Notes: March 25th, 2021

Mike Tauchman went deep against Detroit on Tuesday. (Bryan Hoch)

Good morning. We’re just a week out from opening day, and I don’t know about you, but I’m dealing with some major spring training fatigue at this point. The games are a bit of a slog now and my lone concern is player health. Wake me up in a week, please.

In case you missed it, Bobby penned his thoughts yesterday. His last section, about the players he’s most excited to watch this year, definitely helped me snap out of my March malaise a bit. Just need to have some patience over this last week. Anyway, let’s move forward and break down the latest and greatest in the Yankees’ world:

Thoughts a Week and a Day Before Opening Day

Happy Wednesday, friends. We are rapidly approaching Opening Day, but there are still Spring Training games before then. Here is the broadcast schedule through the rest of the Grapefruit League to hold us over for the rest of the week.

Here’s hoping that the Yanks can stay healthy in that time, too. Anyway, on to today’s thoughts.

1. Opening Day Next Week: Opening Day is one week from tomorrow, which is wild. It really snuck up on me this year. Still, I am excited for the season – and you should be, too. The games are really going to matter right away. The Yankees are the hands-on favorite to win the American League East, and they’ll have a chance to emphatically make that case nearly right away: 19 of the team’s first 25 games (76%) are inter-divisional matchups.

Now, those aren’t exactly spread out evenly, either. Here is how it breaks down:

  • Baltimore Orioles: 7 games (3 at home)
  • Tampa Bay Rays:6 games (3 at home)
  • Toronto Blue Jays: 6 games (3 at home)

Notably missing is the Red Sox, so the Yanks are getting a big chunk of their non-Boston divisional rival games out of the way early. That is significant. Tampa got worse since we last saw them, but I won’t count them out. (Baseball Prospectus tags them for 86 wins; FanGraphs says 84.) Toronto, on the other hand, got better, but is dealing with a Yankee-like deluge of injuries right now. (BP has them at 84 wins; FanGraphs 88.) Both will be looking to challenge the Goliath Yankees and will have a chance to make their mark early on.

While it is a long season – and it feels nice to be able to say that again after last year’s weirdness – this still feels important. As Matt noted, there are four off-days, not counting an inevitable rainout. The good news for the Yankees is that this means they can turn to team ace Gerrit Cole more often than not.

The bottom line is that these early games are going to matter. The Yankees, barring a major surprise, will be the best team in the American League East, if not the entire league. It would be awfully nice for the team to get out to a hot start and put some distance between themselves and their closest competition right way. The schedule means they’ll have a great opportunity to do so. Let’s hope they don’t miss it.

Contemplating a five player bench for the Yankees

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The Yankees need to make decisions on non-roster invitees like Jay Bruce and Derek Dietrich this week. Those two will be able to opt out of their contracts this week. But in order for the Yankees to keep one of those two, Mike Tauchman must go according to conventional wisdom. But what if the Yankees carried five bench players, rather than the norm of four in this era?

Most teams run with a 13/13 position player/pitcher split nowadays. That means eight relievers and four bench roles. Having all those relievers is key in April, and perhaps even more so this season. Managers tend to be hesitant with their starters in the early going in order to protect arms. And coming off a shortened season, even more care than usual could be taken. That said, I think there’s a way to make carrying just 12 pitchers work to start the season.

As Matt noted yesterday, the Yankees have ample opportunities to limit its fifth starter usage in the first month. By my count, the Yankees need a fifth starter only three times through April 24th. That provides an opportunity to re-shuffle the roster every time the team requires a fifth starter. The likes of Domingo Germán, Deivi García, and Michael King could be optioned up-and-down before and after games they’re needed. No need to worry about the 10-day option rule, either. A different pitcher could be recalled for the next time a fifth starter is needed. And while they’re down at the Alternate Site, the Yanks could carry an eighth reliever as starters one-through-four take their turns. All this means is that the Yankees conceivably could carry eight relievers for much of April even with a five-man bench.

So now that we know it could work logistically for the pitching staff, does it actually make sense to execute?

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