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Thoughts ahead of today’s rubber game against Toronto

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Happy hump day, folks. The Yankees are 5-6 as of this writing, and while that’s a less than ideal start to the season, it’s important to emphasize that there are still 151 games remaining on the slate. I’m not sure what the cause is, but it feels like everyone is hyper-focused and scrutinizing each and every pitch so far unlike any season prior. Perhaps that’s because people are more focused on baseball after 2020’s general awfulness. Nonetheless, as the old saying goes: it’s a marathon, not a sprint. So with that, I have some thoughts on the Bombers thus far.

The non-Cole starters need to do better finishing at-bats. Not everyone can be Gerrit Cole, obviously, but the rest of the Yankees’ rotation has had a lot of trouble putting away hitters when they get to two strikes. We saw it last night with Jameson Taillon, namely in his second inning. He wound up plunking a batter and walking another after getting to a couple of favorable two strike counts. Unfortunately, that’s been a theme for the Yankees’ starters thus far, other than the ace of course. Some numbers to chew on:

OBPK-Rate (%)
NYY excl. Cole.29744.5
SP in two strike counts.
OBPK-Rate (%)
NYY excl. Cole.30533.3
SP ahead in the count.

Ugly, to say the least. It’s no wonder that the rotation hasn’t been able to offer much length so far this season. Can’t go deep into games if you’re unable to put away opponents in pitcher’s counts consistently. As I noted in last night’s recap, the team has gotten 5+ innings from its starters four times in eleven games. All of those came from Cole and Jordan Montgomery.

Now, it’s very early in the season and I’m not ready to hit the panic button on this rotation. A few reasons why I’m still confident:

  • Corey Kluber will not maintain a 15.2 percent walk rate. Admittedly, his command has not been good to date. But we’ve seen flashes, and his stuff looks fine. There’s still some rust to shake off here.
  • Jordan Montgomery is terrific at suppressing hard contact. I know his last start didn’t exemplify this, but I believe that was a blip. Monty owns a career hard hit rate of 31.5 percent, well below the league mark of 35.1.
  • Jameson Taillon’s stuff looks sharp. He’s dotting his fastball up in the zone and getting tons of whiffs. He had a difficult time honing his breaking balls last night, but the movement and spin on those offerings are still very good. I think we’ll see more of the performance he gave in his first outing, plus some more length as he builds up.
  • Deivi García is waiting in the wings and even though Domingo Germán had two terrible starts, I think he’s perfectly capable of being a better-than-your-typical fifth starter.

Game 11: Ryu dominates, but Sánchez’s baserunning blunder foils comeback

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Tonight’s 7-3 loss to the Blue Jays never really felt all that close, aside for a brief moment in the eighth inning. Before that, Toronto’s ace Hyun Jin Ryu shut down the Yankees’ bats while Jameson Taillon struggled with his command in a short outing. And yet, things started to go the Yankees’ way in the eighth against the Blue Jays’ bullpen.

The Yankees had the tying run at the plate in Aaron Hicks against lights-out closer Julian Merryweather with two outs in the eighth. Unfortunately, Merryweather didn’t even need to retire Hicks to escape. Instead, Gary Sánchez got caught in a rundown after a pitch in the dirt and was tagged out to end the threat.

There’s no doubt it was atrocious baserunning, and it’s very frustrating that the bat was taken out of Hicks’ hands. Still would have been a really difficult matchup for the Yankees’ center fielder, but you never know. Anyway, to the takeaways:

Game 6: Taillon’s debuts as Yankees go for the sweep

Taillon back in camp.

Here’s a sentence I didn’t expect to write this season: the winner of tonight’s game between the Yankees and Orioles will sit all alone in first place of the AL East. Obviously, that it’s April 7th makes such a statement more likely, but still.

Anyway, tonight’s affair marks the debut of Jameson Taillon in pinstripes. If you haven’t read it already, Bobby’s post this afternoon is an excellent primer for his outing.

Behind Taillon will be a lineup without Aaron Judge. He’s dealing with some soreness on his left side, and with the off day tomorrow, the Yankees see this as an opportunity for two days off. I know everyone wants to panic about this already, but let’s pump the brakes for a second. The guy just hit an absolute tank and a couple of other lasers yesterday. This feels precautionary more than anything else. Wake me on Friday if he’s still out.

Now, to the lineups:

Baltimore Orioles (3-2)

  1. Cedric Mullins, CF
  2. Trey Mancini, 1B
  3. Anthony Santander, RF
  4. Ryan Mountcastle, LF
  5. Maikel Franco, DH
  6. Pedro Severino, C
  7. Rio Ruiz, 3B
  8. Freddy Galvis, SS
  9. Ramón Urías, 2B

LHP John Means

New York Yankees (3-2)

  1. DJ LeMahieu, 2B
  2. Gleyber Torres, SS
  3. Aaron Hicks, CF
  4. Giancarlo Stanton, DH
  5. Clint Frazier, RF
  6. Jay Bruce, 1B
  7. Gary Sánchez, C
  8. Gio Urshela, 3B
  9. Brett Gardner, LF

RHP Jameson Taillon

News & Notes

  • It sounds like the Yankees will have 85 percent of the team vaccinated soon. Boone is “very optimistic” about it happening soon. This will relax some of the COVID-19 protocols MLB teams are subject to. (Bryan Hoch)
  • FanGraphs’ Devan Fink wrote about Gary Sánchez today. It’s a good statistical analysis of the backstop’s bat control and BABIP misfortune. All signs point up for Gary, and the good start has been nice to see.
  • Check out Jaime’s piece on Rougned Odor from this morning.
  • It sounds like Taillon is a bit of a coffee snob. Who could blame him? (Hoch)

It’s another gorgeous evening in New York. First pitch is about a half hour from now on YES, MLB Network (out of market only), and WFAN. Enjoy the ballgame.

Jameson Taillon’s First Start is Tonight. Here’s What to Watch.

Tonight is one of the more exciting early season games of the young season as Jameson Taillon will make his Yankees debut. I have been looking forward to this since the Yankees traded for him back in January, and I’m sure you have been too.

While there will not be any long-term takeaways from just one early April start against the lowly Orioles, there are quite a few things to watch as Taillon takes the mound. Let’s get into those after the jump.

The April Rotation

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One thing that we here at Views have harped on, especially Randy, is maximization of the talent on the 26-man roster. While we mean that on a more macro level, it can also be applied to micro level things, like the lineup or the rotation. 

A near constant quirk in the regular season schedule gives the Yankees four days off in April this year. If they so choose, they can rejigger their rotation to maximize the rotation’s talent by getting the most starts out of their top two pitchers while lessening the usage of their fifth starter, whether Deivi García or Domingo German

First let’s take a look at what it would look like if the Yankees just used a straight up rotation, everyone starts in order regardless of days off or days of rest. For argument’s sake, let’s say the rotation, 1-5, is: Gerrit Cole, Corey Kluber, Jameson Taillon, Jordan Montgomery, Fifth Starter. 

Straight up rotation
PitcherStartsAvg rest after first startOpponents
Kluber54.75TOR, TB, TOR, ATL, BAL
Taillon54.75TOR, TB, TB, CLE, BAL
Montgomery54.75BAL, TB, TB, CLE, BAL
Fifth54.5BAL, TOR, TB, CLE, DET

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