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Thoughts as Voit and Kluber head to the injured list

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The Yankees have a double-header this afternoon after yesterday’s washout, and the team will make a handful of roster moves beforehand. A couple will be replacements for Luke Voit and Corey Kluber, who are headed to the injured list. Another will be the 27th man for today’s two games. In the meantime, here are some thoughts on where the Yankees go from here in light of yesterday’s news:

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Yankees place Darren O’Day on 10-day IL, recall Michael King

This isn’t the news anyone wants to wake up to. Especially not after an extremely satisfying win last night. Darren O’Day, a key offseason acquisition to the team’s bullpen who’s pitched well, has a rotator cuff strain and is on the injured list. Michael King is back to replace him on the roster.

O’Day has a 3.00 ERA in 9 innings this season, and up until his last two appearances, had been extremely effective. He gave up a run in each of his last two appearances, which perhaps portended something wasn’t quite right. Hopefully this isn’t anything too serious for the 38 year-old righty, but rotator cuff injuries are definitely concerning.

King’s back, and deservedly so. He’s been the tough luck odd man out on the Scranton shuttle a few times already this season in spite of tossing 11 scoreless frames thus far.

We’ll likely have more information on O’Day’s prognosis once Aaron Boone speaks to the media prior to this afternoon’s game.

Game 5: Cole goes again

“Did you see what I did this thing yesterday?” (@Yankees)

Oh right, there’s a game tonight. It’s been a couple of hours since the Yankees officially acquired Rougned Odor, which understandably has dominated the news cycle. But now, it’s about time to shift our focus back to tonight’s affair against Baltimore. Tonight, we’re in for a treat: Gerrit Cole takes the mound. Thanks to last Friday’s day off, Cole starts for the second time in the team’s first five games. You love to see it.

Before we get to the lineups, the Yankees made a couple of corresponding roster moves following the Odor trade. The team designated infielder Thairo Estrada for assignment to make room on the 40-man roster. Michael King was optioned to the Alternate site as well, which leaves an open spot on the 26-man roster. Odor needs some time to clear COVID-19 protocols, so the Yankees may play with 25 players for a day or two unless someone else comes up.

Now, the lineups:

Baltimore Orioles (3-1)

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

RHP Dean Kremer

New York Yankees (2-2)

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

RHP Gerrit Cole

News & Notes

  • It’s just a day off for Aaron Hicks. He will be back in the lineup tomorrow.
  • Don’t make too much of Higgy catching Cole tonight. Gary Sánchez has started all five games behind the plate thus far, so a day off was coming sooner or later.

It’s another beautiful night for a ballgame. WFAN and YES have the broadcasts with first pitch set for 6:35pm eastern. Enjoy the game.

Game 3: Bats go quiet in spite of King’s relief heroics

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The Yankees dropped this afternoon’s rubber game to the Blue Jays, 3-1. The offense was lifeless and the Blue Jays hit two early homers against Domingo Germán to put this one away. The one saving grace: Michael King. He was brilliant across six shutout innings in order to keep the Yankees in the game. With that, let’s get to today’s takeaways:

Toronto teed off against Domingo Germán, but it could have been worse. 

It was not a very good season debut for the righty, making his first regular season appearance since 2019 after serving a suspension under the league’s domestic violence policy. Toronto hit two homers against Germán (Vladimir Guerrero Jr. and Randal Grichuk), but the Yankees are fortunate that those two dingers were it. Take a look at this sea of red:

Yeah, that’s not great. Seven of twelve batted balls were classified as hard hit, including three barrels. Here are the two homers:

Vlad Jr. went oppo on a fastball up in the zone and Grichuk yanked a hanging changeup. But in particular, Toronto hitters pounced on Germán’s fastball today. Guerrero’s homer was obviously the big blow against it, but it was far from the only loud contact against the offering. Toronto hitters swung nine times against Germán’s heaters and didn’t miss one, averaging a 100.8 MPH exit velocity against the pitch with all batted balls hit 97.2 MPH or greater.

Now, Germán’s no stranger to the long ball. He gave up 30 homers in 143 innings in 2019 and has surrendered 48 in 246 career innings, including today’s game. It’s always going to be part of his game. The Blue Jays also aren’t a great matchup for him given the team’s lengthy lineup.

But regardless of Germán facing a powerful Toronto lineup or a lesser offense, he’ll need to locate better than he did today. As you can see below, the 28 year-old left everything other than his curveball up:

Yeah, that’s not going to work. He pitched really well in spring training, so I wouldn’t say this was indicative of rust or anything like that. More likely some combination of regression, a good opponent, and maybe even some jitters in his return.

It’s not clear if Germán will take his next turn in the rotation, but that has nothing to do with how he pitched today. Aaron Boone mentioned that the Yankees won’t have a traditional fifth starter in April given all of the off days. We could see some creativity here.

The “Battle” for the 5th Spot

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Entering spring training, the most prominent role to be defined in the Yankees’ 26-man Roster was the fifth Starter in the rotation. This “competition” allows us to analyze and write a few words about the candidates. So, lets do just that!

The Candidates

What seemed to be a four horse race at the beginning of the spring has sadly lost an interesting competitor. Clarke Schmidt, one of the most prominent pitching prospects in the Yankees system, has gone down with a common extensor strain in his elbow that will shut him down 3-4 weeks.

Also, I’m not considering Mike King or Nick Nelson in this exercise for different reasons. King because of the lack of a reliable secondary offering, and Nelson because of his lack of control (Career MiLB 4.8 BB/9). Also I think Nelson’s stuff plays up a lot in the bullpen and he could be a weapon there.

That leaves us with (ordered alphabetically by their last name): Jhoulys Chacín, Deivi García and Domingo Germán. Let’s see what the projection system’s tell us about those three players regarding their WAR:

SystemChacínGarcíaGermán
PECOTA-0.11.41.3
FGDC0.21.21.0
Steamer0.11.11.1
ZiPS1.12.12.1
Projections via FanGraphs and Baseball Prospectus

The projections tell a clear story of two similarly productive pitchers (García and Germán), and an underdog (Chacín). With that in mind, let’s go under the hood for any further evidence on who should win the job.

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