Tarpley, 26, was originally acquired from the Pirates in the Iván Nova back in 2016. He made his big league debut for the Yankees in 2018 and was pretty effective: in 9 innings, he struck out 13 and allowed just three runs. This year, however, Tarpley struggled. In 24 2/3 innings, he recorded a 6.93 ERA and 5.69 FIP.
The southpaw was an intriguing relief prospect considering his sky-high ground ball rates in the minors. However, the league’s new three-batter minimum rule probably will hinder his effectiveness going forward. He’s allowed a .460 wOBA against righties compared to a .235 against lefties in his brief big league career. Nonetheless, he should get an opportunity in the Marlins bullpen.
Nelson, a 22 year-old third baseman, was the Marlins’ 15th round pick back in 2016. He’s not on MLB Pipeline’s top-30 Miami prospects, but did get a brief mention in Fangraphs’ Marlins list:
Nelson is the most athletic of this [other prospects of note] group and has a body built for longevity but he hasn’t performed at all since his odd breakout, which we’re now several seasons removed from.
That breakout referenced was in 2017, when Nelson hit .309/.354/.456 (132 wRC+) in Single-A as a 19 year-old. But since then, he has a measly 66 wRC+ all in High-A. He was also Rule 5 eligible this winter, but obviously not selected. Clearly, he’s stalled out and not much a prospect at the moment, which is just about all the Yankees could have expected to get in this scenario.
The Yankees made it official: Brett Gardner is back, four weeks after the two parties came to their initial agreement. They were not, as it happens, waiting for a J.A. Happ trade. (Or, if they were waiting, they decided not to wait any longer. Who knows!) It’s a one-year, $12.5 million deal with a $10 million option for 2021.
According to the team, the Yankees designated Stephen Tarpley for assignment to make room for Brett Gardner:
Gardner, of course, is coming off a career year in which he hit .251/.325/.503 (115 wRC+) with 28 home runs. It was the offensive year of his career by far despite a slow start. I wrote about his year in our season review series, which you can find here.
As for Tarpley, I can’t say I’m too surprised to see him be the corresponding move here. The 26-year-old lefty struggled in the Bronx last season, pitching to a 6.93 ERA (5.69 FIP) in 24.2 innings. In two years with the Yanks, he owned a 5.88 ERA (4.77 ERA) in 33.2 innings. Wherever he ends up now — possibly even in the Yankees MiLB system — we here at Views wish you well, Stephen.
One of the Yankees’ core tenets is a strong bullpen, as evidenced once again in 2019. But a strong bullpen isn’t just about the relief aces like Zack Britton or Chad Green (among others). Other pitchers play important roles too, even in blowouts and games that aren’t on the line. Today, I take a brief look at an array of pitchers who spent time on the Yankees’ major league roster this season. Most of these pitchers didn’t have much success on the mound, and many won’t be back in 2020, but they still played some role on this year’s club.
After a strong 2018, the Yankees expected Holder to be an important piece of the bullpen. Not in terms of high leverage, but rather, holding the fort down in the middle innings. Unfortunately, he fell far short of his 3.14 ERA and 3.04 FIP in 66 innings a year ago.
Not only did Holder get sent down to Triple-A twice this year, but to add injury to insult, he finished the season on the injured list. The 26 year-old righty wasn’t horrible to start the year, but he certainly wasn’t anything special. By the end of May, he had a 4.55 ERA but a much better 3.07 FIP. Come June, things took a turn for the worst. He allowed six homers and 15 runs (13 earned) in eight innings before he was sent to Scranton.
The final straw came on June 24th, when Holder faced five batters and did not record an out. The big blow was Freddy Galvis’s grand slam. Holder was optioned after the game, returned for one appearance in July, and didn’t resurface in the Bronx again until August. But not long after, he hit the injured list with shoulder inflammation and missed the remainder of the season. There’s no indication that any portion of his 2020 season is in jeopardy.
Assuming he’s healthy, Holder will be in the mix for one of the last bullpen spots in spring training. He has one more minor league option remaining, so he could be an up-and-down relief arm once again if he can’t re-establish himself.
If you had me guess how many innings Tarpley threw for the Yankees this season, I would have guessed a dozen or so. Maybe it’s because the season has been over for a few months now, but my guess is far off. In fact, the lefty threw 24 2/3 frames for the Bombers this year. He was ineffective and finished the season with a 6.93 ERA and 5.69 FIP.
Tarpley’s big issue was the long ball. He’s been a ground ball pitcher for some time now, even garnering (unfair) comps to Zack Britton, but that was far from the case in 2019. He had just a 36.2 percent ground ball rate and surrendered six homers (2.2 per nine innings). This came on the heels of a 63.8 percent ground ball rate for Scranton this season.
Tarpley still has two more minor league options, so he still has time to work the kinks out. He’s had plenty of success in Triple-A, but it’s just not translated at the big league level. However, he may also be on the 40-man chopping block as we await the official announcements of Gerrit Cole and Brett Gardner.
The Yankees claimed Gearrin off waivers from the Mariners near the end of August. Unexpectedly, he quickly became one of the team’s most oft-used relievers. The sidearmer appeared in 18 of the Yankees final 32 games of the regular season.
Gearrin’s a free agent, but there hasn’t been a peep about him in the rumor mill. Not that anyone would expect there to be. Chances are Gearrin receives a minor league deal for 2020, and your guess is as good as mine regarding with what team he’ll sign with.
The Yankees picked up Lyons on a minor league contract in August after the Pirates released him earlier in the month. The former Cardinal was last an effective big league reliever in 2017 while he was still with St. Louis. Once rosters expanded in September, the Yankees gave the lefty a shot.
Lyons was decent in September and had eight scoreless outings in eleven total appearances. Similar to Gearrin, Lyons gave the Yankees another warm body to provide key relievers a breather. Surprisingly, Lyons earned a spot on the playoff roster and appeared in both the ALDS and ALCS. He retired all five batters he faced, including four strike outs, but the games he pitched were already out of hand.
Longtime farmhand Brady Lail, the Yankees’ 18th-rounder in 2012, made a one game cameo in August before the Yankees’ designate him for assignment. He’s currently a minor league free agent…Jake Barrett appeared in two games for the Yankees before elbow inflammation ended his season. He too is a free agent…Same deal for southpaw Joe Mantiply, who was one-and-done for an August game and is now a free agent…the Yankees nabbed Ryan Dull, part of their run on scrapheap relievers, in mid-August off waivers. Dull last only lasted three games with the Bombers before the Blue Jays claimed him off waivers in September…Joe Harvey was a surprise addition to the 40-man entering 2019 and was decent in 10 innings for the Bombers (4.50 ERA). The Yankees traded him to the Rockies for Alfredo Garcia before the deadline.
With just days until the Division Series opens, we still don’t know how the Yankees will organize their bullpen for the game.
The team has their top five relievers — Chad Green, Tommy Kahnle, Adam Ottavino, Zack Britton and Aroldis Chapman — set in stone behind their three main starting pitchers. Starters CC Sabathia and J.A. Happ are likely to join the bullpen. However, it’s still a mystery which other relievers the Yankees will roster and just how many.
The Bombers could go with as few as 11 pitchers — just one more pitcher — or as many as 13 arms, most likely in the 12-13 range. The respective absences of Dellin Betances and Domingo German made the last few weeks an open competition for the final spots.
Of the other pitchers on the 40-man roster (sorry, Deivi), here are the top candidates: Luis Cessa, Jonathan Loaisiga, Cory Gearrin, Ben Heller, Tyler Lyons and Stephen Tarpley. Here’s how they rank by leverage index entering games in September:
From that alone, you can tell that the team has trusted Cessa to bigger spots, allowing him to pitch in high-leverage spots three times in the last month alone, including once in extra innings.
Now, here are some of the basic stats for each pitcher out of the Yankees’ bullpen this season, ordered by ERA:
Outside of Cessa, these were some small samples, particularly the long shot Heller, who was working his way back from Tommy John surgery. He’s worth mentioning as a possibility, but he hasn’t worked in high leverage spots. Let’s disregard him for now, though he’s looked good this month.
Meanwhile, this leaves out Loaisiga’s brief stint as a starter in April, as well as Gearrin’s numbers in Seattle, which improve his overall line.
The Top Tier
Cessa, Loaisiga and Gearrin. None of the trio distinguished themselves down the stretch as they each gave up runs in the last week of the season. Still, the three righties each bring something to the table.
Cessa has been the team’s designated innings eater this year. He led all Yankee relievers in innings pitched (81) and served as both a mop-up man and bulk pitcher, with the occasional high-leverage spot mixed in. You won’t mistake him for an elite reliever, but he can give the team length and had a strong outing against the Twins in July.
Loaisiga is the most talented pitcher on the bubble. As I detailed two weeks ago, his stuff is electric, but his command is sub-par. I’d grind my teeth if he’s pitching high-leverage, but he has the makings of a back-end reliever with some refinement. That might not be this season though.
Gearrin is the veteran with the most experience. At 33, he’s in his eighth MLB season and has a 3.64 ERA across 302 innings. The Twins hit him well in a small sample, but Gearrin is most effective as a ROOGY. Have him face lefties and you tempt fate, but he can get righties out at a decent clip (.252/.338/.341 in 154 PAs this season).
Tarpley and Lyons. They’re under consideration for one reason: Their southpaw status. The two lefties could be deployed, particularly on 13-man pitching staff, as LOOGYs to attack Minnesota’s left-handed hitters. Presumably, Sabathia would serve a similar purpose in October, so these guys could be superfluous.
Lyons didn’t excel against lefties in pinstripes. Lyons allowed two homers to lefties and had a .267/.313/.667 mark against same-sided hitters, though he also struck out eight of the 16 he faced. Tarpley, who was hit around by righties, held lefties to a .200/.289/.300 mark over 11 2/3 innings with just one homer and 18 strikeouts.
Tarpley has been the better of the two, but he’s been asked more often to work as a full-inning reliever to his own detriment. He’s a fringe candidate for the postseason roster, but he’s a better one than Lyons.
With a crowded group of position players, the Yankees should go with just 12 pitchers in the five-game Division Series. Even with some key lefties in the Twins’ lineup, the Yankees can get by with Sabathia as their LOOGY and stick with their top arms to get through the lineup.
That should leave two spots for the bubble candidates mentioned above. Of those, I’d go with Cessa for mop-up duty, with either Gearrin and Loaisiga as your 25th man. In an ideal series, none of these guys see the mound (or they exclusively see the mound, but you get what I mean). This choice shouldn’t make or break the Yankees’ roster, but it’s an important one nonetheless.
Well, that was a scary game! At least a scary start. Paxton left the game with an injury (he’s fine, apparently precautionary, phew). After that, though, it was all Yankees all of the time. They mashed and mashed and mashed, and they destroyed the Rangers 14-7 (box). That was their 103rd win of the season, tying the 2009 team. One more and they’ll have won more than any Yankees team in recent memory aside from the mythical 1998 team. Not bad! Now just please stay healthy, for the love of all that is holy.
Let’s get right to the takeaways.
1. A Short Night From Paxton: James Paxton got hurt. We don’t have a whole lot of info on this yet, but check that link for more details. In the interim, though, it’s worth exploring the night that Paxton had on the mound. We all know how dominant he’s been recently, and honestly, I’m too bummed to get into it right now anyway. Anyway, he went 1.0 IP, surrendering 2 R on 3 H including this bomb to Danny Santana:
He didn’t look sharp and needed 21 pitches to complete the inning, but there were no real red flags that I could see. He didn’t really look to be in rhythm, but it’s hard to say from my couch if that was just because he didn’t really have it or due to any injury. Anyway, in 2019, Paxton’s average fastball velocity would be 95.4 mph. Here is his velocity chart from his one brief inning tonight:
His last two fastballs of the night? 95 and 94.8 mph, so I don’t think velocity was an issue. Ugh. Get well soon, James.
2. Have Yourself A Night, Giancarlo: The Yankees are in a race for the all-time single-season home run record and Giancarlo Stanton has just three of them. Baseball is a wild sport sometimes. He added that third one tonight, and boy was it a beauty. Check it out:
The Statcast data on this one is just as pretty as you’d think it is:
When Stanton hits them, he really hits them. It’s really a huge bummer that Stanton didn’t get to feast on the juiced ball all season because our guy may have touched 500 feet. Oh well. There’s still time yet. That was the 300th home run of the season for the Yanks, which is pretty damn cool. More on that in a minute, though.
Stanton really had himself a nice night tonight even beyond the majestic blast. With runners on 2nd and 3rd and 2 outs in the 4th, Giancarlo had a nicely placed bloop single to drive in two more. Here is the video:
He would add two walks, and he went 3-3 on the night. He looked downright terrible on Wednesday, but overall I think it’s pretty hard to be disappointed with how Stanton has looked since coming back from his injury. I feel about as good as I would have hoped with Giancarlo at the plate (and in the field) going into October. Hooray for that.
3. A Great Night From the Bullpen: Well, that sure was a performance from the Yankee bullpen, wasn’t it? After James Paxton left tonight’s game with a tight left glute, there was a real chance for this game to turn into a real pain in the ass. But the bullpen stepped up and did its job across 8 innings. Here is the breakdown, pitcher-by-pitcher:
Ben Heller: 1.0 IP, 1 H, zeros, 1 K
Stephen Tarpley: 1.0 IP, zeros, 2 K
Jonathan Loaisiga: 1.0 IP, zeros, 1 BB, 1 K
Cody Gearrin: 1.0 IP, 1 H, zeros, 1 K
Tyler Lyons: 1.0 IP, zeros, 2 K
Michael King: 2.0 IP, 2 H, 1 R, 0 BB, 1 K
Chance Adams: 0.1 IP, 4 H, 4 R (1 HR), 1 K
Nestor Cortes Jr.: 0.2 IP, zeros
Total: 8.0 IP, 7 H, 5 R (2 HR), 1 BB, 9 K
That’ll do! Can’t say I love the one-man, one-inning approach from an aesthetic standpoint (Tuesday’s game in Tampa was really rough to watch) but hey, it worked tonight. And this was the very back end of the Yankee pen. Okay, so I’ll be honest. I wrote this before Chance Adams absolutely imploded in the bottom of the 9th inning, which completely ruined this narrative. Goodness was that frustrating. Whatever. It happens and they won.
Anyway, really nice to see Mike King get a chance on the mound in the big league game. King has been one of my favorite prospects to follow, and he’s really battled injuries this year, so that was a nice moment.
I would also be remiss not to note that my son Jonathan Loaisiga once again looked good. I still expect to see him as the 25th man on the playoff roster, and he’ll belong to be there.
4. It’s a Homer Party: Isn’t it wild to think that, as good as the Yankees have been at home this year, they are hitting so much better on the road, isn’t it? It’s even wilder to think that Yankee Stadium has been playing like a pitcher’s park (the 2nd most friendly pitcher’s park, in fact). Check out the home/road splits for the Yankees as a team, coming into tonight:
At Yankee Stadium: .263/.334/.474 (.809 OPS), 143 HR
On the Road: .271.343.502 (.845), 156 HR
I bring this up because wow did the Yankees crush the ball in the 3rd to last game in Texas’ park tonight. They hit 6 home runs! You already saw the first one above, which was Giancarlo’s moonshot. That was the 300th home run for the team on the season, which is wild. I am of the mind that Yankee home runs are fun so I am going to post each and every video highlight of them here. Why the hell not?
Here is Cameron Maybin’s, which tied the game at 2:
Here is Brett Gardner’s, which gave the Yanks a 3-2 lead (and it was also his 28th home run of the season!):
Here is the slumping Gio Urshela’s home run, which made it 6-2 Yanks:
And here is Mike “September is still Truck Month” Ford’s 2-run blast that made it 8-2 (he also added a 2-run double):
Here is Austin Romine’s 430 foot homer, LOL:
That is a lot of home runs in one game, and as YES’ Jeff Quagliata points out, this is the ridiculous 10th time in 2019 that the Yankees have hit 5 or more home runs in a single game:
The Yankees are also in a tight race with the Twins for the most home runs in a regular season history. I’m sure it will change fifty times by the time this post is actually ready to publish, but here is the leaderboard for now:
I would prefer it if the Yankees won this race and then also outslug the Twins 15-0 in a 3 game sweep next weekend. Sound good? Good.
Gary Sánchez’s Return: Jeez, does Gary have an absolute cannon of an arm or what? Two non-notable plays early in the game involved Gary making snap throws behind runners at first, but I was too distracted by the Paxton injury to actually note when they were. Sorry about that. Anyway, I wish that we still had access to velocity stats on catcher’s throws because I’m telling you, those were two impressive ones. Gary is a hell of a player and it was nice to see him back behind the dish. (He left the game after 3 AB, exactly as planned.)
Luke Voit Is Struggling: Luke Voit had a really rough night, going 0-5 with 3 strikeouts. My man Luke has really struggled since returning from the DL, hitting just .222/.341/.375 (95 wRC+) since returning from injury on August 30. Now, he’s still getting on base, but that’s just about it. He’s not hitting for any power at all nor is he hitting the ball for average. Time is running out for him to turn it around before the ALDS. (He’ll make the roster, but playing time is right now far from a given.)
DJ LeMahieu, Hitting Extraordinaire: What, you think I could do one of these without bringing up DJ LeMahieu? Come on now. You know how this works by now. Our guy, who still has a tiny chance of winning the AL batting crown, went 3-5 with 3 RBI tonight. His batting average is up to .331 and he has 102 RBI on the season. What else can I say about him that I haven’t said already? What a player. Here’s a bases-clearing, bases-loaded triple double for DJLM:
The Yanks and Rangers will play the penultimate game of the season tomorrow night at 8:05 pm EST. Luis Severino (1-0, 0.00 ERA) will take on a yet to be announced pitcher for Texas. You can catch that one on YES or on WFAN, as usual. Have a great night, everyone.