It is Wednesday and the Yankees are back after two postponed games. They’re 2-1 and are getting set for their first interdivisional matchups of the 2020 season. Since we’re going ahead with this thing, the Yankees might as well go ahead and win all 5 games. Why not? Let’s at least make it fun to watch.
Anyway, here are a few things on my mind today as the Yankees return to baseball.
1. New Schedule Arrangements: Four Yankees-Phillies games have been postponed this week. They have not been cancelled. The distinction between “cancelled” and “postponed” is a critical one that is often lost on the baseball media, who sometimes use the terms interchangeably. The point is that those four games now need to be made up. At the very least, as many of them need to be made up as possible. I know the league is saying every team will play 60 games, but I’m not sure that’s possible given this week.
There are some signs of how this will work, though. Looking ahead at the calendar, August 3 and August 4 were originally scheduled to be the first two games of a three-game set in Baltimore. Those dates are now empty on the Yankees’ website. The third game of that series is still there, though. That leads me to believe that the Yanks and Phillies will play some games in Philadelphia before the Yanks head down to Baltimore for a one-game set.
I say “some” games because I’m really not sure how it will work. There are four games at stake here, but only two days to play them. MLB could either: 1) ask Philly/NYY to play two consecutive doubleheaders or 2) schedule one doubleheader and one regular game, or 3) schedule two regular games. Option 1 feels extreme and option 3 feels challenging if they’re committed to getting 60 games in. In that scenario, the only solution would be to have the two squads play two games after the season ends on September 28. (Given the league’s unwillingness to play into November, this seems unlikely.) In other words, option 2 gets the most games in and seems simplest to schedule by just finding one additional mutual off-day.
I don’t know what they’ll do. I just know if I was the Phillies or Yankees, I wouldn’t want to play two consecutive doubleheaders, nor would I care about losing “home” games (at least from a competitive point-of-view). We’ll see what happens. All we know for now is that the Yanks-Phillies will likely play next week.
2. Offensive “Struggles”: It’s definitely a win for the Yankees to play the Orioles sooner. The Orioles are not just horrible, but the Yankee offense is also struggling out of the gate. The 2-1 start, coupled with some mammoth Stantonian home runs, have obscured that a bit. As a team, the Yanks are hitting just .200/.273/.639 (77 wRC+) in 100 plate appearances. They have 30 strikeouts in 90 at-bats and haven’t yet displayed their offensive potential.
Now, we all know the rules. Even 100 plate appearances for an individual player is foolhardy. It doesn’t tell us anything. For a team, it tells us even less. Especially after a dominant performance by Patrick Corbin. Plus, there were plenty of hard hit balls that just didn’t find the grass over the weekend. Still, it will be nice for the Yanks to face the Orioles.
A breakout is in order. We should get one. The Yankees absolutely destroyed the Orioles in 2019 (17-2 record) and it wasn’t just Gleyber Torres. The Yanks hit .303/.386/.632 against the team last year with 61 (!) home runs in 673 at-bats. Absolutely outrageous. They have career success against the two starting pitchers, too:
- Asher Wojciechowski: 0-1, 5 ER in 5 IP (.286/.400/.810 line against)
- John Means: 1-2, 13 IP, 18 H 11 ER (.321/.387/.554 line against)
It’s not the biggest sample ever but it fits the profile. The Yankees absolutely demolish the Orioles. They were always going to bust out of this little “funk”, but I’m extremely confident the Orioles pitching staff will be the one to facilitate it. May we see a lot more of this over the next two nights:
3. Going After Mike Foltynewicz: Atlanta designated Mike Foltynewicz for assignment earlier this week. It’s a sign of a precipitous decline for the former All-Star and top prospect. Folty was very good in 2018, with a 2.85 ERA (3.37 FIP, 70 ERA-) in 183 innings pitched. He struggled in the first half of last season (.890 OPS against) before turning a corner in the second half (.626 OPS against). Aside from 2018, he doesn’t strike out many batters. And he was horrible in his first start of the season. Still, he’s just 28-years-old and has been successful at the highest level very recently. Teams, including the Yankees, are probably taking a close look at him.
Atlanta manager Brian Snitker told The Athletic that “his stuff hasn’t been there” and thats why he was DFA’d. There is some clear truth to this. Check out this velocity plot:
Nobody wants to see that sort of slope. It’s especially bad because Folty once sat at 96 mph and is now struggling to 90 mph. (Remember, while it’s just been one start, Atlanta has seen him all spring/summer.) He started relying more on his changeup and curve in his one start to compensate. There could be something there: he has about a 30% career whiff-per-swing rate on the change, but it’s almost certainly reliant on a good fastball. That, obviously, is not there right now.
Atlanta is obviously hoping that someone will claim Folty and then arrange a trade. They’re on the hook for a pro-rated portion of his $6.4 million salary if not. If I’m the Yankees, I don’t think I’d consider giving up anything of value for him. If he clears waivers, though, I would be interested. There is no reason not to see if the new pitching staff can’t get him to make some mechanical tweaks, unlock that velocity again, and turn him back into an All-Star. There are worse reclamation projects out there, but I wouldn’t hold my breath on this one. He doesn’t fill an obvious need.
4. Woof, the Red Sox: He certainly *does* make sense for Boston, on the other hand. Their rotation is horrible. It’s the reason why Boston is 1-4 on the season. They even lost 2 out of 3 to Baltimore. Yikes! As a staff, Boston has surrendered 30 ER in just 45 innings (6.00 ERA) with 17 walks and 38 strikeouts. It’s shaping up to be a rough season in Boston, and I am all the way here for it.
As I said above with the Orioles, the Yankees should have a suite of favorable pitching matchups over the next 5 days. Expect to see a lot of fireworks from the Yankee bats. Other than that, I don’t really have a point except to laugh at the Red Sox. I think that’s always allowed.