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Game 97: The Yankees steal one!

Damn, does it feel nice to day that. Especially in a season when they have lost some real ugly ones, thankfully that didn’t happen today. The Yankees took their first W in Fenway this year with a 4-3 score in a game that was looking ugly until the 8th. Look at this thing:

On to the takeaways.

Non-competitive hitting the first 7 innings, and then they made something happen.

Eovaldi came at them all game long, and the Yankees couldn’t muster anything. Take a look at Eovaldi’s pitch chart:

Eovaldi’s pitch chart taken from Baseball Savant

Remember the start of the season when guys were missing hittable pitches left, right, and center? Well, welcome to part two. But this time they’re not hitting for different reasons. Instead, the Yankees are trying to do damage with players like Greg Allen and Rob Brantly. What’s the OPS of those guys in Triple-A this year? How does .778 and .868 sound to you? And that is with the rocket ball in Triple-A, I guess Brantly’s is not bad but the dude is 32 there. They along with Quad-A player Gittens are not MLB-level players and are showing that much. They may have won a few crazy games but that isn’t sustainable.

When you add Gleyber Torres and his 86 OPS+, second hitter Brett Gardner and his 74 OPS+ (More than 25% worse than league average), 2021 DJ with his 96 OPS+, and a suddenly lost Giancarlo Stanton (who’s probably pressing): what do you expect? For seven full innings, they were destroyed by Eovaldi.

Luckily, they did have a rally in them in the 8th. A big-time BABIP fueled rally, but a rally nevertheless. Florial started with a legit hard hit double, and after two outs and what seemed to be yet another squandered opportunity, Gardy and his 74 OPS+ did bring him in with a single. A hit with runners in scoring position, I can’t believe my eyes.

After that, in came Ottavino to put out the fire. Except he couldn’t. In a really cathartic way after his struggles in New York, the Yankees finally managed to hit against Ottavino. It all started with a Giancarlo blooper that hopped into the fans for a ground-rule double. The exit velo? 70.3 mph. After that, they left Otto to face lefty Odor who is the most trustworthy bat in the lineup right now. He yet again answered the call for the offense and smacked a double to the Green Monster for two runs to score. Game tied. Let me repeat again, Odor has been pretty darned good and is a really good piece for this team.

A Gleyber blooped hit to right later and it is advantage Yankees 4-3. I’ll take that, thank you so much.

Now to the huge elephant in the room, even if they did the job tonight. The lack of talent in the lineup right now is evident. It is not time for the FO to sit in their asses. The Rays just got their new best hitter in the lineup. The Yankees should follow up adding some pieces so they dont need to play more than a third of the lineup with the Scranton Team.

Taillon is pretty good

Jameson Taillon put together yet another good start. He went for 7 innings of 3 run ball (only one earned) while striking out 4 and walking 3. The K’s were not there today but he did do the job (even with some awful defense behind him), and he did get whiffs. His 4-seamer had a good 31 Whiff%, and his curve got an amazing 40 Whiff%. He keeps those up, and the K’s will surely follow.

Take a look at his pitch chart:

Taillon’s pitch chart taken from Baseball Savant

That I think is the best Taillon has executed the new North-South approach with the Yankees. He dominated a pretty good offense and they really needed. He delivered the stopper performance they were needing. Heck of a job Jameson.

What we are seeing from Taillon is really encouraging, he is correctly executing the plan the Yankees had for him when we got him. It may have taken a while, but I will for sure take that the rest of the way. A healthy and adapted Jameson Taillon is a legit really good rotation piece.

Is Florial winning a spot on the team?

Yes he had some funky defense on the first inning triple playing the Monster incorrectly, and then in the 8th crashing with Allen while making the play. But truth be told, he is doing it with the stick, and it’s not like the Yankees are flush with good OF options right now.

He probably isn’t ready for the bigs yet, after all, he was OPS’ing .719 in AAA with the rocket ball along with a near 40% K rate. But he came into the night slashing .214/.353/.500 with a .356 wOBA. He is overachieving his .316 xwOBA, but at this point they have to ride that wave.

Today he was pretty good, he started that 8th inning rally with the double and overall went 2 for 3 with a walk adding a single to the previously mentioned double. His only out was even hit over 100 mph as well!

Leftovers

  • Big brain fart from Rob Brantly in the ninth running the bases. It looked like he thought like there were two outs in the inning and ran like hell on the flyout for the second out (He almost made it to home plate!). Then the Red Sox defense obviously doubled him up to end the inning. The 2021 Yankees and double plays man.
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Game 75: So, Boston has a pretty good bullpen

Hmm, I wonder how the Red Sox got such a good bullpen. Oh right, the Yankees. Ex-Yanks Garrett Whitlock and Adam Ottavino threw 3 of Boston’s 5.1 shutout innings out of the bullpen, as the Red Sox held off the Yankees, 5-3. The Yankees are now five games out of first place (Tampa, who won tonight) and four behind Boston.

It’s a beautiful Friday night in New York, so we’re going to keep tonight’s takeaways brief, in bullet point style. Here we go:

  • Tonight was Domingo Germán’s third straight start allowing four or more runs and not going longer than 4.1 innings pitched. Before that, the righty had averaged 5.5 innings per start and owned a 3.12 ERA, though perhaps his 4.55 FIP foretold some regression. If so, it’s here. Oddly enough, Germán didn’t give up a homer tonight, which is how he usually gets into trouble. There was plenty of loud contact though, especially in that three-run first.
  • What was Phil Nevin thinking when he waved around Gio Urshela in the 4th inning? We already know Urshela is hurting and that Renfroe has a great arm. Really just an awful send, especially with no one out. The Yankees could have had runners on the corners and still three chances to tie the game, but instead, Boston escaped still up one.
  • Good to see Jonathan Loaisiga bounce back after his last outing, which was bad. He struck out four batters in the 7th, becoming the third Yankee to do so (AJ Burnett in 2011 and Phil Hughes in 2012).
  • Not good to see two relievers the Yankees handed to Boston throw three shutout innings. Leaving Garrett Whitlock unprotected in the Rule 5 draft looks like an awful decision now. He has a 1.70 ERA after tossing 2 clean frames in this game. As for Adam Ottavino, hindsight is 20/20, but it still doesn’t make it any less annoying to watch him throw a 1-2-3 inning after struggling in pinstripes last year. The front office has to be squirming about giving these two guys away to a division rival, though they can blame Hal for Ottavino.
  • Zack Britton got injured just in time for Darren O’Day and/or Justin Wilson to return from their rehab assignments. Sigh. Looked like a hamstring issue, but we’ll hear more in the coming days. Sure makes one wonder about what his “general soreness” a few days ago really was.
  • That 9th inning turned at a moments notice, huh? The bottom of the lineup put together nice at-bats against Boston’s closer Matt Barnes, and then, Clint Frazier finally chased after fouling off a few pitches. The next pitch: game ending GIDP from DJ LeMahieu. The second inning ending double play of the night for the team (Gleyber Torres in the third).

At least the Yankees have won each of their last two series (Oakland and Kansas City) after dropping the first game. There’s a little optimism for ya. The Yanks can level this series with a win tomorrow night. Jordan Montgomery will face Nate Eovaldi.

Game 57: It’s Not What You Want

I’m pretty sure most of the Yankees players and staff would like the last three hours back, thank you very much.

After showing signs of life in the last two games against the Rays, the Yankees imploded this afternoon, taking a 9-2 loss and dropping back to 4.5 games out of first place with a 31-26 record.  Particularly painful was that the Yankees seemed poised for a series win against their division rival, with ace Gerrit Cole on the mound, but it was not to be.  To the takeaways:

Gerrit Cole uncharacteristically struggles.  For his last few starts Gerrit Cole, while mostly still good, has not seemed to be his best self, and today culminated in probably his worst start of the young season. For the first few innings it appeared as though Cole would grind through another solid performance without his best stuff, but a two-run home run in the top of the 4th and a few two-out RBI singles in the top of the 5th left him with a 5 inning, 5 earned run performance, bringing his season ERA from 1.78 to 2.26.  Cole walked two, and has now walked batters in four straight starts after a stretch of five consecutive starts where he didn’t issue a base on balls.  Cole would likely tell you he has not been happy with his recent performances – he’s posted a 4.30 ERA over his past four starts after starting the season at 1.37 in his first eight.  Although his overall numbers are still excellent, today was a particularly bad day for him to be “off,” as the bullpen was stretched thin from two taxing games. Nick Nelson allowed four more runs in an inning and two thirds before Luis Cessa and Brooks Kriske finished out the game.

Yes, the umpiring was that bad.  This game would have been a lot more frustrating if it were closer, because Chad Whitson’s strike zone was both terrible and biased.  Rays starter Ryan Yarbrough, who wound up throwing a complete game, got eight pitches significantly out of the zone called strikes, while Cole got zero.  A picture is worth a thousand words here, so I’ll leave it at that.  Would the Yankees have won this game with better umpiring? Probably not.  Is it still maddening?  Absolutely.

The Yankees continue to struggle with situational hitting.  Before the game got out of hand, it appeared for a while as though the Yankees were actually positioning themselves for another win.  After Cole gave up a two-run home run to Austin Meadows in the fourth inning, the Yankees, down 2-1, opened the fifth by putting runners on second and third with no one out after back to back hits from Gio Urshela and Aaron Judge.  Rougned Odor popped up, and Yarbrough then struck out Clint Frazier and Miguel Andujar.  

The caveat here is that in no universe should Clint Frazier have struck out – in a six-pitch at bat, only one pitch from Yarbrough was actually in the zone, and Whitson called three of them for strikes.  The Yankees should have had the bases loaded and one out instead of second and third with two outs after that at bat.  Andujar’s strikeout was legit, though, and the Yankees have struggled all season to score runs when they have runners on third and less than two outs – in 79 plate appearances in that scenario, coming into this afternoon, the team has 18 strikeouts and has grounded into 10 double plays, only recording 14 hits and 33 RBIs. Good umpiring or bad umpiring, they’re going to lose games if they can’t cash in on opportunities like this.

Brett Gardner had a good day. Probably the only Yankee to have a legitimately good day today was Brett Gardner.  He put the Yankees on the board in the third inning with a home run, his first since Game 1 of the Wild Card series against Cleveland last September, and ripped a double in the fifth.  He is inching back up towards the Mendoza line, bringing his batting average up to .197.

Leftovers

  • Gio Urshela attempted a 4th inning imitation of Derek Jeter in 2004, hurling his body towards the left field stands on a foul pop up.  Unlike Derek Jeter, however, he bounced off the netting and did not catch the ball.
  • The Yankees sat Giancarlo Stanton today after only playing him for one game (he had a pinch hit at bat on Tuesday but did not start).  Stanton made some good contact yesterday, and the Yankees should want to get his bat going and get him into a groove, so the decision to sit him was a bit surprising unless he’s dealing with lingering injury.
  • Miguel Andujar hit a solo home run in the 7th inning; he’s now hit 3 in the Yankees’ last 4 games.

Game 20: A couple of Bombs and an Ace

The Yankees have now won 4 of their last 5 games, and are looking like the talented team they are (Shocking, I know). They’ve now ensured the series win against Cleveland and this game can be summarized in the above title. Just like a couple of beers and a burger, this combination is pretty darn good. To the takeaways:

  1. A pitchers duel, as advertised.

First of all Gerrit Cole is ridiculous, he once again dominated. Going 7 innings striking out 11 batters while allowing just one walk and 3 hits. The first time through the order he went fastball heavy (67%), and the Indians could do nothing about it. For the next inning he started mixing up his slider, curve and change evenly; ending with almost equal fastball and non-fastball percentages (51.4% and 48.6% respectively).

Cole did all of that WHILE he was battling for command the first few innings and was visibly PISSED at himself for it. His stuff is just that good. The evidence:

Our Ace did run into some trouble in the 4th after hanging a curveball that José Ramírez almost homered if it wasn’t for Judge who just missed an amazing steal and instead turned the play into a triple. A single later brought Ramírez in and that was it because pissed off Gerrit struck the next two guys out. The whole highlights:

Shane Bieber on the other side, matched him inning for inning. He finally managed to do well against the Yankees and honestly it was due, he is an amazing pitcher an he showed it today. The Yankees put a threat in the first inning when he was battling for command but other than that he was cruising. He executed his plan to almost perfection, throwing his fastball high and in, the curve down and away and the slider to the outside part of the plate for righties. He went really breaking ball heavy, throwing the slider and curveball for a combined 61.4 % of his pitches.

Bieber’s pitch locations taken from Basebalk Savant

This allowed Bieber to go 7 innings with 9 k’s while allowing 4 hits and 3 walks, the homers were the only blemish in a really good start for Bieber. Unluckily for him (and luckily for us), the other dude in the mound is even better.

2. The Bronx Bombers are back.

It seems like the Monstars finally stoped taking the literal power of our hitters. You might say “Well those were only two runs” and you are right, but they were against 7 innings of reigning AL Cy Young winner Shane Bieber.

Remember when the Yankees couldn’t even hit cookies right the middle of the plate? Well now they are hitting bombs off good pitches, the two HRs against Bieber were not even bad pitches, specially Odor’s, to bear:

Pitch results for Bieber taken from Baseball Savant, take a look at those two pink locations.

Maybe they are just a little bit to outside for both lefties to extend their arms, but still much better pitches than the ones they were missing earlier. This is absolutely logical, Monstars jokes aside, this team has way too many talented hitters to keep them quiet specially for power. Even though today’s bombers were not the usual suspects, it’s still good to see the fireworks starting to go off.

I’ve certainly missed the bombs, and am glad they are back.

3. Jonathan Loaisiga the closer.

I’m sure Bobby was doing his best Black Panther’s Killmonger “It’s beautiful” representation when Loaisiga was brought in for the last four outs. Just as I was writing this, I saw the following tweet:

Yeah, that was definitely coming hahahaha.

The dude has been absolute nails this season and is being rightfully rewarded with high leverage situations. He came in with 2 outs and a runner on second in the 8th to face Amed Rosario, who shortly popped out on a high 96 mph sinker to quickly extinguish that situation.

In the 9th he was set to face César Hernández, José Ramírez and Eddie Rosario. Those may not be Murderer’s Row but they are definitely the toughest part of the Indians lineup. Loaisiga then proceded to get a soft groundout from Hernández, a Ramírez ground out to Rougned Odor in the short right field because of the shift, and a soft fly out to Tauchman in left from Rosario. 4 out save: Completed!

Also quite interesting to highlight, Loaisiga threw exclusively Sinkers and Changeups (58.3% and 41.7% respectively), further reinforcing the early signs that the changeup is becoming a really important weapon for him.

We are in the middle of a breakout season ladies and gentleman.

Leftovers

  • Cole got a 1-2-3 inning in the 6th, but all three outs had exit velos over 96 mph. I thought the best option was to take him out for the 7th after 93 pitches. Cole’s response for the 7th: strikeout, pop out, strikeout. Yeah, don’t mind me. Cole, you are an absolute beast.
  • DJ LeMahieu is definitely struggling with his swing. His average exit velo is a couple of miles down and he is grounding out a ton of balls to the left side of the infield for the season. Today, he had four ground outs to the shortstop (although one was a 100 mph rocket right at him). More analysis on this soon from Matt.
  • The Yankees got two outs from José Ramírez’s hot shots to the shor RF because of the shift. The exit velo’s: 103 and 108 mph. Rally nice job from the Yankees analytics team and from Odor who perfectly handled both situations.
  • Also we had a really cool shot of LeMahieu fielding a pop out right in front of Cleveland’s dugout. The video:
  • Had quite a laugh from the Michael Kay call on Hicks homer, I wasn’t paying too much attention to the landing spot (It was a no doubter) and the “guy with big glove” call made me look and laugh at it. The homer and the call:

The Yanks and Cleveland will round this series out tomorrow, with the Yanks turning to Jameson Taillon (0-1, 5.40 ERA) to complete the sweep. Cleveland will turn to Triston McKenzie (0-0, 3.55 ERA). Have a good night, everyone.

Game 6: Let’s Remind The Red Sox That They Are Bad

Friends, the Boston Red Sox are bad. Their record doesn’t really reflect this, as they come to the Bronx for the home opener at 3-4. We have the Mets to thank for that. In my humble opinion, the Yankees should do what they do best: remind the Red Sox that they are bad. That begins tonight and, hopefully, will continue all weekend.

Here are the lineups for the first series in the Bronx in 2020:

Boston Red Sox (3-4)
1. Kevin Pillar, RF
2. J.D. Martinez, DH
3. Rafael Devers, 3B
4. Xander Boegarts, SS
5. Christian Vazquez, C
6. Alex Verdugo, RF
7. Michael Chavis, 1B
8. Jackie Bradley Jr., CF
9. José Peraza, 2B
Ryan Weber, RHP

New York Yankees (4-1)
1. DJ LeMahieu, 2B
2. Aaron Judge, RF
3. Gleyber Torres, SS
4. Giancarlo Stanton, DH
5. Aaron Hicks, CF
6. Luke Voit, 1B
7. Gio Urshela, 3B
8. Brett Gardner, LF
9. Kyle Higashioka, C
Jordan Montgomery, LHP

Looks like a routine off-day for Gary, though I’m sure that many fans are very excited to see it. The big news, of course, is that Gleyber is in there. He exited last night’s game after being hit with a pitch in the first inning. Good to see that his “contusion” is actually, well, a contusion. Always pays to be skeptical these days but some optimism was good.

Jordan Montgomery is back on the bump for the Yanks! Let’s hope he can keep up his 2017 success. Check out my 2019 primer on him and/or Derek’s season preview for a refresher on the Yanks’ lefty.

News & Notes

  • Tommy Kahnle is on the IL with “forearm tightness.” That is not good. Hopefully, Tommy Tightpants is back in action soon and this isn’t a precursor to Tommy John, which would really suck for everyone’s favorite changeup extraordinaire. Jordan Montgomery is his replacement. (Lindsey Adler)
  • In better news, Aroldis Chapman is cleared to return to the team. It seems like he is already in the Bronx, too. He wasted no time. (Brendan Kuty) He’ll be playing catch soon and the Yanks will evaluate him from there. (Meredith Marakovits)
  • Gleyber Torres is in the lineup, as noted above. But he may not be if he has any issues in pregame. (SNY)
  • Suzyn Waldman, an actual national treasure, is fulfilling an old promise to Gerrit Cole: she is singing the national anthem tonight. (Bryan Hoch) She is great. Another great person is CC Sabathia, who is throwing out the first pitch tonight. (Yankees)
  • John Sterling will miss this weekend’s series against the Red Sox. He’s feeling under the weather but does not have COVID, apparently. Rickie Ricardo, who is great, will be on the call. (WFAN)
  • Major League Baseball and the Player’s Association agreed that each game in double-headers in 2020 will be 7-innings each. (James Wagner) I think it’s dumb, but whatever. Aaron Boone, on the other hand, likes it. (Lindsey Adler)
  • As expected, the Phillies are coming to the Bronx on Monday and Tuesday of next week. The two teams will then travel to Philly for another two-game set. No idea why they don’t just do all four in the Bronx, but that’s why I’m just a blogger. (Jon Heyman)
  • A cool 20% of the league is off tonight because of COVID. Seems bad! (Ben Nicholson-Smith)

First pitch tonight is at 7:05 pm EDT. The game will be on YES locally and MLB Network nationally. WFAN and WADO will have the radio broadcast.

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