Game 7 a.k.a the Home Opener: Yankees 8, Rays 1

Here are the Yankees we saw in the preseason. In the Yankee Stadium home opener on Monday night we saw the team absolutely dominate on both sides of the ball. It was refreshing to say the least.

Overall, the offense scored 8 runs on 10 hits, going 3-11 with RISP. Half of the runs came as a result of the three home runs the team hit. Aaron Judge launched the first one, a solo shot, in the fourth inning, his second in as many games. Looks like he’s starting to get hot at the plate. Chase Headley hit a solo shot as well in the seventh, and Starlin Castro followed in the eighth with a 2-run bomb.

Other RBIs came from Jacoby Ellsbury (who returned to the #2 spot in the lineup), Matt Hollidau, Chris Carter (who is very slowly beginning to contribute to the team offensively), and Ronald Torreyes, with his team leading 8TH RBI of the season. While Didi Gregorious continues to be sidelined by this shoulder strain, Torreyes has been filling in really nicely offensively and defensively. A pleasant surprise.

The big performer of the game was starter Michael Pineda though. Big Mike was absolutely dominant in his second start against the Rays. After last week’s start in Tampa, Pineda needed to bounce back in a big way, and he did just that. He was perfect through 6 IP, and striking out hitters left and right. He finished the day with 7.2 IP, allowing 1 R on 2 H while striking out 11 and walking 0. Honestly, these are the types of games that have secured Pineda’s place in the rotation these past few seasons. Obviously it’s great to see him pitch well, but until he can string these performances together on a regular basis, it’s hardly encouraging. So, enjoy it while it lasts, which may only be until the next start.

One more thing of note: Yankees catcher and recent call-up Kyle Higashioka finally saw big league game action Monday afternoon as a defensive substitution late in the game, and it was a long time coming for the guy. After having spent parts of 10 seasons with the club at various minor league levels, Higashioka matched the record for the longest gap from draft to debut in franchise history. Good for Kyle. He’s always been seen as a defense-first catcher, but last season something clicked and we saw the bat come to life. He may not have much of a future with the team with Gary Sanchez ahead of him, but it’s great to see a guy who has been with the team for so long finally make his debut. Heartwarming stuff.

You can catch the full box score here, and video highlights here.

The Yankees take on the Rays again today at 1:05 p.m. EST, with Luis Severino squaring off against Blake Snell.

Game Recap · Uncategorized

Weekend Recap

This weekend the Yankees played a three game series against the Baltimore Orioles and boy was it a rough one to watch. It seems like every single year this team gets off to a bad start. Let’s just hope this April isn’t as bad as the last one.

Friday: Yankees 5, Orioles 6

The Yankees were up 5-1 at the halfway point of this game. The the offense looked good and starting pitcher Luis Severino was going strong having allowed just one run through 4 IP. He was throwing hard and using his changeup pretty effectively, which is exactly what we wanted to see. Then, with two outs and a man on in the bottom of the fifth, Sevy walked OF Adam Jones. Adam Jones, the guy with the 4.5% career walk rate. It was Severino’s lone walk of the game, but it cost him big, as instead of getting Jones out and ending the inning, he had two guys on based with Manny Machado coming up to the plate. Machado made him pay, as he does, by launching a 3-run home run to bring the O’s within 1.

Severino managed to get out of the inning with the lead intact, but it was his last of the evening. He finished with 5 IP, 6 H, 4 ER, 1 BB, and 6 K. Joe Girardi then handed the game over to the at that time shutdown Yankees bullpen. Holder and Layne combined for a perfect inning, but then in the seventh inning the bullpen’s scoreless streak came to an end. Jonathan Schoop reached second due to a throwing error by Chase Headley, J.J. Hardy bunted him over to third, and then Seth Smith hit the go-ahead two-run home run. That was that. The O’s bullpen retired the Yanks 6 up and 6 down in the eighth and ninth to seal the deal.

To make matters worse, Greg Bird had to leave the game late due to discomfort in his right ankle. That’s the same ankle he fouled a pitch off of in a March 30 Grapefruit League game against the Phillies. Apparently it’s been bothering him all season, which could explain his sub-par hitting so far. The good news is x-rays came back negative, so it looks like he’s just a little banged up. Hopefully with some rest he’ll be good as new in a few days.

There were a couple Yankees highlights this game. Both Matt Holliday and Gary Sanchez hit their first home runs of the season. Both of them were 2-run shots off Ubaldo Jiminez.


Have yourself a game, Matt Holliday! 💪🏼💪🏼

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🚨🐙🚨🐙 The Kraken is back. 🚨🐙🚨🐙

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Nice to see some balls flying off of bats that don’t belong to Ronald Torreyes.

Saturday: Yankees 4, Orioles 5

More Blown leads! In a near carbon copy of Friday night’s game, the Yankees had the lead 4-1 going into the bottom of the fifth inning. Starter Masahiro Tanaka was absolutely dealing. His pitch count was low, he was striking guys out and inducing a lot of weak contact. When guys were reaching, it was pretty much exclusively on bloop singles or infield hits. It was a completely different Tanaka than the one we saw in the opener.

But then the fifth happened. Seth Smith singled on a line drive to center, Tanaka plunked Adam Jones, Manny Machado hit an RBI double, Chris Davis walked, and Mark Trumbo drove in a run on a fielder’s choice. Tanaka would go on to walk Wellington Castillo as well before ending an inning in which he threw 30+ pitches. The first four innings were primetime Tanaka. The fifth inning was anything but.

Adam Warren came in from the bullpen and pitched a shutout sixth inning, not much unlike Friday’s game. Warren also started off the seventh, but with the left-handed hitting Chris Davis coming up to the plate, Girardi opted to pull Warren and bring in southpaw Tommy Layne. Davis doubled, and Layne got pulled for Dellin Betances. Betances allowed an RBI single to Mark Trumbo, who stole second (!), and then was driven in by a Hyun Soo Kim single. And that was that. The Orioles took a 5-4 lead and never looked back. The O’s bullpen pitched a shutout eighth and ninth and took another win from the Yanks.

Of note is the fact that Baltimore stole 2 bases in the game on Saturday after having stolen 19 bases total in all of 2016. The last time they stole 2 bases in a game was October 1….2015.

Piling on to the Friday night parallels, Gary Sanchez had to leave the game in the fifth with an apparent injury after taking a hard swing in an at-bat. He tried taking another swing right after and winced. That was enough for the team to take him out of there. The official diagnosis is a right bicep strain, and Sanchez has been placed on the 10-day DL. With James Kaprielian and Bird both being sidelined with injuries already, this is an especially hard pill to swallow. The only thing the Yankees and Sanchez can do now though is wait for as long as it takes until he’s 100% again. There’s no use rushing him back into game action and risk hurting him even more. It’s not like the Yankees are really competing this season anyway. At least they aren’t playing like it (Sorry, it’s just been a rough weekend. I don’t mean that. I know they’re trying very hard.).

Sunday: Yankees 7, Orioles 3

Finally, something good to come out of the weekend, although it didn’t start off that way. This game was looking more like the first two of the series until the sixth inning, at which point the Yankees were down 3-0. Orioles’s starter Wade Miley had allowed 7 walks in the five previous innings and the Yankees had managed to do absolutely nothing with all of the opportunities that were basically being handed over to them. They finished the game 2-10 with RISP and it was largely due to those first five innings.

Then in the sixth Aaron Judge hit a scorching line drive single to left. This wasn’t just any scorching line drive single though. This particular scorching line drive single landed at the base of the left field wall. Judge hit it so unbelievably hard though that it was already in the fielder’s glove by the time he got to first. You want some Statcast data? Well here it comes. The ball left Judge’s bat at an exit velocity of 115.9 MPH, the fourth fastest so far this season. At a launch angle of 17.3 degrees, it traveled 342 ft before bouncing off the left field wall. It was one of the most impressive singles you’ll ever see.

Austine Romine followed Judge with a single of his own, bringing Ronald Torreyes to the plate, that’s right, Yankees slugger Ronald Toreyes, who belted a ball deep to right field that landed in for a 2 RBI triple, putting the team on the board. Signs of life.

The Orioles got out of that inning, but then in the top of the eighth, the Yanks still down by one, Judge came back up to the plate, and this happened:

Now this might sound crazy, but that ball wasn’t nearly as well hit as the single. I mean look at it. It comes off the end of the bat. You barely even hear a pop. Judge is just so ridiculously strong that he’s still able to take that pitch yard to tie up the game.

Betances shut down the O’s in the eighth, and then between walks, hits, and errors the top of the ninth was an absolute free-for-all for the Yankees as they scored 4 runs, allowing them to turn the ball over to Aroldis Chapman in the bottom of the inning to seal the victory.

A couple notes of interest. Although he didn’t play, this was C Kyle Higashioka’s first major league game in pinstripes after nearly a decade in the Yankees farm system. After Sanchez got put on the DL, apparently Higashioka got the call from the team while he was out to dinner with his wife in Buffalo. He got in a car almost immediately and was in Baltimore by 2 a.m. the day of the game. I can’t even imagine how exciting that must have been for him. Hopefully he gets to see a little game action soon.

Also of note, Matt Holliday walked 5 times in Sunday’s game in 5 plate appearances. Not only is he just 1 of about 100 MLB players to walk 5 times in one game, but he’s 1 of 20 players to do so in 5 plate appearances, and 1 of 12 to do so without getting walked intentionally at all. Wild stuff.

So yeah, not a great weekend for the Yankees overall with the losses and the injuries, but at least they ended it on a high note. Today is the home opener against the Rays. The game starts at 1:05 EST. Preview to come.

Spring Training · Uncategorized

Spring Training Game 12: Pirates 13, Yankees 1

Well, it was bound to happen eventually, but the Yankees got absolutely shut down on Monday afternoon’s game against the Pittsburgh Pirates. The squad managed just 1 run on 5 hits while giving up 13 runs on 13 hits to the Pirates, and committed 2 errors to boot. Both errors came from 3B Miguel Andujar. Andujar is one of the team’s better prospects, but it’s mainly because of his bat. We’ve known that he has a ways to go on defense before his major league ready, and this game just proved it.

To make matters even more bleak than it already is, the sole RBI honors go to Jacoby Ellsbury, who drove in the only run on an fielding error.

RHP Bryan Mitchell took the mound to start the game. He had a fine first inning, but ran into some trouble in the second and third, getting tagged for hit after hit after hit. He finished the day with 2.1 IP, 6 H, 4 ER, and 2 K, while allowing a solo home run. Rough outing for Mitchell, who’s otherwise looked pretty good this spring.

Maybe the biggest positive takeaway from the game was LHP Jon Niese’s performance in his one inning of work. He didn’t do anything remarkable, but he didn’t do anything horrible either, allowing 0 H and 0 BB while striking out none. It was Niese’s first outing of the spring. His role on the team is still pretty much up in the air, and it’s unclear whether he’ll start the season in the majors or in AAA.

Things were at least manageably rough when Niese came in and worked his inning, but the reins really came off in the 7th when LHP Evan Rutckyj came in. He ended up allowing 3 H and 2 BB, which resulted in 6 R (4 ER), without recording a single out. Ouch. Rough day on both sides of the ball.

Here are some other lines of note:

LF Brett Gardner: 0-3, 1 R
2B Starlin Castro: 1-3, 2 K
1B Greg Bird: 0-3, 1 K
DH Aaron Judge: 1-3, 1 K
RF Aaron Hicks: 1-2, 1 BB, 1 double
C Austin Romine: 1-3
SS Gleyber Torres: 0-1, 1 K
RHP J.P. Feyereisen: 0.2 IP, 0 H, 2 BB, 1 K
LHP Jordan Montgomery: 2 IP, 2 H, 1 B, 2 ER

You can catch the full box score here, and video highlights (there aren’t many) here.

Today the Yankees take on the Tampa Bay Rays. The game starts at 1:05 p.m. EST and will be televised on YES.

Spring Training · Uncategorized

Reasons to be Excited

Wouldn’t it be crazy if Kap made the 25 man roster out of spring training? Who needs AAA anyway? Let’s totally get our hopes up.

And, to go along with that, we have batting practice videos! (Hey, it’s February and it’s baseball.) Watch Aaron Judge murder some baseballs to the soundtrack of Third Eye Blind’s “Semi-Charmed Life” and Clint Frazier do the same to some song I can’t identify.

That’s all I’ve got for now. Really looking forward to the next few weeks as pitchers and catchers start to report and we begin to get some more news from camp.

Misc. · Uncategorized

WBC Rosters Finalized

(LiAnna Davis)

After much news and many rumors in the past several months the World Baseball Classic rosters have finally been finalized. Now that it’s all said and done, there are 10 Yankees who will be playing in the competition. Here’s the list:

  1. Kellin Deglan (Canada)
  2. Tito Polo (Columbia)
  3. Donovan Solano (Columbia)
  4. Dellin Betances (DR)
  5. Luis Severino (DR)
  6. Richard Bleier (Israel)
  7. Tommy Layne (Italy)
  8. Giovanny Gallegos (Mexico)
  9. Didi Gregorius (Netherlands)
  10. Tyler Clippard (USA)

All of these players are on their respective teams active rosters with the exception of Severino and Bleier, who are in their club’s designated pitcher pools. This means that they won’t begin the tournament with the team, but they may be called on in later rounds to replace a pitcher currently on the roster. The complete rosters for each team can be found here.

Gary Sanchez, who had initially told the DR team that he planned to play for them, announced this week that he has opted not to participate in the tournament, saying that he would rather spend a full spring with the Yankees to prepare for the season. Good looks, Sanchez. I think the WBC is great, but I’d rather a young guy like Sanchez spend as much time with the team as possible.

USA’s roster looks pretty stacked, although that hasn’t always helped them in the past. Previous winners of the spring classic include Japan (2006 and 2009) and the DR (2013). USA has never even made it into the finals. Nonetheless, it’s difficult to imagine a lineup with the likes of Paul Goldschmidt, Giancarlo Stanton, Buster Posey, Daniel Murphy, Andrew McCutchen, Christian Yelich, Nolan Arenado, etc. etc. not making it deep into the tournament. They’ll also be putting guys like Chris Archer, Marcus Stroman, Sonny Gray, and Michael Fulmer on the mound, so who knows, maybe this could finally be team USA’s year.


Analysis · Prospects · Uncategorized

Frazier MLB Pipeline’s #9 OF

In it’s final list of positional rankings for prospects heading into 2017, MLB named Clint Frazier the ninth best outfield prospect in baseball. Bear in mind, this is the ranking for ALL outfielders (LF, CF, and RF), so a ninth spot ranking on this list holds more weight than it would for other positions. You could almost look at it as being in the top 3 at a given outfield position (Frazier used to play primarily in center bus has since switched to the corner outfield spots). Anyway, that’s all just semantics. The point is Frazier is good, and on top of that he’s really close to seeing some MLB playing time. Here’s how he graded out:

Hit: 50 | Power: 60 | Run: 55 | Arm: 55 | Field: 55 | Overall: 55

Frazier is highly touted as a 5 tool player, and these numbers back that up. He’s considered average to above average in every single part of his game. At first glance these grades might not jump out as much as someone like Jorge Mateo with his 80 run grade, but players like this are rare. Frazier can do it all.

Frazier was drafted 5th overall in the 2013 draft by the Indians and then subsequently traded this past July to the Yankees in the package of prospects they received for Andrew Miller (which also included LHP Justus Sheffield). He spent the majority of last season in AA ball, where he slashed .276/.356/.469 with a wOBA of .371 (very good), and then finished the season with a short stint in AAA for both the Indians and the Yankees.

Throughout his minor league career, Frazier has been known to generate high strikeout rates and low walk rates, but his raw power and lightning bat speed are what make him an exceptional hitter. You can teach plate discipline, but you can’t teach those things. As the MLB scouting report notes, “He’s still just 22 and has time to make further adjustments that could help him hit for a solid average with 30 homers per season.”

We will undoubtedly get a closer look at Frazier in pinstripes this spring as a spring training invitee, so that’s something to watch for in March. The Yankees are fairly deep at OF as of right now, but Frazier is the type of player you move guys around for, so I wouldn’t be surprised if we see a late season call up this year for him to get some big league at bats.

Now with all of the rankings revealed, the Yankees finished with five players total in all of the positional top ten charts. To recap, these players were: LHP Justus Sheffield (#8), 3B Miguel Andujar (#7), SS Gleyber Torres (#1) and SS Jorge Mateo (#8), and now OF Clint Frazier (#9).

At the end of the day they’re just prospects, but this is really great for the Yankees. The only team to have more top 10 prospects than the Yankees was the Braves (7), with the White Sox and the Phillies both also rounding out with five players a piece. These are all top farm systems, and it’s (unusually) great for the Bombers to be ranked among them for once. They’ve got the star power and they’ve got the depth. Let’s see how it all plays out.

Analysis · Prospects · Uncategorized

Torres, Mateo Both Ranked Top 10 SS Prospects

As MLB.com continues its 2017 prospect watch rankings, today they released their list of the top 10 shortstops heading into the new season. Both Gleyber Torres (#1) and Jorge Mateo (#8) made the cut, so we’ll take a quick look at both of them.

Gleyber Torres:

Hit: 65 | Power: 55 | Run: 50 | Arm: 60 | Field: 55 | Overall: 65

As you may remember, Torres came over from the Cubs at the trade deadline last season as part of the return for Aroldis Chapman. He was the organization’s top prospect in MLB’s 2016 preseason rankings. Torres gives us a lot of reasons to be excited with his excellent performance at the plate and defense that MLB’s report says, “Scouts … seem to gain a greater appreciation for … with each passing season.”

He performed very well last season at High A for both the Yankees and the Cubs, where at just 19 years old he was more than 3 years younger than the average player at that level, but it was his Arizona Fall League stint that really showed us what he’s capable of, becoming the youngest player to earn the league’s MVP award. There he slashed .403/.513/.645 and posted an excellent BB% (18.4%) and K% (10.5). That’s one of the most encouraging things to see in a prospect: plate discipline. Torres sees the ball well, is a contact hitter to all parts of the field, and has even shown 20 HR power, all tools that could potentially make him an elite MLB shortstop.

After playing a full season at High A, Torres figures to start 2017 at AA Trenton. Even before then though, it’s essentially a sure fire bet that Torres gets a spring training invite from the club, so I’m eager to see how he fares against some of baseball’s other top talents in March.

Jorge Mateo:

Hit: 50 | Power: 40 | Run: 80 | Arm: 60 | Field: 55 | Overall: 55

Mateo signed with the Yankees as an international free agent back in 2012 at the age of 16. He’s 21 now and just finished his first full season at High A. It was a down year for Mateo numbers wise, but his raw talent alone has been enough to keep him afloat at the top of many prospect lists, and that’s due largely in part to his speed on the base paths. In 2015 in 96 games of Low A ball he stole 71 (!) bases. Last season with Tampa he stole 36 bags in 113 games. Still nothing to sneeze at. Obviously pitchers and catchers at a higher level are going to be more aware and better able to address the type of havoc that Mateo can create when running the bases, so at this point it’s all about him making adjustments. Before he could get by on pure speed alone. Now he’s just going to have to learn how to become a better, smarter base runner. Mateo has shown flashes of power as well, with MLB’s scouting report projecting him at a ceiling of 15 HR per season.

Is Mateo a true shortstop though? That remains to be seen. With the addition of Torres last July and his arrival in Tampa, Mateo had to move over to second base to make some room for the club’s new top prospect. This was the obvious move given Torres’s ability combined with Mateo’s less than sturdy defensive track record at the position. Second seems like a likely landing spot for Mateo, although that 60 arm grade and 80 speed makes him an excellent candidate for center field. Fangraph’s Eric Longenhagen recently said his gut tells him that’s where he ends up when it’s all said and done. Who knows though.

2017 is going to be a big year for Mateo and could seriously solidify his prospect status moving forward as he climbs the system ranks. The raw tools are clearly there, it’s just a question of whether or not he can put it all together. Hell, guys like Billy Hamilton have shown that it’s possible to get MLB playing time on an 80 speed grade alone, but if he wants to be an everyday starter Mateo still has some stuff he needs to figure out. He’s still got time though.

The Yankees have now doubled their number of players in MLB’s positional top ten prospect rankings. The running list now includes: LHP Justus Sheffield (#8), 3B Miguel Andujar (#7), SS Gleyber Torres (#1) and SS Jorge Mateo (#8).