I am not a fan of “openers” but maybe there is something to this.
For the fifth time this year, Chad Green had to serve as the opener, and the Yankees have won all of those games.
Last night, it was an 8-4 win as Green and Nestor Cortes, Jr. (first MLB win for Cortes) shut down the White Sox for seven innings as the Yanks (42-27) regained first place from the Tampa Bay Rays by 1/2 a game.
The Yanks got four in the fourth when Luke Voit and Aaron Hicks singled, Gary Sanchez doubled them both home, and after an out, Gleyber Torres hit a 2-run HR (15).
The Yanks made it 5-0 in the sixth, when with one out Sanchez walked and Didi Gregorius singled him to third. Torres brought in Sanchez with a SF.
They made it 7-0 in the seventh, when Cameron Maybin led off the inning with his second HR of the season. Brett Gardner then walked, and went to third on a double by D.J. LeMahieu. After Voit struck out, Hicks walked to load the bases, and Sanchez groundout plated a run.
Meanwhile, of the first 12 outs Green and Cortes recorded, 11 were by strikeout.
Cortes tired in the eighth, giving up a pair of singles, and Jonathan Holder came in. He got a couple of outs, but then gave up an RBI single and a 3-run HR that cut the Yanks’ lead to 7-4.
The Yanks tacked on another run in the ninth when Gardner walked, LeMahieu singled him to third and after a couple of strikeouts, a couple of walks forced Gardner in to make it 8-4, the final score.
LeMahieu 2 hits (.310)
Sanchez 3 RBI
Gregorius 2 hits, RBI (.385 in his short time so far off IL)
Torres 2 hits, 3 RBI, 2-run HR (15)
Maybin Solo HR (2)
Green 2 IP, 0 R, 1 H, 0 W, 6 K. 7.54
Cortes 5+ IP, 2 R, 6 H, 0 W, 7 K. 3.79 FIRST MLB WIN
Holder 1 IP, 2 R, 2 H, 0 W, 2 K. 5.08 Gave up HR
Chapman 1 IP, 0 R, 1 H, 0 W, 1 K. 1.35
During the game, it was announced that the Yankees traded for Edwin Encarnacion from Seattle, giving up pitching prospect Juan Then. The Yanks and Mariners will split paying Encarnacion’s salary.
Then is a 19 year old righty who hasn’t even pitched yet in Low A ball. Then was signed as a 16 year old by Seattle, then traded to the Yanks for Nick Rumbelow a few years back. Seattle now gets him back. In 24 starts in the Dominican Summer League and in the Gulf Coast Rookie League in 2017-2018, Then is 2-5, with a 2.67 ERA.
As for Encarnacion, he has 401 career HR. The 36 year old (and no, I don’t like the parrot bit after he homers) is a 1B/DH who’ll split time with Luke Voit at 1B/DH. This means Giancarlo Stanton has to go into the outfield (unless some other move is made). Pitcher Jake Barrett was moved to the 60 day IL to make room for Encarnacion on the roster.
Encarnacion was hitting .241-21-49, OPS+ 140 for Seattle, and is leading the AL with 21 HR (one more than Sanchez). He has hit 30 or more HR in every season 2012-2018, including 42 in 2012 and the same amount, 42, in 2016. He led the AL in RBI in 2016.
A 3x All-Star, Encarnacion has received MVP consideration in five seasons. He was with the Reds (2005-2009), Blue Jays (2009-2016), Indians (2017-2018) and now becomes a Yankee.
He has driven in 100 or more runs in six seasons.
He started his career as a third baseman.
Encarnacion’s 162 game average is .263-35-104, OPS+ 125. He also averages 75 walks per 162 games.
His acquisition will mean Kendrys Morales (currently on the IL) will be gone once he comes off the IL. Also, since Encarnacion and Voit will flip/flop at 1B/DH, it forces Giancarlo Stanton into LF.
When Judge and Stanton come off the IL soon, I would expect to see Clint Frazier and Mike Tauchman sent down.
So soon, we could see the position players being:
C Sanchez and Romine
INF and DH: Voit, Encarnacion, Torres, Didi, LeMahieu, Urshela
OF: Stanton, Hicks, Judge, Gardner, Maybin
Gardner and Maybin wouldn’t get much playing time, but could be used for defense and pinch-running.
Also, the acquisition of Encarnacion makes Greg Bird’s recovery kind of meaningless. If and when he recovers, where’s Bird going to go?
Speaking of Bird, as well as some other players currently at or, it appears bound for AAA or on the IL, like a Frazier, Tauchman, Wade, Estrada, Ford, Andujar, and even Tulowitzki (I won’t get into Ellsbury), you wonder when the other shoe will drop.
With this acquisition of Encarnacion, and with Judge and Stanton coming back soon, could Frazier and someone else be heading elsewhere to get a top-notch starter?
We’ll see. But I feel like this is a chess game and this is only Cashman’s FIRST move.
But can you imagine a lineup like this?
I mean, Hicks batting 9th? Someone has to.
And Romine, Gardner, Maybin and Urshela on the bench.
That’s if you have 12 pitchers. If you go with 13 pitchers, then Maybin is probably out.