In an age where we see a lot of four-hour games, Sunday’s game was very old-school crisp, lasting just 2:14.
Corey Kluber, in his last two starts, has resembled the Kluger that won two CYA as a member of the Indians. Yesterday, the Yankees (14-14) needed just that. The Yanks only got three hits in a 2-0 win.
Kluber went 8 innings, gave up just two hits and struck out 10 in a masterful performance.
The only runs of the game came in the second inning. Gio Urshela singled and Aaron Hicks walked. After an out, Kyle Higashioka doubled home Urshela, Hicks moving to third. Brett Gardner hit a long drive that was caught at the wall for a SF.
That was the whole ballgame as both pitchers pitched brilliantly, with Kluber being slightly better.
The Yankees (3-4) entered Friday’s game with a team ERA of 1.74. It won’t stay that way after the Yankees got hammered by Tampa Bay, 10-5. (It went to 2.63, still very good after 7 games and an indication of why they are 3-4—the bats haven’t come alive yet. The top six players in WAR (Wins above replacement) after seven games are all pitchers).
(Another aside: those extra innings where a guy starts on second base [and the Yanks have lost two extra inning games this year] that runner is an unearned run, as if that runner got there via an error.)
Corey Kluber and Nick Nelson had rough outings, and except for one inning, the Yanks’ bats were silent.
An error by D.J. LeMahieu, playing 3B (more on that later) led to the Rays getting two unearned runs in the bottom of the second.
The Yanks came back with their only big offensive inning of the game in the top of the third. With two out, Tyler Wade singled, LeMahieu doubled, Giancarlo Stanton singled in two runs, and Aaron Hicks hit a 2-run HR (1).
After that, the Yanks bats went silent. They only scored again on a solo HR (1) by LeMahieu in the eighth.
Meanwhile, Tampa Bay was getting runs by matching the inning. After two in the second, they got three in the third and four in the fourth. They also tacked on another run in the seventh.
Before the game, Justin Wilson came off the IL. No corresponding move was necessary, because Michael King went to the alternate site a few days ago.
Gio Urshela went on the Covid-IL because of a bad reaction to the Covid vaccine. Mike Ford was brought up.
LeMahieu 2 hits, solo HR, but an error that allowed 2 runs to score. Stanton 2 RBI Hicks 2-run HR.
Kluber (L, 0-1) 2 1/3 IP, 5 R, 3 ER, 5 H, 2 W, 3 K. 5.68 Nelson 1 2/3 IP, 4 R, 4 H, 1 W, 3 K. 9.00 Luetge 3 IP, 1 R, 3 H, 0 W, 4 K. 7.20 Gave up 1 HR. Cessa 1 IP, 0 R, 1 H, 0 W, 1 K. 0.00
I don’t know what will happen, but I can see King coming back soon, Luetge going down (or, if you want to keep Luetge because of an extra lefty, Nelson then goes down). I also can see Bruce (.125) possibly being released, the Yanks keeping Ford (more of a 1B than Bruce), with (once Gio gets back) D.J. going to 1B and Odor (once activated) taking over at 2B—at least until Voit returns. Just trying to look into a crystal ball here as far as future moves. The defense has been shaky, maybe that would help.
But ugh. Tampa Bay owned the Yanks last year (won 8 of 10, then the ALDS 3 games to 2), and not a good way to start this year.
I kill for sacrifice flies. Yes, it’s an out, but at least you are getting the run in. After seven games, the Yanks haven’t hit a SF yet. It’s better than striking out with a man on third and less than two outs. Get that runner in.
The one sac bunt Gardner (who is the #7 guy in WAR so far, after those pitchers) laid down the other day matched their total for ALL of last season.
For the second time in just six games, the Yankees (3-3) have lost a game by one run in extra innings. This time it was 4-3 to Baltimore in 11 innings.
Hopefully, when this pandemic is over, the rule that extra innings begin with a runner on second gets scrapped. I hate that rule. I’m a purist and hate seeing baseball bastardized. The only exception I make is with the DH. I can’t stand watching pitchers try to hit. (Ohtani and Bumgarner are exceptions).
The Yankees did not have Aaron Judge available for the game, because of a sore oblique. He is day to day.
A few things I haven’t liked this season. One is Aaron Hicks hitting third, even though he did get an RBI in last night’s game, and the other is Gleyber Torres’ defense.
Torres is basically a 2B playing SS. He did play SS in the minors, but his defense needs a lot of work, and it is costing the Yankees right now.
Jameson Taillon started for the Yankees, and it was his first start in nearly two years. Taillon has undergone two TJ operations, a hernia operation, cancer and being hit in the head by a line drive. He retired the first nine batters he faced and pitched well.
The Yanks struck first, getting a run in the bottom of the third on singles by Brett Gardner and D.J. LeMahieu, then after Torres struck out, Hicks’ single.
Taillon gave up two homers in the fourth and the Orioles took a 2-1 lead.
The Yanks tied it in the eighth. With two out, Gary Sanchez singled on a ball the Orioles’ LF should have caught. Sanchez thought it would be caught, and instead of a double, only got a single. Mike Tauchman pinch-ran for Sanchez and scored, just getting in ahead of the tag, on a double by Gio Urshela. Tie game.
A fine play by Jay Bruce in the top of the tenth on a bad throw by Chad Green appeared to be able to save the Yankees from giving up a run, but on the next play, which should have been the third out of the inning, Bruce couldn’t prevent a bad throw by Torres from becoming an error that let Baltimore go up 3-2. It was a routine play. Torres just botched it.
The Yanks tied in the the bottom of the tenth when down to their last out, Kyle Higashioka singled to right, scoring pinch-runner Tyler Wade, who just got in under the tag. Wade started the inning at second base. (I did mention I HATE that new rule.)
In the eleventh, the Orioles bunted the runner over, and dunked in a single to bring the runner in and take a 4-3 lead. Luis Cessa got out of a bases-loaded, one-out jam by striking out two batters to keep it at 4-3.
In the bottom of the eleventh, Gio Urshela started at second base for the Yankees (once again, I HATE this rule). Gardner bunted him to third, then LeMahieu hit a liner to right. Urshela tried to tag up and score but was a dead duck at the plate, getting tagged out to end the game.
The Yankees out-hit Baltimore 13 to 4, They struck out 17 Orioles. They gave up 2 earned runs over 11 innings. In the last 6 1/3 innings, Yankees’ pitchers only gave up ONE hit (I hate that rule!).
Yet they lost. They left 12 men on base. They struck out 10 times.
Clint Frazier and Jay Bruce, the 5 and 6 hitters, combined to go 0 for 10. I can see Bruce being benched, LeMahieu going to 1B, and Odor playing 2B. … but there is still the problem of Torres’ defense at SS.
LeMahieu 2 hits Stanton 2 Hits Sanchez 2 hits Higashioka 1 for 1, RBI. Big hit at the time Urshela 2 hits, RBI, Big hit at the time Gardner 2 hits.
Taillon 4 2/3 IP, 2 R, 3 H, 0 W, 7 K. Gave up 2 HR. 3.86. Nelson 1 1/3 IP, 0 R, 0 H, 0 W, 2 K. 0.00 O’Day 1 IP, 0 R, 0 H, 0 W, 1 K. 0.00 Loaisiga 1 IP, 0 R, 0 H, 0 W, 1 K. 0.00 Chapman 1 IP, 0 R, 0 H, 0 W, 3 K. 0.00 Green (L, 0-1) 1 1/3 IP, 2 R, 0 ER, 1 H, 1 W, 1 K. 0.00 Cessa 2/3 IP, 0 R, 0 H, 1 W, 2 K. 0.00
With those runners starting the inning on second, (I … you get the idea) those runs are unearned.
For example, I think Aaron Judge doesn’t have a HR or even an RBI in spring training so far.
I know, it’s only spring training, but…
Of the Yankees six hits, two were by Gary Sanchez, two by Brett Gardner.
Deivi Garcia, after a good spring training so far, got roughed up yesterday, giving up 2 HR. Whether that, or his age (21) keeps him from the starting rotation, we’ll see.
Good news on Justin Wilson’s MRI. Nothing significant. Give him anti-inflammatory medicine and shut him down for a while.
D. Garcia 3 IP, 4 R, 7 H, 2 W, 2 K. Gave up 2 HR. Cessa 2 IP, 1 R, 1 H, 0 W, 3 K. Gave up 1 HR. Luetge 1 2/3 IP, 0 R, 0 H, 1 W, 1 K. Russ 1/3 IP, 0 R, 0 H, 0 W, 0 K. Barraclough 1 IP, 0 R, 0 H, 0 W, 2 K. Abreu 1 IP, 0 R, 0 H, 0 W, 1 K.
You wonder how familiar teams are getting with each other. Because of COVID, the Yankees are only playing Toronto (and they have a six of their first 12 regular season games against Toronto), the Phillies, Tigers, Orioles and Pirates in spring training. Usually you have more of a mix.
The Yankees’ top relievers (except for the injured Zack Britton, back in June?) pitched yesterday and all—except for Justin Wilson—did well in the Yanks’ (5-4-1) 6-5 win over Pittsburgh last night.
Domingo German had another great outing as he and Deivi Garcia are having a good competition in order to land the #5 starter spot. Garcia is only 21, so the Yanks may want to get him a bit more minor league experience first.
The front four of the rotation appear to be Cole, Taillon, Kluber and Montgomery. Besides the battle for #5 between German and Garcia, more good news for the Yanks. Luis Severino is due to throw off a mound soon. His timetable for return in sometime mid-season.
The Yanks got a run in the first on singles by D.J. LeMahieu and Aaron Judge and a SF by Brett Gardner. Judge had two hits in the game, and Gardner was 2 for 2 with that SF.
In the third inning, Giancarlo Stanton and Gleyber Torres hit back-to-back HRs, Stanton’s being a 3-run shot (420 ft., exit velocity 115 MPH) to put the Yanks up 5-0.
But Wilson gave it back in the sixth. He gave up a solo HR, loaded up the bases, then gave up a grand slam.
The Yanks scored the winning run in the bottom of the eighth on a bases-loaded walk.
In case you didn’t know, to protect pitchers’ arms, sometimes innings end before three outs are made, especially if that pitcher reached a certain pitch count that inning. It is only spring training after all, and this is to protect the pitchers.
German 3 IP, 0 R, 1 H, 0 W, 3 K. Chapman 1 IP, 0 R, 0 H, 0 W, 2 K. O’Day 1 IP, 0 R, 0 H, 0 W, 1 K. Wilson 1/3 IP, 5 R, 4 ER, 4 H, 0 W, 1 K. Gave up a solo HR and a grand slam. Lane 2/3 IP, 0 R, 0 H, 2 W, 1 K. Green 1 IP, 0 R, 0 H, 0 W, 3 K. King 2 IP, 0 R, 0 H, 0 W, 2 K.
The Yanks already have 3 lefties in the bullpen, what with Chapman, Britton and Wilson, but Luetge has been having a good spring training so far. Luetge, who’ll be 34 soon, hasn’t pitched in the majors since 2015. He was with Seattle from 2012-2015, going 3-5, 4.35. ERA+ 87.
The Yankees are bringing back Brett Gardner. The sides agreed to a 1 year, $4MM deal with options for 2022.
Frankly, there is a large part of me that is NOT in favor of the move. I like Gardy, who has been with the Yankees since 2008 and is the last one left from the 2009 WS Champs–the last Yankee WS Championship team.
But at some point, you have to reassess and let go. Gardner is 37, turns 38 in August.He hit .223 last season. He did have an OPS+ of 108. But at what point are the skills gone? You can’t go on sentiment. You think with your head, not your heart.
It appears that Gardner would serve as bench depth, since Clint Frazier has been named the starting LF. Gardner, of course, can also pinch-run or be used as a defensive replacement. If Gardner does make the team, Mike Tauchman, who is out of options, could be DFA’d. With Frazier starting in left, there is no room for both Gardner and Tauchman (or, maybe for that matter, Jay Bruce, who was recently signed to a minor league deal. Unless Bruce replaces Mike Ford as a backup 1B).
Gardner’s 162 game average is .259-14-56 with 28 SB, OPS+ 101. But he hasn’t stolen 15 or more bases since 2018. The legs eventually go. The age worries me. Also that .223 of last year. And before you blame it on Covid and the strange 60 game season, Gardy only hit .236 in 2018. He did pick it up to .251 in 2019.
Baseball-reference.com has Gardy ranked #41 in best LF of all-time. By way of comparison, Roy White is listed at #28.
The Yankees did sign Derek Dietrich to a deal recently. He is in camp as a non-roster invitee. Dietrich, a lefty bat as well, has played for Miami (2013-2018), Cincinnati (2019) and Texas (2020). He hit .197-5-8 for the Rangers last year, and .187-19-43 for the Reds in 2019. Ugly batting average, has pop. Mostly plays 2B, LF and 3B. Gets a lot of HBP. 162 game average .245-18-55, OPS+ 107. He is 31.
Lefty reliever Justin Wilson, 33, who pitched for the Yankees in 2015, is returning to the Bronx.
Wilson went 5-0, 3.10 for the Yankees in 2015, ERA+ 132, and helped the Yanks get into the wild card playoff game that year. He was traded to Detroit after that year in a trade which brought Luis Cessa and Chad Green to the Bronx. Now Wilson joins them in the Yankees bullpen.
Wilson has pitched for the Pirates (2012-2014), Yankees (2015), Tigers (2016-2017), Cubs (2017-2018) and Mets (2019-2020). He is 32-22 in his MLB career with an ERA of 3.27 (ERA+ 123). His 162 game average is 5-3, 3.27.
He has pitched in six postseason games, going 0-0 with an ERA of 1.69.
The deal is for one year and $4MM. If the Yankees have seven relievers, it appears the bullpen is set. You have the lefties, Wilson, Britton and Chapman, and the righties Green, Cessa, Loaisiga and O’Day. Looks solid.
This signing puts the Yanks only about $6MM away from the salary cap, and they want to stay under it. Therefore, unless there is some kind of trade freeing up $$$$, it doesn’t appear that there is room for Brett Gardner to return.
The Yankees made a move today to replenish a bullpen piece but also to leave a little room in order to bring in someone…. maybe Brett Gardner on a lower salary?
A day after dumping off most of Adam Ottavino’s $9MM salary, the Yankees signed Darren O’Day to a one year deal worth $1.75MM. There are options/payouts that could kick the value higher for O’Day, but in the end the Yankees save some money. Money that could be used elsewhere.
O’Day, 38, a sidearming RHP, has been with the Angels (2008), Mets (2009), Rangers (2009-2011, including the 2010 AL Champs. He was with the Rangers in 2011, but not in the postseason for them), Orioles 2012-2018, pitching with Zack Britton and making the playoffs in 2012, 2014 and 2016 and the Braves 2019-2020, making the playoffs both years with the Braves.
He has pitched in 604 MLB games, all in relief, a total of 576 2/3 innings. He is 40-19, 2.51 (ERA+ 172) in his MLB career with 21 saves. His 162 game average is 5-2, 2.51.
In the postseason, in 30 games, 20 1/3 IP, he is 0-3, 4.43.
The Yankees had a very productive day on Friday, coming to terms with all arbitration eligible players, re-signing free agent D.J. LeMahieu, and signing Corey Kluber. But all this will mean some people appear to not be coming back.
Hal Steinbrenner wants to get under the $210MM luxury cap, especially after the Yankees (and all of MLB) took such a financial hit in 2020 due to the 60 game season forced upon it by the pandemic. After yesterday’s dealings, word is they are only $10MM or so away from hitting that cap. Meaning only minor signings, if any, unless they make a trade to free up money and create room.
What this means is that all of the following may be gone: Happ (expected), Paxton (expected), Gardner (not as much so) and Tanaka (not so much so). Happ, 38, was 21-10, 4.13 ERA+ 106 while with the Yankees 2018-2020. He was excellent when coming over from Toronto in 2018, bad in 2019 and good in 2020. But he was ineffective in the playoffs, going 0-3. He also was very critical (as we fans and others were and are) of Aaron Boone’s decision to use Deivi Garcia as an opener in Game 3 of the ALDS then have Happ come in. A move that failed, miserably.
Paxton, 32, has had trouble staying healthy. He was very good in 2019, going 15-6, 3.82 (ERA+ 117) but then needed back surgery. His 2020 was horrible. Five starts, another injury, 1-1, 6.64. In three starts for the Yanks in the 2019 postseason, Paxton was 1-0, 3.46. He made $12.5MM in 2020 and probably doesn’t fit the Yankees budget unless he took a big cut in pay. As we’ve seen, he is also an injury risk, having never qualified for the ERA title (162 IP in a normal season, 60 IP last year).
Gardner, 37, seems like the most likely to possibly return, but it would have to be at a big cut in pay. He had power last year, but his batting average was way down. .223-5-15 in 49 games, OPS+ 108. Gardner, if he comes back, would probably have to be reduced to a bench player, what with the emergence of Clint Frazier. Gardner has spent his whole career (2008-2020) with the Yankees, and his 162 game average is .259-14-56 with 28 SB (OPS+ 101; 100 is average). He doesn’t run like he used to, but still is a good defensive player who could spell Frazier in the late innings. But the Yankees already have a younger, and more inexpensive alternative to Gardner in Mike Tauchman. Gardner made $10MM last year, and the Yankees bought out his option at $2.5MM. If he comes back, it probably would have to be for $5MM or less, and that doesn’t then give the Yanks a lot of wiggle room elsewhere. Gardner’s numbers seem average, but he is listed on baseball reference as the 41st best LF of all-time.
Tanaka, 32, now appears gone what with the signing of Corey Kluber, which I will get to soon. Tanaka has been with the Yanks 2014-2020, and while never being a dominant ace, proved himself dependable and reliable. He has gone 78-46, 3.74 (ERA+ 116) as a Yankee after signing a huge contract (and the Yanks posting a huge posting fee for him). His 162 gm. average is 15-9, 3.74. Solid. Not great, but solid. In 10 postseason starts, he went 5-4, 3.33 for the Yankees. He may go home to Japan, but there are also rumors that San Diego may be interested in this 2x All-Star. Tanaka made $23MM last year, would be taking a cut, but he wouldn’t take so much of a cut to get the Yanks under the cap. With the Kluber deal, Tanaka is gone, it appears.
Now to Kluber, who signed a 1 year, $11MM deal with the Yankees yesterday after wowing scouts at a tryout the day before. It helped the Yankees that Kluber had a working relationship already with the Yanks’ pitching coach and strength and conditioning coach. This is a gamble that could pay off big. Kluber will be 35 in April and if he gets back to what he was, sets in nicely at #2 behind Gerrit Cole. Heck he could even be #1 above Cole, believe it or not. From 2013-2018 for Cleveland, Kluber won two Cy Young awards, finished third twice, was a 3x All-Star, and got MVP consideration 3x, finishing 7th for MVP (great for a pitcher) in 2017. From 2013-2018, his average season was 16-8, 2.96, ERA+ 143. But he got injured in 2019, one of the injuries a broken forearm after being hit by a line drive. In seven starts for the Indians in 2019, he was only 2-3, 5.80. He only pitched one inning for Texas in 2020 before getting hurt again. So since 2018, just 2-3, 5.65 in eight starts, 36 2/3 IP. For his career, Kluber’s 162 g. ave. is 16-10, 3.16, ERA+ 135. Obviously the Yankees are hoping he can get back to where he was or close to it. If so, the $11MM for one year is a deal.
So as of now, the rotation looks like Cole, Kluber and Jordan Montgomery as the top 3 starters. Domingo German, who went 18-4, 4.03 in 2019 before being suspended and missing all of the 2019 postseason and all of the 2020 season, could slot in at #4. The #5 could be a battle between youngsters Deivi Garcia, Clarke Schmidt, Mike King and veteran Jhoulys Chacin. Don’t forget about the 33 year old Chacin, who was signed to a minor league deal and who has a 78-87 record with a 4.04 career ERA (ERA+ 108). Chacin was horrible in 2019-2020 (4-12, 6.06) but was a 15 game winner in 2018.
If Kluber and Chacin can get back to where they were…. but as you know, if is the biggest two letter word in the dictionary.
And don’t forget, Luis Severino, still just 26 next year, should return from his TJ surgery in June or July. A front three then of Cole, Kluber and Severino, with Montgomery and whoever wins the #5 (Garcia, German, Schmidt, King, Chacin) could be decent…. if of course, healthy. (Fingers crossed).
The Yankees also are coming to terms with D.J. LeMahieu on a long-term deal. LeMahieu, a free agent, has been the Yankees best player the past two seasons, and finished in the top four for MVP voting both years. As a Yankee, 2019 and 2020, D.J. has hit .336, leading the majors last year in batting average (.364), and he also led the AL last year in OBP, OPS and OPS+. A 3x All-Star, 3x Gold Glove, and 2x Silver Slugger, LeMahieu, 32, is a .305 career hitter. He’ll slot back in at 2B, but could also play 1B and 3B. Word is he wanted 5 years at around $100MM, the Yanks came back with something like 4 years at $75. In the end a compromise. The Yanks got the lower $$ figure they wanted but LeMahieu got the years he wanted. Six years, $90 MM. The years could hurt later on.
Lastly, the Yankees settled arbitration cases. Here are what players will get in 2021.
Judge $10.175MM Sanchez $6.35MM (I know, .147 and benched in postseason gets you THAT?!) Voit $4.7MM Urshela $4.65MM Torres $4MM Green $2.15MM Montgomery $2.13MM Frazier $2.1MM
Earlier, Luis Cessa got $1MM.
Remember, these are raises. Leaving little wiggle room, what with the D.J. and Kluber signings for much else. Which is why I wrote about the likelihood of many departures.