Game 13 Quick Recap: OAK 5 NYY 2

Early runs, no big hits with RISP, pitcher stung by one bad inning.  Lather, rinse, repeat. Nathan Eovaldi was the victim of the one bad inning and the lack of offensive support last night.  His body of work wasn't bad (6 IP, 3 ER, 7 K), but he gave up 3 runs on 2 doubles, 2 singles, and a sac fly by the first 5 batters of the 4th inning and that was all it took to set him up for the loss.

The offense didn't get completely shut out.  Didi Gregorius staked the Yankees to an early lead with a solo home run in the bottom of the 2nd.  But they didn't score again until the bottom of the 8th and that was on another solo shot by Carlos Beltran.  In between it was a whole lot of nothing.

That home run would have meant a realistic chance at a tie or walk-off win in the 9th had it not been for Branden Pinder in the top half of the inning.  He loaded the bases on 11 pitches (2 singles, walk) and Khris Davis cashed in with a 2-run single up the middle.  4-run lead heading into the final 2 innings might as well be a 4,000 run lead against this pathetic Yankee offense.

I haven't been watching a lot of the recent games because I've been participating in Milwaukee Beer Week, but it sounds like that's been for the best.  Not a lot of fun to be had watching this team right now.

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Game 12 Quick Recap: OAK 3 NYY 2 (11 Innings)

[caption id="attachment_81059" align="aligncenter" width="525"]Gardner vs OAK 16 Brett Gardner notices a black widow spider near home plate and removes his batting helmet to crush it. Courtesy of the AP[/caption] I'm giving this game the quick treatment because it doesn't really need or deserve any in-depth commentary.  We've seen this game time and time again over the last few years.  Blown leads, blown chances, and an offense that completely disappears from the face of the earth and leaves the bullpen hanging in the late innings.  The Yankees stink right now.  That is a fact.

They jumped out to an early lead in the 1st on a 2-out rally started by a Carlos Beltran double and completed by an Alex Rodriguez RBI base hit.  Of course Michael Pineda gave that right back in the top of the 2nd on a trio of singles.  Two of them were ground balls against the shift, which is not Big Mike's fault, but you can't be getting behind 3-0 to a guy and forced to throw a meatball strike in that situation.

The Yanks regained the lead in the 5th when Brett Gardner walked, moved to third base on Starlin Castro's double, and scored on a Beltran sac fly. Aaaaand then Pineda gave that lead right back by giving up a leadoff triple to Danny Valencia in the 6th and watching him score on a GB single.  Gardner gave a heck of an effort but that ball was falling in for a triple regardless.  That's on Mike.

After that the offense went in the toilet.  They wasted 2 baserunners in the bottom of the 6th and went down in order in the 7th, 8th, 10th, and 11th.  Chase Headley singled to start a rally in the bottom of the 9th, but pinch hitter Jacoby Ellsbury was thrown out trying to steal to snuff it out.  The bullpen hosses did all they could to extend the game, but Johnny Barbato got touched up for a couple hits in his second inning of work in the top of the 11th and the deal was sealed.

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Quick Hit: Calling All Questions

Less than 7% of the Yankees 2016 is in the books. Let that sink in for a moment. In this era of hot takes (or #hottakes), instant gratification, and inane (or insane) editorials by Randy Levine, we all want to draw conclusions from the precious little information that we have in front of us. Is Jacoby Ellsbury - he of the .240/.296/.337 (74 wRC+) line since September of 2014 - toast? Is Deldrew Millances a force for fascism in Major League Baseball? Should the rotation's credo be 'Masahiro Tanaka, and pray for four days of rain?' Could Starlin Castro really be one of the five-best second basemen in baseball?

Some of these questions are answerable, based largely on the same information that we had to work with before the season actually began. Eleven baseball games - again, less than 7% of the season - doesn't offer a whole lot of information, after all. But where's the fun in that?

With all that being said, I submit the following to you, the readers: ask me whatever question(s) your heart may desire about the Yankees or baseball on the whole. Nothing is too silly or too complex. You may ask it right here in the comments, or on Twitter.

I shall do my best to answer every question with limited sarcasm. Unlike most 'all questions answered' posts, however, I will not be responding in the comments or on Twitter. Instead, I will make a longer post right here on Friday.

You may fire when ready.

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Tuesday Morning Links: 4/19/16

Remember when I said I was changing up the regular Friday links routine and going for 2 or 3 mini links posts per week?  Yeah, well I guess I'm a dirty, rotten liar.  I think this is the 3rd or 4th week in a row that I've done links on Tuesday.  Whatever.  I'm like the Yankee front office.  The actions never seem to match the words, gotta keep people on their toes.  Here they are: - Last Thursday, Stacey analyzed Nathan Eovaldi's entire career to date over at BP Bronx to see if we can reasonably expect his results to ever improve enough to match his stuff.

- Chad Jennings discussed the Yankees' early problems with bench production and hitting left-handed pitching.  Good to know some things never change.

- Chris Mitchell of FanGraphs evaluated Ronald Torreyes' strange tool makeup and MLB potential with his KATOH system.

- On Friday, Alphonso of It Is High... worried that this year is already shaping up to be the same as last year.  Don't lose that confidence!

- On Saturday, Matt Provenzano of Pinstripe Alley took a look at Johnny Barbato's stuff through the PITCHf/x microscope to show how it's plenty good enough to stick in the show.

- On Sunday, Matt Imbrogno of RAB shone the spotlight on A-Rod's early struggles against the fastball.  This is concerning only because we saw the exact opposite early on last year.

- On Monday, William Juliano of The Captain's Blog investigated the trend of American League bullpens getting deeper and better and the impact that may be having on offensive production in the league.

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About Last Night: Betances and Miller. Holy s%^&!

An extensive number of articles have been written about the construction of the New York Yankees' bullpen leading into the season and in most of them, they've made mention of the appearance of the ternary of Dellin Betances, Andrew Miller, and Aroldis Chapman and how it would mean bad things for opposing batters. Yesterday afternoon against the Seattle Mariners, Yankee fans finally saw what two of the three ternary members are capable of when the Yankees' starter lasts through the seventh and has handed them a lead going into the eighth inning. To say it was incredible would almost be an understatement. It was wondrous, marvelous, amazing, otherworldly, and every other word you can think of to describe something that's genuinely awesome and immensely fun to watch. Here's how Miller has pitched so far this season. Granted it's a minuscule sample size, but it's still splendid:

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Notice the strikes to balls ratio and how few balls have been in play. He has struck out 12 batters, hasn't walked a batter and has only given up two singles in five innings of work. Oh, and he hasn't given up a run.

Here's how Betances has pitched so far this season. Again, small sample size, blah blah blah. Just look:

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Betances has had more appearances and has pitched a full inning more than Miller, but even so, his numbers are also quite impressive. He has struck out 15 batters, walked two and has given up three hits. Betances has three runs in his stat line, but they were unearned thanks to that error against Houston.

As I said in the intro, yesterday's game was fun because we finally got to see a starter make it through the seventh inning with a lead (Thanks for running Brett Gardner!) which set up an appearance for Betances and Miller alone—none of the middle relievers were needed. And what did they do yesterday? Oh, nothing, they just struck out the side in each inning in which they appeared.

Ho hum.

Here's Betances:

Betances threw eight curveballs in the inning and threw five four-seam fastballs.

Here's how he mixed his pitches by velocity (from a low of 83.8 mph to a high of 99.1 mph):

BetancesPitchspeed

Betances finished all three of his at bats with his curveball.

betanceslastpitchAB

Honestly, how the heck is anyone supposed to hit that?

Here's Miller:

As you can see from the video, Miller had his slider working. It was really sliding and when it does that, it's impossible to hit or in some cases, even swing.

When you have an out pitch like that, you use it for strike three and yesterday it worked every time.

lastpitchofABmiller

Here's how Miller mixed his pitches by velocity (from a low of 83.8 mph to a high of 98.2 mph):

pitchspeedMiller

Again, when these guys are on, it's impossible to do anything against them.

I mentioned the following numbers in yesterday's recap, but it bears repeating: In their last nine innings, Betances and Miller have not given up an earned run, have only allowed two hits, they have not surrendered a walk and they have struck out 23 batters. They have a 22.5 and 21.6 K/9 for the season, so far, respectively.

And here's a bonus fun fact that was blasted all over Twitter after yesterday's win: Of the 33 outs recorded by Betances and Miller this year, 27 of them have been strikeouts.

So yes, it's very early, and yes, we are still awaiting Aroldis Chapman's arrival, but yesterday, the eighth and ninth innings were a lot of fun to watch and let's hope that they were a sign of good things to come.

[Heat maps, charts, and numbers courtesy of ESPN Stats and Info and Brooks Baseball]

Monday Morning Musings: 4/18/16

Two weeks down, many more to go.  The Yankees snapped their pesky losing streak yesterday with a 1-run win over the Mariners.  They've got another off-day today before welcoming the A's and Rays to town for the rest of this week.  6 games this week, all at home.  That's a helluva good opportunity to turn this recent offensive slump around and get back over .500.  Here are some thoughts on the happenings over the first 2 weeks: - It was good to see Alex Rodriguez get off the schneid with his 2-run homer to left to get the scoring started yesterday.  It was even better to see him do it against a fastball, which has given him plenty of problems over the first 10 games.  According to Brooks Baseball, A-Rod has seen 44 4-seam fastballs so far and has swung and missed at over 20% of them.  He's also swung and missed at over 13% of the 2-seamers he's seen, so clearly the heat is giving him some trouble.

Last year he surprised a lot of people by showing good bat speed and squaring up a lot of good fastballs.  This year it's been the exact opposite.  Iwakuma doesn't exactly throw smoke either, so I'd still like to see A-Rod do some damage against something moving 94, 95, 96 like he did so often last season.  Hopefully he can use yesterday as a springboard to correct whatever's been causing the early fastball struggles.

- Speaking of fastballs, it was better than good to see the return of Masahiro Tanaka's FB velocity yesterday.  He threw 10 4-seamers and averaged 93.2 MPH on those pitches, maxing out at 94.5.  He also hit 93 with his sinker a few times, both of those values far above what he was throwing in his first 2 starts.  We heard Larry Rothschild say recently that Tanaka needs to stop thinking so much on the mound and trust his arm and his stuff.  Perhaps yesterday was the first instance of him taking that advice and letting it go with the heater.  He looked like a much different pitcher yesterday than he did in his first 2 starts, like he wasn't holding anything back.  If he can consistently stay 92-94 with his fastball, it's going to make the rest of his offspeed stuff that much more effective.

- Carlos Beltran certainly looks like he's picked up right where he left off last year.  After hitting .292/.364/.513 in the second half, he's off to a .341/.357/.610 start in his first 11 games.  He's not going to sustain that line over the whole year or even the rest of this month, but the hot start and the positive eye test is an encouraging sign that he can remain productive in this final year of his deal.  He looks completely relaxed and balanced at the plate, and his at-bats more than anybody else on the team's seem to end with hard contact.

- On the opposite end of that spectrum, the bench production has been lacking in the early going.  Dustin Ackley doesn't have a hit in 8 plate appearances, Aaron Hicks only has 1 in 13, and Austin Romine hasn't made anybody forget that he's Austin Romine.  The only player swinging a decent bat off the bench is Ronald Torreyes, who is 6-12, and he was expected to be the weakest offensive link of the bench group.  It could just be a matter of adjusting to irregular playing time and I'm sure Joe is going to start working Hicks in more to keep his outfield starters fresh, but it would be nice to see these guys hit a little bit when they're in the game.

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Game 11 Quick recap: Yankees 4, Mariners 3

Alex Rodriguez's 689th home run not only snapped an 0-19 skid, but it helped the Yankees win today's game, stave off a three-game sweep at the hands of the Seattle Mariners and it helped avoid an overall five-game losing streak.

Phew!

Other good stuff from today's much needed win:

  • Masahiro Tanaka became the first Yankees starter this season to pitch through the seventh inning. Coming into today's game only the Yankees, Reds, and Marlins were among that elite club of ineptitude. Tanaka gave up three runs on six hits in those seven innings and he also struck out six. Another good sign from Tanaka was that he was reaching 94 on the radar gun. Velocity issues? What velocity issues?
  • Dellin Betances came into the game in the eighth inning and struck out the side. He's done that in each of his last four appearances.
  • Andrew Miller came into the game to close and boy did he ever. He also struck out the side. This is what their last nine innings look like: 0 ER, 2 H, 0 BB, 23 K which works out to a 22.5 (Betances) and 21.6 (Miller) K/9. Can you imagine what the 7th, 8th, and 9th innings will look like once Aroldis Chapman joins the team?

Shocked-Cat

One bad thing: The Yankees were 1 for 11 with runners in scoring position this afternoon. But hey, it's better than having an 0fer, I guess.

Another bad thing: Jacoby Ellsbury's misplay in the fifth on Norichika Aoki's triple which led to Seth Smith tying the game on a single. This is not the first time that a Ellsbury misplay in the outfield has hurt the Yankees, but thankfully, they scored in the sixth and ended up winning the game.

The Yankees get to enjoy today's win with an off day tomorrow before welcoming the Oakland A's to the Stadium for a three-game series that starts Tuesday night.