About Last Night: Yanks Stomp The A's, 10-5
By Andy Singer
May 10th, 2023
The Big Story
The Yanks offense continued its Renaissance on Tuesday night, scoring 10 runs while putting the ball in play consistently and striking out just twice as a team. Harrison Bader remained scorching hot, going 3-4 with 3 singles, an RBI, and a run; Torres and Bauers each added a homer and 3 RBIs; Volpe tripled; and Judge added 2 RBIs and a run without getting a hit in his return to play following a short IL stint. Clarke Schmidt finally produced a Quality Start, pitching 6 innings of 2-run ball while striking out 7. In short, the Yanks dominated, even if the bullpen made it a bit too interesting there at the end.
A Deeper Dive
Schmidt Has A Big Night
The Yankees have needed Schmidt to at least be stable as the 5th starter to begin the year. To say that Schmidt has largely fallen short would be an understatement. However, Schmidt has shown signs recently that the ship might finally be righting itself, and last night was his first truly good start of the season. Schmidt only allowed runs after scattering a walk and a couple of hits in the bottom of the 2nd inning, and a solo shot by Jordan Diaz (more on that in a minute) in the top of the 4th inning. Schmidt also showed the strikeout stuff he produced out of the bullpen last season, using both his knuckle-curve and slider/sweeper (I hate the term sweeper, so I will likely be using the terms slider and sweeper interchangeably) as put-away pitches on Tuesday night that produced excellent whiff rates, with a combined 38.5% whiff rate according to Statcast.
More interestingly, we’ve watched Schmidt try to dial in his pitch mix this season as he gets what will likely be his last shot to prove he is a starting pitcher. Check out Schmidt’s pitch mix in each of his starts this season prior to last night:
The cutter that Schmidt fell in love with during Spring Training has steadily dropped off in usage as Schmidt has returned to leaning on his sinker with greater frequency. Schmidt has also increased his total breaking ball usage, though his knuckle-curve and slider usage has been inconsistent. Those trends largely continued on Tuesday night, according to Statcast:
Schmidt worked to get ahead in the count with sinkers, flashed just enough cutters to keep hitters, particularly lefties, honest, and leaned heavily on the slider and knuckle-curve as out-pitches. This is very clearly the right formula for Schmidt, and it brought excellent results against the A’s. Are the A’s a particularly good lineup? No, not really, but it doesn’t change the fact that Schmidt pitched really well with a more confident pitch mix. I’m still not sure that Schmidt repeats his delivery or commands the ball well enough to start long-term, but this version of Schmidt is at least a viable back-end starter.
Have A Game, Jordan Diaz
Jordan Diaz hit 3 homers last night, all on sliders:
Diaz is not a homer threat generally, so this is likely a career game for the guy, but at what point do you just stop calling for sliders?!? By the time Weissert pitched to Diaz, you’d think the Yanks would have gotten a little wiser. I guess in-game feels are a bit too much to ask from this coaching staff…
Bader Stays Scorching Hot
Just another ho-hum 3 hits for Harrison Bader. I know that I’m sitting very nearly alone on an island of people who thought the Bader-for-Monty trade was a good, classic baseball trade that made sense for the Yankees, but even to the people that disagree with me: how can you not love watching this guy play ball?!?
I know he’s injury prone, but I have maintained that even if Bader only gets 400-450 at-bats this season, he will still be a very valuable sparkplug in the Yankee lineup. It’s a ridiculously small sample size, but that’s exactly what Bader has been since his return to the lineup. Whether its great, rangy plays in CF, stretching doubles into triples, or slashing liners all over the field, Bader has been everything this offense has needed. Bader puts the bat on the ball, and not just for the sake of making contact; there’s real pop in his bat (and Yankee Stadium is uniquely suited to his fly ball profile, as I showed after last season’s trade).
The Yankee offense has perked up a bit since Bader returned, and everything he did last night continued that trend. I can’t take my eyes off of him when he’s on the field. Oh, and after last night, he’s hitting .440/.462/.840. Small sample size or not, Bader Time is a lot of fun.
The Yankee Offense…Is Less Offensive
The Yanks have now scored 24 runs in their last 3 games, which is much better than the putrid output we saw when the lineup was more banged up in late April. Last night, the Yanks took good at-bats, put the ball in play, hit for power, and ran the bases well. I might be an eternal optimist, but I can squint and see a lineup that is actually formidable…if everyone gets healthy and if Jake Bauers is for real (which would give the lineup a lefty with pop, balancing the order a bit). A lineup that looks something like this later this summer doesn’t look so bad:
If Bauers is for real and guys get healthy, suddenly the lineup might actually be for real, and in reality, they really only need Stanton back for this to be a reality. I see bluer skies in the horizon…or maybe it’s just my polarized sunglasses.
Player Of The Game
Clarke Schmidt, with 6 innings of 2-run ball and 7 strikeouts. The kid had a good start and earned the honor.
Volpe tripled and scored a run
Torres went 2-5 with a homer, 3 RBI, and 2 R
Bauers went 1-2 with a 3-run homer and a walk
Rizzo went 2-5 with 2 runs scored
Clay Holmes came into a sticky situation in the ninth, but got out of it with a walk and 3 strikeouts
Better To Forget
Sliders to Jordan Diaz. Other than that, it was a pretty good night.
Look, you’re supposed to beat bad teams, but the Yanks have done it in convincing fashion the last two nights. They’ve been bad for a month, but maybe the ship is righting…the signs are there, and reinforcements should be coming off of the IL soon. Let’s be a bit more patient.
Looking To Tomorrow
Jhony Brito takes the ball as the Yanks finish off their series against Oakland. Coverage starts at 12:35. Let’s hope for a sweep.