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  • Mike Whiteman

About Yesterday: NYY 3, SDP 2

by Mike Whiteman and Paul Semendinger

May 28, 2023

***

The Yankees defeated the Padres in 10 innings yesterday, winning 3-2 on a walk-off single from Isiah Kiner-Falefa.


Better news, well, nothing is better than a win, but, Luis Severino threw 6.2 innings allowing only two runs (one earned) and allowing only one hit.


Born on this day in 1923 was...

Bob Kuzava. The lefthander bounced through eight teams in his ten-year career, but was a trusted bullpen arm for the early 1950s Yankees, getting the final outs in the 1951 and 1952 World Series clinching wins. https://www.baseball-reference.com/players/k/kuzavbo01.shtml

Quick Stats:

  • WP - Clay Holmes

  • LP - Nick Martinez

  • D.J. LeMahieu - HR, 2 rbi's

  • Michael King, Wandy Peralta, Clay Holmes (combined) - 3.1 ip, 0 runs

  • With yesterday’s win, the Yankees are 31-23, sitting in third place in the American League East, seven games behind the Rays. Their .574 winning percentage would translate to 93 games over the full schedule. They are 16-9 in May.

Big Story:

The Yankees had lost three consecutive games heading into this one. The pitching hasn't been bad, but the offense has been quiet over the last three games.


So, I start watching the game a little after 2:00pm yesterday…and the game was already in the sixth inning! Luis Severino and San Diego’s Michael Wacha both worked efficiently through their opponent’s lineups, with both hurlers only allowing a run apiece through six innings. The Yankees helped Wacha a bit when Anthony Rizzo was thrown out at home trying to score from first on DJ LeMahieu’s RBI double in the first inning. The only blip in Sevvy’s early innings was a Fernando Tatis solo home run in the fourth.


The Padres pushed across an unearned run in the seventh, when Gleyber Torres bobbled away a third out, opening the door for a Ha-Seong Kim RBI single which made the miscue extra painful. The Yankees bounced back in the bottom of the frame when LeMahieu homered and we had a 2-2 game. The bullpens kept it that way, and the game was tied after nine. Into OT we go! After Clay Holmes set the Padres down in order in the tenth and kept the game tied, the Yanks right away put the pressure on. After an intentional walk to LeMahieu, Harrison Bader laid down a sacrifice bunt which pushed the winning run - pinch runner Greg Allen - to third. That brought Isiah Kiner-Falefa to the plate. IKF has had his struggles with the bat this season, but here he came through with a single past third base and the Yanks walked it off.


Player of the Game:

LeMahieu drove in two runs and made a real nice barehand play at third in the tenth to retire Tatis and end the inning. The Yankees are hard to beat when DJL is on his game.


Notable Performances: Somewhere about May 3, Clay Holmes was dropped out of the closer role by Aaron Boone. He hasn’t allowed a run over eleven outings since...Mike King worked out of the seventh inning jam, hurling a shutout inning. He has a 1.88 ERA and is third in AL reliever WAR.


Better to Forget:

The last four batters from the line-up yesterday have the following batting averages for the season:

  • Isiah Kiner-Falefa - .206

  • Oswaldo Cabrera - ..201

  • Kyle Higashioka - .173

  • Anthony Volpe - .197

They Said It: ”A credit to him and the character he’s shown us ever since we got him” – Aaron Boone on Isiah Kiner-Falefa, his willingness to play multiple positions, and his work ethic .

Mike's Take:

This was a winnable game, that they almost gave away, then came back to win. Not pretty, but we’ll take it. It was nice to see the team pick up Torres after his error in the seventh. It was also good to see IKF have success – he’s an easy guy to root for. I sometimes have a hard time rooting for Fernando Tatis Jr. – of course I grew up when flamboyant home run trots, bat flips, etc. weren’t a thing. That being said, these two games reminded me what a special talent he is. The heart of the Padres batting order - Tatis, Juan Soto and Manny Machado - really has the potential to be something special. Yesterday Severino showed why his talent is so enticing. He cruised through the Padres lineup for almost seven innings. When healthy, he is an electric, top of the rotation caliber pitcher. His return, along with Carlos Rodon starting to throw again, give me hope of that great rotation we were promised in the second half of the season.


Paul's Take:

This was an important win because the up and down Yankees were heading down having dropped three straight. Maybe, just maybe, this win gets the Yankees back on the winning track.


Yesterday, Anthony Volpe was dropped to 9th in the batting order. This year the Yankees have batted him first, fourth, fifth, sixth, seventh, and ninth. Let's go through that again... The Yankees' prized rookie, who was a surprise to even make the team out of Spring Training, who played all of 22 games at Triple-A, and who has played only 53 Major League games, has batted all over the lineup.


Rather than letting the young rookie acclimate to the big leagues, the Yankees are moving him all over the lineup. "Hey kid, you're our lead-off hitter." "Hey kid, you're a middle-of-the-order bat." Now it's, "Hey kid, you hit last."


Yeah, yeah, yeah, I get it. Many will say, "Volpe is mature beyond his years. This won't hurt him." I ask, simply, how does anyone know that this won't hurt him?


Wouldn't it have been better if the Yankees simply batted him ninth from the start and let him get comfortable as a big leaguer? Some things you can't rush. The Yankees are rushing Volpe. They've put far too much pressure on the kid already and they have provided him no consistency.


Should he fail, everyone will move on. "He just didn't have it." Very few will look back and say, "The Yankees mishandled him." I've said from the start, that they have approached his progress poorly. Very poorly.


Except for some guy named Aaron Judge, the Yankees don't have a stellar record of helping their prized rookies achieve big league success. Rather than allowing Volpe to get used to the big leagues, the Yankees have put unneeded, and dare I say, unfair pressure on the kid. I hope they know what they're doing, but I fear, based on his results, and the results of the prospects we've seen since 2018, I'm not confident they do.


When you have something special, and we've been told for years that Volpe is special, you treat that item with care. I don't see that the Yankees have done this. Maybe they will now.

***

It sure seems like Isiah Kiner-Falefa is the starting left fielder. Again, I know the comments that will come, "You know, he's pretty athletic, he actually looks good out there." But, again. Come on.


If, last October, I had told anyone that IKF was going to be the Yankees primary starter in 2023, the response would have been, "NO!" That would have been followed with "He's not a shortstop!" If I then said, "He won't be the starting shortstop," some might have said, "Well, maybe he can play third. He won a Gold Glove there. But the guy won't hit like a third baseman should. Uggg. He should not be the starting third baseman.." If I had then said, "No, IKF will be the Yankees' starting left fielder," no one would have believed me. Every person would have said, "That's crazy. That ain't happening."


Here's the amazing thing. I wouldn't have only gotten that answer in October. I would have heard that same response in November and December and in January and February. But, here we are. IFK is the left fielder. Think about that.


It really is amazing. This was a direct result of the Yankees failing to address a position that's been a issue for years.


IKF is a nice ballplayer. He does some things well. But he shouldn't be a starter as an infielder. He certainly shouldn't be starting this many games as an outfielder.


Next Up:

The Yankees conclude the series against the Padres today at 1:35 p.m. today. In a matchup of aces, Gerrit Cole (5-0, 2.53; but 0-0, 4.67 in May) takes the mound against Yu Darvish (3-3, 3.67) at 1:35.


Gerrit Cole began the series with a 5-0 record after his first six starts. He had not had a decision over his last five starts, the entire month of May.

12 Comments


fuster
May 28, 2023

IKF is NOT a fixture in the outfield or the starting line-up for more than the moment. he plays now because the team

a) has injured players

and

b) the team is awaiting the arrival of Dominguez and Pereira----- and/or pre-deadline acquisitions.


we should be wise to be dissatisfied with IKF as a starting outfielder but we might be a bit unwise to expect that the return of Stanton will not push IKF to the bench.

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fuster
May 28, 2023
Replying to

Judge, Cole and assorted prospects?


or perhaps the Cubs will eschew the big-ticket players and settle for a prospect or two as they rebuild.


they have no real need of Bellinger (now that they've re-signed Happ and have Crow-Armstrong and Alcantara in the pipeline) , gave up nothing to get him and have no long-term hold on him.


Sweeney and/or Fitts might suffice as a return

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yankeesblog
May 28, 2023

IKF is a well--below average player. Despite his recent heroics he has an OPS+ of 68 which is 16% below even his career mark of 84 which is 16% below the average major league player. Yes hes "versatile" - he can "play" several different positions but doesn't actually play any of them that well. And I'm tired of hearing about his "Gold Glove" which came in a 60-game season. That he's on the roster at all speaks volumes about the Yankees' roster construction issues. That he's starting so many games at a position he's never played before this season is an indictment of both Cashman and Boone.

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Robert Malchman
Robert Malchman
May 28, 2023

The problem with left field is that Cabrera has gone from 109 OPS+ to 54 OPS+, and his defensive runs saved per year has gone from 38 to 16. If Cabrera were playing as he did last year (which was a reasonable projection given that he's a 24-year-old, second-year player), he would be a perfectly serviceable outfielder, and we wouldn't be talking about IKF as anything other than a bench utility guy. Instead, Cabrera has fallen off a cliff, and it wouldn't shock me to see him optioned to Triple-A to see if he can find his swing.


I'd like to see Boone give Greg Allen a chance, perhaps platoon him with IKF playing against lefties to take advantage of…

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Robert Malchman
Robert Malchman
May 28, 2023
Replying to

Cabrera is an aberration in that he does much better in right than in left. It may be that he lacks range in YS III's bigger left field. It may be that he doesn't get to show off his arm as much (runners don't go first-to-third or tag up to go second-to-third when the ball is hit to left). But nearly always, players can move to the left on the defensive spectrum, particularly from RF to LF.

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