About Brad Vietrogoski

Born in Dover, Delaware and raised in Danbury, Connecticut, Brad now resides in Wisconsin, where he regularly goes out of his way to remind Brewers fans that their team will never be as good as the Yankees. When he’s not writing for IIATMS, he likes to spend his time incorporating “Seinfeld” quotes into everyday conversation, critiquing WWE storylines, and drinking enough beer to be good at darts.

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

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. Continue reading Tuesday Morning Links: 4/19/16

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. Continue reading Monday Morning Musings: 4/18/16

Sunday Morning News And Notes: 4/17/16

Sorry I wasn’t around yesterday, gang.  Milwaukee Beer Week started yesterday and there were some festivities in which I had to participate after a long work week.  Let’s catch up on what’s been happening the last few days, shall we?

– The Yankees have lost each of the first 2 games of this Seattle series, both very winnable games that the Mariners seemingly did everything in their power to give away.  The Yanks were done in by their ridiculous run of early-season RISPFail and the dreaded “1 bad inning” from their starters.  But hey, the bullpen still looks great, right??

– The RISPFail has been really, really bad.  The team is 3-46 with runners in scoring position over their last 5 games, and if I’m not mistaken I believe 2 of those 3 hits only advanced a runner to third and did not score him.  That makes it pretty easy to understand how the Yanks have gone 1-4 in those last 5 games and scored 10 total runs.

Alex Rodriguez is 0 for his last 19 after taking an 0-5 with 3 Ks yesterday and is down to .103/.235/.207 on the year.  It looks to me like he’s seeing the ball well enough, his swing is just a little slow.  It’s way too early to start fretting about how bad he’ll be for the rest of this year, but I have to think Joe will bump him down in the order today for Carlos Beltran.  You can’t have your worst hitter batting third while your team is struggling to score runs.

– One good thing the Yankees are doing offensively right now is stealing bases.  They swiped 3 yesterday and come into today’s series finale tied with the Astros for the MLB lead with 11.  Interestingly enough, Chase Headley is tied for the team lead with 3.  He didn’t steal a single base last year.  Something something, you can’t predict baseball.

– Also, the bullpen.  Holy crap it’s been good.  Tops in MLB in fWAR (1.1), FIP (1.78), and K rate (33.1%).  Collectively they’ve faced 136 batters in 32.1 innings pitched and struck out 45 of them.  That’s insane.  Dellin Betances has fanned 12 of the 21 guys he’s faced so far, and Andrew Miller has K’d 9 of the 14 he’s faced.  Admittedly this group is top-heavy, with Betances, Miller, Chasen Shreve, and Johnny Barbato doing the heavy lifting and combining for a 0.00 ERA, but the numbers aren’t any less impressive.

– And how about Barbato?  Another scoreless appearance yesterday, giving him 5 on the young season in 6.0 IP.  He’s struck out 9 to just 2 walks and given up only 2 hits.  His stuff continues to look plenty good to be effective at this level and he pitches with the aggressiveness that some of the Yankees’ other Triple-A shuttle guys lacked last year.  No chance he should even be in consideration for a shuttle trip if he continues to pitch well.

James Kaprielian made his second start of the MiL season yesterday.  He didn’t allow an earned run in 7 innings, but it was his defensive error that led to 3 unearned runs.  He also only gave up 1 hit and struck out 4, so it doesn’t look like his time in Tampa is going to be very long.

We’ll have a game thread later this afternoon and I’ll be back for the recap later tonight, I promise.  Let’s see if the boys can’t break out of this funk today and win one. Continue reading Sunday Morning News And Notes: 4/17/16

Game 8 Quick Recap: TOR 4 NYY 2

[caption id="attachment_80982" align="aligncenter" width="525"]Eovaldi HR vs TOR Courtesy of the AP[/caption]

Well that got crappy in a hurry.  The Yankees looked like they were on their way to another series victory last night with a couple early runs and a downright dominant Nathan Eovaldi on the mound.  But a few bad pitches in the middle innings and an offensive disappearance flipped the script and the Yankees head back home with a disappointing loss in their pocket.

Eovaldi was a beast in the early going.  His splitter had great late movement, he was snapping curveballs in for called strikes, lighting up the radar gun with his fastball.  He struck out 5 in the first 4 innings, all scoreless, and worked out of a 2 on/2 out jam in the 5th by getting Troy Tulowitzki to pop up on the first pitch and striking out Michael Saunders.

The lineup wasn’t giving him much support against Marcus Stroman, but they did manage to scratch 2 runs across in the top of the 4th.  Stroman hit A-Rod with a pitch with 1 out, Mark Teixeira singled to right, and Brian McCann was credited with an infield single to load the bases.  Carlos Beltran drove in a run on a groundout to the right side of the infield, and after Chase Headley walked to reload the bases, Teix scampered home on a wild pitch.  Take ’em however you can get ’em.

Eovaldi handled the shutdown inning in the bottom half, but got into trouble with a walk to Russell Martin and a 2-out double by Kevin Pillar to give Josh Donaldson an at-bat with runners in scoring position.  Eovaldi hung a 1-0 splitter and Donaldson annihilated it to center field for a go-ahead 3-run home run.  It was brutal.  Eovaldi backed that up by hanging a slider to Tulo in the 6th that he hit for an insurance solo job.  Always nice to help break legit MVP-caliber players out of slumps.

The offense dried up for good after the 4th.  Stroman got through 8 innings with hardly another threat.  Jacoby Ellsbury walked and stole second in the 5th inning and the Yankees never put another man on base after that.  12 up, 12 down over the final 4 frames.  Donaldson homer took the wind out of their sails, tore the sails to shreds, lit those shreds on fire, and sank the boat with a laser-guided missile. Continue reading Game 8 Quick Recap: TOR 4 NYY 2

Game 7 Quick Recap: TOR 7 NYY 2

The good news is that Michael Pineda looked more like the good version of Big Mike that we want to see last night.  The bad news is that Ivan Nova stinks in the bullpen just as much as he did in the rotation.  The bad outweighed the good last night as the Yankees dropped the middle game of this 3-game road set.

Pineda was seemingly in trouble all night, but for the most part he managed to avoid turning it into big trouble.  He worked around 2 singles in the 1st inning, gave up a run on a walk and a double in the 2nd, and pitched around 2-out baserunners in the 4th and 6th.  The pothole in the road was the Ronald Torreyes throwing error that allowed a run to score in the bottom of the 5th, but that was set up by a leadoff walk and another double.  It was walks, doubles, and well-timed double plays all night for Pineda.  A few things go differently and maybe he finishes his 6 innings with 1 run against him.

The Yankee bats mustered up a pair of runs on an Aaron Hicks ribbie groundout and a Mark Teixeira solo home run that briefly brought them back within a run in the 8th inning.  But then Nova entered and put the game out of reach.  Double, wild pitch, double, groundout to advance, single, double, sac fly, HBP, single in a 20-pitch span and the Blue Jays had driven their lead to 7-2.  Nova was missing with his fastball and the Toronto hitters were looking to swing early on him.  Not a good combination. Continue reading Game 7 Quick Recap: TOR 7 NYY 2

Quick Hit: McCann’s Toe Injury

If you watched last night’s game, you were probably a little uneasy seeing Brian McCann limp around the bases for his game-tying home run and move gingerly in general after taking a foul ball off his left foot in the middle of the game.  It was serious enough for him to get checked out by trainers on the field at one point, but not serious enough for him to come out of the game until the 9th inning.

The early concern was that his left big toe could be broken and there were plans to have McCann X-rayed after he came out.  Instead he had some blood drained from the toe and a fluoroscope taken at Rogers Centre.  That doesn’t sound like an actual medical procedure to me, but I’m not a doctor and it showed no break, so for now the team is calling it a bruised left toe and waiting to see how McCann feels today.

Joe announced after last night’s game ended that McCann would get tonight off, so bare minimum this is something serious enough to keep him out of action for 1 game and get him tagged with the old “day-to-day” label.  Beyond that we don’t know right now, although I imagine we will find out more as today progresses.  It goes without saying that losing McCann for any extended period of time would be a big blow.  He’s been the hottest hitter in the lineup since Opening Day.  Hopefully this is something that keeps him out for a day or 2 and doesn’t linger as the season goes on. Continue reading Quick Hit: McCann’s Toe Injury

Game 6 Recap: Yankees 3 Blue Jays 2

[caption id="attachment_80969" align="aligncenter" width="525"]Yankees Win vs TOR News being spread. Courtesy of the AP[/caption]

The Yankees were a well-rested bunch heading north of the border for the first time this year for a meeting with the divisional rival Blue Jays.  The rainout on Sunday in Detroit made sure of that.  That extra day of rest meant Joe had the option of leaning on his lights out bullpen more if he needed to last night, and Joe didn’t hesitate to do that when the opportunity presented itself.  The bullpen did what they’ve been doing: prevented runs, provided distance, protected leads, and struck guys out, and the Yankees took the first game of the series.

Joe was probably hoping he wouldn’t have to ask a lot of his ‘pen in ace Masahiro Tanaka‘s second start of the year.  Tanaka was pretty good in his first start, but a lack of pinpoint command on the corners and a careful approach with men on base drove his pitch count up and he didn’t get through the 6th inning.  It was more of the same last night, as Tanaka racked up a lot of pitches early and only completed 5.

It started in the bottom of the 1st when he got 2 relatively quick outs before walking Jose Bautista and Edwin Encarnacion on 13 pitches.  The Encarnacion at-bat was especially frustrating because Tanaka started him off with 2 swinging strikes and then never came close to putting him away on the next 4 pitches.  Tanaka survived the inning unscathed and worked around a leadoff walk in the second, but his command problems finally cost him in the 3rd, when a leadoff hit batsman in an 0-2 count turned into 2 Toronto runs on a Josh Donaldson single and Jose Bautista double.  To be fair to Tanaka, it was Jacoby Ellsbury‘s misread that allowed Bautista’s double to be a double.  Not sure what he saw, but it was a bad play and it gave Toronto an extra run.

It took the Yankees a while to match that 2-spot against Toronto starter Aaron Sanchez.  They got a run in the top of the 2nd on a pair of walks and a ribbie groundout by Starlin Castro, but for the most part Sanchez was in control.  He was hitting spots with his fastball, drawing big swings and misses with his curveball, and working around trouble.  The only real mistake he made on the night was a 3-2 fastball to Brian McCann in the 6th that drifted over the middle of the plate.  McCann crushed it for a solo home run to right to tie the game and set the stage for Ellsbury’s redemption.

Also credit the guys in front of him for their stage-setting performance as well.  Chase Headley welcomed Brett Cecil to the game with a leadoff single in the 7th, then Cecil conveniently walked Castro on 4 pitches.  This allowed Didi Gregorius to get down a sacrifice bunt to move the runners up, and here came Ellsbury.  He drew a full count against Cecil and went the other way with a 3-2 fastball, getting just enough of it to plop it in between the shortstop and left fielder for the go-ahead single.  It wasn’t pretty, but it got the job done and gave the bullpen the lead.

Oh yeah, the bullpen.  All they did was throw 4 scoreless, hitless innings with 5 strikeouts.  Barbato to Shreve to Betances to Miller.  These guys are good and the Yankees are too.  4-2 in their first 6 games with Big Mike returning to the hill tonight. Continue reading Game 6 Recap: Yankees 3 Blue Jays 2

Quick Hit: Rumbelow Needs TJS

Didn’t get to this last night, but it appears as though we have our first significant arm injury of the year.  As first reported by Chad Jennings, Nick Rumbelow needs Tommy John Surgery in his right elbow and will miss the rest of this season.  The report was picked up by a bunch of other beat guys and later confirmed by GM Brian Cashman.

Rumbelow was in the running for an Opening Day bullpen spot earlier in Spring Training.  He pitched to a 4.02/3.84/3.87 tripleslash in 17 big league appearances last year and figured to factor into the SWB shuttle at some point this season, although the Yankees had been experimenting with stretching him out as a starter after he was reassigned to MiL camp.  He made a relief appearance on Sunday and had to leave the game with an injury.  That injury was to his pitching elbow and it will require TJS.  Major bummer for Rumbelow.

Also a major bummer for the Yankees, who have lost another piece of relief depth.  They’re already without Bryan Mitchell for at least the next 4 months and Aroldis Chapman for the next 24 games.  Now without Rumbelow they’re down to Nick Goody and Branden Pinder as the only righty relievers left on the 40-man roster, along with lefties James Pazos, Jacob Lindgren, and Tyler Olson. Continue reading Quick Hit: Rumbelow Needs TJS