William Tasker grew up in Bergenfield, New Jersey but has lived in New England since 1975 and in the far reaches of northern Maine since 1990. Tasker is the author of nine (non-baseball related) books and, besides writing here for three years, has written for his own site at www.passion4baseball.blogspot.com since 2003.

Author Archives: William Tasker

Hopes, Expectations and Luis Severino

Severino SWB

Yankee fans have been clamoring for Luis Severino for quite some time. He is not quite 21 and a half years old and the hopes are through the roof. His start tonight against the Boston Red Sox is one of the most highly anticipated events for a Yankee team built on veterans but thin in the rotation. Can Severino do what few others have done for this team over its history–be a powerful force as a call up in a pennant race?

It is a tall order and Severino is not very tall. Listed at six feet in height, he will look like a point guard next to Ivan Nova and Michael Pineda. But, we are not talking height here. We are talking about long odds and lack of precedents.

Think back, long-time Yankee fans. When was the last time a prospect was called up in a pennant race and met/exceeded expectations? Joba Chamberlain in 2007 comes to mind. Shane Spencer wasn’t a touted prospect but crushed the ball at the Triple-A level.…

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The Slippery Slope of MLB’s Deal with DraftKings

There are so many fun things going on this season that I should glory in a seven game division lead and sing the Yankees’ praises. And maybe I will do that next week. However, there has been something sticking in my craw for weeks now and I need to talk about it. The “It” is Major League Baseball’s marriage to DraftKings. The deal is, of course, worth millions to the league and its owners and you could even say that it draws more interest to the game from casual fans. But that doesn’t make this a good thing for the game.

First, some background, both personal and about how we got here. Let’s start with the latter. In 2006, the federal government passed the Unlawful Internet Gambling Enforcement Act in response to a growing plague of online gambling sites. As a part of that law, it is spelled out that fantasy sports are not gambling because it is a game of skill and not of chance.…

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Nathan Eovolving

MLB: Philadelphia Phillies at New York Yankees

There was a time earlier in this season when a Nathan Eovaldi start would bring a certain level of dread. We all saw his numbers with the Miami Marlins and his early results with the Yankees were not all that different. Here we are in July and at least the palms don’t get a bit sweaty until the fifth inning. That is progress. And if you look closely at the numbers, Eovaldi is evolving and there is the hope that the Yankees have themselves a pitcher here.

The big thing going for Eovaldi is that despite the lack of success his “stuff” produced, the “stuff” was there and he is only 25-years-old. Like the old line in the Alladin movie, “He can be taught!” The result of that teaching is starting to pay off.

In Eovaldi’s last six starts, he has pitched 33.1 innings and has allowed 30 hits. That is fairly significant an evolution as the one hallmark of Eovaldi’s entire career is giving up a bunch of hits.…

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Projecting Chase Headley in the Second Half


During the Yankees’ off season (after the 2014 season), I did not want the Yankees to get all crazy signing free agents. But the one signing I coveted was Chase Headley. And then time seemed to drag on until December and the Yankees reeled him in at a fairly modest three-year deal. I was very excited. After a very successful Spring Training, I even picked him for my fantasy team. Flash forward to the All Star Break and Chase Headley has been worth -2.9 runs at the plate and -1 run in the field. What the heck happened to Chase Headley!? And what will he offer in the second half?

The reason for being excited about the December signing was that he was solid at the plate in his late stint with the Yankees in 2014 and was spectacular in the field. Headley’s play at third has been disappointing to say the least in 2015 and his offense at the plate is very reminiscent to what he was like for the Padres in 2014 before the trade.…

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Pace Made In New York City


Before the 2015 season started, Major League Baseball made a major push to speed up the game. MLB did not go as drastic as some wanted and more so than some (read David Ortiz) liked. A half a season has gone by and most of the reports about the pace of the game were from early April. Let’s take a look at what a half season has brought.

The emphasis placed on pace of the game has made a difference. The average game this season across the board is 2:57. That is a full ten minutes shorter per game than last year and the first time the average game has been under three hours since 2011.

Last year set a record for slowness. Baseball started keeping track of game times permanently in 1920. The average game back then was 1:51. Imagine how much earlier you would get to bed on those game recaps!

In 2014, every team in baseball except for the Seattle Mariners averaged over three hours per game.…

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About Last Night And Other Thoughts

Teix-McCann vs TB

The New York Yankees have now won seven games in a row and have built back their AL East leading margin to two and a half games. Life is feeling pretty good right now. Masahiro Tanaka has given the team two great starts and the Yankees are getting timely hits of the big fly variety and the one base at a time type too. Let’s look at a few things to bask in this little glow (before dark clouds roll in).

The impressive part of this win streak is that Yankee starting pitchers have won six of the seven games. In other words, they have all pitched well enough to stay in the game, have competed and have come out ahead. Tanaka, of course, has been VERY encouraging. But CC Sabathia, Adam Warren, Nathan Eovaldi and Michael Pineda have all won games in this streak. That is encouraging and impressive.

With Ivan Nova in the wings and the way these starters are pitching, does that buzz for Cole Hamels at the expense of prospects still sound like a good idea?…

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About Last Night and Other Hump Day Thoughts

Despite another game of poor defense and batter befuddlement at the hands of Mike Montgomery making his MLB debut, the Yankees came back to tie the game off of closer, Fernando Rodney, and won the game in extras. Two of the key contributors to the comeback and the win were guys who have been kicked all over New York by the fans and the media. You go, Stephen Drew and Garrett Jones!

Here are some of the random thoughts I had while staying up way too late to watch the game:

First, why does the defense always seem to get all jelly-legged when behind CC Sabathia? Yes, the big pitcher is not what he used to be and cannot just power his way out of jams like in the past, but man, the defense puts him in these messes quite often. Chase Headley booted a double-play ball and then Carlos Beltran misplayed a ball hit out to him in right.…

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Dellin Betances and Must See Baseball


I had a brief conversation on Twitter with Katie Sharp last night. I asked her (since she is so good at such things) if the Royals had been struck out in order in any inning this season. Her reply was, “You mean, how many times have they been Betances’d?” I laughed and said exactly. She later came back and said that it did not appear to have happened to them before Dellin Betances put them away in order last night on fourteen pitches. Betances has become must see TV.

There are several players that I would pay more to watch play baseball. Mike Trout comes to mind, Kris Bryant, Bryce Harper and Clayton Kershaw. Dellin Betances has become in that company for me. As soon as he comes in the game, adrenalin kicks in, the heart rate rises, anticipation becomes overwhelming and then awe once the inning (or two) is over. His outings are mesmerizing.

I am not sure even those of us who watch baseball every day understand what we are seeing.…

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About Last Night: Eovaldi, The Fifth Inning, and Other Thoughts

Eovaldi vs WAS II

Courtesy of Getty Images

The New York Yankees keep giving Nathan Eovaldi leads and the pitcher just cannot seem to handle the windfall. Last night, the Yankees had just spotted Eovaldi with a 6-2 lead after scoring four runs in the fourth and another two in the top of the fifth. Eovaldi’s response was the walk the first batter he faced in the bottom of the fifth. Yankee fans everywhere threw stuff.

Sure enough, it was the start of a bad inning that turned a good chance for a win (calculated at 89% at that moment) to a loss. Eovaldi only recorded one out in the inning.

You get to the point where you wonder if Nathan Eovaldi needs a good sports psychologist. Like many starting pitchers, Eovaldi has trouble with the first inning. His ERA this season in that frame is 7.88. But then he settles down nicely in the second through the fourth inning. In the fifth inning, it gets ugly.…

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