About Kenny Ducey

Kenny is a freelance radio reporter with the AP, MetroSource, WFAN & CBS Sports. He writes about the Yankees at It's About The Money and Baseball Prospectus Bronx. Long-time Jason Giambi and Alex Rodriguez defender.

Half-Hearted Game Preview: 8/11

Luis Severino pitches today! That will be fun. Carlos Carrasco pitching for the Indians will surely not be fun, though.

Let’s think about this, regarding the Yankees’ offense. A-Rod is hitting .185 in August. Jacoby Ellsbury is under .200 since returning from the Disabled List. I have confidence in this changing, and I have the feeling you do as well – given how consistent Rodriguez was up to this point, and how good Ellsbury was last season, and before the DL.

Plus, Yankees starters are on an absolute tear this past week or so, and Severino pitched well enough his last time out to give you confidence that will continue. The Indians have been very weak at the plate. When it comes down to it, the offense should only need a few runs to put this one away.

Carrasco has actually been better on lefties this season (.222 vs .252 BAA) which might make you fearful, but here’s a split that’s way more lopsided: Carrasco’s BAA jumps from .180 to .304 at home versus on the road. Even though he’s been superb over his last seven starts, he has a weakness at home.

Outside of newly-acquired Chris Johnson, who was 4-for-4 Sunday with two doubles, there’s not too much that’s exciting about the Indians. Michael Brantley is red hot, and Jason Kipnis is Jason Kipnis, but Brandon Moss and Carlos Santana probably aren’t going to burn you.

Bottom line? Severino was tremendous at missing bats in his start last week against Boston, who have struck out the third-fewest times in baseball. Cleveland is three spots worse. If he can prove his ability to do that against these two clubs, his immediate impact could continue to be incredibly useful. Continue reading Half-Hearted Game Preview: 8/11

Should the Yankees Reacquire Martin Prado?

The Yankees need a second baseman.

Starters at the position have hit a team-low .193 this season, with a .619 OPS. Stephen Drew continues to draw starts despite his disappointing play, Jose Pirela’s bat hasn’t quite packed the punch the Yankees had hoped, and the team doesn’t appear ready to give Rob Refsnyder a shot yet.

Several teams have noted interest in 2B Ben Zobrist of the Athletics, so his price may be a bit too high for New York’s liking. A cheaper option may be looking to acquire an old friend.

According to Joel Sherman of the New York Post, Martin Prado might be an option for the Yankees.

The Yankees traded for the 31 year-old at last year’s trade deadline, before shipping him off to the Marlins last December along with David Phelps for Nate Eovaldi. He missed some time due to a shoulder ailment this season, and has posted an 88 OPS+ in 73 games. That would be an upgrade over Stephen Drew’s 76 OPS+ in twelve more games.

The question is, though, would reacquiring Martin Prado be worth it for the Yankees?

It all depends on demand. The shoulder injury has seemingly dissuaded some ballclubs, seeing as how the Marlins have gone from wanting a big return to now being a bit more open. From the sounds of it, it doesn’t seem like the Yankees would need to part with one of their top prospects, their reported goal for the trade deadline.

Prado nearly pushed the Yankees into the playoffs last season. His leadership was vital, and his power saw a nice bump playing in a hitter’s ballpark like Yankee Stadium. In order to get there again this season, they might need it back. They’re paying him $3 of his $11 million each of the next two seasons regardless of where he plays, anyway. Continue reading Should the Yankees Reacquire Martin Prado?

Looking Ahead to the Yankees’ First Week Back

The last time I wrote a weekly forecast for the Yankees, maybe a month or so ago, the feel was optimistic. They had a week full of unspectacular pitchers to look forward to, and they took advantage of each one of them. This next week will be a bit different.

On tap the Yankees will face Seattle then Baltimore, before heading to Minnesota – all while clinging to a 3.5-game lead on the Tampa Bay Rays and a 4-game difference over the Baltimore Orioles. They’ll all be coming out with guns blazing, showcasing their best pitching talent.

Friday, July 17th vs Seattle – Masahiro Tanaka (5-3, 3.63 ERA) vs Mike Montgomery (4-3, 2.29 ERA)

Montgomery has been solid since the Yankees last saw him make his Major League debut June 2nd. A 2.62 K:BB ratio is nothing to shake fist at, and his HR/FB rate (5.4%) is encouraging – especially as he enters Yankee Stadium. Limited walks combined with a low tendency to allow home runs makes this a difficult matchup for the Yankees on paper, especially since they’ve hit lefties worse this season (.242 BA vs. .259). For Tanaka, this is a prime chance to build some momentum. He was solid his last time out in a win against the A’s on the 9th, and he’ll look to string together three straight starts with three or fewer runs allowed, after allowing 11 over two straight to end June.

Saturday, July 18th vs Seattle – Michael Pineda (9-5) vs Hisashi Iwakuma (1-1, 5.22 ERA)

Ah, always nice to have Michael Pineda throw against the Mariners. He might even get to face Jesus Montero, who the Yankees traded for him! That would be fun. If I had to guess, I’d say Montero homers to right off of him.

Don’t let the numbers fool you, Iwakuma can throw. He had a few brutal outings before going on the DL in April,and struggled in his return on July 6th. He then went out and impressed against the Angels, throwing eight scoreless innings with 6 K’s, and just three hits allowed. The crafty 35 year-old was very dependable last year and should give the Yankees trouble.

Sunday, July 19th vs Seattle – C.C. Sabathia (4-8, 5.47 ERA) vs Felix Hernandez (11-5, 2.84 ERA)

I will say this – it would not surprise me to see C.C. have a decent outing against the Mariners’ offense, who don’t scare many pitchers. That said, the Yankees used up their get-to-king-felix-for-a-million-runs card already so I think we can safely say King Felix will be King Felix.

Tuesday, July 21st vs Baltimore – Nate Eovaldi (9-2, 4.50 ERA) vs Wei-Yin Chen (4-5, 2.78 ERA)

Eovaldi is a different guy at Yankee Stadium, with a .273 BAA and 3.72 ERA in 8 home starts. He’ll need to be on, as runs should be at a premium in this game. Chen’s 3.60 K:BB is nice, and he’s gone at least seven innings in four of his last five starts (went eight three times). He will hang around and is another guy who limits walks, with just a 5.7% rate. That’s big against the Yankees, who eat pitchers alive by taking lots of pitches outside the zone. and working counts. Continue reading Looking Ahead to the Yankees’ First Week Back

This Guy Needs to Take a Hike

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I have no idea what this tweet even means. After multiple conversations with the Yankees, the guy who caught A-Rod’s 3,000th hit still has the ball. There’s a very easy way to get in touch with the Yankees, or A-Rod at this point. No need for this.

On top of it all, this man has tweeted in the past that he’s not a fan of A-Rod. What’s he going to do if A-Rod follows him back? Shift over into his DMs and berate him? I have no idea with this guy anymore. This is not only desperate, but confusing. Just sell the damn ball, or give it to the Baseball Hall of Fame, or put it on your mantle. But quit trying to drag out your 15 minutes of fame.

It seems like this man is desperately trying to get to Alex Rodriguez, and Alex Rodriguez is dodging him masterfully. He made one joke about his ball in his postgame press conference, then he stopped caring – at least in the public eye. Another win for A-Rod. Continue reading This Guy Needs to Take a Hike

The Disaster Factor: Nathan Eovaldi

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Things could have gone better for Nathan Eovaldi last night. 11 batters, nine hits, eight runs. His ERA rose from 4.13 to 5.12 on the year. How worried should we be?

Turning to Eovaldi’s last couple of starts, one might not think things are terribly concerning. In his previous four starts, he gave up 8 ER over 24 innings. However, he was lucky the damage wasn’t more severe.

Over those four outings previous to Miami, Eovaldi had some incredibly fortunate strand rates, and with the exception of his 4.2-inning performance, hitters were getting unlucky at the plate with their BABIP.

Game IP ER H BB LOB% BABIP
vs WSH 6/10 7.0 3 8 1 79.0% .292
vs LAA 6/05 (W) 5.1 1 4 4 87.5% .235
@ OAK 5/30 4.2 3 11 0 72.7% .500
vs KC 5/25 (W) 7.0 1 8 1 90.0% .333

The luck he’s had with stranding runners isn’t anything new – his mark for the entire season is 73%. So, the two wins he picked up against LA and Kansas City could have very much gone the other way, and Eovaldi could be sitting at 3-2, at best.

The other trend that’s been prominent this season is Eovaldi’s ineffectiveness on the road. He’s 2-2 with a 6.31 ERA in 7 starts on the road compared to 3-0 with a 3.89 at home. I suppose that can comfort some – that at the very least you can count on him in the Bronx. And, the Yankees will be at home a good amount in the coming months.

In the end, I certainly wonder about how the next seven starts will go for Eovaldi. Will he stop putting on baserunners at this high rate? It’s not a disaster – not yet.

Disaster Factor: 6/10

Bullpen/AAA Threat Level: Blue

(Photo: Brad Penner – USA Today) Continue reading The Disaster Factor: Nathan Eovaldi

Pregame Notes: June 9th

Good evening from Yankee Stadium where Max Scherzer and Bryce Harper are here to spoil the Yankees’ winning streak which is now out to 6 games. Here’s what we learned pregame:

Max Scherzer “tried to elevate and do some things” last time he faced the Yankees, according to Joe Girardi, so they anticipate some fastballs up in the zone. Scherzer comes in hot, having won his first ever Pitcher of the Month in the month of May – he gave up eight earned runs in 43 innings.
Ivan Nova threw 75 pitches in a rehab assignment and recorded 12 groundball outs, which impressed Girardi. He’ll throw more pitches in his next outing, which will come in AAA. Girardi said the team probably wants Nova to throw over 85 pitches before they bring him up to the Majors, but didn’t rule out Nova’s next rehab outing being his last.
Alex Rodriguez held a press conference for the spanish media and said he feels like he’s a rookie again. Girardi said he’s handled it well, and that he’s “enjoying the game, enjoying his teammates, and his teammates enjoy him being around.”
Brendan Ryan does not have a plan yet.
On The Draftees, Joe Girardi said he watched their scouting videos on MLB Network, and that’s about it. He noted the first two picks are college kids, and that the organization hopes they’re with the team quickly. Conference call coming soon.
Jacoby Ellsbury is still hurt and there’s no timetable for a rehab assignment. “Every day it’s increasing slowly,” Girardi said.
Masahiro Tanaka is no longer part of the injury report, and looks for his fourth win of the year. The Yankees have swept two straight series for the first time since June of 2012, when they swept three straight against the Mets, Braves, and Nationals. Another nugget – Yankee hitters have homered in six straight games.

Game thread coming shortly. Continue reading Pregame Notes: June 9th

Forecasting the Rest of the Week

The Yankees have had a miserable go of things over the past couple of weeks. This week, however, it looks like the sun is shining down on them. As it turns out, the toughest pitcher they were to face all week was a Mr. Felix Hernandez. They handled him with ease. Now comes the fun part.

A week like this one, filled with hittable scheduled starters, could help the team gain some much-needed steam as they head down the east coast to play the Nationals and Orioles.

Tuesday, June 2nd @ Seattle: CC Sabathia (2-7) vs. Mike Montgomery (0-0)

Look, Mike Montgomery was a first-round pick of the Royals back in 2008, and at 25 is finally making his big league debut. He’s not as highly-touted a prospect as he once was, but that’s not to say he’s not a good pitcher. He’s 4-3 with a 3.74 ERA in 53 innings over nine starts for Triple-A Tacoma this season. I don’t expect him to dazzle the Yankees, and considering what took place last night, I’d give them a good shot at winning.

Wednesday, June 3rd @ Seattle: #TANAK (2-1) vs. Taijuan Walker (2-5)

Walker has been a wreck this season, posting a 6.18 ERA over 10 starts. That said, he threw eight shutout innings against the Indians his last time out. Much like Montgomery, I won’t lock the Yankees into a win, but I like their chances. Walker is good, but he had too many control issues just a week ago to make me buy in.

Friday, June 5th vs. LA Angels: Nathan Eovaldi (4-1) vs. Jered Weaver (4-4)

The Yankees return home to the hitter-friendly Yankee Stadium to face Jered Weaver, who’s Home Run to Fly Ball ratio is a tasty 10.6% (his previous career high was 8.9%, last season). I think Teixeira takes him yard. The Yankees should hit many baseballs.

Saturday, June 6th vs. LA Angels: Adam Warren (3-4) vs. Matt Shoemaker (3-4)

Advantage Yankees yet again. Matt Shoemaker’s ERA is 5.08, he’s giving up over 2 Home Runs per nine innings, and his HR/FB ratio is…wait for it…17.8%! Wow. The Yankees should have a nice offensive day here as well. Maybe even Stephen Drew picks up a couple of hits.

Maybe not.

Sunday, June 7th vs LA Angels: Michael Pineda (7-2) vs. Garrett Richards (5-3)

The Yankees’ toughest tests come at the beginning and end of the week, though thankfully they also come with their hottest pitcher on the mound. Richards rides in striking out over seven batters per nine with a comfortable 3.26 ERA. That said, he’s surrendered 11 ER in his last three starts over 18.2 IP. He’s in a bit of a cold streak, but hitters are still just .213 against him. This one won’t come easy.

This week is looking up. The rain in the northeast appears to be letting up, the Yankees have pitchers lined up which they can take advantage of, and they’re atop the AL East by a game. That lead could expand come next Sunday, and we could be looking at a team with more swagger. All they need to do is capitalize on what’s in front of them. Continue reading Forecasting the Rest of the Week

Game 52 Recap: Yankees 7, Mariners 2

After losing three of four to one of the worst teams in all of baseball, you’ll take a night like Monday. Especially when it comes against a premier pitcher. The New York Yankees, fresh off being shut out by Jesse Chavez in Oakland, turned in a seven-run performance against Felix Hernandez on the road, led by Mark Teixeira’s grand slam in the fifth – his 15th of the season (4th in MLB). He’s just the fifth player to ever hit a slam against King Felix, and the first since Alberto Callaspo in May of 2012. Michael Pineda gyrated his way around Continue reading Game 52 Recap: Yankees 7, Mariners 2

Quick Hit: Pulling Still a Problem for Some Yankees

It’s been over a year now since Brian McCann has recognized his growing problem with the infield shift. It even looked like he was making progress last season, distributing his line dives fairly evenly.

McCann’s pulling problem has only gotten worse this year. While his average sits at .245, his Offensive fWAR is already at -2.7 – a season after he posted a -7.2. That’s due in large part to his habit of hitting the ball to the right side of the field.

2013 (ATL) 2014 (NYY) 2015 (NYY)
GB% 35.4% 32.7% 38.1%
Pull% 48.6% 44.1% 49.6%
Hard Hit% 35.3% 31.0% 27.8%

McCann actually did reduce the number of balls he pulled to right field last season – 44% was the third-lowest rate of his career & the lowest since 2007. This season, though, his problem is back. As evidenced by his increased ground ball rate, and reduced hard-hit ball rate, those balls are headed right into the shift. You can expect to see three fielders to the right side of the infield for the foreseeable future when the Yankees’ catcher steps to the dish.

As for the Yankees’ other heavily-shifted batter, Mark Teixeira, things aren’t looking up either. Teixeira’s pull rate (56.8%) and ground ball rate (43.2%) so far in 2015 are career-highs.

Teixeira once pulled the ball at a 56.7% clip, but that was back in 2004.

That being said, Teixeira has sent 13 balls over the fence this season, and has hit 8 doubles. He’s managed to hit the ball hard enough to stay out of serious trouble. If his power sputters, though, don’t be surprised to see the shift work against him more often.

The Yankees’ record hasn’t sunk to 23-22 because of teams shifting Brian McCann and Mark Teixeira. It just doesn’t help when defenses have an easy tendency to exploit, and attack it. Continue reading Quick Hit: Pulling Still a Problem for Some Yankees