Quick Hit: Greg Bird Off To A Hot Start In The AZFL

The Arizona Fall League is a little over a week underway and so far it’s been mostly uneventful for the Yankee reps.  Tyler Austin and Dante Bichette Jr. are both off to slow starts with the bat and Aaron Judge has only appeared in 3 games.  None of the 3 pitchers are doing anything special in their first few appearances.

The one player who is making headlines is Greg Bird.  He’s gotten the most burn out of the 4 position players, playing in 8 of the 9 games so far, and he’s been a fixture hitting in prime middle-of-the-order spots and playing first base.  In 36 plate appearances, Bird has a .394/.444/.758 batting line with 3 doubles, 3 home runs, 9 R scored, and 9 RBI.  His 25 total bases are almost double the next highest total on his team.

About the only thing Bird hasn’t done well is limit his strikeouts.  He’s K’d 10 times in his 36 plate appearances.  …

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Quick Hit: Giving Props to Larry Rothschild

The Yankees pitching staff this season felt as if it was cobbled together from rubbish and assorted cadavers, and held together by Scotch tape and some good ol’ fashioned Elmer’s glue. A total of thirty-three players threw a pitch for the team this year (and I say ‘players’ and not ‘pitchers’ because of Dean Anna), and thirteen pitchers started at least one game. The Yankees Opening Day rotation – CC Sabathia, Hiroki Kuroda, Ivan Nova, Masahiro Tanaka, and Michael Pineda – combined to make only seventy-seven starts. Twenty-seven games were started by pitchers in their first taste of the Majors (Shane Greene, Chase Whitley, and Bryan Mitchell), and another twenty-seven went to folk that were on another team when the season kicked off (Brandon McCarthy, Chris Capuano, and the immortal Esmil Rogers). And, finally, the team used twenty-six different players out of the bullpen. To call it a staff in flux may be the understatement of the year.…

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Jeter Providing One Last Memory With Late-Season Surge

Jeter vs TOR 9-20

Courtesy of Getty Images

Things were looking bleak for Derek Jeter heading into his final homestand at Yankee Stadium.  He was in an 0-28 slump, his season OPS had dropped below .600, and his team had slowly and sadly withered and fallen off the postseason race radar.  It seemed like there was going to be an almost pitiful feeling to Jeter’s last 6 home games; a team trying to pump meaning and energy into a situation that had none, a player trying to not go out in underwhelming fashion, and a fanbase just trying to be polite and pay respect to the memory of the better times for the player they loved.

Then Jeter picked up a hit in the final game of the last road trip, breaking the hitless streak and giving himself a little momentum heading back home.  Then he hit a deep home run on Thursday night in the first game of the homestand and finished with a 2-hit game.  …

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Quick Hit: Can I Start Calling Them The B-Team Now?

If you’ve been hung up on the horrific offense, you might not have noticed this positive trend that Sweeny touched on last night.  The bullpen has been lights out for the last week.  20.2 scoreless innings is damn good and 7.2 of those innings have been pitched by the bargain bin collection of Huff, Whitley, Rogers, Hill, and Outman.  Add in another 3 from Shawn Kelley in 4 appearances and that’s more than half of that 20.2-inning scoreless streak being attributed to the 2nd, 3rd, and maybe 4th levels of the relief corps.

They don’t fill you with the level of confidence that comes with Betances and D-Rob, but give a tip of the cap to this crew.  They’re doing the job and doing it well when their name gets called.

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Quick Hit: Bullpen B-Team Gets It Done

The 9th inning home run dramatics will get the headlines this morning, but the key to the Yankee comeback last night was the stellar relief work by their bullpen.  Dellin Betances and David Robertson each gave Joe a couple of big innings to keep the team in the game after Capuano exited and set up the walk-off homer.

Oh wait, no they didn’t.  They were apparently unavailable due to each of them pitching once since last Sunday and so Joe elected to guy with his lower-tier guys.  With team team’s postseason heartbeat potentially on the line, Joe put it in the hands of Josh Outman, Rich Hill, Esmil Rogers, Shawn Kelley, and Adam Warren.  And they got it done.

4.2 innings, 1 hit, 0 runs, and 4 strikeouts.  If you saw that line coming from that group, you’re a smarter person than I.  Hill finally did what he was brought here to do and struck out David Ortiz in the 5th after Ortiz had taken Capuano yard twice.  …

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Quick Hit: Dellin Dealin’ For A Team Record

It’s going to get swallowed up in the underwhelming offensive production, second straight missed postseason, and JeterMania this month, but Dellin Betances deserves some ink for the Yankee record he’s chasing.  I wasn’t even aware he was that close until this morning.  Via Chad Jennings:

“Dellin Betances struck out two batters in a scoreless eighth inning. He now has 122 strikeouts in 81 innings this season and has a good chance to be the Yankees season leader in strikeouts while pitching the entire season out of the bullpen. He’s tied Goose Gossage for the second-most reliever strikeouts in a season (Gossage did it in 134.1 innings in 1978). The record is 130 set by Mariano Rivera in 107.2 innings 1996.”

That’s a hell of an accomplishment for Betances in his rookie season.  To be among the 2 best relievers in Yankee history, the best reliever in baseball history, and to be primed to beat both of their records in the reliever strikeout department.  …

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Giving Chris Capuano Some Love

Courtesy of Getty Images

The pitching staff of the New York Yankees is the reason that they have even the slightest chance to make the postseason this year. Michael Pineda, Shane Greene and Brandon McCarthy have been getting a lot of credit for their performances. Nobody has really realized just how good Chris Capuano has been.

When the Yankees traded for Capuano for cash on July 24th, he was thought just to be a filler in the rotation for a little bit. However, he has pitched so well that he has managed to stay in the rotation ever since. He has been another bargain bin pickup found by the Yankees’ analytics team that has turned into much more than that.

Capuano’s 1-2 record and 4.01 ERA will not jump out at you right away until you look deeper into his peripheral numbers. The Yankees don’t score runs for anybody, which explains his record. His 3.20 FIP with the Yankees suggests that he has been unlucky.…

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Quick Hit: How Are The Giveaways Doing?

Yesterday I looked at the early SSS returns from the 3 position player deadline acquisitions.  As a whole, the production hasn’t been great, but it got me thinking.  What have the guys who the Yankees gave up being doing?

Yangervis Solarte- .281/.361/.386, 3 HR, 18 R, 15 RBI, 11.1% BB/10.4% K rates in 135 PA w/ SD

Kelly Johnson- .160/.160/.200, 40.0% K rate in 25 PA w/ BOS

Brian Roberts- .000/.000/.000 (has not signed with a new team since getting DFA’d)

When you factor in the improved defensive performance of Headley, Prado, and Drew, and consider that Johnson and Roberts have basically been wallpaper since the Yankees dumped them, they’re still coming out winners on the trade deadline moves.  We can even take it a step further by comparing Brandon McCarthy and Vidal Nuno.

McCarthy- 1.90/2.33/2.54 in 52.0 IP (8 starts) w/ NYY

Nuno- 3.54/3.81/3.92 in 53.1 IP (9 starts) w/ ARI

While Nuno has been much better in the NL environment than in the AL, McCarthy has been even better than that and much, MUCH better than what Nuno was doing when he was still in the Yankee rotation.  …

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Quick Hit: Starters Keep On Keepin’ On

While I stand by my comment in Wednesday morning’s rant about how it sucks that the rotation can’t ever get through 6-7 innings, I wasn’t trying to suggest that the rotation has, in any way, been part of the problem.  They haven’t.  Boland tweeted this out last night and it’s the continuation of something I pointed out a month ago.  The Yankee rotation, whoever’s been in it, has been killing it since early July.  Who honestly thought that would be happening without Tanaka, Nova, and Pineda for most of the season?

The Good News Here- The Yankees have given themselves some nice options to consider for next year’s rotation.  Nova’s out, Kuroda’s going to retire, and CC’s knee may be past the point of usability.  They’re going to need multiple arms, and cheap young guys like Greene and Phelps could be very valuable in the 4th and 5th spots, as could someone like Brandon McCarthy.…

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