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 rating 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.…

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Quick Hit: Happy Jacob Lindgren Day, Everybody!

Jacob Lindgren

Courtesy of the AP

There isn’t a lot to be excited or happy about as a Yankee fan this morning.  The team is drowning in its own incompetence and poor play, with underperformances aplenty and a front office brain trust that seems perfectly comfortable with the mediocrity in front of it.

But in this 1-9 darkness, there may be a small beam of light and hope that breaks through today.  The team announced after yesterday’s shellacking that they would be calling up top relief prospect Jacob Lindgren to fortify the bullpen.  The move comes a few weeks later than it should have in the minds of many, and the team basically admitted that they were only doing it because Branden Pinder threw 50 pitches yesterday, so it’s not like this is a complete victory in the world of smart, logical, winning-based decision making.  But I’ll take any small victory I can get right now, and Lindgren getting brought up to the show is definitely a small victory at the very least.…

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Quick Hit: Slade Heathcott’s Big Chance

By now everybody knows the bad news.  Jacoby Ellsbury is on the 15-day disabled list with a knee injury and it’s still not exactly clear how serious it is.  Given how quickly he went from leaving the game to getting MRI’d to getting put on the DL, it stands to reason that it might be more severe than just a 15-day DL trip.  Ellsbury is a key part of the Yankee offense, maybe THE key part, and he’s the team leader in fWAR.  Losing him for any amount of time is a blow.

The good news, if you want to call it that, is that Ellsbury’s injury created an opportunity for one of the farm system’s more interesting stories.  Roughly 6 months from being non-tendered, removed from the 40-man roster, and then re-signed in January, Slade Heathcott will come up to the show and get his chance to be a Major League ballplayer.

From 1st round draft pick to top organizational prospect to injury-prone bust, it’s been a long road through the Yankee system for Heathcott since he was drafted.  …

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Injury Updates: Nova And Capuano Scheduled To Pitch Today

The comeback trail continues for the Yankees’ pair of rehabbing starters, as reported by Bryan Hoch yesterday.  Ivan Nova will take another step up in workload with his ExST start, and Capuano could very well be making his last MiL rehab start with SWB this evening.  There isn’t much further to go in terms of workload once you reach 6 innings/90 pitches, so as long as he comes through the start healthy there’s reason to think that Capuano could rejoin the rotation within the next week.

If that happens, the obvious candidate to get bumped is Adam Warren.  He’s turned back into the hittable, short-inning, low strikeout pitcher he was in his first few starts after that 1-run start against Tampa at the end of April, and with David Carpenter still sputtering and Chris Martin on the DL, there’s room for another reliable middle relief arm.  …

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Quick Hit: The Soft Roster Underbelly

Petit HBP vs TOR

I know, Gregorio. It pains us to watch you play too. Courtesy of Getty Images

I got Axisa’d on this yesterday, but with the way the last few games have gone down I did want to touch on the back end of the roster topic while it was still relatively fresh.

The Yankees have definitely over-achieved in these first 27 games.  I don’t think you’d find too many people who would say they honestly believed the Yankees would be 17-10 with a +32 run differential right now.  They’ve done it by finding a pretty good balance between above-average starting pitching, elite late-game relief pitching, solid team defense, and a return to the “power and patience” approach that served their offense so well for years with just enough speed mixed in.  Top to bottom, they’re a pretty good ballclub right now even without Tanaka.

What the last few games showed us, especially in the late innings, is that they are also still a ballclub that could use some upgrading at the back end of the roster.  …

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Quick hit: Pirela is back and tonight’s lineup

Good news!

Bad news!

And here’s tonight’s lineup:
Ellsbury CF
Gardner LF
A-Rod DH
Teixeira 1B
McCann C
Beltran RF
Drew 2B
Gregorius SS
Petit 3B

Discuss amongst yourselves in the comments below!

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Quick Hit: Some Slow And Steady Progress From Didi

The start to Didi Gregorius‘ Yankee career was not a good one.  Seemingly pressing at the plate and in the field, Gregorius came out of the gate 7-37 in his first 11 games with 0 extra-base hits, 1 walk, 8 strikeouts, and 2 GIDPs.  He made multiple errors in the field and a few other plays that were close to being errors, and most troubling was the negative mental effect the early struggles seemed to have on him.  Didi made multiple baserunning mistakes in the first few games, the types of mistakes typically associated with a player “not having his head in the game.”  As expected, the criticism and comparisons back to Jeter came calling from fans and writers alike.

Fast forward over the next 11 games and things have looked quite different for Didi.  He’s 9-35 over that span with 2 XBH, 5 BB, and 5 K.  While he hasn’t been smacking the crap out of the ball by any means, he’s looked much more comfortable and patient at the plate.  …

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Quick Hit: The Terrific Top Two

Yesterday wasn’t a banner day for the Yankee offense, but in general it’s been much better this month after a slow start.  Power and patience have been the name of the game, but I’d be remiss if I didn’t call out the stellar job being done at the top of the batting order by the team’s 2 designated table setters.

In a perfect world, Jacoby Ellsbury and Brett Gardner would have provided the top of the lineup with a potent combination of average, speed, and occasional power last year.  In 2015’s Jeter-less world, they’ve finally gotten the chance to do that and they’ve responded with exactly the type of performance we (and Joe) hoped for.  Ellsbury sits at .321/.406/.381 after yesterday’s 3-hit effort, with a BB rate of 10.4% and a K rate below 15.  Gardner is right there with him at .311/.400/.410 with a 9.6% BB rate and a minuscule 11.0% K rate.  Between the 2 of them they’ve scored 31 runs and stolen 14 bases, each ranking 1-2 on the team in those categories.  …

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Quick hit: Tanaka to the 15-day DL

Well, this isn’t great news.

While it’s good that it’s not his elbow, anytime you have a strain in the pitching arm, it’s not very positive news because it could be a precursor to something more.

Let’s cross our fingers that it’s not.

UPDATE:

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