Deja Vu in Atlanta?

Baseball is such a funny game with all its twists and turns, which is what makes the 162 game grind so exhausting on one hand, but so rewarding on the other hand if it ends up going your way.

The Yankees looked like an old, fragile and broken down baseball team heading into the deep south. It certainly seemed like things were just not headed in the right direction after losing five of seven games against Cleveland and Houston at home, which is a place they had been previously dominant all season long.

The Yankees were dominated by some great pitchers like Dallas Keuchel and Carlos Carrasco, but also could not hit against mediocre to poor ones like Josh Tomlin, Trevor Bauer and Scott Feldman. So even though the Braves are a bad baseball team, it wasn’t exactly reassuring. Jacoby Ellsbury and Mark Teixeira had injuries and Alex Rodriguez was being replaced in the lineup by a pitcher (the wisdom of NL baseball at its finest).…

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On September Call-Ups And Realistic Expectations

Aaron Judge

Don’t expect to see this guy next month. Courtesy of Cheryl Pursell/Pinstriped Prospects

The Yankees will be back in action tonight after an off-day that was much needed for many players.  The Bombers have been slumping badly with the bats for the last 3 weeks, and there are a few guys who are banged up and/or slumping enough to probably get more time off tonight.  The decision to play with a really short bench the last few games has been a puzzling one, but there is some respite on the horizon in the form of September roster expansions.  They kick in next Tuesday and the Yankees are sure to take advantage of that added roster space and call up a healthy dose of players.

While that added depth could do wonders for the pitching staff, there isn’t really much help on the way for the struggling, dinged up offense.  I’ve noticed an uptick in comments calling for the Yankees to “shake things up” and looking forward to the team “injecting some youth” when rosters expand, and while I agree with the basic idea that adding more bodies can be a benefit, I think it’s important to be realistic in expectations as it relates to the players getting called up.  …

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The Yankees’ One-Dimensional Offense

The game last night between the now-second place New York Yankees and the Houston Astros was a glaring look at the flaws of this 2015 team. I am not really talking about the pitching because every team’s pitching staff will get blown out like that occasionally (although the Yankees’ love affair with Chris Capuano is stunning). The real weakness of the 2015 Yankees is the one-dimentional offense. If they do not homer, they do not score.

The Yankees have now played 34 games in which the team did not hit a home run. The team is 10-24 in those games. In those games, the Yankees have averaged 2.184 runs scored a game. In one of those games, they managed to score ten runs. If you throw that game out, the average goes down to 1.94 runs per game. Just imagine the standings if the Yankees could have managed to be five or six wins better in those games.

To be fair, the Blue Jays, who never seem to lose these days, are even worse with a record of 6-25 when that team does not hit a homer.…

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Reasons To Be Optimistic Heading Into Cleveland

I don’t know what my deal was yesterday, but I was in a funk all day.  Syanpses weren’t firing upstairs, body felt tired.  Apparently I needed an off-day just as much as some of you more pessimistic readers did and just as much as the Yankees did after their stinkbomb of a weekend against the Blue Jays.  This morning I feel better, and that’s despite waking up at 2 AM and not really falling back asleep.  I’m taking that as a good sign and running with it, just as the Yankees hopefully take their off-day as a chance to hit the rest button and move on from last weekend.  With that now firmly in the rearview, here are some reasons to feel good about the Yankees as they head out to Cleveland to start 16 games in 16 days.

They Can’t Hit Much Worse Than They Have

Everybody knows the numbers by now and how far back some of them went in terms of describing the team’s historical offensive ineptitude over the past 4-5 games.  …

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How The Yankees Fare Against the Knuckleball: It Ain’t Pretty

On Wednesday night, the Yankees were stymied by Boston’s knuckleballer Steven Wright and tonight, they will be facing another knuckleballer in R.A. Dickey. Because of this, I decided to take a look at how the Yankees have fared historically against the knuckleball. (Please note: My data only goes back to 2009, but I figured that was a big enough sample size for this exercise.)

Anyway, here’s their spray chart. Again, this is 2009 – 2015:

 

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Their best year came in 2009 when they played in four games against knuckleball pitchers and faced 188 pitches: .283/.327/.478/.805

Their two worst years are 2010 and this season and the numbers are quite similar. In six games in 2010, the Yankees batted .174/.204/.283/.487 and this year, in four games so far, they’re batting .171/.242/.305/.547. Note the on base and slugging numbers which combine for the OPS are higher in 2015, but are still pretty awful.

Some more stats:

  • 2014 marks the only year in which the Yankees did not hit at least one home run off the knuckleball.
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Monday Morning Food For Thought: The Road Warriors

On the morning of July 24th, the Yankees were 5.5 games up in the division and heading out on a 10-game road trip.  At the time they were a sub-.500 road team and their inability to score runs away from the short porch of Yankee Stadium was starting to become more of a concern.  10 games against pseudo-Wild Card contenders the Twins, Rangers, and White Sox would be a good test for the offense and the team as a whole.  If they were going to make the playoffs and make any kind of noise in the playoffs, the Yankees had to start figuring out how to score and win on the road.

10 days later and I’d say they passed the test with flying colors.  The Yankees went 6-4 on the trip, securing that winning record with a big victory yesterday afternoon in Chicago.  Not only did they find a way to score more runs outside of Yankee Stadium, they found a way to score a ton of runs.  …

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How About That Triple-A Bullpen Carousel?

In a game that had precious few Yankee highlights, one of them last night was Caleb Cotham‘s MLB debut.  As described in the recap, he pitched 1.2 scoreless innings and struck out 4 batters without issuing a walk.  In doing so, he became the 12th different rookie pitcher the Yankees have used out of their bullpen this season and the 8th to make his Major League debut.

That might seem like a sign of major performance/injury problems, but it really hasn’t been the case.  While there have been a few instances of that happening (see “Carpenter, David” and “Miller, Andrew”), the Yankees’ strategy lately in shuttling guys up and down to fill out the back end of the bullpen has been mostly a proactive one.  They know they need to have fresh arms available to cover for their rotation, they know they need to be able to give their bullpen regulars enough rest, and they know they have a stockpile of useful arms in Triple-A to help serve those purposes.…

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New York Yankees Formula: Get Leads and Hold Them

Sometimes we try to make baseball as difficult as we can to analyze, but a simple method can work just as well. That has been the case this year for the New York Yankees, as they have done an insanely good job at getting out to early leads and holding onto late ones. Common sense says that’s a good formula for any baseball team, and it’s worked for the Yankees. They have won 12 of their past 16 games and have climbed to a season-high 12 games over .500.

The Yankees have been dominant in the first inning of ballgames this year. Their 86 first inning runs leads both Colorado and Detroit by 21 runs, who are both tied for second in MLB with 65 first inning runs. New York has hit .319/.383/.536/.919 as a team in the first inning. They have scored in 41 percent of their first innings this season as opposed to 26 percent last season.

This is not surprising when you look at the seasons Jacoby Ellsbury, Brett Gardner, Alex Rodriguez, Mark Teixeira and Brian McCann are having at the top of the lineup.…

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Four Reasons Why the Yankees Should Trade for Papelbon, Make Him Closer

The trade deadline is just two weeks away. The Yankees are in a great position to the buyers. That said, I don’t think anyone wants the Yankees to completely sell the farm and mortgage the future yet again. So here’s a trade target they can pick up for little while still improving the team: Jonathan Papelbon.

You know him. The Phillies have him signed to an over-market contract at $13 million with a vesting option that is almost sure to hit for next year. They don’t want him. He doesn’t want to be there. You probably hate him too. I know I did for years. But he’s the perfect low-cost piece for the Yankees to add at the deadline. Here’s why:

He’s still very good

Papelbon has been on a terrible Phillies team for a few years now, so I know I’ve tended to forget how good he is. His headline numbers since signing:

  • 2012: 70 innings, 2.44 ERA, 2.90 FIP, 11.9 K/9, 2.3 BB/9
  • 2013: 61.2 innings, 2.92 ERA, 3.05 FIP, 8.3 K/9, 1.6 BB/9
  • 2014: 66.1 innings, 2.04 ERA, 2.53 FIP, 8.5 K/9, 2.0 BB/9
  • 2015: 33.2 innings, 2.60 ERA, 2.75 FIP, 9.4 K/9, 1.9 BB/9

He’s pretty good!…

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