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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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.…

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Top Five Yankees Storylines of the First Half

The New York Yankees have reached the all-star break with a 48-40 record and a 3.5 game lead over the Tampa Bay Rays in the AL East. They had some crazy highs and lows, but the Yankees finished strongly before the break, winning six of their final nine games.

The Yankees have outperformed most expectations and sit in a very good spot. Fangraphs currently gives them a 76.6 percent chance of making the postseason, which is the second highest mark in the AL. Also, Fangraphs has them with a 60 percent chance of winning the division and projects them to win it by a comfortable six games. The even better news is that there is no dominant team in the American League. Here are the some of the biggest stories of the first half so far for the Yankees:

1. Alex Rodriguez’ Comeback Season

I tweeted this yesterday, but if Alex Rodriguez doesn’t win AL Comeback Player of the Year the award should be retired.…

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Pace Made In New York City

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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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Tuesday Morning “Back From The Nation’s Capital” Thoughts And Afterthoughts

So how was everybody’s long weekend?  Good?  Good.  I stayed completely away from a computer screen and almost completely away from social media all weekend, but I still managed to see enough of what transpired on the field to know how the Yankees did.  With less than a week to go until the All-Star break and coming off another scheduled off-day to set up the next 6 games, it seems like the perfect time to catch up on what I haven’t been writing about.

– Let’s go back to Friday night, the first of 2 walk-off wins the Yanks pulled out against the Rays.  That has to be the win of the year so far, right?  Down 3 late, tie it up on a big home run, go down 2 in the 12th, come back for 4 in the bottom half and win it on an even bigger home run.  It doesn’t get much better than that.

– It was the high of that victory and the bonus of Saturday afternoon’s Tampa defense-aided walk-off win that didn’t have me all up in arms over Sunday’s stinkfest.  …

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Quick Hit: Dem Road Hittin’ Blues

As cold as they’ve been in the last week or so, it’s been difficult to criticize the Yankee offense this season.  They remain firmly entrenched in the top 5 in MLB in home runs (103), runs scored (365), team slugging percentage (.427) and team wRC+ (107).  Over the full 78-game sample size, the offense has been the most consistent part of this year’s team.

But if there is a legitimate gripe to have with the O, it’s the ever-widening gap between the team’s home/road splits.  That’s been on full display during this road trip, with the Yankees managing a total of 3 runs in their last 3 games.  As of this morning, the Yankees have a .282/.350/.496 team tripleslash at home, good for an MLB best 130 wRC+.  On the road, however, they’re hitting just .233/.300/.369, a slash line that ranks them 19th in baseball with an 87 wRC+.  To put it into a different perspective, the Yankees are basically Jose Abreu at home and Michael Cuddyer on the road.…

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Thursday Morning Thoughts And Afterthoughts

I haven’t written much lately and I really didn’t follow the last few days very closely save for the box scores, but as usual there’s been a lot going on in Yankeeland during that time.  This post serves as my short form, hot take catch-up on a lot of those happenings.

– Yesterday’s win was a welcome change of pace from the preceding 3 games.  Those were really ugly.  You never get too worked up about 1 start when you’re talking about guys like Tanaka and Pineda, unless you want to look like a fool in front of your reading audience, but they were both pretty bad in their games and 34 runs in 3 is waaaaaayyyy too many runs.  There’s practically zero chance to win when that’s what your pitching staff gives you.

– As little concern as I have about those 2 guys going forward, CC Sabathia is another matter entirely.  He was responsible for a chunk of those 34 runs himself, and once again they came in what has become the all-too-common fashion for CC.  …

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