Spring Training Game Quick Recap: Yanks 4 Jays 3

I don’t intend on missing any of Buddy Hield’s second half, so here’s the really short version:

Bryan Mitchell pitched well in his 4 innings of work today, allowing no runs, no walks, and striking out 4.  He’s absolutely locked up a spot in the Opening Day bullpen, and if we’re being honest with each other, he should probably be in consideration for the 5th starter spot because he’s outpitched both CC and Nova.

– The Yankee scoring started almost immediately as Aaron Hicks led off the game with a solo home run, his 2nd of the spring.  He’s been really good all-around so far.  Ellsbury can take his time coming back from the bruised wrist.

Rob Refsnyder showed his inexperience at third base again today, taking another bad hop off the grillpiece.  I don’t care who you are or what level it happens at, taking a grounder off the face in 2 consecutive games is pathetic.  Maybe we should pump the brakes on the “Refs can handle third base” thing for a bit.

– Semi-related, Ronald Torreyes went 2-4 today.  A-Rod went 1-3 with a ribbie and Carlos Beltran also had a hit in 3 trips.

Branden Pinder threw a scoreless inning to pick up the win, although he did give up a hit and walk a batter.  Wouldn’t be surprised at all to him in the Opening Day ‘pen, but I wouldn’t take him personally. Continue reading Spring Training Game Quick Recap: Yanks 4 Jays 3

Spring Training Game Quick Recap: Rays 6 Yanks 2

The Yankees and Rays squared off last night and it was another chance for CC Sabathia to gain or possibly lose ground in the 5th starter competition.  Things didn’t get off to a great start for him, but he was able to battle through 5 innings and give his team a chance.  The offense couldn’t generate much against the Tampa pitching contingent, however, and the Yankee bullpen gave the game away late as the Bombers dropped to 9-11 this spring.

It was tough going for CC in the early innings last night.  His fastball was only sitting in the upper 80s, his offspeed stuff wasn’t fooling the Tampa hitters, and the Rays got to him for a run each in the top of the 1st and 2nd.  The first came on an Evan Longoria solo bomb and the second came on a Desmond Jennings leadoff double and Kevin Kiermaier ribbie single.  Lotta hard contact in the early going for the Rays, but give CC credit.  He got it together and pitched the next 3 innings scoreless, getting the ball down in the zone and picking up 7 of his final 9 outs either via strikeout or groundout.

The Yankees answered Tampa’s second run with a carbon copy of that rally.  Brian McCann started the inning with a double and came around to score on Carlos Beltran‘s single.  They didn’t score again until the bottom of the 7th, when Pete Kozma hit a 1-out triple and came home on a wild pitch, but by then it was too little too late.  The Rays racked up 4 runs against a wild Tyler Olson in the top of the 6th to put themselves comfortably ahead.

Game Notes:

– Final line on CC: 5 IP, 6 H, 2 ER, 1 BB, 4 K.  In general I think the Yankees would take that from their 5th starter every time out.

– McCann went 2-3 and was the only Yankee with multiple hits.  He’s quietly having a nice spring.

Kirby Yates strengthened his case for a bullpen spot by recording 4 scoreless outs after Olson’s implosion.  He struck out 2.

Chasen Shreve also K’d 2 in a scoreless frame to continue his stellar spring.

– DH A-Rod went 1-2 with a BB and a K. Continue reading Spring Training Game Quick Recap: Rays 6 Yanks 2

Quick hit: 20 years ago today

Here’s a fun little nugget from Diane Firstman who writes for the Value Above Replacement Grit blog which is part of the ESPN SweetSpot Network: “3/24/1996 – NYY Tony Fernandez fractures right elbow and is placed on 60-day disabled list, paving way for a new SS named Derek Jeter.” That was quite a transaction because it led to a lot of future success for both the Yankees and Jeter. So Happy 20th Anniversary to Tony Fernandez’s fractured elbow and to Derek Jeter who probably had no idea what was to come.

Quick Hit: An Even Better Betances?

[caption id="attachment_80672" align="aligncenter" width="575"]Betances ST 2016 Courtesy of Corey Sipkin/NY Daily News[/caption]

He’s a lock to make the Opening Day roster and there’s no doubt about what role he’s going to play in this year’s bullpen or how well he’ll handle that role, but Dellin Betances is an interesting case this spring.  You’ll recall that last year one of the leading ST storylines was “what’s wrong with Betances???”  His early velocity was down, his command was spotty at best, and his ST stat line was ugly: 8.1 IP, 9 H, 5 ER, 6 BB, 9 K.  Coming off his spectacular (and strenuous) debut relief season, there were questions aplenty about the impact that his heavy workload had on him and how that would carry over into the regular season.

Of course all that worry was for naught because Betances was lights out again in 2015.  But he did stumble a bit down the stretch, posting season-worst FIP, K %, and BB % values in September and giving up as many home runs then (3) as he had in the previous 5 months combined.  It would have made sense for some of last spring’s worry to follow Betances into this year’s camp after the rough finish to 2015, but that hasn’t happened.  What also hasn’t happened is a repeat of last spring’s problems, as Betances has been utterly brilliant in his 2016 ST appearances thus far: 4.1 IP, 3 H, 0 ER, 0 BB, 8 K.

Betances said all along last year that there was nothing to worry about and that he just needed some more time to get loose and get back into his normal groove.  Once he did, he was money.  I’m equal parts curious about what he’s done differently this spring to get locked in so quickly and excited about what that may mean for the season to come.  Betances has always and to a certain degree will always battle bouts of inconsistency with his command because of how big he is, and it was a major problem for him in camp last year.  The fact that he hasn’t walked a single batter this spring is an encouraging sign that he’s learned how to be even better at repeating his mechanics and a frightening sign of what may be in store for the rest of the AL if that is true.

Betances has been arguably the best relief pitcher in baseball over the last 2 seasons, top 3 at the absolute worst.  If his ST performance so far compared to his ST performance last year is any indication, we may be in for his best season yet in 2016. Continue reading Quick Hit: An Even Better Betances?

Predicting The 2016 Opening Day Roster Part IV

I haven’t updated my Opening Day roster prediction since before Spring Training started and a lot has gone down since then.  With less than 2 weeks until Opening Day, I think it’s about time for another revision and I think this is going to be the final prediction.  So mark it down, lock it in, here we go.  Barring injuries, here is the official prediction for Joe’s 25-man roster on April 4th:

Starting Lineup:

1) Jacoby Ellsbury– CF
2) Brett Gardner– LF
3) Alex Rodriguez– DH
4) Mark Teixeira– 1B
5) Carlos Beltran– RF
6) Brian McCann– C
7) Chase Headley– 3B
8) Starlin Castro– 2B
9) Didi Gregorius– SS

Starting Rotation:

1) Masahiro Tanaka
2) Michael Pineda
3) Luis Severino
4) Nathan Eovaldi
5) CC Sabathia

Bench: Austin Romine, Dustin Ackley, Aaron HicksRob Refsnyder

Bullpen: Andrew Miller, Dellin Betances, Chasen Shreve,Bryan Mitchell, Ivan Nova, Kirby Yates, Nick Goody

A few notes:

– I have no clue why I had Beltran over A-Rod in the batting order in the first few editions.  That’s obviously not happening.

– It looks like it’s going to be Austin Romine’s backup job based on the last few weeks.  He’s playing better than Gary Sanchez, he’s getting more work, and he’s hitting higher in the batting order.  Again, this ultimately isn’t a big deal.  Sanchez will get his turn and there’s nothing wrong with using a little more Triple-A time to get him swinging a hot bat again and bump back his free agency.  And if Romine surprises us in the first month and plays well, well that’d be just fine.

– If you would have told me the last time I did this that Rob Refsnyder was going to make the roster as the backup third baseman, I would have laughed in your face.  But who else could it be at this point?  Nobody left in camp to compete with him has hit worth a lick and Refs’ added positional flexibility and better stick make him even more valuable to Joe as a bench piece.

– Those first 5 bullpen spots are rock solid in my opinion, and I think Mitchell could already be starting to carve out a role as the #2 righty reliever behind Betances.  After that, though, it’s still wide open.  When the dust settles, I think we’re going to see Yates and Goody and in there.  Goody has pitched a lot and he’s been the most consistent of last year’s shuttle group.  He also hasn’t walked a batter in 7 appearances.  Yates has been sneaky great so far in ST (4 IP, 2 H, 0 R, 1 BB, 6 K in 4 apps.) and he has 50+ innings of big league experience.  That’ll carry some weight with Joe when it comes time to make a decision, so go ahead and call Yates this year’s Chris Martin, the guy nobody expected to get a spot when camp opened but ended up sneaking on in the end. Continue reading Predicting The 2016 Opening Day Roster Part IV