Game 124 Recap: Yankees 1 Astros 0

[caption id="attachment_77910" align="aligncenter" width="550"]Eovaldi vs HOU Nasty Nate’s finally here. Courtesy of Getty Images[/caption]

I’ve watched Nathan Eovaldi‘s last 2 starts and I have to say, I think something’s happening here.  I think he’s starting to put it together and when he puts it all together I think he’s going to be really good.  I mean it.  If you’ve watched his last 2 starts and you don’t realize this and believe it, you’re not watching closely enough.  Eovaldi has suddenly become the ace and the stopper of this pitching staff and last night he was the reason the Yankees managed to scratch out a 1-0 win.

A free-swinging team that isn’t afraid to strike out should have been a perfect matchup for Eovaldi if he was on, and they proved to be that perfect immediately.  Eovaldi struck out the side in the top of the 1st, fanned 2 more in the 2nd, and rattled off 8 straight outs to get through the 4th scoreless.  He did have to work around 2 singles in the 2nd and 2 walks in the 5th, but his stuff was top notch again and he made a lot of big pitches to get outs when he needed them.  100+ fastball, low 90s splitter, and a sharp mid-80s slider.  Eovaldi was featuring it all and throwing up zeros on the scoreboard.

He had to throw a few more pitches in the 5th because of the walk, and the game really became a grind for him in the 6th.  Carlos Correa, who is an absolute stud ballplayer, singled to lead off the inning and Colby Rasmus worked a 5-pitch walk to put 2 on and nobody out.  Carlos Gomez sac bunted them over to put both in scoring position, but Rasmus strayed too far off second on Evan Gattis‘ grounder in the next at-bat and Greg Bird astutely threw behind him to get the out at second.  Run didn’t score and Eovaldi got Luis Valbuena to fly out to center to end the threat.

From there, everything was back on track for Nasty Nate.  He sat the Astros down 1-2-3 in the 7th and worked around a Chase Headley 1-out throwing error in the 8th by getting Rasmus and Gomez to fly out.  During the Gomez at-bat he was firing in 100-MPH fastballs.  Just awesome.

I’d talk more about the Yankee offense except there really wasn’t much to talk about.  They wasted the best scoring chance they did get against Houston starter Scott Feldman – 2 on, no outs in the bottom of the 3rd with the top of lineup coming up – and didn’t generate many more in his 8 innings of shutout ball to match Eovaldi.  It wasn’t until Feldman left and Oliver Perez entered in the 9th that the Yankees finally scored and even that had little to do with their bats.  Perez walked the bases loaded on 15 pitches, and on the first pitch of the next at-bat Carlos Beltran laced a walk-off sac fly to deep center.  It wasn’t aesthetically pleasing if you like high-scoring games, but it’s another win and that’s all that matters. Continue reading Game 124 Recap: Yankees 1 Astros 0

Game 124: Eovaldi vs. Feldman

Here’s your game thread for this evening. Tonight’s lineups are:

Houston Astros New York Yankees
Jose Altuve, 2B Jacoby Ellsbury, CF
Marwin Gonzalez, LF Brett Gardner, LF
Carlos Correa, SS Alex Rodriguez, DH
Colby Rasmus, RF Brian McCann, C
Carlos Gomez, CF Carlos Beltran, RF
Evan Gattis, DH Greg Bird, 1B
Luis Valbuena, 3B Chase Headley, 3B
Chris Carter, 1B Didi Gregorius, SS
Hank Conger, C Stephen Drew, 2B
Scott Feldman, SP Nate Eovaldi, SP

Enjoy the game! Continue reading Game 124: Eovaldi vs. Feldman

Quick Hit: How Hurt Is Brian McCann?

One of the most talked about topics in the broadcast booth this weekend, besides the memories of Jorge and Andy’s careers, was the change in Brian McCann‘s batting stance.  YES cameras showed McCann standing with almost all of his weight on his front leg, a change from his usual balanced stance with more weight on his back leg.  John Flaherty said he asked McCann about it and McCann told him it was just something he was experimenting with, trying different things to tweak his swing.

While I’m not saying I don’t buy that answer, I can’t help but think back to that game earlier in the month when McCann hurt his left knee late in a blowout win over the Red Sox.  There were a lot people questioning whether it was smart to leave him in that game, and the issue was at least serious enough for McCann to get the next 2 games off with what was called “inflammation”.  McCann hasn’t been swinging a hot bat lately, he’s wearing a sizable brace on that left knee, and he was the DH for the 2 weekend games against Cleveland.  This all feels like it has to add up to a more serious knee injury that McCann and the Yankees aren’t letting on to, doesn’t it?

For what it’s worth, McCann’s slash line since August 4th – the night he initially tweaked the knee – is .167/.224/.426 with a 5.2% BB rate and 24.1% K rate.  Prior to that night, McCann was hitting .255/.325/.477 with 8.1% BB and 18.8% K rates.  His line drive rate has also sunk to 10.0% since 8/4 with sizable increases in fly ball contact in general and infield fly ball contact specifically, compared to a 19.3% LD rate prior to 8/4.

These statistical comparisons all come with the requisite SSS warning.  There’s nothing in this current 15-game sample that can tell us anything definitively about whether or not McCann has a more serious knee injury than we know about or what the severity of the injury is.  But there certainly is a sizable pile of circumstantial and statistical evidence to support the claim.  If McCann’s knee is in bad enough shape that he can’t set his weight normally, that’s surely something that would negative impact his timing, swing, and production at the plate.

The Yankee offense keeps fluctuating between extreme levels of production and the recent injury to Mark Teixeira has helped put them back into slump mode.  With other players around him needing time off to rest and ramp up for the September stretch run, McCann could be gutting one out for his team and trying to do the best he can to pick up the slack.  We’ve already seen how that plan works out with a pitcher nursing a bad knee.  I’d hate to see something similar happen to Big Mac. Continue reading Quick Hit: How Hurt Is Brian McCann?

Was This The End For CC Sabathia?

[caption id="" align="aligncenter" width="720"]CC Sabathia future in doubt as Yankees fall out of 1st Courtesy: Bill Kostroun, NY Post[/caption]

I was in attendance for Andy Pettitte day yesterday at Yankee Stadium, and it was a huge day of mixed emotions. It certainly started off with a bang with the Pettitte ceremony. It was awesome, even if the crowd again gave a bigger applause to Derek Jeter just like they did on Saturday to Jorge Posada, which was annoying. To see your whole childhood out there on that field really makes you remember why you fell in love with this game and franchise. I even learned some things I didn’t know, like how Pettitte used to throw a knuckle ball. It was very cool stuff.

Then the game happened and it was a train wreck. Sure, a 4-3 game doesn’t seem so bad, yet it was the most excruciating Yankees game I’ve ever been to. There were 16 combined walks and the Yankees struck out 11 times. The umpiring seemed crazy inconsistent from what I could tell in my seats in right field. The Indians made countless errors and the Yankees could just never take advantage. Trevor Bauer was struggling badly coming in and could not find the strike zone, and yet the Yankees could not do anything against him. CC Sabathia was getting creamed, and Branden Pinder could not throw a strike to save his life. It seemed like there was a meeting at the mound every two minutes. I was at the game earlier this year when Masahiro Tanaka got bombed by the Tigers, and this was much worse to sit through.

Earlier in the week when the Yankees slotted Bryan Mitchell into the rotation, I knew it would mean I would be seeing Sabathia instead of Nathan Eovaldi. This was certainly bad news and I was not thrilled about it, and that feeling sucked because of what Sabathia has meant to this franchise. It wasn’t too long ago when you wanted to go see a Sabathia start.

However, the truth is sometimes painful in life, and Andrew Marchand’s story on ESPN New York last night was correct. The Yankees are much better off without Sabathia. If they still want to use a six-man rotation, Mitchelll would give them a better chance to win. If they do not, then the other five guys in the rotation are better options than CC. It’s very hard to write that. Sabathia lead the team to its last championship in 2009. He was everything an ace was supposed to be on and off the field during his first contract. Not many players in that clubhouse want to succeed as much as him. His teammates have his back at every turn because of how he has theirs. Continue reading Was This The End For CC Sabathia?

Quick About Last Night: Dellin Betances and the pitch of doom

This is the pitch Francisco Lindor hit off Dellin Betances to break a 3-3 tie in the eighth inning of yesterday’s game.

lindorHR

How deflating. The Stadium was in shock and I actually said, “Did that just happen?”

It just stinks that the home run came off a pitch from Betances of all people because he’s been so reliable this season, but the Yankees offense also needs to do a better job against someone like Trevor Bauer who came into the game with an ERA above 4.

On to the next one… Continue reading Quick About Last Night: Dellin Betances and the pitch of doom

Looking At The Short And Long-Term Implications Of CC’s Latest Knee Injury

While we’ve all been calling for CC Sabathia‘s removal from the starting rotation for some time now, I don’t think any of us were rooting for an injury to be the reason he got removed.  Unfortunately that’s exactly what happened yesterday and now the Yankees are left to scramble again to keep their pitching staff whole while Sabathia is likely to hit the DL and ponder where he goes from here.

The condition of Sabathia’s right knee has been a red flag all year, with 2 drainings having already taken place and a cortisone shot administered recently.  In Andrew Marchand’s article on the injury yesterday afternoon, Sabathia himself basically admitted that he’s been protecting the knee all season and that his decision to say “screw it” and pitch as hard as he could without focusing on protecting it was the reason for his recent uptick in velocity.  There’s a lot of moving parts to this latest setback, so let’s break it down in terms of short and long-term effects to make it more manageable.

Shorter Short Term– In the immediate short term, not much really changes for the Yankees.  They were already planning to activate Michael Pineda from the DL on Wednesday, presumably to work in a 6-man rotation for the foreseeable future.  With Sabathia out, Pineda will step back in and the rotation will just continue along as a 5-man. Bryan Mitchell has already started pitching again after his scary on-mound incident last week, so the option of a 6th starter remains open should the Yankees decide to go that route in September.  They keep their rotation rest plans intact and Sabathia rests the knee to see if he can return this year.

Longer Short Term– The loss of Sabathia could put additional strains on an already hard worked bullpen.  The rotation hasn’t provided a lot of length all season, and we’re still a week away from rosters expanding.  Even if Pineda coming off the DL on an 80-90 pitch limit his first time out is a better option than a 100% healthy Sabathia with no pitch limit, the cumulative effect of multiple starts of 5-6 innings in a week isn’t going to help Joe give more rest to his relievers that need it.  Not that Sabathia was providing much length anyway.  He’s been one of the biggest drains on the bullpen all season.  But him being out does diminish the overall depth of the pitching staff, and that’s never something you want or need when you’re in the middle of a pennant race.  If Sabathia is going to be out for more than 15 days, that’s more slack for everybody to pick up.

Shorter Long Term (2016)– The question of whether or not Sabathia is even going to come back this season is a fair one to ask given the history of that knee.  As of the timing of this post, we still have not heard an official diagnosis on the nature of the injury.  I imagine we’ll get the results of yesterday’s MRI and that diagnosis later today, and depending on the severity there could be some impact on next year.  If Sabathia was holding back and pitching at less than full effort all year to protect his knee, there’s little reason to expect that to change next year.  The sad truth is that Sabathia’s knee might not be physically capable of standing up to the rigors of pitching anymore, and if that’s the case then the Yankees can’t afford to keep him in the rotation.  He’s no help to the team if he can’t pitch at full strength and pitch effectively every time out and it doesn’t sound like his knee will allow him to do those things in a starting role.  So if he isn’t a starter next year, what do the Yankees do with him? Continue reading Looking At The Short And Long-Term Implications Of CC’s Latest Knee Injury

Game 123 Quick Recap: CLE 4 NYY 3

[caption id="attachment_77880" align="aligncenter" width="550"]CC Injury vs CLE Not the type of meeting on the mound you want to see. Courtesy of Getty Images[/caption]

A win this afternoon and a series split would have been OK after losing the first 2 games.  It also would have been a cool way to end the weekend with back-to-back W’s on Jorge Day and Andy Pettitte Day.  Unfortunately it wasn’t in the cards, as another mostly non-existent offensive performance and more shoddy late-game relief work combined to give the Indians just enough to take the game and the series.

The big story of the day was CC Sabathia and his early exit.  CC didn’t look good from the start, giving up 2 runs in the top of the 1st on a monster Carlos Santana home run and putting 8 men on base (4 hits, 4 walks) in 2.2 innings.  On the pitch that recorded the eighth out, Sabathia appeared to hurt himself and immediately left the game.  We came to find out that it’s another problem with his right knee and the bullpen was left with a crapton of work to do.

Give credit where it’s due, the ‘pen almost completely lived up to the challenge.  Nick Rumbelow and Branden Pinder, a couple of strange choices to enter after Sabathia’s exit, combined to pitch 4 innings of 1-run ball and keep the game manageable going into the final third.  Chasen Shreve chipped in a big strikeout to end the 7th, and the library quiet offense responded with 2 runs in the bottom half on a Carlos Beltran 2-out double to tie the game.

Dellin Betances took over in the top of the 8th, and for the second straight game he was not at his best.  Fastball command was off, curveball was inconsistent, and he hung one to Francisco Lindor with 1 out that Lindor smacked into the right field seats for a go-ahead home run.  The offense couldn’t muster up anything in their final 2 chances and Andy Pettitte Day ended on a disappointing note. Continue reading Game 123 Quick Recap: CLE 4 NYY 3

BREAKING: CC Sabathia Leaves Start With Right Knee Injury (UPDATED)

CC Sabathia has exited his start this afternoon after apparently injuring himself on a pitch in the top of the 3rd inning.  He struck out the batter on a fastball with the pitch and looked uncomfortable as he completed his delivery and came off the mound.  Joe and the trainer came out to check on him immediately and he left the game with little discussion.

It was hard to tell what the injury was watching replays of the pitch.  Sabathia didn’t appear to land funny on his bad right knee and he didn’t grab at anything or strain his body in any way.  Whatever it was, it had to be pretty serious, as CC has pitched through knee and hamstring injuries before.  As poorly as he’s pitched this year, he has been better lately working on extra rest and the Yankee rotation is already a man down without Pineda.  Further injuries to the rotation do not help, even if they happen to the weakest link of that rotation.

More on this story as it develops…

** UPDATE 1:45 PM- Via Andrew Marchand, Sabathia left the game with pain in his right knee and is being taken for an MRI.  That knee has been a problem for a long time and it’s already been drained twice this season, so this is obviously not good news. ** Continue reading BREAKING: CC Sabathia Leaves Start With Right Knee Injury (UPDATED)

Game 123: Andy Pettitte Day

Andy Pettitte

The New York Yankees won on Jorge Posada Day so let’s see if the team can square up the series on Andy Pettitte Day at the Stadium. It will be a warm afternoon with CC Sabathia on the mound for the Yankees facing Trevor Bauer of the Cleveland Indians. Alex Rodriguez will sit this one out as once again, Brian McCann will be the DH with John Ryan Murphy behind the plate.

The Lineups

Cleveland Indians:

  1. Francisco Lindor – SS
  2. Mike Aviles – 2B
  3. Michael Brantley – LF
  4. Carlos Santana – 1B
  5. Ryan Raburn – DH
  6. Yan Gomes – C
  7. Abraham Almonte – CF
  8. Jerry Sands – RF
  9. Giovanny Urshela – 3B

Trevor Bauer – SP

New York Yankees:

  1. Jacoby Ellsbury – CF
  2. Brett Gardner – LF
  3. Carlos Beltran – RF
  4. Brian McCann – DH
  5. Gregory Bird – 1B
  6. Chase Headley – 3B
  7. Didi Gregorius – SS
  8. Stephen Drew – 2B
  9. John Ryan Murphy – C

CC Sabathia – SP

In other news: Brian Cashman announced that Michael Pineda will not pitch for the Yankees until September.

The game starts at 1:05 if not delayed by today’s festivities. Enjoy the game! Continue reading Game 123: Andy Pettitte Day