Monday, June 29, 2015

Yankees weekend news wrap: Series split, Gardner, Ellsbury and Miller

The New York Yankees were probably happy to leave Houston with a split of their four-game series with the first-place Astros, but the feeling that they could have gained a series victory might sit in their minds as well.

In reality, the Astros could be the ones kicking themselves. They actually had the second game of the series in hand as well, leading 2-0 after six innings. If it wasn’t for Chris Young’s three-run homer in the seventh inning the Yanks might have dropped the series.

In Sunday’s finale, Michael Pineda was locked into a duel with Collin McHugh. The Yankees had a slight 1-0 lead and then their defense let them down again as Brett Gardner and Garrett Jones allowed an easy fly ball to drop in front of them. The ball was then kicked by Gardner, rolled to the wall and allowed Carlos Correa to round the bases and tie the score. This fed McHugh, who became virtually untouchable from that point on.

Now the whole game cannot be blamed on the one play as Pineda was hit hard in the seventh and eighth in which he allowed a run in each frame. The offense was the culprit here and besides the Young homer Friday and the nine runs scored in the third game of the series, the bats were relatively quiet.

It's not Gardner’s fault


The sleeping offense was not due to Brett Gardner’s play. He has been absolutely on fire over his last 10 games (22-for-45 with 15 runs, five doubles, four homers and 11 RBI) and went 6-for-13 with three doubles and three runs scored in the series. Gardner has a 1.026 OPS for the month of June. Hopefully, he can continue to produce close to these results when Jacoby Ellsbury returns.

Wednesday, June 24, 2015

Expecting Ivan Nova to boost Yankees’ rotation begs disappointment

Note: This post has been updated at the end to account for Nova's start Wednesday.

What New York Yankees’ right-hander Ivan Nova has accomplished – returning from Tommy John surgery after 14 months away from the game – is undeniably commendable. It takes hard work and determination to rehab from this surgery despite its commonplace. But, it is not fair and completely disillusioned to expect Nova to be anything more than a back-of-the-rotation starter. He’s not saving this team’s suddenly shaky pitching staff.

Ivan Nova
Photo Credit: Keith Allison via Flickr
Forget the fact that Nova has not been on a Major League mound since April 2014; he was never more than an inconsistent middle-of-the-rotation starter to begin with. And that’s being kind.

Nova apologists can point to his rookie campaign in 2011 when he went 16-4 with a 3.70 ERA (4.00 FIP), and I’ll note the inconsistencies within the season (he allowed four or more earned runs in eight of his 27 starts) and he received enormous run support (5.95 runs per game).

Next I’ll remind Nova supporters of his sophomore season where his ERA (5.02) and FIP (4.60) skyrocketed. They’ll counter with 2013. Once again, that season was constructed by very uneven phases. At one point in 2013, Nova was so bad, the club demoted him. Finally, 2014 was awful, though I am willing to give him the benefit of the doubt that the elbow was the factor there.

Nova has been a characteristically average pitcher where it concerned walk rate (3.0 BB/9) and strikeout rate (6.8 K/9) through his career. When he is going well, he generates ground balls, and when he is not he has a tendency to allow balls to leave the yard (1.0 HR/9 for career).

Nova has not been especially sharp in his rehab appearances. He compiled a 4.02 ERA in 15.2 combined innings at High-A and Triple-A, but the Yankees want to run with a six-man rotation for a little bit and need Nova in order to do so.

In the short term, the Yankees hope Nova can give them some length and ease the burden recently placed on the bullpen. Over the long haul, the club hopes he finds some consistency and that he can channel the strong stretches from his past more often than not. I’m here to warn you not to get your hopes up.

Updated 6/27/15: Nova tossed 6.2 innings of scoreless ball in his return Wednesday. A great start indeed. I'm still not going to buy into Nova's long-term prospects here, simply because its almost par for the course where it concerns him. It would not shock me if Nova has a bad outing in his next turn, or throws a few good games before reverting backwards for a few. That's his modus operandi. I've become skeptical of Nova's performances because of his inconsistencies described above and one good performance is not going to change my perception.

Christopher Carelli is a freelance baseball writer. Besides his work here, Christopher is a featured Yankees writer for SNY.tv. His baseball commentary has also been published on Yahoo Sports and linked multiple times on MLB Trade Rumors’ Baseball Blogs Weigh In. He is a member of the Internet Baseball Writers Association of America, the Baseball Bloggers Alliance and the BYB Hub.



Sunday, June 21, 2015

Another great Yankees' Old-Timers' Day

The New York Yankees are great at celebrating their former stars and coaches. Despite whether you believe they do it too often or not, or disagree with the method by which they select who gets what, they put on a fantastic show.

It was great to see Willie Randolph be honored Saturday at the Yankees' 69th annual Old-Timers’ Day. I remember watching Randolph as a child and into my teens. He was such a solid player, the model of consistency and poise.

The Yankees presenting Mel Stottlemyre with a plaque yesterday was another great moment in club history. His off-the-cuff speech was heart-felt and emotional.

Of course seeing the rest of the players from yesteryear is always fun and the game itself is enjoyable. It’s nice to watch these guys joke around with each other. It reminds you that during the time they play with each other as teammates, some of them grow tight bonds as friends. Yet another reason why I love baseball.

Logo courtesy of SportsLogos.net.

Christopher Carelli is a freelance baseball writer. Besides his work here, Christopher is a featured Yankees writer for SNY.tv. His baseball commentary has also been published on Yahoo Sports and linked multiple times on MLB Trade Rumors’ Baseball Blogs Weigh In. He is a member of the Internet Baseball Writers Association of America, the Baseball Bloggers Alliance and the BYB Hub.



Thursday, June 18, 2015

Yankees ramblings: Pineda, Drew, bullpen, Teixeira & Rodriguez

I had some observations throughout the New York Yankees’ 2-1 win over the Miami Marlins Wednesday night. Forgive me for rambling...

Rambling #1


Michael Pineda did exactly what was needed of him. The Yankees’ offense remained stagnant and he put up six straight zeroes. Hey, he held the Marlins hitless through the first six innings as well. Can the Yankees ask anything more? It is imperative that Pineda turn in efforts like Wednesday’s when the Yankees are coming off consecutive losses. There cannot be any long losing streaks for the Yankees to stay in the playoff race and between Pineda and Masahiro Tanaka, the club should be fine in that regard going forward.

Wednesday, June 17, 2015

What should Yankees do with Nathan Eovaldi?

When a pitcher gives up eight runs in less than an inning of work like New York Yankees starter Nathan Eovaldi did Tuesday night, it invokes some knee-jerk questions about his place in the rotation when the previous results were not exactly spectacular. The questions seem justified when there is speculation that another member of the rotation – one who has been better all season – is going to be leaving for the bullpen. What are the Yankees going to do with Eovaldi?

Nathan Eovaldi
Photo Credit: Arturo Pardavilla III via Flickr
My hunch is that they’ll stick with him in the rotation because it’s the easy thing to do and the Yankees might believe Tuesday’s implosion was a simple outlier. I was among those who jumped to suggest shipping him to the bullpen mostly because in my mind Adam Warren deserves better. Others stated that Eovaldi’s “stuff” fits the bullpen, which may be true on paper.

The problem is the Yankees know Warren can pitch in the bullpen (and effectively so) while all they can discern about Eovaldi is that he has a tough time putting away batters with a 99-mph fastball. It’s baffling, but if Eovaldi can’t shutdown hitters as a starter in his first inning of work – he has allowed at least one run in the first inning in six of this 13 starts – he’s likely not going to do it as a reliever.

Monday, June 15, 2015

Yankees can maintain first-place without drastic measures

The New York Yankees lost two of three games to the Baltimore Orioles in Camden Yards this weekend and looked terrible in the losses. They fought their way through the finale, escaping with a victory to maintain a lone percentage point lead in the American League East standings.

The Tampa Bay Rays won’t go away, the Orioles are playing better (winners of six straight before Sunday’s loss) and the Toronto Blue Jays are destroying everyone in their path having won 11 straight games. The AL East might not be the best division in the game, but each club outside of the Boston Red Sox, seems to be in a position grab the crown.

What do the Yankees have to do to stay atop the division?