Friday, October 9, 2015

Eovaldi's injury furthered Warren's misuse, aided Yankees’ skid

When the New York Yankees lost their wins leader, Nathan Eovaldi, to a season-ending injury on Sept. 5 it was an immediate blow to the club's rotation. Moreover, it can be argued that Eovaldi's injury provoked furthered misuse of Adam Warren, which then aided in the Yankees season-ending skid.

Adam Warren
Photo credit - Keith Allison via Flickr
Eovaldi’s injury hurt both the rotation and the bullpen. Of course, the Yankees lost their most productive starter at the time in Eovaldi. He had been on a tremendous run after mastering his split-finger fastball going 10-2 across 12 starts (73.2 IP) with a 2.93 ERA and a .584 OPS-against, before slumping in two starts leading to the injury.

With Eovaldi out of the picture, the Yankees transitioned Warren back to the rotation after having moved him to the bullpen in late June in an effort to keep his innings down for the rest of the season. The decision was a smart one considering he had thrown less than 80 innings in each of the last two seasons, and showed they valued Warren's future.

Warren’s stint in the pen should have been better served as the Yankees were relying heavily on Justin Wilson, Dellin Betances and Andrew Miller and consequently their usage was reaching extremes. Warren gave Yankees manager Joe Girardi another option for mid to high-leverage innings, but the skipper did not always use him in such a manner.

Tuesday, October 6, 2015

Three keys for Yankees in wild card game

The New York Yankees were not expected to be in the postseason according to many pundits, but here they are in a winner-take-all wild card contest against the upstart Houston Astros. What are the keys for the Yankees to advance to the American League Division Series?

Tanaka matching Keuchel

Masahiro Tanaka was signed to be the pitcher for this exact moment. He is paid an ace’s salary to be successful in the big games. There has not been a bigger MLB game for Tanaka. As far as “biggest game of his career” goes, the same should be said about Dallas Keuchel.

Despite pitching on three days’ rest for the first time in his career, Keuchel is believed to be the exact pitcher the Yankees do not want to deal with Tuesday night. Keuchel has not allowed a run to the Yankees across 16 innings this season, while striking out 21 batters.

If Keuchel is remotely as good as his past performances against the Yankees, it will force Tanaka to be at his best. Tanaka cannot afford to let balls sit in the middle of the plate, especially four-seamers that Astros batters will destroy. If Tanaka gets the feel for his splitter early on and keeps the Astros off balance it will go a long way toward keeping the Yankees close (or dare I say ahead) of Keuchel.

Wednesday, September 30, 2015

How big is tonight’s start for Yankees’ Tanaka?

Suggesting that Game 158 for the New York Yankees is big when the postseason is within grasp, is certainly not an overstep in narrative. But, Masahiro Tanaka’s performance lamented as the be-all and end-all game of the season is pushing the dialogue a bit.

Masahiro Tanaka
Photo credit: Keith Allison via Flickr
Surely, Tanaka’s Wednesday night start against the Boston Red Sox is important for several reasons.

First, the Yankees desperately need a win to get the taste of the playoffs on their lips instead of sniffing it in front of their noses.

Secondly, the Yankees must have Tanaka tuned up for his potential start in the American League Wild Card game.

Third, and in my mind most importantly, Tanaka has to prove he is healthy enough to pitch without abandon. He cannot come into today’s game giving less than 100 percent. If Tanaka cannot go full throttle, he’ll be of no use to the Yankees for the wild card affair.

Thursday, September 24, 2015

Yankees redirect attention to wild card berth

The American League East title might finally be out of reach for the New York Yankees after losing two of three games to the Toronto Blue Jays. This is not to say the Yanks should give up on their quest for the division title, but they might begin to gear up for a winner-take-all play-in game Oct. 6.

The Yankees must still play to win the AL East title, on the slim chance that the Blue Jays continue to play .500 ball the rest of the way (Toronto is 5-5 in their last 10 games). It would take an impressive 9-2 run by the Yankees over their final 11 games, but it is certainly not impossible. The effort to win each game should remain, if only to be playing top-notch baseball when the wild card game arrives.

Saturday, September 19, 2015

Where does Yankees' Greg Bird begin the 2016 season?

The only reason New York Yankees’ first baseman Greg Bird isn’t riding the pine this September is because Mark Teixeira has a busted left leg, and there wasn’t anyone already on the roster that could fill the void. Now Bird is outperforming expectations bringing to light the question of where he begins play in 2016.

How good has Bird been? Let’s extrapolate Bird's numbers through Friday night's game to the same number of plate appearances Teixeira had before going down with his injury.

I understand extrapolation is not an exact science for future performance, but it does give you an idea of the kind of offensive production Bird has provided comparatively speaking to Teixeira’s.

The drop-off is not great, and we’re talking about a player in Teixeira who was arguably the Yankees best offensive force this season before the injury. While there are issues to address (strikeouts in particular) it is easy to see the dilemma of whether Bird starts back in Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre or grabs a spot on the 25-man roster as the backup first baseman.

Wednesday, September 9, 2015

Postseason hunt becomes more difficult for Yankees

The New York Yankees already had their backs against the wall trying to keep pace with a juggernaut in Toronto, and now the newest wave of injuries will truly test their mettle.

Masahiro Tanaka
Photo credit: Keith Allison via Flickr
After Tuesday night’s disappointing loss to the Baltimore Orioles, the Yankees fell 1 ½ games behind the Blue Jays in the American League East. The Yanks received a stellar pitching performance from Masahiro Tanaka, who hurled eight innings of one-run ball with 10 strikeouts, but to no avail as the offense sputtered in a 2-1 loss. Wednesday, the Yankees will try for the series victory with CC Sabathia on the mound as he returns from the disabled list due to his bum knee.

Then the Yankees have a four-game set with the Blue Jays at Yankee Stadium. The Yanks will have to make a statement, minimally winning three out of four games in my view, in order show Toronto that winning the division will not be easy despite the stacked odds facing the Bombers.