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?

Thursday, June 11, 2015

Yankees’ bullpen might look completely different when Andrew Miller returns

When the New York Yankees announced that closer Andrew Miller was placed on the 15-day disabled list with a forearm strain it might have begun a chain reaction of events which could completely change the complexion of the bullpen upon his return.

Andrew Miller
Photo Credit: Arturo Pardavilla III via Flickr
Miller’s injury is about as good as it could be where it concerns the elbow, as his MRI showed no structural damage to his ulnar collateral ligament, thus no Tommy John talk for now. Miller is not expected to pick up a ball for about two weeks, putting the earliest guess on a return at about one month.

For the sake of the following exercise, assume that there are no further injuries to the members of the entire pitching staff. Yes, there is a good chance someone else goes down, but this speculative piece is being written in a vacuum. Let’s take a look at the potential chain reaction of Miller’s injury.

Wednesday, June 10, 2015

2015 MLB First-Year Player Draft Day Two: Yankees stay the course

For the New York Yankees, the 2015 MLB First-Year Player Draft has been mostly about finding experienced players from the college ranks hoping to grab individuals who might make a quick impact at the big league level. On Tuesday, during the draft’s second day, the Yankees stuck with the plan but did manage to select two high school players.

The Yankees’ third round pick, RHP Drew Finley, is one of the high school selections. He is the son of Los Angeles Dodgers vice president of amateur and international scouting, David Finley.

Yankees Rounds 3-10
Courtesy of MLB.com

Tuesday, June 9, 2015

2015 MLB Draft Day One: Yankees go to college

The New York Yankees held their highest pick in a draft since 1993, the No. 16 selection, and went back to college for James Kaprielian a big right-hander from UCLA. The club stayed in the collegiate ranks with the No. 30 pick, University of San Diego shortstop Kyle Holder and completed the trifecta taking Indiana State's Jeff Degano with pick No. 57.

I wrote for SNY Monday that I would not be surprised if the Yankees took pitching – an area of need in my view – and would peg college standouts to fill the system. Based on what I had seen in expert mock drafts, I correctly guessed they’d tab Kaprielian if they decided to go the pitching route.

Friday, June 5, 2015

Will Yankees continue upswing?

The New York Yankees are coming off a three-game sweep of the Seattle Mariners, which followed losing three of four games in Oakland. The Yanks have won seven of their last 10 games after a 1-10 slide. Can the club win another series and keep pressure on the rest of the American League East?

Pitching matters


Adam Warren
Photo credit: Keith Allison via Flickr
It always comes down to pitching, doesn’t it? Of course the team needs to score runs and for the most part the club can put up numbers in bunches when they are right. At home, scoring runs should not be an issue; keeping opponents at bay could.

Nathan Eovaldi gets the start Friday and he really needs to step things up. He has potential, but he must begin to translate some of it into results on the mound. Eovaldi (4-1, 4.40 ERA, 4.07 FIP) leaves me wanting more. He’s got great fastball velocity, but because his ancillary pitches are inconsistent and his pitch location is often off, he allows a ton of hits. He owns a 1.57 WHIP and all those baserunners limit the number of innings he can throw in a given game.

In the middle game of the series, Adam Warren looks to prove the Yankees made the right call by leaving him in the rotation in lieu of Chris Capuano. Warren (3-4, 3.75 ERA, 4.48 FIP) has at most 30 days from Ivan Nova’s rehab assignment commencement to prove he should remain in the rotation again. If he falters in any way and the rest of the staff is healthy, Warren could find himself in the bullpen. That’s not necessarily a bad thing since the Yankees could use a strong righty in the pen besides Dellin Betances.

In the series finale, Michael Pineda looks to build on his last start in which he outpitched Seattle Mariners’ star Felix Hernandez. While Pineda (7-2, 3.33 ERA, 2.40 FIP) has been fantastic, he could still improve on the length he is giving the Yankees in his starts. As the team’s top one or two starters, Pineda has to go deeper in games in an effort to alleviate work for the bullpen.

Wednesday, June 3, 2015

Heroics from unlikely pair key Yankees' victory

The New York Yankees (28-25) roller coaster ride is back on the chains heading up as they defeated the Seattle Mariners (24-28) for their second straight win courtesy of big hits from an unlikely pair.

Stephen Drew
Photo credit: Keith Allison via Flickr
Stephen Drew, who entered the night hitting .160/.231/.301 and coming off a two-day benching, delivered a game-tying double off Mariners’ closer Fernando Rodney {arrow remains in quiver} in the ninth inning with a 1-2 count and two outs. Drew went 2-for-5 in his return to the lineup. Dare we ask if this can jump-start his season and resuscitate his career?

Two innings later, Garrett Jones, who entered the game in the eighth inning as a pinch-hitter for the slumping Chris Young, roped a three-run homer to center field with two outs giving the Bombers a 5-2 lead. Andrew Miller allowed a run in the ninth but the Yankees came away with the victory.

Drew’s double was another big hit for the second baseman, who otherwise cannot find a rhythm at the plate. Drew's timely hits are one thing that keeps Yankees manager Joe Girardi from completely removing him from the lineup. The others; Jose Pirela cannot hit a lick either and apparently no one trusts Rob Refsnyder.

As for Jones, the man has also had a couple clutch hits of late and could get more playing time if it continues. Jones has received minimal starts because Mark Teixeira has been healthy {knocking on wood} and Young at one time was hitting the cover off the ball. Young is in a freefall so Jones might get some more plate appearances until Jacoby Ellsbury is back with the club. Maybe he gets a "thank you" start today against right-hander Taijuan Walker?

Of note:


Maybe David Carpenter, who allowed ANOTHER inherited runner to score (now has allowed four of nine inherited runners to score), is never going to figure things out and he’ll get the boot soon. I’ve stuck up for Carpenter but it gets harder and harder to do so. The Yankees have a decision to make today before Masahiro Tanaka is activated later today. While I went another way in speculating what the Yankees will do, Carpenter could be in trouble now. If not now, he might be when the Yankees need another pitching spot when Ivan Nova returns and potentially pushes Adam Warren to the bullpen.

CC Sabathia was decent – 5.2 IP, 9 H, 2 ER, 2 BB, 6 K. This is about the best we can expect from Sabathia and at this point the Yankees will be happy if that's what he provides.

The Yankees used five lefties in the game marking the first time that's happened in club history.

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.



Tuesday, June 2, 2015

Who loses roster spot when Masahiro Tanaka returns to Yankees?

Note: Please excuse the long break in writing on the site. I’ve been away on vacation. I’ll be writing here two-three times per week going forward and you can find my other work on the Yankees at SportsNet New York.

New York Yankees right-hander Adam Warren pitched into the seventh inning Sunday afternoon for the fourth straight game, but came up short in the win column as the offense failed to manufacture a single run. Warren has been quite effective in those starts, going 1-3 with a 2.70 ERA.

While the results for the team were not there, Warren’s performance has been good enough to maintain a spot in the rotation with Chris Capuano headed to the bullpen when Masahiro Tanaka returns to the club Wednesday. While that has been established, the Yankees have not decided who loses a spot on the 25-man roster. Let’s take a look at the options.