Friday, June 22, 2018

50th Win!

You have to be impressed with this team.  Two of our starters are out and we plug in 2 young kids and we keep winning.  The team isn't even hitting on all cylinders but we keep winning.  Severino has a very uncharacteristic outing where his slider didn't have a lot of bite, his fastball was tailing off to the right of the plate and his change was staying up high, yet we win. 

This is a team that picks each other up and it helps that the back of the bullpen has been great of late.  Take a look at how amazing these guys have been since June 5th:

Chapman:   9 IP,  3 hits, 4 walks, 12k's and NO runs (actually has been scoreless for last 10.1 IP)
Betances:    8 IP,  1 hit,  2 walks, 17 k's and NO runs (actually has been scoreless for last 12 IP)
Green:       5.1 IP, 5 hits, 0 walks, 7 K's and NO runs (actually has been scoreless for last 8.1 IP)
Robertson  7.1 IP, 4 hits, 1 walk, 8 K's and NO runs
Holder -      7.1 IP, 1 hit,  1 walk, 6 K's and NO runs

Since June 5th these guys in the bullpen have pitched 37 scoreless innings (14 hits, 8 walks & 50 K's)


They have been the difference when you see us come back from a 5-0 deficit and hit a 2 run HR late to tie the game and then a 2 run HR to win it in the 9th!  We scored 5 runs in the final 3 innings.

It was nice to see Stanton feel the stadium crowd on the game-winning HR (and another exciting win!).  He should have had another HR in his 1st AB tonight but he was robbed by a great catch.

I mentioned how the shift has taken so many hits away from players up the middle and it happened again when Loaisiga was pitching.  He had 1st and 2nd nobody out and a bullet up the middle went right to Torres who easily stepped on 2nd and threw to 1st for the DP.

Judge made a very good running play with 1 out and he was on 1st.  Did he hit a blooper that the LF should have called off the SS and caught it but it dropped in and Judge waited about 40% of the way to 2nd base and was ready to go either way when the ball dropped and barely made it to 2nd.  Most of the time a runner would be out there. 

Sanchez ran the bases well on a bullet single by Bird where he made it to 3rd.

Didi didn't read a play on the bases as well when Judge got caught in a rundown after the pitcher snagged a hit by Didi (those are hard to fault a runner on, but there is some blame). Didi could have run to 2nd but he kind of gave up too early as Judge worked hard to keep the play going.  Those little things can make a difference between winning and losing

On a sac fly to CF, Hicks got himself in throwing position and came in on the ball but took 5 steps after touching the ball before throwing it and the runner was safe as throw hit the mound and went a little up the line.  If the throw was online it would have been close, but if the throw was released 2 steps sooner (still giving him 3 steps) and off line the way it was, he would have been out.  I don't understand why some OF'rs take so long to get rid of the ball?  You don't see relay throws where a guy takes more than 2 steps and he should catch it in mid-air so he lands and throws at the same time.

I stated in my previous post when responding to your questions about whether I liked Tampa starting a reliever and then what are my thoughts about the shift, that I would write my own idea of what I would do...well here it is.  If I were a manager, I would take advantage of the real splits players have in regards to platooning numbers (R/L splits).  We already see it with lineups and with the LOOGY (lefty one-out guy) to come in and get the tough lefty.  The issue with this methodology (that works) is that it uses up a lot of players and is less efficient.  My "idea" is to teach my relievers to play OF.  They shag fly balls anyway so why not let them play a little?  Why?  Because you could bring in a "Jeff Nelson" to get a righty out and then when the next batter is a lefty, you bring in "Mike Stanton" but, instead of taking Nelson out of the game you move him to RF or LF depending on the hitters normal hitting.  This way you could mix and match your pitchers based on the lineup and your only downside (outside of injury risk) is that they won't play OF as well as your starter, but again, the ball has to find them and has to be a tough running play to make a difference.  The positive is you get great matchup advantages for a few innings and not waste players.  This Yankee team would not benefit from this strategy as our players are not as dominant one way.   Our one lefty (not our closer) isn't really better against lefties (which I don't like), but imagine a team with a Stanton and Nelson being able to match them up over the last 2 innings with no matter who is sent to the plate?  What a huge advantage.  Anyway, you get the idea

Sunday, June 17, 2018

Happy Father's Day

I have been asked a few times now my thought about the shift of defenders in baseball and most recently Tampa starting a reliever.

While O'Neill constantly pokes fun at the shift and points out every time it doesn't work; there is no question it works more often than it doesn't.  Forgetting the times they hit into the teeth of the shift, think about how many times a ball is hit up the middle now and it is an out instead of a hit?    If players start to drop more bunts or drive the ball the other way more often then we can see if it still has the benefit, but it clearly does now.  The part of it that surprises me is that the pitching hasn't adjusted as much to pitch to the shift.  I see a lefty shift (the defenders on the 2nd base side) and the pitcher throws a fastball on the outside corner with 2 strikes which would make it easier to hit into the open side of the shift.  I get the idea of pitching normally, you still need to try and make people hit the ball weakly, but I haven't seen a concentrated effort to allow a player to hit into the shift.  Anyway, I am in favor of shifting and the stats show it works!

As for what Tamps is doing regarding starting a reliever; my take is that it doesn't make as much sense as other situations do for me.  The concept has some logic, but there are too many variables that don't make sense to me.  For example, the idea of having good relievers pitch leverage situations is one I believe in; even to the point of having your closer possibly pitch the 8th inning because the meat of the order is up...or the 7th inning has bases loaded and nobody out and you are winning by 4; why not bring your best pitcher right then because this is the time to limit runs more than any other (most likely).  This is countered by having your closer pitch earlier in the game and the mindset (or comfort) could be different.  Many relievers (closers in particular) are creatures of habit and that can throw them off.  Getting back to what TB is doing, they argue that the 3rd time through a lineup the numbers go far in favor of the hitters so having a good matchup in the 1st inning against the better part of the order will help the 3rd time situation and also help stop runs in the 1st inning where the most runs are typically scored.  This is the one part that makes sense to me as the better hitters are up and the starting pitcher is less likely to be in a groove.  However, you are asking a reliever to start a game and then a starter would be coming in after the start of the game (different mindset and comfort zone for each).  Overall, I don't think the benefit is worth it, but if you stuck with it, the comfort zones should be reduced a lot.  My feeling about the 3rd time through the lineup difference is that it is just as much about a pitcher getting tired as it is seeing a guy the 3rd time...otherwise, the 2nd time through the lineup would be better than the 1st and we just discussed the 1st inning being the highest scoring inning.  Obviously, the pitcher may be in more of a groove the 2nd time through as well, but you get the point.

Tomorrow I will write what I would do if I were a manager that isn't done now.

Saturday's game:

One quick correction; Didi had hit a HR in 3 straight games before last nights game (I had written 2 in a row)

Sanchez made a phenomenal throw from his knees to barely nab a base stealer in the 1st inning.  He got a huge assist from Torres who let the ball travel and made a great tag.

Tampa is a weak team, but Severino was dominant.  8 shutout innings while allowing only 3 singles and 2 walks, striking out 9.  He is now 10-2 with a 2.09 ERA and is one of the best pitchers in the game.  He had 102 pitches and they chose to take him out, I think 110-115 pitches is not too much and I would have left him in, but can't really argue it. Shreve allowed a HR and a triple, although Hicks had it fully in his glove and it just popped out.  On the triple, the runner overran the bag as he slipped past it and Andujar tagged him out.  I watched it 4 times and he got him before he retouched the bag.  Not sure why we didn't challenge that?  I wasn't keeping track of challenges so maybe we didn't have any left, but he was out and it should have been challenged.  Instead, we brought in Chapman and he pitched great getting his 20th save.

Our righties did the damage with Judge getting 2 doubles (one was a laser to CF where the OF'r was playing only 6 feet in front of the track and it beat him to the wall) while Stanton and Sanchez went yard!

LeBlanc blanked the Red Sox 1-0 as Seattle has taken 2 games from Boston and is only 1/2 a game behind Houston who has won 10 in a row.  I haven't looked at their team yet, but without Cano, they are doing great.

Saturday, June 16, 2018

After Friday's Game

Thursday night:
German has been settling into a non-dominant yet not bad pitching line of late.  He has been keeping the Yankees in the game.  This can be effective when the bats start to come alive (we are definitely not hot at the plate).  His last 2 outings were very similar in that he went 6 innings, allowed 5 hits and 3 runs while striking out 9 and 10 respectively while walking 0 and 2 respectively.    This type of game with a 4.50 ERA can be useful for a team like ours that should be scoring runs.  I like his stuff (FB without great movement at around 95, a changeup with good movement around 87-88 MPH and good curve around 82-83.  He hasn't had the command/consistency you would like to see yet though.  He is 25 so this is the time to establish himself (he had Tommy John surgery in 2014) and then hopefully get into a groove.

Down 2-0 in the 5th inning, Hicks was up with 1 out and hit a HR to RC off a changeup down the middle by Snell.  Hicks has an OPS of .760 now and I think this is about where he is  A solid defender with a great arm (especially for a CF'r) and a guy who can get you a SB, hit with some power and give you a mid .700 OPS.   He will get hot and cool off but at the end, he will be around this mark with the exception of a longer hot or cool streak than expected.  Here is a link to the preseason blog and my thoughts about Hicks.;postID=4959679361620907379;onPublishedMenu=allposts;onClosedMenu=allposts;postNum=34;src=postname

After a hard hit ball by Judge for a single, a Stanton K and a Sanchez walk, Torres had a great AB.  2 outs and 2 on down 2-1.  He had a good cut on a fastball but tipped it, he then took 3 balls (a FB, a slider and a change) before getting another FB that he fouled off.  On 3-2 the runners would be going and he got a curveball that he fouled off.  This was a critical pitch for a couple of reasons.  He looked like he was sitting on the FB as that was all he swung at and with 3-2 and runners going, a FB is more likely.  the other important piece was that he didn't look bad on the swing, he does a good job of hesitating ever so slightly, keeping his hands back and still getting some power on his swing.  Based on him not being fooled on the curve (he has no seen all 4 of Snell's pitches), Snell threw a FB and this time Torres squared up the 96 MPH fastball and yanked it to LF for his 13th HR of the year (and a 4-2 lead).  At 21, this guy has had a lot of excellent moments this year!  While he doesn't turn 2 like Cano does, he gets great jumps on balls and is very smooth.  He is also very confident, in the 7th inning up by 1 run and a man on 1st and 1 out he fielded a ball well to his left (toward 1b) and stopped and fired back to 2nd base to get the lead runner by a step.  This is not the safe play, but it is the right play if you execute it correctly.  he also saw the runner slow and let the hit ball go ahead of him so Torres seeing this "live" processed the information and cut down the potential tying run.  That was a veteran play.   This kid looks great and I would sign up for the .911 OPS he has every year.

Green, Betances and Chapman held onto the 1 run lead!

Friday's game:
I was very interested to see the young kid (23) brought up from AA (started the year in A) to pitch that had never pitched in AAA.  Jonathan Loaisiga (pronounced "loh-AYE-see-gah").  He was drafted the SF Giants and then was injured for pretty much 3 years.  2017 was a good year and was added to the 40 man roster 11/17.  He had a lot of strikeouts in the minors this year (58 in 45 innings, but did allow 47 hits and 4 HR's.  The impressive part was he only walked 4 batters!

I was impressed when I saw the ball come out of his hands and read the gun at 97...with movement.  His fastball had some tail to it.  His slider looked solid as well and he adjusted from throwing everything away to hitting the outside corner.  I am not sure if it was intentional, but his changeup had good movement, one-time fading/dropping and another moving right away from a lefty.  Those are 3 plus pitches.  In many ways, similar stuff to German, but I like Loaisiga's fastball better.  At 23 and never pitching above single A before this year, he had to be feeling some pressure.  He surprisingly walked 4 batters in his 5 innings (as many walks as his 45 IP this year), but you have to give him some leeway.  He allowed only 3 singles, struck out 6 and pitched out of trouble not allowing a run.  Very impressed and he was throwing 95-96 on his 90th pitch (got up to 98 at one point early in the game but mostly around 96- 97).

Meanwhile, Didi got his 2nd HR in 2 nights and Sanchez cleared the bases with a double that iced the game.  On this play, the defender had to make an attempt to catch the ball with 2 outs because a single pretty much ended the game.  

Nice 5-0 victory and Boston lost late to Seattle

Wednesday, June 13, 2018

After Wednesday

In a previous post, I had stated that people can share with me any questions or comments you have and I will try and answer.  My brother wrote in the comment section at the bottom of the last post, "41 points of OPS (the difference between Sanchez and Bird) really isn't that much. It represents 20 points of batting average from a batter who hits no extra base hits, never walks, and never sacrifices. From a player who does hit X bases and walks, the difference in batting average will be less. So at best, you're saying Bird makes Sanchez look like a 211 hitter by comparison. And it's actually less. Yay. :-)" 

40 points of OPS is not a huge amount, but there is a difference.  My main purpose of the comparison was about the production difference 2.25x as many RBI's, it wasn't about a huge OPS differential.  Interestingly, after looking at Bird, I remembered that he didn't hit well last year and in fact, he also only hit .190 last year in 147 AB's.

Here are their numbers if they each had 230 Plate Appearances (Not counting Birds 0-4 Monday):

2017 Bird:    .190 BA, .710 OPS, 27 R, 09 2B, 0 3B, 12 HR, 38 RBI and 26 BB
2018 Bird:    .191 BA, .680 OPS, 08 R, 12 2B, 4 3B, 08 HR, 17 RBI and 08 BB
18 Sanchez:  .190 BA, .721 OPS, 33 R, 12 2B, 0 3B, 12 HR, 35 RBI and 28 BB

While this is not a statistically valid sample size, it does show you what 40 points of OPS looks like.  In the cases of the 2017 Bird and the 18 Sanchez, the main difference was 4 triples for the 18 Bird were turned into 4 HR's AND a significant amount walks differential.  20 more walks for Sanchez than Bird in the same AB's and 18 more for the 17 Bird.  Another way to look at this over a full year (tripling the numbers), 41 points of OPS means that 60 times Bird made an out where Sanchez walked.  I think that is more than "not a huge amount" subjective as that may be.  The other piece that stands out is how much less productive Bird in 2018 has been when you extrapolate the numbers this way; about half as many RBI's and about a quarter of the runs scored (probably from not getting on base).

Anyway, just another way of looking at things.

As for the game...

It is amazing how bad the Nationals were on the base paths.  They had 1st and 2nd with nobody out and got doubled off at 2nd on a line drive to the 2nd baseman.  Then the guy on 1st base got picked off.  In the next inning, they tried to stretch a single into a double and got thrown out.  Late in the inning after getting on 1st base they got picked off again!  Later in the game they got thrown out stealing.  That is a truly terrible day on the bases.

It worked out though as they got a cheap HR to left with 2 outs and 2 runners on that changed the entire game.  Gray wasn't sharp as he simply could not throw the curve for a strike, but his fastball had good movement. 

Bird showed some signs as he had a double and a HR.  I like that Boone has played Romine a little more and given Sanchez some rest.  We are seeing Romine cool off a little but until Sanchez gets going I agree to play him 40% of the time. If Romine continues to cool then you can reduce it as well.

One last note:

On Tuesday, CC got his 1500th strikeout as a Yankee!  The interesting thing to me was that he has more strikeouts as a Yankee than the rest of his career.   He has 2,893 strikeouts (107 away from 3k) and is 9 wins away from 250.  I never thought about it, but he has been a Yankee for 10 years.  He has been very solid and his only down years were 2013-2015 where he was transitioning from being a power pitcher to a crafty lefty.  His 3,380 IP ranks 85th all time; 10 behind Bartolo Colon on the active leader for IP.  I get the feeling he may catch Colon by the end of the year.  Incredibly, Colon is 8 years older.

Tuesday, June 12, 2018

The Still Struggling Offense

With the offense struggling, I am a little annoyed that the Yankees didn't try and bunt Gardner in the 5th inning up 2-0 with 1st and 2nd and nobody out.  It is a perfect time to bunt and put some pressure on the defense and then (most likely) you have 2nd and 3rd with 1 out.  I think he also has the opportunity to beat it out...of course, he has the opportunity to mess it up as well.  This is what I was saying before an outcome happened...and the outcome ended up pretty close anyway as Gardner ripped a line drive to medium deep RC and Romine tagged and went to 3rd.  Judge walked and then Bird, who has been awful at the plate, weakly pops up to short LF, followed by another terrible AB for Stanton.  Again, how about bunting once in awhile even to get the defense moving.  Bird should bunt down 3rd when they shift him!

Bird was up again in the 8th inning with 1st and 3rd and 1 out and hit into a DP.  Bird is now hitting .191 with a .680 OPS and only 4 RBI's!  For perspective on guys hitting less than .200, Sanchez is hitting .190 and has an OPS of .721 and would have 9 RBI's if he had the same amount of AB's.

Stanton watched 2 fastballs go on strikes and then the pitcher threw 2 sliders far off the plate that he didn't swing at and then on the 3rd slider way off the plate he swung...C'mon man!

Didi was our offense striking a HR on a curve followed by a HR off a fastball; great to see.

Romine, who started for Sanchez in a game not started by Gray did a nice job with a hit and a sac fly and called a good game.

Great job by the pitching staff!  CC, 5.2 shutout innings, then green 1.1, Betances and Chapman closing out the shutout.  Betances has been excellent of late.  In his last 13 innings, he has allowed only 1 run on 2 hits and 6 walks while striking out 21!  Betances did hit Harper, who got hit twice and walked twice.

Boston won

Monday, June 11, 2018

Rain On The Parade

 I did watch the Sunday night snooze fest as the Yankees bats remained silent.  If not for one bad changeup that Severino threw, the game may still be scoreless.  The 9th inning is a microcosm of understanding the poor approach the Yankees have had at the plate.  Down 2-0 and getting almost nothing going offensively, Stanton was up.  He has a 2-1 count on him and his approach has to get on base any way he can.  The pitch is extremely high for ball 3 but he swings and misses.  He then doesn't swing and gets called out on strike 3.  That sums it up.

The title of this blog and what I have below was written after Saturday night.

I know everyone is excited that the Yankees winning the series against our crosstown rivals and now we have bragging rights. These games are the most meaningless as far as I am concerned.  Just barely worth more than any non-AL game.  Also, the Mets are banged up and in a free fall.  The Mets simply can't hit at all.  To be fair, the Yankees aren't doing much better either as it feels like most of the team is struggling; we didn't score for the 1st 12 innings last game (Friday).  deGrom has been dominant this year, but I felt like he left a lot of very hittable pitches for the Yanks and we didn't take advantage of them.   We are not good at the plate now.  Gardner stayed hot though and came through!

Not a fan of teh pitchers batting either.  They don't do it enough in schools anymore and in the minors it isn't as often and honestly the confornattaion between a pitcher and a batter is what interests me.  Watyching Severino hack up there and possibly hurt himself is not interesting to me.  I woudl like to see more challenging situations.  Now Tanaka has tight hammy's? 

Other Notes:

Really bad news regarding Montgomery...  His 3.62 ERA which might have been a little fortunate, but even so he was doing a nice job and was developing into a solid back of the rotation guy.  Hopefully, he can come back strong in a few years.

Surprise stat:  Bird has only 1 walk?  (Updated: he now has 2 walks as he walked in the 9th Sunday night only to be stupidly doubled off after Sanchez lined to 3rd with 1 out.  Where the heck is he going?  He wasn't the tying run...just dumb!)  But, for Bird to only have walked once in about 45 AB's is very surprising

Another stat...Judge, who owns the 6th most strikeouts in a single year (208)  is on pace for 226 which would be the most ever in a single year (record is 223 by Mark Reynolds).  Stanton is right there as well with a pace of tying Reynolds at 223.  This battle should be epic down the stretch :-)

Andujar hit another HR on a breaking ball; the kid is good!

Thursday, June 7, 2018

No Scoring for 12 Innings

First, one of the main reasons why the offenses in this game did nothing was that the umpire had a huge strike zone (up and wide).  Both sides had a lot of issues with him, but I didn't think one side got an advantage, but it just changed the game dramatically.

On the positive side, Sonny Gray, took advantage of the strike zone, the best breaking stuff he has had all year, poor hitting from Toronto and even a fastball that reached 96 (he is usually around 93) to pitch 8 shutout innings allowing 2 hits and 2 walks.

On the negative side, I thought our bats were awful.  The score was 0-0 in 12 innings and while the strike zone was huge, we took so many pitches down the middle and on the edges that were real strikes.  We also swung at so many very bad pitches and were out of synch. 

Clippard was brought in to face Andujar in the top of the 10th and I thought this is a great matchup because Andujar handles off-speed pitches so well.  Up came the changeup and he just missed a HR for another double to lead off the inning and we were in business, but 3 straight out left him there.

We had some chances with Bird at the plate but he didn't come through, however, our best chance that should have been a run was Romine was up with Stanton on 3rd with 2 outs.  He ripped a hard line drive one-hopper up the middle where Devon Travis made an outstanding play diving full out to his backhand and caught an in-between line drive hop.   He then, from one knee, flipped to 2nd base to get Andujar who had walked (twice in this game).  Seriously a gem of a play that saved a run and they were fortunate that Andujar was on 1st as I am not sure he could have gotten up to throw Even the slower Romine at 1st.

Another good play by Toronto saw a play where it looked like Didi was safe at 2nd base stealing but Travis let the ball go all the way to the body of Didi and caught and tagged at the same time.  This has been another one of my pet peeves where infielders take the throws from catchers and catch it too far in front of the bag.  Sometimes you have to because the throw won't reach but if the throw will reach you let it go as deep as you can.  This was the deepest possible and is more dangerous but a great tag.

FF to the top of the 13th inning:  Nobody out, Gardner on 1st base and Judge with a 1-0 count on him...Judge swung at a fastball really inside and then waived at a slider way outside (part of the bad approach all game).  the next pitch was one to kill as Thier pitcher (Biagini) hung a slider but Judge just got a piece of it to stay alive.  That was the pitch to crush especially with a 1-2 count as it was a hanger.  For some reason, he then threw a curveball for a low strike that Judge hit deep over the LC fence!!!  Stanton added an absolute bullet line drive HR that was the 2nd hardest hit ball of the season at 119.3; the hardest was a single by Judge at 119.9

Boston keeps winning

Tuesday, June 5, 2018

One Third of The Season Is Over

The Yankees will have to play a lot of double headers and that takes its toll on the team.  Not because it is hard to sweep a doubleheader as is stated all the time.  In fact, it appears to not be much different than your chances of winning back to back games based on the stats.  51.8% of doubleheaders are swept with home teams doing it more often (as would be expected).  The issue with doubleheaders is more about the stress on the team.  Sometimes a bullpen person is up for the first game and not inserted and then a long rest and is up again in the 2nd game.  You rest your starters (as does the other team) and occasionally they have to be put back in and it is tougher on the body to get up to that "ready level" and then rest and have to do it again (think very long rain delay for a day-night doubleheader).   One note on this; I have said many times, that if you want to give a player a day off, you should give him a full day off so that he doesn't have to even warm up.  I am not saying that resting someone for a part of a game and bringing them in later should not happen, but when a player needs a day, give them a FULL day.  It is also why I would never vote any Yankees into the All Star game.  Why do I want them to play a game that does not matter (I know there are home field implications) rather than rest?  I want my players rested rather than playing in the AS game and then perhaps needing rest, because they played in the AS game, while we are playing games.  I also don't want them screwing up their swing for HR derby (which can also tire them out). 

Onto Monday's DH...which, of course, ended in a split :-)

Severino is a stud.  On his 99th pitch, he threw 99 MPH!  But his slider and change are legit pitches as well.  I love zero walks and 10 k's.   At 9-1 and a 2.20 ERA, we have an ace! 

It was disappointing that Chapman had to come on and get a 1 out save.

The Yankees got 7 hits and 7 runs, thanks to 6 walks,  2 HR's (Romine with a huge 3 run blast) and getting 3 hits in 7 tries with RISP.

In the 2nd game, German, pitched pretty well, even though his numbers show 4 ER in 6.2 IP.  He was a bit unlucky in that a pop up should have been caught where Andujar gave a great effort, Torres (playing SS) took a bad angle and Frazier probably should have taken control.  It was in a bad spot but that has to be the OF calling everyone off as it was a very tough play for Andujar; it could have been a SS's ball as well, but Torres has not played a lot of SS this year.  regardless, that play cost him a run and then with 2 outs Warren allowed another one of his runs.  German has to get more consistent as he has good stuff, but he will throw a great changeup and then throw one that doesn't have near the movement.  His curve can spin or have great bite.  I know he is 0-4 and his ERA is high, but I chalk it up to being young and I would keep sending him out there. 

Observation: German, on the mound wearing 42, had a similar physique and look as Rivera

Other Notes:
Judge was 0-9 with 8 strikeouts...Ouch!

Andujar is an excellent off-speed hitter on pitches over the plate (even low).  He has a great ability to square up those pitches and one of the reasons he has 20 doubles (28 extra base hits). 

Sanchez had another lazy PB

This was written before Monday night's game:

So where are we after 1/3 of the season?

An oddity had us technically in 1st base by winning % because we had played 5 games less than the Red Sox before their Sunday win against Houston yet we were 1/2 a game behind Boston.

I will try and go through some positions over the next weeks of the blog...let's start with the catchers:

Sanchez - a .777 OPS is not what I was hoping for him when he had the hot 2016 (200 AB's) and a 1.032 OPS and then followed it up with a semi full season of an OPS of .876 (471 AB's).  I didn't discuss his offense in my preseason blog, but I would have expected a mid .800 OPS from Sanchez and with upside.  The main issue is the .205 Batting average as his walks and power are not bad.  If he was hitting .250 (8 more hits) he would have an OPS of .867 about what I would have expected. His pace is for 36 HR's and 105 RBI's, although he is slumping right now.

Defensively he can do better as has the ability, but is lazy...overall, defensively, he is what he is.

Romine - Wow, who saw this coming?  No, you didn't!  At 30 years old, he has hit the ball great!  He is leading our team in OPS with a 1.078 in 56 AB's.  I don't expect this to continue, but if he can give us an OPS of .750 the rest of the way we should be happy as that is a heck of a backup.  He has played so well he deserves more than just catching Sonny least until he cools.  he should be catching 40% of the games

Overall, I would say that the catchers have been about what we would expect combined, it is allocated differently than I would have expected though.  For projecting, I would expect the same production moving forward.

Thursday, May 31, 2018

After the Houston Series

Houston's starting pitching is outstanding!  We have the lineup over them, but their starters in a series can make life rough.  Our bullpen should be better but has not been as good as it can be this year.  In general, people don't talk as much about defense until a game can be decided by it or something stands out (like when I talk about Sanchez).  That being said, the game Tuesday night saw us commit FIVE errors and also deal with an umpire that was very inconsistent and not favoring us.  (two nights in a row complaining about the ump).  We were our own worst enemy with so many errors against one of the top 3 teams in the league.  Our rookies at 2nd and 3rd have been struggling defensively and that continued in this game.  CC wasn't sharp and committed his own error, but the fielding didn't help us and directly led to 2 runs and a lot more pitches.

One of the errors to Torres was really a bad play by Bird at 1st base.  While the throw was a slightly offline and low/short, Bird stepped toward the pitcher rather than toward the throw (Torres was coming over from shading up the middle and threw running toward the RF line) so he was not able to reach for the ball correctly and had to back an in-between hop.  If Bird had correctly stretched toward the throw as you are supposed to, he would have turned it into a very easy short-hop play.

Speaking of Bird, he was 1-5 with 3 K's, but he had some very tough calls against him that were tough to overcome, especially when you are facing a tough pitcher like Morton.  But, you have to love the way he makes the pitcher work and against teams like Houston, you need to get those pitchers out as soon as possible.

Both Stanton and Sanchez have been wildly swinging at terrible pitches.  They both are in that swing no matter what mode that is infuriating to watch.  Stanton is lining up the ball better because he isn't flying open like Sanchez is (Gary's front hip is pulling off the ball), but it doesn't matter when you are swinging at balls that can't be touched.  Stanton will get it going when he gets more selective, Sanchez needs better pitch selection and get his mechanics better.

This game was a great example of this Yankee teams talent.  A lot was going wrong (self-inflicted and the umpire), yet we did score one run in each of the first two innings on a Gardner HR and a 2 out double by Andujar and a single by Torres.  Houston scored 5 runs on our mistakes and we were down 5-2 going into the bottom of the 5th.  Judge pounded a fastball on the outside corner deep to RC to close the game to two runs.

Entering the 9th, the goal was to get the tying run to the plate and Andujar set us up with a leadoff walk!  This kid has a stick, but working walks has not been his forte, however, his 6th walk of the year, gave us hope.  Torres had his AB taken away as a 1-1 pitch that was not close was called a strike and then tried to protect on a pitch that was worse and he struck out.  Gardner, who already had homered, went up looking for a fastball and took a changeup strike.  The next pitch was a high fastball (probably a strike) that Gardner gave a good very high ride to it and it just cleared (by 2 feet) the leaping OF'r  for a dramatic game-tying HR.

More Yankee excitement this year!

the Yankees weren't done as Judge once again went the opposite way and ripped a double down the RF line.  After Bird struck out, Stanton got an infield hit giving Sanchez a chance to win the game with 1st and 3rd.  In perhaps one of the worst AB's you can see, he waived at 3 sliders that were all balls and the 3rd one was lucky to be fielded by the catcher.

The 10th saw when of the coolest plays defensively!  Chapman came in and got the first 2 batters out and looked sharp hitting 103.  He then walked the speedy Kemp (That drives me crazy - you have to make that guy hit his way on).  Chapman was starting to get all over the place and wild pitched Kemp to 2nd.  On a 2-2 pitch Chapman uncorked a high 101 mph pitch that Sanchez had no chance on and the ball went all the way on a fly to the backstop where it hit the top of the padding and bounced back all the way to Sanchez who caught the ball turned and fired to 3rd base where Andujar made a nice reaching tag to get out the speedy Kemp in one of the craziest plays you will see.  Outside of the crazy perfect bounce in the air, Sanchez made an excellent play to turn and fire to 3rd base and while the throw was very good it was a little toward the 2nd base side and Andujar not only was in the correct position he was balanced enough to reach toward 2nd and catch as well as tag the runner perfectly.  It was the perfect storm to get Kemp out.  BTW, the batter helped out as he got out of the way of Sanchez.  If he would have just stood there and faced 3rd base in the batter's box, Sanchez would not have been able to make the throw without moving his feet and then the runner would have been safe.  Of course, he risked getting hit with the ball but that made have given them a run if that happened.  Anyway, great play that was also very lucky.

The Yankees then replayed the 2nd inning;  after getting the first two outs, Andujar doubled and Torres knocked him in with yet another dramatic walk-off win!

Gardner had a great game, going 4-5 with 2 dingers!

Wednesday Game - Last night's game was not nearly as exciting and was still a very good game.

Severino against Keuchel.  The Yankees got one run in the first off Keuchel and Severino was cruising until he allowed a 2 out 2 run HR in the 5th inning.  He used all 3 pitches effectively and even tripled up on his change one time.

The Yankees came back in the 5th when the struggling Sanchez finally took an outside pitch and served it toward 2nd base (that is vacant because of the shift) and got a huge 2 out bases loaded hit to knock in 2 runs and give us back the lead.  His front hip still leaked a lot but he swung the bat well and had a huge smile on his face.

The score stayed this way until the 9th where Houston rallied with a single and double knocking in a run before Chapman struck out Springer on 3 straight fastballs with the last one at 103!

Another series won by this team and against an excellent Houston team.

Unfortunately, Boston keeps winning as well.

Tuesday, May 29, 2018

After Memorial Day Weekend

In somewhat of a change, I will have a smaller focus on the game in this and discuss some statcast numbers on the strike zone.  First, some comments about the games this weekend.
Saturday - was just a very p[oor pitching performance by Sonny Gray (ERA now 5.98) after what was one of his better games.  That was the most frustrating part as I was hoping he would get into a groove.  The Yankees jumped out 4-1 but the bats went silent after the 2nd inning and Kahnle was bad in his first game back.
Sunday - Tanaka navigated his way through 6 innings and only allowed a solo HR to Trout while the bullpen of Robertson, Betances and Chapman closed out the final 3.  Chapman ended the 3-1 win on a slider that missed its mark by a lot but caught the top of the strike zone.
Monday - Verlander has been pitching great and he kept it going against us.  He is throwing all of his pitches really well and has looked great this year.  I said it after the first game he pitched against us, but he looks as good as he ever has.  His pickup by Houston has been one of the best pickups of a pitcher I can remember.  I also think that the matchup of our number 5 (German) against Verlander was a tough one so Boone rested a struggling Stanton (swinging at terrible pitches), dropped Didi (a good move as he has been in a dreadful slump) and moved Bird up to the 4th spot.  I give Boone credit as he will make the moves he thinks are right and while it seems like a "well, of course" moment, I have heard managers say, I am sticking with "this" because it has worked in the past.  Torres committed his 5th error on a bad throw after dropping a ball from Andujar on Saturday.  His defense is and will be fine, but he has shown a few lack of concentration plays; 5 errors are too many.

OK, I have made comments about the umpiring and I am always very careful not to try and be a homer on calls.  I think I still tend to remember the bad calls against us and forget the good ones for us, so I try and track them in my head to try and stay reasonably neutral.  I have definitely been more annoyed at calls rather than feeling fortunate (I have pointed out some of our breaks), but some stats show that we have been getting the short end of the stick.
While I really don't like the box on my live feed and think it should be used on the replay of pitches only, the box has shown that the Yankees (along with the SF Giants) have been the most victimized teams.  Statcast has shown that the Yankees and Giants have seen 242 pitches out of the strike zone called strikes against them this year.  Judge has seen 47 balls out of the box called strikes which are most in the majors; Gardner has the 5th most against him.
So, we have been getting the short end on calls which is probably a good thing as the hope is it equals out.  The box itself though has some problems.  Outside of the fact I don't like the way it blocks my view of the game, it is not consistent for the batters sizes (they say they adjust it, but the replays don't align for me on where the top and bottom of the zone are for Altuve and Judge as an example.  Further, I have seen many times where the live feed showed the ball inside the strike zone and the replay showed the pitch on the line?  How can that be?  It may be pretty close, but that should not happen!
As for close calls, Boone said something interesting; He comments how announcers will say that a two-strike pitch was "too close to take," and he disputes that by saying, "What does that mean?  If it's a ball and I've got two strikes on me, what are my chances of getting on base with two strikes? Probably not great. If I take that pitch that's a ball out of the zone and I swing at it, what are my chances of getting a hit on that? Probably not very good. But if I take a ball, there's a good chance that it gets called a ball and I'm going to first base. So I don't really buy into protecting the plate, especially with our guys."
I find this quote interesting in that I like the thought process, but being right, isn't always the correct path when dealing with subjectivity.  While I agree with what he is saying, the concept behind swinging at a pitch that is close is about trying to take the subjectivity out of the equation and taking more control of the situation.  That is not to say that you should swing at a ball.  But we see strike zones where an ump consistently calls a pitch off the plate a strike and if that is going to happen, why would you not swing at it?  There is a lot to this, we could discuss that the strike zone is the strike zone and it is hard for a batter to take what he has always trained on and then adjust every night based on the ump; but in many ways, that is what has been done most of their careers.  
Anyway, to set up some interactive comments, feel free to email me your thoughts on the subject.  While we are on it, feel free to email me a question/thought you may have and I will try and answer it; I could post your name if you like or make it anonymous.
Have a great week!