The win that the Yankees had on Saturday afternoon was one that Brian Cashman envisioned when he traded for Aroldis Chapman in the offseason. Saturday’s 2-1 win over the Chicago White Sox was the first time that the flame-throwing trio of Dellin Betances, Andrew Miller and Chapman all pitched in a game and they lived up to their potential.
Chapman’s first game active this season was May 9 after being suspended for 30 games due to domestic violence, and Saturday was the first game when Joe Girardi thought it made sense to use all three given the score and that each of the three were rested. Betances came into the game in the sixth after Ivan Nova walked Todd Frazier with two outs and then pitched 1.1 innings while striking out every batter he faced, Miller only allowed a single in the eighth inning and Chapman struck out two of the three batters he faced while getting his second save as a Yankee.
“We knew these would be the type of games that we would use all three of them, and that if we could line them up, it’d be pretty good,” Girardi said.
In total, Betances, Miller and Chapman pitched 3.1 innings while allowing only one hit, no walks and they combined to strikeout eight of the 11 batters that they faced. The most fearsome trio in baseball could not have been any better and all three will likely be available for Sunday’s game, when the Yankees will try for the third consecutive series win.
Dellin Betances has three more strikeouts (32, 2.20 ERA) than any other reliever in the American League, Miller has a near flawless 0.61 ERA and has only six fewer strikeouts than Betances and Chapman’s 116 strikeouts were tied for the 45th most in the National League last season and were 25 more than any other relief pitcher in the NL. Chapman also threw 77 of the 77 fastest pitches in Major League Baseball last season, which proves how much faster he throws than every other pitcher.
Nathan Eovaldi threw a 101.6 mph fastball last season and Chapman was able to actually throw 77 fastballs that were faster. He overpowers hitters with his fastball and catches them off guard with his slider that can be 13 or 14 mph slower than his fastball.
Nova had his second consecutive dominant start since replacing CC Sabathia in the rotation, who went on the disabled list due to a strained left groin on May 6. In Saturday afternoon’s game, Nova pitched 5.2 innings, gave up only four hits and only allowed Todd Frazier’s solo homer to left in the fourth inning. He is still getting stretched out after pitching in the bullpen before May 9, but was able to throw 48 of his 74 pitches for strikes. Nova’s sinker was really working on Saturday since 12 of the 17 outs that he recorded were via the groundout.
Nova only allowed one run in 4.2 innings in his start on May 9 and should be able to stay in the rotation for at least a few more starts. Luis Severino went on the 15-day disabled list with a right triceps strain after his start on Friday. He will likely need more than the required 15 days and he hasn’t been anything like the pitcher he was during the last two months of last season anyway.
Severino, who is 22 and made his big league debut last August, made 11 starts from the beginning of August through the end of September last season and had an impressive 2.89 ERA, 1.20 WHIP and a 2.0 Wins Above Replacement. However, possibly partly due to his triceps strain, this season he has a 7.46 ERA, 1.69 WHIP, eight homers allowed and a -0.7 Wins Above Replacement in seven starts. It might make sense for him to throw a few starts at Triple-A before coming off of the DL.
The Yankees did all of their scoring in the second inning. Aaron Hicks continued his improvement on offense as he was 1-3 and had an RBI double in the second. In the last seven days, Hicks has a .333 average (8-24) with one homer, two doubles, four RBIs and five runs scored. He has raised his average from .122 to .210 in the last seven days and is playing like the player that the Yankees thought they were getting when they traded for him in the offseason.
Didi Gregorius’s RBI single in the second that scored Hicks ended up being the winning run for the Yankees. Gregorius was 3-3 during the afternoon and the bottom third of the order had all five of the team’s hits. Gregorius has six RBIs in his last four games, which are as many as he had in his previous 17 games combined.
It is a positive sign that the Yankees have been getting more production from the bottom of the lineup recently. The Yankees will have a dangerous offense when the top, middle and bottom of the order are locked in at the same time.
Jose Quintana has been one of the best pitchers in the American League as he only has a 1.54 ERA and 0.99 WHIP in eight starts this season, but the Yankees were able to do just enough to even the series.
Masahiro Tanaka will get the start in the series finale and will look to get the team a series win against the first place team in the AL Central. Chase Headley will get the day off at third and will be replaced by Ronald Torreyes and Dustin Ackley will get the start in right with Hicks getting rest.