The Yankees will look to rebound from Tuesday night’s 4-3 loss to the Baltimore Orioles when they play the Orioles on Wednesday night in the rubber game of the series. The Yankees beat Baltimore 6-5 on Monday in the first game of the series after Stephen Drew hit a pinch-hit grand slam.
The Yankees had a chance to win Tuesday night’s game but the Yankees were only able to score two runs in the eighth after having runners on first and third with one out. Carlos Beltran’s groundout scored Didi Gregorius and then Chase Headley scored after an error allowed Mark Teixiera to reach first. If Beltran and Teixeira would have both hit doubles they could have had a 7-6 lead instead of a 6-5 deficit after the eighth inning.
CC Sabathia got the start and was unlucky for the most part and pitched better than his stats indicate. He had seven strikeouts and only one walk, and Sabathia now has 15 strikeouts and only one walk in his two starts. Two plays that really hurt Sabathia were Adam Jones’s homer that easily cleared the wall in left in the first and Caleb Joseph’s triple to the gap in right center to leadoff the seventh inning.
Joseph would score on a sacrifice fly to center by Everth Cabrera for what would be the winning run. Cabrera hit a pop up to shallow canter and if Jacoby Ellsbury had a strong throwing arm he likely would have had Joseph out at home.
In the third game of the series, Nathan Eovaldi will get his second start for the Yankees. Eovaldi threw a pitch that was 101 miles per hour in his start last week against the Boston Red Sox, but wasn’t as effective overall as he should be. In 5.1 innings he allowed eight hits, three earned runs and only had one strikeout. He has the stuff and velocity to be a pitcher who can consistently strikeout more than five batters.
Carlos Beltran, who is only hitting .156, is still hitting third in the lineup. He will likely be moved to six or seven in the next week or two if he isn’t more productive.
Didi Gregorius is a player who needs to be better not only on offense but surprisingly on defense as well. He is hitting .154, has made many mental mistakes on the base-paths in addition to not throwing home when he should have & made his first error last night. His struggles could be the result of pressing as he is playing his first few games with the Yankees and replacing Derek Jeter in the process.
The Yankees acquired Nate Eovaldi on December 19, 2014. They traded Martin Prado and David Phelps to the Miami Marlins for Domingo German, Garrett Jones and Eovaldi. Eovaldi’s 25th birthday is today, and this trade gives the Yankees a flamethrower who has the potential to help the rotation for years to come.
In 2013, Eovaldi’s ERA (3.39) and WHIP (1.317) were the lowest of his four-year career. Eovaldi allowed the most hits in the National League last season and had a high 4.37 ERA, but he did set career highs with 33 games started, 142 strikeouts and 199.2 innings pitched. The hard-throwing righty averaged 95.5 miles per hour on his fastball last season, which was the fourth fastest in all of baseball.
However, he does need to improve and rely on his secondary pitches more, in order to keep hitters off balance, and Yankees pitching coach Larry Rothschild could be the pitching coach to help him do just that.
According to Evoaldi, the two have developed chemistry so far. Pitchers and catchers have not officially reported yet, but Eovaldi has already thrown a few bullpen sessions with Rothschild watching. “We’ve already begun to work on things,” Eovaldi said after a workout at the Yankees’ minor-league complex this week. “He’s awesome. It’s going to be a lot of fun working with him this year.”
In 2014, Eovaldi primarily threw a four-seam fastball, slider (87mph) and curve (77mph). His slider generates more groundballs than other pitchers’ sliders and is harder than usual. He threw a change and sinker much less frequently last season. He often reverted to his fastball when he was in a in trouble last season, and the opposition came to expect it, so if he can improve his slider and curve in spring training he could have an ERA closer to the one he had in 2013.
In their bullpen sessions so far, they have been working on getting more consistency in his off-speed pitches. If he can successfully mix in his off-speed pitches while continuing to accurately throwing his elite fastball, he could go from being a average starter with a an elite heater to a consistently reliable one with All-Star ability.
(He is due to have a lower ERA this season because his FIP (Fielding Independent Pitching – strikeouts, walks and home runs calculate what the ERA should have been) last season was a career-low 3.37 as a result of allowing about the same amount of walks and 64 more strikeouts than he did in 2013.)
He also recently reflected on his 2014 season, which had some positives and negatives. “I accomplished a lot that I wanted to,” Eovaldi said. “I stayed healthy. I got a lot of innings under my belt, controlled my walks. But my ERA was a lot higher than I would have liked it to (have) been and I gave up too many hits.”
The young emerging pitcher is proving to have a desire to improve on last season since he is putting in extra work with Rothschild. The fifth-year Yankees pitching coach, who helped Ivan Nova win 16 games in his rookie season, is very good at dealing with the mental and mechanical aspect of pitching, which should help Eovaldi improve his non-fastball pitches as well as adjust to pitching at Yankee Stadium and in the AL East.
Eovaldi, who is a starting pitcher who will turn 25 in February, is known for his dominating fastball that averages 96 mph while having a low strikeout total (142 in 199.2 innings last season) because he struggles with his location. He was traded from the Dodgers to the Marlins in 2012 in the blockbuster Hanley Ramirez deal. He has made 83 appearances (79 starts) while pitching 460 innings combined with the Dodgers and Marlins and has a deceiving record of 15-35 with a 4.07 ERA.
He had a 6-14 record while posting an ERA 4.24 last season. However, the former 11th-round draft pick out of Alvin High in Texas, had by far his best season of his career in 2013 as he showed his potential recording a 3.39 ERA in his 18 starts. If he can locate his overpowering fastball in the corners instead of throwing right down the middle like he often does he could have another season like he did in 2013.
Consistency and immaturity are his main issues as a pitcher. This is what an NL advanced scout said about Eovaldi: “He has No. 2 starter stuff, throws 98, but is very immature. His response to any trouble is to throw harder.” His 95.7 average fastball last season was the 4th best in all of baseball. In 2014, he relied primarily on his fastball and slider (87 mph), while also mixing in a curve (77 mph). He threw his changeup (77 mph) and sinker (97 mph) much less than his other three pitches. He will be more consistent if he relies more on his secondary pitches like his curve, change and sinker so that he will not only be throwing his fastball when he gets in trouble.
It would have been ideal if the Yankees could have kept Martin Prado, who plays well defensively at second, third and outfield and hit .316 with seven homers and 16 RBIs with the Yankees after being traded from the Arizona Diamondbacks, but Brian Cashman essentially turned Peter O’Brien into two months of Prado, and then turned Prado and David Phelps into Eovaldi, Jones and German.
Phelps is a pitcher that the Yankees will not miss as they tried to trade him last winter as well. The 28-year-old made his debut for the Yankees in April of 2012 after being drafted in 2008 and has appeared in 87 games and made 40 starts. He has a 4.21 ERA in 299.1 innings and has had ERAs of 4.38 and 4.98 the last two seasons. His WHIP has gotten worse the last two seasons and he basically is a No. 5 pitcher and middle reliever at this point without much upside.
The trade of Prado will initially hurt the Yankees in the infield, as he would have been the starter at second after they re-signed Chase Headley earlier in the week, but it opens up a spot for Rob Refsnyder, who has the ability to be a better overall second baseman eventually than Prado. Refsnyder, who is likely their second baseman of the present and future, could struggle a little in the beginning defensively. However, he is known for his ability with the bat and, after playing outfield in college, his defense his greatly improved.
In the 2014 season, Refsnyder had only three errors in 64 games at second base with the AAA-Scranton RailRiders after committing nine errors in 58 games with the AA-Trenton Thunder. In 2013, he had a combined 25 errors with two levels of A ball, which further proves his defensive development. He has hit well throughout the minors, with a .297 average in 313 games. In 137 games last season, Refsnyder hit .318 with 14 homers and 63 RBIs. This move will allow him to show his talents earlier than if Prado was still on the team. (The Yankees will miss Prado’s defensive versatility since he can play left field, right field, second base and third base.)
German is the second pitcher that the Yankees got in the deal. He is a 22-year old who was #8 on MLB.COM’s Top 10 Marlins prospects list. He has a 2.33 ERA in five seasons, and in 2014 while pitching for Single-A Greensboro in the South Atlantic League, he had an impressive 2.48 ERA, 8.5 K/9 and 113 strikeouts in 25 starts. Those stats are impressive even though that league is pitcher friendly. Cashman said that he will probably begin the season with High-A Tampa, and it seems like he could be in the big league rotation in the next two or three seasons. He could be a hidden gem of this trade.
Jones is the third player that the Yankees received and he should further diminish Alex Rodriguez’s role on the team. The 33-year-old didn’t make his MLB debut until he was 25 and didn’t get regular playing time until he was 28 in 2009. He has hit 15 homers or more in each of the past six seasons. His average was only .246 last season, but in 2012, he had a solid all-around season as he had a .274 average with 24 homers and 86 RBIs. He played in 129 games at first base last season, but he can be relied on to play the corner outfield positions as well.
This trade makes the Yankees rotation younger as they will have Masahiro Tanaka (26), Michael Pineda (25), Eovaldi (24) and Ivan Nova (27) all 27 or younger. This move means that they will not be getting Max Scherzer, but if Eovaldi can pitch like he did in 2013, this will prove to be a smart trade. Jones’s ability to play first base and outfield will ensure that the Yankees have a reliable back-up to Mark Teixeira and give them a player with power to put in the outfield since Carlos Beltran will inevitably have to miss time.
Losing Prado is definitely a drawback as he was a plus in the clubhouse and was a player who would do whatever it took to win, but the Eovaldi, Jones and German additions have the ability to help the team win in 2015 and in the future.