The Yankees should sign an established closer and move Dellin Betances back to the 8th inning

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Kenley Jansen – ESPN

The first impact move that the Yankees made during the offseason was trading Brian McCann to the Houston Astros. They obviously need to add two or three starters since Hal Steinbrenner has said that he expects to have two rotation spots open to begin spring training. This means that it is unknown who will be in the rotation after Masahiro Tanaka, Michael Pineda and CC Sabathia.

A move that the Yankees should make that involves their bullpen is acquiring an elite closer so that Dellin Betances can go back to being an elite set up man. Betances broke down and was much less effective during the end of last season and it’s possible that that might not happen if he is pitching primarily in the eighth inning instead.

He was outstanding in the first five plus months of the season as he had an ERA of 2.05 and a WHIP of 0.94 before his appearance on September 5, which was his 64th game of the season, but his results were much worse after the 5th of September. After allowing eight earned runs combined from June through the first two games of September, he allowed 10 earned runs in his final nine games of the season.

Betances struggled with his control as he walked eight batters in September, which came after allowing eight walks combined in April, May and June. He was an All-Star for the third season in a row this season after being an elite set up man during the first half of the season while Andrew Miller and Aroldis Chapman were still on the team. The 28-year-old who grew up in New York City had a 3.08 ERA after finishing with a 1.50 ERA while still having a very good WHIP of 1.123 and striking out 126 batters, which was the most in the American League among relief pitchers. Betances primarily throws a nasty 12-6 curveball (85 mph) and a fourseam fastball (98 mph)

As of now, the primary set up men behind Betances are Tyler Clippard, Tommy Layne, Chasen Shreve and Richard Bleier. The veteran Adam Warren could be in the rotation or the bullpen, and other young pitchers who could open the season in the bullpen are Jacob Lindgren, Jonathan Holder, Nick Goody, Ben Heller and Johnny Barbato. There is not much proven major league success beyond Betances, Clippard and Warren if he ends up in the bullpen, which is why the Yankees should sign a veteran closer and another relief pitcher to lengthen the game and add to the depth of the bullpen.

The Yankees are rumored to be interested in signing Chapman, who they traded to the Cubs on July 25 for top shortstop prospect Gleyber Torres, Billy McKinney, Rashad Crawford and Warren. Chapman, who regularly throws 100 mph or faster, had a outstanding 2.01 ERA in 31 games (31.1 innings) with 44 strikeouts, eight walks and an outstanding 0.894 WHIP with the Yankees this season before they traded him to the Cubs. During his 28 games with the World Series champion Cubs, the Cuban Missile had a 1.01 ERA with 46 strikeouts in 26.2 innings.

He is a proven commodity in the league as he has performed at an elite level in his last five seasons. Chapman was an All-Star with the Reds in every season besides his rookie season and he pitched well enough last season to be an All-Star but didn’t pitch in the first month of the season because of his suspension for domestic abuse. Chapman has recorded between 33 and 38 saves in every season since 2012, his ERA has been at 2.54 or below in all those seasons, he recorded an astounding 122 strikeouts for a reliever in 2012 and his low in that span was 90 strikeouts this past season and his WHIP has been between 0.809 and 1.146 in every season.

Another proven commodity at the closer spot who is currently available is Kenley Jansen. The native of Curacao started in the Los Angeles Dodgers organization as a 16-year-old catcher and made his debut as a relief pitcher for the Dodgers when he was 22 in 2010. Jansen is coming off of his best season of his career as he was an All-Star for the first time after finishing with a 1.83 ERA in 71 games (68.2 innings) with 47 saves, 104 strikeouts, 11 walks, 35 hits allowed and a remarkable 0.670 WHIP. Jansen also has the ability to be effective in more than one inning, which is a plus if some other relievers aren’t available or are struggling.

Jansen has been the Dodgers closer since the 2012 season and has had an ERA of 2.76 or lower in every season since then. In 2014, he had a 2.76 ERA, which is a good bit higher than his ERA from this season, but he did have 101 strikeouts and 44 saves. The pitches that he throws are a cutter (94 mph), slider (83 mph) and sinker (95 mph), according to Brooks Baseball.

Jansen and Chapman both made their major league debuts in 2010. Jansen turned 29 in September and Chapman will be 29 in February. Chapman’s ERA in his seven seasons in 2.08 and his WHIP is 0.992 and Jansen’s ERA in his seven seasons is 2.20 and his WHIP is 0.893. Their stats are similar and the Yankees couldn’t really go wrong with either one.

An advantage to signing Jansen instead of Chapman would be that he likely would not command as high of a contract as Chapman (he is rumored to want a $100 million contract for five years). Another positive for Jansen is that he doesn’t regularly throw 100 + mph like Chapman does, which means that he will be able to keep his fastball at the mid 90s velocity that his is at longer than Chapman’s velocity will stay over 100.

The inconsistent Nathan Eovaldi has officially been released by the Yankees

Nathan Eovaldi

Nate Eovaldi – Lo Hud Yankees Blog

On Monday, the Yankees officially announced that the injured Nate Eovaldi has been released from the team. He had been designated for assignment on November 20.

The Yankees traded for the flame-throwing righty on December 14, 2014. They traded infielder/outfielder Martin Prado and pitcher David Phelps to the Miami Marlins for Eovaldi, Garrett Jones and Domingo German.

In the 2014 season with the Marlins, he had a mediocre 4.37 ERA and his 223 hits allowed were the most in the National League. However, the Yankees traded for him because he set career highs with 32 games started and 199.2 innings pitched and his average fastball velocity was the second fastest in the National League.

He showed positives and some negatives during his two seasons with the Yankees but didn’t show enough improvement in his secondary pitches to make the Yankees want to keep him while he recovers from Tommy John surgery.

On August 16 of this season it was announced that he would miss the rest of the 2016 seasons and likely all of the 2017 season due to a torn flexor tendon and partially torn ulnar collateral ligament in his elbow. The Yankees announced that he had undergone his second Tommy John surgery a few days later.

In the 2015 season, he led all MLB starting pitchers with an average fastball velocity of 96.6 MPH. His velocity didn’t lead to much more success than he had in 2014. His ERA of 4.20 was better than the 4.37 he had the previous season but his 1.45 WHIP was worse than his 1.33 WHIP from his last season with the Marlins. His fastball averaged 97.1 in the games that he appeared in this season.

In 2015, he missed the month of September because of elbow inflammation and the month of August raised his ERA and WHIP as he allowed three runs or more in four of his last five starts and allowed five hits or more in three of those five starts. That performance in August was disappointing because in nine starts between June 20 and August 7 he allowed two runs or less seven times while giving up two walks or less in six of those starts. He showed how dominant he can be during that stretch when he locates his pitches and throws his secondary pitches where he wants them to go.

Eovaldi was able to develop a split-fingered fastball with the help of Yankees pitching coach Larry Rothschild, which helped him improve during that nine start stretch and for periods of the 2016 season. In addition to the splitter, according go Brooks Baseball, he relied on his fourseam fastball (98), slider (87) and cutter (94). He rarely mixed in his curve ball.

Eovaldi entered the 2016 campaign fully healthy but allowed five and four runs in each of his first two starts. He allowed three and zero runs in his last two games in April and his next two months alternated between pitching well overall and not deserving to be in the rotation.

In May, he opened the month by allowing six runs in five innings on 10 hits against the Red Sox but pitched well the rest of the month as he allowed two runs or less in four of his next five starts. However he wasn’t able to continue that momentum into July and his first start in August.

The 26-year-old Houston native, who grew up in the same town as Nolan Ryan, gave up a combined 31 earned runs in 30.1 innings in six starts, which caused the Yankees to move him to the bullpen. It is not acceptable for a starting pitcher to allow four runs or more in six straight starts, which included five or more in five of those starts.

He would go on to make eight more appearances with the Yankees before his season ended. Eovaldi made three appearances out of the bullpen after his awful start on August 1 and combined to pitch 7.2 innings while allowing three hits and striking out four. The bullpen is where he might make sense after he recovers from Tommy John surgery since has some trouble with his non fastball and slider pitches.

In his first start after returning to the rotation he performed well as he limited the Baltimore Orioles to one run in 5.1 innings but was progressively worse in his next three starts. He allowed two, three and four runs in his last three starts and in his final start, against the crosstown rival Mets, he gave up four runs on five hits (two homers) and two walks.

It’s unfortunate that he was not able to truly pitch well for a consistent amount of games while with the Yankees because his velocity is elite and he has solid secondary pitches when everything is going well. The splitter that he developed did help but it would not have made sense for the Yankees to keep him while he recovered from Tommy John surgery during all of the 2017 season.

Another reason that he would make sense for the bullpen is that a pitcher with his fastball velocity should be able to have more strikeouts than he does, and it is possible that concentrating on two pitches will help lead to more strikeouts. He will be most remembered for lighting up the scoreboard with 100 plus mph pitches, his very good month of May this season and his very good month of July plus last season.

 

The Yankees received two promising prospects from the Astros for Brian McCann

 

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Albert Abreu via MiLB

On Thursday, the Yankees traded veteran catcher Brian McCann to the Houston Astros for right-handed pitching prospects Albert Abreu, 21, and Jorge Guzman, 20. The opening day roster will look much different and younger than it did last July as the Yankees now not have veterans Carlos Beltran, Mark Teixeira, Alex Rodriguez and McCann. (The Yankees have interest in reacquiring Beltran to be their designated hitter.)

The Yankees traded McCann because Gary Sanchez will now be the starting catcher next season as a result of  his historic beginning of his career when he hit 20 homers in the last two months of the season and play very good defense. That would have left McCann as the DH, which could have worked, but the Yankees will now likely be able to have a DH with a higher average with possibly as many homers as McCann would have had. The defensive shifts have really lowered his average because he basically always pulls the ball to the left side.

Abreu is the more well known prospect who could be in the Bronx sooner than Guzman. Before the trade, Abreu was the Astros’ No. 7 ranked prospect after spending 2015 at Single-A Quad Cities and High-A Lancaster. The 6-2, 175 pound right hander pitched in 24 games last season and made 16 starts, but 21 of those games and 14 of the starts were with Quad Cities.

He had a 3.72 ERA overall with 115 strikeouts and 58 walks with a 1.298 WHIP but his two starts and one relief appearance at the end of the season with High-A brought up his ERA and WHIP. In 90 innings with Quad Cities, he pitched out of the bullpen and as a starter. He had two wins, four saves, a 3.50 ERA, a solid 1.233 WHIP, 104 strikeouts and 10.4 strikeouts per nine innings.

Abreu’s ERA was a little high for a top prospect like him, but he has shown signs of developing into a reliable starter. His fastball topped out at 99 mph last season, which is a real improvement from the 87 – 91 that he threw when he first signed out of the Dominican Republic in 2013.

He has three pitches besides his fastball and once he can consistently improve those secondary pitches he will improve even more. Abreu is still young and might be able to have more success developing his off speed pitches with the pitching coaches that the Yankees have in their minor league system than the ones that the Astros had.

Guzman is a year younger than Abreu and is a 6-2, 182-pound righty who was born in Las Matas de Santa Cruz, Dominican Republic. In his second pro season, he threw in seven games in the Gulf Coast League and six games with Greenville of the Appalachian League, which is one level below Single-A.

He is a flame-thrower just like Abreu as his fastball tops out at 101-103 mph, but he has better control when his fastball is between 97 and 99, according to JJ Cooper. With the Astros Gulf Coast League affiliate he had a 3.12 ERA in seven games (four starts) with 25 strikeouts, 10 walks and an excellent 0.808 WHIP.

His ERA was higher in the Appalachian League, but ERA doesn’t tell that much in rookie level. With Greenville, he had a 4.76 ERA in six games (four starts) after striking out 29, walking seven and allowing 25 hits. The 25 hits that he surrendered in 22.2 innings are far too many, but on the other hand he did really improve his control from 2015.

In 2015, Guzman walked 30 batters in 55.1 innings pitched in his first season as a pro and had a very high 1.681 WHIP. However, this past season, he walked 17 batters in 40 innings pitched and had a much improved 1.150 WHIP.

He might be a better relief pitcher than starter since his two best pitches are his fastball and slider and his change is only developing. He has time to improve his change, but since he has two plus pitches and wasn’t able to throw more than five innings in a game last season he will likely be more effective in the bullpen.

In the 2017 season, he will probably either begin in the Appalachian League with the Pulaski Yankees or step up a level with the Low-A short season Staten Island Yankees. In 2017, Abreu will likely be sent to the High-A Tampa Yankees after proving that he can pitch well against Single-A competition last season.

It already makes that the Yankees made this trade based on the emergence of Sanchez, but the one downside is that McCann has hit 20 homers or more in nine consecutive seasons, and it is possible that being the DH would have helped him improve on his power numbers. However, his caught stealing percentage last season was very low and his decline in average and RBIs from earlier in his career is likely due to how baseball has changed with shifts in recent years.

If the two prospects that the Yankees received can blossom into one member of the rotation in Abreu and one seventh or eighth inning reliever in Guzman then this trade will be a win for the Yankees in many ways.

The Yankees will also now not have to pay the $23 million that is left of McCann’s contract over the next two years. McCann would have been an expensive back up catcher and part-time designated hitter.

“Getting the additional money to play with on our end gives us a lot of choices in the trade and free agent market,” Yankees General Manager Brian Cashman said. Cashman will now concentrate on improving the rotation, adding a designated hitter who can also play another position and getting an impact relief pitcher.

 

Gary Sanchez finished 2nd in Rookie of the Year voting to Michael Fulmer after his historic two months

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Gary Sanchez – ESPN

Gary Sanchez, whose August and September this past season will go down in history for the power numbers that he produced, finished second in the American League Rookie of the Year voting on Monday to Michael Fulmer of the Detroit Tigers. When he was called up in the beginning of August he became the primary catcher and Brian McCann primarily switched to designated hitter.

Sanchez was called up from Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre on August 3 (he played in one game on May 13) and even though he only played in the last two months he still had a very impressive .299 average with 20 homers, 42 RBI, .376 on-base percentage, .657 slugging percentage, 1.033 OPS and a 3.0 Wins Above Replacement. His 3.0 WAR was 1st in the American League among catchers, his 20 homers were second most in the AL at his position, his 12 doubles were tied for 12 most in the league and his slugging percentage was best in the league among catchers.

The 23-year-old was nearly the back-up catcher to begin the season but the Yankees decided to go with Austin Romine instead so that Sanchez could continue to improve behind the plate. The native of the Dominican who signed with the Yankees as an international free agent when he was 16 will go down in the baseball record books for being the fastest player to reach 19 homers in the modern era of baseball.

On September 21, he hit his 18th and 19th homers in his 45th game of his career. He slugged his 20th homer on September 27, against the Boston Red Sox, to help the Yankees win the first game of the series 6-4. Sanchez also became the first player in Major League Baseball history to have at least 11 homers and 31 hits in his first 23 career games.

Sanchez hit .389 with 11 homers and 21 RBI in his 24 games during the month of August. He was twice named American League Player of the Week during August and was also named and was also voted the leagues rookie and player of the month for August.

“Shoot, if Babe Ruth was hitting behind (Sanchez), you’d intentionally walk him,” Mark Teixeira said. “He’s as hot as any player I’ve ever played with in my entire career. You just don’t see guys doing what he’s doing.”

“The Kraken” is the first Yankees catcher in the 113-year history of the franchise to win rookie of the month or player of the month. The last AL player to win rookie of the month and player of the month in the same month was Jose Abreu of the White Sox in July of 2014. The last AL catcher to be named player of the month before Sanchez was Joe Mauer of the Twins in May of 2009.

He recorded his first hit in his first game on August 3 off of Hansel Robles of the Mets. On August 10, he went a very impressive 4-5 and hit his first MLB home run. Six days later, against the Blue Jays, he had his first two home run game. During August and September he drove in two or more runs 12 times, and on September 21 he drove in five runs and scored a career-high three runs against the Tampa Bay Rays.

Sanchez is only the third Yankee to hit 20 homers after August 1. The other two are Hall of Famers Babe Ruth (he did in in 1927) and Roger Maris (he did the feat in 1961). Ruth and Maris both hit single season homer records when they hit 20 after the beginning of August. Another amazing accomplishment that Sanchez had was hitting eight homers in 11 games during September.

August 3 was the third time that he had been called up, but he only had two at-bats in October of 2015 and four at-bats on May 13 of 2016. The Yankees’ #2 prospect after the 2015 season who has always been known for his offense was really able to improve his defense in the first four months of the year at Triple-A. He threw out 41 percent of base stealers in 2016 with the Yankees because of his strong and accurate arm and had a fielding percentage of .991. McCann, who finished his 12 MLB season, threw out only 23 percent of base stealers.

The voting for Rookie of the Year was not close as Fulmer, the major player the Mets sent to the Tigers in the Yoenis Cespedes trade in 2015, got 26 of the 30 first-place votes and four seconds on the 30 ballots. Sanchez finished in second place after getting four first- place votes, 23 second-place votes and two third-place votes. Sanchez definitely would have deserved to finish first after putting up numbers that had never been seen in baseball’s history, but Fulmer won based on how he produced for the whole season.

Fulmer, who made 26 starts for the Tigers, had an impressive 3.06 ERA with one shutout, 132 strikeouts, a 1.119 WHIP and only 42 walks in 159 innings pitched. His performance declined at the end of the season as he allowed three runs or more in five of his last seven starts and six runs in two of those starts, but the voters still thought he should be the Rookie of the Year instead of Sanchez.

It is still remarkable what Sanchez did because he produced his stats after playing in only two of the six months of the season. He was gracious in defeat since he tweeted congrats to Fulmer and said he deserves all the praise that he is getting. The positive is that the Yankees have their catcher for at least the next few years after Sanchez showed what he can do in August and September.

Brian McCann should return to the Yankees in the 2017 season

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Brian McCann – ESPN

Gary Sanchez had an outstanding two months in the majors this season and should finish first or second in the Rookie of the Year voting. In 53 games this season (201 at-bats), Sanchez hit .299 with 20 homers, 42 RBI, 12 doubles, an outstanding 1.032 on-base plus slugging percentage and had a solid 41 percent caught stealing percentage.

He will rightfully go into spring training as the everyday catcher and the league will get to see what kind of power numbers Sanchez will be able to produce after playing the whole season. Even though Sanchez, who has greatly improved defensively this season than in the last few in the minors, is now the starting catcher and not Brian McCann, the Yankees still should not trade away McCann in the offseason.

“Listen,” McCann said. “Gary is the starting catcher here. He’s going to be that for a long, long time. Just have to kind of see where my role fits in; see where everything fits.”

McCann can have value for the Yankees next season as a mentor for Sanchez, as the designated hitter since he still has power and as the backup catcher. He could be CC Sabathia‘s primary catcher.

Sabathia credits McCann for helping him adjust as a pitcher. He really improved this season with his improved cutter (with some help from Andy Pettitte) as he had a solid 3.91 ERA, made an impressive 30 starts for the 12th time in his career and had 152 strikeouts. The last time before this season that the six-time All-Star and 2007 Cy Young winner had an ERA below 4.00 was in 2012 when it was 3.38. In 2015, Sabathia made 29 starts, but had a much higher 4.73 ERA and a 1.422 WHIP.

Defensive shifts have caused McCann’s average to be lower than it was earlier in his career when he hit .270 or above ever season from 2005-2011, but McCann still hits for power as this season was his ninth consecutive season that he has slugged at least 20 homers. In 2016, he had a .242 average with 13 doubles, 20 homers, 58 RBI, a .413 slugging percentage and a .335 on-base percentage. He also had a .995 fielding percentage and had a 23 percent caught stealing percentage.

In 2015, the seven-time All-Star, won his sixth Silver Slugger award as he hits 26 homers and tied his career-high with 94 Runs Batted In. If he is primarily the designated hitter that could help him have similar power numbers as he did in 2015.

McCann, who will be 33 in February, is capable of throwing out a greater percentage of base stealers since in 2015 he threw out 36 percent and in 2014 he threw out an even better 37 percent of base stealers. He still has value behind the plate because he knows the pitchers and what they like to throw, which means that he should catch occasionally.

He has two more years left on his contract at $17 million per year, which means that Brian Cashman might not get that much in return for him. He might be due for even better power numbers next year based on how well he hit at the end of the season. McCann had a .266 average in September, which was better than any average he had in any previous month of the season. In September combined with two games in October, he hit four of his 20 homers, drove in seven of his 58 runs and finished the season with five hits in 12 at-bats with a homer.

The 32-year-old from Georgia is one of only four players to ever hit 20 homers in 10 different seasons in which his primary position was catcher. The others were Yogi Berra, Johnny Bench and Mike Piazza. Pizza is regarded as the best hitting catcher of all time. His left-handed swing is made for Yankee Stadium, and since he wants to return it would make sense for him to spend 2017 playing his home games in the Bronx again. There were rumors about McCann being traded back to the Braves in July but the Yankees would really have to be blown away with major league ready talent to trade him in the offseason.

“I hope I’m back,” McCann said. “I’m not sure how it’s all going to play out, but the future is extremely bright here. … I love it here. I love everything about it. Bright future. And I hope I’m a part of it.”

The Yankees could even trade him before the trade deadline if they are in they are in the race for the division or wild card, which they should be, and he could help them improve at another position of need.

 

The Yankees scored four runs in the 8th in their 7-3 win over the Orioles

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ESPN – Dellin Betances

The Yankees beat the Baltimore Orioles 7-3 in their second to last game of the season. They bounced back after losing the first game of the series, and Dellin Betances bounced back after allowing at least one run in three of his last four appearances to strike out three batters in a row after Michael Bourn reached on an infield single.

That was a major takeaway from the game because Betances will be able to go into the offseason with some momentum after struggling in September after having a very successful first five months of the season. His ERA is now 3.08 but it was an outstanding 2.05 on September 5 before the opposition scored 10 earned runs against him in his next six innings pitched (eight appearances) as a result of decreased mechanics. However, his 126 strikeouts are more than any other reliever and he does have a very solid 1.12 WHIP.

Luis Severino did not pitch as well as he would have liked as he tried to go into the offseason with momentum as a starter. Even though he excelled this season as a reliever, the Yankees still see him as a starting pitcher going forward. He allowed three runs on two walks, five hits and a homer, but it could have only been one run if Tyler Austin would have made a diving catch in right field, which Joe Girardi thought he could have made.

The Yankees will really have to decide in spring training where Severino will be best going forward since it is possible that he should be a eighth or ninth inning relieve since he does not have more than two dominant pitches right now.

Bourn hit a single to center field in the second inning with two outs that scored Mark Trumbo and Chris Davis. However, to lead off the inning, Trumbo hit a ground rule double to near the foul line in right that Austin came very close to catching. If he would have made that catch than Bourn would not have come to bat with runners on second and third. Tyler Austin didn’t make that catch but he made up for it later in the game with his bat.

Manny Machado, who has had a great season, with 37 homers and 96 RBI, hit a solo homer in the third inning. After his homer Severino allowed two singles in a row but then struck out Chris Davis to end the inning.

The Yankees were losing 3-0 in the fifth inning but Tyler Austin would hit a single that drove in Chase Headley, who walked earlier in the inning, and sent Austin Romine to second. The next two Yankees got out but Romine’s and Austin’s RBI later in the game gave the team enough runs for the win that hurt the Orioles wild card hopes.

In the seventh inning, Austin hit a solo homer off of Orioles starter Wade Miley as he went to the opposite field once again. Besides Austin’s first career homer in his first game, all of his homers have come in clutch situations in the game. This homer in the 7th tied tied the game at three.

To give the Yankees a 5-3 lead in the 8th backup catcher Romine singled to shallow left center with one out to scored Chase Headley and Jacoby Ellsbury. Romine has been another clutch player for the team this season as he has 26 RBI in only 165 at-bats this season. Brett Gardner closed out the scoring by hitting a double down the left field line that scored Romine and Torreyes in the 8th inning.

The relief pitchers all threw well as five pitchers combined to complete 5.1 innings and allow four hits and strike out three. Besides Betances, Richard Bleier (2.05 ERA) and Tyler Clippard (2.49 ERA) pitched in this game and had great seasons with the Yankees and could be pieces of the bullpen next year. Jonathan Holder allowed one hit in 1.1 innings and even though he had a 5.40 ERA in eight appearances he could be a factor in the bullpen next season based on his dominant 0.89 ERA with 35 strikeouts in 12 games (20.1 innings) at Triple-A this season and his very good 2.20 ERA in 28 games before getting promoted to Triple-A.

Austin could be a real contributor next season as a backup at first base to Greg Bird as well as in the outfield. He has a .244 in 30 games (82 at-bats) since the beginning of August, but in his 49 at-bats at Yankee Stadium he has a .306 average (15 of his 20 hits), and he has also hit all five of his homers and 11 of his 12 RBI. This is something that Girardi can remember for next season.

Austin’s performance as well as the bullpen’s effectiveness and especially Betances’s are the major takeaways from Satruday’s win. The major theme of Sunday’s game will be that Mark Teixeira will be playing in his final major league game.

When Tyler Austin was asked about being with the Yankees the last two months he thought it had been important.

“It’s been big,” Austin said. “It’s something I will take with me into next year.”

He was also asked if he ever got down on himself after some of his struggles.

“I struck out seven consecutive times against the Dodgers so it’s easy to get down on yourself but you just have to work.”

“I am excited to be part of Mark Teixeira’s final game because tomorrow is his day. There have been a lot of plays where I have come back and he has told me what you should do here or there. He has been important for me.”

If the Yankees win the last game of the season they will send Teixeira out on a winning note, prevent the Orioles from hosting a wild card game and only finish two games worse than they did last season. That would be impressive after trading away Aroldis Chapman, Andrew Miller, Carlos Beltran and Ivan Nova at the trade deadline.

 

Tyler Austin’s two-run homer in the 7th gave the Yankees a win over the Red Sox

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Tyler Austin – ESPN

The Yankees beat the Boston Red Sox, 6-4, at Yankee Stadium on Tuesday night for their second win in a row. The win also ended Boston’s 11-game winning streak.

The win kept them mathematically alive for the second wild card spot as they are four games behind the Baltimore Orioles with five games left in the season. Their chance is virtually impossible but it is positive to see that the players are still fighting as Joe Girardi has been saying.

To lead off the scoring for the Yankees in the bottom of the first inning, Gary Sanchez hit a two-run homer off of David Price for his 20th blast of the season. He matched Wally Berger of the 1930 Boston Braves as the fastest players in major league history to reach the 20-homer milestone. The have both hit 20 home runs in 51 games played. Sanchez or the Tigers Michael Fulmer are the two contenders for AL Rookie of the Year.

Another rookie, Tyler Austin, hit a two-run homer off of Price in the seventh inning when the score was tied at four. That was his fourth homer and after hitting a homer in his first career at-bat his other homers this season have all come in clutch situations. He 3-3 game raised his average from .197 to .230. He along with others on the team expect greatness when Sanchez steps to the plate.

“Everybody on the team calls home run when he steps up there,” Austin said.

Price has a 1-3 record with a 7.89 ERA against the Yankees this season. He struggled once again as he allowed six runs on 12 hits, one walk and three homers against the Yankees. He has been an ace for much of his career but the Yankees have basically always had his number from when he was a Tampa Bay Ray, to when he was a Toronto Blue Jay to now with the Red Sox.

“I was trying to stay with my approach and go from there,” Austin said. “I just try to do the same work I have been doing all year and go from there. It is unbelievable to see these guys doing well up here.”

This is David Ortiz‘s last series of his career against the Yankees, and the longtime star designated hitter for the Red Sox finished the game by going 0-5. He has 37 homers and 124 RBI this season, which is the best for a player in his age 40 season, but he struck out with a chance to tie the game in the 9th inning.

The third homer that the Yankees hit was a solo homer by Didi Gregorius in the sixth inning. That homer came after the Red Sox scored their first two runs of the game in the top of the sixth. Gregorius’s 20th homer of the season proves he has greatly improved offensively this year as he only hit nine homers in all of 2015, which was his previous career-high.

Gregorius’s homer also made history because he and Starlin Castro are now the first Yankees middle infielders to each hit 20 or more homers in a season. Castro, who is in his first season with the Yankees after being traded from the Chicago Cubs, has hit 21 homers. Castro’s previous career-high was 14 homers back in 2014.

Castro and Gregorius are also only the third second base and shortstop combination 26 or younger (they are both 26) to hit 20 or more homers in a season. The other two are Jose Altuve and Carlos Correa (Astros) this season and David Bell and Alex Rodriguez in 1999 (Mariners). This is a middle infield that should be productive for the Yankees for years to come and Gregorius has been better offensively this season than anyone expected.

Luis Cessa pitched very well as he had his first start where he didn’t allow a home run and that helped him only allow two runs in six innings. He had two big strikeouts in the sixth inning. He struck out Ortiz swining with runners on second and third, and then struck out Hanley Ramirez swinging to end the inning after the second run of the inning scored on Mookie Betts’s ground out.

In eight games as a starter his ERA is a very solid 3.72. His slider was excellent, which helped keep the Red Sox guessing and off balance. It appears that Cessa can be a solid No. 4 or No. 5 option in the rotation next season since he has four pitches and can be relied upon to throw a quality start or better.

Tyler Clippard struck out two batters in the ninth inning for his second save of the season. The Yankees have two more games in the series against the Red Sox and they will honor Ortiz before Thursday’s game. His 52 homers with the Red Sox against the Yankees are tied with Carl Yastrzemski for second all-time behind Ted Williams’s 62.