On Sunday, the Yankees signed veteran outfielder Matt Holliday to a one-year and $13 million contract. They did this after not signing a single Major League free agent in the offseason last year.
Holliday will primarily be the designated hitter in the 2017 season but could also see time in the corner outfield spots as a backup to as of now Aaron Judge and Brett Gardner. Holliday will essentially be replacing the spot Brian McCann had on the roster before he was traded to the Houston Astros for two pitching prospects.
There are many positives to signing the 36-year-old native of Stillwater, Oklahoma, who made his debut in 2004, to a one-year contract for next season. The first obvious positive is that it is for only one more year and he shouldn’t have much of a drawback from last season since he was able to hit 20 homers and drive in 62 runs at 36 years old.
It wouldn’t make sense to sign a player like him to a multi-year contract because it is not known when his stats will really start to decline. There were rumors of signing Edwin Encarnacion, which wouldn’t have made sense because even though he is coming off of an excellent 42 homer and 127 RBI season, he is already 33 and wanted a five-year contract. The Yankees are looking to stay young with short term contracts for older players until the offseason of 2018 when Bryce Harper and Manny Machado (among others) are free agents.
Another plus is that his swing is made for Yankee Stadium, so playing in the Bronx could help improve his power numbers. He can be counted on to provide veteran leadership and can also be relied on to get on base at a consistent rate since he has a career .382 on-base percentage.
Holliday had a low .322 on-base percentage last season, but had a remarkable .394 on-base percentage in 73 games in 2015 when he was an All-Star and in 2014, when he was 34, he had a .272 average with 20 homers 90 RBI and a .370 on-base percentage.
Ever since trading McCann the Yankees were likely going to sign someone in their 30s to be the designated hitter, and it would have been a mistake for the Yankees to sign a primary designated hitter to a multi-year contract, which is why this one-year contract is ideal. Holliday will be able to possibly help the Yankees reach the playoffs this season after the team missed the postseason in 2016. He also might be able to help Judge become a more patient hitter at the plate, which could help the team for years to come.
Holliday is a seven-time All-Star, a four-time Silver Slugger winner and finished second in MVP voting in 2007 when he was 27. He has previously played for the Colorado Rockies, Oakland Athletics and the St. Louis Cardinals. He was traded from Oakland to St. Louis in the middle of the 2009 season and had been with the Cardinals ever since.
In 2007, he led the National League with his .340 average. In 2013, Holliday finished third in the National League with his 103 runs scored. In 2012, the last time he was an All-Star before the 2015 campaign, he had a great all-around season with a .295 average, .379 ob-base percentage, 27 homers, 102 RBI, 36 doubles and 75 walks.
For his career, the slugger has a very good .303 average with 295 homers, 1153 RBI, 448 doubles, 1,995 hits, 744 walks, 1,104 runs scored and a .515 slugging percentage. He will have hit his 300th homer and 2000th hit in the early part of next season. His 295 homers are the 12th most among active players, and his 1,995 hits are 11th most among active players.
In the first game of their series against the Los Angeles Dodgers at Yankee Stadium, the Yankees (76-67) lost 8-2 and were losing 6-1 after the third inning. The Bronx Bombers have now lost two games in a row and are five games behind the Boston Red Sox for first in the AL East and still only two games behind the Baltimore Orioles for the second wild card spot.
The Yankees have scored two runs in each of their last two losses. Also, leading to their two straight losses, has been that their starting pitching has not been as good as it was during their seven-game winning streak. In Sunday’s loss to the Rays, Luis Cessa allowed four runs in 5.2 innings for his first loss, and in Monday’s loss to the Dodgers, Bryan Mitchell, who didn’t allow a run in five innings in his first game of the year last week, allowed six runs (two earned) in 2.1 innings pitched.
Mitchell only allowed two earned runs, which makes it seem like he pitched a lot better than the box score shows, but the Dodgers also had eight hits against him in only 2.1 innings. It took him 47 pitches to get four outs, which proves how ineffective he was. The three runs that the Dodgers scored in the second inning were unearned because with runners on first and third Aaron Judge made an error on a ball hit by Chase Utley causing him to advance to third and Howie Kendrick and Andrew Toles to score. Corey Seager was the next batter and he singled to right to score Utley.
In the third inning, the Dodgers scored on earned run and on unearned run off of Mitchell. He was taken out of the game after allowing a single, a double and then an infield single that scored Yasmani Grandal. Josh Reddick scored later in the inning but that run was unearned because of Gary Sanchez’s throwing error.
The Dodgers (81-62) scored two more runs at the end of the game on solo homers by Yasiel Puig and Justin Turner. Puig hit a pinch-hit homer and that was his third homer in his last 10 at-bats.
Dodgers rookie Jose De Leon limited the Yankees to two runs in five innings and four LA relievers held the Yankees scoreless over the final four innings while only allowing two hits. The only runs the Bronx Bomber scored came off of solo homers by Starlin Castro and Judge.
CC Sabathia will get the start for the Yankees in Game 2 of the series and Dodgers rookie Julio Urias will make his 14th career start. The Yankees will look to even the series and have the fans at Yankee Stadium make more noise than the Dodgers fans as Game One felt like a Dodgers home game.
During a matinee game on Labor Day, the Yankees got a big 5-3 win over the first place Toronto Blue Jays at Yankee Stadium. They have now won two games in a row and they started off the home stand playing well as Monday’s game was the first of 10 consecutive games in the Bronx. After two more games against the Blue Jays the Yankees will play the Tampa Bay Rays and then the Los Angeles Dodgers.
To the surprise of many around the league as of now and after the Yankees traded away Aroldis Chapman, Andrew Miller and Carlos Beltran before the trade deadline, the Yankees are still very much in contention for the second wild card spot. The Yankees are now 71-65 and 5.5 games behind the Blue Jays for first place in the AL East. Yesterday’s win allowed them to keep pace with the teams ahead of them in the wild card race because they all won their previous game.
The Bronx Bombers are 3.5 games behind the Baltimore Orioles and Detroit Tigers for the second wild card spot and 1.5 games behind the Houston Astros. After this series against the Blue Jays, the Yankees will still play Toronto four more times and will closeout out with three games against the Orioles. If the Yankees can play in September slightly better than the did in August when they were 17-11 then that series against the Orioles could be very important.
Masahiro Tanaka didn’t have his best command of his pitches but but was still able to limit the Blue Jays to only two runs in 6.1 innings. This was his fourth consecutive start that he has allowed two runs or less, which proves how dominant he has been recently. He struggled as his pitches were not on par compared to recent starts as he allowed seven hits and three walks, after not walking more than one since July 27.
“I felt like I was all over the place,” Tanaka said through his translator.
However, Tanaka was able to step up and make quality pitches when he needed to since the Blue Jays were 2-9 with runners in scoring position (RISP) against him. The two hits the Blue Jays had with RISP came in the first inning but Tanaka held Toronto to only one run in the first. Tanaka was taken out of the game after walking Ezequiel Carrera and then allowing Dioner Navarro to fly out to Aaron Judge in right, who made a great catch at the top of the wall.
The bullpen wasn’t very effective in the seventh as Jonathan Holder allowed two straight walks with two outs and then Edwin Encarnacion hit a 2 RBI single off of Ben Heller to make the score 5-3, which is how the inning would end (and would be the final score).
Tyler Clippard and Dellin Betances, who are the two most reliable members of the bullpen, pitched the eighth and ninth innings and did not allow a hit or walk while striking out a combined three batters.
R.A. Dickey, who only allowed one run in five innings in his previous start against the Yankees on August 15, did not have the same command of his knuckleball as the Yankees scored five runs on seven hits in four innings against him.
Jacoby Ellsbury gave the momentum back to the Yankees in the first inning as he hit a two-run homer to right for his 7th homer of the season. His single to right in the third inning that scored rookie Tyler Austin made the score 3-1 and was his second of three hits during the game. Ellsbury has played well in his last six games as he is 9-23 (.391) with one double, one homer, two runs scored and six RBI.
In the fourth inning, Austin gave the Yankees all the runs that they would need for the win with his double to deep left that scored Starlin Castro and Austin Romine. Tyler Austin only has a .205 average in 44 at-bats since being called up with Judge in the beginning of August, but in 17 at-bats at Yankee Stadium he has a solid .294 average (5-17) with one homer, two runs scored, two doubles and three RBI.
Judge is the rookie out of the two who has struggled a little more offensively. He had been the higher rated prospect of the two but has had trouble making adjustments and avoiding the strikeout. Judge’s average is only .169 and he struck out in all three of his plate appearances on Monday.
Judge, who is 6-7 and 275 pounds, has struck out in an alarming 35 of his 65 at-bats this season, which is more than half of his at-bats. He got off to a bang with a home run in his first major league at-bat but has struggled since then. However, the Yankees have been able to win without offensive production from Judge and it does take some rookies longer to make the adjustment from Triple-A pitching. He has played a very good right field as he has been able to make catches going back to the wall as well as diving for shallow line drives.
Rookie Luis Cessa will get the start for the Yankees and Aaron Sanchez will get the start for the Blue Jays in the middle game of the series on Tuesday night. Cessa has given up three runs in six innings in each of his last two starts and Sanchez leads the league American League with his 2.88 ERA.
The moves and roster decisions that the Yankees made before the trade deadline and shortly after have been a benefit to the team for the rest of the season in addition to helping the team for years to come.
Their farm system, which was middle of the pack before the end of July is now regarded second best in baseball by MLBPipeline.Com. Brian Cashman was able to get the approval from Hal Steinbrenner to trade away Aroldis Chapman, Andrew Miller and Carlos Beltran and the Yankees are still about as far back in the wild card race as they were before. In return for those impact players, the Yankees received a total of 11 players (and Adam Warren) including a few elite prospects.
Gleyber Torres and Billy McKinney were the most highly rated prospects received in the Chapman trade. Torres is a shortstop who was recently ranked the 27th best prospect by Baseball America. Torres, who is only 19, is younger than most High-A players. He was hitting an impressive .275 with nine homers in 356 at-bats with the Cubs affiliate before the trade.
McKinney is an outfielder who was drafted in the first round by the Athletics in 2013 before being included in the trade to the Cubs for Jeff Samardzija in July of 2014. He was the Cubs #7 ranked prospect after the 2015 season and at Double-A he was hitting .252 with 31 RBIs before the trade. McKinney might be able to contribute next season or be included in a trade.
An impact player that the Yankees got back in the Andrew Miller trade is Clint Frazier. He is also the player who will likely be called up to the Yankees faster than any of the others they received. The outfielder was the 5th overall pick by the Indians in 2014 and was the 44th ranked prospect in all of baseball after 2015.
Ben Heller is a lower ranked prospect that the Yankees received before the deadline who was called up earlier this month for two games because they needed more pitchers on the roster. He did not make an appearance and could get called up again in September but is not nearly at the level of Frazier.
Frazier has top of the line bat speed and has improved his pitch recognition. He is only 21 and is hitting .250 in his 15 games at Triple-A Scranton. He will likely be called up when the rosters expand in September and is another player who will give the team options going forward because if they trade him he could help get a top starting pitcher.
Another highly rated prospect that the Yankees got back in the Miller trade is Justus Sheffield. He has an above average fastball, but his best pitch is his curveball, and he also had a solid change. He is a 20-year-old pitcher who was drafted with the 31st pick of the first round in 2014 and was the Indians #4 prospect after 2015. He had a 3.59 ERA in 19 starts before the trade and for the Yankees High-A Tampa affiliate he has an excellent 1.04 ERA with 17 strikeouts and four walks in three starts.
Dillon Tate was the major piece that came back to the Yankees in the Beltran trade. The Yankees also got back Nick Green, who is now with Single-A Charleston, and Erik Swanson. Tate was the 4th overall pick in the 2015 draft, who was the best pitching prospect in college baseball last year.
Before he was drafted he had a plus fastball and a reliable slider. He didn’t have much success with Low-A Hickory, the Rangers affiliate, as he had a 5.12 ERA in 17 games (16 starts). It appears that the Yankees will be using him as a reliever, which is what he primarily was in college at UC Santa Barbara. In his two games for Charleston so far he has pitched six innings and allowed one earned run (1.50 ERA) to go with four strikeouts and three walks. He hasn’t showed the success he had in college, but he could turn into a lockdown 8th or 9th inning type of reliever.
In addition to all of the prospects that the Yankees got back, trading away Beltran, releasing Alex Rodriguez and deciding to essentially make Brian McCann the back-up catcher has opened up space for three of the best producing minor leaguers in the Yankees system.
Gary Sanchez was called up on August 3 and was the fist of the Baby Bombers to get called up for good. He signed with the Yankees as an international free agent when he was 16 and had always been more known for his hitting. He is now 23 and has really improved his defense behind the plate.
He was ranked the #2 Yankees prospect after the 2015 season. He deserved to be called up because he had a .339 average, .468 on-base percentage with 10 homers and 50 RBIs for Triple-A Scranton. He has not had a difficult adjustment at all to major league pitching since he has a .360 average in 13 games (50 at-bats) with five homers and 11 RBIs since being called up. He has also impressively thrown out three of the five runners who have attempted to steal on him.
The two Yankees prospects who were drafted by the team that have been called up recently were Aaron Judge and Tyler Austin. Judge and Austin, who are both 24, made their debuts on August 13 and they made history during the second inning. Austin hit a homer just over the wall in right on a 2-2 pitch and then Judge blasted a homer that went off the railing above the sports bar in center and landed on the netting above Monument Park.
On Judge’s first major league at-bat, he became only the third player to homer over the batter’s eye at new Yankee Stadium. (Judge is a mammoth of a human and can be compared to Giancarlo Stanton since Judge is 6-7 and 275 pounds.) The two 24 year olds did something that had not been done in the 120+ year history of major league baseball since teammates had never before homered in their first major league at-bats in the same game.
In Judge’s five games, 18 at-bats, he has seven hits (.389 average), one double, two homers and four RBIs. He has done very well at the plate so far after displaying his power with Triple-A Scranton as he had 19 homers and 65 RBIs and a .489 slugging percentage in 93 games (352 at-bats). Judge, who went to Fresno State, has also made a few impressive defensive plays since being called up. It seems like he is poised to be a middle of the order outfielder for years to come for the Yankees.
Austin is a great story of overcoming adversity because he was a top prospect a few years ago and then had to battle through injuries and underperformance to get back on the map this year. Austin even went unclaimed after being designated for assignment after the 2015 season. The Yankees then claimed him and sent him back down to Double-A Trenton.
The Georgia native was chosen to represent the Yankees in the All-Star Futures Game in 2012 but had to miss it due to an ankle injury. However, he was referred to by Brian Cashman as a mega-prospect in August of 2012, and in three levels, the top being Double-A Trenton, he hit .322 and had a .400 on-base percentage with 17 homers and 80 RBI.
In the 2013 season, Austin had to miss 60 games due to a wrist injury in July. He didn’t really regain his top prospect status until this season as he hit a combined .240 with six homers and 35 RBIs across two levels in 2015. However, everything clicked for him this season at Triple-A, as slowing the game down helped him have a .323 average with 13 homers and 49 RBI and regain his top prospect status.
The first baseman and outfielder has not been impressive as he other two but has still held his own so far. He has a .250 average in his 12 at-bats so far with his one homer. Greg Bird, who had to miss this season due to a shoulder injury, hit so well in the final two months of last season that he will likely be the starting first baseman next season. In 46 games (157 at-bats) he had a .261 average with an impressive .529 slugging percentage after hitting 11 homers and driving in 31 runs. Austin could be a solid back-up first baseman and outfielder.
Bird was a big part in the Yankees making it to the wild card game last season and at 23 next season he will be another key young piece of the lineup. Austin and especially Judge and Sanchez have showed promising signs and look very comfortable in the big leagues. The Yankees made the right decisions in trading the players they did and calling up the Triple-A prospects and many of these players could be part of the next Yankees team that goes deep into the playoffs.
On Sunday, the Yankees announced that top prospects, including outfielder Aaron Judge, shortstop Jorge Mateo, right-hander James Kaprielian and relief pitcher Jacob Lindgren, were sent to minor-league camp. None of those highly regarded players were expected to make the Opening Day roster, but it is somewhat surprising that the Yankees decided to send them to minor-league spring training this early.
Judge had only one hit in his 14 at-bats in spring training before being sent down, Mateo had only three hits in 15 at-bats (with a homer and a steal) before being demoted, Kaprielian had a 4.91 ERA after allowing two earned runs and four hits in his 3.2 innings pitched and Lindgren had a sky high 15.43 ERA after allowing four earned runs on four walks and a hit in 2.1 innings pitched. None of these four prospects performed like they are capable of in this small sample size and proved that they need more seasoning in the minors. However, it might have made sense for them to learn from and be mentored by the established major leaguers on the Yankees roster for about one more week.
All of these players will likely make some kind of an impact in the Bronx this season or next season, but the player who is most likely to make a major impact in August or September is Judge. His size (6-7, 275 lbs) can be compared to former Yankee Dave Winfield and current Marlin Giancarlo Stanton and he hit a homer during batting practice in February that cleared the massive left field scoreboard at George M. Steinbrenner Field.
“Did you see the balls he hit today? [I’ve] never had that,” Brian McCann said. “It’s super impressive. Then you meet the guy, and he’s actually, he’s top of the line.”
Judge (23 years old), who is from Linden, California and was drafted with the 32nd pick in the 1st round out of California State University Fresno in 2013, performed well at Double-A Trenton last season but struggled when he was called up to Triple-A Scranton. In 63 games with the Trenton Thunder last season (250 at bats), Judge had a solid .284 average with 12 homers, 44 RBIs, 16 doubles, 36 runs scored and a .516 slugging percentage.
However, Judge’s productivity decreased once he was promoted to the Scranton RailRiders, who face many pitchers who have previously pitched in the majors and have better command and off-speed pitches. In 61 games with the RailRiders last season (228 at bats), Judge had a sub-par .224 average with eight homers, 28 RBIs, six steals, 10 doubles and a .373 slugging percentage. He hit a similar amount of homers at Double-A and Triple-A, but he needs to improve in every other category to prove he is ready.
According to Meredith Marakovits, Judge reported early to spring training and the biggest thing that he worked on during the offseason was his approach and patience at the plate. Another positive sign is that Reggie “Mr. October” Jackson believes that Judge’s issues at Triple-A were mental and not physical. Marcus Thames, who was the RailRiders hitting coach and is now the Yankees’ assistant hitting coach said that Judge was having trouble with the advanced breaking pitches that the Triple-A pitchers were throwing to him.
Judge said that he spent part of the offseason working on pitch recognition and hitting the breaking ball. He has the work ethic to improve on hitting that pitch and if he can do that his stats should greatly improve in April, May and June. He has the most upside of any Yankees outfield prospect, and if Carlos Beltran, Jacoby Ellsbury or Brett Gardner gets injured or if Beltran underperforms in August then Judge could make a similar impact this season as the one that Greg Bird made last season.
Bird made his major league debut on August 13 and went 0-5, but in the fourth game that Bird started after replacing the injured Mark Teixeira, Bird hit two homers and drove in four runs. He finished the season with a .261 average with 11 homers, 31 RBIs and an impressive .529 slugging percentage. The Yankees might not have made it to the wild card playoff game without him.
Judge said that he has to better adjust to the Triple-A pitchers and he realizes that he has to improve on the little things.
“It’s a learning process, and just making adjustments,” Judge said. “I really didn’t make enough adjustments that I needed to. Pitchers made adjustments. That’s what the game of baseball is, just little adjustments to fine tune your swing, your approach, and I’m still trying to get ready for the 2016 season.”
The mammoth outfielder can cover a lot ground in right field and has a strong arm will now get to improve on his weakness in minor league camp, which has less pressure. He is capable of doing well against Triple-A pitchers because from June 25 through July 2 he had 15 hits in 27 at-bats (.625 average) with one homer, three RBIs and six runs scored. However, he needs to be more consistent because from July 29 through August 6, Judge only had two hits in 30 at-bats. Further proving his inconsistency was that he ended the season with no hits in 11 at-bats over two games, but previously had three multi-hit games in his previous five games.
Lindgren could get called up at some point in the middle of the season and have a minor impact in the bullpen after the big three, Mateo could get called up in September for his speed and be able to win the Yankees a game or two with his speed on the base-paths. However, it is most important for Judge to improve mentally and prove that he can hit above .280 for three or four months at Triple-A so that he can be called up as a replacement if an outfielder gets injured.
The Yankees play their first game of spring training on March 2 against the Detroit Tigers in Tampa, which is in only 22 days. About three weeks before spring training officially begins, the Yankees announced on Friday that outfielder Aaron Judge, shortstop Jorge Mateo and starting pitcher James Kaprielian will be in big-league camp.
Mateo (20) and Kaprielian (21) are young highly rated prospects but still both need at least one more year in the minors, with Kaprielian needing at least two since he was drafted last season. They are worth keeping an eye on based on what Kaprielian did in college at UCLA and with the Staten Island Yankees during his few appearances with them and based on what Mateo did last season with Single-A Charleston and Single-A Advanced Tampa.
Mateo, who was ranked the team’s No. 3 prospect after the 2014 season and has been labeled untouchable by the organization, had a .278 average with two homers, 40 RBIs, 82 steals, 98 strikeouts and 43 walks in his 117 games across two levels. He also made 30 errors in his 99 starts at shortstop last season. He will be valuable if he can continue to steal bases at the rate that he is, cut down on his strikeouts and not commit errors as frequently.
Mateo is the prospect in the Yankees organization with the best ability to steal bases, which is something that either the Yankees will benefit from or another team will benefit from in a trade. It is a positive that he was able to have a .321 average in 84 at-bats with Single-A Advanced Tampa, which is the highest average he has had in his four seasons in the minors.
His defense needs improvement, but it is not unfixable, according to a report on Fangraphs. The report said that Mateo “isn’t the super-smooth Gold Glove type, so he’ll need to continue to hone his instinct and footwork, but the tools are there to be a solid defender.” Mateo will likely improve defensively with repetition, and not to compare Mateo to Derek Jeter, but when Jeter was in Single-A Greensboro he made 56 errors in 1993.
Kaprielian, who the Yankees drafted with the 16th pick of the first round in 2015, pitched in seven games in the rookie league in 2015 and then was called up towards the end of the season to pitch with the short season Single-A Staten Island Yankees. In his three starts with Staten Island he dominated the New York Penn League competition as he had a 2.00 ERA in 9 innings pitched with a 1.111 WHIP, 12 strikeouts and only two walks. The possible future No. 3 starter for the Yankees will likely begin the season with Staten Island.
The 6’4″ righty was drafted after his junior season at UCLA, and in his three seasons as a Bruin he went 16-10 with an outstanding 2.06 ERA over 66 appearances (31 starts). He was named to the All Pac-12 first team in his sophomore and junior seasons. In his stellar junior campaign, he was named a second team All-American by Collegiate Baseball, he led the Pac-12 in strikeouts (114) and wins (10), pitched seven or more innings in seven of his 15 starts and to top it off he impressively threw nine no-hit innings while striking out 10 against Arizona.
Judge is the player out of the three who is most likely to have an impact in the Bronx during the 2016 season. Judge, who at 6’7″ and 275 pounds looks like a defensive lineman and has been compared to Giancarlo Stanton, was drafted with the 32nd pick of the first round out of California State University Fresno in 2013.
The outfielder hit .255 with 20 homers, 72 RBIs, 63 runs scored and a .448 slugging percentage combined in 63 games with Double-A Trenton and Triple-A Scranton. He struggled once being called up to Scranton since his stats at that level were a .224 average with eight homers, 28 RBIs and a low .373 slugging percentage. This proves that he needs more time at Triple-A to figure out the pitching that is close to major league caliber. However, he has a lot of upside and should be ready to be called up as an injury replacement or to give Carlos Beltran or Alex Rodriguez a few days off in June or July.
This is what MLB.COM said about Aaron Judge: “He scuffled (in Triple-A), but even though he profiles as a potential slugging run producer, he’s also shown an ability in the past to make adjustments. Once Judge does that, he should be ready for his New York debut,” said the write-up. “Built along the lines of Giancarlo Stanton, Judge has similar strength, leverage and huge raw power. He focused on working counts and the middle of the field during his 2014 pro debut, but he started to turn his right-handed swing loose more often last season … An excellent athlete for his size, Judge has average speed and a strong arm.”
He will need to figure out the improved off speed pitchers that the starters throw at Triple-A, and once he does that he should be ready to contribute. He has so much power from his massive frame that he should be able to help the Yankees win some games this year. Judge is currently the eighth best outfield prospect in baseball and he will get to prove that lofty ranking starting on March 2.
Judge is one of the prospects that Brian Cashman has deemed untouchable as the Yankees have valued their minor league system more recently, and the others were Mateo, Luis Severino and Greg Bird. Judge could play an important role at some point with his bat and Severino will be significant as he will be one of the starters in the pitching staff to begin the season. Judge, Mateo and Kaprielian will get valuable experience with the Yankees veterans as well as against major league competition during spring training.
On Saturday afternoon, the Yankees beat the Astros, 3-2, at George M. Steinbrenner Field in a Grapefruit League game. They now have a 12-7 record in spring training.
Michael Pineda got his third spring training start and even though he allowed his first two runs of the exhibition season his strikeout to walk ratio was outstanding. This was his final line against the Astros: 3.2 IP, 4 hits, 2 ER, 0 BB and 6 Ks. He threw 42 out of his 56 pitches for strikes.
Chris Carter hit a two-run homer in the first inning after George Springer tripled in what would turn out to be the only runs that Houston scored. After allowing those two hits in the first inning, six of Pineda’s next 11 outs came via the strikeout. He now has 12 strikeouts and only one walk in his 8.2 innings pitched in spring training.
Spring training is for getting players ready for the regular season and Pineda has proven that he definitely appears ready to continue where he left off last year. In 2014, Pineda made 13 starts and had a 1.89 ERA, 0.825 WHIP, 59 strikeouts, 0.8 walks walks per 9 innings and only seven walks in 76.1 innings. He will form what will be the best No. 1 and No. 2 starter combo in the AL East with Masahiro Tanaka.
Five other Yankees pitchers combined to allow only one hit to the Astros. Justin Wilson, Andrew Miller, Andrew Bailey and Nick Rumbelow combined to pitch 4.1 innings while holding the opposition hitless and recording seven strikeouts. The emerging relief pitcher Jacob Lindgren pitched the ninth inning, allowed one hit and a strikeout, and got the win as a result of the walk-off by Jake Cave.
Cave hit a sac fly in the ninth inning to score Slade Heathcott as he dove into home plate for the winning won. Nick Noonan and Aaron Judge scored the other two runs in the ninth. Reggie Jackson has compared Judge to Dave Winfield, and Cave, who will likely play at Double-A and Triple-A this season, is hitting .417 with five RBIs after hitting .294 in High-A and Double-A last season.
Carlos Beltran, Mark Teixeira and Didi Gregorius were the only players who will make the 25-man roster who had a hit. Teixeira had two, Beltran had one and Gregorius also had one.
The Yankees will play the Mets in Port St. Lucie on Sunday at 1:10 p.m. The game, which will be on YES and SNY, will be watched by many in the Tri-State area. CC Sabathia will make his second exhibition start for the Yankees after having an injury-filled 2014, and Matt Harvey will make his third start of spring training after missing last year due to Tommy John surgery.