It is currently unknown who will for sure be in the Yankees bullpen beyond the recently signed Aroldis Chapman, Dellin Betances and Tyler Clippard, but there is one pitcher who pitched well in his two months with the team last season who should be a relief pitcher again.
Adam Warren should be in the bullpen instead of the rotation this season because the Yankees inability to get the back end of the bullpen many times last year proved how much they need a strong middle relief. Right now on the official depth chart on the Yankees website they have him as a rotation candidate, which means that he will go into spring training as a candidate for one of the two open spots in the rotation.
Warren was selected by the Yankees in the 4th round of the 2009 draft as a starting pitcher out of the University of North Carolina. He pitched in the minors from 2009-2011, spent the 2012 season with Triple-A Scranton except for 2.1 innings with the Yankees and then spent the 2013 through 2015 seasons with the Yankees.
The 6-1, 29-year-old, who was born in Birmingham had his most successful season in 2014 when he pitched exclusively out of the bullpen. He had an impressive 2.97 ERA in 69 games (78.2 innings) in 2014 with a 1.106 WHIP, 76 strikeouts, 24 walks, 23 holds and three saves. He showed he could excel in multiple roles in the bullpen, and improved his stats from the previous year when he was not a starting pitcher for the first time.
In 2015, the righty threw a career-high 131.1 innings since 17 of his 43 appearances were as a starting pitcher. Warren ended up starting the season in the rotation and then was moved back to his bullpen at the end of June. He ended the 2015 season with a solid 3.29 ERA in his 43 games with a very good 1.16 WHIP, a 2.8 WAR, 104 strikeouts, 39 walks and 10 homers allowed. These are solid overall stats but they were improved by the games he pitched in relief.
He made 14 starts to begin the season (and three from the middle to end of September) and had a 3.59 ERA those appearances, which is a quality ERA and about equals that of a No. 3 or 4 starter, but the Yankees have other younger candidates for the No. 4 and 5 spots in the rotation who are capable of that ERA. He has also proven that he can excel in the bullpen as he did last season when he returned to the Yankees.
Before the 2016 season, Warren and Brendan Ryan were traded to the Cubs for Starlin Castro. This was a great trade overall for the Yankees because Castro played well as he had a .270 average, a .734 OPS, 21 homers, 70 RBI, 29 doubles and 156 hits in his first full season as a second baseman, and the Yankees got Warren back at the trade deadline when they traded Chapman to the Cubs.
General Manager Brian Cashman wanted Warren back because even though he had struggled with the Cubs he knew he had pitched well under Joe Girardi and pitching coach Larry Rothschild in the past and he thought he would improve the bullpen after trading away Chapman and Andrew Miller.
When interviewed after being traded back to the Yankees, Warren blamed not really knowing his role with the Cubs for his subpar performance. It could also be that reuniting with Rothschild helped him pitch like he had in previous seasons. In 29 games with the Cubs, Warren made one start, threw 35 innings, had a 5.91 ERA, a 1.43 WHIP and had 27 strikeouts and 19 walks, which is a high strikeout to walk ratio.
However, after coming to the Yankees just before the trade deadline, his performance was much better than it was during his 29 games with the Cubs. He pitched in 29 games with the Yankees in the last two months (30.1 innings) and had an improved 3.26 ERA, 1.25 WHIP, 0.4 WAR, six holds, four wins, 25 strikeouts, 10 walks and 11 earned runs compared to 23 with Chicago.
He makes sense for middle relief because of his drastic improvement in the last two months of this season helping to make the bullpen a strength when it was an unknown after losing Miller and Chapman. In some ways having a very effective middle relief can be just as important as a dominant closer because if the lead is blown in the 7th or 8th the closer will not pitch in the game.
Tyler Clippard is another pitcher who was not on the Yankees in the first half of the season but excelled with the Yankees in August and September. With the Diamondbacks in 40 games last season he had a 4.30 ERA but with the Yankees in 29 games he produced more like he did when he was an All-Star in 2014 as he had a 2.49 ERA with 26 strikeouts in his second tour with the Yankees.
It is likely but somewhat of an unknown if Clippard and Warren can both produce like they did towards the end of the season, which is why Warren should be in the bullpen. Unless the Yankees acquire an established middle relief pitcher, which seems unlikely, everyone in the bullpen besides Chapman, Betances and Clippard would be in their 1st or 2nd year.
It would be ideal to have Warren in the bullpen and only moved to the rotation in an emergency because that is where he is most valuable. If Warren is in the bullpen once again then the team’s bullpen can be top three in the league and will be a definite strength. The UNC product combining with Clippard to pitch the 7th would mean that young pitchers like Johnny Barbato, Chasen Shreve and Nick Goody’s role wouldn’t be as important.
According to Brooks Baseball, Warren relied on his fourseam fastball (93 mph) and slider (88 mph), while also mixing in a circle change (85 mph), knuckle curve (80 mph) and sinker (93 mph) this season. Many relief pitchers use a fastball and slider but his ability to throw three more pitchers makes him different.
Late on Wednesday, it was reported by Ken Rosenthal that the Yankees had signed the free agent elite closer Aroldis Chapman to a five-year, $86 million contract. He has an opt out after the third year, a full not trade clause in the first three years and for some reason has a partial no trade clause in the last two years to all of the California teams.
Every since the Yankees traded Chapman to the Cubs before the trade deadline for top shortstop prospect Gleyber Torres and three other prospects the Brian Cashman had been interested in signing him again. When Chapman played for the Yankees in the first half of the season after his 30-game suspension for domestic abuse the previous October, he proved that he could excel playing in New York as he had a 2.01 ERA in 31 games (31.1 innings) with 20 saves, 44 strikeouts, 20 hits allowed, only eight walks and an excellent 0.894 WHIP.
Including his time pitching with the Yankees and Cubs last season, Chapman had a great 1.55 ERA (1.42 WHIP), with 40.5 percent strikeouts and 8.1 percent walks in 58 innings pitched. According to River Ave Blues, he walked 11.7 percent of batters faced from the 2013 through the 2015 seasons, which means that based on his 8.1 percent walk rate last season his control is getting better and this trend could be here to stay.
The Cuban Missile has been an All-Star in four out of his six full seasons and his stats in his seven seasons overall are a 2.08 ERA in 383 games (377 innings) with 182 saves, 1.88 FIP, 19 homers allowed, 636 strikeouts, 201 hits allowed and a very good 0.92 WHIP. In 2012, when he was an All-Star and finished eighth in Cy Young voting, he had an outstanding 1.51 ERA in 68 games (71.2 innings) with 122 strikeouts, 23 walks allowed, a 1.55 FIP and a 0.809 WHIP, which is the lowest of his career.
Chapman’s five-year contract is the first five-year contract for a reliever since the Blue Jays gave B.J. Ryan a five-year deal that they regretted in 2005. Chapman, who has a fastball that can go up to 105 mph and a very good slider, is a much better pitcher than Ryan but the signing could be a little risky because Chapman would break down three or four years from now since he throws faster than everyone else. He is the only pitcher who can throw 105 mph in all of Major League Baseball.
He does have character issues as the Yankees were able to acquire him for much lower rated prospects based on his domestic abuse where he choked his girlfriend in a domestic incident. Also, in 2012, Chapman was arrested after being clocked going 93 mph on a suspended license. Hopefully he will not have another incident similar to his previous ones. The domestic violence incident is not defensible, but he has served his punishment and if the Yankees didn’t sign him another team would have.
Chapman was the best reliever available this offseason and Brian Cashman was intent on upgrading the bullpen. The bullpen that the Yankees have now, if their current pitchers perform like they did last year, is likely better overall than it was in the first half of last season when they had Andrew Miller, Dellin Betances and Chapman pitching the last three innings Now, in addition to Chapman and Betances, they also have Tyler Clippard and Adam Warren as proven commodities.
They also have a situational lefty, Tommy Layne, who is 32 and had a solid 3.38 ERA in 29 games (16 innings) after coming over from the Red Sox. Young relief pitchers who have come up through the system and spent some time in the majors last season who could be in the bullpen on Opening Day include Johnny Barbato, Nick Goody, Ben Heller, Chasen Shreve and Jonathan Holder.
Signing Chapman and not Kenley Jansen, who could have made sense because his stats are not that much different and Jansen will likely break down later than Chapman, meant that the Yankees will not lose a first round draft pick like they would have if they signed Jansen. The team is now trying to develop as many high draft picks as possible.
The signing of the 6’4″ Cuban lefty who will be 29 in February means that Dellin Betances will go back to pitching in the eighth inning. It is possible that Betances could be an effective closer but he has been one of the best set up men in the American League the last three seasons as he was an All-Star in 2014, 2015 and 2016.
Having Chapman in the 9th inning means that Joe Girardi will be able to put Betances, who throws a high 90s fastball and a knuckle curve, into the game in the 7th or 8th inning depending on matchups and who else is available. In the 2014 season, when Betances was a set up man the whole season and a rookie, he had a 1.40 ERA in 70 games (90 innings) with a career-high 135 strikeouts, a career-low 24 walks, a 1.64 FIP and an outstanding 0.778 WHIP.
This past season, after Andrew Miller & Chapman had been traded, the 28-year-old struggled as the closer. He had an excellent 2.05 ERA on September 5 but at the end of the season his ERA climbed all the way up to 3.08. He allowed 10 runs in his final nine games, which means he might be better suited for the 7th and 8th innings right now. He also would make a lot of sense to replace Chapman if he opts out of his contract in three years.
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 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.
The Yankees beat the Tampa Bay Rays, 5-4, at Yankee Stadium on Thursday night for their fifth win in a row. After the win they gained half a game on the Baltimore Orioles to improve to only two games behind them for the second wild card spot. They also are still four games behind the Boston Red Sox for first place in the AL East.
Everything is clicking right now as the Yankees are playing well on offense and defense. They have scored five runs or more in four of the last five games and have allowed four runs or less in five of the last six games. Also, since the Yankees traded lockdown relievers Aroldis Chapman and Andrew Miller before the trade deadline, the team is an outstanding 7-0 in one-run games and 3-0 in extra-inning games.
After the win, the Yankees improved the 41-28 at Yankee Stadium and are now a season-high nine games above .500 (74-65). Tyler Austin was the star of the game as he had two hits and his third career homer won the game for the the Bronx Bombers.
Austin hit the walk-off homer on a 3-2 two-seamer after he was up 3-0 in the count. It was an inside out swing for an opposite field homer to left field. He rewarded Joe Girardi’s faith in him since he could have sent in Mark Teixeira to pinch hit in the bottom of the ninth with the score tied at four.
The walk-off homer was the first by a Yankee rookie since Melky Cabrera had one on July 18, 2006. Austin hit his first homer in his first career at-bat on August 3. He thinks his walk-off was a more significant homer.
“That might top the first game up here,” Austin said. “It was a huge team win for us and a special moment.”
“I like the way Austin is swinging the bat,” Girardi said. “He is in the game. A lot of times it is a lot easier if your are in the game. It’s amazing what these kids have been able to do for us. A couple of hits tonight. It is hard to explain.”
Austin has a .245 average this season (13-53 in 17 games) but he has found a lot of success hitting in the Bronx. He has nine hits in 26 at-bats at Yankee Stadium (.346) with three homers, four runs scored and six RBI. He hit his second homer of the season, a two-run blast, in the team’s big 7-6 win over the Blue Jays on Tuesday. In the last five games (all at Yankee Stadium), Austin has been in the zone at the plate as he is 7-16 (.438) with two homers, two doubles and five RBI.
The previous two runs that the Yankees scored were on solo homers by Brian McCann, and one of his homers was a 412-foot round tripper into the suite level. He has found his stroke since the end of August and has improved on offense. In the last 10 games the veteran catcher, who has mainly been the DH since the trade deadline, is 11-37 (.297) with three homers, four runs scored and five RBI.
In the first inning, Didi Gregorius hit a single to score Brett Gardner and Jacoby Ellsbury scored after an error by Rays starter Alex Cobb.
CC Sabathia was only able to pitch four innings after being taken out of the game after throwing 87 pitches and allowing three runs on three solo homers. Tampa Bay had seven hits against him in seven innings but the positive was that nobody was on base when the Rays hit their three homers. Two of the three solo blasts were by Kevin Kiermaier with one going to the upper deck. He is 20 for 50 in his last 12 games.
“He made some mistakes,” Girardi said about Sabathia. “Hopefully the shorter outing will refresh him and we will get him going for his next start. He didn’t have his best stuff.”
However, the Yankees bullpen bailed out Sabathia even though Dellin Betances, Tyler Clippard and Luis Severino were not available. Jonathan Holder gave the Yankees two solid innings in the fifth and sixth as he allowed one run on two hits and left the game with the score tied at four.
Chasen Shreve, Blake Parker, Kirby Yates and Tommy Layne prevented the Rays from scoring over the final three innings. Everybody on the roster has really stepped up during this stretch and that includes the bullpen. Brian Cashman got Parker and Layne off of waivers and Shreve and Yates have been up and down from Triple-A. Shreve hasn’t allowed an earned run in five of his last six appearances and is pitching with more confidence.
“It is a sign that the moment is not too big for them,” Girardi said in reference to the young players on the team. “You get more faith in them and you understand they can handle the situation.”
The Yankees are a remarkable 52-9 when scoring five or more runs this season. They will look to continue scoring five or more runs during their next three games against the Rays. Sweeping the series will help them gain more ground in the wild card and in the division. They will need help from other teams to make the playoffs, but they are giving themselves a chance with they way they have been playing recently, and it will be possible with all of the games left that they have against teams ahead of them in the standings.
“We have a shot (at the playoffs) and in this game that is what you look forward to,” Girarid said. “I feel better than I did a few weeks ago.”
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.
Joe Girardi picked up his 800th career win as the Yankees manager in their 5-0 win over the Mariners on Wednesday afternoon. The Yankees won two out of three against the Mariners, who had 12 of 16 games coming into the series. The Yankees have also won five of their past six series.
Yankees starters have allowed one earned run or less in eight of the last 10 games. In their last nine games the Yankees starters collectively have an ERA of a very low 2.25. In this start, Tanaka throw seven scoreless innings and this came after throwing six scoreless innings in his previous start.
Tanaka, who now has a very good 3.11 ERA after his outstanding previous two starts, threw 69 of his 106 pitches for strikes and recorded six hits, one walk and five strikeouts.
He was able to pitch well when he had runners in scoring position as he got two ground outs in row with runners on second and third in the second inning and in the third inning, with runners on first and second, Tanaka got former Yankee great Robinson Cano to hit into a double play. Tanaka has been the best Yankees starting pitcher this season and he showed that again on Wednesday.
“His stuff really got good in the 4th inning, and then it just seemed like he found everything,” Joe Girardi said. “He went to work and gave us seven strong innings.”
Tyler Clippard recored two outs in the eighth in addition to allowing two hits, and he has now not allowed an earned run in 10 of the 11 games that he has appeared in since rejoining the Yankees before the trade deadline.
Dellin Betances picked up the final four outs of the game and recorded his sixth save since taking over for Andrew Miller. Betances added three more strikeouts to increase his season total to an impressive 108 and hasn’t allowed a run in nine of his last 10 appearances.
Gary Sanchez is the 5th player all time with nine homers through 21 career games. He is also the first Yankee ever to hit nine homers in his first 21 games with the team. “It has been phenomenal,” Dellin Betances said. “I don’t think I have ever seen a start like that to a young guy’s career.”
“You feel like he is going to hit the ball hard,” Girardi said about Sanchez. “It is fun to watch.”
Sanchez, who is a rookie, has an outstanding .389 average in 19 games this season to go with six doubles, nine homers, 16 RBI, eight walks, an .847 slugging percentage and even one steal.
Sanchez hit a home run in the first inning to kick off the scoring for the Yankees. He has always been known for his hitting in the minors but the rate that he is hitting homers to begin his career has rarely been seen in the history of baseball. Also, Sanchez has greatly improved behind the plate and he has been calling games with confidence and has even thrown out five of the eight runners that have attempted to steal on him.
Four other Yankees drove in runs during Wednesday’s game. In the second inning, Tyler Austin, who had been struggling the last few games, drove in fellow rookie Aaron Judge. Brett Gardner hit a sacrifice fly to score Aaron Hicks, Mark Teixeira singled to left center to score Gardner in the 7th and then Starlin Castro hit a sacrifice fly to score Gardner in the ninth. Teixeira, who is only hitting .197, drove in his first run since August 7.
Teams that are playing well drive in runners on third with less than two outs and that was how the Yankees were able to score two of their five runs.
Gary Sanchez was intentionally walked in the ninth to load the bases after also being intentionally walked earlier in the game. Sanchez was deservedly walked after Didi Gregorius hit a ground rule double that landed in the stands in shallow left.
“You don’t see it,” Girardi said in reference to a rookie like Sanchez being intentionally walked. “It says a lot about his abilities. He has developed, he is comfortable and he knows what he needs to do. I don’t think you would expect this out of anyone. I’ve never seen a young player come up and do what he has done.”
After Sanchez walked, Teixeira struck out looking for the first out and then Castro hit a sacrifice fly to left field that easily scored Gardner to make the score 5-0. Judge then struck out looking on a 1-2 pitch for his third strikeout of the game.
According to Katie Sharp, Sanchez is the first Yankees to be intentionally walked twice in his first 21 career games (he played in two games last year) since Joe Gordon in 1938.
The Yankees, after having won 11 of their last 18 games, will start a three-game series against the Baltimore Orioles on Friday. The Orioles currently have the second wild card spot and the Yankees are five games back, which makes the series important for gaining ground. Six of the next nine games that the Yankees play will be against the Orioles and the other three will be against the Kansas City Royals, who are also five games back and have won nine of their last 10 games.