The Yankees depth took a hit since Greg Bird will miss the season due to a torn labrum in his right shoulder. This will mean that back-up first baseman, second baseman and outfielder Dustin Ackley will be more important than the Yankees initially thought he would be.
Bird was slated to begin the season at Triple-A Scranton even before his torn labrum, but he would have been a valuable bat to bring up in the likely scenario of a Mark Teixeira or Alex Rodriguez injury, or to give Teixeira a few days off against a right-handed pitching. The Yankees will now not have a proven offensive and defensive first baseman (and DH) who they can call-up when Teixeira or Rodriguez go through a slump.
Bird hit very well once he made his major league debut on August 13 as he had a .261 average with 11 homers, 31 RBIs and a .529 slugging percentage in 46 games (147 at-bats). He also had a .343 on-base percentage and hit .270 with nine homers against righties vs. .238 with two homers against lefties. He came through in the clutch a number of times to win a game for the Yankees and played very reliable defense at first base.
Ackley, who has the ability to play second base, left field and first base, will be the primary back-up to Teixeira and the Yankees will now not have a player with a lot of offensive ability to bring up at first base. Brian Cashman has said that he will not sign a notable free agent who can play first and will continue the trend of only adding players through trade. If this holds true, the Yankees will be able to bring up a player like Tyler Austin in case of an injury.
If Ackley can stay healthy the whole season and produce like he did while he was with the Yankees last season then the Yankees might not need to acquire another first baseman. However, it isn’t known if that will happen based on how he performed while with the Mariners last season.
In 85 games with the Mariners last season (207 at-bats), he had a .215 average with a .270 on-base percentage, six homers and only 19 RBIs. After being traded to the Yankees, he had a .288 average in 23 games (57 at-bats) with four homers, 11 RBIs, two triples and a .654 slugging percentage. His 57 at-bats were obviously a small sample size, but he obviously showed that he can be productive while giving the team versatility. Ackley missed 33 games after his second game with the team due to a lumbar strain.
The 27-year-old Winston-Salem, North Carolina native who played on the University of North Carolina baseball team with former Yankee Adam Warren was the second overall selection of the 2009 draft by the Mariners. In his last season in the minors with Triple-A Tacoma in 2011, Ackley had a .303 average in 66 games (331 at-bats) with nine homers, 35 RBIs, 17 doubles, seven steals and .421 on-base percentage. After he was called up to the Mariners that season he had a solid .273 average in 376 at-bats.
He has the potential to hit above .270 in the at-bats that he gets and to have a solid on-base percentage. He should also be able to hit for more power than he did at Safeco Field because his swing is built for Yankee Stadium, which is much more hitter friendly than Safeco is.
Ackley, who is signed through this season on a one-year, $3.2 million contract, has made one error in his 22 games at first in his career. He played four games including three starts at first while with the Yankees last season and made 28 put outs and had two assists. He has primarily played the outfield and second base in his five-year career, but he should be reliable enough while improving with increased opportunity at first base.
Ackley proved that he can be a productive offensive player while with the Yankees last season, but Cashman will need to sign a player or make a trade in June if he produces like he did while with the Mariners last season.
The Yankees, who lost two out of three games in their series at the Rogers Centre to the Blue Jays, will start a four-game series against the Chicago White Sox at Yankee Stadium on Thursday night. Losing the series to the Blue Jays gave the Yankees a 3.5-game deficit in the AL East with 11 games left, which means that their chance of winning the division is highly unlikely. (The Yankees would have to get help from Toronto and would have to win about eight of their games.)
The Yankees (83-68) currently have a 4-game lead for the first wild card spot, which means they are on track to hosting the Houston Astros, the Minnesota Twins or the Anaheim Angels in a one-game playoff for the right to play in the ALDS. Houston is currently the second wild card with an 80-73 record, the Minnesota Twins are one-game behind the Astros and the Anaheim Angels are 1.5 games behind the Astros.
The best matchup for the Yankees would be if they end up playing the Twins in the wild card game. The Twins No. 1 starter is not nearly as good as the No. 1 starters on the Angels or Astros, and the Yankees had a lot of success when playing against Minnesota. However, the Yankees need to win three or four games during this upcoming series against Chicago to keep their slim chance of winning the AL East alive.
In tonight’s game, hyped prospect Rob Refsnyder will get his first start since he went 0-3 against the Mariners on July 18. He was sent back down to Triple-A Scranton after that game and before tonight’s game has only had two at-bats this month. Refsnyder will try to live up to the offensive success he has had in the minor leagues the last few years, but he will be getting a challenging matchup tonight as he will be facing Chris Sale, who is one of the best pitchers in the American League.
Back-up catcher John Ryan Murphy will get the start for Brian McCann, Chris Young will get the start in left field because Sale is a lefty and Young has performed very well against lefties this season, Brendan Ryan will get the start at shortstop for Didi Gregorius and Dustin Ackley will get the start at first. Greg Bird, who is on an 8-game hitting streak, has started at first in the last nine games. Gregorius has started every game at shortstop since July 25, when Ryan got the start at short.
Michael Pineda, who will start tonight’s game, allowed zero runs and struck out four in 5.1 innings in his last start against the Mets. That was his third time this season that he hasn’t allowed a run and his first since July 4 against the Rays. He bounced back well since he had given up four runs in each of his last two starts before that start against the Mets.
Pineda is a very effective pitcher when he throws his slider where he wants it to go and the Yankees need him to locate that pitch tonight. Here are the pitching matchups for the series against the White Sox:
RHP Michael Pineda (11-8, 4.10)
LHP Chris Sale (12-10, 3.47)
7:05 p.m. YES Network and MLB Network
LHP CC Sabathia (5-9, 4.80)
LHP Carlos Rodon (8-6, 3.78)
7:05 p.m., YES Network
RHP Adam Warren (6-7, 3.46)
LHP John Danks (7-13, 4.59)
4:05 p.m., WPIX
RHP Luis Severino (4-3, 3.10)
RHP Jeff Samardzija (10-13, 5.04)
1:05 p.m., YES Network
The Yankees (77-60) play the final game of their three-game set against the Orioles tonight before their important three-game weekend series against the Toronto Blue Jays. The Yankees have split the first two games with the Bronx Bombers winning the series opener 8-6, as a result of Greg Bird‘s 3-run homer, and the Orioles winning the second game, as a result of Chris Davis’s homer off of reliever Chasen Shreve. The Yankees are currently 1.5 games behind the Blue Jays in the AL East.
CC Sabathia will get the start tonight after not having pitched in a game since August 23. He was put on the disabled list on August 24 due to knee inflammation after feeling pain in his surgically repaired knee. He had to leave his start on the 23rd after allowing two runs on four hits and four walks in only 2.2 innings pitched.
Before that start against the Cleveland Indians, Sabathia had pitched six or more innings in three straight starts and allowed two runs or fewer in two of them. That is an improvement from earlier in the season, and the Yankees will be looking for him to give them a least six innings tonight against the Orioles. They can use length out of him because the Blue Jays offense that they will be facing in the upcoming series is more powerful than what the Orioles have, so it will be helpful to save the bullpen.
“I am looking forward to it and excited about it,’’ said Sabathia. “These games are big and I want to perform well. We control our own destiny. It’s sitting in our lap and that’s all you can ask for.’’
Since their two most effective weapons out of the bullpen will be available tonight after they needed Tuesday off, it will be ideal if Sabathia can pitch 7.0 innings, Dellin Betances can pitch the eighth inning and then Andrew Miller can come in for the save in the ninth. That is provided that the Yankees offense can score more than the one run that they scored on Tuesday night.
The Yankees were 0-3 with runners in scoring position last night and left seven runners on base. That will have to improve against Ubaldo Jimenez. A recipe for success offensively will be to take advantage of when runners are in scoring position and hit one or more homers because they are 42-11 when they hit two or more homers in a game this season.
Tonight against Jimenez, Brett Gardner is out of the lineup for the third consecutive game because his shoulder is not fully healed. Gardner jammed his shoulder after diving for a ball at the outfield fence during Saturday’s game. He was optimistic that he would play today when interviewed on Tuesday, but Joe Girardi is cautious because Gardner is often diving on the base-paths and in the outfield.
Gardner only has one hit in his last 13 at-bats and has a 3-17 average in his career against Jimenez. Dustin Ackley, who the Yankees acquired from the Mariners at the trade deadline on July 31, will get the start in right field. Ackley is 6-11 against Jimenez, which means that he has had a lot of success in a small sample size.
Here is the rest of the lineup for tonight’s game against the Orioles:
Jacoby Ellsbury CF
Chase Headley 3B
Carlos Beltran RF
Brian McCann C
Alex Rodriguez DH
Greg Bird 1B
Dustin Ackley LF
Didi Gregorius SS
Stephen Drew 2B
The Yankees beat the Boston Red Sox, 13-3, on Tuesday in the first game of their series. This was the fourth time in seven games that they have scored in double figures and their offense has scored 68 runs in those seven games.
As a result of the Toronto Blue Jays win last night, the Yankees have a 5.5 game lead over Toronto for first place in the AL East and they have a 6.5 game lead over the Baltimore Orioles. The Blue Jays have won three games in a row and the Yankees will play an important three-game series against them this weekend.
The game was still close as the Yankees were winning 4-3 going into the bottom of the seventh inning, but the Yankees then used a nine-run outburst in the bottom of the seventh to give them a 13-3 lead. Alex Rodriguez hit a single to center to drive in Jacoby Ellsbury and then Brian McCann hit a homer above the Fox Business sign in the second deck in right field to send Chris Young and Rodriguez home to make the score 8-3.
Chase Headley hit an RBI double to left to make the score 9-3. Ellsbury singled to left to score Headley and then Chris Young blasted a three-run homer to left field. That was his 13th homer of the season after hitting 11 all of last season. Young had a great all around game as he caught three fly balls in left field, was 3-4, had three RBIs and scored four runs.
“Honestly, the blunt way to say it is we have a lot of really good hitters,” Young said. “Everybody’s a threat right now.”
The Yankees were an outstanding 8-15 with runners in scoring position and Mark Teixeira, Young, Rodriguez, McCann and Headley all had multi-hit games. McCann hit his 18th homer and drove in his 65th run of the season and is on pace to easily improve on his power numbers from his first season with the Yankees in 2014 when he hit 23 homers and drove in 75 runs.
Masahiro Tanaka had a quality start as he allowed three earned runs in six innings, but his performance was not similar to when he pitched like an ace earlier this season and last season. He was taken out of the game after allowing a homer to leadoff the seventh inning to Pablo Sandoval. Tanaka picked up his eighth win of the season, but he has now allowed three runs or more in seven of his last eight starts.
Tanaka has allowed four, five and six runs in three of those starts and has been hurt by the home run since the opposition has hit multiple homers against him in four of his last eight starts. His ERA has risen from 2.49 on June 15 to 3.84 on August 4.
Before the game against the Red Sox, infielder/outfielder Dustin Ackley, who was acquired in a trade with the Seattle Mariners on July 30, was put on the 15-day disabled list because of a strain in his lower back. Ackley only had three at-bats with the Yankees before being put on the DL. Yankees GM Brian Cashman thinks that Ackley will be out a minimum of 20-30 days.
Ackley has a herniated disk and the Yankees replaced him on the roster with relief pitcher Caleb Cotham. He was not injured when the Yankees traded for him. He took an epidural with the hope that it will solve his lumbar problem so that he can return to the roster at the end of the month.
“Timing is everything, and we had bad timing in terms of when he had an issue materialize,” Yankees general manager Brian Cashman said. “No complaints in Seattle, no tests, no issues, no treatment. I think we are optimistic that after a 20 or 30-day stint we’ll be able to utilize his flexibility.”
The Yankees only made one trade before today’s 4 p.m. trade deadline. On Thursday, the Yankees acquired Seattle Mariners infielder/outfielder Dustin Ackley for prospects Ramon Flores and Jose Ramirez. Joe Girardi likes the extreme versatility that Ackley brings to the team.
“The guy can play five spots and that’s pretty good,’’ the manager said. He has played first base, second base and all three outfield positions in his five seasons in the majors. He was the second overall pick in the 2009 draft and could perform much better in Yankee Stadium than he did in Safeco Park. From 2012-2014, Ackely had a .316 average in 38 at-bats with two homers and six RBIs.
He is having the worst year of his his five-year career this season, but he has more upside than the players the Yankees traded. He has a .215 average in 207 at-bats with six homers, eight doubles, 19 RBIs, two steals and a .366 slugging percentage. Garrett Jones, who Ackley has better stats than, was dropped from the roster when Ackely was added to the team today.
It was announced today that Luis Severino‘s next start will be with the Yankees. This is the right time to call him because Micael Pineda is now on the disabled list with a right flexor forearm muscle strain and he doesn’t have anything else to prove with Triple-A Scranton. In 11 starts this season with the RailRiders, Severino has a 7-0 record with an outstanding 1.91 ERA, 50 strikeouts and a very good 0.92 WHIP.
The Yankees (57-44) currently have a 6-game lead over the Baltimore Orioles and Toronto Blue Jays for first place in the AL East. The Yankees begin a three-game series against the Chicago White Sox in Chicago in what will be the end of their 10-game road trip. The White Sox have gone 7-3 in their last 10 games to move back into contention for a wild card spot.
The White Sox (49-51) have former Yankees Melky Cabrera and David Robertson on their roster. Nathan Eovaldi, who will be starting tonight, is 5-0 with a 2.83 ERA in his last seven starts. Here are the pitching matchups for the series:
RHP Nathan Eovaldi (10-2, 4.27)
LHP Carlos Rodon (4-3, 4.09)
8:10 p.m., YES Network
LHP John Danks (5-8, 4.97)
7:10 p.m., WPIX
RHP Ivan Nova (3-3, 3.38)
RHP Jeff Samardzija (8-5, 3.94)
2:10 p.m., YES Network and TBS