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.
As a result of Chris Capuano straining his right quadriceps a few days ago covering first base there is now an open competition for the No. 5 starter in the rotation. The candidates for the final spot in the rotation include Adam Warren, Esmil Rogers, Chase Whitley and Bryan Mitchell.
Mitchell and Whitley will likely come in third and fourth because they have less experience than the other two. Mitchell allowed four runs on six hits in one inning in his start on March 11. He has a 9.00 in four innings so far in spring training.
He is thought of highly in the organization, but he needs more time to develop at Triple A. The 23-year-old made eight starts and nine appearances last season at Triple-A and had 3.67 ERA with 34 strikeouts and 16 walks. The hard-thrower needs to improve his strikeout to walk ratio, as his walks are far too high. That is a solid ERA and an improvement from the 4.84 ERA he had in 61.1 innings at Double-A last season, but he has not proved himself long enough with the RailRiders yet.
Whitley is a 25-year-old who was drafted by the Yankees in the 15th round in 2010 who made 12 starts and 24 total appearances for the Yankees last season. He pitched well in his first few starts, but he had trouble pitching deep into games and being effective the more appearances he made. He had a 5.23 ERA in 75.2 innings with a very high 1.480 WHIP. He makes more sense in Triple-A or in the bullpen.
Whitley has pitched seven innings (one start and three relief appearances) so far in spring training and has not allowed a run. However, that does not prove very much for him as a starter because he was only primarily facing major leaguers in one of those appearances. What that does prove is that he might be better suited for a role as a relief pitcher since he was also successful in the bullpen in the minors as he had a 3.06 ERA in 67.2 innings at Triple-A in 2013 while making 24 of his 29 appearances in the bullpen.
Either Rogers or Warren could be effective in the two months until Ivan Nova returns but Rogers could get the edge because Warren proved last year that he has the ability to pitch very well in the bullpen. In 2014, Warren had a very good 2.97 ERA in 69 games (78.2 innings) coming in from the bullpen. His 76 strikeouts and 24 walks were both higher and lower than in 2013 and he has said that he has embraced his new role as a reliever (even though he wants to be a starter).
According to Brooks Baseball, in 2014, Warren primarily threw a four-seam fastball (95mph) and slider (87mph), while also mixing in a circle change (86mph) and a knuckle curve (82mph). He fits better as a reliever since he has two primary pitches with the ability to mix in others. He would give the bullpen five potentially very reliable options with him and Dellin Betances, Andrew Miller, David Carpenter and Justin Wilson.
Rogers, who is entering his seventh MLB season, has made 43 MLB starts, which is many more than any other possible No. 5 starter. He has a 5.54 career ERA, but that is inflated due to his 3.5 seasons pitching for the Colorado Rockies where he had an ERA above 6.13 in two of those seasons. He knows how to get outs and according to Bryan Hoch, “he has been particularly impressive to manager Joe Girardi and pitching coach Larry Rothschild this spring, as they believe his stuff seems crisper and seems to be more consistent.”
The 29-year-old Rogers has six strikeouts in six innings pitched and hasn’t allowed a run during spring training. He has pitched in four games and two of those have been starts. Rothschld has taught Rogers to be more steady with his glove, and Rogers thinks that his adjustment has helped him. He now holds his glove in front like Masahiro Tanaka. The Yankees should go with the pitcher with the most experience especially since Rogers seems to be improving.
If Masahiro Tanaka can pitch as effectively as he did last season, and only miss three or four starts unlike last season, the Yankees’ chances at getting back to the playoffs for the first time since 2012 will be greatly increased. During the 2014 season, Tanaka missed 2.5 months between the beginning of July and the end of September as a result of a partially-torn UCL in his right elbow.
However, when Tanaka was healthy, he was one of the best starters in baseball, especially before he went on the disabled list. He made 20 starts in his rookie season after coming over from Japan, and he had an outstanding 2.77 ERA, 1.06 WHIP, 13 wins, 141 strikeouts and only 21 walks in his 136.1 innings pitched. He allowed two runs or less in 13 of his 20 starts, which proves how much he is able to keep hitters off balance and throw the right pitches at the right time.
Tanaka relied primarily on his splitter (87mph), slider (84mph), four-seam fastball (93mph), while also mixing in a sinker (91mph), cutter (89mph) and curve (74mph). His six-pitch arsenal helped him record seven or more strikeouts in 12 of his 20 starts last season. If he can throw his splitter, slider and fastball with the movement and accuracy that he did last season, to start the 2015 campaign, he could be an All-Star this season.
In Tanaka’s final start of last season (his second after coming off of the disabled list) he allowed five earned runs on seven hits in only 1.2 innings. So far during spring training he is proving that that start could have just been one day when he did not have his stuff.
Last week, on Feb. 19, he threw his first bullpen session and had no discomfort. He threw 21 fastballs during a session that lasted about seven minutes. On Thursday, during his third and most intense bullpen session, Tanaka threw 40 pitches at George M. Steinbrenner field with increased velocity. He said that the location of his pitches during this bullpen session was better than the previous one, which is a positive sign.
Pitching coach Larry Rothschild is confident with his progression so far. Tanaka is not thinking about his elbow, and has no pain, which will hopefully mean that the injury will not reoccur this season.
“I will check with him Friday,” Rothschild said. “Based on what I saw today, I don’t see anything getting in the way of our schedule. Everything is progressing the way we like it, so we keep going.” The next step will be for Tanaka to throw batting practice.
This most recent bullpen session was more important than his first one, and Tanaka’s first spring training game will be more significant than yesterday’s bullpen session. However, each day that Tanaka makes it through pain free while throwing his pitches the way he wants to is a sign that he could dominate like he did during the 2014 season.
The Yankees acquired Nate Eovaldi on December 19, 2014. They traded Martin Prado and David Phelps to the Miami Marlins for Domingo German, Garrett Jones and Eovaldi. Eovaldi’s 25th birthday is today, and this trade gives the Yankees a flamethrower who has the potential to help the rotation for years to come.
In 2013, Eovaldi’s ERA (3.39) and WHIP (1.317) were the lowest of his four-year career. Eovaldi allowed the most hits in the National League last season and had a high 4.37 ERA, but he did set career highs with 33 games started, 142 strikeouts and 199.2 innings pitched. The hard-throwing righty averaged 95.5 miles per hour on his fastball last season, which was the fourth fastest in all of baseball.
However, he does need to improve and rely on his secondary pitches more, in order to keep hitters off balance, and Yankees pitching coach Larry Rothschild could be the pitching coach to help him do just that.
According to Evoaldi, the two have developed chemistry so far. Pitchers and catchers have not officially reported yet, but Eovaldi has already thrown a few bullpen sessions with Rothschild watching. “We’ve already begun to work on things,” Eovaldi said after a workout at the Yankees’ minor-league complex this week. “He’s awesome. It’s going to be a lot of fun working with him this year.”
In 2014, Eovaldi primarily threw a four-seam fastball, slider (87mph) and curve (77mph). His slider generates more groundballs than other pitchers’ sliders and is harder than usual. He threw a change and sinker much less frequently last season. He often reverted to his fastball when he was in a in trouble last season, and the opposition came to expect it, so if he can improve his slider and curve in spring training he could have an ERA closer to the one he had in 2013.
In their bullpen sessions so far, they have been working on getting more consistency in his off-speed pitches. If he can successfully mix in his off-speed pitches while continuing to accurately throwing his elite fastball, he could go from being a average starter with a an elite heater to a consistently reliable one with All-Star ability.
(He is due to have a lower ERA this season because his FIP (Fielding Independent Pitching – strikeouts, walks and home runs calculate what the ERA should have been) last season was a career-low 3.37 as a result of allowing about the same amount of walks and 64 more strikeouts than he did in 2013.)
He also recently reflected on his 2014 season, which had some positives and negatives. “I accomplished a lot that I wanted to,” Eovaldi said. “I stayed healthy. I got a lot of innings under my belt, controlled my walks. But my ERA was a lot higher than I would have liked it to (have) been and I gave up too many hits.”
The young emerging pitcher is proving to have a desire to improve on last season since he is putting in extra work with Rothschild. The fifth-year Yankees pitching coach, who helped Ivan Nova win 16 games in his rookie season, is very good at dealing with the mental and mechanical aspect of pitching, which should help Eovaldi improve his non-fastball pitches as well as adjust to pitching at Yankee Stadium and in the AL East.
After being swept in the two-game set at Camden Yards against the Orioles, the Yankees will look to make up ground in the race for the second wild-card spot when they start a three-game series against the fourth place Tampa Bay Rays.
After the loss on Wednesday, Shawn Kelley admitted that trying for the second wild-card is more realistic at this point. “I think we’re looking more at the second wild-card spot,” Kelley said. “That’s a little bit better number, it’s a little more achievable at this point.
The Yankees have scored more than three runs only twice in their last nine games. They have also lost their last four games and are 1-25 with runners in scoring position in those four games.
On Wednesday, the Yankees lost to the Baltimore Orioles 5-3 in a game that it appeared that they would win. In Michael Pineda‘s first start since April, after being out due to a 10-game pine tar suspension and suffering a strained lat muscle below his pitching shoulder while throwing a simulated game during his suspension, he only allowed one run and two hits in five innings pitched. He had four strikeouts and no walks and was pitching just like he did before his injury.
As a result of Francisco Cervelli’s two-run homer in the third Pineda left in position to win the game. However, in a desperate move by Joe Girardi, Dellin Betances was left in to pitch more than two innings for only the second time this season. Betances had four strikeouts and only allowed one hit in his first two innings, but in the eighth, Betances gave up a game-tying homer to Jonathan Schoop with one out. In 2014, Schoop has an overall average of .217 but has four homers with a .379 average against the Yankees.
Betances was taken out of the game after the homer and Shawn Kelley gave up a single, a walk and then a three-run homer to the dangerous Adam Jones on a fastball. Jones hits the fastball better than any other pitch, so Kelley should have known to throw something else. That homer sealed the game since the Yankees only scored one run in the ninth. Kelley, who has been much worse recently, has allowed seven runs in his past three appearances.
After Thursday’s much needed off day, the Yankees will look to find their offense at Tropicana Field. They will luckily not have to face Chris Archer, who has dominated the Yankees in his five career starts against the Bronx Bombers. The Yankees will need to score with runners in scoring position and score many more runs against the Rays than they have the past few games.
The Rays are 60-61 and have gone 6-4 in their previous 10 games. Friday’s game will start at 7:10 p.m., and Alex Cobb will start for the Rays and Brandon McCarthy get the start for the Yankees. In 2014, Cobb is 7-6 with a 3.41 ERA and has allowed two runs or less in each of his last six starts. McCarthy, who will be making his seventh start since being traded to the Yankees, has allowed two runs or less in five of his six starts with the Yankees. He has a 2.21 ERA with 36 strikeouts while pitching for the Yankees, and he has benefited from throwing his cutter more under Larry Rothschild.
On Saturday, Shane Greene, is a rookie who pitched eight shutout innings against the Detroit Tigers in his last start and has a 2.89 ERA, will face the Rays for his first time. Drew Smyly will be making his third start for the Rays since being traded from the Tigers, and he threw 7.2 shutout innings in his last start. His ERA for the season is 3.73. On Sunday, Hiroki Kuroda (7-8, 4.03 ERA) will pitch for the Yankees and Jeremy Hellickson (1-1, 2.03 ERA) will pitch for the Rays.
The Yankees will need to win at least two out of three to stay in the race for the second wild-card. They are currently four games behind the Tigers and will have to pass the Toronto Blue Jays and Seattle Mariners to catch Detroit.
The Yankees lost 5-1 to the Red Sox on Wednesday. However, most people will remember the game more for Michael Pineda having to leave the game in the second inning because off his pine tar usage than the final score.
The above is video of Yankees starter Michael Pineda being ejected from the game after being caught obviously having pine tar on his neck in the second inning. TV cameras caught him in his previous start against the Red Sox, but that time it was on his palm and it was a smaller amount so the Red Sox did not make a big deal of it during the game.
It is obvious because he did not have the pine tar in the first inning and then in the second it was easy for John Farrell to see. Pineda definitely did not learn the lesson between when he was caught two weeks ago and Wednesday’s start that you have to be discreet about using it. It is common for pitchers to use pine tar or other “foreign substances” to get a grip on the ball, but most pitchers are able to make it so that it is not known by the other team or known by the umpires. Joe Girardi and pitching coach Larry Rothschild are also at fault because they should have made sure he knew that he had to be discreet about it before yesterday’s start and checked him between innings so that it would not be seen when he went out to the mound.
This is what Red Sox catcher A.J. Pierzynski had to say about Pineda using pine tar: “I know as a hitter I want to get in there knowing the guy has a grip. Put it on your hat, put it on your pants, put it on your belt, put it on your glove, whatever you have to do. But at some point you can’t do it that blatantly.”
He will now likely have to miss at least one start or possibly two because he did not understand the rules of the game. Pineda had a 1.00 ERA with 15 strikeouts to only three walks coming into the game, but it is not known what type of pitcher he will be going forward. It seems it might not be a mirage because he pitched so well against the Blue Jays and Cubs in his other two starts, but we will have to see once he returns from his suspension.
At least Pineda owned up to his pine tar use after the game and apologized. “I know I made a mistake and I feel so sad,” Pineda said.
However, the Yankees already have to replace Ivan Nova spot in the rotation, since he has to have Tommy John surgery, and will now have to probably call up a pitcher from Triple-A Scranton to take Pineda spot while is suspended. Pineda is obviously not a pitcher who knows how to hide the pine tar or learn from a mistake.
In the bottom of the ninth, Ichiro Suzuki had a single, stolen base and run scored on a wild pitch by Brandon Workman, which gave the Yankees a big walk-off win against the Red Sox in the last game of the series. This 4-3 win came after three consecutive losses in which the Yankees scored eight or more runs against Boston.
Brett Gardner came close to giving Ichiro a Gatorade shower but might have decided not to as a result of their not being a walk-off hit.
Mariano Rivera came in for a rare two inning save because Joe Girardi had relievers including David Robertson and Boone Logan who were unavailable due to injury, and Rivera told Girardi and pitching coach Larry Rothschild that he was available to pitch two innings if needed. Rivera is obviously the best option out of the bullpen so it makes sense that Giradrdi put him in when he did. He continued to struggle like he has recently, as the homer he gave up to Will Middlebrooks in the top of the ninth was the third earned run that he has allowed in his last three appearances. The Yankees were luckily able to get the win even though Rivera blew his seventh save of the season.
Hiroki Kuroda, who had allowed four runs or more in each of his past three starts, showed improvement this afternoon as he only allowed five hits and two runs in a solid six innings pitched. He had an ERA of 2.41 on August 17, but his ERA is now all the way up to 2.99. That is still very good ERA but it has taken him out of CY Young consideration. However, he was able to pitch out of trouble as his pitch count got high early in the game and was still able to give the team six innings.
Shawn Kelley, who had been suffering from triceps inflammation, came into the game in the seventh and was able to record his 10th hold of the season. He has been a great acquisition by Brian Cashman as he his a high amount of strikeouts and is limited most of his inherited runners from scoring. His scoreless inning with a strikeout is an improvement from his previous game on the first of the month when he gave up a two-run homer to the only batter he faced.
Mark Reynolds, who has a hit in four of his past five games, had a double to the warning track in center in the fourth that drove in Alex Rodriguez. The other standout on offense was none other than the best second baseman in baseball, Robinson Cano. In the fifth, Cano hit a double to left that scored Chris Stewart and Ichiro. That was one of his three hits during the contest. His two RBIs where his 96th and 97th of his stellar season.
As a result of the win by the Bronx Bombers and losses by the Baltimore Orioles and Cleveland Indians the Yankees are now half-a-game behind both of those teams in the wild-card standings. The Yankees are currently 2.5 games behind the Tampa Bay Rays with 19 games remaining. They will now play a crucial four-game series at Camden Yards against the Orioles.
The last time they played the Orioles, from August 30 to September 1, the Yankees won two out of three games. It is important to win three or four games so that they will be able to move closer to the Rays.