On Friday, in addition to the significant Martin Prado and David Phelps for Nathan Eovaldi, Garrett Jones and Domingo German trade with the Marlins, the Yankees made their first trade with their crosstown rival Mets in a decade.
The Mets traded relief pitcher Gonzalez Germen, who was designated for assignment last week by the Mets, to the Yankees for cash considerations. Germen, who is a 27-year-old right hander from the Dominican Republic, appeared in 25 games for the Mets in 2014 and posted a 4.75 ERA in 30.1 innings. His stats were much better at AAA-Las Vegas as his 2.38 ERA helped him record six saves and a 3-1 record in 22.2 innings (18 appearances). In the 2013 season, Germen appeared in 29 games and recorded an ERA of 3.93 in 34.1 innings. In 64.2 innings he has a 4.31 ERA, one save, 64 strikeouts, 30 walks and a 1.42 WHIP.
To make room on the 40-man roster for Germen the Yankees designated Preston Claiborne for assignment. This means that he will need to be returned to the 40-man roster within 10 days or be placed on waivers, traded, released or moved from the 40-man into the minor leagues.
The move to DFA Claiborne is somewhat surprising because his 3.79 ERA in two seasons was a good bit lower than Germen’s. Claiborne had a 3.00 ERA in 21 innings (but a very high 1.62 WHIP based on recording 24 hits and 10 walks) in 2014 and a 4.11 in 50.1 innings in 2013. The trade is basically a wash since neither Germen will not have a major impact on the Yankees and Claiborne, the player who was designated for assignment, would not have either.
Claiborne did have stretches where he pitched well for the Yankees, but he was not consistent enough during his two seasons. The Yankees like strikeout pitchers in the bullpen, and Germen has a solid 8.9 strikeouts per nine innings, which is much better than Claiborne’s 7.3.
The Yankees lost to the Minnesota Twins 6-1 on Friday night at Yankee Stadium. They were facing Ricky Nolasco, who had the second worst ERA of all starting pitchers in the American League coming into the game.
Vidal Nuno allowed four runs in 6.2 innings and all four of those runs came off of home runs. Against Nuno, Oswaldo Arcia and Josh Willingham hit solo homers and Trevor Plouffe hit a two-run homer that drove in Arcia. In the eighth inning, Preston Claiborne wasn’t much better as he gave up RBI singles to catcher Kurt Suzuki and former Yankee Eduardo Nunez.
Nunez, who was mostly unreliable with his defense in his four seasons playing for the Yankees, has a .256 average in 43 at-bats this season. He continued his trend of having his helmet fall off while running the bases during Friday’s game.
Nuno has pitched much better on the road this season than in the Bronx. In his three away starts he has allowed a combined four earned runs, after allowing zero in his start at Tampa Bay, one against the Angels in Anaheim and three in Chicago against the White Sox. However, in his five starts at Yankee Stadium, he has allowed four runs or more in all but two starts.
The Yankees scored their only run in the third inning. Jacoby Ellsbury, who is hitting .333 with seven RBIs in the last seven days, hit a double to drive in Brett Gardner. Ellsbury, who is leading the team in steals with 14, also has three steals in the last four games.
In today’s game at 1:05 p.m. Masahiro Tanaka will face Kevin Correia. Tanaka is tied for third in the AL win wins with seven and leads the AL with his 2.29 ERA, but Korreia had the worst ERA of all American League starting pitchers entering the game. The Yankees have the overwhelming pitching edge in this game as it seems like Tanaka will be an All-Star in his first season since coming over from Japan.
It is important that the Yankees get this win in order to close out May on a positive note. In tomorrow’s game they will be facing Phil Hughes for the first time. The Yankees will have the advantage in that game as well since Hughes had a 5.35 ERA in his last three seasons at Yankee Stadium.
On Wednesday, the Yankees won the second and final game of the series against the Cubs at Wrigley Field. After losing the first game 6-1 after Tanaka allowed three earned runs and picked up his first loss since August of 2012, the Yankees won in 13 innings on Thursday as Preston Claiborne picked up the win as he pitched 1.2 scoreless innings and executed a perfect sacrifice bunt in his first MLB at-bat.
After Jeff Samardzija had yet another outstanding start but did not get the win as a result of the Yankees scoring two runs in the ninth to tie the game, Matt Daley, Matt Thornton, Claiborne and David Robertson, who picked up his ninth save in as many chances, combined to only allow two hits in four innings.
Chase Whitley, who was making his second start, held his own once again as he allowed one run in 4.1 innings while striking out three. Dellin Betances came on in relief of him to pitch 1.2 perfect innings and add three more strikeouts. He now has an impressive 45 strikeouts in 26 innings.
In the ninth inning, when the Yankees were losing 2-0, Ichiro Suzuki scored after grounding into a fielder’s choice to the shortstop and then Brendan Ryan scored the tying run after defensive replacement Darwin Barney made an error throwing to first.
The Yankees came through in the clutch off of Cubs closer Hector Rondon. The offense came up big once again in the 13th inning. After Ryan singled to leadoff the inning and Yangervis Solarte walked, Claiborne’s perfectly executed sacrifice bunt in front of the pitcher advanced the runners to second and third with two outs. Ryan, who came into the game in the ninth inning, scored the winning run on a wild pitch by former Yankee Jose Veras, and John Ryan Murphy’s single sent Solarte home from third.
Murphy is now hitting an impressive .406 in 32 at-bats. Solarte, who had two hits in four at-bats and scored that insurance run, improved his average to .317. He is still leading the team in average, on-base percentage (.394), RBI (24) and total bases (70). The Yankees (24-21) would not be in first place in the American League East without Solarte, who had previously spent his career in the minors in both the Minnesota Twins and Texas Rangers organizations.
The Yankees will now move onto the south side of Chicago where they will play the White Sox for four games at US Cellular Field. Thursday’s game will be at 8:10 p.m. EST. The White Sox, who have a 23-25 record and have lost three of their past five games, are third in MLB in runs scored, seventh in batting average and seventh in slugging percentage.
However, the White Sox are now without impressive rookie Cuban slugger Jose Abreu, who is out indefinitely with an ankle injury. He was leading the team in homers (15), RBI (42), and runs scored (29). He is also currently leading the AL in homers and RBI. The Yankees are lucky that their depleted pitching staff will not have to face him in this series.
On Thursday night, White Sox ace Chris Sale will make his return from the disabled list. His last start came on April 17 when he allowed one run in seven innings to the Red Sox. Sale had a 1.23 ERA in two starts against the Yankees last season.
For the Yankees, David Phelps will get his third start of the season since Michael Pineda was put on the disabled list. Phelps has allowed one, four and zero earned runs respectively in those three starts. His best start came on May 17 against the Pittsburgh Pirates as he struck out a season-high five batters and walked three in five scoreless innings. He was able to earn his first win of the season.
On Wednesday it was revealed that Pineda, who is on the disabled list as a result of a back strain, is making progress and looked comfortable during a 30-pitch bullpen session on Wednesday at Yankee Stadium. This obviously means that he has not suffered a setback, which is a good sign.
The starting pitcher on Friday for the Yankees will be Hiroki Kuroda (3-3, 4.61 ERA), and the starter for the White Sox will be former Yankee Hector Noesi (0-3, 5.32 ERA). On Saturday, at 2:10 p.m. EST, Vidal Nuno (1-1, 5.82 ERA) will face John Danks (3-4, 5.64 ERA). In the series finale, at 2:10 p.m. EST on the YES Network, Andre Rienzo, who is a rare baseball player from Brazil, will get the start for the White Sox. Masahiro Tanaka (6-1, 2.39 ERA), the rookie sensation from Japan, will look to bounce back from his first loss of the season.
This will be the first series that the Yankees have played against the American League Central this season.
The bullpen for the Yankees will look much different in 2014 than it did in 2013. They will be without Mariano Rivera, Boone Logan, Joba Chamberlain and David Huff. David “Houdini” Robertson will also be in a different role as he will be the closer this season after pitching in the eighth inning in 2013 as Rivera’s set-up man.
Mariano Rivera, who has 652 saves, has retired as the best closer in Major League history. He will be a first ballot Hall of Famer. Boone Logan, who was a reliable lefty pitcher for the Yankees for four seasons, signed a three-year contract with the Colorado Rockies. Joba Chamberlain signed a one-year contract with the Detroit Tigers after seven seasons as a starting and relief pitcher with mixed results. He was very successful as a relief pitcher (Joba Rules) early in his career helping the team get to the playoffs, then mostly struggled as a starter and then his return to the bullpen included a dispute with Rivera. David Huff, who did not add much as a reliever last season, was traded to the San Francisco Giants for cash considerations in January.
The Yankees will be counting on David Robertson, Shawn Kelley, Preston Claiborne, and Dellin Betances even more this season. David Phelps and Adam Warren could return to the bullpen as well. They have brought in Matt Thornton to essentially replace Logan as the primary lefty in the bullpen. Left-hander Cesar Cabral could replace Warren or Phelps.
Robertson is ready to handle the pressure of being the closer as he has pitched well as the primary eighth inning pitcher for the last three seasons. He had a 1.08 ERA in 2011, 2.67 ERA in 2012 and a 2.04 ERA last season. He has repeatedly proven that he can get a big strikeout or grounder to strand runners that are in scoring position. Robertson has a very effective curveball that he uses when he needs to get an out. All of the advice that Robertson has received from Rivera should help him adjust to the pressure of the ninth inning.
The eighth inning is currently up for grabs. Kelley appears to have the inside track based on how he pitched last season in the seventh. He had a 4.39 ERA last season, but that is a result of not pitching well in September. This was likely because he pitched in 57 games, while his previous high was 47 games with the Seattle Mariners. His ERA was consistently in the mid 3’s in July and August. His ability to record strikeouts is an asset as he had 71 in only 53.1 innings.
Thornton, who signed a two-year contract for $7 million after pitching last season with the Chicago White Sox and Boston Red Sox, had a 3.74 ERA in 2013. The lefty pitched a lot better against lefties (.235 batting average against) than righties (.333 batting average against) last season. His first two seasons were for the Mariners in 2004 and 2005, but he truly established himself as a solid relief pitcher in his seven full season with the White Sox. His ERA was below 3.00 from 2008-2010, and he even picked up eight saves in 2010. For the Yankees, he could close in an emergency, come in to get a lefty out in a key situation and even come in to pitch the whole inning.
Another pitcher that has the potential to be a key member of the bullpen based upon his performance last season is Claiborne, who is entering his second season. He finished his rookie campaign with a 4.11 ERA, 42 strikeouts in 50.1 innings and four holds. The righty from Dallas who was called up on May 5 did not allow any runs in his first seven appearances, and had an outstanding 1.46 ERA after his 20th game. He was on track for finishing with an ERA below 3, but struggled in September like Kelley did.
Betances, who is a towering 6’8″ righty who grew up in the Lower East Side and went to Grand Street Campus High in Brooklyn, pitched very well last season in AAA in relief. He had been a one of the team’s best prospects as a starter along with Manny Banuelos and Andrew Brackman a few years ago, but the decision was made in the middle of the summer that he would have more value in the bullpen as a result of his struggles with control. In 10 games before being called up to the Yankees at the end of August Betances pitched a total of 19.1 innings and only allowed one run (0.47 ERA).
He is able to use his intimidating presence to his advantage out of the bullpen. So far in spring training he has converted 6 and 1/3 scoreless innings out of the bullpen. His started using a slurve, which is a mixture between a slider and curveball, in 2012 after mechanical issues with his curve and has been able to use it very effectively during the spring. He has been able to control his 95 MPH fastball so far, and he needs to continue doing that.
Betances is a dark-horse, but if he continues pitching the way he has been, he could prove to be a valuable relief pitcher in the seventh or eighth inning. He is great stuff and has been commanding his pitches, so it seems like he could start the season in the seventh for the Yankees, even though a he can still be sent to AAA without being released.
Betances grew up a Yankees fan and attended David Wells’s perfect game in the bleachers, so it would be fitting if he is able to be a key pitcher out of the bullpen for the Bronx Bombers. He is unproven pitching in the seventh or eighth inning, but based on his numbers so far as a reliever and the effectiveness of his pitches, he has the possibility of being a better option than Kelley in May or June.
On Tuesday, December 17, the Yankees made two signings in Brian Roberts and Matt Thornton that have the potential to fill areas of need. The Yankees have agreed to a low risk high reward $2 million, one-year deal with Roberts, who is going into his 14th season.
Since the Yankees lost the ineffective Joba Chamberlain to the Detroit Tigers and the reliable Boone Logan to a three-year contract with the Colorado Rockies, the Yankees needed to acquire another arm for their bullpen. They signed Matt Thornton to a two-year, $7 million contract that was first reported by Jack Curry. Thornton is the second player that the Yankees have signed this offseason who has previously played for the Boston Red Sox. Jacoby Ellsbury, their new $153 million center fielder, played the first seven seasons of his career in Boston.
Thornton is coming off a season where he had a 3.74 ERA while appearing in 40 games for the Chicago White Sox and 20 games for the Red Sox. He had his highest ERA and WHIP since (3.74/1.43) his outlier season of 2007 when he had a 4.79 ERA and 1.50 WHIP at age 30 (Walks and Hits divided by Innings Pitched). Thornton, from 2008-2010, while playing for the White Sox never had an ERA above 2.74 or a WHIP above 1.07. He has also averaged better than a strikeout per inning for his career as he has 582 strikeouts in 568.1 innings.
The 37-year-old lefty from Michigan is showing signs of declining with age based on his 2013 season, but when you compare his stats from last year to Logan’s he is not really that much of a downgrade. Logan had a 3.23 ERA in 39 innings with 50 strikeouts and Thornton who pitched better in the second half last season with Boston had a 3.74 ERA in 43.1 innings and 30 strikeouts. However, Thornton is much more deserving of his 3.5 million annual salary than Logan is with his 5.5 million annual salary.
If Thornton could pitch like he did in 2012, when he had a 3.46 ERA, pitched 65 innings in 74 games while striking out 53 batters and only walking 17, then he would be a steal. He will be the primary lefty in the bullpen. Another potentially useful lefty that the Yankees have is Ceasar Cabral. The Yankees could use one more reliever with the ability to close since right now, in addition to Thornton, they have Shawn Kelley, Preston Claiborne and Cabral to combine with David Robertson in the bullpen.
In regards to Brian Roberts, the whole story with him is if he can stay healthy. He has spent his whole career as a productive second basemen for the Baltimore Orioles, when not on the disabled list. In the past four seasons, he has only played in a combined 192 games. Between 2010 and 2013, Roberts missed a substantial amount of games due to an abdominal strain, a concussion, recovery from the concussion the following season, right hip surgery and right hamstring surgery. However, in 2009, which was his last healthy season, he had a .283 average, 56 doubles, 16 homers, 79 Runs Batted In and 30 steals. Those are great numbers that prove that he can help a team in a variety of ways.
If Roberts can stay healthy he would form a formidable second base combination with Kelly Johnson, who was signed a few weeks ago. Johnson has hit 16 homers in each of the last two seasons, but is not known for being nearly as reliable defensively as Roberts is. Roberts is known for being a defensive player and an offensive catalyst. He played well to conclude the 2013 campaign since in his final 22 at-bats he hit .364 with two homers and five runs scored.
A benefit to signing Roberts and Thornton to relatively cheap contracts, and not getting one of the more expensive second basemen like Omar Infante, is that the Yankees will have more money available to potentially sign Masahiro Tanaka.
Multiple Japanese newspapers are now reporting that Tanaka will not actually be posted. The Rakuten Golden Eagles, who own his rights until 2015, are now not going to permit major league teams to bid for him. The Yankees will likely now become more interested in Ervin Santana, Matt Garza and Ubaldo Jimenez. They haven’t been interest in them so far based on the salaries that they would command. They could still trade Brett Gardner, even though they have said they don’t want to trade Gardner, or Ichiro Suzuki for a starting pitcher.
On Friday night, the Yankees lost in Seattle 4-1 to the Mariners. Kuroda allowed four runs in the fourth inning as this was his first start where he did not dominate after allowing more than two runs in his previous outing. He threw a shutout the previous three times following a start when he allowed more than two runs.
The Yankees (35-26) had won four games in a row coming into this game and need to win today’s game and Sunday’s game in order to win the series. It would have been ideal if they could have won the first three games because they will face Felix Hernandez on Sunday. They are two games behind the Red Sox for first place.
Hiroki Kuroda, who had limited the opposition to a .103 batting average with runners in scoring position coming into the game, struggled with runners on base in the fourth. However, the Yankees offense should have been able to come up with more than three hits off of Jeremy Bonderman, who was only making his second start of the season, and allowed seven runs in his first one.
Mark Teixeira has helped give the Yankees some more power since he has come off the disabled list. He is only hitting .192 in eight games, but he has slugged three home runs, two of which have been critical toward helping the Yankees win. However, he was not able to provide a spark on Friday night.
The only real positive to take out of last night’s game was the performance from rookie Preston Claiborne. He only allowed Nick Franklin’s single to right in 1.2 innings in relief of Kuroda. As a result of his 14 strikeouts, one walk, one earned run, and only 14 hits in 18.1 innings it could be argued that he deserves a more prominent role in the bullpen.
In a similar amount of innings, he has pitched much better than the more heralded Joba Chamberlain. Claiborne has a 0.49 ERA in 18.1 innings and Chamberlain has a 5.11 ERA in 12.1 innings. It would make sense for Joe Girardi to let Claiborne pitch the seventh inning at times in a game where the Yankees have the lead.
Coming into the season, Claiborne had not been one of the team’s most talked about bullpen prospects, but his stats have always been noteworthy. Between Double-A Trenton and Triple-A Scranton, Claiborne recorded a 2.96 ERA and respectively a 24.6 and 21.0 K%. The most impressive part about Claiborne so far is that he has not walked anyone, and if he can keep that up, he should continue to have success.
He has been able to locate his four-seamer, sinker, slider and changeup since being called up. There are not that many relievers that can rely on four different pitches.
In today’s game, at 4:10, Andy Pettitte will pitch for the Yankees and Joe Saunders (5.20 ERA) will take the mound for the Mariners. Pettitte will look to get the team back into the win column with his 250th victory. That would put him in sole position of 47th place, and one win behind Bob Gibson.
The Yankees will need a solid performance from Pettitte, their offense and their bullpen in order to get a much needed win.
These are the starters that the Yankees and Athletics (16-13) will send out during the three-game weekend series. These will be the final three games of the 10-game home stand that the Yankee have had. They have so far gone 6-1.
Tonight at 7:05 p.m.
Ace of the staff CC Sabathia (4-2, 3.35 ERA) vs. RHP A.J. Griffin (2-2, 4.65 ERA)
Saturday at 1:05 p.m.
The resurgent Phil Hughes (0-2, 4.67 ERA) vs. the ageless former Yankee, Bartolo Colon (3-0, 3.38 ERA)
Sunday at 1:05 p.m.
Andy Pettitte (3-2, 3.86 ERA), who is coming off his first sub-par start of the season will be opposed by Dan Straily (1-0, 6.35 ERA)
In more disabled list news, Joba Chamberlain was put on the 15-day DL as a result of a strained oblique. Relief pitcher Preston Claiborne was called up from AAA Scranton to replace him on the roster. He can add more depth in the bullpen.
However, he will not be able to be relied upon like Joba Chamberlain was. Claiborne deserved to be called up because he had 10 strikeouts and only one walk in 10.1 innings pitched for the RailRiders. With Robertson sidelined for this series it seems like Shawn Kelley and Boone Logan will setup Mariano Rivera.
The Yankees (17-10) have also recently called up Vidal Nuno from their AAA affiliate. With the recent injuries to Kevin Youkilis, Francisco Cervelli, Ivan Nova and Chamberlain the Bronx Bombers now have a grand total of 10 players on the disabled list. They have shown the ability to overcome adversity so far this season since all of the major replacements have performed admirably. One player the Yankees can’t afford to have injured is Robinson Cano, who leads the team in average, homers, RBI and runs.
In CC Sabathia’s last start he allowed three runs in eight innings in a win against Toronto. He is the pitcher that the Yankees want pitching tonight because he should be able to limit the innings pitched from the bullpen. Griffin has struggled this season for the A’s, but in 2012 he had a 3.06 ERA, which means the Yankees could have to play small ball. For the A’s, Coco Crisp has eight steals for far, so Austin Romine and Chris Stewart will have to contain him on the base paths.
The Yankees appear to have the edge tonight and on Sunday, but Saturday’s game could go either way because their lineup has a lot of experience hitting against Bartolo Colon and Phil Hughes might not be able to continue his streak of allowing two runs his past three outings.