Tagged: Washington Nationals

The Yankees had their winning streak end as Dellin Betances and Andrew Miller were not available

Andrew Miller during a game on April 8.

Andrew Miller during the game against the Toronto Blue Jays on April 8.

The seven-game winning streak that the Yankees were on is over as they had a 4-2 lead entering the top of the eighth inning but ended up losing to the Washington Nationals 5-4 in 11 innings. Denard Span hit an RBI infield single in the 11th off of Chris Capuano to score Tyler Moore in what was the winning run.

Dellin Betances was down today and Andrew Miller is going to end up on the DL with a strain in his flexor muscle (forearm),” Joe Girardi said. “He will not throw the ball for 10 days to two weeks and then we will go from there.” Girardi didn’t use Betances because he had been used a lot recently.

The bullpen ruined a solid start by Nathan Eovaldi as he threw seven innings while allowing three runs on eight hits. He had four strikeouts and was able to give the team much more length than he did in his previous two starts. Span drove in the first run of the game in the third inning as his double down the left field line scored Danny Espinosa.

If Betances did not need a day off he likely would have been pitching in the eighth inning when the Nationals tied the game. With rookie Jacob Lindgren pitching, pinch-hitter Michael Taylor hit a two-run homer to right to drive in Ian Desmond to make the score 4-4. However, if Stephen Drew didn’t have trouble getting the ball out of his glove and converted the double play in the eighth then Taylor would not have come to the plate in the eighth.

The Yankees scored four runs in the seventh inning, but they ended up needing one more run to get the win. Brandan Ryan, who was appearing in his first game of the season, hit better than expected as his triple to center scored Chris Young (and was his second hit of the day). Brett Gardner and Alex Rodriguez both hit run scoring doubles and then Brian McCann had an RBI single after his grounder up the middle hit second base and prevented Desmond from catching it.

Rodriguez now needs only eight more hits to be the 29th baseball player with 3,000 hits. The seventh inning was the only positive from the offensive standpoint as the Yankees left eight runners on base and were 0-6 with runners in scoring position outside of the seventh inning.

Miller told Girardi after the game on Tuesday that he had pain in his flexor muscle. During his nine pitches thrown during Tuesday’s game his body language was different than normal, which was an indication of his injury. Girardi said that everyone will be pushed back an inning and that Betances will be the closer while Miller is on the DL.

“It was hard to get loose sometimes and it became too much of a distraction,” Miller said. His control has not been as efficient as it was earlier in the season since he has thrown much more pitches recently. This hurts the Yankees since they will not have a shutdown reliable eighth inning pitcher like they have had with Betances.

The loss of Miller for what will probably be more than three weeks will hurt since he was having an All-Star season to this point. He has pitched 26.1 innings (26 games) and has a 1.03 ERA, 0.68 WHIP, 17 saves in 17 chances, 43 strikeouts and only 10 walks.

Girardi will now likely use a mixture of Chasen Shreve and Justin Wilson in the eighth inning with Miller out. It will be important for Betances to continue pitching in the ninth the same way he did in the eighth, but he is more of a sure thing than the eighth inning options are.

Pinch-hitter Garrett Jones struck out swinging to end the game. Before today’s game, Jones had raised his average from .186 to .262 from May 23 to June 5.

The Yankees, who are 33-26 and have a two-game lead in the AL East, have another off day on Thursday and will start a series against the fourth place Baltimore Orioles on Friday.

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Masahiro Tanaka dominated for his second consecutive start since coming off of the DL

New York Yankees pitcher Masahiro Tanaka reacts after second baseman Brian Roberts made a play to get out Baltimore Orioles' Ryan Flaherty to end the sixth inning of a baseball game Wednesday, April 9, 2014, at Yankee Stadium in New York. (AP Photo/Bill Kostroun)

Tanaka reacts after Brian Roberts made a play on April 9, 2014, at Yankee Stadium. (AP Photo/Bill Kostroun)

On Tuesday night, the Yankees (33-25) beat the Washington Nationals, 6-1, at Yankee Stadium in the first game of the series. The Yankees have won seven games in a row (and eight of their last nine) and their starting pitchers have impressively allowed two runs or less in all seven of those games. That is a recipe for success.

Masahiro Tanaka had his first start at Yankee Stadium since coming off of the disabled list and was able to outpitch Nationals ace Max Scherzer. Tanaka threw seven innings and allowed five hits, one earned run and zero walks. He had six strikeouts and retired the side in order in the first, second and third innings. Scherzer, who had a 1.85 ERA coming into the game, allowed four earned runs and eight hits in 6.2 innings pitched.

The only run that the Nationals scored off of Tanaka was a Bryce Harper homer in the fourth inning. Tanaka has had excellent command since coming off of the DL since he has 15 strikeouts and no walks in his two starts, and he has allowed one run in both of his starts lowering his ERA from 3.22 to 2.48.

Since coming off of the DL, he has pitched like he did during his first 16 starts last season when he had a Cy Young caliber first three months with a 2.10 ERA (11-3). He would later go on the disabled list for 2.5 months due to a partially torn UCL after two ineffective starts. Tanaka and Michael Pineda (3.33 ERA) combine to form a reliable, dominant and elite top of the rotation that could give the team an edge in a playoff series.

Tanaka incredibly threw 63 of his 87 pitches for strikes and proved to not let pitching at Yankee Stadium get to him.

I think he enjoys the stage,” Joe Girardi said. “I do. I think that is one of the reasons he came to New York. I think he likes the competition and the excitement of pitching here. I think he likes it.”

The Yankees scored two of their six runs on home runs. Stephen Drew hit a homer in the third to give the team a 1-0 lead and then hit another solo blast in the eighth to make the score 6-1. This was the second time in his last four games that he has hit two homers in a game and he hit a solid .292 in June to improve his average from .143 to .175. Drew’s average is still very low for an everyday player, but his nine homers are the second most among second basemen in the American League.

Brian McCann hit a single to right in the seventh to score Brett Gardner and Alex Rodriguez and later in the inning Carlos Beltran singled to left to send Mark Teixeira home to make the score 5-1.

Ramon Flores, who scored a run in the seventh on a fielder’s choice by Rodriguez, went 3-4 to raise his average to .269. Flores was sent back down to Triple-A Scranton before Wednesday’s game to make room for infielder Brendan Ryan. Flores, who has a strong arm in left field as he has thrown out two runners trying to score at home in his seven games, is arguably more valuable to the Yankee than Ryan while Jacoby Ellsbury in on the DL, but Ryan is back on the roster because he is healthy and they feel they have to use him since they are paying him a lot more.

Ryan is starting Wednesday’s 1:05 p.m. game at shortstop giving Didi Gregorius a day off. Nathan Eovaldi will try to get his sixth win of the season and give the Yankees their eighth win in a row.

Pitching matchups for the two-game series between the Yankees and Nationals

Masahiro Tanaka during a complete game against the Mariners last season. (AP Photo/Ted S. Warren)

Masahiro Tanaka during a complete game against the Mariners last season. (AP Photo/Ted S. Warren)

After a day off on Monday after their sweep of the Los Angeles Angeles of Anaheim, the Yankees (32-25) will continue their homestand with a brief two-game set against the Washington Nationals. The Yankees, who have won six games in a row and seven of their previous eight, have a 1.5 game lead over the Tampa Bay Rays for first place in the American League East.

During the team’s six-game winning streak, the starters have allowed two runs or less in every one of those games. It is a recipe for success when you get starting pitching like that. In tonight’s game, Masahiro Tanaka will make his first start at Yankee Stadium since coming off of the disabled list.

He had made four starts before going on the DL with wrist and forearm issues, and his last start was his best in terms of velocity and results as he pitched seven innings against the Seattle Mariners, allowed only one run, didn’t allow a walk and recorded a season-high nine strikeouts. If he can have similar stats and pitch with similar velocity (mid-90s) at Yankee Stadium then it will be even more of an indication that he is back to pitching like he did last year.

The Nationals are slumping once again as they have lost their last two games and have a 2-8 record in their last 10 contests. Here are the pitching matchups for this series against the Nationals, who are in second place in the National League East with a 30-27 record:

Tonight
RHP Masahiro Tanaka (3-1, 2.76)
vs.
RHP Max Scherzer (6-4, 1.85)
7:05 p.m., YES Network

Wednesday
RHP Nathan Eovaldi (5-1, 4.16)
vs.
LHP Gio Gonzalez (4-3, 4.57)
1:05 p.m., YES Network

The Yankees signed Sergio Santos (31)to a minor-league contract on Tuesday afternoon, according to Ken Rosenthal.  He will be sent to Double-A Trenton. The Yankees currently have five lefty relievers in the bullpen, so his addition could help give them another useful righty.

Santos, who is from Los Angeles, had his best season in 2011, when he saved 30 games for the Chicago White Sox and had a 3.55 ERA. In 2010, during his rookie season, he had a 2.96 ERA and 56 strikeouts in 51.2 innings, but he did have a very high 1.529 WHIP. He was designated for assignment by the Los Angeles Dodgers on May 27 after allowing seven runs, seven walks and 13 hits in 13.1 innings (4.73 ERA) pitched.

The Yankees will not lose anything if the signing doesn’t work, but if he can pitch like he did during his first two seasons then he will be able to improve the bullpen.

The Triple-A Scranton RailRiders can currently be seen on the YES Network

Masahiro Tanaka

Masahiro Tanaka

The Yankees lost 3-2 to the Washington Nationals on Wednesday and that loss led to the Nationals sweeping the two-game series in Washington D.C. After their loss on Wednesday, the Yankees have now lost seven of their past eight games to drop their record to 22-19 and put them into a tie for first place in the American League East with the Tampa Bay Rays.

During their previous eight games, the Yankees have been outscored by a grand total of 43-19. The Yankees are off on Thursday and will need their offense to score more runs starting with the three-game series that they have at Yankee Stadium against the Texas Rangers from Friday to Sunday.

The Yankees will begin a six-game homestand at the hitter friendly Yankee Stadium after previously playing 15 of their last 19 games on the road. They went 9-10 during those 19 games, which is much worse than the pace they were on previously. Brian McCann and Mark Teixeira hit for much more power at Yankee Stadium than they do in away games, so that could help the offense improve over the next six games.

Adam Warren had his second consecutive impressive start as he allowed only two earned runs in 6.1 innings on Wednesday against the Nationals. He had four strikeouts and the only earned runs he allowed were solo homers. Warren also pitched well in his previous start against the Rays when he allowed three runs in seven innings, but he will be more valuable in the bullpen because the relief pitchers have been over worked this season and he had a lot of success in the bullpen last season.

The Yankees are getting some good news with Masahiro Tanaka because he is making a rehab start with the Triple-A Scranton RailRiders on Thursday night. The game started at 6:30 p.m. and can be seen on the YES Network. Tanaka is only scheduled to throw 45 pitches, but if all goes well he will likely only need one more minor league start before returning to the rotation.

Tanaka had a 3.22 ERA and an impressive 0.94 WHIP in four starts before going on the disabled list with wrist and forearm issues.

The Yankees will look to get back on track with their interleague series against the Nationals

Nate Eovaldi

Nate Eovaldi

The Yankees (22-17) lost the final game of their series to the Kansas City Royals, 6-0, and have now lost five of their past six games. They now have only a one game lead in the American League East over the Tampa Bay Rays.

In those five losses, the Yankees combined to score only six runs. The offensive ineptitude has caused the Yankees to go from having a four game lead in the division on May 11, when they had a 21-12 record, to the one game lead that they have before Tuesday night’s game.

A reason for the low run scoring output in recent games is that the team has not been hitting enough extra-base hits. In the last three losses they combined for only six extra base hits and in their previous two losses they didn’t have any extra-base hits. Even if you do have solid pitching, it is very difficult to win games if you are not hitting doubles and homers consistently.

The Yankees have also been making errors more often recently. This is similar to the first nine games of the season when they started 3-6 and repeatedly did not make the routine play. They have combined to make four errors in their last three losses, which doesn’t give the pitcher much margin for error.

Except for the 12-1 loss on May 15 when Michael Pineda allowed five earned runs and had his first subpar performance of his outstanding season and the loss on May 14 when Chase Whitley had to leave the game early because of his elbow injury, the starters have generally given the team a chance to win each game. Nathan Eovaldi allowed four earned runs after pitching into the eighth inning for the first time as a Yankee and Adam Warren allowed three runs and had seven strikeouts in seven innings.

Eovaldi allowing four runs is more than what the Yankees want, but he did not allow a run in the first six innings and showed signs of improvement. He kept the team in the game and that’s all you can ask for.

Chris Capuano allowed four earned runs in three innings during Sunday’s game, but that was his first game this season after spending the first 36 games on the disabled list and he was effective in the first three innings. He came out of the game in the fourth after allowing two walks and two singles and seemed confident that he would be more effective in his next start.

The Yankees have received some good news as it was announced that Masahiro Tanaka, who is on the DL with wrist and forearm issues, will make a start with Triple-A Scranton on Thursday. This could put him on track to replace Warren in the rotation next week or the week after. Tanaka threw a 29-pitch bullpen session without any issues, which is a positive sign going forward.

After Monday’s off day, the Yankees will now play a two-game series in Washington D.C. against the Washington Nationals. The Yankees will have an another off day on Thursday, and it is possible that these two off days will help revitalize the Yankees because they had only had one off day in the past 31 days before Monday’s off day.

These are the pitching matchups against the Nationals (22-17), who are in second place in the National League East:

Tonight
RHP Nathan Eovaldi (3-1, 4.14)
vs.
LHP Gio Gonzalez (3-2, 4.25)
7:05 p.m., YES Network

Wednesday
RHP Adam Warren (2-2, 4.50)
vs.
RHP Jordan Zimmermann (3-2, 3.66)
7:05 p.m., YES Network

Max Scherzer’s seven-year contract with the Nationals means that the Yankees should trade for Doug Fister or Jordan Zimmermann

Max Scherzer pitching for the Tigers.

Max Scherzer pitching for the Tigers.

Max Scherzer, who had pitched his previous five seasons with the Detroit Tigers and won the Cy Young in 2013, has signed a seven-year contract with the Washington Nationals. The contract will be worth $210 million, according to Ken Rosenthal. The 30-year-old who is coming off of two consecutive All-Star seasons was the premier free agent pitcher and he took until January 19 to sign with a team partly because his agent is Scott Boras.

He will give the Nats an even more imposing rotation than they had before, but his signing does mean that they have six starters for five spots in the rotation. Scherzer’s signing means that he would currently be in the rotation with Jordan Zimmermann (2.66 ERA in 2014), Stephen Strasburg (3.14 ERA in 2014), Gio Gonzalez (3.57 ERA in 2014), Doug Fister (2.41 ERA in 2014) and Tanner Roark (2.85 ERA in 2014). Even without one of these five pitchers, the Nationals will still likely have the best rotation in baseball next season.

Scherzer would have greatly helped the Yankees rotation, but General Manager Brian Cashman has not had interest in him throughout the offseason because he does not want to give another long-term contract to a pitcher. The Yankees already have CC Sabathia on an eight-year, $182 million contract that expires in 2016 and Masahiro Tanaka on a seven-year, $155 million contract that expires in 2019. Sabathia, who is 34, has to reinvent himself as a pitcher this season because he doesn’t have the velocity on his fastball that he used to and is coming off of surgery to repair his knee.

Based on the Yankees need for another starter and the Nationals current excess of starters it would makes sense if the Yankees traded for Doug Fister (30 & 31 in February) or Jordan Zimmerman (28). They are both on short-term contracts as Fister is on a one-year, $11.4 million deal and Zimmerman is on a two-year, $24 million contract that ends after the 2015 season. The Yankees should definitely make a trade especially if they can get some kind of a guarantee that they would re-sign.

Zimmermann, who is in his prime, is coming off of two consecutive All-Star seasons and is entering his seventh MLB campaign. He made 32 starts last season, had a career-low 2.66 ERA, two shutouts, a career-high 182 strikeouts, only 29 walks and a career-low 1.3 walks/9 innings. He is an ace with excellent control who is represented by Relativity Baseball, which is a benefit for a possible future contract (they are not Boras).

Fister, who is also entering his seventh season after playing last season for the Nationals and before that the Detroit Tigers and Seattle Mariners, is coming off of a season where he finished fourth in the National League in ERA. In 2014, he finished with a career-low 2.41 ERA, a career-high 16 wins, a very low 1.079 WHIP, 98 strikeouts and only 24 walks.

Both of these pitchers are worth trading for. They both have similar career ERAs with Zimmermann’s at 3.24 and Fister’s at 3.34. Zimmerman has more years left as a top of the rotation starter as he is two years younger than Fister. On the other hand, since Fister is two years older and is not the strikeout pitcher that Zimmermann is, his contract after the 2015 season would likely be less than Zimmermann’s.

The Yankees could put together a combination of top catching prospect Gary Sanchez, infielder Jose Pirela and one of their many relief pitchers for Zimmermann or Fister. Sanchez is coming off of a season where he hit 13 homers and drove in 65 runs with a .270 average in 110 games at Double-A Trenton. Pirela is a utility infielder that the Nationals could use and their bullpen isn’t very deep.

Wilson Ramos, who is only 27, has been their starting catcher for the last four seasons and has one more year left on his contract. Sanchez could potentially be the Nationals starter in 2016. However, Sanchez is known much more for his offense than his defense so the Nationals could have him switch to first base in 2015. Sanchez at first would allow Ryan Zimmerman to switch back to his natural third base position.

This trade makes sense for the Yankees because the need another starter so that Capuano will not have to be relied on next season, and the Yankees still have Brian McCann under contract at catcher for the next four seasons. With Zimmermann or Fister, the Yankees rotation could be Masahiro Tanaka, Michael Pineda, Ivan Nova (when he returns by June), CC Sabathia and Zimmermann or Fister. The Yankees recently traded for Nate Eovaldi, but he could be the odd man as he led the NL in hits last year.

The Yankees need CC Sabathia to rebound from his subpar 2013 season

CC Sabathia pitching for the Yankees. He lost a lot of weight during this offseason.

CC Sabathia pitching for the Yankees. He lost a lot of weight during this offseason.

Spring training stats are usually not worth paying attention to, but for CC Sabathia, who was the ace in his first four seasons with the team, the three runs that he allowed in three innings against the Washington Nationals in Viera, Florida on Tuesday is alarming. Sabathia, who had a 3.38 ERA or less and an average of 18.5 wins in his first four seasons with the Yankees, is coming off a season where he regressed with a 4.78 ERA, a 14-13 record and a very high 1.37 WHIP.

So far in the spring, the 33-year-old Sabathia has pitched a total of five innings across two appearances, and has allowed three earned runs, six hits and two walks. All of those runs came in his start on Tuesday. This spring training is important for him because he needs to prove that he can locate his pitches better than last season. He needs to prove to himself that he can pitch effectively with his decreased velocity because it does not seem like his mid-90s fastball that he had earlier in his career will be coming back.

The Yankees radar gun clocked Sabathia’s fastball between 88-89 MPH. “His command was a little off today; that’s really where he got in trouble,” Joe Girardi said. The damage would not have been as bad if he didn’t allow a two-run double to Anthony Rendon on a pitch that he threw higher than he wanted, but he pitched well according to catcher Brian McCann. His decreased velocity proves that he needs to make an adjustment as a pitcher.

Carsten Charles has impressive career stats that are Hall of Fame worthy excluding his performance during 2013. Sabathia finished second in Rookie of the Year voting in 2001, is a six-time All Star, won the American League Cy Young award in 2007 with the Cleveland Indians after winning 19 games and finishing with a dominating 3.21 ERA and recorded a career-high 230 strikeouts for the Yankees in 2011.

His best season with the Yankees was in 2011, only three seasons ago, where he had a 3.00 ERA, the aforementioned 230 strikeouts and a great 3.77 strikeout to walk ratio and 237.1 innings. He has always been a workhorse, he just needs to reinvent himself now that he can’t rely on his fastball to go along with his other plus pitches. Since his fastball isn’t nearly as fast as it used to be, he needs to locate it exactly where he wants it to go, in order to prevent extra base hits.

One pitcher he could try to emulate is none other than the soon to be 41-year-old starter for the Mets, Bartolo Colon. The hefty righty is in his first year in Queens after pitching arguably his best season of his career during his second season pitching for the Oakland Athletics. Colon, in his year 40 season, won 18 games, had a 2.65 ERA, which was much lower than his Cy-Young campaign of 2005, and only walked 29 batters.

Colon pitched for the Yankees during the 2011 season and had a solid bounce-back after being out of baseball for a year. He was able to pitch his first 150 + innings season since 2005, and had an improved 4.00 ERA, 135 strikeouts and used his pin point fastball accuracy to get outs. He has been able to improve every season since 2011.

Earlier in his career, Colon was able to bring the heat as he was able to throw about 100 MPH, but last season, according to Tyler Kepner, his fastball averaged 89.9 MPH.  He has so much movement on his fastball and he throws it in every part of the strike zone that the fastball can serve as more than one kind of pitch.

Colon threw his fastball in 85.5 percent of his pitches he threw last season with Oakland, while Sabathia often uses his plus changeup or slider as an out pitch. Sabathia’s cutter, which he has recently added to his arsenal, could help offset his decreased velocity. However, he needs to be able to locate his fastball exactly where he wants it to go like Colon so that he can get ahead in the count, to lead to throwing his changeup.

The Yankees will need Sabathia to rebound and have stats more like he did in 2012 than 2013 if they are going to live up to expectations. The addition of Masahiro Tanaka will be an upgrade for the rotation, but Sabathia can’t be a weakness like he was last season. Based on other pitches who have lost velocity later in their career and succeeded, it seems like Sabathia should be able to continue to be a productive pitcher.