Tuesday, May 30, 2017

Are the Yankees in for a rough June?

MSN Sports published an article laying out ten bold predictions for MLB as we head into June, and right away I wasn't disappointed.

Even Chuck Norris gave it two thumbs up.

The very first prediction involved the Yankees, where author Michael Dixon said that June would be a rough month for the Yankees. You might be thinking "why does that prediction not disappoint you?" Well, to be completely honest, I'm not disappointed with that prediction because I agree with Mr. Dixon. And if you click that link you'll read his reason why he made that prediction, and that reason falls right in line with why I worry the Yankees' success will not last.

In case you don't want to click that link I'll fill you...

Starting Pitching

  1. While he may not strike out 13 hitters every time he starts a game, Masahiro Tanaka is much closer to the pitcher we saw against the Athletics last Friday night, than the pitcher we saw in his previous two starts. But, at least for now, 'Hiro is the only starter that I believe this team can count on.
  2. Five of Luis Severino's nine starts this season have been really good to downright awesome. Another if his starts (May 19th vs. the Rays) was good... certainly not great, but good. That's six of nine starts where the Yankees had a good to excellent chance of winning. Unfortunately, after just 31 starts in MLB, I'm not ready to lean on this guy to start a game in the postseason. Don't get me wrong, I think he'd do a fine job, but I wouldn't be going into that game feeling all nice and cozy.
  3. Prior to 2017 Michael Pineda's ERA+ as a Yankee, which spanned 72 starts, was 101. That, my friends, is as close "average" as you can get. In his last five starts he's failed to finish the 7th inning, and couldn't get through six innings in the previous two. You know how many times, last September, that Pineda completed six innings? None. You know how many times, after the 2016 All Star break, Michael completed seven innings? Once. Look, a quality start every time your starter takes the mound is nice, as it gives his team a shot at winning. But a mere quality start does not make a fan like myself feel great when the next time he takes the mound... particularly in game two or three in the postseason.
  4. Jordan Montgomery has been a great story. I don't think I heard anyone during the offseason predict that Montgomery would make the starting rotation out of Spring Training. And in nine starts this year Jordan has posted a respectable ERA of 4.11. In fact, if Jordan could gain a little more control, thus keeping his walks down, then he'd be somebody the team could depend on in the home stretch of the season and beyond. But I just don't see it happening. His changeup and slider are good, his curveball is okay, and his fastball stinks. I don't know much about him, but I don't want to see him starting a postseason game.
  5. CC Sabathia? Let's just say that if the Yankees need Sabathia to carry any load, of any size, during the season's home stretch and into the postseason we're in big trouble. 
"Sorry to keep dogging you, but don't be sad. I'll look back fondly on your first four years in pinstripes."

Michael Dixon went on to say that having a rough June could be a good thing for the Yankees, as it would push them to make improvements to the team. If they were to have another really good month, Cashman and Co. may hold off on doing anything to really improve, which could very well hurt their chances down the stretch. And I can't help but agree with him there, too.

I've said it in the past, and I'll say it again...

I don't want the Yankees to deal away good prospects for a rental. I absolutely do not want to sit here a year from now and see somebody we traded for playing elsewhere, while one or more of our good prospects is playing in another organization. Then again, a World Series title would make that okay, but 2016 is about the future as much as anything else.

Man how I salivate thinking of what this team could look like in 2019.

Yeah, yeah... this could be a very good year too.

Two Little, Too Late...

Credit:  Matt Hazlett/Getty Images
Orioles 3, Yankees 2…

Admittedly, I had wished the Baltimore Orioles had won on Sunday (when they lost to the Houston Astros, 8-4).  Coming into the series with the Yankees, the O’s were on a seven-game losing streak but were returning home to Camden Yards for the Memorial Day showdown (a wounded dog ready to bite).  The Orioles were due and unfortunately it came at the expense of the Yankees.

It was a winnable game, but you need offense to win.  Dylan Bundy, who has been Baltimore’s best pitcher so far this year, was good but you can’t say great.  He scattered seven hits over seven innings and held the Yanks to only two runs.  Bundy was the beneficiary of three double-plays.  It was hard to say if it was simply great Bundy pitching or anemic Yankee bats.  Outside of the Aarons, the Yankees couldn’t generate any runs.  Aaron Hicks had an early sac fly, scoring Starlin Castro to tie the game at one in the second inning, and Aaron Judge had a solo homer in the seventh (his 17th of the year).  

Credit:  Randy Miller/NJ Advance Media for NJ.com
The two runs were not enough to overcome Mark Trumbo's run-scoring single in the first and Jonathan Scoop’s two-run double in the third.

Jordan Montgomery (2-4) reopened long term concerns about his spot in the rotation.  He threw 100 pitches just to get into the fifth inning.  After allowing two one-out singles in the fifth, Montgomery was finished.  For 4 1/3 innings of work, he had allowed eight hits and three runs (only one earned, thanks to Starlin Castro’s fielding error in the third).  He walked one and struck out five.  He is pitching well enough to earn his next start, but if the Yankees do make a trade for a starter within the next couple of months, Montgomery could be the odd man out.  

Both Jonathan Holder and Chasen Shreve pitched well in relief of Montgomery as they combined for 3 2/3 innings of hitless, scoreless relief and six strikeouts.  The only blemish was Shreve’s insignificant walk of Mark Trumbo in the seventh.

Aaron Judge had one final shot in the ninth inning to try and tie the game, but he struck out against interim O’s closer Brad Brach.  Brach, hardly a clone of injured O’s elite closer Zach Britton, also struck out Didi Gregorius to end the game.

Credit:  Ulysses Munoz/Baltimore Sun
Chris Carter was miserable.  He had an 0-for-3 day with two strikeouts.  Overall, he is 0-for-12 for his last five games and has been punched out in half of those at-bats.  Carter is batting .188 on the season.  When both Tyler Austin and Greg Bird are healthy, Carter is going to be in a very precarious situation if he doesn’t find the swing that drilled 41 homers last year.  

Chase Headley, after a two game rest, was 1-for-2 with a walk.  It kind of makes me wonder what the pesky Ronald Torreyes could have done against Bundy.  But alas, we’ll never know.  The Orioles won this game, and pulled back to within 3 1/2 games of the Yankees (29-19) in the AL East.  Fortunately, the Chicago White Sox rallied against the Red Sox bullpen to beat Boston 5-4 in a game saved by former Yankee closer David Robertson.  So, the Red Sox remain 3 games behind the Yankees.  

Credit:  Nuccio DiNuzzo/Chicago Tribune
Better luck to the Baby Bombers today.  It is more fun to write about wins than losses.  

Player Updates…

It doesn’t sound like Jacoby Ellsbury will be back anytime soon.  As of Sunday, he still had a headache and continues to deal with the neck sprain so he has not resumed baseball activities.  The presence of Aaron Hicks makes Ellsbury’s absence a non-factor unless Brett Gardner or Aaron Judge get hurt.

Aroldis Chapman was able to throw again prior to yesterday’s game against Baltimore but still no word when he’ll be ready for a rehab assignment.  He’ll take today off before resuming light throwing tomorrow.

Tyler Austin was 1-for-4 (single) in his latest rehab assignment as the Scranton/Wilkes-Barre RailRiders fell to the Toledo Mud Hens, 5-0.

The Yankees will miss Los Angeles Angels slugger Mike Trout in a couple of weeks when they make their West Coast road trip.  Trout had surgery yesterday on a torn ulnar ligament in his left thumb and is expected to miss 6-8 weeks.  Trout injured the thumb on Sunday with a head first slide in Miami. 

Have a great Tuesday!  Twelve games left against the AL East in the current stretch…let’s make the most of it.  A win today would be a good start…