Friday, June 16, 2017

Game Thread: New York Yankees @ Oakland Athletics 6/16

FINALLY! It is game time in Oakland as the New York Yankees made the trip for the second time this series to take on the Oakland Athletics inside the Oakland Coliseum. The Yankees will send the future that is the now, which is not logistically possible but just roll with it, in Luis Severino to the mound to square off with Sean Manaea for the Athletics. The game will be played at 9:35 pm ET inside the Oakland Coliseum and can be seen on

Follow us on Twitter by following @GreedyStripes. Enjoy the game and as always… Go Yankees!

Meet a Prospect: Chad Whitmer

Wow guys and girls, ten editions of “Meet a Prospect” in just two-or-three days. Are you all tired of hearing about prospects yet? I hope not because I am far from tired of writing about them. With the Yankees 10th round pick in the 2017 MLB First Year Players Draft the team took, you guessed it, a pitcher in Chad Whitmer. Whitmer is a right-handed arm out of Southern Illinois University at Carbondale. Let’s meet him. This is Meet a Prospect: The Chad Whitmer Edition.

Whitmer, another college senior that will likely sign and sign well below the cap allocation, threw a team high 104 innings in 2017 on the way to a 6-3 record and 3.46 ERA in 15 starts. Whitmer was the team’s ace and it showed as the righty struck out 95 batters while walking just 26 en route to making the All-Missouri Valley Conference second-team.

Whitmer looks to be another potential fast mover through the system because of his advanced development, age and the amount of innings that are already on his arm. In the comments section on the site the other day the name Ian Kennedy was brought up and for whatever reason Whitmer reminds me a lot of Kennedy as far as why he was drafted.

Kennedy was drafted to fly through the system and reach the Major Leagues as soon as possible. At the time the Yankees didn’t have a farm system to speak of and were looking to rebuild their prospects through the draft. Now whether the plan was to get Kennedy to the Bronx to groom him or showcase him in a trade at the time of his drafting is anyone’s guess but it ultimately ended up being the latter and not the former when the dust settled. Whitmer could be another Kennedy that simply signs quickly and progresses quickly through the system. Whitmer doesn’t project as an ace but then again neither did Kennedy and he has a Cy Young Award to show for his efforts so hey, you never know.

Welcome to the organization Chad and welcome to the family as well!

Meet a Prospect: Austin Gardner

The last time the New York Yankees drafted some guy named Gardner it really seemed to work out for them. I can only assume that this did not enter the minds of the people making the decisions during this year’s draft but if right-handed pitcher Austin Gardner, the Yankees 9th round selection of the of the University of Texas at Arlington, can be half as good and half as beloved as Brett Gardner then New York may have found a diamond in the rough here with Austin.

Gardner is yet another pitcher and yet another closer being added to the Yankees system but unlike the others this righty does not have experience at the collegiate level as a starting pitcher. Not to say that the team cannot convert him to one and try it out later but as it stands now I am highly doubtful that this is in the plans right now, and that’s ok. If Gardner signs and pitches strictly out of the bullpen he could be one of the first Yankees prospects out of this draft class to reach Triple-A and the Major Leagues, if not the first. Gardner, Austin, like Gardner, Brett, has the term “fast mover” written all over him in my opinion.

Gardner stands 6’2” and weighs in at 215 lbs. which makes him an intimidating presence when on the mound at the end of games. Gardner appeared in 29 games for UTA as their closer in 2017 posting a 2-1 record with a 2.42 ERA and two saves. Gardner struck out 55 batters in 44.2 innings allowing just 36 hits and 10 walks. Dominance at the collegiate level.

Gardner also has baseball coursing through his veins as his father, Scott Gardner played baseball at Oklahoma before pitching inside the Houston Astros organization from 1980-1983. There’s a good chance that Gardner will sign so let me be the first to congratulate the right-hander and welcome him to the family. Welcome, Austin!

Meet a Prospect: Kyle Zurak

The New York Yankees went searching for, you guessed it, a pitcher in the 8th round of the 2017 MLB First Year Players Draft and they came back with a right-handed pitcher by the name of Kyle Zurak. Zurak was drafted out of Radford University in Virginia after spending his tenure there as the team’s closer and occasional starter. When I see that a pitcher has some starting experience but was drafted as a reliever by the Yankees my mind always wonders if this pitcher could be the next Jonathan Holder or Chance Adams. I guess only time will tell with Kyle so let’s meet him. This is Meet a Prospect: The Kyle Zurak Edition.

Zurak was named one of the 25 semifinalists for the Gregg Olson Award in 2017 which honors college baseball’s Breakout Player of the Year. Zurak posted a 4-4 record this season with nine saves and a 2.40 ERA in 60 innings pitched. Along the way Zurak struck out 73 batters while only allowing nine extra-base hits all season long due in large part to a huge spike in velocity.

Zurak once possessed a fastball that only touched 85-87 MPH as a freshman but during his senior season the right-hander saw his fastball touching 95 MPH. Zurak was dominant as a closer and in his one start of the season he threw a complete-game two-hitter against Presbyterian in the Big South Finals. Zurak can do it all.

Zurak is a college senior, he’s going to sign. He is going to sign and he is going to sign for cheap so I feel comfortable welcoming him not only to the organization but to the family as well. Welcome!

Game Preview: New York Yankees @ Oakland Athletics 6/16

The New York Yankees and the Oakland Athletics will continue their four-game set tonight inside the Oakland Coliseum with the second matchup of the series. In the contest tonight the Yankees will send Luis Severino to the mound to square off with Sean Manaea for the Athletics. Staying up late on a Friday night to watch the Yankees on the West Coast, I guess I can deal with that.

Severino has been as good as he’s ever been in his career this season after a horrid 2016 season that saw the right-hander post a 3-8 record with a 5.83 ERA. Severino found his way and his changeup back in the minor leagues and then in the Yankees bullpen at the end of last season and that confidence and work has translated into a 2.75 ERA in 2017 and potentially an All-Star season for the 24-year old.

Manaea has won each of his last five starts for the Oakland Athletics dropping his ERA this season from 5.52 to 3.67 during that span. Manaea went 3-1 with a 2.63 ERA in May and thus far in June has posted a 2-0 record with a 2.77 ERA but none of those starts came against an offense as prolific as this Yankees assault. Good luck tonight, kid.

The game will be played at 9:35 pm ET inside the Oakland Coliseum and can be seen on the YES Network, MLB Network and MLB TV. You can also follow along in your cars and on the radio with John Sterling and Suzyn Waldman’s broadcast on WFAN. It is High… It is Far… It is caught by the second baseman Castro to end the inning. Go Yankees!!!

Losing the Game of Inches...

Credit:  Cary Edmondson-USA TODAY Sports
A's 8, Yankees 7...

I love California but this road trip has been horrific.

The Yankees fought back in this game time and again and took the lead in the 10th, only to lose another game with a rookie pitcher on the mound.  I am not pinning this on Giovanny Gallegos but it's a testament to the mounting bangs and bruises on this team.

After the Yankees failed to score with the bases loaded in the first inning, the A's took the early lead in the bottom of the frame with a solo shot by Jed Lowrie.  The A's took a 3-0 lead in the second when Adam Rosales doubled off Jordan Montgomery, following a walk by Matt Chapman, making his Major League debut, and a ground-rule double by Josh Phegley, scoring both base runners.

The game stayed that way until the sixth.  In the top of the inning, Chase Headley singled with the bases loaded to score two runs.  Chris Carter followed with a single to tie the game at 3.  The A's replaced starting pitcher Sonny Gray with Sean Dolittle who retired the next two Yankees to get out of the inning.  In the bottom of the 6th, Yonder Alonso homered as the A's re-captured the lead, 4-3.  

The seesaw battle continued in the 7th inning when Gary Sanchez doubled with Starlin Castro on second, scoring Castro with the tying run.  But the A's answered the run with a run-scoring single by Chad Pinder in the bottom of the inning and the A's were back up, 5-4.

Chris Carter homered in the top of the 8th to once again tie the game, 5-5.  Like the inning before, the A's answered the call in the bottom of the inning when Matt Joyce hit a grounder into a force out with the bases loaded and only one out, scoring the lead runner.  6-5, A's. Tyler Clippard had started the inning but he was ineffective (again) as two of three batters he faced reached base through a single and a walk.  Dellin Betances was on the mound when the A's scored their run, but he was able to strike out Rajai Davis to prevent any further damage.

The 9th inning saw the Yankees tie the game again when Starlin Castro doubled off A's closer Santiago Casilla and Gary Sanchez followed with a run-scoring single.  Gary Sanchez stole second to give the Yankees a runner in scoring position (replaced by pinch runner Ronald Torreyes as Sanchez came out of the game with a tight groin) with only one out, but Didi Gregorius and Chris Carter could not move the runner.  Didi flied out, and Carter went down swinging on a 3-2 count.  In the bottom of the 9th, the A's loaded the bases with two outs against Betances but he was able to get out of the inning by striking out Matt Chapman.

The Yankees took their first lead of the game in the 10th when Starlin Castro hit a sacrifice fly with the bases loaded.  Matt Holliday, entering the game at DH to replace Torreyes, struck out against A's reliever Liam Hendricks to end the inning.  The Yankees could have used a few insurance runs on this night.  In the bottom of the 10th, Giovanny Gallegos replaced Betances.  He retired the first two batters he faced, but then Rajai Davis singled and Chad Pinder doubled to move Davis to third.  Jed Lowrie was intentionally walked to load the bases.  Khris Davis ended the game with a single just over Starlin Castro (ball tipped off his glove), scoring Davis and Pinder with the winning runs.  A's emerged with the 8-7 victory in another lost opportunity for the Yankees.  

Credit:  Jason O Watson-Getty Images
Manager Joe Girardi summed it up after the game, "It hurts because it's a matter of a couple inches that you lose that game by and it's frustrating."

This was another game that shows how much the Yankees miss closer Aroldis Chapman.  It will be good to get Chapman back this weekend (hopefully on Sunday) so that Betances can get into games earlier and lessen the reliance on other arms.  

Fingers crossed for both Gary Sanchez and Aaron Hicks who also left the game in the 9th with tightness in his Achilles Heel.  After the game, it was disclosed that reliever Adam Warren is battling tightness in his trapezius muscle which accounted for his unavailability.  Hopefully, none of these ailments are serious.  

Didi Gregorius singled in the game to extend his current hitting streak to 17 games.

Fortunately, the Yankees (38-26) did not lose any ground to any AL East team except the Toronto Blue Jays as everyone else lost.  The Boston Red Sox and the Tampa Bay Rays remain 2 games and 5 1/2 games behind, respectively, while the Blue Jays moved up to 6 1/2 games back (bringing  the Baltimore Orioles into a tie for the AL East cellar).  

Hopefully, better results await the Yankees today.

Odds & Ends...

Ronald Herrera, we hardly knew ye.  After taking the loss in his lone Big League appearance on Wednesday night, Herrera has found himself back with the Double A Trenton Thunder.  I thought it was much to ask of Herrera to make the jump from AA to the Majors, and the proof was in the pudding with the pitch he threw Andrelton Simmons.  What works in AA goes for a long home run in the Big Leagues.  The Yankees also placed CC Sabathia on the Disabled List, as expected.  To replace Herrera and Sabathia, the Yankees have recalled Luis Cessa and Domingo German.  Sunday's starter has not yet been determined but Girardi has a pool of Cessa, German and Chad Green to choose from.  Cessa appears to be the favorite to start on Sunday (or on Saturday if Girardi decides to push Masahiro Tanaka back a day).

The Yankees stopped the rehabilitation for Greg Bird yesterday and he'll see Team Physician Dr. Christopher Ahmad today.  Bird told Trainer Steve Donohue on Thursday morning that the leg was not feeling right and not functioning right.  This is not good news.  The Yankees are already suspect at both infield corners.  Tyler Austin has not exactly set the World on fire at Scranton/Wilkes-Barre.  He is currently batting .303 but only has 1 homer and 6 RBI's in 17 games (66 AB's).  In my opinion, the best first baseman in the system is Thunder first baseman Mike Ford.  This year, including his time at AAA, Ford, 24, is batting .289/.410/.509 with 10 home runs and 43 RBI's.  He has played 61 games and has walked 44 times.  He even stole a base...once.  But he has the same disadvantage as Chance Adams and others, he does not have a place on the 40-man roster.  

There was already talk the Yankees needed to upgrade at third.  If the priority becomes first base, does this increase the likelihood that we'll see Gleyber Torres as soon as next month?  I still think it is too premature for him and his AAA manager is on record saying that he is not ready yet.  I guess this is why GM Brian Cashman is paid to make these decisions.  The added pressure on him is the moves over the next 45 days will go a long way toward determining his future at the end of the year with the expiration of his contract.  

Have a great Friday!  Let's win one of these close games for a change...

Meet a Prospect: Dalton Higgins

With their 7th round pick the New York Yankees took yet another pitcher and yet another “Dalton” as the Bronx Bombers selected right-handed pitcher Dalton Higgins out of Dallas Baptist University. If Dallas Baptist University sounds familiar it is because that was the school that the team took fellow right-hander Chance Adams out of just two seasons ago in the draft. Higgins, like Adams, was drafted as a relief pitcher but all signs already point to the righty being converted to a starter as well so we may as well meet him. This is Meet a Prospect: The Dalton Higgins Edition.

Higgins caught the eye of the Yankees with a devastating cutter that reaches upwards of 95 MPH. That’s Mariano Rivera type velocity with the cutter, not that I am comparing the two pitches or pitchers… just the velocity.

As a junior Higgins posted a 7-1 record with a 3.15 ERA in 30 relief appearances including 40 strikeouts in 40 innings pitched. Higgins has baseball running through his veins as his father, Kight Higgins, was also drafted into professional baseball by the Toronto Blue Jays in the 19th round of the 1985 Draft.

I really love the comparisons already being made to Chance Adams for obvious reasons. I know many of those comparisons stem from them both attending the same school, both being relievers and both being converted to starting pitchers but if the Yankees can strike gold again with Higgins like they did with Adams and develop him in a similar fashion the rotation could be really, really good for a long, long time.

Welcome to the organization, unofficially of course, and also welcome to the family Dalton!

So it Seems Another Week Bites the Dust

And another week down and another week down, another week bites the dust. TGIF! It’s Friday, we made it Yankees family. Does anyone have any big plans for the weekend? If so, leave them below in the comments section and let’s get that conversation going.

As for me I am taking my lovely wife out to dinner and to the movies to finally see Wonder Woman. That should be fun but anything that involves her and I is always amazing. There’s not only true love there between us but it’s a special kind of love too. A special kind of love that I kind of wish everyone could feel but then again kind of not. If everyone felt it then this wouldn’t be so special and unique.

Have a great Friday and a great weekend everyone if you don’t hear from me. Love you all, especially you. Hey you. 

This Day in New York Yankees History 6/16: RIP Tony Gwynn

On this day in 2014 Major League Baseball lost a great soul when Tony Gwynn lost his battle with cancer and passed away at his home.

Also on this day in 2006 the Yankees played a regular season game in Washington D.C. for the first time in 35 years. The Yankees would beat the Nationals at RFK Stadium 7-5. The last time the Yankees played in the nation's capital was September 30, 1971 where the Yankees beat the Washington Senators 9-0. The fans were upset about losing the Senators for the second time since 1961 and refused to leave the field with their team ahead by two runs in the season finale.

Also on this day in 1997 the New York Mets would play, and beat, the New York Yankees for the first time ever in the regular season. The Mets would win 6-0 behind a Dave Milicki complete game shutout.

Also on this day in 1996 the legendary Mel Allen lost his battle with heart failure, he was 83 years old, Allen was in the Hall of Fame and best known for his play by play work with the New York Yankees. Allen was best known for his "How About That?" moniker.

Also on this day in 1962 Jerry Kindall of the Cleveland Indians hits a two run walk off home run to give his team a 10-9 victory. Yogi Berra was playing left field and probably had a bit of deja vu after seeing Bill Mazeroski's Game 7 home run in the 1960 World Series also go over his head for a big loss.

Finally on this day in 1953 the New York Yankees 18 game winning streak comes to an end at the hands of the St. Louis Browns. The Browns would snap their own 14 game losing streak in the battle in the Bronx that handed Whitey Ford his first loss in eight decisions.