Sunday, May 23, 2021

Pinstriped Victories are the Best...


Photo Credit: Adam Hunger

Led by starting pitching, the Yankees are on a roll…

The world always feels a little better when the Yankees are winning. They have won five consecutive games and have taken seven straight series including the latest one with the talented Chicago White Sox.

This has been an eventful week in the Yankees Universe, featuring a no-hitter by Corey Kluber, and Friday night’s triple play to erase a White Sox threat against Aroldis Chapman, which allowed the Yankees to win the game in walk-off fashion in the bottom of the ninth. 


Photo Credit: Frank Franklin II/AP

I had my doubts about Corey Kluber (sorry) when the Yankees signed him in the off-season. It was tough to see James Paxton and Masahiro Tanaka go and Kluber’s health history in recent years was less than stellar, but in retrospect, it was a great signing as Kluber has continued to improve as the season has progressed. In comparison, Paxton is not playing baseball after his recent Tommy John surgery and Tanaka has struggled in Japan (he took the loss yesterday against the Nippon Ham Fighters, dropping his season record to 2-2, with 3.00 ERA). The failure to find his splitter was the primary cause for Tanaka’s struggles yesterday but it has been that kind of season for the former Yankee. Kluber, meanwhile, has made up for the losses of Paxton and Tanaka. I would like to include Jameson Taillon in that statement, but we are not there yet. Kluber has provided the Yankees with one of their best number two starters in recent years. Not trying to knock Tanaka or Paxton, but Kluber is showing why he was such a great pitcher and competitor all those years in Cleveland.

It was exciting for Kluber to realize his no-no on the very mound that he pitched his one and only 2020 regular season inning for the Rangers at Globe Life Park in Arlington, Texas. Although he was born in Birmingham, Alabama, Kluber went to high school in Coppell, Texas. Coppell is a northwest suburb of Dallas and a short ride from Arlington. It does seem like there have been a lot of no hitters this season. Kluber’s gem was the sixth of the season, one night after Spencer Turnbull of the Detroit Tigers threw one. Still, it was the first by a New York Yankee since David Cone threw the memorable perfect game in 1999. The only place other than Globe Life Park that might have been better for Kluber’s masterpiece (excluding Yankee Stadium) is Fenway Park. Kluber has a home in Boston and of course it would be fun to see the Red Sox go hitless any day of the week. It was probably tough for the Rangers fans to see their former player so dominant and wondering what could have been for them had Kluber been healthy during his time in the Metroplex. 


Photo Credit: Tony Gutierrez/AP

The triple play was such a thrilling moment on Friday night. Aroldis Chapman seemed to be having an off night (those happen) after walking the first batter in the top of the ninth, followed by his fielding error on a sacrifice which put runners at first and second with no outs. But as quickly as Chicago’s Andrew Vaughn hit the ball to Gio Urshela at third, the inning was over. It set the stage for Gleyber Torres to win the game in their next at-bat when he hit the third consecutive single of the bottom of the ninth inning to score Aaron Judge. The Chicago White Sox are one of baseball’s best young and up-and-coming teams, so the weekend series was expected to be a challenge and a potential preview of this Fall’s playoffs. With Saturday’s win, the Yankees have won another series regardless of what happens today. 

Jameson Taillon pitches this afternoon against Dallas Keuchel. I cannot say I am too optimistic about winning with Taillon on the mound, but the Yankees have done better against Keuchel in recent years after his dominance against them earlier when he was a younger starter for the Houston Astros. Today is a good day for Taillon to round the curve and begin the journey to, hopefully, better starts. I want to see Taillon succeed as a Yankee and I do not want to see him pulled from the rotation, but he cannot continue to struggle if he intends to hold down his spot. Luis Severino will soon start facing live hitters so his return will take focus within the next couple of months. He will be looking to take a rotation spot away from someone. Taillon has the power to ensure it is not his spot…or not…it is up to him.  I hope for his success.

I am getting a little tired of all the speculation among Yankees fans regarding who the Yankees should acquire to cover center field with the season-ending loss of Aaron Hicks after his wrist surgery. I have no idea who the Yankees should acquire but they need to do something. Playing Brett Gardner every day is not the answer. Promoting Estevan Florial seems a bit premature since he is not yet ready with his development. One day, but not today, tomorrow, or next week for the 22-year-old outfielder. The best option is most likely outside of the organization today. There will be no big, splashy type of trades, in my opinion. It will be an ‘under-the-radar’ move for a young cost-controlled player with potential who is currently in the Show or ready for it or a low-cost veteran. I am not expecting any big trades and there is certainly no chance the Yankees will take on a large salary without unloading a commensurate level of salary.

I have not been Miguel Andujar’s biggest fan, but I am glad to see he is taking advantage of the opportunity to play. He is far from a great outfielder but to his credit, he is trying, and he is improving. Those are two important factors for success.   


Photo Credit: Terrance Williams/AP

Despite the better play of late, the Yankees still find themselves in third place in the AL East although the gap is tightening. Entering play today, they are 1 ½ games behind the Red Sox and trail the Tampa Bay Rays by a ½ game. They have the same number of losses as the Rays (19) and only one more than the Red Sox. I had hoped Joe Girardi and his Philadelphia Phillies could have helped us out this weekend but, so far, they have dropped the first two games of the three-game set with the Red Sox at Citizen’s Bank Park.  The Yankees are running out of time to reach my goal of first place by Memorial Day Weekend, but we could see some movement in the standings this week. 

The Yankees have signed former Cincinnati Reds RHP Sal Romano to a minor league deal. He was assigned to Scranton/Wilkes-Barre. In 14 appearances for the Reds this season, he had posted a 5.23 ERA before he was designated for assignment and released by the Reds. Romano had been with the Reds for his entire career (drafted in the 23rd round of the 2011 MLB Draft). His roster spot had been in jeopardy with the Reds this season due to his struggles, and it was lost when the Reds saw an upgrade their roster by claiming a better pitcher, RHP Michael Feliz, who had been waived by the Pittsburgh Pirates). He seems to be depth for Triple A, but it will be interesting to see how Romano performs under the tutelage of Yankee pitching coaches and analytics.  He carries the reputation of not missing many bats, so something is going to have to change if he ever intends to wear the Pinstripes at Yankee Stadium.



The Yankees will have to face another one of their former players in the AL East following Tampa’s acquisition of former Yankees reliever J.P. Feyereisen from the Milwaukee Brewers. Feyereisen was one of the players acquired from the Cleveland Indians in the 2016 Andrew Miller trade that also netted Clint Frazier (in addition to Justus Sheffield and Ben Heller). He was traded to Milwaukee in September 2019 for a prospect and international signing bonus money. He has been a solid reliever for the Brewers and figures to help the Rays. I was a little surprised the Rays traded their starting shortstop, Willy Adames, to the Brewers. I know the Rays have the best shortstop prospect in baseball (Wander Franco) but considering Franco is not yet ready for the call, it seemed to be a strange move even if Adames is not a great player.

Speaking of not-so-great players, I saw the Brewers released infielder/outfielder Dee Strange-Gordon. He seems like a guy Brian Cashman might take a minor league flyer on. It has been a tough road for Strange-Gordon this season. Following his unsuccessful three-year run in Seattle, where they converted him to an outfielder when they still had Robinson Cano at second, he signed this off-season with the Reds but was released and subsequently signed by Milwaukee. It does not seem like it was that long ago Strange-Gordon was a young promising player, but he is now 33 and having a hard time finding his way back to MLB. 

As always, Go Yankees!

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Sorry for the Capatcha... Blame the Russians :)