Saturday, September 17, 2022

Hey Bartender, Serve Me Up Another Brew...


Garrett Mitchell & Teammates / Photo Credit: Morry Gash, AP

First beer fared poorly on the arms of Montas and Holmes…

I am not sure who wants a Wild Card spot more…the Milwaukee Brewers or the New York Yankees? The Yankees blew yet another game. Up by five runs early, starter Frankie Montas continued the latest rendition of Sonny Gray in Pinstripes. Then, the Brewers received a ninth inning gift, the unreliable Clay Holmes on the mound. It was all they needed despite two outs to get the walk-off hit (by a rookie no less) to beat the Yankees, 7-6.

Losses like this are agonizing and they reinforce why I do not carry great confidence in the Yankees in the playoffs. A lockdown closer on the roster seems like such a distant memory. It is a sad statement that Wandy Peralta, who can be a Weeble wobbling at times, seems to be the most effective closer. Where For Art Thou, first-half Holmes? A healthy Aroldis Chapman active on the roster for the first time in weeks, and there is absolutely zero confidence to bring him in late. Not by Aaron Boone, or any of us fans. The Yankees have two weeks to figure this out.

I have felt that Luis Severino would be best served out of the bullpen when he returns from the Injured List later this month but with the ineffectiveness of Montas, Sevy is needed in the rotation to give the Yankees any hope. Hoping the time off has rested Sevy’s arm so that he can take the additional innings without blowing out his arm (I get visions of Billy Martin asking too much out of Matt Keough’s arm many years ago when Billy Ball was in play in Oakland). The concern is obviously the limited number of innings Sevy has pitched over the last several years and the heavier workload this season. Win or lose, Sevy inspires confidence on the mound and that is not something I experience with Montas…or Jameson Taillon for that matter. I am not a big fan of Domingo German, but I have infinitely more trust in him over Montas. I hope it changes but it is what it is.

Frankie "Sonny Gray" Montas / Photo Credit: Morry Gash, AP

With the loss, the Toronto Blue Jays closed the gap in the AL East to five-and-a-half games. While the Yankees (87-57) were stumbling in Brew Town, the Jays (82-63) were beating the Baltimore Orioles, 6-3, at Rogers Centre in Toronto.

It does not get any easier for the Yankees today. Jameson Taillon takes the hill against Brandon Woodruff. Woodruff is 10-4 with 3.39 ERA. His K/9 rate is 10.74 (152 strikeouts in 127 1/3 innings pitched). I know, the Brewers are a good team and there was no way the Yankees were going to sweep this series, particularly on the road. I just hate losses that are wins that get away from us. I hope for better results today. Woodruff has only given up fifteen home runs this year, but everybody has an off day every now and then. Today seems like a good day for him to mix in a disaster. The Yankees can still take two of three, and that would leave me feeling good about the weekend despite the Friday night meltdown.

Oswald Peraza has the best seat in the house to see baseball games. I have no idea why the Yankees refuse to play Peraza in recent days. When Isiah Kiner-Falefa botched the backhanded attempt to scoop the hit by former Ray Willy Adames with runners on the corner, allowing the Brewers to briefly take a one-run lead in the eighth inning, my thought went immediately to Peraza and how he might have performed under similar circumstances. Maybe Aaron Boone has plans to play Peraza today, but it does seem that he will go to great lengths to show he is not going to punish IKF.

Oswald Peraza / Photo Credit: Mike Carlson/MLB Photos via Getty Images

I firmly believe that IKF is not a starter. I like him as the utility guy since he can hit a little, and he plays a decent third base (perhaps better than he does short). Oswaldo Cabrera, who does get regular playing time, was 2-for-2 last night, with three walks. Plus, he spelled Marwin Gonzalez at first base, a position he has never played before. Let the kids play. There is a reason that Peraza is the second-best prospect in the Yankees organization.  Top prospect Anthony Volpe has two home runs and four RBIs in twelve games for the Scranton-Wilkes Barre RailRiders (.280/.357/.460 and .817 OPS), but the Yankees will not call him up this season, so why not give Peraza a better chance? Nothing ventured, nothing gained, and I firmly believe his floor is IKF’s ceiling. I sound like a broken record when I say it but there a reason the Texas Rangers invested a half-billion dollars in their middle infield to replace IKF. 

The wounded are slowly starting to return. The activation of Aroldis Chapman on Friday was the first of what should be multiple activations over the next week or so. Of course, the question will be at the expense of who? Next up appears to be first baseman Anthony Rizzo who could be activated on Sunday. Harrison Bader, currently on a rehab assignment in Double A, did not play last night, but he was 3-for-4 with two doubles and two RBIs on Thursday night for the Somerset Patriots. He will make a couple more rehab starts and could be activated next week to make his long-anticipated Yankees debut. 

Harrison Bader / Photo Credit: Somerset Patriots

Scott Effross, Zack Britton, and Miguel Castro are three relievers who could be close to rejoining the Yankees to help bolster the pen. I probably have the least confidence in Britton. It has been a long, hard road for him. Healthy, he can be effective, but the question is whether there is enough time to get him ready to play a vital role. I am not so sure. Time is certainly not his friend at this juncture. The return of Effross alone will be invaluable.  There is an outside chance that Stephen Ridings could work his way into the bullpen before season’s end, but it would probably take an injury to someone else to make it happen.

DJ LeMahieu is beginning baseball activities again after time off for the inflamed toe so his return could be right around the corner. The Yankees need to make sure he is 100% since his offensive production disappeared with the toe injury. As anxious as I am to get Le Machine back, I want to ensure that we have the best version of him. 

Hopefully the Yankees do not lose Jose Trevino. He left Friday night’s game after taking a foul ball on his right knee. It is unclear if the right knee contusion will cause him to miss significant time. I am sure Ben Rortvedt is keeping his phone close while he waits in Scranton/Wilkes-Barre. Hopefully Trevi is doing better today and only misses a game or two. Barring any roster moves, Kyle Higashioka should be the starting catcher today, backed by IKF. Hey that’s a great reason to start Peraza at shortstop today. IKF is needed for catching duties!

The magic number is… It is hard for me to even look at magic numbers when there is still doubt about the division race. It sucks in a season that started so tremendously for the Yankees, the Los Angeles Dodgers and Houston Astros have already secured playoff spots while the Yankees continue to fight for one. The Yankees have eighteen games left. The magic number to win the AL East is 13 while a Wild Card berth is 8.  No doubt the Blue Jays are salivating at the thought of hosting the Yankees for three games at Rogers Centre on September 26th through 28th. I guess we do not have to worry about whether Andrew Benintendi has been vaccinated.

Ex-Yankee to make Major League debut. I realize that Adam Ottavino did not work out for the Yankees, but the decision to trade him to the Boston Red Sox never made sense to me, particularly since the Yankees had to ship pitching prospect Frank German in the deal to get the Sox to pay the money left on Ottavino’s contract. While Otto pitches in Queens now, Frank German is set to make his Major League debut for the Red Sox. He was promoted today at the expense of backup catcher Kevin Plawecki who was designated for assignment. I liked German and I was disappointed when I heard his name included in the Ottavino trade.  German should thrive in the Boston bullpen. He will be able to share Yankees stories with Garrett Whitlock, Kaleb Ort, and Nathan Eovaldi. 

Frank German / Photo Credit: Katie Morrison, MassLive

Congratulations and good luck to Frank…except for four games next week. 

As always, Go Yankees!

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