New York Yankees: 3 major takeaways from Yankees win over the Rays

Last evening the New York Yankees went into their third game of a 3 game set, losing the first two games against their nemesis Tampa Bay Ray losing 9 of the last ten games at Tropicana Field. The Yankees pulled out a win using new and old players in a gutsy 10th inning win. The New York Yankees won the game 8 to 4 against the Rays.

Jordan Montgomery did what he had to

After an excellent start in a Baltimore Orioles game, Jordan Montgomery, when he went six innings with no runs, seven strikeouts, and no walks, took on the Rays in the third game of the set between the Tampa Bay Rays. It was obvious early that in this game, Monty did not have his best stuff, but he made the pitches he had to to keep the Yankees in the game. He gave up 4 runs in five innings.

Nevertheless, he held strong and gave the Yankees a much-needed five innings of work for an already overworked New York Yankees bullpen. He pitched to 23 of Ray’s hitters. He struck out 4 Rays and walked two after not allowing a walk in his first game. Although his performance was nothing like his first game, he ground it out through five innings, still giving the Yankee a chance to advance in the game.

A new Yankee made his mark

Last night was the debut of second baseman Rougned Odor in pinstripes. He didn’t disappoint. When it counted in the tenth inning of a tied game, he, with men on the corners and two outs, became a Yankee hero in his first game as a Yankee; he popped one into no man’s land in center field that scored Hicks for the Yankee lead. Odor played second base as LeMahieu moved to first base to give Jay Bruce a day off after several disappointing starts. Odor and the Yankees couldn’t be happier with his situational hitting.

After Odor’s single, Gio Urshela that was 4 for 4 in the game, drove to center bringing in two runs for the Yankee 4 run lead. Urshela moved to third on the error by Margot. Gardner stuck out. Yankees 8 Rays 4.

Yankee bullpen stellar again

The New York Yankee bullpen has been a Godsend this season so far, as the Yankees’ starting pitching, in general, has not gone deep into games. Last night was no different. Starter Jordan Montgomery got the Yankees through five innings, turning it over to the bullpen. Chad Green came in and in 2.1 innings, did not allow a run, and struck out 3 while walking none.

Coming into the game, the New York Yankee bullpen had a 1.92 ERA only surpassed by Atlanta and the San Diego Padres. Green was replaced by Darren O’Day in the eighth and Aroldis Chapman in the ninth; neither allowed a run while striking out 4 Rays. In the tenth inning, Albert Abreu struck out two and allowed the Yankees to hold on to the 8-4 win.

The final score was the New York Yankees 8 and the Tampa Bay Rays 4. Aroldis Chapman got the win. Gio Urshela greatly improved his season performance by going 4 for 4 and driving in two runs for the Yankee 4 runs lead.  Yankees had 7 walks, more than they had in their last 3 games combined. That’s what Boone means when he talks about controlling the zone, having disciplined at-bats, and extending at-bats. Even Odor’s at-bat was an example of that as he laid off a couple of 2-strike pitches. Overall it was a happy night for the New York Yankees as they head into a 3 game set with the Toronto Blue Jays in Dunedin, Florida.

Tomorrow at 7:07 pm, the Yankees will take on the Toronto Blue Jays at Dunedin, Florida. Dunedin is the home playing field for the Blue jays as they are still not allowed to play at Roger’s Center in Toronto. The Yankee ace Gerrit Cole will face Robbie Ray in his first start after entering the new season on the IL.  The game will be televised in Canada on SNET and in the New York area on the YES Network.

New York Yankees Recap: Yankees avoid the sweep with gutsy win in the 10th

Today the New York Yankees faced the Tampa Bay Rays in the finale of a 3 game set. The Yankees have lost the first two games, with the Ray shutting out the Yankees Yesterday. Today the Yankee’s Jordan Montgomery faced the Ray’s Brent Honeywll Jr. Montgomery was coming off his first game of the season in which he was totally dominant. He shut out the Orioles 7-0, striking out seven and walking none. Honeywell made his Ray’s Major League debut after not pitching for 3 and a half years due to several surgeries.

DJ LeMahieu started off facing Honeywell and flew out to right. Aaron Judge ground out. Aaron Hicks ground out to first for an excellent start for Honeywell. At the bottom, Montgomery faced Yandy Diaz, and he walked. Randy Arozarena hit into a double play, two outs. Monty plunked Austin Meadows. The Yankee pitchers have hit several Rays in this series. Manuel Margot ground out for the last out. No score.

Giancarlo Stanton led off the second against Honeywell. He struck out looking. Gleyber Torres down on strikes Rougned Odor flew out for another quick inning for Honeywell. The Rays lead off with Mike Brosseau, the player that caused Chapman’s suspension. He singled to left with a hard-hit line drive. Brandon Lowe flew out to Judge on the warning track. Willie Adames flew out to Gardner in left field. Mike Zunino hit a home run into the left-field stands. Kevin Padlo struck out, but the Rays picked up two runs. Rays 2 Yankees 0.

Michael Wacha took over for Honeywell in the third inning. Gary Sanchez walked. Gio Urshela hit a long home run over the center-field wall to tie the game at 2 (457′). Brett Gardner singled up the middle. LeMahieu doubled on a ground-rule double. Aaron Judge walked to load the bases with no outs. Hicks hit into a double play, but Gardner scored. Stanton ground out to third. Yankees 3 Rays 2. Montgomery faced the top of the order at the bottom of the third. Diaz singled over Torres’s head. Arozarena homered, bringing two more runs for the Rays. Meadows struck out. Margot doubled to center. Brosseau ground out to Urshela. Lowe chopped back to DJ, but the Rays regained the lead. Rays 4 Yankees 3.

Gleyber Torres led off the New York Yankees fourth by walking. Odor flew out to left. Torres stole second. Sanchez ground out to third base. Urshela stuck out, leaving Torres stuck at second. At the bottom, Adames struck out. Zunino flew out to Hicks. Padlo struck out for a fast 1-2-3 inning for Monty. Rays 4 Yankees 3.

Gardner led off against Wacha in the fifth by striking out. LeMahieu hit into a double play. Judge made it 1-2-3 for Wacha. At the bottom, Diaz ground out to Urshela. Arozarena followed, doing the same. Meadows got hit by a pitch for the second time in the game. Margot ground out to Odor to end the inning. Rays 4 Yankees 3.

Hicks led off the sixth by comebacking to the pitcher. Stanton struck out for the 3rd time. Torres struck out for 9 in a row for Wacha. Brosseau led off the bottom by walking on Monty’s 82nd pitch. Lowe against Chad Green ground out. Adames ground out to DJ, but Brosseau made it to third base with two outs. Zunino struck out. Rays 4 Yankees 3.

Odor led off for the New York Yankees in the seventh grounding out. Sanchez walked on a hit-by-pitch. Urshela singled up the middle to put two on for the Yankees with one out. Gardner walked to load the bases. Thompson replaced Reed. LeMahieu hit into a double play for the second time in the game. Yankees leave three on base. At the bottom Padlo against Green and stuck out. Diaz struck out, and Arozarena popped out to DJ in foul territory. Rays 4 Yankees 3.

Aaron Judge led off the top of the eighth by walking. Hicks flew out to the far left-center. Stanton walked giving the Yankees two on with one out. Mike Tauchman was brought in to run for Stanton. Torres got an RBI single to left to tie up the game. Castillo came in to replace Thompson. Odor popped out, two away. Sanchez flew out to center but the Yankees were able to tie up the game.  Green was out again for the bottom of the eighth. Meadows lofted to Gardner in left. O’Day came in to replace Green. Margot ground out to Torres. Tsutsugo pinch hit for Brosseau and struck out for the 1-2-3 inning for Darren O’Day. Yankees 4 Rays 4.

Leading off the ninth was Urshela he doubled up the middle. Gardner walked, first and second with no outs. DJ LeMahieu goes to second on a bad throw by Padlo. (E5), Gardner got caught between third and home and was tagged out, and Judge ground out as the Yankees left two on base in the ninth in a tied game. The Yankees closer Aroldis Chapman came in to hold the Rays at the bottom of the inning. Lowe struck out as did Adames. Zunino doubled to Gardner. Padlo struck out to bring it to the 10th inning. Score tied at 4.

At the top of the tenth Judge was on second (man on second rule after 9) with Hicks at the plate. Hicks was hit by a pitch going to first. Two on no outs. Tauchman bunted and the runners moved to second and third. Gleyber Torres had a slow roller, and Judge was called out trying to reach home. “Rougie” Odor with men on the corners and two outs, he became a Yankee hero in his first game as a Yankee, he popped one into no man’s land in center that scored Hicks for the Yankee lead. Sanchez singled bringing in Torres for the two-run lead. Urshela line drove to center bring in two runs for the Yankee 4 run lead. Urshela moved to third on the error by Margot. Gardner stuck out. Yankees 8 Rays 4.

In the bottom of the 10th with last licks on the line for the Rays, Albert Abreu came out to pitch for the New York Yankees. With Pedlo on second, Phillips struck out. Arozarena struck out. Meadows flew out to Hicks to end the game and give the Yankees an 8-4 win over the Rays as they avoided the sweep. The winning pitcher was Aroldis Chapman the loser, McHugh.






New York Yankees Recap: Jordan Montgomery shined, Stanton Grand Slams in Yankees win over the O’s

New York Yankees, Giancarlo Stanton

The New York Yankees met the Baltimore Orioles tonight in the first game of a three-game set at Yankee Stadium. The Yankees were 1-2 on the young season, and the Orioles were 3-0. Jordan Mongomery made his regular-season debut for the Yankees, and Jorge Lopez was on the mound for the O’s.

Cedric Mullins led off against Montgomery; he flew out to left. Mancini flew out to Gleyber Torres. Ryan Mountcastle flew out to left for an easy inning for “Monty.” At the bottom of the first, DJ LeMahieu against Lopez, and he ground out to the second base. Aaron Judge hit sharply up the middle for a single. Aaron Hicks flew out to far left. Giancarlo Stanton struck out swinging to end the inning. No score.

Facing Montgomery in the second inning was Maikal Franco, who ground out to Urshela. Pedro Severino struck out. Pat Valaika ground out to end the half for another easy inning for Montgomery. Gleyber Torres was first up against Lopez in the second; he struck out. Gary Sanchez struck out for Lopez’s third strikeout. Jay Bruce ground out to first. The Yankees went down in order. No score.

Freddie Galvis led off the third inning by lining into center for the O’s first runner of the game. Ramon Urais went down on strikes, and it went seven up and seven down for Monty. Ryan McKenna struck out. Mullins led the majors last year in bunts with 9. Galvis stole second base. Mullins struck out, leaving a guy on base. At the bottom against Lopez, Urshela flew out to right field. Clint Frazier, who was batting .444, lined to second. LeMahieu struck out to end the inning in was what turned out to be a pitching duel. No score.

Trey Mancini led off the fourth inning by striking out for Monty’s 5th strikeout. Mountcastle popped right back to Monty for the second out. Franco had a high popout to Urshela to end the half. Aaron Judge led off the bottom with his first home run of the season. Hicks stuck out. Stanton hit back to Lopez for the second out of the half. Gleyber Torres singled to short. Gary Sanchez stuck out, but the Yankees took the lead with Aaron Judge’s 340′ home run over the right-field wall. Yankees 1 O’s 0.

Severino led off against Monty in the fifth with a base hit. Valaika ground out. At this point in the fifth inning, Monty only had 58 pitches in the game. Galvis flew out to Frazier on the warning track. Urias singled past Judge, and Valaika went to third. With men on the corner and two outs, McKenna ground out to Torres to leave two Orioles on the bases. At the bottom of the fifth, Jay Bruce led off by walking. Gio Urshela had a roller to short; they got the force out at second. Clint Frazier ground out, Urshela to second. LeMahieu walked, with Aaron Judge coming up. Judge with two outs walked to load the bases with Yankees. That walk knocked Lopez out of the game in favor of Shawn Armstong.  Aaron Hicks went full count and then walked, bringing Urshela home for the two-run lead. Giancarlo Stanton got the Yankee’s first grand slam of the season; a 471′ shot putting the Yankees 6 runs up. Torres ended the inning by striking out. New York Yankees 6 O’s 0.

Mullins led off the sixth against Montgomery. He singled. Mancini went down on strikes. Mountcastle struck out, and Franco flew out to Hicks in center. Monty was great through 6 innings. At the bottom, Sanchez faced O’s reliever Fry and ground out to second. Bruce worked his second walk of the night. Urshela singled. With a man on first and second and one out, Frazier singled to load the bases again for the Yankees. LeMahieu singled with an RBI, putting the Yankees up 7 runs. That run knocked Fry out of the game in favor of Mac Sceroler in his major league debut facing Aaron Judge, who went down looking. Aaron Hicks flew out to end the inning, but the Yankees picked up another run. Yankees 7 O’s 0.

After an excellent start, by Montgomery, a shut out over 6 innings for the New York Yankees, Luis Cessa took over the mound for the Yankees in the seventh. Severino went down swinging. Valaika flew out to Judge. Galvis ground out for a perfect inning for Cessa. At the bottom, Giancarlo Stanton led off; he flew out sharply. Torres flew out to right field. Sanchez went down on strikes for his 0 for 4 night. Yankees 7 O’s 0.

At the top of the eighth, Mike Tauchman took over of Frazier in left, and Frazier moved to right field to take over for Aaron Judge. With Cessa out for a second inning, Urias struck out. McKenna walked. Mullins hit into the force out. Mancini stuck out for another good inning for Cessa. Jay Bruce led off the bottom by striking out. Urshela had a long fly out to the center field. Frazier walked. LeMahieu got a wild pitch moving Frazier to second base. DJ walked to put two on base. Mike Tauchman got his first at-bat went down on strikes. Yankees 7 O’s 0.

Aroldis Chapman came out in the ninth inning to close it out for New York Yankees. Mountcastle struck out. Franco struck out, and Severino walked. Valaika struck out to end the game. The final score was 7-0; the winning pitcher was Jordan Montgomery and the loser Jorge Lopez. The Yankees are 8-0 in games that Judge and Stanton both hit home runs. Montgomery allowed no runs walking none while striking out 7 O’s.




New York Yankees: 3 major takeaways from Yankees loss to the Orioles

New York Yankees, Aroldis Chapman

The New York Yankees faced the Baltimore Orioles last evening at George M. Steinbrenner Field in Tampa, Florida. Gerrit Cole, in his fifth start of spring training, faced the Orioles Jo Lopez. The Yankees lost the game 4-1. Here are three major takeaways from the game.

Gerrit Cole dominant in Orioles game

In Gerrit Cole’s last spring training game of the season, he had his best outing of the spring. He went 5.2 innings, the first Yankees pitcher to do so, and was absolutely dominant. He allowed only two hits over the span and reduced his spring training ERA from 3.55 to 2.45. He had an excellent command of his pitches. Gary Sanchez caught him.

In his first games of the spring, he struggled some, particularly giving up home runs. Last night he was like a different pitcher in complete control of the game. Cole often tries out new things in spring training and saves his best stuff for the regular season. Last night was a display of dominance that the New York Yankees hope he can carry over to his Opening Day start at Yankee Stadium on April 1.

In the second inning, two Orioles reach on back-to-back fielding errors by Tyler Wade; nevertheless, he overcame Wade’s errors for another scoreless inning.

Aroldis Chapman bombed big time

Aroldis Chapman was an absolute mess last night; he had no command of his pitches. Fans have often criticized Chapman for giving important games away, particularly in the postseason. Any fan watching last night’s game had to be horrified by his pitching. He only pitched one-third of an inning, giving up three runs, striking out one, and serving up two wild pitches.

Aroldis Chapman came out to pitch the seventh inning. Ruiz singled off of Chapman. A wild pitch allowed Ruiz to go to second. Hays singled, scoring Ruiz for the Orioles 1 run lead. Glavis doubled. Sisco walked and the second wild pitch of the inning by Chapman scored Westburg pinch-running for Hays. Sanchez struck out, but Chapman was pulled from the game by manager Aaron Boone. He was replaced by Nick Goody, who walked Mullins. Mancini ground into a double play to end the Orioles half, but the O’s picked up 3 runs. Orioles 3 Yankees 0.

Yankee hitters again remain silent

In another concerning game, the New York Yankee hitters just couldn’t hit Orioles pitching; they just avoided another shutout. The Yankees this spring have had several games where they only had one or two runs scored. Last night they only were able to muster up 3 hits in the entire game. They walked five times but were never able to push those walks across home plate.

It is said that if a team can score five runs in a game, they will usually win the game. So far in spring training, the Yankees have only been able to score an average of 3.7 runs per game. The Yankees certainly hope that will change in the regular season.

Today the New York Yankees will face the Toronto Blue Jays at Steinbrenner Field in a 1:05 pm game. The Yankees Jhoulys Chacin will face the Jays Anthony Kay. The game will be televised on the YES Network, MLBN, and in Canada on SNET.

New York Yankees Recap: Cole dominant but Chapman gave the game away to the Orioles

New York Yankees, Gerrit Cole

The New York Yankees were at Steinbrenner Field tonight to face the Baltimore Orioles. It was Gerrit Cole’s fifth start of the season. He faced Jo Lopez as the opposing pitcher. It was 82 degrees at game-time with cloudy skies at the start of the game. Cole’s record for the spring was 3-0 with an ERA of 3.55 before tonight’s game. The Orioles won the game 4-1.

At the top of the first, Gerrit Cole faced Cedric Mullins, who ground out. Trey Mancini struck out swinging, and Mountcastle ground out for a quick 1-2-3 inning for Cole and the Yankees. At the bottom DJ LeMahieu led off for the Yankees; he ground out on the 9th pitch from Lopez. Aaron Judge doubled to right. Brett Gardner ground out to second. Giancarlo Stanton ground out to third for a fast inning for both pitchers. Aaron Judge was left on base.

Maikel Franco faced Cole in the second. He reached on a fielding error by Tyler Wade. Wade followed with another fielding error reaching Rio Ruiz for two on for the Orioles. With no outs, Cole faced Autin Hays; he flew out. Freddie Galvis flew out, and Sisco flew out to Mike Tauchman. At the bottom, Gary Sanchez ground out; Mike Tauchman singled, Tyler Wade ground out to second. Chris Gitten struck out to end the inning. No score.

Yomer Sanchez led off the third inning against Cole. Sanchez struck out for Cole’s third strikeout. Mullins flew out, and Mancini had a line-drive single, but Mountcastle lined out to Brett Gardner. At the New York Yankees half, Andrew Velazquez ground out. At the top of the lineup, LeMahieu ground out. Judge was called out on strikes. No score.

Franco again faced Cole at the top of the fourth. Franco ground out to first baseman Chris Gittens. Ruiz ground out, and Hays ground out for another good inning for Cole. Brett Gardner popped out in the Yankee’s half of the fourth. Stanton ground out, and Sanchez reached on an Oriole error. Tauchman walked, Wade made the final out of the inning as there still was no scoring in the game.

Calvis ground out for Cole in the fifth. Sisco ground out, and Sanchez ground out for another quick inning for Cole. Chris Gittens started the bottom with a strikeout. Velazquez ground out, Lemahieu also ground out for the fastest inning of the game.

Gerrit Cole was the first Yankee pitcher to pitch six innings in a spring training game. Mullins singled and stole second.  Mancini struck out, and Mountcastle flew out to Judge. Franco flew out to right, and Cole was removed from the game with 82 pitches thrown. Darren O’Day replaced him, striking out Franco. This was Gerrit Cole’s final start of spring training, and he had his best outing pitching 5.2 innings of scoreless ball and allowing only two hits. He reduced his ERA from 3.55 to 2.45. At the bottom of the sixth, Judge was called out on strikes, and Brett Gardner flew out. Giancarlo Stanton struck out swinging to end the inning. Still no score.

Aroldis Chapman came out to pitch the seventh inning. Ruiz singled off of Chapman. A wild pitch allowed Ruiz to go to second. Hays singled, scoring Ruiz for the Orioles 1 run lead. Glavis doubled. Sisco walked and the second wild pitch of the inning by Chapman scored Westburg pinch-running for Hays. Sanchez struck out, but Chapman was pulled from the game by manager Aaron Boone. He was replaced by Nick Goody, who walked Mullins. Mancini ground into a double play to end the Orioles half, but the O’s picked up 3 runs. Orioles 3 Yankees 0.

At the bottom, Gary Sanchez struck out, Mike Tauchman walked. Tyler Wade struck out on the ninth pitch of the at-bat. Chris Gittens struck out to end the inning. The Orioles remained 3 up on the New York Yankees.

Chad Green took over for the Yankees in the eighth and ground out Mountcastle, Franco singled, and Urias walked for two men on. Diaz lined out for the second out of the inning. A wild pitch by Green allowed the runners to advance. Westburg was called out on strikes. At the bottom, Tyler Wells, in for his third inning of work, struck out Velazquez.  Thairo Estrada ground out, and Amburgey flew out for a quick inning for Wells. Orioles 3 Yankees 0.

Brooks Kriske was out in the ninth to hold down the Orioles. Nick Ciuffo immediately doubled. Richie Martin walked. Stevie Wilkerson ground out to second. Jahmai Jones struck out swinging. Chris Shaw singled, driving in Ciuffo for another Orioles run. Tyler Nevin struck out, leaving two on. With last licks for the Yankees, Gardner doubled, Josh Breaux ground out, Rob Brantly ground out, but Florial pinch-running scored to avoid the shutout. Mike Tauchman walked; Milone replaced him and went to second on defensive indifference.  Milone went to third on a wild pitch. Hoy Jun Park walked for men on the corners Armando Alvarez walked. With Velazquez as the tieing run at the plate, struck out to end the game.

Gerrit Cole pitched a great 5.2 innings, not allowing a run. Aroldis Chapman completely bombed, giving the Orioles the win. The Yankee bats were again mostly silent with only three hits in the game. The final score was the Orioles 4 and the New York Yankees 1. The winning pitcher was Tyler Wells, the loser Aroldis Chapman and the save went to Isaac Mattson.


New York Yankee’s Spotlight: Aaron Judge and Aroldis Chapman’s new splitter

New York Yankees, Aroldis Chapman

In this weekly column, we spotlight the New York Yankee who has made the most positive impact on the team during spring training for the week. It will spotlight one pitcher and one hitter that excelled beyond the rest. So far in spring training, both starters’ and relievers’ pitching has generally been better than the Yankee hitting. But one Yankee is standing out from the rest, and that is Aaron Judge, who had his first homer of the spring this week. The pitcher spotlight is on Aroldis Chapman.

The player spotlight is on Aaron Judge

Last night in Clearwater, Florida, Aaron Judge got his first home run of the spring that reportedly traveled 440′. Judge has gotten off to a relatively slow start this spring training. But that homer reminds us of the power that he has and what impact he can have on the New York Yankees when healthy.

Judge in 2017 looked like the next Micky Mantle or Derek Jeter. In his breakout year, he had 52 home runs with 157 hits and a batting average of .284. Since then, he has disappointed due to various health issues that have dogged him. The 6′ 7″ hulk of a man just hasn’t been able to stay on the field. He has missed at least 50 games since 2017. Last year he played in less than half the games. He started the season hot, hitting nine home runs in just eighteen games. After an injury, he never regained form.

This season he is totally healthy and could regain his 2017 form; it will depend on if he can stay healthy. After a slow start, he is finding his timing. If he gets on a tear, he could hit a homer every three or four games. Another good sign this season is that Judge seems to be more patient at the plate. He also seems to be striking out less. He has struck out only 12 times in 15 games. Also, having him on the field simultaneously as Giancarlo Stanton could be big for the New York Yankees.

The pitcher spotlight is on Aroldis Chapman

Aroldis Chapman is not Mariano Rivera; we all know that, but he is a hell of a closer even though he has given up the lead causing the Yankee’s early exit from the postseason two years in a row. If you remember Arizona, Mo could do the same. This season could be a big surprise for fans as he has always relied on his 100 mph fastball, but he has developed a new pitch over the past year that could make a huge difference in his success.

Chapman relies on that fire fastball but also throws in a slider and seldom a change. But now he has a splitter, and he will be using it more. The looks he can have will keep opposing batters even more off balance. On the YES Network last Saturday, Boone was being interviewed when Chapman was on the mound. He struck out the first hitter he faced on three pitches. His last pitch was his new splitter. Boone chuckled and said, “that’s gross.” Chapman’s splitter comes in at about 90 mph falls off sharply down and away from right-hand hitters.

“It’s been great,” Boone said in a Zoom call. “Even going back to last year, we felt like it was real and something that he could certainly incorporate.” Now that Zack Britton will not be available for at least two or three months while recovering from bone chip removal, it will be even more important for Chapman to perform now that Boone won’t have the option of mixing and matching. This new pitch could be just what the doctor ordered. So far this spring Champman has pitched in four games and has not allowed a hit.


New York Yankees: 3 major takeaways from Saturday’s win over the Pirates

New York Yankees, Corey Kluber

Yesterday the New York Yankees were at home at George M. Steinbrenner Field in St. Petersburg playing against the Pittsburgh Pirates. The Yankees won the game 7-5. DJ LeManieu, Ryan LaMarre, and Socrates Brito all had home runs in the game. But the star of the game was starter Corey Kluber; he hurled four innings in Saturday’s Grapefruit League game against Pittsburgh, allowing two runs on four hits and no walks while striking out two.

Kluber wasn’t quite as effective as in his spring debut when he pitched two perfect innings against Toronto. However, he got his pitch count up to 54 — the most by any Yankee pitcher this spring. He had these encouraging words about the New York Yankee lineup:

“The New York Yankees’ Major League lineup is deep one through nine, but that’s a different level lineup we ran out there today, and will run out on a regular basis,” Kluber said during the Yankees’ 7-5 Grapefruit League victory over the Pirates on Saturday. “You don’t really have a chance to breathe as a pitcher pitching against them. You can’t take a pitch off. You can’t let your guard down.”

DJ LeMahieu is DJ LeMahieu:

During the offseason, the New York Yankees’ priority was to re-sign DJ LeMahieu, and they finally made that a reality when they signed him to a six-year deal that will probably see him retire as a Yankee. 2,800 Yankees fans got to see why that was so important in yesterday’s win over the Pirates.

DJ, along along with Ryan LaMarre, powered the Yankees to the win. LeMahieu had a three-run homer in the game. Socrates Brito also homered in the game. The “Machine” also singled in the game. Lemahieu continues to be the catalyst to get the Yankee players hitting.

Aroldis Chapman’s new splitter:

New York Yankee closer Aroldis Chapman came out in the fifth to get some work in. Stokes struck out, Frazier lined out, and Hayes ground out as Chapman mixed his pitches for a 1-2-3 inning. During his time on the mound, manager, Aaron Boone was being interviewed by the YES Network. Boone on Saturday in the fifth inning. When Chapman struck out the Pirates’ right fielder Troy Stokes Jr. swinging on an 0-2 splitter, Boone chuckled in disbelief. “Wow,” he said. “That’s gross.”

Chapman, who usually pitches with a 100 plus mph fastball, over the offseason, has incorporated a splitter into his pitching arsenal, and it is nasty.

“It’s been great,” Boone said in a Zoom call after the Yankees closed out a 7-5 win. “Even going back to last year, we felt like it was real and something that he could certainly incorporate.”

New York Yankees Player Profiles: Aroldis Chapman evolving as a closer

New York Yankees, Aroldis Chapman

The New York Yankees closer is Aroldis Chapman. As they age, they evolve, or they are not as effective as they once were for starting pitchers and relievers alike. This is particularly true of flame throwers. They lose velocity on their fastball. Chapman is known as the “Cuban Missle,” is hardly deteriorating, but he won’t be throwing many 100 mph plus fastballs for much longer. His answer to that reviving a pitch that he used as a starter.

Speaking of starter, let’s start at the beginning and how he evolved and became a New York Yankee. Chapman was born Albertin Aroldis Chapman de la Cruz in Holguin province, Cuba, on February 28, 1988. Although he is called the “Cuban Flamethrower or Missle, he is actually of Jamaican descent. His grandparents emigrated to Cuba for a better education. As a child, he played ball with other kids in his neighborhood. At the age of 15, a friend invited him to join the local Hoguin baseball team.

Even at that young age, local coaches noticed that the young boy had the potential to be a pitcher. So in 2003, he switched from first base to the pitcher’s mound.  In 2006 he joined the Cuban National Series League playing for the Holguin Sabuesos. He compiled a 24-19 record as a starter in 327 innings. His ERA of 3.74 with 365 strikeouts. He did make eleven relief appearances.

Chapman wanted out of Cuban and tried to defect but failed. Being a significant star, he met with Castro in 2008. Castro gave him a conditional reprieve but suspended him from the remainder of the season and kept him off the summer Olympics national team. He did allow him to return in 2009 to the World Baseball Classics representing Cuba. Still determined to defect, when playing in Rotterdam, the Netherlands in the World Port Tournament he did it. One morning he walked out the door of his hotel, not to be seen again until he took up residency in Andora in the Pyrenees.

While in Andora, he petitioned MLB for free agency, which was granted. In January of 2010, Chapman signed a six-year contract to play for the Cincinnati Reds. On August 31 of that year, he made his Major League debut striking out the side with just nine pitches. In 2011 he was solely a reliever and in 2012 named the team’s closer. In 2014 he was hit in the head by a comebacker and underwent surgery to fix a skull fracture above his left eye. A metal plate was inserted into his head to stabilize the fracture.

For the 2015 season, Chapman had the highest average pitching speed in baseball at 100 mph. His record was 4-4 with a tiny ERA of 1.63 and 33 saves on the season. After the season, the Reds traded Chapman to the New York Yankees for four Yankee prospects. Before spring training, the then-manager Joe Girardi named Chapman the new Yankee closer.

Aroldis Chapman becomes a New York Yankee

Chapman didn’t start out well for the Yankees; he was suspended for the first 30 games of the season due to an off-season personal conduct policy violation related to domestic violence. In July, he was traded to the Chicago Cubs, which brought Gleyber Torres, Adam Warren, and Billy McKinney to the Yankees. The Cubs were going to the postseason, and the Yankees weren’t. With the Cubs, he had his fastest recorded pitch at 105.1 mph. In the last inning of the last game of the World Series, Chapman went into a game-winning 10th inning and his first World Series win.

As a free agent, the New York Yankees wanted him back, and he signed a record for a reliever an $86 million contract. His four-seam fastball had the highest average speed of any MLB pitcher’s pitches in 2017, at 99.7 mph, but a reduction from 2015. In 2018 he had a 104.1 mph pitch. Chapman has been successful for the Yankees. His record is 14-6 over five years with an ERA of 2.54. But no matter how successful, he has failed the Yankees at key times in the postseason. Most recently when Mike Brosseau homered off him, causing the Yankees to exit the 2020 postseason.

Chapman realizes that his four-seam fastball is losing some velocity and is adding a new old pitch to his arsenal. Last year Chapman recorded an average of 98.7 mph, the lowest average speed for his fastball. I say new old because he used the pitch many years ago when he was a starter in Cuba. Chapman, when speaking with The Athletic, had this to say about his pitching?

“I’m not 25 anymore,” Chapman said. “I’m older, I’m not throwing 105 miles per hour every day. That’s the reality. Believe it or not, I used to throw a splitter back in Cuba when I was a starter,” Chapman told The Athletic recently through a translator. “It was a pitch that I had used way back, then later on when I came to MLB and I started pitching, they basically told me to not use the splitter anymore. That being said, it has always been a pitch that I felt comfortable throwing — in fact I feel more comfortable throwing a splitter than a changeup.”

Chapman started using the spitter late last season and has refined it over this offseason. Hopefully, the addition of another pitch will make him an even more effective closer. Like many Yankees players, Chapman is relatively private about his personal life. We do know he has one daughter, Ashanti Brianna, with Mendosa Santiestelas. He had a son named Atticus in 2014. He will turn 33 later this month.


New York Yankees: FanGraphs says the Yankees already have the best bullpen

The New York Yankees this offseason made it a priority to re-sign DJ LeMahieu, and they were finally able to do that, signing him to a six-year deal for $90 million. They also signed Cory Kluber, a two-time Cy Young Award winner. Besides those two deals, the Yankees haven’t done much except to bring back relievers Adam Warren and Nestor Cortes Jr. Many fans believe the Yankees have to sign a quality arm to replace Tommy Kahnle that went with the Los Angeles Dodgers. FanGraphs says the Yankees already have the best bullpen in baseball.

The total bullpen WAR is 3.7, .3 ahead of the second-place Chicago White Sox that have been building up their bullpen for the last couple of years. Despite the Yankee fans thinking that Aroldis Chapman fails far too often when it counts, he is third in baseball with 13.2 strikeouts per nine innings. Of course, stats mean nothing at the moment; everything depends on that next pitch.

But looking at the New York Yankee bullpen, there are some surprising stats. As I said, the closer Chapman has the best strikeouts per innings of any Yankees. Multi-talented Chad Green allows the fewest walks per nine innings. Chapman also has the lowest ERA (3.11), and the fewest home runs allowed. In pitchers that have pitched over 50 inning Jonathan Loaisiga has the lowest walk rate of any Yankee relief pitcher.

Regardless of the stats the New York Yankees would still like to see improvement especially considering this will be a 162 games season after the bullpen has only played in 60 games over the last almost two years. Thre is no question the the likes of Clarke Schmidt, Micheal King and Albert Abreu will play some part in added arms to the bullpen at some point in the season. But the bottom like is that the Yankees would still like to add  a pitcher with similar tools as the departed Tommy Kahnle. They will also hope that Adam Ottavino can refind his form.

Another option to get pitching help is to move the $9 million contract of Adam Ottavino off the books and use that money to acquire another pitcher. That would involve a trade and they Yankees might have to share in some of his salary to make a trade possible, because after two subpar seasons any club willing to take him would have to believe he could return to being one of the best relievers in baseball.

Pitchers and catchers will report to spring training at George M. Steinbrenner Field in Tampa, Florida on February 15, and the position players on February 21st. So the Yankees have plenty of time to engage with the bevy of free agent pitchers and to decide what trades make sense for the Yankees.

It’ also worth noting the position on the list of best bullpens for the other teams withing the Yankee division.  The Toronto Blue Jays are number 19, the Boston Red Sox are #16, the Baltimore Orioles are #18, and the Tampa Bay Rays are number 5 on the list. Also of note the Houston Astros are number 20.




New York Yankees Analysis: When the Yankees address starting pitching, don’t forget the bullpen

The New York Yankees have issues. When it comes to pitching, that is an understatement. With Masahiro Tanaka, James Paxton, and J.A. Happ gone to free agency, the Yankees have some holes to fill. When the Yankees fill those holes, they need to do it with pitchers that can give them innings, reducing the bullpen’s stress and overuse. During the last dynasty years, the Yankees had pitchers that could do that and even pitched complete games.  When they didn’t, they had Mariano Rivera and John Wetteland, Medoza, Lloyd, and Rivera.

We all know the record of Hall of Famer Mariano Rivera, but the strength of the bullpen was their set up men. Of Ramiro Medoza, Mike Stanton, Graeme Lloyd, and Jeff Nelson, four won 25 games for the Yankees in 1998. Every starting pitcher had a winning record. Of the Yankees 2020 six starters, only two had winning records. A big difference is that the bullpen this year had to pitch more innings based on a 162 game season than in 1998.

That brings me back to the Yankee’s need for length from their starters. Gerrit Cole and Deivi Garcia were the only starting pitchers to go more than 5 1/2 innings per game, and even Cole only went 6.08 innings per game. Ideally, in this age when pitchers don’t pitch complete games anymore, you would like to see your starters go seven innings leaving just the setup man and closer to close out the game. Of course, that is not realistic, making middle relief really important.

When looking at the bullpen as it now stands, you must remember that the New York Yankees will be without the services of Tommy Kahnle all of next season as he rehabs from Tommy John surgery. So we have Chad Green, Johnathan Holder, Zack Britton, and Aroldis Chapman as the core left in the pen.  That’s great, but they can’t pitch in all 162 games. The Yankees need at least one more dependable arm in the pen, and that is in addition to Clark Schmidt, Jonathan Loaisiga, Miguel Yajure, Luis Cessa. Abreu, King, Kriske, and Lyons all pretty much bombed out and cant’ be counted on.

It seems that Cessa and Loaisiga have been criticized for their performance during the 2020 season. I don’t quite get that Cessa didn’t lose any games for the Yankees and Loaisiga was 3-0 in twelve games, three of which he started. He is young and has time to blossom. Ottavino has another year on his contract, but after failing two years in a row, he won’t be much help next season unless he can figure things out.

All the talk this offseason is on the importance of re-signing DJ LeMahieu and getting a number two premium starter, and rightly so, but don’t forget the bullpen. The bottom line to winning the division and succeeding in the postseason is effective starting pitching, a lineup that consistently hits, and yes, a bullpen that can win games when the starting pitching fails. Usually, you have to have all three components operating at a high level.

With Kahnle gone, ideally, the Yankees should add two quality arms to the 2021 bullpen. Here are some suggestions: Liam Hendriks, $6 million. Hendriks was one of the game’s top relievers over his last two seasons in Oakland. In 2019, he posted a 1.80 ERA and 0.96 WHIP in 75 appearances. He was just as dominant in 2020—32-year-old Alex Colome. In 2020, Colomé posted a sparkling 0.81 ERA and 0.94 WHIP in 21 appearances with the White Sox. Shane Greene put up solid numbers in 2020 with a 2.60 ERA and 1.12 WHIP in 28 appearances for the Braves.  The Yankees could also deal on the trade market, but it doesn’t seem to be the way to go with so many in free agency.

Acquiring Liam Hendriks, the closer for the Athletics, would give manager Aaron Boone the ability to mix and match Hendriks, Britton, and Chapman to suit the opposing hitter in must-win games. I have never been and still am not a big Chapman supporter; although his stats are good, he most often seems to fail in the most important moments. Having three closer types might seem extreme, but it seems really good to me. Hendriks would also not put a huge dent in the New York Yankee finances.