New York Yankees Shortstop Primed To Break Out Of Slump

New York Yankees, Didi Gregorius

As the New York Yankees prepare to take on the Mets in the Subway Series, shortstop Didi Gregorius will attempt to break out of his slump.

Didi is hitting .242, well under his expectations and a light-year away from his hot-streak to start the season.

“I’m not happy with the at-bats because I’m not helping the team, to be honest,” Gregorius said. “There’s always some ups, there’s always downs. The downs, you don’t want it to beat you.”

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While Didi knows cold-streaks happen in baseball, he may have to refer back to the basic mechanics to return to form. According to some analysts, Didi has been dipping his shoulders slightly which affects the trajectory of his swing, causing him to swing over a lot of pitches. By simply keeping his shoulder elevated and utilizing his hips, he may be able to solve the problem. Of course, it’s easier said than done.

How has Didi compensated?

While the shortstop has struggled as a batter, he’s been more than adequate as a base-runner and defender. He’s stolen eight bases in 10 attempts, which ties the Yankees for 13th best in the American League.

“Talking to Booney, we talked about some leads and talked about if I could use my speed and I’ve been working on it since spring training,” Gregorius said. “It’s just things we talked about in spring training about trying to get better. It’s one more thing on the map for me.”

Baseball is a game of up and downs, but maintaining your defensive skills and improving in other areas of the game is the only way to compensate for a dip in hitting production.
The Subway Series is the perfect opportunity to break out of the the slump for Didi, as it would give him the confidence to begin hitting consistently once again.

Preview: LHP Gio Gonzalez Versus The Bronx Bombers

When the New York Yankees play in Washington, D.C against the Nationals on Tuesday, it’ll be a matchup of two of baseball’s hottest teams. LHP Gio Gonzalez will be on the mound for the Nationals against the Yankees’ RHP Masahiro Tanaka.

Gonzalez hasn’t faced the Yankees in inter-league play since 2015. For his career, he has a 1-5 record with a 6.65 ERA in eight games against the Yankees and with that record in mind, he should be in for a rude awakening against the current incarnation of the Bronx Bombers.

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Gonzalez, 32, has been with the Nationals for six seasons and becomes a free agent this fall. He has been an extremely durable pitcher over his career, only once going on the 15-day disabled list back in 2014. He’s a two time All-Star and finished third in 2012 and sixth in 2017 for the Cy Young Award.

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According to MLB.com, recently Gonzalez has been on a roll, allowing only two runs and striking out 21 in his past 18 innings of work. He has a 4-2 record with a 2.22 ERA in eight games this season.

Jorge Castillo of the Washington Post writes that where Gonzalez was once a hard-thrower, blowing fastballs by hitters, his average fastball velocity has diminished over the past few seasons and he began modifying his approach last season.

Gonzalez told Castillo that in ’17 he became a pitcher, not a just a thrower:

“Last year was a huge adjustment point,” Gonzalez said. “Last year I was actually pitching. I wasn’t trying to throw it. I understand that I have to be a pitcher. And that’s what it was. I don’t have to throw hard to get outs, and last year proved it. You just have to locate.”

Gonzalez has adjusted his repertoire to increase the use of his change-up (83 mph) and curve ball (76 mph), which Brooks Baseball describes as having “exceptional bite,” along with his sinker (90 mph) and a four seam fastball (90 mph).

Gonzalez will be facing a lineup unlike any other in Major League Baseball—- four hitters have ten home runs or more on the season: Aaron Judge (11), Giancarlo Stanton (10), Didi Gregorius (10) and Gary Sanchez (10).

Coley Harvey of ESPN writes of the historical significance of this accomplishment:

“Before this year, the Yankees had never had four players hit 10 or more home runs by the team’s 40th game of a season — or by the 50th game, for that matter.”

On the season, for example, Stanton is hitting .457 against left-handed pitchers with seven homers and he punished lefty Brett Anderson of the Athletics on Sunday going 4-4, including a home run and three RBIs.

Stanton also has a more than a passing familiarity with Nationals Park.  According to Fox Sports, he has a .287/.366/.651 slash line in Nationals Park and in 55 career games there  has 20 home runs.

Left-handed batter Gregorius is likewise having success against lefties this season, hitting .268 with 2 homers.

There are those who predict a Yankees-Nationals World Series in ’18. Tuesday’s matchup of these two powerhouse clubs may just have that October feel to it!

New York Yankees: Didi Gregorius Will Bust Slump with Fun and Hard Work

New York Yankees, Didi Gregorius

Fans are calling New York Yankees’  Didi Gregorius the “Ofer” because he is in the midst of a career-worst hitless streak encompassing 28 at-bats. The April Player of the Month has lost 100 points on his average since April 25 when he was batting .372—-he is currently batting .272.

While fans suspected that Gregorius would not keep up the torrid pace of his April play indefinitely, hitting .330 with 10 home runs and 30 RBI’s in 25 days, they did not expect him to fall to earth so completely so quickly.

New York Post’s Howie Kussoy reports that after the game Boone discussed Gregorius’ struggles:

“He’s just a little bit off from a timing standpoint,’’ Boone said. “I think he is working through some things. It’s the ebb and flow of the season and I believe shortly he will get it rolling again. The key for him is sometimes he thinks, ‘I’ve just got to put it in play.’ Instead of hey, get into position to impact the ball. When he’s doing that then he is laying off the pitches that he shouldn’t be swinging at and he’s impacting the ball because he is capable of it.”

Kussoy reports that Boone also finds optimism in the fact that Gregorius has only struck out twice during the recent homestand, despite going 0-25.

Gregorius is known for his infectious smiles and dynamite after-game highlights on Twitter, and is also known as an elite shortstop whose work ethic and dedication to his craft are well documented.

Since joining the Yankees, Gregorius has had the monumental task of becoming more than the successor to Derek Jeter by becoming the best Didi Gregorius at shortstop he could become and that meant becoming a more complete player.

Not only are his defensive skills the equal of top shortstops Francisco Lindor, Carlos Correa and Corey Seager, but his offensive skills have improved to make him one of the most impactful players on a team bursting with impact players.

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Tanya Bondurant of Pinstripe Alley sums up Gregorius’ 2017 regular season impact:

“In 136 games this season, Gregorius hit .287/.318/.478 with 25 (yes, 25) home runs. Those statistics were good enough for 3.9 fWAR, which put him third among Yankee position players behind only Aaron Judge and Gary Sanchez. Not bad company to keep.”

In 2018, Gregorius came out of spring training red hot, even out pacing Mike Trout (nine) for the most home runs hit in April with 10. Needless to say he was outperforming the Yankees own sluggers, Aaron Judge, Giancarlo Stanton and Gary Sanchez.

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What does Gregorius himself believe is the answer to busting out of his slump? He told Kussoy:

“This game is about having fun and that is my approach. Work hard and have fun.”

Gregorius has the only attitude a player can have when overcoming adversity—remember that this is supposed to be fun.

Fans hope Gregorius can start having a lot more fun—the sooner the better or what were raucous cheers in April may become rumbling boos in May.

 

The New York Yankees Had To ‘Earn’ The Best Record In Baseball

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It was a long, long time ago. The New York Yankees had just lost 8-5 to the Toronto Blue Jays. It was April 20 and the Bombers were 9-9. Giancarlo Stanton was striking out at an alarming rate and fans were ready to burn down the city.

For those same beloved fans, that seems like forever ago. Here we sit on May 10 and the Yankees have only lost once since that horrifying day in April.

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Can they complete the sweep?

The Yankees are looking for a series sweep against the rival Boston Red Sox. They have won 17 of their last 18 games and currently have the best record in baseball at 26-10. Is anyone surprised?

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Back in December, the Yankees traded a bucket of balls for the reigning NL MVP Giancarlo Stanton. The feeling in the Bronx was that this team was never going to lose again. After a slow start, they figured it out thanks to the play of their young guns.

Miguel Andujar and Gleyber Torres have been spark plugs in this Yankee lineup to go along with Stanton, Aaron Judge and the AL Player of the Month for April, Didi Gregorius.

The Yankees have dealt with minor injuries throughout the season, most notable to Brandon Drury. Jordan Montgomery will be on the shelf for a few weeks but this team will surely not struggle without their fifth starter. Their pitching has been good enough to get by. The catalyst is Luis Severino but the rotation is surviving thanks to the success of ageless wonder, C.C. Sabathia. He holds a 2-0 record with a 1.39 ERA in 32.1 innings.

The Yankees were an early season favorite to win the Fall Classic. They were expected to win 100 games and break all different home run records in a season. Some might have said that it was impossible or too good to be true but here in the now, the Yanks are showing the world that they are for real and it is not a dream.

New York Yankees Win 4-0 Over Astros Behind Domingo German And Gary Sanchez Efforts

On a night when Justin Verlander was dealing his usual filthy stuff, the Yankees offense was stifled for eight innings—Verlander tied his career high for strikeouts with 14—and Jordan Montgomery started the game only to leave with elbow tightness after the opening frame.

This scenario, Yankee fans, is not a recipe for success in Minute Maid Park, home of the World Champion Astros.

However, Verlander gave way to Ken Giles in the ninth, who started the day with an ERA of 1.00 and ended it with an ERA of 5.23 after Gary Sanchez tattooed him for the first runs of the game with a blast over the center field wall to score Aaron Judge and Didi Gregorius.

Sanchez has been coming up big for the Yankees in clutch situations, as Coley Harvey of ESPN noted:

“This was the fifth time in eight games that Sanchez had homered. It also was the third time in the past six days that he hit a game-deciding home run. Sanchez had a walk-off against the Twins last Thursday, and also launched a 447-foot, two-run blast at Angel Stadium on Sunday that proved to be all the scoring the Yankees would need in that game.”

Sanchez, who’s gotten off to a slow start this spring, is picking up the pace in the last eight games and now has eight home runs and 27 RBIs on the season.

The relief corps, Domingo German (four innings), Chad Green, Dellin Betances, David Robertson and Aroldis Chapman (one inning each) held the Astros hitters overall to six hits with one walk and 13 strikeouts in the 4-0 victory.

German came in for the ailing Montgomery in the second inning.  He told Bryan Hoch of MLB.com:

German pitched a gem, matching Justin Verlander’s effort to keep runs off the board.  German pitched four scoreless innings with four hits, 1 walk and 4 strikeouts.

After the game, Boone told Mike Mazzeo of the New York Daily News that:

“You got a glimpse of what he’s capable of,” Boone said of German. “He went through them pretty easily. He was really on top of his game, and that’s what we needed.”

German may have just pitched himself into the starting rotation with his effort on Tuesday night if Jordan Montgomery is forced to miss starts because of the elbow tightness.

So, going into game three tonight, the series is split with one win for each club and with Luis Severino and Dallas Keuchel on the mound tonight, it’s sure to be another dogfight.

Didi Gregorius Outpacing The Yankees Power Hitters

New York Yankees, Didi Gregorius

It’s time to acknowledge the roar that is coming off the bat of Sir Didi Gregorius. Gregorius, 26, has become an offensive juggernaut in the first month of the season, outpacing the other big bats not only in the Yankees lineup but also in the league in several categories.

In 2017, Gregorius hit 25 home runs after missing the first month of the season due to injury.  He’s showing fans in 2018 what they missed with a display of power that is out-rivaling the league—only Mike Trout has more home runs with 10. Gregorious with his eight home runs is tied for second place with Bryce Harper, Manny Machado, Charlie Blackmon and Mitch Haniger.

However, Gregorius claims he’s not a home run hitter and told Meredith Marakovits of YES:

We’re 22 games into the season and the Yankees home run leader is not Aaron Judge nor Giancarlo Stanton, it’s not even Gary Sanchez—Gregorius leads the team with eight home runs, one in front of Judge who has seven.

Gregorius’ numbers to date are career numbers for him: .347/.442/.787 with seven doubles, eight home runs, and a team leading 27 RBIs.

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While Yankee fans have long known what an underrated shortstop Gregorius was, MLB.com ranked Gregorius the number five shortstop in the league in 2018, behind (shown with current stats):

Gregorius is far out-pacing these league leaders in nearly every category on the young season.  Carlos Correa, who is second behind Gregorius in batting average, has only half the home runs Gregorius has on the season.

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Katie Sharp tweeted regarding Gregorius’ record-setting power numbers:

What we’ve got here Yankee fans is the best shortstop in baseball and he’s showing a lineup of power hitters how it’s done.

Fans are clamoring for Gregorius to be named the team captain on the strength of his breakout performance this season, and if he continues to set records and power his way through the league, who’s to say he shouldn’t be? Especially if the Yankees can capture a championship this season.

 

New York Yankees: The Ellsbury Effect

Decisions, Decisions, Decisions…

With the start of the Major League regular season a week away, the New York Yankees have a decision that needs to be made:

Who is making the roster to replace the oft injured Jacoby Ellsbury? Jacoby was at one time and six hours North of the Bronx a very productive Major League ballplayer. However, throughout his time in the pinstripes, Ellsbury has been less than a shell of his former self.

Ellsbury has played for the Yankees across four seasons, in that time he has only managed to have one season above “replacement level” production (2014), according to Baseball Reference’s OPS+. 2014 was Jacoby’s first season in the Bronx and his last truly productive season.

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Now, with Ellsbury set to begin the season on the shelf, this opens up a spot on the 25-man roster to “Break Camp” with the team heading North. Manager Aaron Boone told members of the media that Tyler Wade has made the ball club. Many believe that he will be the starting second baseman on Opening Day in Toronto on March 29th.


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The Yankees current roster consists of:

Catchers: Gary Sanchez & Austin Romine
First Baseman: Greg Bird
Second Basemen: Tyler Wade & Neil Walker
Third Baseman: Brandon Drury
Shortstop: Didi Gregorius & Ronald Torreyes
Left Fielder: Brett Gardner
Center Fielder: Aaron Hicks
Right Fielders: Aaron Judge & Giancarlo Stanton
Starting Pitcher: Luis Severino, Mashiro Tanaka, CC Sabathia, Sonny Gray & Jordan Montgomery
Relief Pitchers: David Robertson, Dellin Betances, Tommy Kahnle, Chad Green, Adam Warren & Chasen Shreve
Closer: Aroldis Chapman

Who Gets A Shot ?

That gives you 24 out of 25 players to start out the 2018 season for the New York Yankees. The injury to Ellsbury leaves an opening. Some who have thought that it could have been someone like Tyler Austin who was having a tremendous Spring, but he was reassigned back to Minor League camp on March 21st before the Yankees game against the Orioles. This however does leave the opening for the starter in the same game…. Luis Cessa.

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Cessa has been up and down for the Yankees since his acquisition by the Yankees in December of 2015. Cessa has pitched 106 innings for the Yankees to the tune of a 4.49 era. Luis will have an opportunity to show what he has earlier in the season as the Yankees will have five straight games to open up the start of the regular season.

The injury to Ellsbury could have been the golden ticket to the Bronx for a premium talent like Clint Frazier, however, they both went down at similar times and have stayed out recovering. Clint won’t be getting that opportunity.

This season will be a defining point for Clint Frazier, as with the number of outfielders already on the Major League roster and an impending free agent who hasn’t been shy about stating his fandom for the Pinstripes looming. Frazier once healed up from his concussion must set the world by storm, if he has any hopes of staying in Pinstripes.

Lasting Impression:

Jacoby, much like Clint Frazier, has seen the writing on the wall. And while his contract is rather cumbersome, it’s not impossible to think GM Brian Cashman can sell his talents to another team and move his monetary obligations elsewhere.

Ellsbury’s injury will be a foreshadowing of the potential future the Yankees will have. If the first few weeks of the season pass and Ellsbury has not returned vying that 25th spot on the roster, he may be replaced by a rising prospect.

Jacoby Ellsbury will have a major effect on the Yankees success this season; when healthy he could be a productive fourth outfielder, if unhealthy his spot will provide the launching pad for the top prospects in the top sixth farm system in all of baseball.

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3 Keys to Success for the 2018 New York Yankees

New York Yankees, Aaron Judge

Started From the Bottom Now We’re Here:

Prior to the start of the 2017 season the New York Yankees were a young team in unfamiliar territory; they were supposed to be rebuilding. A team on the verge of competition but not quite yet ready to contend. However, how wrong those “experts” were, the 2017 New York Yankees came within one game of reaching the World Series.

So we turn the page to the 2018 season for the New York Yankees to continue their success from 2017, and go even further in the upcoming 2018 season.

These are the top 3 keys to that success:

  • Consistency

The key to any winning season in baseball does have an element of luck to it. There’s the old idiom that sometimes it’s better to be lucky than good. And for the Yankees first baseman Greg Bird, he has been extremely unlucky during his brief Major League tenure.  If Bird can stay consistently healthy in 2018, he will have an opportunity to have a huge impact on the Yankees chance at a World Series win.

Gary Sanchez has done a wonderful job during Spring Training of providing consistent defense, namely blocking balls in the dirt. Blocking balls was the one part of Sanchez’ game that plagued him last season.

Sanchez put in work this off-season to become more flexible to assist him with this defensive lapse from last season. So, if Gary can continue to put the effort toward his journey to improvement, we could see a drastically different catcher behind the plate, defensively.

All rise the honorable Aaron Judge is now presiding over his court!

Aaron had an incredible and historic rookie campaign. He dealt with the peaks that allowed him to dine with Zeus in Olympus and the pits that saw him battle with Hades in Hell.

This season, Aaron looked more determined than before. In the Spring of 2017 Judge came in battling for a job with the inscription of his .179 batting average as motivation. This spring, Judge remains motivated by the six weeks that costed him the opportunity to be not only the unanimous selection for Rookie of the Year, but also MVP, along with his personal desire to not be a one hit wonder.

If Judge can find that happy medium from his highs and lows of 2017, there’s only one thing to say, quoting the retiring Yankees commentator Kenny Singleton “LOOKOUT.”

  • In Cashman We Trust

In following up the 2017 campaign, the Yankees will no longer be sneaking up on teams as a underdog story. The rest of the world is now aware of what the entire Yankee Universe already knew, and that’s that the New York Yankees do everything better than the rest of baseball.

The Yankees “rebuild” lasted all of 6 months (maybe). When the Yankees began to “sell off” players during the trade deadline of 2016, everyone thought that this would be the time the Bombers reset and journey through what the Chicago Cubs or the Houston Astros endured, a full tear down and reset. But the Yankees magical wizard of a General Manager Brian Cashman had other plans.

Cashman stock piled top echelon talent very quickly taking a farm system ranked 21st by Baseball Prospectus back in 2015. Now with having graduated talent to the Major Leagues, the Yankees are still the number six farm system according to MLB Pipeline.

Cashman has also been able to provide the Yankees with real talent for not a real devastating cost. Cash recently acquired Brandon Drury in a deal eerily similar to the deal that brought us Didi Gregorius several years back. Cashman and his lieutenants have been able to bring the organization to a level of real sustainability without overpaying for talent.

Which brings us to the final key point of the Yankees ability to be successful in 2018.

  • Dominance in Development

As previously stated, Cashman and his team have been able to draft and trade for some very high level talent. Talent that will ultimately help the team in one way or another.

There are three camps in the Yankees Universe, there are your “George-ian Candidates” who say trade every prospect to bring in high priced established veterans who can provide consistent year in and year out numbers.

There are the “Prospect Huggers” that don’t want to spend on any free agents that may block the kids. And lastly there are the “Cashman-ites” (credit to Mike Calendrillo of YGY for this name) who believes that the “Cream of the Crop” (using my best Macho Man Randy Savage voice) top prospects will stick and some of the others will be used in trade.

No matter what camp you fall into there’s no denying that the following prospects will have an impact on the Yankees World Series aspirations in 2018 and beyond. (The players below will be ranked based on their MLB Pipeline rankings).

  1. Gleyber Torres
  2. Estevan Florial
  3. Justus Sheffield
  4. Miguel Andújar
  5. Chance Adams (6th overall behind RHP Albert Abreu)

Another guy who is no longer a prospect but who’s development will determine his place on this team in 2018 and going forward is Clint Frazier. Frazier plays will a lot of fire and intensity, some of his behaviors/mannerisms rub people the wrong way, but I believe that if Frazier can stay hungry and humble he can be an incredible player in Pinstripes.