Greg Bird And Tyler Austin Will Compete For Yankees First Base Spot

New York Yankees first baseman Greg Bird could return soon, but he might have to face a position battle with Tyler Austin. Yankees manager Aaron Boone recently confirmed that while Friday is a bit too early of an estimate, Bird might make his return over the weekend.

The 25-year-old underwent ankle surgery on March 27, giving him a recovery timetable of six to eight weeks. Since then, he’s played games at the A+, AA, and AAA levels during a rehab assignment. He’ll have competition after returning to the Yankees, however, because of the rise of Tyler Austin. Austin has performed well in Bird’s absence and is even hitting .293 against left-handed pitchers.

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Bird, on the other hand, hasn’t found the same success in the minor leagues during his rehab assignment. He batted .133 and .167 for the Yankees AA and AAA teams, and those numbers are a bit distant from the ones that Austin is putting up in the big leagues.

“We will see how it plays out, and matchups and stuff,” Boone said, before the second game of the series with the Rangers. “Tyler has put himself in a very good position and has had a big hand in us winning games.”

With two viable options at first base, the Yankees will have a real position battle on hand. It looks like Bird is the better overall player, but Austin is on a hot streak and has been great against lefties this season. The battle may be decided by which pitchers are starting for opposing teams in the next few series, and it will be interesting to see how it plays out if Bird does make his return on the weekend against the Los Angeles Angels.

The New York Yankees Stalled in Washington but Lead in the AL East

The New York Yankees and Washington Nationals played to a 3-3 tie in Nationals Park on Tuesday night before inclement weather shut the game down in the sixth inning.

Masahiro Tanaka was on the mound for the Yankees and struggled in the early innings. He gave up a solo home run to Anthony Rendon in the first inning, followed by run scoring hits to Andrew Stevenson and Pedro Severino in the second inning to make the score 3-0.

Unfortunately, Tanaka’s home run rate is rising, as noted by Katie Sharp:

Tanaka has allowed the most home runs of any pitcher over the last two seasons with 57 and he is currently tied for fourth in Major League Baseball with nine.

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After the second inning, Tanaka appeared to settle down and he eventually retired the last nine batters in order.

Tyler Austin broke out of a 0-23 slump, going 2-2 with a single, a three-run homerun  and a sacrifice fly to tie the game at 3-3.

Yankees manager Aaron Boone told Brian Hoch of

“I always like the matchup with Tyler against a lefty,” manager Aaron Boone said. “A few really good at-bats — the single to start things, obviously the homer. Deep at-bats. That last at-bat was a real battle with Gio where he almost hit another one out, chasing them back to the wall. Really good at-bats from him in what we felt was a good matchup for him.”

Austin carried the offense on his back last night with the home run and a sacrifice fly responsible for all the Yankees’ runs.

On a day when released it’s power rankings boosting the Yankees (28-12) to the number one spot, supplanting the Boston Red Sox (28-14), now in third place, the Yankees took over the lead in the American League East as the Oakland Athletics beat the Red Sox 5-3 Tuesday night.

The game has been rescheduled to resume play at 5:05 Wednesday afternoon and the Yankees will be even more determined to beat Washington and maintain the top spot in the standings.

New York Yankees: Sonny Gray “Circle the wagons!”

Sonny Gray seemed no closer to figuring out how to regain his All-Star form on Friday night against the Toronto Blue Jays. After announcing this week that he was tweaking his mechanics, his performance against the Blue Jays was underwhelming, and worse, led to an ugly Yankee loss.

First of all, these are the not Blue Jays who were projected by some to finish third in the AL East. This Blue Jay team is outperforming projections to sit in the number two spot behind the first place Boston Red Sox. Gregor Chisholm of writes:

“The Blue Jays are scoring more runs per game (6.0) than any team in the American League except for the Red Sox (6.4 entering play Friday night). That has been good enough for a second-place spot in the AL East and early possession of an AL Wild Card spot. On the road, Toronto is 6-3 to start the year and has been outscoring its opponents 47-34.”

Gray had a formidable task ahead of him when he took the mound Friday night—bounce back against one of the hottest offensive teams in the league.

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According to Peter Botte of the New York Daily News, Aaron Boone discussed Gray’s performance after the game and said:

“The fastball velocity was down, even from last time where he struggled in Boston… And it turns into a tough night for him,” Aaron Boone said of Gray. “We’ve got to kind of circle the wagons with him and continue to work through it, because he’s really important to us. We’ve got to bea [sic] part of getting him right and back on track, but this was tough tonight.”

The Yankee offense was off to a good start with a pair of two run home runs, one by Tyler Austin in the second inning and one by Giancarlo Stanton in the third inning; however, Gray could not hold the lead in either inning and gave up five runs over 3.1 innings. Despite another Yankee home run by Miguel Andujar, the Yankees eventually lost the game 8-5.

Boone acknowledges that Gray has lost his form and with it his effectiveness and Botte points out:

“Gray finished the game generating only one swing and miss among his 73 pitches. His walk rate of 6.0 per nine innings is nearly double the career-high of 3.2 he posted last season.”

Gray had seemingly lost command of the strike zone and on those occasions when he found it, he did not fool Blue Jays hitters with his stuff.

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When asked after the game what had happened in the four hit three run fourth inning, Gray told Botte that the inning “just kind of got away from me,” as if it were a helium balloon he just happened to let go of and not the pounding that it actually was.

Yes, Boone, circle the wagons, and, perhaps, bring the reinforcements, fans agree that Sonny Gray is a problem the Yankees need to solve and quickly.

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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New York Yankees Player Preview: Tyler Austin

Christopher Tyler Austin made his debut with the New York Yankees August 13th, 2016. He made his debut in the same lineup as Aaron Judge, hitting just one spot ahead at 7th. That day, Tyler Austin and Aaron Judge made history, becoming the first pair of debuting rookie teammates to hit a homerun  in the Major Leagues.

However, since that dramatic debut Austin has had trouble sticking in the big leagues. Tyler Austin has had a career plagued by injuries which have slowed his development and progression up the ranks.

Recapping Austin’s Career Numbers:

Tyler Austin has played through two seasons for the Yankees, but he has less than 140 plate appearances. He’s hit 7 HR’s and has 20 RBI’s as per Baseball Reference.

However, in trying to preview Tyler Austin’s potential on the Yankees’ roster, we must take a look at what he’s done at the minor league level. In Triple A, in a (once again) injury riddled season, Austin played in 52 games. He had a slash line of .286/.357/.562; this slash line is something that you want to see out of young players. Austin also added to his value with 10 home-runs and 33 rbi’s.

Looking Forward to The Future:

Austin is seemingly set to make the 2018 Opening Day roster asthe Yankees released veteran first baseman Adam Lind on Wednesday March 14th. Austin has played pretty well this spring with three of his five hits being home-runs. And as a right handed compliment to starting first basemen Greg Bird, it sets Tyler up for success.

According to FanGraphs, Austin has impressive numbers against left handed pitchers, a slash line of .361/.432.722. These are outrageous looking numbers and when you see that Austin has a hard hit percentage of 56.5%, you know that if there’s a tough lefty on the mound, Austin will get the call.