Spring Training Game 25: “Secretariat” gets the start

Secretariat won the Belmont Stakes by an astounding 31 lengths in 1973, which is the type of lead Adam Warren has in the fifth starter race according to Brian Cashman. Kind of strange how the team hasn’t made the final call yet, but it clearly is just a formality at this point. Today, when Warren gets the start against the Rays, he can be a bit more at ease while he works towards his first regular season start.

Today’s game is scheduled to begin at 1:05pm in Port Charlotte, and will be live on MLB.tv. If you have MLB Network, you can watch it on delay at 9:00am on Friday. Strange time, I know. Here’s the lineup:

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If there’s anything to worry about, it’s Betances’ command, not velocity

Ah, spring training. It’s a time when we get a little too excited about some obscure player in above his head and a time when we worry about another player struggling in extremely small sample sizes. This year, the scrutiny is on Dellin Betances, who hasn’t pitched well this month. After his sixth appearance against the Mets’ yesterday, he’s allowed seven hits, two walks, and four runs in 5.1 innings pitched. After a monster 2014, this performance has resulted in some groans about his upcoming season.

Last year, Betances was brilliant in spring training. So now that he hasn’t gotten off the start most expect, the reaction has been mostly negative. Fans are fickle, so I understand the response, but I don’t think there’s any reason to be worried just yet. One focal point has been Betances’ velocity this month. After averaging 96.7 MPH on his heater last season, some have grown worried about Betances hovering around 92 and 93 MPH in recent outings. Joe Girardi has addressed this, stating that Betances’ velocity is right around where he was at the same point last spring. Girardi’s not fibbing. Continue reading

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Spring Training Game 24: Lining up for Opening Day

After last night’s game, manager Joe Girardi effectively admitted that CC Sabathia wouldn’t be the Opening Day starter. That means it’s this afternoon’s starter, Masahiro Tanaka, who will get the ball in the first regular season game. Following today’s appearance, he can pitch on five-days rest for his final spring start (March 31st) and opening day (April 6th). Tanaka is expected to get up to 60 pitches today after throwing 48 in 3.2 innings against the Braves last week.

The game against the Mets is on YES and WOR (Mets’ radio) this afternoon, with first pitch slated for 1:05pm. Here is the Yankees’ lineup:

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Filling out the rest of the Yankees’ bullpen

This spring, there aren’t many roster spots up for grabs. The fifth starter job, backup catcher, utility infielder, and starting second baseman had the feeling of a competition at certain points this month, but they really all seem predetermined. Adam Warren unofficially the fifth starter, John Ryan Murphy has the inside track as Brian McCann‘s backup, and the Yankees put the kibosh on Brendan Ryan and Stephen Drew losing their jobs as utility infielder and starting second baseman respectively. At this point, the only roster spot(s) available are in the back-end of the bullpen.

Assuming the Yankees run out a 12-man pitching staff as they’ve been accustomed to in recent years, there are two vacancies. There might even be three if the Yankees are disenchanted enough with the way Esmil Rogers has pitched this spring, although that’s probably a stretch. Here’s how the ‘pen shakes out:

  1. Dellin Betances
  2. Andrew Miller (LHP)
  3. David Carpenter
  4. Justin Wilson (LHP)
  5. Rogers/Warren
  6. ?
  7. ?

I know I already stated that Warren is going to be the fifth starter, but I lumped him in with Rogers just as a formality. The race isn’t technically over, as Joe Girardi hasn’t made his announced. As for the last two spots, there are a bunch of guys in the hunt. It all depends on how the coaching staff and Larry Rothschild want to construct it: do they want another lefty? An extra long-man? Both? In no particular order, here are the pitchers I surmise to still be in the running:

Continue reading

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Spring Training Game 23: Esmil’s last chance?

The Yankees and Tigers square off at George M. Steinbrenner Field this evening, with Esmil Rogers getting the start for the Bombers. Rogers pitched poorly in his last Grapefruit League outing, allowing five hits, three runs, one walk, and one homer against the Phillies last Thursday. With spring training transitioning from the strength-building phase to the performance evaluation stage, Rogers might need a good performance tonight to keep his name in the fifth starter hat. A bad outing would put him further behind Adam Warren, and could even place him behind the likes of Bryan Mitchell and Scott Baker.

The action gets underway at 7:05pm in Tampa and is on YES and WFAN locally. Here’s the lineup:

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No closer? No problem

More than 50 years ago, the late Jerome Holtzman created the save statistic that led to the development and proliferation of the closer role. Managers save their best reliever for the ninth inning, regardless of the situation in the seventh or eighth. Keith Law calls this Holtzman’s folly, described as when getting the closer a save influences a manager’s decision-making. Heart of the order coming up in the eighth inning in a one-run game? Can’t bring the closer in, it’s not the ninth inning yet. The Yankees have operated in that fashion for a long time, but a change might be coming this season.

Of course, the Yankees had an incredible run with Mariano Rivera mostly limited to the ninth inning. David Robertson excelled in the role last year too. This year, there’s no clear cut man for the traditional closer’s job. With D-Rob’s departure, Dellin Betances‘ emergence in 2014, and Andrew Miller now in the fold, the question is: who will close in 2015? Perhaps nobody in particular according to Joe Girardi, at least to begin the season. Continue reading

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Spring Training Game 22: Mitchell’s turn

The Yankees didn’t return to Tampa after yesterday’s game in Port St. Lucie against the Mets. Rather, the team stayed on the east coast of Florida because today’s affair is just a short distance from Mets camp. There was no sense in making the long bus ride back to the gulf coast of the state. Bryan Mitchell gets the ball for the Bombers this afternoon, his fourth Grapefruit League appearance. Mitchell is probably destined for Triple-A at the end of camp, but he’s still technically a part of the fifth starter competition. Adam Warren is the clubhouse leader for the job at the moment, but Mitchell could be propelled into the role at an injury’s notice.

There’s no New York broadcast of today’s game, but it can be seen on MLB.tv or MLB Network. First pitch is slated for 1:05pm. Here’s today’s lineup:

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Finding a taker for Austin Romine

Austin Romine is not only battling for the backup catcher spot on the Yankees, but also auditioning for the rest of the league. It’s been a few years since Romine was one of the Yankees’ better prospects, but he still has some valuable skills that might make him attractive as a reserve. In particular, his defense is well reputed. He’d be tolerable as the Yankees backup this season, but the problem for him is that the team has a better option in John Ryan Murphy. Furthermore, he’s out of options, and thus would have to slip through waivers in order for the Yankees to retain him in the minors. Odds are another team would scoop him up on waivers, so if the Yankees aren’t planning to use Romine as the major league backup, they might as well try to get something for him.

Any return for Romine isn’t going to be impressive. It could include a player in the same out-of-options situation as Romine, or a fringy low level prospect. Let’s examine the teams that could be a trade match, and if there are any worthy out-of-options trade targets on those clubs. Continue reading

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Sunday Links: Betances, Eovaldi, Nutrition, Service Time, and Lee

Passing along a few good reads from this week:

Fangraphs | Dellin Betances, Dominant and Deceptive by Owen Watson

We all know that Dellin Betances has some nasty stuff. His fastball can tough the upper-90s, and his breaking ball is prone to jelly-legging opposing hitters. But it’s more than just the pure stuff he offers — Dellin’s delivery also makes it impossible for the batter to get a read on what pitch is coming.

IIATMS | Nathan Eovaldi’s putaway problem by Katie Sharp

Any pitcher that can push triple-digits on the radar gun is usually someone that also racks up the strikeouts. That’s not the case for the Nathan Eovaldi, though. Sharp takes a look at why Eovaldi has struggled to finish off hitters in his career, and how he might be able to remedy it.

New York Times | Yankees’ Pinstripes May Be Slimming, but a Nutritionist Helps by David Waldstein

Eat good feel good, right? That’s the approach the Yankees are taking with newly hired nutritionist Cynthia Sass. And it makes perfect sense; encouraging better choices should keep the players better fueled and in better shape.

Fangraphs| It’s Time to Fix Baseball’s Broken Service Time System by Mike Petriello

Petriello discusses the situation between the Cubs and uber-prospect Kris Bryant, in which the team stands to gain an extra year of control if they keep the seemingly ready Bryant out of the majors for a couple of weeks. It’s a tough pill to swallow for Bryant, as he’ll have to wait an extra year to reach free agency and get a big payday, but there’s no doubt manipulating his service time stands to benefit the Cubs. Anyway, Petriello proposes how he’d try to fix this strategy that seems to happen to a couple of promising minor leaguers yearly.

River Ave. Blues | Yankees avoid ugly years of Cliff Lee, but missed out when he could have made a big difference by Mike Axisa

It’s not often that the Yankees don’t get their guy, but Cliff Lee proved to be one of the elusive few. Axisa takes a look at those times the Yankees were oh so close to acquiring the left hander, and how although the team turned out lucky to avoid his recent injuries, there were a few instances that he still could have changed the Yankees’ postseason fortunes.

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