The series finale against the Kansas City Royals was washed out, turning what would’ve been the final off day of the regular season, September 25, into a makeup game.
The Yankees get their first taste of an American League West team not named the Houston Astros in the form of the Oakland Athletics. Their 21-25 record is good enough for fourth place in a division where the second place team is already seven games out. That puts the Oakland Athletics 9½ out, one game ahead of the last place Seattle Mariners. The A’s come in off of a scheduled day off, but look to put an end to a three-game losing streak.
The Yankees look to build off of a win punctuated by timely hitting and strong pitching. But, they must do so without the presence of veteran outfielder Jacoby Ellsbury. The 33-year-old was placed on the 7-day concussion disabled list on the off day After slamming into the center field wall at Yankee Stadium chasing down a line drive hit by Alcides Escobar on the very first pitch of the game. Ellsbury was able to complete the ending in the field, but went straight to the locker room after coming off of the field. That was as far as he made it, as he was replaced in centerfield by Aaron Hicks. Later, it was announced that Ellsbury suffered a concussion and a sprained neck. His roster spot was filled by 1B/OF Rob Refsnyder.
Common sense dictates that Aaron Hicks will start in center field in Ellsbury’s absence.
Three Things To Watch For:
It’s no secret that some of the Yankees who got off to the hottest starts are starting to come back to earth. No one feels that more than Chase Headley. The third baseman is just two for his last 22, good for a .091 average. His fast start in April (.301/.402/.494) made fans forget about his horrible start last year, but quickly crashed to a .153/.176/.236 with six games left before the calendar flips. Headley has half as many hits as the previous month in just 11 fewer at-bats. He clearly is pressing, having only walked once compared to 14 times last month. From April to May, his strikeouts have gone up 31% from 19 in April to 25 already in May. But, he has had success in a small sample against Oakland starter Kendall Graveman: 3-for-8 with a double, a walk and three strikeouts. Headley appears to be on notice after the Yankees promoted No. 1 prospect Gleyber Torres to AAA Scranton/Wilkes-Barre, and then started him for two consecutive games at the hot corner.Embed from Getty Images
Tanaka On Track
Plain and simple: Masahiro Tanaka has to be better. At this point in the season, there are more questions than answers about the Yankee right-hander. But, Brian Cashman does not see injury as an issue. In his nine starts, Tanaka is 5-3, but he is being victimized by the long ball. He has already given up 13 this season, and batters are hitting an overwhelming .310 against him. His sinker has not been as effective as in years past, as batters are hitting that to a .345 clip. He is on pace to have career worsts in home runs allowed and walks allowed, per Steamer projections. Tanaka could not even record an out in the fourth inning during his May 20 start in Tampa Bay, giving up six earned runs (five of them scoring via the home run). Tanaka must focus on keeping the ball down, and keeping it in the yard.
A Different Look
The Yankees will don a different look on Saturday as MLB introduced special uniforms for Memorial Day. Just like with the Mother’s Day pink uniforms, each team will wear the special uniforms throughout the weekend. Caps will be an olive green color, and the logo on the chest and numbers will be filled in with a similar color. The uniform will also be worn on their May 29 game in Baltimore, necessitating the creation of a separate road jersey.
- Kendall Graveman (2-2, 3.83) vs. Masahiro Tanaka (5-3, 6.56)
- Sean Manaea (2-3, 5.24) vs. CC Sabathia (4-2, 4.62)
- Andrew Triggs (5-3, 2.77) vs. Michael Pineda (5-2, 3.35)
Disclaimer: the Yankees’ website lists the game two and three starts as “to be announced,” but I followed the regular rotation to fill in the blanks.