Category: News

Game 97: Second-Half Sonny Aims for Rebound

Still not making any Sonny weather jokes until Gray is good.

After leaving 14 men on base last night in a frustrating loss to the last-place Mets, the Yankees call on Sonny Gray in a Saturday matinee from the Bronx.

Gray has disappointed this season, plain and simple. His 5.46 ERA is the second-worst on the Yankees’ staff, but his last start against the Orioles before the All-Star break showed encouraging signs. He threw mostly nothing but sinkers and curveballs, and that simplified approach seemed to be way more effective. Yes, it was six scoreless innings against the worst team in the league but he just looked like a different guy out there.

His opponent will be Steven Matz, who faced the Yankees on June 9 in the first installment of the Subway Series. He gave up three earned runs on five hits in six innings in that game, but received a no-decision as the Yankees eventually won 4-to-3. Overall, he has a solid 3.38 ERA though his FIP is considerably higher at 4.82.

Gary Sánchez has swapped to be the designated hitter today. Brett Gardner sits, while Aaron Hicks heads to the leadoff spot. Brandon Drury is in at second base, and Austin Romine does the catching for Gray.

Pre-Game Notes:

  • Domingo Acevedo, who was recalled from Double-A Trenton as a bullpen reinforcement, told the story of how he was given the news of his call-up. A knock on the door came from his manager and pitching coach, and his first thought was that he had done something wrong. However, once given the news, he became emotional and hugged his pitching coach. He called his mother, who also thought something was wrong. Once she was told the news, they both cried on the phone. Now, he’s in a pinstriped No. 70 jersey in the Bronx.
  • Gleyber Torres should begin his rehab assignment quite soon in Tampa. He’s supposed to re-join the team Wednesday in St. Petersburg.
  • Tim Healey of Newsday reported that soon-to-be-ex-Mets closer Jeurys Familia did not have a jersey in his locker so it’s likely that he’s traded before the game ends.

Mets Lineup:

  1. Brandon Nimmo – RF
  2. Asdrúbal Cabrera – DH
  3. Wilmer Flores – 1B
  4. Michael Conforto – LF
  5. José Bautista – 3B
  6. Kevin Plawecki – C
  7. Amed Rosario – SS
  8. Matt den Dekker – CF
  9. José Reyes – 2B

Four (Could Be Five) Yankees Named to All-Star Team

The Yankees will have four representatives on the American League squad for this year’s All-Star Game in Washington on July 17.

They are:

  • RF Aaron Judge (starting)
  • LHP Aroldis Chapman
  • RHP Luis Severino
  • 2B Gleyber Torres

Each of the Yankees voted in as a reserve was selected by the player vote.

Giancarlo Stanton is eligible to be voted in as part of the “Final Vote” campaign. The Yankees have partnered with the Los Angeles Dodgers in an attempt to get Stanton and breakout infielder Max Muncy voted as the National League final vote candidate.

Game 62: Two-Game Sweep in Sight

Can Sonny figure it out at Yankee Stadium?

Sonny Gray gets the ball as he looks to pitch the Yankees to a win in a third straight start, while the team also looks to sweep the visiting Washington Nationals quickly out of town.

Gray’s 2018 has been, well, weird. In an equal sample size (6 starts), he has been an ace on the road (2.83 ERA, .578 OPS) and just lost at Yankee Stadium (7.22 ERA, .914 OPS). He got knocked around in his last start in the Bronx, allowing the Los Angeles Angels to hang five runs on seven hits in 3⅔ innings on May 26. Since then, however, Gray has allowed just one run in 14 innings while striking out 14 batters. The 28-year-old received an unfair no-decision in his last start June 6 against the Toronto Blue Jays, where he tossed eight innings of shutout ball. The Yankees won that game, but not until a three-run 13th inning when Gray was long gone. He hopes to continue that trend so that people will stop talking about this outrageous statistical split.

The Nationals had to make a roster move to recall tonight’s starter, Erick Fedde, from their Triple-A affiliate in Syracuse. Ranked by MLB Pipeline as the team’s No. 4 prospect, Fedde has “potential as a mid-rotation starter”. His Triple-A statistics don’t show that however, where he has a 4.76 ERA in 11 starts for the Chiefs. He made one spot-start for the Nationals on May 23, picking up a loss against the San Diego Padres allowing three runs in 5⅔ innings.

Gary Sánchez continues to sit out as part of a campaign by Aaron Boone to rest the struggling backstop. “I just felt like it’s a chance to give him essentially three days to freshen him up a little bit, get some good days of recovery and work and then have back at it,” Boone said Tuesday.

Meanwhile, Austin Romine is slashing .410/.467/.821 in 39 at-bats since April 30 so Boone has no issue giving Sánchez all the time he needs. Miguel Andújar returns to the lineup after a night off to allow Neil Walker into the lineup against Tanner Roark. Greg Bird remains in the lineup, but loses his No. 3 slot in the lineup to Didi Gregorius. Bird, who has struggled (1-for-18 since June 6), drops down to the No. 7 spot.

Washington Nationals Lineup

  1. Adam Eaton – RF
  2. Trea Turner – SS
  3. Bryce Harper – CF
  4. Anthony Rendon – 3B
  5. Daniel Murphy – DH
  6. Matt Adams – 1B
  7. Juan Soto – LF
  8. Wilmer Difo – 2B
  9. Spencer Kieboom – C
    Erick Fedde – RHP

Jonathan Loáisiga To Be Promoted, Pitch Friday

With the injury to Masahiro Tanaka requiring a 10-day disabled list stint that could be much longer than that, the Yankees have decided to turn to an internal option to take his rotation spot: No. 12 prospect Jonathan Loáisiga. Manager Aaron Boone announced Loáisiga would start Thursday in a news conference prior to Tuesday’s game, but corrected himself postgame to say his debut would be Friday.

With the timetable for Tanaka’s return uncertain, the Yankees opted to go with one of the better arms so far in their minor league system this year in Loáisiga. Though he has not appeared above Double-A, the 23-year-old has demonstrated impressive control through 10 starts in the minors. In 45 innings, he has walked just four batters compared to 58 strikeouts. His 4.32 ERA in the Double-A Eastern League was inflated by his most recent outing, where he allowed four runs in 2+ innings because he reached a 50-pitch limit imposed in anticipation of him starting Friday.

“We feel like Loáisiga coming up in a spot situation where we may only need him for a start — two or three depending on Tanaka — I certainly feel good about the decision to bring Jonathan up,” Boone said. “I think he has a chance to come in, because of his stuff and the way he pounds the strike zone, I don’t think he’ll be overwhelmed by all of it. I think it’s a sound decision.”

Loáisiga was picked up by the Yankees at a tryout camp once he was released from his contract with the San Francisco Giants. He signed in February 2016, but made it through one start at Low-A before requiring Tommy John surgery on his right elbow. He recovered in time to make 11 starts in 2017, and impressed enough there and in instructional league to land a spot on the 40-man roster after the season.

His scouting report, per MLB Pipeline:

While Loáisiga is small and skinny, he has surprising power to his three-pitch repertoire. His quick arm repeatedly generates 93-96 mph fastballs that top out at 98 with life down in the strike zone. His low-80s curveball features a high spin rate and his upper-80s change-up has nice fade, albeit with a bit too much velocity.

Loáisiga has a clean delivery that he repeats well, allowing him to work the bottom of the strike zone and issue just three walks in 32⅔ innings last season. His stuff and control give him a ceiling of a mid-rotation starter, though his size and health history are concerns.

The Yankees passed over a veteran with MLB experience, David Hale, and a heralded top prospect, Justus Sheffield, in order to tap Loáisiga for this start. They likely did not want to risk losing Hale to free agency again as he is out of options, and they do not want to start Sheffield’s service clock until they are confident that he won’t be returned to the minors again.

Tommy Kahnle to Return Friday; Greg Bird on Saturday

Badly needed reinforcements are headed to the Bronx, as key contributors RHP Tommy Kahnle and 1B Greg Bird are set to be activated from the disabled list during the upcoming series against the Los Angeles Angels. Manager Aaron Boone provided the information in a radio interview with Mike Francesa.

The bullpen proved overworked in an ugly loss Wednesday in Texas, where the Yankees’ offense scored 10 runs but were bested by 12 from the Rangers. Tommy Kahnle will provide extra length as he serves as another arm Boone can trust in a high-leverage situation. Kahnle last pitched April 12 in Boston, before a concerning velocity drop led the Yankees to discover his right shoulder tendinitis. That likely explains his unsightly 6.14 ERA (5.69 FIP) as well as astronomical 9.8 walks-per-nine rate. So far on his rehab assignment, Kahnle has allowed two earned runs in five innings of work.

Greg Bird returns to a first base position that has actually been handled well in his absence. The 25-year-old did not make the trip north for the Yankees’ opening series in Toronto due to another surgery on a small bone spur in his right ankle. Doctors removed a coin-sized calcium deposit from the joint. Yankees first basemen have combined to hit .238/.296/.431 with nine homers and 33 RBIs to this point in the season, so they have the luxury to ease Bird back into things. I would expect the Yankees to demote an extra reliever (likely A.J. Cole) so that they can keep both Tyler Austin and Neil Walker on the active roster. On his rehab assignment, Bird has slashed .205/.367/.436 with three home runs. He likely will play one more game with the RailRiders Friday in Scranton.

Gary Sánchez, who left Tuesday night’s game with calf cramps and did not start in Wednesday’s game, will likely start behind the plate as normal to catch Luis Severino in Friday’s series opener. He’ll get at least the half-day-off Saturday as Sonny Gray will start.

Prior to Boone’s interview with Francesa, there was nervousness regarding Sánchez’s health as the team signed catcher Wilkin Castillo out of the independent Atlantic League and assigned him to Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre. No word at this point if either of their catchers, Kyle Higashioka or Erik Kratz, are going through any injury issues. Castillo is actually quite versatile as well, logging innings at first base, second base, third base, shortstop, left field and right field. And, yes, he logged 6⅔ innings on the mound for the Triple-A Indianapolis Indians in the Pittsburgh Pirates system in 2015.

Earlier today, the Yankees activated outfielder Billy McKinney (left shoulder sprain) from the 10-day disabled list and optioned him to Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre.

David Hale Elects Free Agency

After being designated for assignment to clear a roster spot for outfielder Clint Frazier, RHP David Hale has elected free agency in lieu of accepting an outright assignment with the Yankees.

The Yankees picked Hale up on a minor league contract and invited him to Spring Training this past offseason. In two appearances with the Yankees, Hale gave up two earned runs in five innings of mop-up relief.

Hale previously declined an outright assignment April 30 after being designated for assignment by the Minnesota Twins. The Twins claimed Hale off waivers after the Yankees designated him for assignment after the acquisition of A.J. Cole. Hale appeared once for the Twins, giving up four runs in three innings against the Cincinnatti Reds on April 27.

Sherman: Tyler Austin’s Suspension Reduced to 4 Games

The appeal worked!

After more than week of waiting, the Yankees finally know the fate of Tyler Austin‘s suspension. His appeal reduced the penalty from five games to four, and he will begin to serve that suspension during Friday’s series opener in Anaheim. This news was first reported by the New York Post’s Joel Sherman.

The suspension was originally handed out after Austin took exception to getting drilled by a Joe Kelly fastball, presumably as revenge for a slide where Austin’s spikes hit Brock Holt‘s ankle. He charged the mound, and also threw punches before the Yankees and Red Sox were separated.

His suspension was announced the following day, but he had been allowed to play through his appeal. Kelly was suspended six games for the incident, though the league denied his appeal and he will serve the full penalty.

Austin has been a savior for the Yankees with Greg Bird‘s injury and Neil Walker‘s ineffectiveness. Through 17 games, Austin has slashed .290/.362/.629 with five home runs and 16 RBIs for a team desperate for first base production. He has been sure-handed in the field, too, making just one error in 110 total chances.

With Austin out the next four games, the Yankees will get creative at first base. They must play with a 24-man roster because of the suspension rules. Walker will likely see the most time at first, though Aaron Boone did mention Miguel Andújar and Austin Romine as other candidates to get time there.