Tag: Justus Sheffield

Game 92: Battle of the Aces

The Yankees somehow manage to play better against higher-quality teams, and that will be put to the test tonight in Cleveland. Luis Severino meets his match as he takes on Corey Kluber.

Sevy has been unreal this season. His 2.12 ERA on the season is good for third in all of Major League Baseball. He hasn’t lost since June 10, and in that span (five starts), he owns a 1.67 ERA and has struck out 34 batters compared to just eight walks. He is 2-1 with a 2.49 ERA in four career starts against Cleveland.

Facing Kluber does not feel as intimidating after watching Didi Gregorius take him deep twice in Game 5 of the 2017 American League Division Series. The stats, however, show he is still one of the most dominant pitchers in the league. He enters 12-4 with a 2.49 ERA. He pitched well his last time out July 7 against Oakland, but got the no-decision. He pitched seven innings allowing no runs on five hits. He has great career stats against the Yankees: 5-1, 1.80 ERA in seven starts.

Same lineup as last night but swap Neil Walker in for Tyler Wade. Aaron Judge is back in right field, while Giancarlo Stanton is the designated hitter.


Pre-Game Notes

  • Unless you live under a rock, you’ve likely heard of the swirling trade rumors connecting the Yankees and Orioles INF Manny Machado. The Yanks apparently have made a “strong” offer to the O’s that does not include OF Clint Frazier or LHP Justus Sheffield. The Orioles reportedly want close to MLB-ready talent, and either Frazier or Sheffield would represent that. The Yankees are vying with the Los Angeles Dodgers and Milwaukee Brewers for Machado, and are also in on LHP Zach Britton, per sources.
  • Gleyber Torres was seen taking ground balls before the game, so he’s continuing to progress back from a hip strain. Gary Sánchez ran the bases  and is expected to be sent out on a minor-league rehab assignment before the end of the four-game set in Cleveland.

Cleveland Lineup

  1. Francisco Lindor – SS
  2. Michael Brantley – LF
  3. José Ramírez – 3B
  4. Edwin Encarnación – DH
  5. Yonder Alonso – 1B
  6. Jason Kipnis – 2B
  7. Tyler Naquin – RF
  8. Yan Gomes – C
  9. Greg Allen CF

 

Game 91: Happy Flight

The words are written in huge letters on the whiteboard in the visiting clubhouse in Baltimore:

After last night’s incredibly frustrating walk-off loss to the Orioles, they aim to turn it around and split the series with a win today. Sonny Gray takes the mound tasked with pitching the Yankees to that victory, in what could be the most important outing of his pinstriped tenure. It’s no secret Gray has been awful, and a good start tonight could save him from being traded away as a salary dump before the July 31 deadline. Gray has a 9.00 ERA in his last five starts and needs a good outing against a bad team to make himself look better. In his career, Gray is 4-4 with a 4.64 ERA against the Orioles, and 2-3 with a 4.50 ERA in five career starts at Camden Yards.

On the other side of the pitching matchup is Orioles ace Dylan Bundy. The 25-year-old right-hander carries a 4.08 ERA in 17 starts heading into tonight. Despite all their matchups already this season, the Yankees have yet to face Bundy in 2018. In his career, Bundy is 2-3 with a 5.34 ERA in seven games (five starts) against the Yankees. He got roughed up his last time out July 6 against Minnesota, allowing six runs (five earned) in 3⅓ innings.

Nothing super crazy being done with the Yankees lineup tonight. Didi Gregorius moves back into the No. 3 slot, while Aaron Hicks slides down to No. 5 in the order. Greg Bird, on the heels of a four-RBI night, gets back into the No. 6 slot. Miguel Andújar goes down to No. 7, while Tyler Wade gets the start at second base and bats ninth.


Pre-Game Notes

  • Gary Sánchez and Gleyber Torres are continuing to progress in their respective rehab processes. The Yankees are sending head athletic trainer Steve Donohue to Washington with Torres during the All-Star break so he can keep his rehab regimen up.
  • Lots of trade rumors connecting the Yankees to Orioles INF Manny Machado, with Jon Morosi of MLB.com reporting the Orioles would trade Machado to the Bronx if LHP Justus Sheffield is included in the deal. It’s unclear if Brian Cashman would move Sheffield exclusively for Machado, especially since the team has been linked to LHP Zach Britton as well.

Baltimore Orioles Lineup

  1. Tim Beckham – 3B
  2. Adam Jones – CF
  3. Manny Machado – SS
  4. Mark Trumbo – DH
  5. Jonathan Schoop – 2B
  6. Chris Davis – 1B
  7. Danny Valencia – RF
  8. Joey Rickard – LF
  9. Caleb Joseph – C

Game 86: Turn the Page, Sevy

The Yankees will look to put last night’s demoralizing loss behind them as they send their ace, Luis Severino, to the hill.

Severino has been fantastic this season no matter how you slice it. Since he took the loss June 10 to the Mets, Sevy is 4-0 with a stingy 0.99 ERA in victories over Tampa Bay, Seattle, Philadelphia and Boston. The three runs he gave up all came in his June 21 outing vs. Seattle. He’s 2-0 with a 0.71 ERA in his two starts against the Blue Jays. He has struck out 13 batters compared to allowing four hits and five walks. He has a 2.81 ERA in five career starts at Rogers Centre.

Believe it or not, more eyes might be on the Blue Jays’ starter today: lefty J.A. Happ. Happ is arguably the best rental pitcher available on the trade market this summer, and the Yankees have already been mentioned as a “main player” by FanCred’s Jon Heyman for his services. He got badly roughed up his last time out July 1 in Detroit, allowing seven runs on 10 hits in 5⅔ innings. Scouts and fans alike will see how Happ fares this time around against the Yankees, to whom he took an Opening Day loss March 29. He gave up three runs (two earned) on four hits in 4⅔ innings.

This Yankees lineup is quite violently shaken up from last night. Greg Bird is batting ninth for the first time since he started five games there last season. Brandon Drury gets his first look at second base, where he played 114 games for the Arizona Diamondbacks in 2017. Kyle Higashioka catches Severino, so Austin Romine‘s achy hamstring gets a bit more rest. Aaron Hicks, fresh off another home run, bats clean up for the third time this season. He has a .429/.600/1.143 slashline in that spot so let’s hope that continues.


A lot happened before this game so let’s get to some notes:

  • Clint Frazier is back, and David Hale has been designated for assignment. Aaron Boone said Frazier likely starts tomorrow and in one of the doubleheader games in Baltimore on Monday.
  • Jonathan Loáisiga has been placed on the Triple-A disabled list with tightness in his right shoulder so he will not pitch in the doubleheader Monday. Loáisiga will see Dr. Chris Ahmad on Monday in New York. Boone said Luis Cessa will get the call to pitch in the nightcap Monday.
  • Gary Sánchez, who is traveling with the team currently, caught Masahiro Tanaka‘s most recent bullpen session and took two rounds of batting practice in Toronto. Per Boone, the “best case” scenario shows Sánchez starting minor league rehab games July 15 and rejoining the club post-All Star break. Tanaka will return from the disabled
  • Boone confirmed Sonny Gray will start as scheduled Wednesday in Baltimore, despite his string of awful outings. Gray has been working with pitching coach Larry Rothschild, hopefully in an attempt to figure out what the hell has gone wrong. “Hopefully they can unlock some things here in the days before the next start. Hopefully we can see those results,” Boone said.
  • LHP Justus Sheffield (Yankees No. 2 prospect, No. 39 MLB) is “putting himself in a position to potentially at some point be an option” in the second half, Boone told reporters. Sheffield was just selected to represent the Yankees in the 2018 All-Star Futures Game, and owns a 2.61 ERA in 10 games for the RailRiders in the International League.

Blue Jays Lineup

  1. Curtis Granderson – LF
  2. Lourdes Gurriel Jr. – 2B
  3. Yangervis Solarte – 3B
  4. Justin Smoak – 1B
  5. Kendrys Morales – DH
  6. Kevin Pillar – CF
  7. Randal Grichuk – RF
  8. Luke Maile – C
  9. Aledmys Díaz – SS

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.

Off-Day Notes: Airport, Florial, Frazier, Sheffield, Teixeira

Some things I found interesting on this second consecutive day without Yankees baseball.

No Yankees baseball again (today was a scheduled off-day), so here are a few notes I’ve gathered throughout today:

  • The Yanks didn’t have the best accommodations Wednesday night as they attempted to escape the rain in Washington. According to Newsday’s Erik Boland, the team was forced to sleep overnight inside Dulles Airport outside the capital because of flight delays and hotels being overfilled. “It was an unfortunate set of circumstances,” GM Brian Cashman said late Wednesday afternoon, per Boland.
  • Outfielder Estevan Florial, the team’s No. 2 prospect, was lifted from Class-A Advanced Tampa’s contest against the Dunedin Blue Jays with “right wrist soreness”. The 20-year-old had a 32-game on-base streak snapped as he was lifted after going 0-for-2. “I noticed in his first at-bat he had some funky-looking swings,” manager Patrick Osborn said. “And then in his second at-bat, he had another one that resembled those ones from the first. I figured something must be bothering him, so I made the switch to take him out, and later, we got word from the trainer that was working on him that it was soreness in the right wrist.” No further word from the Tarpons at this point regarding the severity of the injury. Florial is slashing .246/.353/.343 through 36 games with Tampa this season.
  • Clint Frazier will stay with the big league club for the upcoming three-game series with the Kansas City Royals, with Aaron Boone stating that the outfielder will be a part of the team’s roster puzzle “for now”. With all of the recent rainouts, the bullpen has been extremely rested. That has allowed the team to put Domingo Germán into the bullpen until his scheduled start Tuesday, therefore allowing Frazier to be a fourth bat on the bench.
  • The team’s top pitching prospect, lefty Justus Sheffield, has a return date in place after being placed on the 7-day disabled list with left shoulder stiffness May 12. The Yanks’ No. 3 overall prospect will return to the rotation May 23, starting against the Pawtucket Red Sox. Sheffield has a 2.16 ERA in two starts since being promoted to the Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre RailRiders.
  • Former Yankees first baseman Mark Teixeira joined Michael Kay on The Michael Kay Show earlier this afternoon, and had plenty to say regarding the aftermath of former teammate Robinson Canó‘s 80-game suspension for Furosemide. The drug is banned under the MLB Joint Drug Prevention and Treatment Program because it is a diuretic that can be used to mask performance-enhancing drugs. “I don’t really want to get into too much detail, I love Robbie, but I’m not surprised,” Teixeira said. “I don’t want to get too much further but I think a lot of people are trying to say the same thing. (Yankees GM Brian) Cash(man) had to catch himself in an interview a couple days ago, but yeah, not surprised.” Canó is not the only former teammate of Teixeira’s to be punished for PEDs, since the three-time All-Star also shared a roster with Melky Cabrera and Alex Rodriguez. The influence of those two players may have pushed Canó down the path to using performance-enhancing drugs, Teixiera argued in his segment. “Listen, Robbie, look at his situation here: Robbie Cano’s assistant was on the list for Biogenesis. Of course, he has an assistant, you know, buys stuff for him. Alex Rodriguez got popped by Biogenesis. Melky (Cabrera) got popped. They’re best friends,” he said. “When someone gets lumped into that group, it’s because there’s evidence. There’s a paper trail. There’s a smoke trail.” He went on to say that many of his former teammates were able to get away with it, and even went on to say that some of them are already in the Hall of Fame.

Newsday: Yankees Still in Play for Alex Cobb

Could Brian Cashman make one last big splash?

While the Yankees’ starting rotation may seem settled for the 2018 season, one baseball source told Newsday’s Anthony Rieber that the Yankees are continuing to monitor the market of right-handed pitcher Alex Cobb.

Rieber said that Cobb would fit with the Yankees “if his price drops enough and the Yankees can continue their quest to stay under the luxury-tax threshold”. He then cited the Yankees’ signing of Neil Walker to a $4 million one-year deal as an example of how low Cobb’s market would have to go for him to fit under the $197 million luxury tax number.

Cobb is the best starting pitcher remaining on the market after a remarkably cold offseason for players expecting high-value contracts. Lance Lynn recently agreed to a one-year deal with the Minnesota Twins, while Jake Arrieta inked a three-year, $75 million contract with the Philadelphia Phillies.

The issue with Cobb is that he declined the qualifying offer from the Tampa Bay Rays, so the Yankees would have to “lose its second- and fifth-highest selections in the following year’s Draft as well $1 million from its international bonus pool” because the Yankees exceeded the luxury tax threshold in 2017.

The righty fits with the Yankees because he is a ground ball pitcher. In 2017, batters had a 47.8% ground ball rate against Cobb. That number, however, is a significant drop from Cobb’s last full season in the big leagues. Cobb had a 56.2% ground ball rate in 2014. Injuries prevented him from pitching in 2015 and he only made 13 starts (including rehab appearances) in 2016.

Behind incumbent fifth starter Jordan Montgomery, the Yankees do not have much starting pitching depth that is MLB-ready. Domingo Germán has impressed so far in Spring Training, and Aaron Boone mentioned him in the same sentence as Luis Cessa, Chance Adams and David Hale as potential sixth starters. The Yankees do not yet believe that Justus Sheffield or Domingo Acevedo are able to fill in just yet.

Adding Cobb would create an interesting situation in the Yankee rotation. The team could, conceivably, use an option year on Montgomery and have him spot start with the big league club to limit his innings and provide starting depth. But, you’re keeping an effective lefty starter who had a promising rookie year in the minors for part of the season to allow Cobb, who pitched his first full season since 2014 last year, to have a full-time rotation spot.

With the draft pick compensation and the fact that the Yankees have five starters already, I think adding Alex Cobb would create more headaches for the team than is necessary.

Yankees Re-Assign 6 Players to Minor League Camp

The cuts include five pitchers and one catcher.

The Yankees have begun to trim the fat at their Spring Training complex in Tampa, as they have re-assigned six players to minor league camp in their first round of cuts. The players are RHP Cale Coshow, RHP Raynel Espinal, LHP Trevor Lane, C Chace Numata, LHP Justus Sheffield and RHP Dillon Tate.

Coshow appeared in five games, and posted a 5.79 ERA through his 4⅔ innings on the bump. He struck out four batters and walked four. MLB Pipeline did not rank him amongst the Yankees’ Top 30 Prospects.

Espinal appeared in three games, with a 2.70 ERA in 3⅓ innings pitched. He struck out four batters compared to just one walk. He, too, does not rank amongst the Yankees’ Top 30 Prospects.

Lane was both a late addition to the list of non-roster invitees, and the Yankees’ Top 30 prospect list. Ranked at No. 30, the lefty did not allow a run in 2⅔ innings. His peripherals weren’t great, however, striking out one batter compared to three walks. Roster Resource projects the University of Illinois at Chicago product to start the season with the Double-A Trenton Thunder.

Numata joined the Yankees organization after the Hawaii native joined the Phillies as a 14th-round pick out of high school in 2010. He spent most of his time catching bullpens, going hitless in three at-bats.

Sheffield came into camp ranked as the team’s No. 3 prospect. He showed flashes of brilliance, which then faded into laboring innings where he looked lost. That resulted in a 11.81 ERA in 5⅓ innings. He struck out four compared to three walks. Sheffield likely will start the season with Double-A Trenton again.

Tate, the team’s No. 11 prospect, showed the promise that made him the No. 4 pick in the 2015 draft. His 2.25 ERA in four innings was one of the best marks among Yankees’ pitchers to this point. His three strikeouts to zero walks ratio showed strong command. He figures to start the season with Class-A Advanced Tampa or Double-A Trenton.


These six are just the first to be officially re-assigned to minor league camp. Obviously, the Yankees will travel to Toronto for the season opener with a 25-man roster. There is still plenty of time for players to battle for the available jobs, like second base, third base and the sixth starter role.