SimSeason: The 2015 Yankees, July and August

Out of the Park BaseballToday, we’ll enter the third installment of our just-for-fun projection of the 2015 season, as run through the newest edition of Out of the Park Baseball, licensed by MLB.com. If you missed the first two posts, here’s our ground rules and what happened in April, and here’s how May and June went. If you want to get in the driver’s seat for your own GM/managing experience, OOTP 16 is available now for PC and Mac.

To quickly reset for the morning of July 1, it’s not going very well. The Yankees are 36-42 (.462) and in fourth place, 7 1/2 games back, trailing Boston (44-35), Tampa Bay (42-37) and Toronto (38-41). Their 270 runs scored, .221 average and .297 on-base percentage are dead last in the AL. Mark Teixeira is out another five to six weeks with a wrist injury and Jacoby Ellsbury is out for at least eight more weeks with a hamstring injury. Brett Gardner leads the team with a .271 average and 34 RBIs, while Chase Headley and Brian McCann are tied for the team lead with nine homers.

The pitching has kept them in it. Michael Pineda is 9-5 with a 2.26 ERA, Masahiro Tanaka is 6-4 with a 3.34 ERA, and while CC Sabathia hasn’t been great (5-9, 4.33 ERA), he has been healthy and reliable. CC has 75 strikeouts, one behind Pineda for the team lead. Dellin Betances has been great in the closer’s role, posting a 2.08 ERA and 17 saves in 18 chances. The Yanks’ starters own a 3.99 ERA, 6th in the AL, and their bullpen ERA of 3.52 is fourth in the AL.

Here we go into July…

In our 2015 season sim, Alex Rodriguez stroked his 3,000th hit on July 3 off Tampa Bay's Ronald Belisario, but then sprained his ankle running the bases and was placed on the DL.

In our 2015 season sim, Alex Rodriguez stroked his 3,000th hit on July 3 off Tampa Bay’s Ronald Belisario, but then sprained his ankle running the bases and was placed on the DL.

The Yanks have to keep winning when Tanaka is on the mound. Jose Pirela and Brian McCann hit three-run homers to support the ace in a 10-5 win over the Rays on July 3. … Alex Rodriguez, are you kidding me? A-Rod logged his 3,000th career hit, a single to left field, off the Rays’ Ronald Belisario on July 3 at Yankee Stadium. The Yankees won, 10-5. You can’t make this up, though — running the bases after the hit, A-Rod tried to score from second base on a Brendan Ryan single to left. He made it home, but sprained his ankle in the process and will now limp to the disabled list for five weeks. The newest member of the 3,000 hit club is batting .215 (61-for-284) with eight homers and 23 RBIs.

Looking for a power boost, the Yankees called up Greg Bird, who leads the RailRiders with 14 homers and 51 RBIs … Oakland’s Scott Kazmir shuts out the Yankees on three hits June 7 in The Bronx, as Eovaldi falls to 4-12 with a 5.15 ERA … Bird notches his first two MLB hits in a 3-2 win over the A’s on June 9, then goes 3-for-4 in a 5-4 win at Boston the next night … The AL All-Star teams are announced. Congratulations to Michael Pineda (9-6, 2.46) and Dellin Betances (3-0, 20 SV, 1.83 ERA). The Yanks have no position player representatives. … The Yanks reach the All-Star break as Eovaldi spins an eight-inning, one-run gem at Fenway on June 12. Bird has three hits in the 4-1 win.

Checking in… July 15, 2015

Greetings From CincinnatiGreetings from Cincinnati, where my post All-Star Game flight has been delayed by a band of ugly thunderstorms in the Midwest. The Yanks will return from the break holding a 43-45 (.489) record, good for third place in the AL East, 4 1/2 games behind the Red Sox (48-41). They’re also looking up at the Rays (47-44), but they’re in the Wild Card chase — the White Sox (48-40) and Tampa Bay have a 2 1/2 game lead on them in that department.

Greg Bird and Slade Heathcott have been fun to watch, giving a shot of life to an offense that desperately needed it. They’ll need that to continue, with Mark Teixeira, Jacoby Ellsbury and now A-Rod all on the DL. I still can’t believe A-Rod was injured running the bases after his 3,000th hit. One way or another, the spotlight really does always seem to find that guy.

Back to business…

Garrett Jones is providing the Yankees with a midseason power boost as he fills in for the injured Mark Teixeira.

Garrett Jones is providing the Yankees with a midseason power boost as he fills in for the injured Mark Teixeira.

The Yanks opened the second half with their fifth straight win on July 17, beating the Mariners 8-4 behind another good Tanaka outing. … They’re back to .500 on July 18, beating Seattle 8-6. Stephen Drew is Suzyn’s Player of the Game. … Pineda picks up his 10th win July 19 as the Yanks sweep the Mariners and beat Felix Hernandez. Garrett Jones has three hits and drives in four runs in the 7-3 win, their seventh straight. … The win streak ends July 21 vs. Baltimore, but Ivan Nova bounces back with an 8-1/3 inning gem on July 22, a 6-0 win over the Birds on a rainy night in New York. Tanaka then beats Baltimore on July 23 to improve to 10-4 with a 3.15 ERA. 24th save for Dellin Betances (1.67 ERA). …

With the media buzzing about the Wild Card chase, the Yanks flop in Minneapolis, getting swept in a three-game series by scores of 1-0, 8-7 and 8-2 to fall below .500 at 48-49. They’re still just two games behind Chicago and Boston. … They end the skid and get back to .500 July 27 at Texas, as McCann homers twice, driving in five runs and scoring four in a 14-1 laugher. … Tanaka wins again on July 28, improving to 11-4 with a 3.12 ERA in a 4-2 win over Yovani Gallardo and the Rangers. Betances gets save No. 25… Sabathia falls to 5-11 with a 4.45 ERA, knocked out by the Rangers after three innings in an 8-6 loss July 29. …

The MRI results come back on Carlos Beltran July 31, and they’re not good. He’ll miss seven weeks with a torn ankle ligament. Here’s where ‘Brian Cashman’ would probably be burning up the phones at the Trade Deadline, but not in our alternate reality. These Yanks have to deal from within, and so Refsnyder returns – Ramon Flores was playing well at Triple-A, but this team is way too lefty-heavy as it is. They should get some help off the DL soon, though.

Checking in… August 1, 2015

Greetings From ChicagoGreetings from my room at the Chicago Marriott Downtown Magnificent Mile, where I just opened two fun e-mails from MLB PR. Masahiro Tanaka is the AL Pitcher of the Month for July after going 5-0 with a 2.52 ERA in five starts, striking out 34 in 35 2/3 innings. He’s 11-4 with a 3.12 ERA overall. The other nod is for Slade Heathcott, who was named AL Rookie of the Month for July after hitting .342 with 27 hits, one homer and 14 RBIs in 20 games.

Morale has improved around the club. They haven’t played up to expectations and some guys are missing, but the other teams in the race are flawed too. Joe Girardi seems optimistic. They’re 51-50 (.505) on this sunny Saturday, 1 1/2 games behind the division-leading Rays (54-50) and a half game behind the Red Sox (53-51). In the Wild Card chase, they’re going head-to-head with the White Sox (58-44) tonight and are just a half-game behind Boston.

Pitching is the key to the kingdom, Brian Cashman keeps saying, and the Yankees have that. Michael Pineda is 11-6 with a 2.88 ERA, pacing a rotation that has compiled a 4.04 ERA (fourth in the AL), and the bullpen has a very good 3.67 ERA. Dellin Betances is 26-for-27 in save chances with a 1.59 ERA. The call-ups have helped the offense, but they’re still dead last in runs scored (389), average (.229) and ranked 13th in on-base percentage (.307). Brett Gardner’s .266 average leads the team, while Brian McCann paces the club in homers (12) and RBIs (45).

Here comes August…

Injuries have provided Rob Refsnyder with an opportunity to make a big league impact.

Injuries have provided infield prospect Rob Refsnyder with an opportunity to make a big league impact.

August begins with another Eovaldi loss, as he falls to 5-15. He didn’t pitch poorly (3 ER in 5.1 IP), but the Yanks managed just five hits in a 6-0 loss to Chris Sale on the South Side. Back to .500 again. … In the rubber game, Refsnyder has three hits to support Nova in a 5-4 win on Aug. 2. …  A big three-game showdown vs. Boston begins with a tough one on Aug. 4, as Boston’s Brandon Workman outduels Tanaka. … Betances blows just his second save chance on Aug. 5, allowing a RBI double to Blake Swihart, but Refsnyder slaps the game-winning single in the 9th off Edward Mujica as the Yanks (53-52) grab second place from Boston. … The Yanks then take the rubber game Aug. 6 in dramatic fashion, as Chase Headley singles home Refsnyder with the winning run facing Koji Uehara in the 11th. … They make it three in a row behind Eovaldi on Aug. 7 at Toronto …

A-Rod returns from the DL on Aug. 8, and Twitter nearly melts down as the Yanks option Bird back to Triple-A. Bird was batting .286 with four homers and 10 RBIs in 20 games. A-Rod goes 2-for-4 in a 4-3 loss to the Jays (career hits 3,001 and 3,002, if you’re counting). … Adam Warren, David Carpenter and Chris Capuano melt down for five runs in the eighth on Aug. 9, but Slade Heathcott saves the day with a 10th-inning, walk-off homer facing Marco Estrada. Yanks beat Toronto, 6-5. … Heathcott goes on the DL Aug. 10 with a scratched cornea – really – and Teixeira is activated. Jose Pirela was optioned to Triple-A for Ramon Flores before the Yanks beat the Rangers, 7-6, on Brett Gardner’s 10th inning RBI single. …

Brian McCann hit his team-leading 13th homer on Aug. 13 at Cleveland, giving the Yankees a four-game lead for the second Wild Card spot.

Brian McCann hit his team-leading 13th homer on Aug. 13 at Cleveland, giving the Yankees a four-game lead for the second Wild Card spot.

McCann hits his team-leading 13th homer to support Sabathia (6-11) in a 7-2 win on Aug. 11 at Cleveland as the Yanks (58-53) move four games up of Boston (55-58), holding the second Wild Card spot. … A-Rod and Headley hit their 11th homers as the Yanks beat the Indians, 6-5, on Aug. 12 to improve to 59-53 and move into a virtual tie with Tampa Bay for first place in the AL East. … A 3-2 loss on Aug. 13 to Zach McAllister and the Tribe denies the Yanks a fifth straight win. They fall 1/2 game back. … Tanaka can’t make it out of the fourth inning in a 5-4 loss at Toronto Aug. 14. Flores hits his first MLB homer in the defeat. … Refsnyder drives in four runs in a 12-7 win at Toronto Aug. 15. … The Yanks take the series finale at Rogers Centre Aug. 16 in 14 innings, 5-4. Garrett Jones knocks in the go-ahead run with a single off Marco Estrada. …

Eovaldi beats the Twins Aug. 17 to improve to 7-15 with a 5.09 ERA … Chris Young’s eighth-inning RBI single lifts the Yanks to a 3-2 win over Minnesota Aug. 18, their fourth straight win … A rainout necessitates a Aug. 21 doubleheader. It’s a miserable day as the Yanks lose both ends to the Indians, 11-0 and 6-0, then place Andrew Miller on the DL with biceps tendinitis. He’s expected to miss 1-2 weeks. Chasen Shreve has been pitching well at AAA and is recalled. … Eovaldi wins again on Aug. 22, beating Cleveland 4-3. Jones and Drew homer. … Nova is pounded for six runs in three innings Aug. 23, a 12-2 loss to the Indians. …

The Yanks sweep Houston in a three-game series by scores of 7-5, 7-4 and 7-4, powered by McCann’s three homers in the series to improve to 67-59. They have a 4 1/2 game lead over Seattle for the second Wild Card. … Young’s two-run double in the 12th off Luis Avilan lifts New York to a 4-2 win at Atlanta on Aug. 28. … Tanaka handcuffs the Braves to a run and five hits over eight innings in a 2-1 win Aug. 29. … The Yanks sweep Atlanta behind Ivan Nova’s complete game, 6-1, on Aug. 30. … August concludes with a 5-3 loss to Eduardo Rodriguez and the Red Sox at Fenway.

Checking In… Sept. 1, 2015

BostonThere’s a crisp in the air here at Fenway Park as the visiting clubhouse is becoming even more tough to navigate. Rosters expanded this morning and the Yankees have summoned several reinforcements from the Minors. Andrew Bailey, Chase Whitley, Jose Ramirez and Bryan Mitchell are up to supplement the pitching staff, while Jacoby Ellsbury and Slade Heathcott have been activated from the DL. Greg Bird was recalled, and the Yanks purchased the contract of Nick Noonan, who had a good year down at Triple-A. Gary Sanchez and Austin Romine are also here.

You probably wouldn’t have thought it this summer, but the Yanks have fought into playoff position at 70-60 (.538). They’re 4 1/2 games behind Tampa Bay (75-56), but well ahead of the third-place Red Sox (63-68). New York leads the Wild Card chase by a game over the White Sox (69-61), with the Mariners (67-65) three games off the pace.

How’d they do it? Great pitching all year, especially from Masahiro Tanaka (12-6, 3.38) and Michael Pineda (12-8, 3.41). CC Sabathia has been healthy (7-12, 4.24) and I really feel like Nathan Eovaldi (8-15, 4.93) has pitched better than his record. The bullpen has been a force, paced by Dellin Betances (31 saves, 1.49). Like Kansas City last year, if the Yanks get a lead to the sixth inning, they’re shaking hands more often than not after nine.

It’s getting those leads that has been the issue. They’re 13th in the AL with 518 runs scored and dead last with a .232 batting average. Their .310 on-base percentage ranks 14th, but the call-ups have added a spark. Brett Gardner leads the team with a .252 average, while Brian McCann paces the way with 20 homers and 62 RBIs. The Yanks should get Andrew Miller back in four days and, if Carlos Beltran returns in two weeks, they might actually have their Opening Day lineup back on the field.

Tomorrow, the 2015 Yankees wander into September and … dare we say it … October?

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