Hello from Hammond Stadium in Fort Myers, Fla., where Masahiro Tanaka is set to make his final tune-up before taking the Opening Day assignment on April 6. Tanaka opted for the 2-1/2 hour ride over pitching at the Minor League complex because he wanted the increased intensity of facing a big league lineup. Tanaka is set to throw 75 pitches, and this game is on FSNO-HD.
Back in Tampa, Jacoby Ellsbury and Carlos Beltran are playing in a Minor League game at the Himes Avenue complex. This marks Ellsbury’s first game action since March 15 due to his oblique injury, but the Yankees have been confident all along that Ellsbury will be ready for Opening Day. Adam Warren is starting in a Minor League game as well, being caught by John Ryan Murphy. There’s a lot you can read into that, even though Joe Girardi says he isn’t ready to name a fifth starter.
Didi Gregorius (left wrist strain) had “a little bit of swelling yesterday,” according to Girardi, who said that “we’ll try to work that out before we put him in.” The original plan was to play Gregorius on Wednesday, but it sounds like they won’t force it. Mark Teixeira (right knee bruise) will play Wednesday, Girardi said.
The decisions on the backup catcher and last two bullpen spots will probably “go down to the wire,” Girardi said. The catcher job is between Murphy and Austin Romine, who’s here today catching Tanaka. In the bullpen, the Yanks need to pick two from the group of Andrew Bailey, Chris Martin, Chasen Shreve and Chase Whitley.
Girardi seemed to tip his hand a bit today, saying that he would not carry Bailey unless he showed that he could pitch in back-to-back games, and that the Yankees aren’t going to rush him to do so. Martin has had a rough spring, so it’s possible those calls could go to Shreve (a third lefty, joining Andrew Miller and Justin Wilson) and Whitley as a second long man.
“I think it comes down to who we think is going to help us the most, is the bottom line,” Girardi said. “I don’t think you necessarily in your mind say I have to have a third lefty. Is it a luxury? Sure it is, but I think it’s who we think is going to help us the most.”
Here are the lineups:
Brett Gardner LF
Brendan Ryan 3B
Chris Young CF
Garrett Jones 1B
Austin Romine C
Rob Refsnyder 2B
Ramon Flores RF
Nick Noonan SS
Eric Jagielo DH
RHP Masahiro Tanaka
In relief: Chris Martin, Danny Burawa, Chasen Shreve.
Jordan Schafer CF
Eduardo Escobar SS
Chris Herrmann RF
Kennys Vargas 1B
Eduardo Nunez 3B
Adam Brett Walker DH
Shane Robinson LF
Eric Fryer C
Doug Bernier 2B
LHP Tommy Milone
In relief: Glen Perkins, Mike Pelfrey, Casey Fien, D.J. Johnson, Zack Jones.
Welcome back to 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 ground rules of our little exercise and the April 2015 recap, please click here and follow along. 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.
On we go into May…
Nathan Eovaldi got off to an awful start in pinstripes. He fell to 0-5 on May 2, battered by the Red Sox for six runs and nine hits in 4 2/3 innings. Run support has been part of the problem, I suppose, but Eovaldi is also sporting a 9.13 ERA. … Adam Warren was pounded for seven runs by the Blue Jays in a 15-1 rout May 4 … Michael Pineda continues to be excellent. He shuts the Jays out at Rogers Centre on May 5, 4-0, to log his fourth win. … Toronto’s Mark Buehrle beats the Yankees on May 7, 9-3, and celebrates his 200th victory … Jacoby Ellsbury (hamstring) returns to the lineup May 9 as Masahiro Tanaka pitches a three-hitter over Baltimore … Stephen Drew, batting .140, strains an oblique May 10. He’s out for five weeks, so this is a big opportunity for Jose Pirela. Meanwhile, Chris Capuano and Ivan Nova have begun their rehab assignments.
Alex Rodriguez ties Willie Mays and logs that $6 million bonus when he hits his 660th career home run on May 12 at Tropicana Field, off Matt Andriese in a 3-0 Yankees win. Eovaldi logs his first Yankee victory that night. … Chase Headley homers twice in a 6-3 win over the Royals May 15, giving him five for the season … The Yankees make some roster moves on the May 18 off-day. Chasen Shreve (7.98 ERA) is optioned to Triple-A, Warren (1-4, 7.83) goes to the bullpen and Capuano is activated to join the rotation after three rehab starts. …
Tough one to swallow May 19 in Washington. Tanaka pitches six strong innings but David Carpenter serves up a three-run homer to Wilson Ramos in the eighth. Yankees lose, 5-4. … Death by bullpen again on May 20. This time, it’s Bryce Harper with a homer off Esmil Rogers in the eighth, spoiling Capuano’s debut. Nats win, 4-2. … The Yanks are happy to escape Washington, and Pineda keeps dealing May 22 vs. Texas. Backed by Headley’s four RBIs, Pineda does it all over nine innings, allowing an unearned run and three hits to improve to 6-2. …
Late magic in the Bronx on May 25. After Betances blows his first save in the ninth, Carlos Beltran hits a two-run, walk-off homer off Greg Holland in the 13th inning, beating the Royals 5-3 and ending an afternoon affair that spoiled our dinner reservations. … Didi Gregorius’ 12th inning RBI double off Evan Scribner leads the Yanks past the A’s, 3-2, on May 28 in Oakland. … More tough luck for Eovaldi on May 29. Another quality start of three earned runs and six innings, lowering his ERA to 5.96, but he falls to 1-9 when the Yanks are handcuffed by the A’s Jesse Hahn and Sean Doolittle. … The Yanks wrap May on a strong note, as Pineda picks up his seventh win with seven innings of one-run ball to beat the A’s. Carpenter and Miller hand the ball to Betances, who locks down a 4-1 win. Garrett Jones homers in the win.
Checking in… June 1, 2015
Hello from Pike Place Market in Seattle, where I’m enjoying a fresh cup of joe and some salmon chowder in a bread bowl on an overcast afternoon. There have been a lot of ups and downs to this season so far. The Yankees are 23-28 (.451) and in fourth place, trailing Boston (27-24), Baltimore (24-24) and Tampa Bay (24-27). Michael Pineda is 7-2 with a 1.75 ERA in 11 starts, leading the team with 54 strikeouts. Masahiro Tanaka is 5-3 with a 3.36 ERA in 11 starts. Dellin Betances has converted 11 of 12 saves and sports a 1.35 ERA.
The Yanks just aren’t scoring runs; they’ve scored 175, last in the AL, and they are dead last in average (.219) and on-base percentage (.297). The starters (4.03 ERA) and relievers (3.38 ERA) have done the job, and they’re playing good defense. Brett Gardner’s .295 average leads the club, A-Rod paces the way with eight homers and Carlos Beltran has 23 RBIs. They definitely need more production from Jacoby Ellsbury (.197, 1 HR, 10 RBIs), Mark Teixeira (.189, 5 HR, 18 RBIs).
Still with us? Let’s open the books on June.
The Yanks open June by promoting Ivan Nova to the Majors. He’s ready after five rehab starts. Chris Capuano pitched well in his two big league starts, but he’s heading back to the bullpen. Chase Whitley (2.30 ERA) is optioned to Triple-A. … Mark Teixeira (.193, 5 HR, 18 RBI) fractures the hamate bone in his wrist when he’s hit by a pitch in an 8-2 loss to the Mariners on June 1. He’s out for two months, giving Garrett Jones an opportunity to play every day. The Yanks will use A-Rod as the backup first baseman, while recalling Rob Refsnyder to help out at other positions. Refsnyder was hitting .327 in 156 at-bats at Scranton/Wilkes-Barre. …
On June 4, Tony Pena sends me a message, noting that there seems to be a leadership void in the clubhouse and no one is stepping up to fill a ‘Team Captain’ role. Come back, Derek Jeter! … The bullpen flops behind Tanaka in a 7-3 loss to the Angels on June 5. Mark Krauss lines a RBI single off Carpenter in the eighth and Albert Pujols homers off Betances in the ninth. … The Yankees’ first-round Draft pick is high school centerfielder Demi Orimoloye … Tanaka is getting plenty of love in the All-Star balloting, but Pineda has been the Yanks’ best starter. He beats the Angels, 8-3, on June 6 to improve to 8-2 with a 1.70 ERA. …
The Yanks needed a laugher on June 7. Ellsbury and Beltran each homer and drive in four runs in an 11-1 rout of Andrew Heaney and the Angels. … Eovaldi out-pitches the Nats’ Jordan Zimmermann in a 3-1 win on June 9, supported by homers from Gardner (3) and McCann (7). Eovaldi improves to 3-9 with a 5.21 ERA. Betances gets his 13th save. … Drew returns from the DL on June 10. Sorry, Rob Refsnyder (11-for-38, .289). … Jacoby Ellsbury’s walk-off double off Matt Thornton drives home Gregorius with the winning run June 10 as the Yanks beat the Nats, 3-2, in 10 innings. …
Drew drives in three runs and John Ryan Murphy homers to back seven innings of Tanaka (6-3, 3.26 ERA) in a 7-1 win at Camden Yards on June 12. Tanaka could’ve gone deeper but was knocked out by a 69-minute rain delay in the eighth (rain in Baltimore? That never happens). It’s the Yanks’ fifth straight win. … Gardner drives in four runs and Beltran homers (8) to back Sabathia (5-6, 4.36) in a 7-4 win at Baltimore June 14 … Trade revenge! Eovaldi (4-9, 4.60) returns to Miami with a flourish on June 15, throwing a nine-hit shutout in a 8-0 win. He walked none and struck out six. Garrett Jones goes 4-for-5 with a homer and three RBIs …
The Yanks split that weird home-and-home with Miami. Pineda improves to 9-3 with a 1.90 ERA in the finale. … Old friend Phil Hughes no-hits the Cubs on June 19 at Target Field … Bad news from trainer Steve Donohue on June 19. Jacoby Ellsbury sustained a herniated disc trying to flag a sixth-inning fly ball in a 9-3 loss to the Tigers and will miss two to three months. He’s hitting .229 (44-for-192) with three homers and 18 RBIs in 50 games. Slade Heathcott is called up … Garrett Jones is named the AL Player of the Week on June 22. He hit .440 (11-for-25) with two homers, four RBIs and three runs scored. …
Didi Gregorius lines a walk-off single facing the Phillies’ Seth Rosin on June 22 as the Yanks win, 3-2, in 10 innings. It’s Sir Didi’s third hit of the game, but he’s only batting .209 … Heathcott hits his first big league homer off Chad Billingsley in a June 23 loss to the Phillies … Garrett Jones has three hits, including his sixth homer, in an 6-5 win on June 25 at Houston. … Headley hits a game-tying homer in the ninth and Gardner goes deep in the 10th as the Yanks win, 4-2, on June 26 at Houston … More extra-inning fun deep in the heart of Texas June 27. This time, it’s Stephen Drew with the go-ahead 12th inning single off Luke Gregerson as the Yanks beat the Astros, 3-2.
Checking in… July 1, 2015
Greetings from sunny Anaheim. The clubhouse isn’t a whole lot of fun these days. 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). We’ve been saying it all year, but the offense is a problem. The Yanks’ 270 runs scored, .221 average and .297 on-base percentage are dead last in the AL. Mark Teixeira is out another 5-6 weeks with the wrist injury and Jacoby Ellsbury is out for at least eight more weeks. 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.
Think the Yankees can turn it around? Tomorrow, we’ll delve into the dog days of summer as we walk you through July and August.
Following a big league team around the country means that you tend to encounter a lot of down time in airports, hotels and on trains. One of my favorite ways to pass those hours has been getting lost in various incarnations of the Out of the Park Baseball series. It’s a ridiculously detailed simulation that puts you in the general manager’s chair of any team, overseeing all operations of the club.
OOTP 16 was released this month for PC and Mac, and for the first time, it contains a MLB.com license to use actual team logos and stadiums. For fun, and because I’m apparently a huge nerd, I’ve run a simulation of the Yankees’ 2015 season to see one possible outcome of the next six to seven months.
Some ground rules: I ran the sim in Commissioner Mode and set injuries to ‘Normal.’ Trades have been disabled to prevent the AI from moving players all over the league, so our ‘Brian Cashman’ will be unable to tweak the roster at the Trade Deadline. Teams can promote and demote the guys who are currently within their own system, and that’s it. (When you play the game, you can try it differently.)
The AI will manage the team during games, but whenever possible, ‘Joe Girardi’ will be instructed to stick as close to the Opening Day lineup as he can. As far as promoting players, we’ll operate conservatively if at all possible. I’ve also clicked the box that says I ‘Cannot Be Fired’ from my role as GM and manager. Hooray!
Here is the Yankees’ projected Opening Day lineup:
Jacoby Ellsbury CF
Brett Gardner LF
Carlos Beltran RF
Mark Teixeira 1B
Brian McCann C
Chase Headley 3B
Alex Rodriguez DH
Stephen Drew 2B
Didi Gregorius SS
RHP Masahiro Tanaka
We made a few guesses to fill out the Yankees’ roster: John Ryan Murphy is the backup catcher (Austin Romine cleared waivers and went to Triple-A), Adam Warren is the fifth starter and the final two bullpen spots go to Chasen Shreve and Chase Whitley. Dellin Betances is the closer, Andrew Miller gets the eighth inning setup role. Brendan Ryan and Didi Gregorius will platoon at shortstop.
On the morning of Opening Day, Hal Steinbrenner sends me an e-mail that says the Yankees should at least reach the playoffs. Got it.
Opening Day, April 6: Yankees 7, Blue Jays 2
Things are off to a good start as Masahiro Tanaka pitched eight innings of two-run, eight-hit ball. Brian McCann stroked three hits, including a second-inning two-run homer, as the Yankees trounced the Blue Jays in front of a crowd of 52,197 in The Bronx.
Didi Gregorius went 4-for-4 in his Yankee debut, Brett Gardner drove in three runs and Dellin Betances struck out Justin Smoak to end the game. Then John Sterling bellowed in the radio booth and all was well within the Yankee universe.
On we go into April…
Following the Welcome Home Dinner on April 7, Alex Rodriguez hit his first homer, a two-run shot off Drew Hutchison in the Yanks’ 7-2 win over Toronto on April 8 … The Yanks completed a season-opening sweep of the Blue Jays behind CC Sabathia’s seven innings of one-run ball April 9. Dellin Betances notched his first save. … They lost their first game on April 10, 5-4 to Boston, as Clay Buchholz out-pitched Nathan Eovaldi … The rivalry is alive: Tanaka and Mike Napoli were slammed with six-game suspensions for a benches-clearing incident in the first inning on April 11. The Yankees won the game anyway, 6-3, behind A-Rod’s two homers – one off Eduardo Rodriguez and one off Junichi Tazawa (No. 656 and 657, if we’re counting) …
Didi Gregorius was hit by a pitch in an extra-inning loss to the Orioles on April 14 and sustained a bruised wrist. It was serious enough to knock him out for two weeks, so Jose Pirela was called up. … Nathan Eovaldi allowed seven runs to the Orioles and was knocked out in the third inning on April 15. Larry Rothschild said he’s working on some things. … A-Rod had a five-hit game to support Adam Warren’s strong outing in a 3-1 win over the Rays April 17. Rodriguez is hitting .412 … The Yanks lost an April 20 heartbreaker in Detroit, 6-5, as Ian Kinsler singles home the winning run in the 10th off Chase Whitley. Injury to insult: Jacoby Ellsbury strained his hamstring in the loss and was placed on the DL. The Yankees summoned Rob Refsnyder from Triple-A. … Michael Pineda dominated the Mets over 7 2/3 scoreless innings on April 24, striking out nine … Brian McCann homered twice to back a very strong Tanaka in a 6-1 rout of Tampa Bay on April 28.
Checking in… May 1, 2015
Hello from high above Copley Square in Boston on this sunny Friday morning. Here’s what we know so far: the Yankees begin May with an 11-11 (.500) record, two games behind the Red Sox and holding second place in the AL East. Michael Pineda is 3-1 with a 1.72 ERA in five starts, leading the team with 34 strikeouts. Alex Rodriguez leads the team with five homers, while Brian McCann is batting .310 with four homers and 13 RBIs. The Didi Gregorius and Jacoby Ellsbury injuries are an ever-present reminder that this lineup has to be ready to change on the fly.
Dellin Betances has been terrific, locking down his first six saves and he has yet to give up a run. It turns out, we were worried about nothing in Spring Training. That said, Stephen Drew’s good spring didn’t translate into the year; he’s hitting .123. The Yanks are sixth in the AL with 22 homers, so they’ve got that part figured out, yet they rank 14th in runs scored (78) and average (.233). The starters ERA ranks 12th at 4.99, but the bullpen is the best in the AL (2.22).
Tomorrow: May and June!
It’s been a busy day thus far in Yankees camp, so let’s get to some of the quick hits before we go into the lineups for the Grapefruit League game against the Astros here in Kissimmee, Fla. …
Mark Teixeira was hit on the right knee by a pitch while playing in a Minor League game at the team’s complex in Tampa. Teixeira left the game, but told reporters that he is “fine.” Joe Girardi said that he would provide more information later. … Didi Gregorius reported some improvement in his strained left wrist. He is receiving treatment today and the goal is to play him on Wednesday. Brian Cashman said that Gregorius had both an X-ray and an MRI, and both were clean.
The Yankees re-signed right-hander Jared Burton to a Minor League deal. Burton was released three days ago and had his spring interrupted by a strained lat. … The Yankees have re-assigned right-hander Kyle Davies to Minor League camp and optioned right-hander Bryan Mitchell to Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre. Both will pitch in the RailRiders’ rotation to begin the year.
Here are the lineups in Kissimmee, where Alex Rodriguez is set to make his first career appearance at first base:
Brendan Ryan SS
Chase Headley 3B
John Ryan Murphy C
Alex Rodriguez 1B
Stephen Drew 2B
Rob Refsnyder DH
Ramon Flores RF
Slade Heathcott CF
Jonathan Galvez LF
Nathan Eovaldi P
Also pitching: Esmil Rogers, Chase Whitley, Chasen Shreve.
Jose Altuve 2B
George Springer RF
Luis Valbuena 3B
Evan Gattis DH
Jason Castro C
Jed Lowrie SS
Colby Rasmus CF
Jon Singleton 1B
Robbie Grossman LF
Scott Feldman RHP
Also pitching: Brad Peacock, Chad Qualls.
It’s CC Sabathia’s day to pitch, but if you’re looking to find the big man, he’s across the street from George M. Steinbrenner Field working in a Minor League game. The Yankees’ reasoning is that they don’t want Sabathia facing a division rival so close to the beginning of the regular season, so Scott Baker is making today’s start instead. Tyler Wilson is on the mound for the O’s.
Alejandro De Aza lf
Manny Machado 3b
Jimmy Paredes dh
Chris Davis 1b
Travis Snider rf
Evereth Cabrera cf
Steve Clevenger c
Ryan Flaherty ss
Jonathan Schoop 2b
Tyler Wilson rhp
Brett Gardner lf
Chase Headley 3b
Carlos Beltran rf
Mark Teixeira 1b
Alex Rodriguez dh
Chris Young cf
Stephen Drew 2b
Didi Gregorius ss
Austin Romine c
Scott Baker rhp