New York Yankees: thoughts on pitching and winning it all

Is 2020 the year the Yankees front office believes it can win it all?

What I’m thinking about this morning as I write my daily article is RHP Mike Clevinger.  The 29 year old Clevinger has been on the trading block, along with the Cleveland Indians’ other players, since the Indians decided to offload their star talent while their value was high and their contracts favorable.

The Yankees injury woes in the starting rotation are glaring in 2020 with Luis Severino having Tommy John surgery and James Paxton recovering from offseason surgery to remove a cyst from a disc on his spine.

The Yankees have some in-house solutions to the problem of filling out the starting rotation.  They have proven starters in Jonathan Loaisiga and Luis Cessa and a group of young talented pitchers in right-handers Clarke Schmidt, Mike King and Deivi Garcia – any one of whom could probably win a spot on the roster.

None of these young pitchers is a replacement, at least in the current circumstances, for Severino or Paxton.  Fortunately, the Yankees have gotten Jordan Montgomery back from his Tommy John surgery and he profiles to play a significant role in the starting rotation. The Yankees are eager to see Montgomery perform as he did in 2017 when he finished sixth in the Rookie of the Year voting.

All this leads me to the trade deadline, by which time Paxton will have returned to the rotation and the Yankees will know what they’ve got in a fifth starter.  With the Yankees projected to compete for the division title and beyond, they’ll assess whether the rotation can run the gamut.

If the Yankees can make a trade at the deadline to bring in a proven performer like Clevinger, it could be the piece that propels them to a championship.  On the Yankees side, Clevinger still has three years of control left and, although he is injured at present, he is already throwing and will be ready just after the season opens.

What would it take to make a trade for Clevinger happen?  It would probably take Miguel Andujar, who’s outfield play would be attractive to the Indians, and a major-league ready pitcher.  Andujar is not a name I throw around lightly; he’s the player I have most enjoyed watching play and develop over the past few years, but he’s also on the verge of a break-out career, though, at present, a man without a position for the Yankees.

Clevinger’s numbers are the stuff dreams are made of: in 2019 he was 13-4 in 21 games started with a 2.71 ERA, 1.056 WHIP, 2.49 FIP, 12.71 K/9, 2.6 BB/9 and .7 HR/9.  He hasn’t won any awards yet, but look out, Clevinger’s on the brink of having a Hall of Fame type career.

The Yankees will have a decision to make at the trade deadline, whether to risk winning in the postseason with the talent they currently have or to make a blockbuster trade to increase their chances of winning a World Series in 2020.  Is 2020 the year the Yankees front office believes it can win it all?

 

New York Yankees “Le Machine” ramping up for Opening Day

Yankee fans began to chant “extend him, extend him”

31 year old DJ LeMahieu, infielder extraordinaire, hails from California with stops in Wisconsin, Michigan and Louisiana along the way.  He was drafted in the seventh round out of a Bloomfield Hills, MI high school by the Detroit Tigers in 2007, but elected to go to college and played 2 years for the Louisiana State University Tigers instead.  Wikipedia.

LeMahieu was then drafted by the Cubs in 2009, where he made his major league debut (May 30, 2011) before being traded to the Rockies in 2011.  The rest, as they say, is history,  as he racked up awards and accolades in Colorado, including three Gold Gloves (2014, 2017, 2018) and three Alls-Star appearances, including in his first year with the Yankees in a utility role (2015, 2017, 2019).

LeMahieu’s offensive numbers for the Yankees 2019 were nothing short of astounding for the super utility role he performed: .327/.375/.518 with 26 home runs and 102 RBIs.  According to Wikipedia, “he set new career highs in hits, doubles, home runs, RBIs and runs scored.”

Yankee fans began to chant “extend him, extend him” during the offseason since he is only signed through the 2020 season.  He has become the quintessential Yankee, earning the nicknames “Big Fundy” for his attention to fundamentals and Le Machine, for his ability to consistently make contact at the plate.

In Spring Training, LeMahieu is off to a slow start, as are most of the Yankee hitters.  He’s currently had 14 PA with 1 R, 3 H, 1 RBI and sports a .231 average.  Look out though for LeMahieu to begin to take off in the coming weeks as he’s projected by Baseball Reference to have 586 PA, 89 R, 158 H, 73 RBIs and a .297 average on the 2020 season.

LeMahieu is projected to have another powerful performance for the Yankees in ’20, playing Gold Glove defense at second base, no long in a utility role, and contacting the ball at the plate with consistency and power.

 

Pregame Gab: David Hale and Spencer Turnbull take the mound; Gary Sanchez busts out

Look for Gary Sanchez to bust out the bat today.

Spencer Turnbull is on the mound today for the Detroit Tigers – he’s a 27 year old right hander who made 30 starts for the Tigers in 2019 as a rookie.  He pitched to a 4.61 ERA, 1.44 WHIP and 3.99 FIP in ’19.  He had a solid rookie campaign for the Tigers.  When his stuff is working he’s a ground ball pitcher.

He most recently pitched on February 25th against the Mets – 2 scoreless innings without allowing a hit or a walk while striking out four.

The Yankees throw David Hale out there today against the Tigers.  Hale has returned to the Yankees as a non-roster invitee after playing 20 games out of the bullpen in ’19.  He put up a 3.11 ERA, 3.32 FIP, and 1.22 WHIP, with 1.67 BB/9 and 5.50 K/9.  Hale was a reliable middle reliever last season.  Today he starts/opens the game and it’ll be exciting to watch the parade of young talent that follows behind him on the mound.

Mike Tauchman makes his appearance in the lineup.  It seems that sightings of Tauchman have been few and far between this spring and it’s good to see him in left field again.  An outfield of Tauchman, Brett Gardner and Rosell Herrera scares me just a little, but hey, it’s only spring!

Look for Gary Sanchez to bust out the bat today in the DH role and hit one over the wall.  What are your predictions for today?

Gerrit Cole and Jordan Montgomery Highlight New York Yankees Spring Training Game Two

Montgomery is going to surprise a lot of people in 2020

My first thought was why a game debuting Gerrit Cole in pinstripes was not televised?  I shared the frustration of many fans who couldn’t watch or listen to Cole’s first pitch.  Despite the fact that he threw only 20 pitches in a one inning outing, I wanted to see every strike (there were two), every ball (there was one) and every pop-up to short (there was one).

Cole dialed it up to 98 mph on the radar gun and was everything the Yankees hoped for and paid for.  Cole was followed up by Jordan Montgomery for two innings of the best kind of come-back pitching, three strikeouts, two ground-outs, a hit-by-pitch and a fly out.  Montgomery hit 94 mph on the radar gun and was sharp with all his pitches.

As Eric Boland reported for Newsday, Montgomery told reporters after the game:

“Feel good about my arm strength and my mechanics, and they’re only going to get cleaner.”

Yankee fans look forward to a strong, healthy Montgomery to fill a rotation spot now that Luis Severino is a question mark and James Paxton is out healing from back surgery.   Let’s remember that Montgomery finished sixth in 2017 in Rookie of the Year voting on the strength of an impressive rookie campaign.  Montgomery is going to surprise a lot of people with his performance in 2020 as he looks to regain and surpass his rookie achievements.

New York Yankees’ Gerrit Cole takes the ball in first steps toward number 28

Gerrit Cole takes the first step toward number 28 tonight

When Gerrit Cole appears for the Yankees tonight against mound opponent, Chris Archer, many fans believe it is the first step toward landing on the moon, so to speak, the first step toward number 28.

What does Gerrit Cole mean to Yankee fans: elite baseball every appearance, a master at the top of his craft taking the mound.  Cole means wins, especially with the noted absence of Luis Severino, who is suffering from forearm soreness and has been sent to New York for tests.

Cole pitched to a .179 average against the Yankees in 2019 and the Yankees are looking forward to watching Cole decimate opponents in similar fashion in 2020.  Cole’s statistics from 2019 are the stuff dreams are made of: 212.1 IP, 2.50 ERA, 13.82 K/9, 2.03 BB/9, 2.64 FIP, 7.4 WAR, opponents hit .185 against him.

Gerrit Cole, anchoring this rotation, armed with the largest pitching deal ever made, has been acquired to bring a championship to the Bronx.  Tonight against the Pirates, he takes his first steps on what promises to be a long, exciting road to number 28.

 

Jonathan Loaisiga: New York Yankees 2020 Debut

With his elite fastball and plus curve, Loaisiga will be a pitcher to watch

New York Yankees RHP Jonathan Loaisiga will square up today against LHP Ryan Yarbrough and the Tampa Bay Rays.

Loaisiga is a 25 year old right-hander from Nicaragua, who grew up in Managua.  He made his major league debut with the Yankees on June 15, 2018, but was up and down between the major league club and AAA Scranton Wilkes-Barre most of the season.

While Loaisiga had a relatively poor campaign for the Yankees in 2019, to be fair he was hampered by injury (shoulder strain) which ate a chunk out of his season.  He was out of the big leagues from May 8th to August 15th and as a result pitched only 31.2 innings in ’19 for the Yankees.  Ryan Chichester of pinstripealley.com ranked Loaisiga’s performance at the season’s end with a D+ as his stat line looked like this: 4.55 ERA, 37 Ks, 1.48 WHIP, 10.5 K/9, 4.5 BB/9, 4.95 FIP, 0.2 WAR.

However, it was not all bad for Loaisiga, as Chichester pointed out:

Through his final 15 innings of the year, Loaisiga pitched to a 3.00 ERA and struck out 20 batters, but allowed 14 hits along the way. With that lively fastball and a curveball with a spin rate that’s just outside of the top-10 percentile in all of baseball, you would like to see more shutdown outings from Loaisiga, but perhaps the final month of the year was the start of a trend in the right direction.

With his elite fastball and plus curve, Loaisiga will be a pitcher to watch this season as Yankee fans hope to watch a healthy Loaisiga improve to become the pitcher was slated to become either as a spot starter or as an effective weapon out of the bullpen.

 

 

New York Yankees Postgame Thoughts

Chris Gittens smoked one out in the ninth inning for the Yankees.

On a bright day in Tampa, the Yankees opened the season with the first Spring Training game against the Toronto Blue Jays.  The Jays won 2-1 this afternoon, but who’s counting such things?  Baseball is back and for that I give thanks!

While I had predicted that Gary Sanchez would hit the first homer of the season, he didn’t even make the lineup today and that honor went to 1B Chris Gittens who smoked one out in the ninth inning for the Yankees.

When hits come exclusively from Gittens, Ben Ruta and Rosell Herrera, you know it’s February and not April.

J.A. Happ started the game and was sharp for two innings and was followed effectively by Michael King (1.2 IP) and Luis Cessa (1.1 IP).  The Blue Jays managed six hits against the likes of: Luis Avilan, Kaleb Ort, Domingo Acevedo and Brooks Kriske.

Had so much fun watching this matchup today.  Yankees baseball is making the journey back to championship form.  Looking forward to Gerrit Cole‘s debut on Monday night.

Chris Northrop, Yankeesgabbagabba owner

I’m a Yankees fan who loves to watch, talk and write about baseball.

I’m a Yankees fan who loves to watch, talk and write about baseball.  I’ve been freelance writing since 2016 and have decided to launch my own blog to join in the Yankees conversation with other fans, writers and thinkers.