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 ( Jim Cowsert)
( Jim Cowsert)

Yankees GM Brian Cashman wouldn't rule out eventually demoting RHP Luis Severino if he continues to struggle.

"If necessary," Cashman said about a potential demotion, according to Chad Jennings of Lohud. "If we feel that's what has to take place, that's definitely an avenue that's open. Hopefully it doesn't have to come to that, but if that's what's in his best interest, and therefore our best interest, that's something I have no problem doing."

Severino has a 6.86 ERA and 1.78 WHIP in 19 2/3 innings (four starts) so far this season.

He posted a 2.89 ERA and 1.20 WHIP in 62 1/3 innings (11 starts) in 2015 during what was his rookie season.

"I think he's a pretty tough kid, and he's pretty resilient," Girardi continued. "He's a worker and he doesn't hide; he takes things head on and accepts responsibility for what's going on, and I think that's important. He's got really good stuff. He's got a good arm. It's just mastering your trade, and right now he's scuffled a little bit for whatever reason, and we've got to get him back on track."

Chris Carelli, SNY.TV Facebook | Twitter | About Me | Archives

Severino has failed to build off his strong freshman campaign and it makes sense that the Yankees might consider getting him back on track in the minors if he cannot find a groove at the major league level. Having some rough starts is one thing, but Severino is allowing hits at a massive clip (.372 batting average against coming into Tuesday's start).

Beyond Severino's performance going forward, how the Yankees are playing overall might play a part in their decision making process. If the Yankees are winning games and receiving better starts from rest of the rotation, it makes sending Severino down to the minors more palatable.

If the Yankees are out of the race and the rest of the rotation outside of Masahiro Tanaka continues to struggle, then what's the point of having Severino throw to minor leaguers? He may as well gain some more experience and work through his problems with everyone else.

Tags: Luis Severino

New York Yankees starting pitcher Luis Severino (40) delivers a pitch against the Oakland Athletics at Yankee Stadium. (Noah K. Murray)
New York Yankees starting pitcher Luis Severino (40) delivers a pitch against the Oakland Athletics at Yankee Stadium. (Noah K. Murray)

The Yankees open up a three-game series in Baltimore as they face off with the Orioles on Tuesday at 7:05 p.m. 

Yankees Orioles
Jacoby Ellsbury, CF Joey Rickard, LF 
Brett Gardner, LF Manny Machado, 3B
Alex Rodriguez, DH Adam Jones, CF
Mark Teixeira, 1B Chris Davis, 1B
Brian McCann, C Mark Trumbo, RF
Carlos Beltran, RF Matt Wieters, C
Starlin Castro, 2B Pedro Alvarez, DH
Didi Gregorius, SS Jonathon Schoop, 2B
Chase Headley, 3B Ryan Flaherty, SS

 

Who's Pitching for the Yankees: RHP Luis Severino (0-3, 6.86 ERA)

Who's Pitching for the Orioles: RHP Chris Tillman (2-1, 3.24 ERA) 

Tags: Luis Severino

New York Yankees designated hitter Alex Rodriguez (13) watches from the dugout during the ninth inning against the Boston Red Sox at Fenway Park. The Boston Red Sox won 8-0. (Greg M. Cooper)
New York Yankees designated hitter Alex Rodriguez (13) watches from the dugout during the ninth inning against the Boston Red Sox at Fenway Park. The Boston Red Sox won 8-0. (Greg M. Cooper)

(AP) -- The Baltimore Orioles' promising start to their series against the top team in the AL didn't last, and a second straight loss cost them first place in the East.

The New York Yankees appear to give them a very good chance to regain their winning ways, as they've dropped five in a row overall and five straight to the Orioles.

Baltimore continues its 10-game homestand with three against New York in the teams' first matchup of 2016, starting Tuesday night.

The Orioles (14-10) took the first two against Chicago last week but settled for a split after a pair of ugly losses. They scored 23 runs in the first three before managing one against White Sox ace Chris Sale in a 7-1 defeat Sunday.

Baltimore pitching was pounded for 15 runs and 23 hits in the final two contests, and that allowed surging Boston to jump one-half game ahead in the division by completing a sweep of the Yankees. << Read more


New York Yankees manager Joe Girardi looks on during the game against the Texas Rangers at Globe Life Park in Arlington. (Kevin Jairaj)
New York Yankees manager Joe Girardi looks on during the game against the Texas Rangers at Globe Life Park in Arlington. (Kevin Jairaj)

The New York Yankees have suffered through one of the worst starts in the club's history, but they can look to the 1984 club for some solace. That team also lost 15 of their first 23 games and finished the season with a winning record at 87-75.

Considering the ferocity of the divisional matchups and a highly balanced American League, such a record could net the Yankees a second straight postseason berth. A lot has to go right for that to happen, and May sets up to be an important month in which the results could make or break the season.

The Yankees offense has been at the heart of the problems, but each facet of the game has had its share of issues. In order for the Yankees to get back into the AL East battle, they will need a more balanced effort, as well as some assistance from their divisional counterparts.

Offense

For a club that was second in the AL in runs scored last season, the opening month was a disaster for New York. The Yanks have received phases of good performances through most of the lineup, but there has been little in the way of consistency from top to bottom, resulting in some disturbing statistics through May 1.

AVG - .233 (MLB rank - 23/30)

Runs - 81 (T-27)

HR - 23 (T-18)

RISP - .203 (29)

The Yankees have scored three runs or less in 17 of 23 games this season. The only time the club scored 10 or more runs was April 6, their second game of the season.

The problems spread through the entire lineup. Despite some hot streaks by individuals (for example, Starlin Castro in the first handful of games and Alex Rodriguez in the last few games), they've been short-lived, and there has yet to be a collection of hitters producing at the same time, especially with runners in scoring position.

The key continues to be at the top of the batting order. Neither Jacoby Ellsbury nor Brett Gardner has done their part regularly and it affects the rest of the lineup. If they are on base, they can wreak havoc, forcing pitchers to tiptoe around a middle of the lineup that can still get the job done. If Ellsbury and Gardner fail to reach base, the middle of the lineup hitters will be challenged more often, resulting in a decrease in performance.

Rotation

The Yankees rotation has received consistently positive results from just one of their starters, Masahiro Tanaka. Michael Pineda, Nathan Eovaldi and Luis Severino have struggled to pitch to their abilities while CC Sabathia has given the Yankees what many expected as the club's fifth starter.

Even with Tanaka's 2.87 ERA mixed in, Yankees starters have recorded a 5.16 ERA in 129 innings. The innings are another issue. Yankees starters have lasted just under five and two-thirds innings on average in their starts. This is an on-going issue for the club and something that simply must change if the team expects to succeed.

In my view, Eovaldi needs to take charge and aid Tanaka at the top of the rotation. Eovaldi has certainly evolved as a pitcher but still has steps to take in order to elevate his game to match his electric four-seam fastball and often times nasty split-finger fastball.

The Yankees can look to his second to last start in which he took a no-hitter into the seventh inning, and more importantly to last summer, as evidence Eovaldi can deliver the production they need. Over a period of 12 starts, Eovaldi dominated opponents (10-2, 2.93 ERA, .584 OPS against). That kind of performance is exactly what the Yankees require from Eovaldi and he has shown it in spurts this season.

Bullpen

When the season began, the bullpen was rightly touted as the best aspect of the club. Many believed (and still do) that if the Yankees held a lead in the seventh inning, they could lean on Chasen Shreve, Dellin Betances and Andrew Miller to lock wins down. Early on, this was holding true, and they were receiving results from rookie Johnny Barbato.

Betances and Miller were especially dirty; neither allowing an earned run through April 24. Miller's ERA is still untarnished, but Betances has allowed a home run in his last three appearances; the last two were go-ahead bombs and the deciding runs in losses to the Boston Red Sox.

The bridge to Betances and Miller provided by Shreve and Barbato has begun to burn as well. Shreve's ERA sits at 5.40 and Barbato's ERA has jumped to 5.73 with each faltering in two of their last three appearances.

It is easy to look at Betances and suggest he is going through a bad stretch and that he will bounce back. He was untouchable until recently and his last two seasons have been nothing short of excellent. However, Shreve showed signs of inconsistency at the end of last season and Barbato is simply inexperienced, so it is not a guarantee they can turn things around.

The Yankees have Aroldis Chapman coming back from his 30-game suspension May 9, which certainly enhances the backend of the bullpen. Nevertheless, they cannot run the three elite relievers out there every time they have a lead, so Shreve or Barbato, or another reliever will need to regain the form they showed at the outset of the season.

The reality of the Yankees current situation is that they need to score runs first, get better starting pitching next and rely on the bullpen to do what they have done for the last couple of seasons. It sounds simple, but the club is just one season removed from receiving just that and the components are in place. It is time for everyone to produce or else the team could be out of the playoff picture before the season shifts into its third month.

Tags: Christopher Carelli

DNL: Yankees, Help Wanted 00:03:05
The panel discusses the struggling New York Yankees, and what the Bronx Bombers can do in order to turn around their fortunes.

 (Butch Dill)
(Butch Dill)

Yankees GM Brian Cashman has no plans to shake things up, he told Anthony Rieber of Newsday.

When asked if he was considering firing any members of the coaching staff or manager Joe Girardi, Cashman said "no."

"It's been extremely frustrating because I'd say most of our roster has underperformed at this point and it's a head-scratcher," Cashman said, according to Rieber.

Cashman added that he's not planning to call any players up from Triple-A, noting that the "current roster needs to heal itself."

The Yankees, losers of five straight games, are 8-15 and in last place in the AL East. They trail the first place Red Sox by 6 games.

Chris Carelli, SNY.TV Facebook | Twitter | About Me | Archives

After a historically dismal first month of the season, it is reasonable to wonder if the Yankees should light a match and blow up part of the team. Cashman's stance to stay the course, including a temporary pass for his manager and coaching staff, makes sense to me.

In my opinion, the issues haunting the Yankees cannot be quelled from within -- at least not at this time. Of the players they have on the farm, not a single one looks to be truly ready to take over a role from one of the veterans on the major league club. And that's from both sides of the ball.

The Yankees are riding out a putrid offensive performance that has grasped each of the regulars for extended periods this season, and inconsistency from the pitching staff has also plagued theml.

That said, I feel an upswing will balance things out soon enough. That's what Cashman and company believe as well. We'll see if we are right or wrong before long. It cannot get worse, can it?


New York Yankees pitcher Dellin Betances pitches against the Tampa Bay Rays at Yankee Stadium. (Andy Marlin/USA Today Sports Images)
New York Yankees pitcher Dellin Betances pitches against the Tampa Bay Rays at Yankee Stadium. (Andy Marlin/USA Today Sports Images)

New York Yankees manager Joe Girardi expressed his confidence in right-handed reliever Dellin Betances despite allowing a home run in his third consecutive outing, including the eventual game-winning runs in Sunday's 8-7 loss to the Boston Red Sox.

Girardi pulled Ivan Nova and brought Betances into a tie game in the bottom of the seventh inning with a runner on first base to face Christian Vazquez, Boston's No. 8 hitter, with a runner on first. Vazquez smashed Betances' first pitch over the Green Monster to break a 6-6 tie and give the Red Sox an 8-6 lead.

"I could have," Girardi told Newsday's Anthony Rieber about the possibility of sticking with Nova. "But, I mean, it's Dellin Betances."

The Yankees led 6-4 in the fifth inning, but instead lost their fifth straight game to fall to 8-15 and six games back in the AL East. Betances took the blame for the loss.

"I'll take the loss,'' he said. "I feel like it was my fault."

Last season, Betances had given up just six home runs all season long, including none between Opening Day and July 3. He allowed home runs in back-to-back outings before surrendering one over his next 23 outings.

Betances took the loss in Friday's 4-2 game when he allowed a go-ahead two-run home run to David Ortiz in the eighth inning. Including a solo home run to Texas' Brett Nicholas in Monday's 3-1 win over the Rangers, Betances has a 13.50 ERA over his last three appearances, allowing a home run in each.

"Dellin's probably the least of my worries," Girardi said of Betances, who had a 0.00 ERA before last Monday and hadn't allowed a run in his previous eight appearances. "Dellin's too good not to get back on track."

Tags: Ivan Nova , Dellin Betances , Boston Red Sox , Matt Eisenberg

Boston Red Sox catcher Christian Vazquez rounds the bases after hitting a two run home run during the seventh inning against the New York Yankees at Fenway Park. (Bob DeChiara/USA Today Sports Images)
Boston Red Sox catcher Christian Vazquez rounds the bases after hitting a two run home run during the seventh inning against the New York Yankees at Fenway Park. (Bob DeChiara/USA Today Sports Images)

Dellin Betances allowed a go-ahead two-run home run to Christian Vazquez in the seventh inning as the New York Yankees lost their fifth straight game to the Red Sox, 8-7, Sunday at Fenway Park. >> Read more at SNY.tv


  • After Ivan Nova (1-1) pitched 1 2/3 innings in relief of Nathan Eovaldi, manager Joe Girardi pulled him in favor of Betances to face Vazquez with a runner on first base. Vazuez crushed Betances' first pitch over the Green Monster in left field to give the Red Sox an 8-6 lead.
  • Starlin Castro scored on a wild pitch to get the Yankees within one, but pinch hitter Carlos Beltran struck out against Koji Uehara with a runner on first base to end the inning. 
  • Craig Kimbrel pitched a 1-2-3 ninth inning for Boston (15-10).
  • Alex Rodriguez went 2 for 4 with a two-run home run in the third inning and a two-run double in the fifth inning. He scored on Mark Teixeira's RBI single that gave the Yankees a 6-4 lead.
  • Travis Shaw hit a two-run home run to right field off Eovaldi in the bottom of the fifth inning that tied the game at 6.
  • Eovaldi allowed six runs and 10 hits in five innings for the Yankees (8-15).
  • David Price (4-0), who struck out 14 batters in his last outing on April 26, gave up six runs and eight hits in seven innings against the Yankees.
  • Jacoby Ellsbury went 2 for 4 with one RBI and two runs scored. 
  • Dustin Pedroia and Xander Bogaerts both went 3 for 5 with a run scored. 

Chris Carelli, SNY.TV Facebook | Twitter | About Me | Archives

Leave it to the Yankees to score seven runs -- their most since April 9 -- and still find a way to lose.

Eovaldi was staked to two leads and promptly coughed them up. That was followed up by the second game-winning home run allowed by Betances in the series. If the Yankees are to go on a winning streak, simply turning the offense around will not be enough; the rotation and bullpen need to do their part as well.

Truthfully, the Yankees have not found their offensive stride just yet, as it has mostly been the Rodriguez show the last few games. Rodriguez has two doubles, three home runs and six RBIs in his last four games. Ellsbury and Castro are the only players other than Rodriguez to get extra-base hits (two apiece) during the period.


What's next 

The Yankees begin a three-game series at Camden Yards against the Baltimore Orioles on Tuesday at 7:05 p.m. ET. Luis Severino (0-3) will face Chris Tillman (2-1).

Tags: Dellin Betances , Jacoby Ellsbury , Mark Teixeira , Nathan Eovaldi , Boston Red Sox

Nathan Eovaldi will try to prevent a sweep Sunday when the Yankees meet the Red Sox at Fenway Park. (Tim Heitman/USA Today Sports Images)
Nathan Eovaldi will try to prevent a sweep Sunday when the Yankees meet the Red Sox at Fenway Park. (Tim Heitman/USA Today Sports Images)

The Yankees will try to avoid a three-game sweep at Fenway Park when they meet the Red Sox at 8:05 p.m.

Yankees Red Sox
Jacoby Ellsbury, CF  Mookie Betts, RF
Brett Gardner, LF Dustin Pedroia, 2B
Alex Rodriguez, DH Xander Bogaerts, SS
Mark Teixeira, 1B David Ortiz, DH
Starlin Castro, 2B Hanley Ramirez, 1B
Aaron Hicks, RF Travis Shaw, 3B
Ronald Torreyes, SS Brock Holt, LF
Austin Romine, C Christian Vazquez, C
Chase Headley, 3B Jackie Bradley Jr., CF

Who's Pitching for the Yankees: RHP Nathan Eovaldi (1-2, 4.38 ERA)

Who's Pitching for the Red Sox: LHP David Price (3-0, 5.76 ERA) 


Yankees reliever Johnny Barbato gets a new ball after giving up a home run to David Ortiz in the seventh inning. (Greg M. Cooper)
Yankees reliever Johnny Barbato gets a new ball after giving up a home run to David Ortiz in the seventh inning. (Greg M. Cooper)

Boston's Rick Porcello dominated the Yankees' struggling offense and the Red Sox scored six runs against the New York bullpen in an 8-0 victory. >> Read the full recap at SNY.tv here


  • The Yankees (8-14) had their worst April since 1991, when they started 6-11.
  • Porcello went seven scoreless innings, allowing five hits with six strikeouts.
  • Yankees starter Michael Pineda gave up two runs (both on Mookie Betts' two-run double in the third) and five hits in five innings.
  • Chasen Shreve allowed two runs in the sixth before the Red Sox teed off on Johnny Barbato in the seventh. David Ortiz started a four-run rally with a home run and Jackie Bradley Jr. followed with a two-run triple.
  • The Yankees haven't scored in 13 1/3 innings.

Chris Carelli, SNY.TV Facebook | Twitter | About Me | Archives

This one started poorly and had a slow painful finish. Pineda was at 52 pitches and down two runs by the end of the second inning. Pineda held Boston scoreless during the rest of his outing, but lasted just five innings.

The stunted effort forced Yankees manager Joe Girardi - whose offense is a virtual non-factor these days - to go to his setup men early in an effort to keep the game close. Shreve was tagged for two runs in two-thirds of an inning and Johnny Barbato was reached for four runs (three earned) in just one-third of an inning.

Suddenly, two of the more promising pieces to the early part of the season are struggling, as Shreve's ERA is up to 5.40 and Barbato's jumped to 4.91.


What's next 

The Yankees try to avoid a sweep at Fenway Sunday night at 8:05 p.m. Righthander Nathan Eovaldi (1-2, 4.38) faces Sox lefthander David Price (3-0, 5.76)

Tags: Boston Red Sox

New York Yankees starting pitcher Michael Pineda (35) pitches against the Oakland Athletics during the third inning at Yankee Stadium. ( Adam Hunger)
New York Yankees starting pitcher Michael Pineda (35) pitches against the Oakland Athletics during the third inning at Yankee Stadium. ( Adam Hunger)

The Yankees and Red Sox continue their series at Fenway Park in Boston on Saturday night. 

Yankees Red Sox
Jacoby Ellsbury, CF  Mookie Betts, RF
Brett Gardner, LF Dustin Pedroia, 2B
Carlos Beltran, RF Xander Bogaerts, SS
Mark Teixeira, 1B David Ortiz, DH
Alex Rodriguez, DH Hanley Ramirez, 1B
Brian McCann, C Travis Shaw, 3B
Starlin Castro, 2B Brock Holt, LF
Didi Gregorius, SS Christian Vazquez, C
Chase Headley, 3B Jackie Bradley, Jr., CF

Who's Pitching for the Yankees: RHP Michael Pineda (1-2, 6.95 ERA) 

Who's Pitching for the Red Sox: RHP Rick Porcello (4-0, 3.51 ERA) 


Boston Red Sox shortstop Xander Bogaerts (2) hits a single during the sixth inning against the New York Yankees at Fenway Park. (Bob DeChiara)
Boston Red Sox shortstop Xander Bogaerts (2) hits a single during the sixth inning against the New York Yankees at Fenway Park. (Bob DeChiara)

Despite holding a lead into the seventh inning, the Yankees allowed four runs in the late innings, falling to the Red Sox, 4-2, in the first game of their series in Boston. >> Read the full recap at SNY.tv here


  • David Ortiz hit a two-run home run off of Dellin Betances in the eighth inning to give the Red Sox what would be the game-winning home run. 
  • Starter Masahiro Tanaka lasted 6 2/3, allowing two runs on six hits. He also struck out six and did not surrender a walk.
  • Alex Rodriguez gave the Yankees the early lead with a solo home run in the second inning, the 691st of his career. 
  • Brett Gardner added an RBI single in the fifth to extend the Yankees' lead. 
  • Down by two in the seventh, Jackie Bradley Jr. tied the game for the Red Sox with a two-run double, which knocked Tanaka out of the game. 

Chris Carelli, SNY.TV Facebook | Twitter | About Me | Archives

It is another tough loss for the Yankees, this one despite getting a solid outing from Tanaka. Yankees pitching is under immense pressure, knowing that the offense simply cannot muster enough run support at this time. Run-scoring chances keep presenting themselves and the Yankees continue to fail to come through. Until that changes, the pitching needs to be perfect and tonight that kind of effort halted in the seventh inning, and Ortiz finished it off in the eighth.

It is Ortiz's swan song and he once again obliterated a Yankees pitch at a critical time. Ortiz has launched 48 home runs and driven in 160 RBIs against the Yankees in his time with the Red Sox. With 18 more games between them, it is safe to say this will not be the last time he wins a game for Boston against the Yankees.

What's next 

The Yankees will continue their series at Fenway Park on Saturday night at 7:10 p.m., as Michael Pineda (1-2, 6.95 ERA) will get the start against RHP Rick Porcello (4-0, 3.51 ERA). 

Tags: Boston Red Sox

 (Nick Turchiaro)
(Nick Turchiaro)

The Yankees open a three-game series against the Red Sox at Fenway Park in Boston at 7:10 p.m. on Friday.

Yankees Rangers
Jacoby Ellsbury, CF  Mookie Betts, RF
Brett Gardner, LF Dustin Pedroia, 2B
Carlos Beltran, RF Xander Bogaerts, SS
Mark Teixeira, 1B David Ortiz, DH
Alex Rodriguez, DH Hanley Ramirez, 1B
Brian McCann, C Travis Shaw, 3B
Starlin Castro, 2B Brock Holt, LF
Chase Headley, 3B Ryan Hanigan, C
Didi Gregorius, SS Jackie Bradley, Jr., CF

Who's pitching for the Yankees: RHP Masahiro Tanaka (2.92 ERA, 0.97 WHIP)

Who's pitching for the Red Sox: LHP Henry Owens (8.10 ERA, 2.70 WHIP)

Tags: Masahiro Tanaka

New York Yankees shortstop Jorge Mateo is congratulated in the dugout after his home run against the Boston Red Sox at George M. Steinbrenner Field. (Kim Klement/USA Today Sports Images)
New York Yankees shortstop Jorge Mateo is congratulated in the dugout after his home run against the Boston Red Sox at George M. Steinbrenner Field. (Kim Klement/USA Today Sports Images)

While the New York Yankees are off to a lousy 8-12 start to the 2016 season, things are looking better for each of their minor league affiliates.

Note: Team records and statistics are as of April 28.

Class A - South Atlantic League - Charleston RiverDogs

Record: 15-5, 1st place, Southern Division

The RiverDogs have been getting done with pitching so far this season, as just two of their regulars are hitting above .260: Thairo Estrada (.324) and Trey Amburguy (.281). The collective team OPS sits at .666.

On the rubber, right-hander Domingo Acevado has a 2-0 record in five starts. Acevado owns a 1.91 ERA, 0.81 WHIP and 32 strikeouts in 28 1/3 innings pitched. Left-hander Josh Rodgers is 2-1 with a 1.59 ERA, 0.71 WHIP and 25 strikeouts in 22 2/3 innings. The entire pitching staff sports a 3.20 ERA and has struck out a league-leading 216 batters in 183 innings.

Advanced A - Florida State League - Tampa Yankees

Record: 14-7, 2nd place, 1.0 GB, North Division

Unfortunately, the top news out of Tampa was injury related. Right-hander James Kaprielian was shut down this week after experiencing discomfort in his throwing elbow. An MRI confirmed inflammation, but no tear in the ulnar collateral ligament. Kaprielian had gotten off to a great start, striking out 22 batters in 18 innings with a 1.50 ERA.

There is no timetable for Kaprielian's return, but the Yankees noted he would be taken along slowly. Any notion that Kaprielian would make an appearance in the big leagues this season has been severely damaged at this point.

Tampa outfielder Mark Payton was named the FSL player of the week for games played April 19-25. Payton went 7 for 18 with two home runs and a double, while driving in nine runs. Payton was a seventh-round pick in the 2014 draft.

Shortstop Jorge Mateo, the Yankees' top prospect, according to MLBPipeline.com, is raking. Mateo is among six Tampa regulars with an OPS at or above .900. Mateo has two home runs, 14 RBIs and seven steals on the young season. Mateo stole 82 bases across two levels in 2015, but he is beginning to show some power to go along with the blazing speed.

Double-A - Eastern League - Trenton Thunder

Record: 12-8, 3rd place, Eastern Division

The celebrated news out of Trenton was the combined no-hitter tossed by Ronald Herrera and Jonathan Holder. Herrera, a 20-year-old righty, struck out five batters in eight innings, and Holder finished the no-no off with a two-strikeout inning. Herrera came to the Yankees in the trade that sent infielder Jose Pirela to San Diego. Herrera is 3-0 with a 1.29 ERA this season.

The offense is struggling in Trenton as well, where the team is hitting a collective .237, and the Thunder have scored just 76 runs in their 20 games. One bright spot on offense is Jake Cave, who was left unprotected during the Rule 5 Draft, was taken by the Reds and then returned as spring training ended. Cave is slashing .292/.373/.462 with four doubles, two triples and a home run, and leads the Thunder with 13 RBIs.

On the mound, left-hander Dietrich Enns has turned heads in his four starts with the Thunder. Enns, drafted in the 19th round in 2012, is 3-0 and has yet to allow a run in 23 2/3 innings. Enns, 24, has struck out 25 batters, and if there is an issue, it is the number of walks (13) he has issued. He owns a cumulative 1.74 ERA in 233 minor league innings.

On the down side, Brady Lail, who showed promise in 2015, has suffered a rough start to the season. Lail, a 22-year-old righty, is 0-2 with a 5.23 ERA and 1.55 WHIP. He has walked the same number of batters (10) as he has struck out.

Triple-A - International League - Scranton/Wilkes-Barre RailRiders

Record: 10-10, 3rd place, North Division

Since coming to the RailRiders from the Atlanta Braves, former Yankee 1B/OF Nick Swisher has swung a hot bat. Swisher, who has primarily played first base for the RailRiders, has a triple-slash line of .357/.391/.595 with three home runs and six RBIs in 45 plate appearances.

Some of the club's top prospects have gotten off to slow starts on offense. Infielder Rob Refsnyder has a .496 OPS and outfielder Aaron Judge (.696 OPS, 25 strikeouts and four walks) has cooled off since a promising start.

Outfielder Ben Gamel (.314/.383/.371, 11 R, six SB) and catcher Gary Sanchez (.769 OPS, seven 2B, two HR, 10 RBIs) have carried much of the offensive load so far this season.

On the hill, RailRiders pitchers own a 3.20 ERA and a 9.0 K/9 ratio. Right-hander Chad Green has a 0-3 record despite a 1.44 ERA and 25 strikeouts in 25 innings. Green, 24, arrived to the Yankees system along with Luis Cessa via the Justin Wilson trade this past offseason.

Tags: Christopher Carelli

New York Yankees designated hitter Alex Rodriguez (Kevin Jairaj/USA Today Sports Images)
New York Yankees designated hitter Alex Rodriguez (Kevin Jairaj/USA Today Sports Images)

New York Yankees designated hitter Alex Rodriguez went 3-for-3 with a solo home run and a double in his return from a minor oblique issue in Wednesday's 3-2 loss to the Texas Rangers.

"Maybe he's getting on track, and that's a big bat to be getting on track," manager Joe Girardi said, according to MLB.com's Dave Sessions. "He just had good at-bats tonight. and we need that to continue."

The 40-year-old Rodriguez missed New York's previous two games after hurting his left oblique taking swings in the batting cage in-between innings during Sunday's game against the Tampa Bay Rays. An MRI revealed no damage and he said he felt better on Monday.

Rodriguez reached base four times. He walked in his first at-bat, homered in the fourth inning, doubled in the sixth inning and hit a single in the ninth inning before being lifted for a pinch runner.

His batting line jumped from .145/.242/.273 to .190/.288/.379 with Wednesday's game.

"It's a long season, it's a work in progress," Rodriguez said. "I'm always tweaking and working on things. I'm just trying to find the cadence I had last year, and the last week or so has been a little better. ... The results weren't there, but I thought I was seeing the ball a little bit better. I liked the way the ball came off my bat the last day game in New York, and today was better."

Outside of Rodriguez, though, the rest of the Yankees combined to go 4-for-29 at the plate with one walk. En route to a losing April, New York has lost 10 of its last 14 games, scoring three or fewer runs 12 times in that span, and has recorded the fourth fewest runs as a team in baseball.

"It's tough but we have to keep perspective," Rodriguez said, according to Newsday's Erik Boland. "It's 20 games. If it was 80 games it would be a lot tougher to swallow. Rather than break us, I think it's going to make us stronger in the long run."

Tags: Alex Rodriguez

 (Kevin Jairaj)
(Kevin Jairaj)

CC Sabathia allowed three runs in six innings and the Yankees' offense struggled again as they lost to the Rangers, 3-2, on Wednesday night in Texas >> Read the full recap at SNY.tv here

  • Starin Castro's run-scoring single in the second inning gave the Yankees a 1-0 lead.
  • Adrian Beltre's RBI single in the third inning gave the Rangers a 2-1 lead.
  • Alex Rodriguez had three of the Yankees' seven hits and also drew a walk.
  • Rodriguez' solo homer in the fourth inning tied things, 2-2.
  • Elvis Andrus' RBI triple off Sabathia in the sixth inning was the difference.

Chris Carelli, SNY.TV Facebook | Twitter | About Me | Archives

Another game, another lackluster offensive performance from the Yankees. The Yanks received a decent effort from CC Sabathia, but at this point if the opposition scores three or more runs, the offense cannot seem to do their part.

The Yankees have averaged just under 2.5 runs per game (15 games) since they scored 35 runs in their first five games. Such production puts a ton of pressure on the pitching staff -- one that owns a collective ERA of 5.13 after CC's six-inning, three-run effort.

Bad streaks happen, but the lack of offensive production has reached epidemic proportions and is the main reason the Yankees will finish the month under the .500 mark.

What's next

The Yankees are off on Thursday.

Masahiro Tanaka (2.92 ERA, 0.97 WHIP) will face Henry Owens (8.10 ERA, 2.70 WHIP) when the Yankees open a three-game series against the Red Sox in Boston on Friday at 7:10 p.m. ET.

Tags: Alex Rodriguez , CC Sabathia

 (Rick Osentoski)
(Rick Osentoski)

The Yankees continue their three-game series against the Rangers at Globe Life Park in Arlington at 8:05 p.m. on Wednesday.

Yankees Rangers
Jacoby Ellsbury, CF  Delino DeShields, CF
Brett Gardner, LF Nomar Mazara, RF
Carlos Beltran, RF Adrian Beltre, 3B
Mark Teixeira, 1B Ian Desmond, LF
Alex Rodriguez, DH Ryan Rua, DH
Brian McCann, C Rougned Odor, 2B
Starlin Castro, 2B Elvis Andrus, SS
Chase Headley, 3B Hanser Alberto, 1B
Ronald Torreyes, SS Bryan Holaday, C

Who's pitching for the Yankees: LHP CC Sabathia (5.28 ERA, 1.83 WHIP)

Who's pitching for the Rangers: LHP Martin Perez (4.50 ERA, 1.38 WHIP)

Tags: CC Sabathia

New York Yankees starting pitcher Masahiro Tanaka (19) pitches against the Seattle Mariners during the first inning at Yankee Stadium. (Brad Penner)
New York Yankees starting pitcher Masahiro Tanaka (19) pitches against the Seattle Mariners during the first inning at Yankee Stadium. (Brad Penner)

Chris Carelli, SNY.TV Facebook | Twitter | About Me | Archives

As CC Sabathia began to fade from prominence, the New York Yankees needed a front line starter to anchor the rotation. There was no one on the major league roster or in the farm system ready to make such an impact, and apparently no one in the United States. The Yankees spent $20 million simply to negotiate with Japanese star Masahiro Tanaka, and after agreeing to a seven-year, $155 million contract, they had their man.

The total value of the posting fee and contract placed Tanaka among the top-paid pitchers in the game, so reasonably Yankees fans expected a dominant starter. The Yankee faithful believed the club acquired a pitcher who could lead the team back to the World Series.

In Tanaka's two seasons, the Yankees missed the playoffs once and got the boot in the wild card game (which he started and pitched well) in the other. I find it hard to believe any of this is Tanaka's fault. While Tanaka takes a good deal of heat because he is not dominant, I would argue that he is exactly as advertised and he is fulfilling the value of his deal, despite unforeseen health issues.

Some dismissed the commentary as a means of lowering expectations, but Yankees general manager Brian Cashman did classify Tanaka as a "consistent No. 3 starter."

"There is definitely some unknown because of the transition. We scouted him extensively. Certainly, we look forward to adding him into the mix with the rest of our rotation. That's what we look at him as: A solid, potential No. 3 starter in the big leagues," Cashman told ESPN Radio in February 2014 after the signing.

I would say that depending on the surrounding cast, Cashman could be right, but in truth, Tanaka is the No. 1 starter on this Yankee team.

Fans and some of the media fully expected Tanaka's dominance from his 2013 season in Japan, in which he went 24-0, to carry over in the States. Tanaka was off to a rousing start to his Yankees career, and then he settled into becoming a quality pitcher, one who occasionally flashes brilliance and tosses an infrequent clunker. In a collective review of his work, Tanaka has been able to make the transition to the major leagues.

 Year 

 GS 

IP

 ERA 

 ERA+ 

 K/9 

 BB/9 

 HR/9 

2014

20

136.1

2.77

138

9.3

1.4

1.0

2015

24

154

3.51

114

8.1

1.6

1.5

2016

4

24.2

2.92

129

8.4

2.2

0.7

 

I look at these statistics (via Baseball-Reference) and wonder how anyone could be upset at the performance. Is Tanaka dominant? Maybe not, but he more than gets the job done. Another question, is Tanaka providing value equal to what the Yankees are paying him?

 Year 

 fWAR 

 Salary (millions)

Performance Value (millions)

2014

3.1

$22

$23.4

2015

2.2

$22

$17.9

2016

0.5

$22

$3.9 (est.)

 

Considering fWAR via FanGraphs is a cumulative value and Tanaka missed at least 16 starts over the last two seasons (assuming 30 starts), Tanaka has amassed enough value during his starts to match his salary. He is well on this way to covering his salary this season as well.

Keep in mind that Tanaka has been pitching through a partial tear in his ulnar collateral ligament, diagnosed in 2014. Tanaka opted to rehab in hopes that the ligament heals. The past offseason Tanaka had a bone spur removed from his right elbow. Despite the ailments, Tanaka has made more starts than any other starting pitcher for the Yankees since he signed in 2014.

The injuries might have caused Tanaka to change how he pitches. Tanaka is relying less on four-seam fastballs and more on his elusive and often devastating split-finger fastball along with other off-speed offerings. Last season the talk around Tanaka was a diminished four-seam fastball velocity, yet his average velocity actually went up in 2015 from 2014 (from 91.1 mph to 92 mph, according to PITCHf/x data via FanGraphs).

The problem; batters hit his four-seam fastball quite well (over .313 in what amounted to 236 plate appearances since he entered the league). Tanaka's answer the last two seasons is to throw the four-seamer less often than the year before. His four-seam fastball usage has gone from 25 percent in 2014, to 19.4 percent in 2015 and now a measly 6 percent thus far in 2016.

Tanaka has relied heavily on his split-finger fastball, which has held hitters to a .172 batting average during his time in the major leagues. His next best pitch is his slider, which has kept batters to a .163 batting average in his MLB career. After the four-seam fastball, Tanaka's two-seam fastball is also knocked around to the tune of a .290 batting average. Beyond the high average against his four-seam and two-seam fastballs, those offerings have been victimized the most for home runs - 35.7 percent and 23.8 percent of his 42 total home runs respectively.

As Tanaka has abandoned the four-seam fastball this season, he is using the two-seam about the same as he had from 2014-15. The difference is he is holding batters to a .200 average with it so far this season. His splitter has been even more dominant than years past (.105 batting average), but his slider has been hit for a .303 average this season.

What I take from this is that Tanaka is learning what he can and cannot do with the tear in his UCL. He has finally realized that his four-seam fastball is not effective, and while the two-seam has hurt him in the past, he is getting better results with it this season. He needs to have as much motion on his pitches as possible and the offerings he is utilizing are those with the best vertical/horizontal movement.

Tanaka has fought through some starts this season, where it is easy to see he is trying to find the best pitch that is working for him on that day. Tanaka has been able to get good results each time out and provided the elbow holds up, he seems to ready to contribute a full season of starts.

Tanaka is not Clayton Kershaw or Jake Arrieta. Nevertheless, Tanaka is by far the best starter the Yankees have right now, and his best is more than sufficient production to warrant the contract he plays under.


New York Yankees starting pitcher Luis Severino delivers to the Texas Rangers during the second inning at Globe Life Park in Arlington. (Jim Cowsert/USA Today Sports Images)
New York Yankees starting pitcher Luis Severino delivers to the Texas Rangers during the second inning at Globe Life Park in Arlington. (Jim Cowsert/USA Today Sports Images)

Luis Severino remained winless in 2016 after giving up six runs, seven hits and two walks in three innings in the New York Yankees' 10-1 loss to the Texas Rangers on Tuesday.

The 22-year-old Severino (0-3) allowed five runs in the third inning, all with two outs, that blew the game open for the Rangers. Severino's ERA rose to 6.86 and his WHIP to 1.78. Opponents are hitting .372 off him.

"I'm sure it's tough right now because he's probably never struggled to this level," manager Joe Girardi said, according to the New York Daily News' Mark Feinsand. "You have to fight in this game. This game is not easy. If it was easy, anyone would do it. Everybody gets knocked down. You have to get back up and you've got to go to work."

Severino performed well last season when he was called up mid-season, recording a 2.89 ERA and 1.20 WHIP in 11 starts. He pitched at least six innings in eight of 11 games last year, but has only done so once through four starts this season.

"I have a lot of confidence in myself," Severino said. "It's a tough time; every pitcher in the big-leagues has a tough time. ... My mechanics are good. I have to slow my arm, think more down. I'm thinking too much. I have to just throw the ball. That's it."

Severino retired the first two batters in the third inning before getting into trouble. He intentionally walked Prince Fielder after back-to-back base hits to load the bases for Ian Desmond.

After getting Desmond down in the count 1-2, he threw three straight pitches out of the strike zone to walk him. Mitch Moreland followed with a two-run single. Desmond scored on a wild pitch in the next at-bat, and Elvis Andrus' RBI single drove in Moreland.

"I don't think he's happy with the results, that's what I notice mentally," Girardi said. "I don't see him doing anything else except necessarily being upset with himself. I think if anyone had an outing like that, you'd be upset with it."

Tags: Luis Severino

 ( Jim Cowsert)
( Jim Cowsert)

Luis Severino allowed six runs on seven hits while walking two and striking out one in just three innings pitched as the Yankees lost to the Rangers, 10-1, during the second game of their three-game series on Tuesday night in Texas. >> Read the full recap at SNY.tv here

  • Severino threw 74 pitches in his three innings as his ERA rose to 6.86.
  • Prince Fielder, Mitch Moreland, Ian Desmond, and Brett Nicholas all had run-scoring hits off Severino.
  • Severino also walked in one run and allowed another to score on a wild pitch.
  • Ivan Nova allowed three runs in four innings pitched in relief of Severino.
  • Mark Teixeira's RBI single in the seventh accounted for the Yankees' only run of the night.

Chris Carelli, SNY.TV Facebook | Twitter | About Me | Archives

One night after a near no-hitter, the Yankees received a far inferior performance from Severino. Couple that with another offensive disappearing act, and the Yankees will not finish April above the .500 mark.

Severino blazed through three professional levels in 2015, including an impressive 60-plus innings in New York. His poise and positive results last season prompted many to believe he would build on that in 2016, and potentially push to become the Yankees ace.

Thus far, the results have been less than encouraging. Severino now sports an ugly 6.86 ERA and batters are hitting a whopping .372 against him this season. Severino is simply not fooling batters so far, and it might soon motivate the Yankees to think about sending the 22-year-old down to Triple-A to work through his issues.

What's next

CC Sabathia (5.28 ERA, 1.83 WHIP) will face Martin Perez (4.50 ERA, 1.38 WHIP) on Wednesday at 8:05 p.m. ET.

Tags: Ivan Nova , Luis Severino , Mark Teixeira

New York Yankees starting pitcher Luis Severino (40) delivers a pitch against the Oakland Athletics at Yankee Stadium. (Noah K. Murray)
New York Yankees starting pitcher Luis Severino (40) delivers a pitch against the Oakland Athletics at Yankee Stadium. (Noah K. Murray)

The Yankees continue their three-game series against the Rangers at Globe Life Park in Arlington at 8:05 p.m. Tuesday.

Follow the game live here

Yankees Rangers
Jacoby Ellsbury, CF  Rougned Odor, 2B
Brett Gardner, LF Nomar Mazara, RF
Carlos Beltran, RF Adrian Beltre, 3B
Mark Teixeira, DH Prince Fielder, DH
Brian McCann, C Ian Desmond, LF
Starlin Castro, 2B Mitch Moreland, 1B
Dustin Ackley, 1B Elvis Andrus, SS
Didi Gregorius, SS Brett Nicholas, C
Ronald Torreyes, 3B Delino DeShields, CF

 

Who's pitching for the Yankees: RHP Luis Severino (0-2, 4.86 ERA)

Who's pitching for the Rangers: RHP A.J. Griffin (2-0, 3.18 ERA)

Tags: Luis Severino

New York Yankees starting pitcher Nathan Eovaldi looks in for the sign in the third inning against the Texas Rangers at Globe Life Park in Arlington. (Tim Heitman/USA Today Sports Images)
New York Yankees starting pitcher Nathan Eovaldi looks in for the sign in the third inning against the Texas Rangers at Globe Life Park in Arlington. (Tim Heitman/USA Today Sports Images)

New York Yankees RHP Nathan Eovaldi took a no-hitter into the seventh inning in New York's 3-1 win over the Texas Rangers on Monday at Globe Life Park in Arlington.

"I feel like I've gotten better each outing, but for it to all come together tonight, it was nice," Eovaldi said, according to the New York Daily News' Mark Feinsand.

With his parents in attendance, Eovaldi, a Houston native, retired 17 of the first 19 batters he faced -- one reaching by error and another via walk. He realized he had a no-hitter beginning in the fifth inning.

"I really tried to bear down and be careful," he said.

With a defensive shift on, Nomar Mazara ended the no-hit bid with a leadoff single through the left side of the infield in the seventh inning

"When it was hit, I thought it was an out," Eovaldi (1-2) said. "With the shift and everything, the ball made it through. I feel like they work most of the time, it was just one of those things that happened."

Manager Joe Girardi said he was monitoring Eovaldi's pitch count to make sure he wouldn't stress his arm too much in case Eovaldi took the no-hitter deeper into the game. 

"I'm looking at his pitch count; that's the pressure that falls on a manager," Girardi said of Eovaldi, who threw 98 pitches in the game. "His pitch count was pretty good, so I thought it would be great for him in his home state."

Eovaldi got Adrian Beltre to ground into a double play and worked around a Prince Fielder double to pitch seven scoreless innings. Eovaldi struck out six batters in total and has a 2.08 ERA over his last two starts.

"Once you get to the seventh inning, you start thinking, 'Even if he doesn't go all nine, we have two pretty good relievers back there that this could be a joint no-hitter,'" Mark Teixeira said. "The win is the most important thing and Nate just pitched amazing today."

Tags: Mark Teixeira , Nathan Eovaldi

New York Yankees designated hitter Alex Rodriguez reacts after striking out in the sixth out against the Seattle Mariners at Yankee Stadium. (Noah K. Murray/USA Today Sports Images)
New York Yankees designated hitter Alex Rodriguez reacts after striking out in the sixth out against the Seattle Mariners at Yankee Stadium. (Noah K. Murray/USA Today Sports Images)

New York Yankees designated hitter Alex Rodriguez said he feels better after missing Monday's game and leaving Sunday's game with an oblique injury in hopes of returning to the lineup soon.

"I feel good," Rodriguez said, according to the New York Daily News' Mark Feinsand. "Joe knows best. I hope I'm back in there as soon as possible."

An MRI on Rodriguez's left oblique came back negative on Sunday. He sustained the injury hitting in the batting cages in-between innings. 

Though Rodriguez, who's hitting .145 with two home runs and six RBIs through 15 games, said he knew he wasn't going to be in the lineup on Monday, he told manager Joe Girardi he would be able to pinch hit.

"More than the MRI not really revealing anything, the fact that he feels pretty good and is even talking about maybe wanting to pinch-hit tonight, to me that's a good sign," Girardi said. 

Added Rodriguez: "The MRI matches the way I feel, and I feel pretty good."

 

 

 

Tags: Alex Rodriguez

Nathan Eovaldi will try to prevent a sweep Sunday when the Yankees meet the Red Sox at Fenway Park. (Tim Heitman/USA Today Sports Images)
Nathan Eovaldi will try to prevent a sweep Sunday when the Yankees meet the Red Sox at Fenway Park. (Tim Heitman/USA Today Sports Images)

Nathan Eovaldi took a no-hitter into the seventh inning, Jacoby Ellsbury and Starlin Castro hit home runs, and the New York Yankees beat the Texas Rangers, 3-1, Monday at Globe Life Park. >> Read the full recap at SNY.tv here.

  • Eovaldi (1-2) pitched seven scoreless innings and didn't give up a hit until Texas' Nomar Mazara hit a clean single through the left side of the infield to start the seventh inning.
  • Eovaldi retired 17 of the first 19 batters he faced. Prince Fielder reached on an error in the second inning, but was retired on a double play. Eovaldi walked Mazara with one out in the fourth inning.
  • Ellsbury went 2 for 5 and hit his first home run of the season in the third inning to give the Yankees a 1-0 lead. 
  • Later in the third inning, Mark Teixeira drove in Carlos Beltran with an RBI double to make it 2-0.
  • Castro hit a solo home run off Cesar Ramos (0-1) in the top of the sixth inning that gave New York a 3-0 lead.
  • Dellin Betances allowed a solo home run to Brett Nicholas in the bottom of the eighth inning.
  • Andrew Miller pitched a 1-2-3 ninth inning for his fifth save of the season.

What's next

Luis Severino (0-2, 4.86 ERA) will face A.J. Griffin (2-0, 3.18 ERA) on Tuesday at 8:05 p.m. ET.

Tags: Andrew Miller , Carlos Beltran , Dellin Betances , Jacoby Ellsbury , Mark Teixeira , Nathan Eovaldi , Texas Rangers

New York Yankees relief pitcher Branden Pinder (Kim Klement/USA Today Sports Images)
New York Yankees relief pitcher Branden Pinder (Kim Klement/USA Today Sports Images)

New York Yankees RHP Branden Pinder has elected to undergo Tommy John surgery on Tuesday after sustaining a partially torn UCL, according to the Wall Street Journal's Jared Diamond.

Pinder, 27, was placed on the disabled list over the weekend with a partially torn UCL in his throwing arm after he felt pain in his lone relief appearance of the season on April 20.

He allowed two runs in one inning in his only outing this season. Last year, he had a 2.93 ERA in 25 appearances, striking out 25 batters in 27 2/3 innings.

Pinder will become the second Yankees pitcher this season to undergo Tommy John surgery. Nick Rumbelow underwent it earlier this season.

Tags: Branden Pinder , Nick Rumbelow

Chicago Cubs relief pitcher Phil Coke throws to a St. Louis Cardinals batter during the eighth inning at Busch Stadium. (Jeff Curry/USA Today Sports Images)
Chicago Cubs relief pitcher Phil Coke throws to a St. Louis Cardinals batter during the eighth inning at Busch Stadium. (Jeff Curry/USA Today Sports Images)

The New York Yankees acquired LHP Phil Coke and assigned him to Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre on Monday, the team announced.

Coke, 33, had been playing in the Atlantic League before the Yankees acquired him. He pitched with the Yankees in 2008 and 2009, then spent five years with the Detroit Tigers.

He pitched for the Chicago Cubs and Toronto Blue Jays last year, recording a 5.68 ERA in 18 appearances for the two teams.

Coke is 22-27 with a 4.20 ERA in his MLB career. He has struck out 319 batters in 411 innings.


New York Yankees starting pitcher Nathan Eovaldi (30) pitches against the Oakland Athletics during the first inning at Yankee Stadium. (Brad Penner)
New York Yankees starting pitcher Nathan Eovaldi (30) pitches against the Oakland Athletics during the first inning at Yankee Stadium. (Brad Penner)

The Yankees open up a three-game series against the Rangers at Globe Life Park in Arlington at 8:00 p.m.

Follow the game live here

Yankees Rangers
Jacoby Ellsbury, CF  Rougned Odor, 2B
Brett Gardner, LF Nomar Mazara, RF
Carlos Beltran, DH Adrian Beltre, 3B
Mark Teixeira, 1B Prince Fielder, 1B
Starlin Castro, 2B Ian Desmond, LF
Chase Headley, 3B Mitch Moreland, DH
Dustin Ackley, RF Elvis Andrus, SS
Didi Gregorius, SS Brett Nicholas, C
Austin Romine, C Delino DeShields, CF

 

Who's pitching for the Yankees: RHP Nathan Eovaldi (0-2, 6.11 ERA)

Who's pitching for the Rangers: LHP Cesar Ramos 

Tags: Michael Pineda , Tampa Bay Rays

New York Yankees starting pitcher James Kaprielian (90) delivers a pitch during a spring training game against the New York Mets at Tradition Field. (Steve Mitchell)
New York Yankees starting pitcher James Kaprielian (90) delivers a pitch during a spring training game against the New York Mets at Tradition Field. (Steve Mitchell)

RHP James Kaprielian is heading to the Minor League DL with elbow inflammation, the Yankees announced today

Kaprielian was seen in New York on Monday by team physician Dr. Chris Ahmad, and an MRI revealed inflammation in the pitcher's right elbow. According to the team's announcement, Kaprielian "will be treated conservatively -- rest followed by a throwing program." The statement also said that there will not yet be a schedule for rehab.

Manager Joe Girardi said the team is confident Kaprielian does not need Tommy John surgery, according to ESPN's Andrew Marchand.

Kaprielian was the Yankees first-round pick (16th overall) in the 2015 MLB Draft. Through his first three starts for the Tampa Yankees (High-A), Kaprielian was 2-1 with a 1.50 ERA and 22 strikeouts in 18 innings.


 (Brad Penner)
(Brad Penner)

After being swept in a series for the first time since July, the Texas Rangers were hoping Cole Hamels would stop the slide in their return home.

He's instead been scratched.

The Rangers will now look to pound the New York Yankees' struggling rotation and extend their home winning streak to five games Monday night.

Texas (10-9) hit .198 and was outscored 13-4 in losing three straight to the Chicago White Sox over the weekend, falling 4-1 Sunday.

The Rangers were scheduled to send Hamels to the mound, but he's being skipped in the rotation due to a strained left groin - an injury that cost him a start in August. >> Read more


New York Yankees right fielder Carlos Beltran (36) at bat against the Detroit Tigers at Comerica Park. (Rick Osentoski)
New York Yankees right fielder Carlos Beltran (36) at bat against the Detroit Tigers at Comerica Park. (Rick Osentoski)

When the New York Yankees signed Carlos Beltran, they hoped he would carry the load in right field until one of their younger outfielders could take control of the reins. The move has worked out in my opinion. Despite Beltran's age forcing a decline in certain aspects of his game, he can still hit and that ability has propelled him into the key three-hole spot in the lineup.

Beltran's tenure in the Bronx started with a bang in 2014, but after suffering an injury, his first season in pinstripes was one he would like to forget. Beltran finished with well below his average numbers at the plate - .233 batting average, .303 on-base percentage, .402 slugging percentage, 15 home runs, 49 RBIs and 96 RC+ per FanGraphs (runs per plate appearance scaled where 100 is average; both league and park adjusted).

The beginning of the second season of his three-year deal replicated his poor 2014 numbers, and with it, rumblings of Beltran's demise and the talk of a bad deal took off. However, Beltran regained his stroke in May 2015 and has remained the most consistent batter on the club straight through the beginning of this season.

In 525 plate appearances from May 1, 2015, through Sunday's action, Beltran has a .293 batting average, .349 on-base percentage and a .505 slugging percentage. Beltran has ripped 32 doubles and 23 home runs during the span with 69 RBIs. Beltran owns a 133 RC+ according to FanGraphs through the period.

That is impressive production for what amounts to a bit less than a full season of baseball for any player, let alone one in the twilight of his career. Beltran's quick start at the plate, and Alex Rodriguez's tepid one, prompted Yankees manager Joe Girardi to move Beltran into the prominent three-spot in the batting order. As much as the Yankees hoped Beltran would be productive during his three seasons in the Bronx, I suspect they did not peg Beltran to be hitting third in the order in April of the final season of his $45 million deal.

Beltran has cooled off a bit since moving into the slot, but he remains the best option in the Yankees lineup to stick in the No. 3 spot in the order in my opinion. Rodriguez seems completely lost at the plate this season, and the Yankees need Mark Teixeira to handle cleanup duties. The rest of the lineup should remain - more or less - where they are at this time. Beltran is the man the Yankees can rely on right now to advance Jacoby Ellsbury and Brett Gardner as they handle the top of the order.

Beltran professed during spring training that this will not be his final season in the game if he has things his way.

"My goal is to play 20 years," Beltran told ESPN New York. "I would love to play 20 years in the big leagues. So that means two more years if possible."

Next season would be Beltran's age-40 season (he turned 39 on Sunday), and it is unlikely his final year in the majors will be in pinstripes. With Aaron Hicks on the 25-man roster already, and Aaron Judge readying himself in Triple-A, the Yankees do not seem to be a probable landing spot for Beltran, whose days in the outfield have been numbered since he arrived. In addition, with Rodriguez locked in for one more season as the designated hitter there is seemingly no spot for Beltran.

Due to Beltran's declining abilities in the field, wherever he laces them up next season, it will most likely be as a full-time DH. I firmly believe that with 500-plus plate appearances (which he would surely get if healthy) Beltran could be the missing piece for some teams. Age does not matter when one is putting up .800 OPS or more.

FOX Sports' Ken Rosenthal posited that Beltran might seek a final season with the Kansas City Royals, the team that drafted him 21 years ago and where he won the Rookie of the Year award in 1999. They could be looking for a DH next season with Kendrys Morales in the final year of his deal with the Royals. It remains to be seen if that is where Beltran might end up, but coming full circle in what has been a remarkable career, could be the icing on the cake for Beltran.

Beltran is the consummate professional hitter, and his presence in the clubhouse goes a long way. Something tells me that if the chips fell differently with Rodriguez, and the Yankees were not ready to make a transition in the outfield for 2017, they would contemplate another season with Beltran as their designated hitter. Why not, the old man can still hit.

Tags: Carlos Beltran , Christopher Carelli

New York Yankees starting pitcher Michael Pineda reacts after giving up a home run to Tampa Bay Rays designated hitter Corey Dickerson in the first inning at Yankee Stadium. (Noah K. Murray/USA Today Sports Images)
New York Yankees starting pitcher Michael Pineda reacts after giving up a home run to Tampa Bay Rays designated hitter Corey Dickerson in the first inning at Yankee Stadium. (Noah K. Murray/USA Today Sports Images)

New York Yankees RHP Michael Pineda gave up five runs with two outs in the first inning and allowed at least three home runs for the second time in four starts this season as the Yankees lost to the Tampa Bay Rays, 8-1, on Sunday at Yankee Stadium.

Pineda (1-2) surrendered four home runs and allowed seven runs and 10 hits in five innings as the Yankees ended a nine-game homestand and begin a nine-game road trip.

He retired the first two batters before allowing the next six to reach base in a five-run first inning. After an Evan Longoria double, Corey Dickerson hit a two-run home run. Steve Pearce singled, Brad Miller hit an RBI double and Steven Souza Jr. hit the first of his two home runs to make it 5-0.

"It was a bad first inning for me," Pineda said, according to Newsday's Greg Logan. "I felt great in the bullpen and good on the mound. ... I continued fighting and throwing everything I've got and trying to make good pitches and be better."

Pineda became the first Yankees pitcher to strike out nine batters and allow four home runs in the same game, according to YES Network's Jeff Quagliata.

"He didn't have movement [on his fastball], he didn't have cut," manager Joe Girardi said. "He had his slider. He had nine strikeouts. ... Sometimes it's hard to figure out. You never would think a guy would have nine strikeouts and give up four home runs."

Pineda, who also allowed three home runs in his first start of the season on April 6, has surrendered seven home runs in 22 innings this season for a HR/9 rate of 2.9. Last season, he gave up 21 home runs in 160 2/3 innings, or 1.2 every nine innings.

"I'm trying to do the best I can to get the third out," said Pineda, who also gave up solo home runs to Pearce in the third inning and to Souza in the fifth. "Some days you have good movement. Some days you don't."

Tags: Michael Pineda

Alex Rodriguez reacts after striking out in the second. He had an RBI double in the fourth, then had to leave the game with a stiff let oblique. (Noah K. Murray-USA TODAY Sports)
Alex Rodriguez reacts after striking out in the second. He had an RBI double in the fourth, then had to leave the game with a stiff let oblique. (Noah K. Murray-USA TODAY Sports)

An MRI on Alex Rodriguez's left oblique came back negative after Rodriguez left Sunday's game against the Tampa Bay Rays.

Rodriguez will travel with the team to Texas, where the Yankees begin a three-game series against the Rangers on Monday. New York will not make an immediate roster move.

YES Network's Jack Curry reported that Rodriguez, 40, experienced discomfort while swinging in the cage between innings. He went 1 for 2 with an RBI double before Dustin Ackley replaced him in the sixth inning.

Rodriguez has a .145/.242/.273 batting line with two home runs and six RBIs this season.

Tags: Alex Rodriguez

Michael Pineda gave up four home runs Sunday. (Noah K. Murray-USA TODAY Sports)
Michael Pineda gave up four home runs Sunday. (Noah K. Murray-USA TODAY Sports)

Michael Pineda gave up four home runs in five innings as the Yankees lost 8-1 to Tampa Bay Sunday at Yankee Stadium. >> Read the full recap at SNY.tv here


  • Pineda allowed seven runs and 10 hits and struck out nine. He gave up five runs and two two-run homers in the first. One was to Steve Souza Jr., who hit a solo shot in the fifth.
  • Rays starter Drew Smyly allowed one run (Alex Rodriguez's double in the fourth) and six hits with six strikeouts in seven innings.
  • The Yankees missed an opportunity to sweep the three-game series after winning Friday and Saturday.
  • Rodriguez left the game with left oblqiue stiffness while swinging in the cage between innings and will have an MRI to assess the injury.

Chris Carelli, SNY.TV Facebook | Twitter | About Me | Archives

I think it might finally be time to put aside the "Big Mike" moniker for Pineda. Not only does he seem to be lesser than a pitcher who deserves such praise, he fails to come up "big" in the types of situations in which the club needs it.

Sunday was one of those days in which the Yankees could have used a well-pitched performance from their starter. After two straight quality team efforts - including a walk-off winner Saturday - snagging a sweep to finish off the homestand would have been encouraging for the Yanks. Instead, Pineda put the team on its heels after the five-run first inning (ultimately allowing seven runs, including four homers) and an offense still trying to find a groove couldn't catch up.


News & Notes

  • The Yankees held a moment of silence before the game for infield prospect Sandy Acevedo, 18, who was killed in a car carsh Saturday in the Dominican Republic. Acevedo had not played professionally.
  • Outfielder Aaron Hicks (shoulder) remains day-to-day. He will accompany the team to Texas but isn't expected to return until the end of the week at the earliest.

What's next

The Yankees begin a road trip with a three-game series in Texas starting Monday at 8:05. Nathan Eovaldi (0-2, 6.11 ERA) will start for the Yankees. The Rangers have not announced their starter after Cole Hamels was scratched with a sore groin.

Tags: Michael Pineda , Tampa Bay Rays

Michael Pineda gets the start Sunday against the RAys. (AP Photo/Kathy Willens)
Michael Pineda gets the start Sunday against the RAys. (AP Photo/Kathy Willens)

The Yankees go for a three-game sweep when they host the Rays Sunday at 1:05 p.m. at Yankee Stadium

Follow the game live here

Rays Yankees
Logan Forsythe, DH Jacoby Ellsbury, CF
Logan Morrison, 1B Brett Gardner, LF
Evan Longoria, 3B Carlos Beltran, RF
Corey Dickerson, LF Mark Teixeira, 1B
Steve Pearce, 2B Alex Rodriguez, DH
Brad Miller, SS Brian McCann, C
Steven Souza Jr. RF Chase Headley, 3B
Kevin Kiermaier, CF Starlin Castro, 2B
Curt Casali, C Didi Gregorius, SS

Who's pitching for the Yankees: RHP Michael Pineda (1-1, 5.29 ERA)

Who's pitching for the Rays: LHP Drew Smyly (0-2, 2.91)

Tags: Michael Pineda , Tampa Bay Rays

The Yankees' Aaron Hicks makes a diving catch April 8 against Detroit. (Rick Osentoski-USA TODAY Sports)
The Yankees' Aaron Hicks makes a diving catch April 8 against Detroit. (Rick Osentoski-USA TODAY Sports)

Yankees outfielder Aaron Hicks had an MRI that showed inflammation in his sore left shoulder that will keep him out of the lineup for the next few days.

Meanwhile, reliever Braden Pinder has partial ligament tear in his right elbow and is deciding whether to have Tommy John surgery or go through rehab to pitch with the tear.

Hicks received a cortisone shot and will be shut down for four or five days, but the Yankees hadn't decided yet whether to put Hicks on the disabled list, Joe Girardi said. 

Hicks, who was only hitting .091 left Friday night's game after diving for Brandon Guyer's bloop single.

If Hicks goes on the DL, possible replacements could be Ben Gamel or Aaron Judge, both at Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre. Judge is hitting .322 with two homers and nine RBI at Scranton/W-B.

The Yankees have already lost reliever Nick Rumbelow, who will have Tommy John surgery.


New York Yankees left fielder Brett Gardner (11) hits an RBI single against the Tampa Bay Rays during the seventh inning at Yankee Stadium. ( Adam Hunger)
New York Yankees left fielder Brett Gardner (11) hits an RBI single against the Tampa Bay Rays during the seventh inning at Yankee Stadium. ( Adam Hunger)

Courtesy of a Brett Gardner home run, the Yankees walked off with a 3-2 win over the Rays on Saturday afternoon at Yankee Stadium. >> Read the full recap here


  • Gardner tied the game with an infield single in the seventh inning, and with two outs in the ninth, Gardner hit a home run into the right field stands. 
  • Masahiro Tanaka struck out seven in seven innings of work, allowing two earned runs.
  • Making his first major league start, Blake Snell pitched five innings, allowing one run on two hits. He also struck out six.
  • Carlos Beltran put the Yankees up early in the first inning, scoring from third base on a wild pitch with two outs. 
  • The Rays answered back with two runs, one on Corey Dickerson's RBI double in the fourth and Kevin Kiermaier's solo home run in the fifth.
  • Dellin Betances and Andrew Miller each pitched a shutout inning of relief.

Chris Carelli, SNY.TV Facebook | Twitter | About Me | Archives

Tanaka didn't have his best stuff, but it was another effective outing, and his effort allowed the Yankees to remain within striking distance. The offense was quiet again except for Gardner, who drove in the last two runs of the game, including the walk-off homer. Betances struck out two more batters and Andrew Miller set down the order on nine pitches to grab the win.

The Yankees hadn't received a big hit when they needed it in what seemed to be an eternity, especially in a well-pitched game. Gardner's homer provided a great finish, flipping the script on what recently had been quiet finishes to tight ballgames.


What's next

The Yankees and Rays will conclude their three-game series on Sunday afternoon at 1:05 p.m. Michael Pineda (1-1, 5.29 ERA) will start for the Yankees and oppose LHP Drew Smyly (0-2, 2.91 ERA). 

Tags: Brett Gardner , Masahiro Tanaka , Tampa Bay Rays

New York Yankees starting pitcher Masahiro Tanaka (19) pitches against the Seattle Mariners during the second inning at Yankee Stadium. (Brad Penner)
New York Yankees starting pitcher Masahiro Tanaka (19) pitches against the Seattle Mariners during the second inning at Yankee Stadium. (Brad Penner)

The Yankees will play the Rays in the second game of a three-game series on Saturday at Yankee Stadium at 1:05 p.m.

Follow the game live here

Rays Yankees
Logan Forsythe, 2B Jacoby Ellsbury, CF
Logan Morrison, 1B Brett Gardner, LF
Evan Longoria, DH Carlos Beltran, RF
Corey Dickerson, RF Mark Teixeira, 1B
Desmond Jennings, LF Alex Rodriguez, DH
Brad Miller, SS Brian McCann, C
Steve Pearce, 3B Starlin Castro, 2B
Kevin Kiermaier, CF Chase Headley, 3B
Hank Conger, C Didi Gregorius, SS

Who's pitching for the Yankees: RHP Masahiro Tanaka (1-0, 3.06 ERA)

Who's pitching for the Rays: LHP Blake Snell

Tags: Masahiro Tanaka , Tampa Bay Rays

New York Yankees relief pitcher Branden Pinder (57) delivers a pitch during the ninth inning against the Baltimore Orioles at Yankee Stadium. New York won 9-3. (Anthony Gruppuso)
New York Yankees relief pitcher Branden Pinder (57) delivers a pitch during the ninth inning against the Baltimore Orioles at Yankee Stadium. New York won 9-3. (Anthony Gruppuso)

Pitcher Branden Pinder has a partial tear in the UCL in the elbow on his pitching arm, the team announced Saturday morning.  

Pinder told NJ.com's Brendan Kuty that he felt pain during his last outing, a one-inning appearance on April 20, and the pain continued into the next day. The pitcher has not yet decided if he will get Tommy John surgery to fix the partial tear. Joe Girardi said a decision regarding surgery will need to happen soon. 

Pinder was placed on the 15-day disabled list Friday with a right elbow strain and RHP Nick Goody replaced him on the roster. 

Outfielder Aaron Hicks will also be sent for an MRI after jamming his shoulder when he dove for a ball in Friday night's game. Girardi told reporters that Hicks "woke up sore."  


Chris Carelli, SNY.TV Facebook | Twitter | About Me | Archives

If Hicks' injury forces a stint on the disabled list, Girardi will have to settle with using Jacoby Ellsbury and Brett Gardner on an everyday basis, assuming whoever is called up is strictly there to provide depth. Hicks has been slow to pick it up with the bat this season, but has been stellar in the outfield, including a few highlight-reel plays this week. Unfortunately, when players like Hicks go full throttle in the outfield, injuries occur and the club surely hopes the injury is not a long-term one.

As for Pinder, here is yet another pitcher in a long line suffering a UCL tear (albeit a partial one) in his throwing arm. The loss of Pinder dwindles the slate of young relievers the Yankees like to shuttle from Triple-A, but he is not considered a long-term asset.

Tags: Branden Pinder

GEICO SportsNite: Yankees 00:01:47
SNY Yankees insider Sweeny Murti reports live from the Stadium after the Yankees' 6-3 win over the Rays, ending their 4-game losing streak.

New York Yankees pinch hitter Jacoby Ellsbury (22) steals home against the Tampa Bay Rays in the fifth inning at Yankee Stadium. (Andy Marlin)
New York Yankees pinch hitter Jacoby Ellsbury (22) steals home against the Tampa Bay Rays in the fifth inning at Yankee Stadium. (Andy Marlin)

The Yankees, with the help of Jacoby Ellsbury and Brian McCann, defeated the Rays, 6-3, to open their weekend series. >> Read the recap at SNY.tv.


  • It wasn't the best of outings for C.C. Sabathia, who was charged with three runs on nine hits in 4 2/3 innings of work.
  • McCann's two-run home run in the second inning tied the game at 2-2.
  • With the Yankees down a run, Ellsbury stole home in the fifth inning to even the game up again.
  • McCann put the Yankees ahead with his third RBI of the game on a single in the sixth.
  • Ellsbury put the game away in the eighth with a two-run double. 
  • The Yankees bullpen kept the Rays scoreless, and Andrew Miller recorded the save with a spotless ninth inning. 

Chris Carelli, SNY.TV Facebook | Twitter | About Me | Archives

The Yankees literally stole one Friday night, and the star of the game didn't even start. The club has been much more aggressive on the bases this season, stealing a league-high 16 bases.

One of those steals was of home plate tonight by Ellsbury, who was out of the starting lineup in favor of Aaron Hicks. Ellsbury, who now has five steals this season, crossed the plate with the tying run.

Ellsbury had replaced Hicks after the latter left the game with a left shoulder injury from an attempted catch. Ellsbury laced a single and then drove in two runs in the bottom of the eighth with a double to give Miller plenty of breathing room in the ninth. Ellsbury's heroics couldn't have come at a better time for a team begging for a win.


What's next

The Yankees will continue their series with the Rays on Saturday at 1:05 p.m. Masahiro Tanaka (1-0, 3.06 ERA) will get the start for the Yankees and be opposed by rookie Blake Snell.

Tags: Brian McCann , Jacoby Ellsbury , Tampa Bay Rays

New York Yankees relief pitcher Branden Pinder (57) throws a pitch during the sixth inning against the Toronto Blue Jays at George M. Steinbrenner Field. (Kim Klement)
New York Yankees relief pitcher Branden Pinder (57) throws a pitch during the sixth inning against the Toronto Blue Jays at George M. Steinbrenner Field. (Kim Klement)

The Yankees have placed RHP Branden Pinder on the 15-day disabled list with a right elbow strain, the team said.

To replace Pinder on the roster, the Yankees recalled RHP Nick Goody from Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre.

Pinder appeared in one game for New York, allowing two eared runs on three hits and a walk.

At Triple-A, Goody has posted a 4.76 ERA over 5 2/3 innings.

Tags: Branden Pinder , Nick Goody

 (Noah K. Murray)
(Noah K. Murray)

The Yankees and Rays open a three-game series on Friday night at 7:05 p.m. at Yankee Stadium.

Follow the game live here

Rays Yankees
Logan Forsythe, 2B Brett Gardner, LF
Brandon Guyer, CF Starlin Castro, 2B
Evan Longoria, 3B Carlos Beltran, RF
Corey Dickerson, DH Mark Teixeira, 1B
Desmond Jennings, LF Alex Rodriguez, DH
Steve Pearce, 1B Brian McCann, C
Steven Souza, RF Chase Headley, 3B
Tim Beckham, SS Aaron Hicks, CF
Curt Casali, C Didi Gregorius, SS

Who's pitching for the Yankees: LHP CC Sabathia (5.06 ERA, 1.50 WHIP)

Who's pitching for the Rays: RHP Matt Moore (2.95 ERA, 0.98 WHIP)

Tags: CC Sabathia

 ( Adam Hunger)
( Adam Hunger)

At a time when the Yankees' offense is in the midst of a nearly two-week long struggle, it did them no good when Brett Gardner was a late scratch from Wednesday's lineup. Gardner, an oft-unsung stalwart, has been a bright spot for the club so far. Early as it is into the season, he's shown positive signs that 2016 could be a year when he reverts to the offensive production he displayed in the first half of last season and in his best full season -- 2010.

It also creates an interesting wrinkle for the Yankees in their outfield. To this point, manager Joe Girardi has deployed a rotation in left and center field against left-handed pitchers. Rather than picking between Gardner and Jacoby Ellsbury as the designated player to head to the bench to make room for Aaron Hicks, he's made it a timeshare. But Gardner's success could muddy that calculation.

He has been an astute hitter through the first 14 games. Though he's quick to diminish his success by citing the obvious sample size qualifier, there are signs that it's not just a fluke. Gardner has displayed the keen eye at the plate and rigid discipline that he last showed in 2010.

That year, he swung at just 18.4 percent of pitches outside the strike zone, according to Fangraphs, and then watched as that number rose up as high as 29.4 percent in 2013. His walk rate tumbled and his strikeouts rose. He had given away one of his best offensive traits, seeking glory where it hardly is found -- by swinging at balls and chasing pitches off the plate.

But entering Thursday, he had swung at just 13.5 percent of pitches outside the strike zone and carried a .440 on-base percentage.

"I think he feels strong and he's being aggressively patient," Alan Cockrell, the Yankees' hitting coach, said. "And he's attacking pitches that he can handle." "That's the way he swung the bat for more than three quarters of last year. So he's just back to being who he is."

And it's true, Gardner became an All-Star last year with this type of mindset, but it's been even sharper so far this year. The biggest key for him has been a renewed mission for contact. It evaded him the last few years and the drop-off was precipitous. In 2011, only five hitters in baseball made contact more often than Gardner. Last year he ranked 70th out of 141 qualified hitters.

"That's definitely a goal of mine over the last few years," Gardner said. "I haven't necessarily done a good job of it. I want to put more balls in play. When you strike out there's no chance of getting a hit. It's definitely it's something I want to focus on and with two strikes shorten up."

He made it a conscious effort in spring training and his contact-friendly approach has carried over into the regular season, with the eighth-best rate in baseball as of Thursday afternoon.

"I just know that, especially when I look the strikeouts for me are too high the last few years," Gardner said. "Even with the power numbers being up a little bit. I'd like to cut down on the strikeout numbers. Get the walks up and get on base."

It creates an issue for the Yankees. While Hicks has struggled heavily so far, if Girardi maintains his purpose and platoons him against left-handed pitchers, it'll force the manager to keep choosing between Ellsbury and Gardner. So far, Gardner is far more worthy.

While Ellsbury's $153 million contract provides the prism through which he's evaluated, he had been worth the money in his first season in the Bronx, before sputtering last year and cratering over the first two weeks.

Lately, there have been positive flares that he had just started the season in a slump and was on his way out of it. He notched a double Wednesday against the A's and garnered three more hits Thursday.

Yet, he's been at a disadvantage for most of the year. Entering Thursday, nearly three-quarters of his at-bats had begun with a first-pitch strike -- the sixth-highest rate in baseball.

It's put a hurting on the Yankees' lineup too. As Ellsbury struggles, he can't provide a lift from the leadoff spot. Mark Teixeira and Alex Rodriguez are showing their age and not producing either. It's caused the Yankees to have an offensive blackout over their last eight games -- as they've averaged just over two runs per night.

For now, they must hope that Gardner returns soon and that Ellsbury finds his swing again.

"I think they're attacking him the same way they did last year but he's just not into that rhythm that Gardy's in right now," Cockrell said. "He's not doing anything differently in his work. He's preparing the same way. We expect him to take off."

Tags: Brett Gardner , Jacoby Ellsbury

Manager Joe Girardi has had a difficult time deciphering through his outfield rotation of Jacoby Ellsbury, Brett Gardner and Aaron Hicks.  (Rick Osentoski)
Manager Joe Girardi has had a difficult time deciphering through his outfield rotation of Jacoby Ellsbury, Brett Gardner and Aaron Hicks. (Rick Osentoski)

At a time when the Yankees' offense is in the midst of a nearly two-week long struggle, it did them no good when Brett Gardner was a late scratch from Wednesday's lineup. Gardner, an oft-unsung stalwart, has been a bright spot for the club so far. Early as it is into the season, he's shown positive signs that 2016 could be a year when he reverts to the offensive production he displayed in the first half of last season and in his best full season -- 2010.

It also creates an interesting wrinkle for the Yankees in their outfield. To this point, manager Joe Girardi has deployed a rotation in left and center field against left-handed pitcher. Rather than picking between Gardner and Jacoby Ellsbury as the designated player to head to the bench to make room for Aaron Hicks, he's made it a timeshare. But Gardner's success could muddy that calculation.

He has been an astute hitter through the first 14 games. Though he's quick to diminish his success by citing the obvious sample size qualifier, there are signs that it's not just a fluke either. Gardner has displayed the keen eye at the plate and rigid discipline that he last showed in 2010. That year, he swung at just 18.4 percent of pitches outside the strike zone, according to Fangraphs, and then watched as that number rose up as high as 29.4 percent in 2013. His walk rate tumbled and his strikeouts rose. He had given away one of his best offensive traits, seeking glory where it hardly is found -- by swinging at balls and chasing pitches off the plate.

But this season he's swung at just 13.5 percent of pitches outside the strike zone entering Thursday and carries a .440 on-base percentage.

"I think he feels strong and he's being aggressively patient," Alan Cockrell, the Yankees' hitting coach, said. "And he's attacking pitches that he can handle."

"That's the way he swung the bat for more than three-quarters of last year. So he's just back to being who he is."

And it's true, Gardner became an All-Star last year with this type of mindset, but it's been even sharper so far this year. The biggest key for him has been a renewed mission for contact. It evaded him the last few years and the drop-off was precipitous.

In 2011, only five hitters in baseball made contact more often than Gardner. Last year he ranked 70th out of 141 qualified hitters.

"That's definitely a goal of mine over the last few years," Gardner said. "I haven't necessarily done a good job of it. I want to put more balls in play. When you strike out there's no chance of getting a hit. It's definitely it's something I want to focus on and with two strikes shorten up."

He made it a conscious effort in spring training and his contact-friendly approach has carried over into the regular season, with the eighth-best rate in baseball as of Thursday afternoon."I just know that, especially when I look the strikeouts for me are too high the last few years," Gardner said. "Even with the power numbers being up a little bit. I'd like to cut down on the strikeout numbers. Get the walks up and get on base."

It creates an issue for the Yankees. While Hicks has struggled heavily so far, if Girardi maintains his purpose and platoons him against left-handed pitchers, it'll force the manager to keep choosing between Ellsbury and Gardner. So far, Gardner is far more worthy.

While Ellsbury's $153 million contract provides the prism through which he's evaluated, he had been worth the money in his first season in the Bronx, before sputtering last year and cratering over the first two weeks.

Lately, there have been positive flares that he had just started the season in a slump and was on his way out of it. He notched a double Wednesday against the A's and garnered three more hits on Thursday.

Yet, he's been at a disadvantage for most of the year. Entering Thursday, nearly three-quarters of his at-bats had begun with a first-pitch strike -- the sixth-highest rate in baseball.

It's put a hurting on the Yankees' lineup too. As Ellsbury struggles, he can't provide a lift from the leadoff spot. Mark Teixeira and Alex Rodriguez are showing their age and not producing either. It has caused the Yankees to have an offensive blackout over their last eight games -- as they've averaged just over two runs per night.

For now, they must hope that Gardner returns soon and that Ellsbury finds his swing again.

"I think they're attacking him the same way they did last year but he's just not into that rhythm that Gardy's in right now," Cockrell said. "He's not doing anything differently in his work. He's preparing the same way. We expect him to take off."

Tags: Alex Rodriguez , Brett Gardner , Jacoby Ellsbury , Mark Teixeira

New York Yankees relief pitcher Chasen Shreve walks to the dugout after giving up two runs in the seventh inning against the Oakland Athletics at Yankee Stadium. (Noah K. Murray/USA Today Sports Images)
New York Yankees relief pitcher Chasen Shreve walks to the dugout after giving up two runs in the seventh inning against the Oakland Athletics at Yankee Stadium. (Noah K. Murray/USA Today Sports Images)

The New York Yankees' bullpen allowed five runs in the last three innings after starting pitcher Luis Severino pitched six innings of two-run ball in Thursday's 7-3 loss to the Oakland A's.

Chasen Shreve allowed back-to-back home runs to Khris Davis and Coco Crisp that turned a tie game into a 4-2 deficit, and after New York got one run back in the bottom of the seventh inning, Johnny Barbato allowed a two-run home run to Chris Coghlan that made it 6-3.

"It was definitely shocking," Shreve said, according to the New York Daily News' Mark Feinsand. "I feel like I've been throwing the ball really well. I felt like I threw the ball really well tonight, they just jumped on two fastballs early."

Prior to Thursday, Shreve hadn't given up a run in six outings in 2016. The 23-year-old Barbato had pitched six scoreless innings before the series against Oakland, but allowed the go-ahead run in the 11th inning on Tuesday in addition to two runs on Thursday.

"We've been struggling and I want to go out there and put up a zero, especially in this situation, and it just didn't happen," Shreve said, according to Newsday's Erik Boland.

While the Yankees' bullpen leads the majors in K/9 rate (12.11), it ranks 15th in ERA and has the fourth-lowest left-on-base percentage (70.3 percent) in the majors, according to FanGraphs. Outside of Andrew Miller and Dellin Betances, New York's relievers have a 4.73 ERA this year.

"I really believe there's a lot of talent in that room and we'll turn it around," manager Joe Girardi told Feinsand. "We're just going through a hard time right now and you have to fight through it."

The bullpen has a 4.79 ERA over the last seven days compared to the 2.19 ERA it collectively recorded before. Aroldis Chapman, currently serving a 30-game suspension stemming from a domestic incident, is still a couple of weeks away from returning. Chapman aside, Barbato is confident the bullpen will pick up.

"We will all click eventually,'' Barbato told Boland. "And it will be dangerous when that happens.''

Tags: Andrew Miller , Chasen Shreve , Dellin Betances , Luis Severino

The Yankees' Jacoby Ellsbury robs Oaklan's Mark Canha of a hit in the first inning. (Noah K. Murray-USA TODAY Sports)
The Yankees' Jacoby Ellsbury robs Oaklan's Mark Canha of a hit in the first inning. (Noah K. Murray-USA TODAY Sports)

Relievers Chasen Shreve and Johnny Barbato gave up a combined four runs in the seventh and eighth innings as Oakland won 7-3 Thursday to hand the Yankees their seventh loss in eight games. >> Read the recap at SNY.tv here


  • The Yankees wasteed a good start by Luis Severino (six innings, two runs, seven hits, four strikeouts, no walks).
  • Oakland starter Rich Hill went six innings, striking out 10 while holding the Yanks to two runs (one earned) on on three hits.
  • Shreve gave up homers to the first two batters he faced in the seventh (Khris Davis, Coco Crisp). 
  • Barbato gave up a two-run homer to Chris Coghlan in the eighth.
  • A night after Aaron Hicks' throw amazed the baseball world, he threw out Jed Lowrie trying to stretch a single into a double.

News & Notes

  • Brett Gardner and Didi Gregorius didn't start. Joe Girardi said it was because the Yanks were facing a lefty, not related to Gregorius' baserunning mistake Wednesday or Gardner's stiff neck, that kept him out Wednesday. Both players entered Thursday's game in the bottom of the seventh.

Chris Carelli, SNY.TV Facebook | Twitter | About Me | Archives

The Yankees were checking the boxes - they received a fine start from Luis Severino, some hits dropped with runners in scoring position and they entered the seventh inning in a 2-2 tie. These are the games the Yankees are expected to win.

However, they found a new way to lose courtesy of their setup relievers Chasen Shreve and Johnny Barbato, who combined to allow four runs on three homers. Shreve hadn't allowed a run all season (including spring training) and Barbato has been a revelation. Once one aspect of the team shows improvement or promise, another falls backward.

These games matter, so if the Yankees find themselves a couple of games out of the postseason, they'll have April to blame.


What's next

The Yankees start a three-game home series with the Rays Friday at 7:05 p.m. CC Sabathia (1-1, 5.06, 1.50 WHIP) faces Matt Moore (1-0, 2.95, 0.98 WHIP) in a matchup of lefthanders.

Video: GEICO SportsNite: Yankees swept at home by Athletics


 (AP)
(AP)

The Yankees and A's play the third and final game of their three-game series on Thursday night at 7:05 p.m. at Yankee Stadium.

Follow the game live here

Athletics Yankees
Billy Burns, CF  Jacoby Ellsbury, CF
Mark Canha, 1B Starlin Castro, 2B
Josh Reddick, RF Carlos Beltran, RF
Jed Lowrie, 2B Mark Teixeira, 1B
Stephen Vogt, C Alex Rodriguez, DH
Chris Coghlan, 3B Chase Headlely, 3B
Khris Davis, DH Aaron Hicks, LF
Coco Crisp, LF Austin Romine, C
Marcus Semien, SS Ronald Torreyes, SS

Who's pitching for the Athletics: LHP Rich Hill (1-2, 4.15)

Who's pitching for the Yankees: RHP Luis Severino (0-2, 5.91)


New York Yankees starting pitcher Nathan Eovaldi (30) walks off after the sixth inning against the Oakland Athletics at Yankee Stadium. (Brad Penner)
New York Yankees starting pitcher Nathan Eovaldi (30) walks off after the sixth inning against the Oakland Athletics at Yankee Stadium. (Brad Penner)

On the very first pitch of the game Wednesday night, Billy Burns sent a 97 mph fastball back up the middle for a leadoff single. It was another inconspicuous start for Nathan Eovaldi. He is a pitcher for whom velocity is much a gift as a burden. As hard as Eovaldi throws, he is hit nearly just as hard.

And he is indicative of the issues the Yankees have faced so far this season and the ones that could bug them for its remainder. Their starting rotation is well compensated, significantly talented and high variance. It could be the anchor that holds them back from the postseason.

For now, the spotlight is squared on the Yankees' meager offense -- the one that's scored just 18 runs as they've lost six of their last eight games.

"Right now we're not scoring runs so everything looks bad," manager Joe Girardi said Wednesday night. "Everything is magnified when you don't score runs."

But that's less a long-term worry than a short-term headache. The Yankees scored the second-most runs in baseball last season and retained their lineup in whole, though a year older. The rotation is still unstable. They entered Wednesday with the 21st-highest ERA in baseball, at 5.05, and allowed opposing hitters to post an .801 OPS -- sixth-worst.

Masahiro Tanaka is often-enough ace-like but behind him are four question marks. CC Sabathia is a weathered veteran with the bruised body and skillset that has long outrun his reputation. Michael Pineda has had a difficult start to 2016, and so has Luis Severino. But at least there are signs that Severino's struggles are unlikely to last -- a talented 22-year-old pockmarked by poor fortune.

There's no such soothing for Eovaldi. He has been bludgeoned so far this season. In three starts, the right-hander has a 6.11 ERA. His start against the Athletics was his best one yet -- a six inning affair where he allowed three runs and eight hits. It was no high bar to clear.

Eovaldi has been battered this year. Gifted with a fastball that crackles near 100 mph, hitters have hit him nearly as hard. Through his first two starts, hitters had walloped pitches back into the field at 93.3 mph -- the eighth-hardest exit velocity against all pitchers with at least 30 balls put into play.

Though pitchers don't bear the full brunt of responsibility for how hard a ball is hit, it's not a positive reflection on Eovaldi. Hitters have made strong contact against him and he's barely in the top-half of pitchers eliciting swinging strikes.

Eovaldi has few explanations for this. He can't quite answer for his struggles, or to explain how opposing hitters have battered him so hard.

"I don't know," he told SNY.tv. "I don't know if it's because I throw hard. Whether they square up and hit it hard. I don't know. I tend to miss when I'm 0-2, or something, more middle."

Eovaldi's woes have come in the second-half of his starts. He's allowed five runs in the fourth innings of his three starts, four in the fifth and sixth, and three in the others. But he can't pinpoint the troubles to fatigue or much else.

"Try to make that perfect pitch and it's not where I want it to go," he said. "Mistakes are over the middle as opposed to off the plate."

His fastball, which was the second-hardest of all starters in baseball last year, hasn't given him much breathing room for his other pitches. And he hasn't been able to control it as he hopes.

"All the pitches should be working off my fastball," he said. "I think just later in the game I should be able to locate my fastball a little better."

That lack of answers has to be troubling, at least. The talent in the Yankees' rotation is not hinged to results right now. If there are signs to cling to it's that Eovaldi has been unlucky to this point as well. He's struck out batters at a career-best rate so far and his FIP (4.03) -- which is a better indicator of future performance than ERA -- hints that he'll pitch to better results as the season moves along.

And that's what the Yankees must hope for. If Brett Gardner's neck injury does not linger, they'll have a stable part of their lineup back. If Jacoby Ellsbury can return to at least his 2014 form, then his contract will look less like an albatross. If Alex Rodriguez can hit like his did in 2015.

But the real question mark is their rotation, and right now there is more murkiness than certainty.

Tags: CC Sabathia , Luis Severino , Masahiro Tanaka , Michael Pineda , Nathan Eovaldi
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