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Masahiro Tanaka has a decision to make at the end of the season and his performance on the mound will likely dictate whether he opts out of the final three seasons of his seven-year, $155 million deal with the Yankees. Will Tanaka finally put to rest the notion of whether he was an ace in 2016, and can he duplicate that effort in 2017?

How did Tanaka fare in 2016?

Tanaka was far and away the Yankees' top starter in 2016 and pushed himself into the American League Cy Young Award discussion in the process, finishing seventh in the voting. Tanaka threw the most innings of his major league career (199 2/3) and finished with a 14-4 record, 3.07 ERA (142 ERA+), 1.07 WHIP, 165 strikeouts, and 36 walks.

He was stingier with regard to allowing home runs in 2016 (0.99 HR/9), something that had plagued him in 2015 (1.5 HR/9). However, Tanaka's strikeout rate dropped for the second-straight season (7.4 K/9).

Most importantly, Tanaka was a stopper and won big games down the stretch when the Yankees were surprisingly still in the playoff hunt in the second week of September. He pitched like an ace during that span, winning seven of his final nine starts without a loss, giving the club the feeling that they had a chance to win each time he took to the mound. During the period, Tanaka pitched to a 2.28 ERA across 59 1/3 innings, struck out nearly a batter per inning, and held opponents to a .228 batting average and .642 OPS.

How will Tanaka fare in 2017?

Tanaka is essentially in his walk year, and with a season that replicates 2016, he would almost be assured of increasing his guaranteed salary across five or six seasons instead of the three years that will remain if he does not opt out of his current deal.

The "almost" refers to the partial tear in Tanaka's ulnar collateral ligament. Regardless of how well Tanaka has performed since he left Japan, prospective employers -- including the Yankees -- will have to think long and hard about the investment, knowing they could lose the right-hander for 12-1to-8 months if he has to undergo Tommy John surgery.

What does this have to do with Tanaka's potential in 2017? A good deal.

At 28 years old, Tanaka is still in the prime of his career. He did not shown any ill effects from the partial tear in his UCL in 2016. In fact, it can be argued that Tanaka has figured out exactly how to pitch like an ace regardless of the tear.

There is always the chance that the elbow ligament could blow, but there is nothing in Tanaka's performance or in last season's workload that makes me believe he's any more an injury risk than the next pitcher.



Despite popular belief, Tanaka's average four-seam fastball velocity has not diminished, but rather remained relatively flat. Tanaka arrived in 2014 with a four-seam fastball averaging 91.1 mph. It averaged 92.0 mph in 2015 and it sat at 91.6 mph on average in 2016. Tanaka's max velocity reached between 95-96 mph in each season.

The important change in Tanaka's pitching repertoire centers on his reliance on the four-seam fastball less frequently season to season. In my view, this is not because of velocity (again, he hasn't lost velocity at all), but rather because he recognized he was being beat on his four-seamer -- and his off-speed efforts simply produce better results.

Tanaka clearly has more confidence in his off-speed pitches, making the fastball a secondary pitch. In order of use, Tanaka threw the split-finger fastball, a slider, sinker, and cutter more often than the four-seamer in 2016. However, when he needed to dial up the heat, he demonstrated he could still hit 95+ on the radar gun. I would expect the fashion in which Tanaka attacks hitters will remain very similar in 2017.

Considering Tanaka's innings have increased year by year since arriving in the big leagues (despite the partial tear in his UCL) and the consistent production, it stands to reason that he can turn in another above-average to elite season approaching or eclipsing 200 innings. Such efforts will be necessary for the Yankees to remain competitive in the American League East, in light of the questions regarding the remainder of the club's staff.

The Yankees would relish Tanaka's MLB averages in 2017, understanding it would assist the club in the standings and make him a valuable commodity if they decide to try and trade him at the deadline (he has a full no-trade clause).

Bottom line

Tanaka has fully acclimated to pitching in the big leagues and has developed into a top-flight pitcher. His performance last season demonstrated he also thrives when called upon to carry the team. The desire to be the team's ace combined with the chance to substantially increase his guaranteed pay in the coming year makes Tanaka a good bet to be atop the rankings of starting pitchers in the American League at season's-end. In my view, where he pitches in 2018 is the bigger question.

Statistics courtesy of Baseball-Reference and FanGraphs


Related: More 2017 player expectations for key Yankees at catcherfirst basesecond baseshortstopthird basedesignated hitter, left fieldcenter field, and right field.

Tags: Masahiro Tanaka, 2017 Expectations, Chris Carelli

GECIO SportsNite: Yanks loss 00:01:38
Sweeny Murti breaks down the Yankees' 4-1 loss to the A's and gets player reaction to the game from Yankee Stadium.

Masahiro Tanaka recorded a career high 13 strikeouts, but the Yankees were downed by the Athletics 4-1 at Yankee Stadium on Friday night. >> Click here for the full box score...

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New York Yankees relief pitcher Aroldis Chapman pitches against the Baltimore Orioles during the tenth inning at Yankee Stadium. (Brad Penner/USA Today Sports Images)
New York Yankees relief pitcher Aroldis Chapman pitches against the Baltimore Orioles during the tenth inning at Yankee Stadium. (Brad Penner/USA Today Sports Images)

Yankees closer Aroldis Chapman (left shoulder inflammation) is expected to play catch on Saturday as part of his throwing program.

Chapman told YES that he has not felt any pain since the injury. He was scheduled to visit the team doctor on Friday. 

"It has been brutal being on the DL," Chapman told Meredith Marakovits of YES Network. "It's so boring. I don't like coming here, doing my rehab, and then watching everyone actually play in the game."

Tags: Aroldis Chapman
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Former New York Yankees shortstop Derek Jeter waves to the crowd after being honored during a pre-game ceremony to retire his jersey number and unveil his plaque for monument park before the game against the Houston Astros at Yankee Stadium. (Adam Hunger/USA Today Sports Images)
Former New York Yankees shortstop Derek Jeter waves to the crowd after being honored during a pre-game ceremony to retire his jersey number and unveil his plaque for monument park before the game against the Houston Astros at Yankee Stadium. (Adam Hunger/USA Today Sports Images)

Tagg Romney -- the son of former Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney -- and MLB Hall of Famer Tom Glavine contacted Derek Jeter weeks ago in order to persuade him to dump Jed Bush and join their group in pursuit of the sale of the Marlins, according to The Daily News

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New York Yankees starting pitcher Masahiro Tanaka (19) reacts after allowing a two run home run by Cincinnati Reds first baseman Joey Votto (not pictured) in the seventh inning at Great American Ball Park. (Aaron Doster)
New York Yankees starting pitcher Masahiro Tanaka (19) reacts after allowing a two run home run by Cincinnati Reds first baseman Joey Votto (not pictured) in the seventh inning at Great American Ball Park. (Aaron Doster)

The Yankees (27-17) will open a three-game set against the Athletics (21-25) on Friday night at Yankee Stadium. 

Athletics Yankees
Rajai Davis, CF Brett Gardner, LF
Matt Joyce, RF Aaron Hicks, CF
Jed Lowrie, 2B Matt Holliday, DH
Khris Davis, LF Starlin Castro, 2B
Ryon Healy, 1B Aaron Judge, RF
Trevor Plouffe, 3B Didi Gregorius, SS
Stephen Vogt, C Chase Headley, 3B
Mark Canha, DH Chris Carter, 1B
Adam Rosales, SS Austin Romine, C
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 (Kim Klement)
(Kim Klement)

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

Our weekly minor league report canvases the Yankees' farm system, providing updates about the status of the teams in action and the organization's top prospects.

Notes: Top-30 prospect rankings (via MLBPipeline.com) are club based with overall MLB ranks, if applicable, in parenthesis. Prospects currently in the major leagues will not be covered here. Team records and statistics are through games played May 25, 2017.

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GEICO SportsNite: Yanks targets 00:03:47
The BNNY panel fast-forwards to the trade deadline and lists their fantasy deals that the Yankees can pursue to acquire more talent.

The BNNY panel fast-forward to the trade deadline and list their fantasy deals the Yankees can pursue to acquire more talent.

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 (Anthony Gruppuso)
(Anthony Gruppuso)

The Yankees continue to see declines in ticket sales this season despite the team leading the AL East, according to New York Times' Billy Witz. 

The team's first-quarter filings reported last week noted ticket and suite revenues had declined "nearly $14 million from the first-quarter filing of a year ago." Overall, ticket sales have fell $166 million since their World Series championship back in 2009.

Managing general partner, Hal Steinbrenner, thinks millennials are the reason for the lack of interest in not only his team, but baseball in general.

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Mar 5, 2017; Tampa, FL, USA; New York Yankees second baseman Gleyber Torres (81) triples during the fifth inning against the Pittsburgh Pirates at George M. Steinbrenner Field. (Kim Klement (USA Today))
Mar 5, 2017; Tampa, FL, USA; New York Yankees second baseman Gleyber Torres (81) triples during the fifth inning against the Pittsburgh Pirates at George M. Steinbrenner Field. (Kim Klement (USA Today))

Yankees general manager Brian Cashman isn't looking to call up top prospect Gleyber Torres to the majors anytime soon, according to Newsday's Erik Boland. 

Torres was recently promoted to Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre on Monday. However, Cashman isn't going to put Torres in pinstripes, regardless of injury or under-performance from any Yankees at the moment. 

 

Tags: Gleyber Torres
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Yankees trying too hard? 00:03:06
The DNL panel feels it's too soon for the Yankees to honor Aaron Judge with a special section, and that it should have been done by the fans

Chris Carelli, SNY.tv

The opening arguments have been made by both sides of the newly enshrined "The Judge's Chambers," an 18-seat juror's box assembly for fans who show their allegiance to Yankees rookie outfielder Aaron Judge.

On the plaintiff's side, the complaint is that despite Judge's MLB-leading 15 home runs (plus one misruled a triple), he's just a rookie and doesn't deserve a fully developed section with his name on it. Those against the enclosed area claim that there is nothing wrong with fans coming to the stadium with their robes, wigs and fake gavels, but the section should have grown organically over time.

For those who remember the 1990's early 2000's clubs, think the bullseyes with a large 'O' on them that fans in right field would hold up for the fan favorite Paul O'Neill to aim at. That wasn't a team manufactured promo, but rather grew over time by the fans. The contention is that named sections are meant for longtime club veterans or better retired heroes. Finally, why would the Yankees want to place undue pressure on their 25-year-old right fielder?

Tags: Aaron Judge, Chris Carelli
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New York Yankees starting pitcher Masahiro Tanaka walks back to the dugout at the end of the second inning against the Tampa Bay Rays at Tropicana Field. (Kim Klement/USA TODAY Sports)
New York Yankees starting pitcher Masahiro Tanaka walks back to the dugout at the end of the second inning against the Tampa Bay Rays at Tropicana Field. (Kim Klement/USA TODAY Sports)

Yankees ace Masahiro Tanaka claims he is not injured, but rather in a rut as he continues to struggle on the mound, according to ESPN's Andrew Marchand. 

Yankees GM Brian Cashman said Thursday that there are "no indicators" anything is wrong with Tanaka physically and that there is no need for him to undergo tests, according to Erik Boland of Newsday.

In his last start against the Rays this past Saturday, Tanaka was shelled for six runs on nine hits, including three home runs in three innings. This came after an even worse outing against the Astros at Yankee Stadium where he let up four homers for eight runs in 1 2/3 innings.

Tags: Masahiro Tanaka
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 ( Adam Hunger)
( Adam Hunger)

The Yankees have placed outfielder Jacoby Ellsbury on the seven-day concussion disabled list and will call up Rob Refsnyderthe team announced Thursday morning.

Ellsbury was diagnosed with a concussion and strained neck after he crashed into the wall to make a catch during in the first inning Wednesday night, the team announced. He went deep to center field to rob Royals shortstop Alcides Escobar of a hit on the first pitch of the frame. 

Ellsbury stayed in the game for the remainder of the inning but was replaced by Aaron Hicks in the second. 

Refsnyder has hit .258 with a .330 on-base percentage in 77 career Major League games. 

Tags: Jacoby Ellsbury, Rob Refsnyder
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General view of the tarp covering the infield as rain falls before a game between the Houston Astros and the New York Yankees at Yankee Stadium. (Anthony Gruppuso)
General view of the tarp covering the infield as rain falls before a game between the Houston Astros and the New York Yankees at Yankee Stadium. (Anthony Gruppuso)

Today's game between the Yankees and the Royals has been postponed due to the weather, the team announced early Thursday morning.

The game has been rescheduled for Monday, September 25 at Yankee Stadium.

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GEICO SportsNite: Yankees 00:00:47
Joe Girardi, Didi Gregorius and Luis Severino talk about picking up the win against the Royals on Luis Severino's eight-inning gem.

Behind the strong pitching of Luis Severino, the Yankees topped the Royals, 3-0, on Wednesday night at Yankee Stadium. >> Click here for the full box score...

Severino (3-2) made it through eight innings on a season-high 114 pitches, striking out seven while allowing just four hits and a walk. He lowered his ERA to 3.11.

Tags: Kansas City Royals
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The New York Yankees (26-17) play Game 3 of a four-game series against the Kansas City Royals (19-26) on Wednesday at Yankee Stadium.

Royals Yankees
Alcides Escobar, SS Brett Gardner, LF
Mike Moustakas, 3B Gary Sanchez, C
Lorenzo Cain, CF Matt Holliday, DH
Eric Hosmer, 1B Starlin Castro, 2B
Salvador Perez, C Aaron Judge, RF
Jorge Bonifacio, RF Jacoby Ellsbury, CF
Brandon Moss, DH Chase Headley, 3B
Whit Merrifield, 2B Didi Gregorius, SS
Alex Gordon, LF Chris Carter, 1B
Tags: Kansas City Royals
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Yankees trying too hard? 00:03:06
The DNL panel feels it's too soon for the Yankees to honor Aaron Judge with a special section, and that it should have been done by the fans

Hall of Famer Dave Winfield cautioned the Yankees about putting too much spotlight on rookie Aaron Judge, according to NY Daily News. 

The comments were in response to the Yankee Stadium's newest feature in the right field seats: "Judge's Chambers." Chosen at random each game, 18 fans will sit in a special section that resembles a jury box where they can wear judicial robes with No. 99 on the back and wave foam gavels reading "All Rise!" on the side. 

Winfield thinks its a little early in Judge's career to be giving him his own fan section.

"It may be risky," Winfield said. "Making it in New York is a tough proposition, but (Judge) started off well this year. It takes a lot to focus and put it all together. I hope he doesn't get distracted with all the focus. Figure out the game of baseball first."

Tags: Aaron Judge
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New York Yankees right fielder Aaron Judge (99) runs around the bases after after he hit a home run during the second inning against the Tampa Bay Rays at Tropicana Field. (Kim Klement)
New York Yankees right fielder Aaron Judge (99) runs around the bases after after he hit a home run during the second inning against the Tampa Bay Rays at Tropicana Field. (Kim Klement)

Prior to the start of this season, Yankees outfielder Aaron Judge came to the humble realization that he needed to change his swing in order to have success at the plate.

"The biggest thing, the way I can explain it, was controlling my back hip," Judge told Kyle Glaser of Baseball America. "I watched the great hitters. They're into their back hip, and that's where the swing starts. They're in their legs, They're in that hip. For me it allows me to stay in and through the zone longer. I don't come around the zone."

The results of Judge's change have been obvious. In his three seasons in the minors, the outfielder out of Fresno State never hit more than 20 home runs or had a slugging percentage over .490 in a season. 

Yet during his rookie season this year, Judge is on pace for 58 home runs and a .692 slugging percentage.

Tags: Aaron Judge
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New York Yankees pitcher Jordan Montgomery (47) delivers a pitch against the Kansas City Royals during the first inning at Kauffman Stadium. (Peter Aiken)
New York Yankees pitcher Jordan Montgomery (47) delivers a pitch against the Kansas City Royals during the first inning at Kauffman Stadium. (Peter Aiken)

The Royals gained a late lead on Tuesday night in the Bronx, defeating the Yankees 6-2.>> Click here for the full box score


Jordan Montgomery (2-4) allowed just two hits while striking out six batters during his six innings of work, lowering his ERA for the spring to 4.30. The bullpen, however, struggled to maintain the Yankees' lead, giving up six runs in two innings. 

Solo homeruns from Aaron Hicks and Chris Carter provided an early 2-0 lead for the Yankees. 

Tags: Kansas City Royals
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New York Yankees pitcher Jordan Montgomery (47) delivers a pitch against the Kansas City Royals during the first inning at Kauffman Stadium. (Peter Aiken)
New York Yankees pitcher Jordan Montgomery (47) delivers a pitch against the Kansas City Royals during the first inning at Kauffman Stadium. (Peter Aiken)

The New York Yankees (26-16) play Game 2 of a four-game series against the Kansas City Royals (18-26) on Tuesday at Yankee Stadium.

Royals Yankees
Alcides Escobar, SS Jacoby Ellsbury, CF
Mike Moustakas, 3B Aaron Hicks, LF
Lorenzo Cain, CF Matt Holliday, DH
Eric Hosmer, 1B Starlin Castro, 2B
Salvador Perez, DH Aaron Judge, RF
Jorge Bonifacio, LF Didi Gregorius, SS
Jorge Soler, RF Chase Headley, 3B
Whit Merrifield, 2B Austin Romine, C
Drew Butera, C Chris Carter, 1B
Tags: Jordan Montgomery, Kansas City Royals
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Chris Carelli, SNY.TV Facebook | Twitter | About Me | Archives

The Yankees entered the 2017 campaign believing they would have much better performance from their first basemen after a dormant 2016 season. Instead, Yankees first basemen rank dead last in MLB in each component of the triple slash line (.176/.288/.301) and OPS+ (45, with 100 considered average).

The drain at the position in 2016 was disappointing, but the club was optimistic for 2017 with Tyler Austin set to build on last season's cameo, Greg Bird back and healthy, and 2016 National League home run co-leader Chris Carter signed for added power.

Austin was hurt before a competition at first base could begin, allowing Bird to win the job with a fantastic spring training, while Carter was relegated to the bench...

Tags: Greg Bird, Tyler Austin, Chris Carelli
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New York Yankees first baseman Greg Bird (33) works out during batting practice prior to the game against the Tampa Bay Rays at Tropicana Field. (Kim Klement)
New York Yankees first baseman Greg Bird (33) works out during batting practice prior to the game against the Tampa Bay Rays at Tropicana Field. (Kim Klement)

Yankees 1B Greg Bird took dry swings on Monday at Yankee Stadium and should advance to hitting off a tee and from soft tosses on Tuesday, reports Bryan Hoch of MLB.com.

"It felt good today. Felt really good," the first baseman told the New York Daily News.

On Wednesday, Bird will hit in the batting cage before taking Thursday off. The 24-year old will then take two days of batting practice over the weekend before flying down to Tampa on Sunday. In Tampa, Bird will take a few days of batting practice and live at bats before starting a rehab assignment there, and then continuing his rehab assignment in Scranton.

Tags: Greg Bird
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GEICO SportsNite: BNNY on Yanks 00:04:36
The BNNY panel discusses Michael Pineda pitching like the ace in the starting rotation and shares their thoughts on the 'Judge's Chambers.'

The BNNY panel discusses Michael Pineda pitching like the ace in the starting rotation and shares their thoughts on the 'Judge's Chambers.'

Tags: Aaron Judge, Michael Pineda
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GEICO SportsNite: Girardi on win 00:01:04
Joe Girardi shares his thoughts on the Yankees' 4-2 win over the Kansas City Royals in the series opener at Yankee Stadium.

Three Yankees hit home runs while Michael Pineda won his second straight start as New York beat the Kansas City Royals, 4-2, Monday at Yankee Stadium. >> Box score


Brett GardnerDidi Gregorius and Chris Carter each homered to power the Yankees to their second straight win.

Pineda (5-2) gave up two runs and six hits in 6 1/3 innings to win his second straight outing against Kansas City. He struck out five batters in six innings in an 11-7 win last Wednesday.

Tags: Brett Gardner, Didi Gregorius, Kansas City Royals, Michael Pineda
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New York Yankees relief pitcher Aroldis Chapman pitches against the Baltimore Orioles during the tenth inning at Yankee Stadium. (Brad Penner/USA Today Sports Images)
New York Yankees relief pitcher Aroldis Chapman pitches against the Baltimore Orioles during the tenth inning at Yankee Stadium. (Brad Penner/USA Today Sports Images)

New York Yankees closer Aroldis Chapman is expected to begin throwing next week after he went on the disabled list due to a shoulder injury, according to YES Network.

Chapman hasn't pitched since May 12 and went on the disabled list two days later due to rotator cuff inflammation. He had been feeling shoulder discomfort for weeks before the Yankees placed him on the DL.

Chapman was scheduled to meet with a team physician before Monday's game against the Kansas City Royals, but manager Joe Girardi did not have a definitive update when talking to the media.

"Originally we said (Chapman) would not be throwing for two weeks," Girardi said, according to NJ.com's Randy Miller. "It's only been a week. But he does feel better, so that would be my update."

Tags: Aroldis Chapman, Dellin Betances
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 (Brad Penner)
(Brad Penner)

Alex Rodriguez believes Yankees rookie Aaron Judge "has a chance to be historic," he told John Harper of the NY Daily News.

Rodriguez had the chance to analyze two of New York's biggest phenoms in Judge and Mets outfielder Michael Conforto in his broadcast debut this past week for FOX. 

Harper asked Rodriguez which player he would choose to have the better career, and Rodriguez stayed loyal to the pinstripes.

"Tough question," Rodriguez said. "I think they're both going to be All-Stars for years to come. But Judge has a chance to be historic. He's 6-foot-7, he benches 450 pounds, he's got a great idea at the plate."

Tags: Aaron Judge, Alex Rodriguez
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New York Yankees starting pitcher Michael Pineda pitches against the Houston Astros during the third inning at Yankee Stadium. (Brad Penner/USA Today Sports Images)
New York Yankees starting pitcher Michael Pineda pitches against the Houston Astros during the third inning at Yankee Stadium. (Brad Penner/USA Today Sports Images)

The New York Yankees (25-16) begin a four-game series at home against the Kansas City Royals (18-25) on Monday at Yankee Stadium.

Royals Yankees
Alcides Escobar, SS Brett Gardner, LF
Mike Moustakas, 3B Gary Sanchez,C
Lorenzo Cain, CF Matt Holliday, DH
Eric Hosmer, 1B Starlin Castro, 2B
Salvador Perez, C Aaron Judge, RF
Brandon Moss, DH Aaron Hicks, CF
Jorge Bonifacio, LF Didi Gregorius, SS
Jorge Soler, RF Chase Headley, 3B
Whit Merrifield, 2B Chris Carter, 1B
Tags: Kansas City Royals, Michael Pineda
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New York Yankees second baseman Gleyber Torres against the Pittsburgh Pirates at George M. Steinbrenner Field. (Kim Klement/USA TODAY Sports)
New York Yankees second baseman Gleyber Torres against the Pittsburgh Pirates at George M. Steinbrenner Field. (Kim Klement/USA TODAY Sports)

The New York Yankees are promoting top shortstop prospect Gleyber Torres to Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre, according to MLB.com's Matt Kardos.

Torres is considered one of the top prospects in baseball according to several outlets. MLB.com ranked him the No. 3 prospect and the Yankees the No. 2 farm system, while ESPN's Keith Law ranked him the No. 4 prospect in January.

"He checked every box necessary in that league [Eastern League]," Brian Cashman told Joel Sherman of the New York Post in explaining why Torres is being promoted.

After Cashman received the go-ahead from minor league head Gary Denbo to promote Torres on Saturday. the general manager ran the idea by all of his departments, such as scouting and analytics, and everyone approved of the promotion.

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New York Yankees relief pitcher Dellin Betances (68) and catcher Gary Sanchez (24) congratulate was other after they beat the Tampa Bay Rays at Tropicana Field. (Kim Klement)
New York Yankees relief pitcher Dellin Betances (68) and catcher Gary Sanchez (24) congratulate was other after they beat the Tampa Bay Rays at Tropicana Field. (Kim Klement)

Dellin Betances continued his impressive season on Sunday, recording the final four outs of the game to pick up his second save of the season.

Betances needed only 16 pitches to retire the final four batters, racking up three strikeouts on the way to a 3-2 New York victory.

The 29-year old, who recently took over as the Yankees' closer with Aroldis Chapman on the DL, has not surrendered an earned run since April 8.

Tags: Alroldis Chapman, Dellin Betances
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May 21, 2017; St. Petersburg, FL, USA; New York Yankees left fielder Brett Gardner (11) hits a 2-run home run during the second inning against the Tampa Bay Rays at Tropicana Field. Mandatory Credit: Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports (Kim Klement)
May 21, 2017; St. Petersburg, FL, USA; New York Yankees left fielder Brett Gardner (11) hits a 2-run home run during the second inning against the Tampa Bay Rays at Tropicana Field. Mandatory Credit: Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports (Kim Klement)

Brett Gardner hit a three-run home run, CC Sabathia limited the Rays to two runs in five innings, and the Yankees' bullpen tossed four scoreless innings as New York avoided a three-game sweep in Tampa. >> Click here for the full box score


CC Sabathia struck out six batters and walked one in a 95-pitch effort. After allowing a run in the first inning, Sabathia threw three scoreless innings before giving up a solo shot in the fifth. 

Didi Gregorius went 4-for-4 with an RBI, raising his batting average to .322 on the season. Gardner had two hits and Jacoby Ellsbury added a double.

Tags: Brett Gardner, CC Sabathia
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New York Yankees starting pitcher Masahiro Tanaka walks back to the dugout at the end of the second inning against the Tampa Bay Rays at Tropicana Field. (Kim Klement/USA TODAY Sports)
New York Yankees starting pitcher Masahiro Tanaka walks back to the dugout at the end of the second inning against the Tampa Bay Rays at Tropicana Field. (Kim Klement/USA TODAY Sports)

New York Yankees RHP Masahiro Tanaka lost his second straight start on Saturday when he gave up six runs and nine hits in three innings in a 9-5 loss to the Tampa Bay Rays at Tropicana Field.

Tanaka (5-3) left the game in the bottom of the fourth inning after five straight batters reached base, including Corey Dickerson, whose second home run of the game gave Tampa Bay a 6-3 lead.

"We have to get him right," manager Joe Girardi said, according to the New York Daily News' Mike Mazzeo. "I thought his slider was better today. I thought his splitter was better at times. But he made some mistakes with his fastball. His stuff was better than his last start, but it's not where we need it to be. And we've got to continue to work on it."

Tags: Austin Romine, Gary Sanchez, Masahiro Tanaka, Tampa Bay Rays
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JR Sport Brief: A-Rod's image 00:01:36
In the latest installment of JR Sport Brief on SNY.tv, JR debates whether former Yankee Alex Rodriguez is a changed man.

In the latest installment of JR Sport Brief on SNY.tv, JR debates whether former Yankee Alex Rodriguez is a changed man.

Tags: Alex Rodriguez
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New York Yankees starting pitcher CC Sabathia throws against the Cincinnati Reds in the first inning at Great American Ball Park. (Aaron Doster/USA TODAY Sports)
New York Yankees starting pitcher CC Sabathia throws against the Cincinnati Reds in the first inning at Great American Ball Park. (Aaron Doster/USA TODAY Sports)

The Yankees (24-16) will try to avoid a sweep as they wrap up their series with the Tampa Bay Rays (23-22) at Kauffman Stadium at 1:10 p.m. ET on Sunday.

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May 20, 2017; St. Petersburg, FL, USA; Tampa Bay Rays designated hitter Corey Dickerson (10) and Tampa Bay Rays center fielder Kevin Kiermaier (39) score runs during the fifth inning against the New York Yankees at Tropicana Field. Mandatory Credit: Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports (Kim Klement)
May 20, 2017; St. Petersburg, FL, USA; Tampa Bay Rays designated hitter Corey Dickerson (10) and Tampa Bay Rays center fielder Kevin Kiermaier (39) score runs during the fifth inning against the New York Yankees at Tropicana Field. Mandatory Credit: Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports (Kim Klement)

Masahiro Tanaka allowed six runs on nine hits, Tommy Layne allowed three additional runs, and the Yankees fell to the Tampa Bay Rays, 9-5, on Saturday at Tropicana Field. >> Click here for the full box score

Tags: Masahiro Tanaka
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May 19, 2017; St. Petersburg, FL, USA;New York Yankees relief pitcher Tyler Clippard (29) throws a pitch during the eighth inning against the Tampa Bay Rays at Tropicana Field. Mandatory Credit: Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports (Kim Klement)
May 19, 2017; St. Petersburg, FL, USA;New York Yankees relief pitcher Tyler Clippard (29) throws a pitch during the eighth inning against the Tampa Bay Rays at Tropicana Field. Mandatory Credit: Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports (Kim Klement)

Luis Severino limited the Rays to just one run in five innings on Friday night, but the Yankees' bullpen allowed four runs in the final four frames in a 5-4 loss.

Jonathan Holder pitched a scoreless sixth inning, but Adam Warren allowed three runs on three hits in the seventh, and only recorded two outs before Chasen Shreve entered to finish the inning.

Tyler Clippard pitched the eighth, but struggled with command and walked two batters before Evan Longoria hit an RBI single to tack on what ended up being the decisive run.

Tags: Adam Warren, Alroldis Chapman, Luis Severino, Tyler Clippard
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Matt Holliday connects for a two-run homer in the eighth inning against the Tampa Bay Rays. (Chris O'Meara/AP)
Matt Holliday connects for a two-run homer in the eighth inning against the Tampa Bay Rays. (Chris O'Meara/AP)

Yankees outfielder Matt Holliday hit his eighth home run of the year Friday night, but the Rays beat the Yankees, 5-4, at Tropicana Field. The two-run shot tied the game in the top of the eighth inning before Evan Longoria's single in the bottom half of the frame put the Rays right back ahead.

Starlin Castro and Jacoby Ellsbury also collected RBI for New York. Starting pitcher Luis Severino went five innings, allowing one run on five hits and three walks while striking out seven. 

The Yankees have now lost three in a row and seven of their last 10. They will look to get back on track Saturday as the series against the Rays continues with an afternoon tilt at 4:10 p.m.

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New York Yankees pitcher Jordan Montgomery (47) delivers a pitch against the Kansas City Royals during the first inning at Kauffman Stadium. (Peter Aiken)
New York Yankees pitcher Jordan Montgomery (47) delivers a pitch against the Kansas City Royals during the first inning at Kauffman Stadium. (Peter Aiken)

Yankees LHP Jordan Montgomery struggled last night, allowing five earned runs on four hits and three walks in five innings.

Montgomery surrendered two early runs to the Royals and was unable to recover. Mike Moustakas added a fifth inning, three-run home run to extend Kansas City's lead to 5-0.

The 24-year old has now allowed nine earned runs in his last 11.0 innings spanning two starts.

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May 18, 2017; Kansas City, MO, USA; New York Yankees pitcher Jordan Montgomery (47) reacts after giving up a three run home run to Kansas City Royals Mike Moustakas (left) during the fifth inning at Kauffman Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Peter G. Aiken-USA TODAY Sports (Peter Aiken)
May 18, 2017; Kansas City, MO, USA; New York Yankees pitcher Jordan Montgomery (47) reacts after giving up a three run home run to Kansas City Royals Mike Moustakas (left) during the fifth inning at Kauffman Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Peter G. Aiken-USA TODAY Sports (Peter Aiken)

Danny Duffy pitched seven shutout innings, Mike Moustakas hit a three-run homer, and the Royals cruised to a 5-1 win over the Yankees at Kauffman Stadium on Thursday. >> Click here for the full box score

Tags: Aaron Judge, Didi Gregorius, Jacoby Ellsbury, Starlin Castro
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New York Yankees LHP Jordan Montgomery (Adam Hunger/USA Today Sports Images)
New York Yankees LHP Jordan Montgomery (Adam Hunger/USA Today Sports Images)

The Yankees (23-13) will go for the sweep as they wrap up their series with the Kansas City Royals (16-23) at Kauffman Stadium at 8:15 p.m. ET on Thursday night. 

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May 17, 2017; Kansas City, MO, USA; New York Yankees right fielder Aaron Hicks (31) celebrates with shortstop Didi Gregorius (18) after hitting a home run in the fourth inning of the game against the Kansas City Royals at Kauffman Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Jay Biggerstaff-USA TODAY Sports (Jay Biggerstaff)
May 17, 2017; Kansas City, MO, USA; New York Yankees right fielder Aaron Hicks (31) celebrates with shortstop Didi Gregorius (18) after hitting a home run in the fourth inning of the game against the Kansas City Royals at Kauffman Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Jay Biggerstaff-USA TODAY Sports (Jay Biggerstaff)

The Yankees' bats came alive and backed starter Michael Pineda as New York beat the Royals, 11-7, on Wednesday night in Kansas City. >> Click here for the full box score

Tags: Kansas City Royals
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Mar 15, 2015; New York, NY, USA; New York Yankees owner Hal Steinbrenner before the New York City FC vs. New England Revolution soccer game at Yankee Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Noah K. Murray-USA TODAY Sports (Noah K. Murray)
Mar 15, 2015; New York, NY, USA; New York Yankees owner Hal Steinbrenner before the New York City FC vs. New England Revolution soccer game at Yankee Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Noah K. Murray-USA TODAY Sports (Noah K. Murray)

Yankees owner Hal Steinbrenner is pleased with the team's play through the first month and half, especially the effort of the young core. 

With that in mind, Steinbrenner said at Wednesday's owners meetings that he'd prefer not to trade any of the team's prospects away, if possible. 

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Apr 22, 2017; Pittsburgh, PA, USA; New York Yankees starting pitcher Michael Pineda (35) delivers a pitch against the Pittsburgh Pirates during the first inning at PNC Park. (Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports)
Apr 22, 2017; Pittsburgh, PA, USA; New York Yankees starting pitcher Michael Pineda (35) delivers a pitch against the Pittsburgh Pirates during the first inning at PNC Park. (Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports)

The Yankees (23-13) look to continue their winning ways in Kansas City as they take on the Royals (16-22) at 8:15 p.m. on Wednesday night. 
 

Tags: Kansas City Royals
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New York Yankees starting pitcher Masahiro Tanaka (19) reacts during the fourth inning against the Chicago White Sox at Yankee Stadium. (Brad Penner)
New York Yankees starting pitcher Masahiro Tanaka (19) reacts during the fourth inning against the Chicago White Sox at Yankee Stadium. (Brad Penner)

Yankees pitching coach Larry Rothschild is working with Masahiro Tanaka to fix some mechanical issues in hopes of getting the team's ace back on track after his recent struggles.

"Larry talked to him today about some mechanical things. Hopefully they get it ironed out,'' manager Joe Girardi told George A. King III of the New York Post. "I think his front shoulder was flying [open] a bit [Sunday]. Sometimes they're mechanical and we have to iron them out. He hasn't had a good splitter and slider for most of the year.''

In his most recent start, Tanaka lasted only 1 2/3 innings against the Astros, allowing eight runs on seven hits, including four home runs.

Tags: Masahiro Tanaka
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The Yankees' Starlin Castro celebrates in the dugout after hitting a three-run home run against the Pirates Saturday. (Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports)
The Yankees' Starlin Castro celebrates in the dugout after hitting a three-run home run against the Pirates Saturday. (Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports)

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

The Yankees have plenty of young talent on their roster, but because Starlin Castro is in his eighth season in the big leagues, it's easy to forget he's just 27 years old. Castro is in his baseball prime and based on his performance so far this season, he might be poised to tap into the potential some expected years ago.

At age-21 in 2011, Castro led the National League in hits (207) in just his second season and expectations heightened for the then-shortstop. Castro never reached the presumed zenith in Chicago and after a couple of rough seasons, he was traded to New York.

Tags: Starlin Castro, Chris Carelli
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CC Sabathia pitched a 6.2 inning shutout on the way to the Yankees' 7-1 win in the first game of their three-game series against the Royals at Kauffman Stadium on Tuesday evening. >> Box score

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Aug 31, 2016; Kansas City, MO, USA; New York Yankees pitcher Dillin Betances (68) celebrates with catcher Gary Sanchez (24) after beating the Kansas City Royals in thirteen inning at Kauffman Stadium. The Yankees won 5-4. Mandatory Credit: Peter G. Aiken-USA TODAY Sports (Peter Aiken)
Aug 31, 2016; Kansas City, MO, USA; New York Yankees pitcher Dillin Betances (68) celebrates with catcher Gary Sanchez (24) after beating the Kansas City Royals in thirteen inning at Kauffman Stadium. The Yankees won 5-4. Mandatory Credit: Peter G. Aiken-USA TODAY Sports (Peter Aiken)

President Randy Levine expressed the utmost confidence in new Yankees closer Dellin Betances on Tuesday, via a report from FanRag's Jon Heyman.

Betances has taken over the closer role in New York after Aroldis Chapman was placed on the 10-day disabled list with an inflamed rotator cuff.

"He's going to do great," Levine said. "He's ready. I have full confidence he'll do a great job. 

Tags: Dellin Betances
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New York Yankees starting pitcher CC Sabathia throws against the Cincinnati Reds in the first inning at Great American Ball Park. (Aaron Doster/USA TODAY Sports)
New York Yankees starting pitcher CC Sabathia throws against the Cincinnati Reds in the first inning at Great American Ball Park. (Aaron Doster/USA TODAY Sports)

The Yankees (22-13) begin a three-game series at Kauffman Stadium against the Royals at 8:15 p.m. ET on Tuesday night.

Yankees Royals
Brett Gardner, LF Alcides Escobar, SS
Gary Sanchez, C Mike Moustakas, 3B
Matt Holliday, DH Lorenzo Cain, CF
Starlin Castro, 2B Eric Hosmer, 1B
Aaron Judge, RF Salvador Perez, C
Jacoby Ellsbury, CF Jorge Bonifacio, RF
Chase Headley, 3B Jorge Soler, DH
Didi Gregorius, SS Alex Gordon, LF
Chris Carter, 1B Whit Merrifield, 2B
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During an appearance on The Tonight Show with Jimmy Fallon, OF Aaron Judge surprised Yankees fans in Bryant Park.

Click below to watch

Tags: Aaron Judge
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Will there be another Jeter? 00:03:14
The Daily News Live panel discusses if New York will ever see another athlete as successful on and off the field like Derek Jeter.

The Daily News Live panel discuss if New York will ever see another athlete as successful on and off the field as Derek Jeter.

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GEICO SportsNite: Jeter, Chapman 00:04:04
Jonas Schwartz, Peter Botte and John Harper discuss Derek Jeter Day and Aroldis Chapman's injury.

Yankees closer Aroldis Chapman felt pain and discomfort in his shoulder for weeks before alerting the team, he told reporters on Sunday.

Chapman was placed on the 10-day disabled list on Sunday due to left rotator cuff inflammation and could miss roughly a month.

"I heard Chapman tell you guys that, and all I can tell you is that he didn't mention anything," GMBrian Cashman said Monday, according to Dan Martin of the NY Post. "We check every day with the trainers to see what they're doing or if anyone is deviating from their routine. That's all you can do."

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New York Yankees starting pitcher Masahiro Tanaka (19) reacts after allowing a two run home run by Cincinnati Reds first baseman Joey Votto (not pictured) in the seventh inning at Great American Ball Park. (Aaron Doster)
New York Yankees starting pitcher Masahiro Tanaka (19) reacts after allowing a two run home run by Cincinnati Reds first baseman Joey Votto (not pictured) in the seventh inning at Great American Ball Park. (Aaron Doster)

Chris Carelli, SNY.tv

Masahiro Tanaka has made eight starts for the Yankees this season. The bookends have been utter disasters, and maybe worse, what's been in between has been mediocre outside of one start. Tanaka's performance so far this season has both short-term and long-term consequences for the Yankees.
  
Short-term impact

Tanaka is paid to be the ace of this club. Whether you agree he is or is not, Tanaka is expected to perform as such by the Yankees. And quite honestly, Tanaka expects it of himself as well. When the fans are treated to such a dismal performance the boo birds will be in full force.

"I didn't do my job," Tanaka told Newsday. "They have all the right to boo me."

Tags: Masahiro Tanaka, Chris Carelli
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