The New York Yankees weren’t exactly expected by many to be legitimate contenders this season as they were considered to be too old (average age of opening day lineup 33-34 years old), they had question marks revolving around some of their key players (Alex Rodriguez and Mark Teixeira), and their starting pitching staff lacked depth and stability. But despite their age, the offense has performed very well on the heels of the resurgence of Rodriguez coming back from his long suspension and Teixeira swinging a healthy bat. The strong Yankee offense has been able to give the team a lot of leads and then the dominant back end of the bullpen, featuring the combination of Dellin Betances and Andrew Miller, has been a nearly unbreakable unit. This fierce combination of solid offense and a dominant bullpen has led to a current 1st place position in the AL East standings. However, one pre-season notion has been right — the Yankees starting pitching has been very underwhelming overall.
Yankees starting pitching ranks 23rd in the Majors in ERA at 4.35, which is the lowest ranking of any team that is currently locked into a playoff spot if the season were to end today. Masahiro Tanaka has performed pretty well, but he spent some time on the DL and is not nearly as dominant as last season. C.C. Sabathia is not earning his pinstripes as he is statistically one of the worst pitchers in the league. Nathan Eovaldi, in his first year in the Bronx, has failed to have his breakout season once again. And a carousel of pitchers in the #5 spot have not been giving the Yankees the strongest of performances.
The most consistent starting pitcher for the Yankees up to this point, both performance and health wise, has been Michael Pineda who owns a 9-7 record, 3.97 ERA, 1.22 WHIP, and 117 K/15 BB in 118 IP. But last week, Pineda was scratched from his scheduled start and was placed on the DL with tightness in his pitching elbow and he is is expected to miss all of August. So without making a move at the trading deadline for a starting pitcher, the Yankees appeared to be in a heap of trouble and that left them to promote their top pitching prospect, Luis Severino, to start Wednesday’s game against the Red Sox.
Severino is a long, wiry pitcher at the age of 21 and he has progressed very well through the Minors, pitching at AAA before his promotion. Severino throws an electric fastball that reaches the upper 90’s and he complements it with an above average changeup and a developing slider. There have been concerns about his small size making him more suitable as a relief pitcher down the road, but there are some reports that believe Severino can make it as a starting pitcher and the Yankees appear to be content to give him a try in that role.
Throughout his Minor League career, Severino has posted a 2.30 ERA, 1.02 WHIP, 2.27 BB/9, and 9.06 K/9. He possesses great strikeout potential that is matched with very good control for a pitcher that is at such a tender age. This combination of qualities is something that should bode well for him as he makes his first tour through the league as the fill-in for Pineda, which could lead to a permanent stay, even after Pineda returns, should he impress the Yankees brass.
Severino’s debut went about as well as it could’ve despite being charged with a loss. The young righty posted a line of 5 IP, 2 H, 1 ER, 0 BB, and 7 K on 94 pitches. His pitch count ran a little high, but the upside is easy to see and he turned a lot of heads in this divisional matchup.
Severino is the type of pitcher that clearly needs to be owned in all dynasty/keeper leagues and he should also be owned in a large majority of redraft leagues due the type of immediate upside that he possesses as a high strikeout, low walk pitcher. And Severino could prove to be quite the difference maker for both the Yankees and fantasy squads down the stretch as the playoffs approach. Don’t sleep too long on him.
Let’s check out the rest of Wednesday’s action…
Avisail Garcia – 3 for 4, 1 HR, 4 RBI, 1 R, 2 BB. Garcia homered on Wednesday and is now hitting .267 with 9 HR, 38 RBI, 42 R and 5 SB. Pegged by many as a breakout pick in the pre-season, Garcia has yet to live up to expectations. His swinging % this season is at 60.1%, which is the 2nd highest in the league behind Adam Jones, and it is a bit of a concern that he also has the 2nd highest swinging strike % at 17.9% (Jimmy Paredes has the highest). Swinging a bunch and swinging and missing isn’t exactly a formula for success. Garcia has the talent, but he has some huge improvements to make.
Carlos Rodon – 4.2 IP, 6 H, 4 ER, 2 BB, 3 K. Just another example of how bad the rookie Rodon can be when he isn’t commanding and controlling his pitches well. He now has 7 starts this season where he has allowed 4 runs or more, and he has 3 starts where he hasn’t allowed a run at all. It bears repeating, I wouldn’t trust him in redraft leagues this season.
Evan Longoria – 3 for 5, 1 HR, 1 RBI, 2 R, 1 K. Longo turned in a nice game with his 12th HR of the season. He’s swinging a better bat as of late, but it’s going to be close as to whether or not he cracks the 20 HR mark for the 7th time in 8 seasons.
Erasmo Ramirez – 6 IP, 6 H, 5 ER, 2 BB, 2 K. Ramirez wasn’t sharp on Wednesday against the White Sox and he’s now been showing some regression over the last 3 starts. He should be able to show some sort of reversal in a nice matchup against the Braves next. He’ll take a 3.83 ERA and 1.09 WHIP into that start.
Brad Boxberger – 0.1 IP, 1 H, 1 ER, 3 BB with the L. Boxberger couldn’t keep the game tied on Wednesday and he ended up being charged with his 7th loss of the season. For a closer, 7 losses is quite a lot and we still have about 2 months left. However, Boxberger has been doing a sufficient job as the Rays closer and is 27 of 29 in save opportunities with a 3.07 ERA and 1.36 WHIP, and he should continue to see save opportunities — but Jake McGee will be hot on Boxerger’s trail should he falter any further.
Nelson Cruz – 2 for 5, 2 R, 1, SB, 1 BB, 1 K. Cruz’ homer streak ended at 5 games, but he kept his multi-hit streak alive at 6 games and his overall hitting streak is now at 16 games. En fuego.
Taijuan Walker – 7.1 IP, 5 H, 3 ER, 3 BB, 5 K. After Walker held the Twins to 1 run and 1 hit in a complete game in his previous start, Walker came to Coors Field and was quality. It wasn’t a supper dazzling effort, but for his first time ever at Coors Field, it should be considered quite a success. These last two starts are encouraging signs after he endured a 4-start stretch of mediocrity. He’ll look to keep things going in his next start against the Orioles.
Fernando Rodney – 0.1 IP, 2 H, 2 ER, 2 BB with the BS. It was Carson Smith who relieved Taijuan Walker to act as the setup man in the 8th inning with a 2-run lead. However, Rodney came in for the save in the 9th and promptly blew it. There’s no doubting that Smith is the better reliever of the two, but he just hasn’t been that sharp lately. Luckily for Smith, Rodney has just been abysmal all season long and isn’t doing anything when given the opportunity. I would expect Smith to be back out there for the next save opportunity.
Carlos Gonzalez – 2 for 5, 1 HR, 3 RBI, 1 R, 1 K. It had been a week since CarGo homered last, during that amazing stretch that he had, but he got back at it on Wednesday and is looking very strong. He’s up to 22 HR on the season.
Chris Davis – 2 for 4, 1 HR, 4 RBI, 2 R, 1 BB, 2 K. Davis hit his 28th HR of the season and got his RBI total up to 79 to take over the AL lead. He’s not hitting for a good average at just .248, but his power output has been great and he’s looking a bit like the 2013 version of himself.
Danny Salazar – 6 IP, 3 H, 1 ER, 2 BB, 7 K. Salazar is looking pretty good as of late and now has a 3.38 ERA, 1.08 WHIP, and 136 K/33 BB in 119.1 IP. Things got rocky for a bit, but Salazar’s true talent is shining through and he is surely a pitcher on the rise and could take a bigger step forward in 2016.
A.J. Pollock – 3 for 6, 1 RBI, 1 R, 1 SB. Pollock doing what Pollock does — contributing all across the board. I love him.
Paul Goldschmidt – 3 for 5, 1 RBI, 1 R, 2 SB, 1 BB. Goldschmidt swiped two bags on Wednesday to establish a new career high of 19. With his next SB, he will become the first member of the 20 HR/20 SB club this season and he’s barely off pace for a 30 HR/30 SB season. I’ve been saying that a case could be made for him to be the #1 pick in fantasy drafts next season and this is why.
Welington Castillo – 2 for 4, 1 HR, 3 RBI, 1 R, 1 BB, 2 K. Castillo stayed hot on Wednesday to hit his 6th HR in the last 8 games. The Diamondbacks catcher has 20 HR power and at 13 HR right now, he’s going to have a shot for 20 this season. Who knew that would be possible after beginning the season as the backup to Miguel Montero in Chicago, then being traded to be the backup to Mike Zunino in Seattle for a brief time, and then being traded to Arizona who then signed Jarrod Saltalamacchia to split time with him. Grab him while he’s hot.
Michael Taylor – 2 for 4, 1 HR, 2 RBI, 1 R, 1 K. Taylor hit his 10th HR of the season on Wednesday to crack double digits in both HR and SB. He’s a toolsy guy but swings and misses often, which is the reason for his poor .244 AVG. That is likely to always be an issue for Taylor, but his mix of power and speed will be able to keep him relevant in fantasy leagues.
Steven Wright – 8 IP, 4 H, 1 ER, 2 BB, 9 K with the W. The knuckleball was absolutely dancing for Wright on Wednesday as he ended up tossing a career best game against the Yankees of all teams. He now has a 4.12 ERA and 1.24 WHIP, but don’t go expecting too many more games like this one.
Kyle Schwarber – 2 for 4, 1 HR, 2 RBI, 2 R, 1 K. Schwarber hit a home run on Wednesday and is now batting .342 with 5 HR, 15 RBI, 17 R, and 1 SB in 24 games this season. His power is surely for real, though his batting average should come down a decent amount because his .438 BABIP is most definitely unsustainable. He should end up retaining catcher eligibility for the 2016 fantasy season in most likely all fantasy leagues, but it’ll be interesting to see where they utilize him in the future since his defense behind the plate is questionable and Miguel Montero is under contract through 2017. Schwarber has the look of a top 5 catcher heading into next season though, and for this season he should keep on hitting as long as he’s in the lineup.
Anthony Rizzo – 1 for 3, 1 HR, 2 RBI, 1 R, 1 K. Rizzo hit a pretty bad slump for a while in July, but he’s now rattled off 5 HR in his last 7 games and is hitting .294 with 21 HR, 63 RBI, 60 R, and 14 SB in a breakthrough all-around season that is nearly identical to that of Manny Machado and his big breakout. Who goes off the board first in next year’s drafts? Rizzo or Machado?
Gregory Polanco – 2 for 5, 1 HR, 2 RBI, 1 R, 1 SB, 1 K. I pegged Polanco for a breakout this year, but it’s just not working out that way. He did manage to hit a home run on Wednesday though and is now batting .245 with 5 HR, 32 RBI, 52 R, and 18 SB. Not terrible numbers, especially in stolen bases, but his inability to hit lefties (.190 AVG) this season is what is holding him back. In the Minors, he actually hit lefties very well with a .313 AVG (higher than his AVG against righties). So the ability is definitely there, but he is just going to need to make the proper adjustments. Hopefully he finishes this season strong and he should once again be a breakout candidate next year.
Yasiel Puig – 2 for 4, 1 HR, 3 RBI, 1 R, 1 BB. Puig’s been slow to get things going this season with his hamstring injury that sidelined him for 6 weeks being a huge interruption. His recent poor performance has also led him to being pushed down in the batting order. Perhaps this will be the spark that he needs to catch fire.
Aaron Hicks – 2 for 5, 2 R, 1 K. After the Twins called up top prospect Byron Buxton earlier this season and then subsequently landed on the DL shortly after, there was an opportunity for Hicks to grab hold of the center field position in Minnesota again. Hicks struggled in about a month’s worth of playing time from May-June with a triple slash of .247/.293/.301, but it’s been a horse of a different story since his return at the beginning of July. Since July 2, Hicks has hit .302 with 4 HR, 16 RBI, 17 R, and 3 SB. Hicks, a switch-hitter, has also really been taking left-handed pitching to the cleaners this season with a .381 AVG and 4 HR in 63 AB. Buxton might only be a week away from returning though, so Hicks’ time as a starter may soon come to an end. However, he would make a for a nice platoon mate with Eddie Rosario in left field. Until Buxton comes back, Hicks should remain relevant.
Miguel Sano – 2 for 4, 1 HR, 3 RBI, 2 R, 2 K. It’s been a pretty good first month in the Majors for Sano who is now batting .278 with 5 HR, 17 RBI, and 14 R in 27 games. Sano has 30 HR type of power over the course of a full season, and even though he strikes out a lot (33.9% this season), he does combat it with a lot of walks as well (18.8%). Expect more of the same from Sano in the power department this season, but as his BABIP regresses down to a much more sustainable region, his AVG should swoop down to .250 or lower.
Josh Donaldson – 1 for 4, 1 HR, 2 RBI, 2 R, 1 BB, 3 K. It’ll be difficult to beat out Mike Trout for the AL MVP, but Donaldson is sure giving his best effort with yet another HR on Wednesday — his 29th of the year.
Jose Bautista – 1 for 4, 1 HR, 4 RBI, 2 R, 1 BB. Bautista hit a grand slam and is now batting .235 with 23 HR, 75 RBI, 68 R, and 4 SB. Sounds about right.
Edwin Encarnacion – 1 for 4, 1 HR, 3 RBI, 1 R. With a 3-run shot on Wedneday, Encarnacion joined Donaldson and Bautista as the 3rd Blue Jay to reach the 20 HR and 60 RBI marks. He’s off the pace from last season’s stats, but he still is in a decent position to finish the season with 30 HR.
Drew Hutchison – 5 IP, 7 H, 3 ER, 2 BB, 5 K with the W. Surprise, surprise. Hutchison gives up 7 runs (3 earned), but still manages to record a victory. He has had 6.57 runs or support per start on average.
Matt Boyd – 7 IP, 7 H, 1 ER, 0 BB, 2 K with the W. It wasn’t a dominant game from the rookie Boyd, but he worked around 7 hits to log his first Major League victory. Boyd doesn’t project to ever be ace material, but he does have some sneaky potential as a great K/BB ratio pitcher. He is in the same vein as Eduardo Rodriguez and Andrew Heaney, but he is regarded much lower than those two. He’s worth a pickup in deeper leagues as he figures to remain in the Tigers rotation as long as he performs adequately (and by adequately, that pretty much just means better than what Shane Greene has done — which shouldn’t be too hard). He’ll get the Red Sox next.
Alex Wilson – 0.1 IP, 1 H, 0 BB, 0 K with the SV. Wilson got the 1-out save on Wednesday for his 2nd save in as many opportunities since the Tigers traded Joakim Soria. Wilson surely is looking like the preferred option for manager Brad Ausmus and he should be scooped up for saves in fantasy leagues. He doesn’t have the typical closer type stuff, but he induces a lot of weak grounders in lieu of strikeouts. His lack of strikeout ability might get him into some trouble at times, but he’s been doing just fine this season and can succeed in the role in the same way that Jim Johnson did this year for the Braves and in years past for the Orioles.
Matt Harvey – 7 IP, 2 H, 0 ER, 0 BB, 6 K with the SV. Somewhat inexplicably, Harvey had a poor stretch in July, but with his second strong effort in a row on Wednesday, he’s looking a lot better and how is 10-7 with a 2.76 ERA, 1.02 WHIP, and 131 K/31 BB in 140 IP. The strikeouts have been lacking a bit this season, perhaps due to it being his first year back from Tommy John surgery, but he’s been far from disappointing overall.
Matt Duffy – 2 for 5, 2 RBI, 1 R. Duffy is proving to be a hitting machine this season and has been quite the find for the Giants, as they are also getting incredible and unexpected performances from Brandon Crawford and Joe Panik. Duffy probably isn’t a true .310 hitter based on his batted ball profile that shows mediocre line drive and hard hit rates. He has most likely been getting a bit lucky to have a BABIP near .360. But he surely is looking good and his multi-position eligibility for fantasy is nice to have.
Madison Bumgarner – 7.1 IP, 7 H, 1 ER, 0 BB, 9 K with the W. Bumgarner got blasted in his last start at Texas, but he bounced back to notch a nice start against an ugly looking Braves offense. For the most part, he’s been the exact same pitcher that he was last year except he’s allowing a bit more home runs. He’s quite the horse.
Randal Grichuk – 2 for 6, 1 HR, 2 RBI, 1 R, 2 K. Grichuk is now hitting .291 with 12 HR, 38 RBI, 38 R, and 4 SB with most of that damage coming since mid-May when he stepped into the starting lineup on what was supposed to be a temporary basis. However, his strong play has kept him in the lineup and he isn’t showing many signs of slowing down. He has a high 30.3% strikeout rate and a high .387 BABIP, so his batting average is bound to tail off at some point. But over the course of a full season, he is a 25 HR/10 SB threat. Grichuk should be owned in most leagues.
Taylor Jungmann – 7 IP, 6 H, 2 ER, 0 BB, 8 K with the W. The Brewers rookie Jungmann turned in another solid game on Wednesday and is now 6-3 with a 2.26 ERA, 1.07 WHIP, and 61 K/21 BB in 71.2 IP. Jungmann is definitely pitching over his head so far and the two main reasons for his success have been his improved control and his ability to limit home runs. His walk rate in 161 IP at AAA between 2014-15 was pretty bad at 4.19 BB/9. Yet, somehow he has been able to post a below average rate at 2.64 BB/9 and it’s hard to say at this point if it’s something that he’ll be able to maintain. Jungmann is a groundball pitcher and has been pretty good at preventing home runs at every stop he has made in his professional career, so this comes as no surprise. But still, his miniscule rate of 0.25 HR/9 is bound to go up. Perhaps as the league sees more of him then he will begin to regress, but he is certainly usable while he is running so well.