All posts by Stanzo

Currently banned from TopGolf. Rutgers student, avid Yankees fan, 2-time Intramural Basketball champion. I tell terrible jokes 95% of the time, the other 5% are probably above average

2017 Yankees Report Card

As I promised in my blog the other day, I went through everyone that played a significant amount of time for the Yankees this year and gave their performance a grade. What’s a significant amount of time? I don’t know exactly, but Dustin Fowler, for example, did not get a grade. He did not even play a full inning for us which was a real shame. So without further ado, your 2017 Yankees report card.

Aaron Judge

Obviously had to be the first guy listed. Sure, he went through quite a slump in the second half, but you could not have possibly asked for more from a guy in his rookie season. His stat line boasted a .284 average, 52 HR and 114 RBI. He set a rookie record for home runs, besting Mark McGwire’s previous high of 49. His postseason included more up and down play, but was overall productive. At the end of the day, Judge was the Yankees’ MVP this season, and will likely finish second in AL MVP voting behind Jose Altuve.

Grade: A

Didi Gregorious

After a solid 2016, Sir Didi had a career year in 2017. .287, 25 HR and 87 RBI along with sound defense, Didi solidified himself as one of the top shortstops in the game this year. And who could forget his clutch home runs in the playoffs, including his game-tying shot in the wild card game or his 2 homers off Indians’ ace Corey Kluber in ALDS Game 5? I would be absolutely shocked if the Yankees don’t lock up Didi long-term this offseason.

Grade: A

Luis Severino

What a turnaround season for the 23-year old right-hander. After a 2016 season that included him getting sent down to AAA and then relegated to the bullpen, Severino not only won a rotation spot out of spring training, but became a bona fide ace this year. 14-6, 2.98 ERA and 230 strikeouts could have Sevy finishing as high as 3rd in AL Cy Young voting. And at just 23, the sky is the limit for this fireballer.

Grade: A

Chad Green

Here’s a name that most people probably didn’t expect to be this high on the list. But Chad Green was absolute money this year out of the pen. 5-0 with a 1.83 ERA and 103 punchouts in 69 innings pitched, Green’s ability to get out of jams along with his durability to pitch multiple innings makes him one of the biggest bullpen weapons in baseball. The Yanks could try him out as a starter again come Spring Training (fingers crossed we don’t have another Joba Chamberlain situation on our hands), but in his current role Green is a rockstar and there’s no two ways about it.

Grade: A

Gary Sanchez

Another Baby Bomber who came up big. Sanchez followed up his stellar rookie campaign with another promising season, posting a .278 average with 33 HR and 90 RBI in just 122 games. El Gary also made his first All-Star & Home Run Derby appearances as well. However, he continues to struggle somewhat defensively. Despite his cannon of an arm, he had issues at times with passed balls, and obviously should have done a better job catching the ball on plays at the plate in the ALCS. For these reasons, Sanchez will be the most highly scrutinized player on the roster coming into 2018. However, his bat is ont of the Yankees’ biggest assets, and was surely a huge part of their success this year.

Grade: A-

Brett Gardner

A veteran presence on this young team, Gardy came up clutch in big situations this year. Whether it was the 3-run homer against the Cubs or solo shot in the wild card game, the guy had ice in his veins all year. While I would like him to hit higher than .264 out of the leadoff spot, the 21 home runs help to alleviate that. Gardner is a huge part of this team, and I don’t see that changing in 2018.

Grade: B+

Starlin Castro

Starlin was also an All-Star this year, swinging a hot bat in the first half. He battled injuries all year, playing in only 112 games, but still managed to finish at .300. His defense was suspect, however, and looked lost at the plate in the playoffs. With Gleyber Torres on the way, look for Castro to be mentioned in trade talks this winter. However, I think he’s just too good a player to get rid of right now unless the Yanks are offered something really intriguing.

Grade: B+

CC Sabathia

The big man had a consistently good year. If you told me in 2015 that CC would be pitching multiple elimination games for us just two years later, I would’ve asked what you’re smoking. But he pitched a great playoffs, despite not having his best stuff in Game 7. His season stat line boasted a 14-5 record and a 3.69 ERA, more than enough for a 3rd/4th starter. Hopefully we see him back in Pinstripes in 2018.

Grade: B+

Greg Bird

Another name I did not expect to see this high on the list. In March, if you told me that of Bird and Judge, one would hit 52 homers and be an MVP candidate, and the other would start the season 6-60 and go on the DL for most of the season, I would’ve had Bird pegged as the MVP candidate. But Bird’s season was greatly hampered by the foot injury he suffered late in spring training. After returning in late August, however, he was productive and finally gave the Yanks consistent production from the first base spot. He was also arguably their best hitter in the playoffs. Bird’s abysmal start/injury along with the emergence of Judge made me forget how good Greg Bird can potentially be, but the playoffs gave me a reminder. That lefty swing combined with Yankee Stadium’s short porch in right could be a beautiful marriage for years to come.

Grade: B+

Ronald Torreyes

Toe was an unsung hero for this club all year long. Due to injuries to Didi and Castro, he played in 108 games, more than your average utility infielder. He’s not gonna take over a game, but he puts the bat on the ball, leading to a .292 batting average. On the rare occasions he does go deep, it’s awesome to watch. His spirit and Judge home run celebrations with Didi were huge parts of why this team was so fun to watch.

Grade: B+

David Robertson

I was excited to see Robertson come back in the Todd Frazier megadeal. I always liked him, and he was consistent out of the pen for us in 2017. He was also big in the playoffs, particularly in the wild card game. 5-0 with a 1.03 ERA in 30 games? You can’t ask for much more.

Grade: B+

Aaron Hicks

Hicks had a real case to be an All-Star before he got hurt, boasting the AL’s second-best on base percentage behind only Mike Trout for awhile. But when he returned from injury he was not exactly the same. He did get big hits against the Mets and Red Sox, and who could forget his throw to get Benintendi at third in the same game? His playoff performance at the plate left a lot to be desired, but Hicks’ defense in center was invaluable to the Yanks all year long. As a switch-hitting outfielder that plays great defensively and can hit for power, Hicks figures to be part of the Yankees’ future plans if he can hit somewhat consistently.

Grade: B

Clint Frazier

Speaking of the Yankees’ future outfield plans, this guy figures to be a huge part of them. Frazier gave the Yanks an instant boost when he came up, with both his bat and his legs. I love the fire he plays with, always looking to turn singles into doubles and make things happen on the bases. He did hit a rough patch that caused his season batting average to dip to .231, but every Yankee fan saw that Frazier has the potential to be a special player for us in the near future.

Grade: B

Tommy Kahnle

The guy who was supposedly the prized possession of the deal with the White Sox, Kahnle didn’t show us too much in the regular season, going 1-1 with a 2.70 ERA in 26.2 IP. Not bad numbers by any means, but nothing that made him live up to what we had heard about him. Well he was absolutely lights out in the playoffs (ALCS Game 7 excluded), becoming Girardi’s go-to guy at all times. Kahnle is under team control through 2020, which is great news for us Yankee fans.

Grade: B

Jordan Montgomery

People said Montgomery had only a small chance to make the rotation in Spring Training, but he pitched so well he forced the Yankees’ hand. His rookie campaign did not disappoint, as he went 9-7 with a 3.88 ERA in 29 starts. Will he be a Luis Severino-type ace going forward? Probably not, but Montgomery figures to be a big piece of the Yankees’ future rotation.

Grade: B

Todd Frazier

This one is basically all recency bias. Frazier did next to nothing in the regular season after he was acquired, hitting only .222 in 66 games. But in the playoffs, he was one of the team’s most consistent hitters, and its heart and soul. Not sure if Frazier will be back because the Yankees infield is crowded, with Headley and Castro under contract with Torres and Miguel Andujar waiting in the wings. But I would love for Frazier to be back in a utility corner infielder/DH role.

Grade: B

Adam Warren

This guy was quietly a big part of the Yankees’ great bullpen this year. 3-2 with a 2.35 ERA in 46 appearances is great from a middle reliever. He didn’t pitch much in the playoffs, but Warren figures to stick in the Yanks’ bullpen in 2018.

Grade: B

Sonny Gray

Sonny was solid ever since we made the megadeal for him on deadline day. However, the Yankees loved to not give him run support. Gray went 4-7 with a 3.72 ERA in 11 starts after being acquired from Oakland, and pitched decently well in both playoff starts he made. Again, he’s no ace, but is more than solid for a middle of the rotation guy.

Masahiro Tanaka

What an up and down season this guy had. He looked untouchable in April, which included a complete game shutout to take down Chris Sale and the Red Sox at Fenway. Then he forgot how to pitch completely in a stretch that saw him miss a start and give up six runs in the first inning on Derek Jeter night. After a lights-out September, Tanaka was unreal this postseason, helping the Yankees to wins in ALDS Game 3 and ALCS Game 5, and keeping them in the game in ALCS Game 1. Hopefully, he doesn’t use that performance as leverage and opt out this offseason. Based off his postseason, I’d give him an A. But this is a full season report card, so this is the best I can give him,

Grade: B-

Garrett Cooper

Guy low key batted .326 in 13 games for us. Then again, he only played 13 games so I can’t rate him too high.

Grade: C+

Tyler Austin

Austin also battled injury, playing in only 20 games this year and not making the postseason roster. He batted .225, with his only real highlight being his home run off Chris Sale at Fenway. With Greg Bird back in the picture, you have to wonder where Austin fits in the Yankees’ future plans.

Grade: C+

Matt Holliday

Holliday’s season was a strange one. He started off very productive before getting Epstein-Barr virus, better known as mono. Even when he was able to return, his swing did not. He finished the season with a .231 average, 19 HR and 64 RBI, playing in just one postseason game.

Grade: C+

Austin Romine

Romine played in 80 games and batted .218 as the Bombers’ backup catcher this year. After a strong start where he played every day filling in for the injured Sanchez, his numbers dropped off. He was serviceable, but his lack of production at the plate and weak arm make it likely they could search for another catcher this offseason.

Grade: C+

Chase Headley

Stats wise, Headley was better than some guys above him on this list. A .273 average, 12 HR and 63 RBI aren’t awful. But it’s Chase Headley. He’s just so average I can’t not give him a C. Just no other way to put it.

Grade: C

Michael Pineda

Classic Pineda season. Looked like an ace with dominating stuff, dropped off, got hurt. It’s a shame we never saw this guy pitch up to his potential but I can’t say I’ll miss him. Since he likely won’t return, hopefully he figured himself out elsewhere.

Grade: C

Chasen Shreve

Shreve has yet to be the lefty from the pen the Yankees want. A 3.77 ERA in 45.1 innings leaves a lot to be desired. Decent in middle relief but not ready for high-leverage situations.

Grade: C

Aroldis Chapman

I don’t know where to begin with this guy. Lights out one day, unpitchable the next. Thank goodness he figured himself out for the playoffs. I wanna up his grade for that but I hated this guy too much when he was blowing saves against the Red Sox like it was his job. I would’ve given him an F then, or an A during the playoffs, so let’s just average that.

Grade: C

Dellin Betances

Used to be able to make a case he was one of the best relievers in the league. Now it would be hard to make a case as to why he would have been on the World Series roster.

Grade: C

Tommy Layne, Bryan Mitchell, Giovany Gallegos, Jonathan Holder

Basically just throwing these guys together as relievers that the Yankees put in games 20ish times or more that I don’t really care about. Looking at the stats now, Holder wasn’t awful but these other three should probably not pitch for the Yankees ever again.

Grade: Don’t really care

Luis Cessa

It was painful watching this guy start baseball games. Really not fun to watch pitch.

Grade: D

Jaime Garcia

See Cessa, Luis.

Grade: D

Tyler Wade

For all the hype around this guy, jeez did he look lost at the plate this year. Hopefully he figures it out over the offseason because with his speed and ability to play so many positions, he could be really useful. But I think Helen Keller honestly would have had better luck at the plate than Wade did in 2017.

Grade: D-

Rob Refsynder

Another guy with a lot of hype who never panned out. He batted .135 in 20 games for the Yanks this year before they finally cut ties with him.

Grade: D-

Tyler Clippard

Remember when this guy was pitching for us and losing baseball games like it was his job? Wow, those were dark times. We had a petition for the Yankees to release him before he was finally traded. The fact that this guy gets a World Series ring if the Astros win is just another reason to root for the Dodgers.

Grade: F (but not like an F that was close to a D, like an F that was close to a 0 because you forgot to hand in your assignment for 3 weeks)

Chris Carter

Hahahahahahahahahahahahahah fuck this guy

Grade: lol

 

 

 

 

What a Great Yankees Season We Just Watched

What a season. From being told it was a “rebuilding” year in which we might not even go .500, to being one win away from the world series was one hell of a ride. We saw guys who were just prospects at the start of the season become legitimate stars. There were some absolutely crazy games, from the great comeback against the Orioles

to Gardner’s clutch homer against the Cubs a few days later

and then an 18-inning thriller two nights later

you could tell right away this team was not “rebuilding” and that they were going to contend. Aaron Judge was having one of the most productive first halves in MLB history, Luis Severino shed his 2016 struggles to become a bona fide ace, Gary Sanchez was building off of his masterful rookie campaign, and Didi Gregorious was having a career year. On top of that, guys like Aaron Hicks, Matt Holliday, and Starlin Castro also were playing extremely well. The Yankees had 5 All-Stars this year (Judge, Sanchez, Severino, Castro, and Dellin Betances), with Didi and Hicks also having legitimate cases to make the team.

After Judge put on a show in the Home Run Derby, however, things started to go south for the Yankees. The second half was wildly inconsistent. Judge went through an awful slump in which he set a record for most consecutive games with a strikeout. Masahiro Tanaka was inconsistent from basically May until August. No one could hold down the first base job until Greg Bird finally returned in late August. And Aroldis Chapman and Dellin Betances went through stretches where they just flat out could not pitch for the life of them. But behind Judge, Bird, and Tanaka, the Yanks played well in September, finishing two games behind the Red Sox for the division but securing the first wild card spot.

The wild card game did not start as planned, as Luis Severino was able to get just one out. As us Yankee fans saw the entire season flashing before our eyes, Didi Gregorious came up in a big way.

The Yankees of course went on to win that game and advance to the ALDS to play the Indians. After getting shut out by Trevor Bauer in Game 1 and blowing a 5-run lead in Game 2 (what non-challenge?), they returned to the Bronx with their backs against the wall once again. They would not go down without a fight, however, thanks to Tanaka, Judge, and Bird.

I’ve never heard the Stadium louder than after Bird’s home run. Severino and a revitalized offense helped the Yanks to a Game 4 win the next night, sending it back to Cleveland for a winner-take-all Game 5. This time, it was Didi and CC Sabathia doing the honors.

The Yankees had done it; they came back from a 2-0 deficit to knock off the best team in the American League and advance.

The ALCS started poorly, just as the ALDS had. The Yanks scored just two runs, basically getting beat by Justin Verlander, Dallas Keuchel, Carlos Correa, and Jose Altuve. Game 3 in the Bronx went differently, as the offense heated up again and the Yanks cruised to an 8-1 win. Game 4, however, was not as easy.

One of the greatest Yankee playoff games in recent memory. After a Game 5 win behind Tanaka, the Yankees were just one win away from the World Series. But their struggles in Houston continued, and they were eliminated last night.

This was by far my favorite team and season since 2009. They were a perfect mix of a young core and productive veterans. This team has all the pieces to be good for a really long time. People are already comparing them to the ’95 team that lost in the ALDS to the Mariners before winning 4 of the next 5 World Series. But wasting an opportunity like this sucks because there’s no guarantee they come back the same way next year. People thought the 2015 Mets would be a force for years to come too. I know that’s not exactly the same because they’re the Mets and they will forever be a perennial disappointment (sorry Mr. Walker), but the “we’ll be back next year” mindset only helps numb the pain so much when you know you had a legitimate chance to win it all this year.

Overall, this season and playoff run was more fun than I ever could have imagined for this team. Watch out in the upcoming days for my 2017 Yankees report card where I’ll give every player a grade on how their season went, I bet you can guess what I’m gonna give Tyler Clippard and Chris Carter. (Remember those guys? Amazing how far we’ve come.)

Whether the rest of baseball likes it or not (they don’t), the Yankees are back. I can’t wait to see what the future has in store for this team. The countdown to 2018 starts now (158 days.) It’s been real, it’s been fun, it’s been real fun. Until next time, let’s go Yanks.

Formula for a Yankees Win Tonight

Obviously not the way you wanna start a series, holding the best offense in baseball to just four runs in two games and not win either game. Aaron Judge and Gary Sanchez look absolutely lost at the plate. However, we did win the last playoff series we were down 0-2 in, people forget that. For a comeback to happen, the Yanks need to get back on track tonight. Let’s see what that consists of.

Another strong outing from CC

CC Sabathia has been fantastic thus far in the playoffs, and he needs to come up big again tonight. Not only does his start have a huge impact on the game tonight, but with games 4 and 5 (if necessary) happening in the next two days as well, the bullpen can’t afford to be completely exhausted tonight. Six innings from the big man tonight would be much appreciated.

Take an Early Lead

Jumping out to an early lead would help the Yankees get momentum, and get the home crowd into the game. The Astros saw a completely dead crowd by the time they brought the ALDS to Fenway last week, whereas the Yankees’ home crowd clearly rattled the Indians at certain points in Games 3 and 4. Let’s see if they can do the same to the Astros tonight.

Calm the Young Guys’ Nerves

For all the “Judge is overrated” talk, he is not THIS bad. He and Sanchez are both clearly pressing. They need to relax and see some pitches (or in Judge’s case, hop on the early strikes). The Yankees will not win this series with both of these guys not hitting, plain and simple.

Keep Altuve Off Base

Easier said than done for sure, but this guy is always making things happen on base. Keeping him off the basepaths would be huge for the Yanks.

Don’t Bank on the Long Ball

The Yankees have been one of the best home run hitting teams in the league all year, but that also puts them at risk when no one gets the big hit. They need to work counts, draw walks, move baserunners, and get hits with RISP to get this offense going again.

I’m not hitting the panic button yet. 8:08 first pitch in the Bronx. Let’s go Yanks baby.

 

 

The Yankees Erased a 2-0 Series Deficit to Advance to the ALCS

I’m just gonna come right out and say it: I’m sorry Joe Girardi. He’s off the hook for his non-challenge in Game 2. Do I think he’s a good manager? No, I still don’t really. But clearly this team is behind him more than I thought, as shown in Todd Frazier’s interview last night.

This team picked up their manager in a big way, and honestly I think they used the way they lost Game 2 and the fans’/media’s blaming Girardi to rally together and win this series. Hand up, I admit I was wrong for thinking the 0-2 hole on top of the way they lost Game 2 was too much to overcome, but I think pretty much every Yankee fan was thinking the same way I was.

As far as last night’s game, you really couldn’t have asked for much more. Didi Gregorious continues to be our MVP, homering twice off of likely AL Cy Young winner Corey Kluber.

And yes, my plans for my first born child’s name are still in place.

If Didi was hero number 1 last night, Carsten Charles Sabathia was 1A. This man was LOCKED in last night, dominating like it was 2009 all over again. It stinks he ran into trouble in the 5th and couldn’t stay in long enough to pick up the win, but he pitched great and gave us just what we needed last night. (The smile on Sanchez’s face after CC made that huge divot in the ground on his sliding catch was priceless, by the way.)

The bullpen came up big also, with David Robertson inducing a huge double play ball from Francisco Lindor to get out of the jam in the 5th. He pitched a scoreless 6th and 7th before Aroldis Chapman shut the door in the final two innings.

Brett Gardner also came through in the clutch, singling off of Indians’ closer Cody Allen in a 12-pitch at bat that provided the Yankees with two insurance runs in the 9th.

This team is amazing to watch. Games 3-5 saw everything teams need to win in the playoffs: great pitching, sound fielding, and timely hitting. The Astros are a better hitting team than the Indians, however. It’ll be a tougher task for our pitching staff, and the offense is going to have to put up a good amount of runs to give us a chance. But we just beat a team three straight times that previously hadn’t lost three straight since July. That’s over two months. I plan on doing a series preview for the ALCS tomorrow, but for now let’s just enjoy what was easily the most memorable Yankees playoff series since 2009. And what better way to do that than with some Twitter memes.

What a game, what a series, what a team. See you in Houston (figuratively, not literally, I don’t get paid to do this or anything). Let’s go Yanks baby!

I Just Watched the Yankees Win Two Playoff Games in Two Nights and I’ve Peaked

So my last blog basically called for Joe Girardi’s head after he literally gift-wrapped Game 2 and gave it to the Indians, putting the Yankees’ backs against the wall in this best-of-5 ALDS. While he is still absolutely not off the hook for that, especially if the Yankees lose Game 5 tomorrow, my spirits are infinitely higher than they were Friday night after witnessing two Yankee wins. Let me explain how the past 48 hours were the peak of my Yankee fandom/probably life in general.

My friends and I were in attendance the last time the Yankees made the playoffs in the 2015 wild card game. That Yankee team limped into the playoffs and got dominated by the Astros. After missing the playoffs in 2016 and having an exciting season this year, my friends and I again decided to try and go to the wild card game. However, tickets were very expensive. So we decided to take our chances and get ALDS game 3 tickets, which were significantly cheaper.

After the Yankees gave us all heart attacks as we watched from scenic New Brunswick, New Jersey on Tuesday, they beat the Twins to advance to the ALDS. We were going back to Yankee Stadium for some playoff baseball.

The next two games were less than ideal, with Trevor Bauer dominating the Yankee lineup in Game 1 and Joe Girardi forgetting how to use his brain in Game 2. So here we were, headed to watch what could be the last Yankee game all season, down in a 2-0 hole. The series should’ve been 1-1. We knew it. The Yankees knew it. The Indians knew it. Everyone knew it. But regardless, the Stadium was rocking for Game 3.

After a solid tailgate, we all grabbed our tickets and headed into the game. As I went to take everything out of my pockets I noticed my wallet was gone. I freaked out a little, but told myself at least it wasn’t the ticket I lost. Thank goodness, because what I witnessed after that was one of the best Yankee playoff games I can remember. Seven shutout innings from Masahiro Tanaka, Aaron Judge robbing Francisco Lindor of what could have been another game-changing home run, and Greg Bird’s solo shot gave us a 1-0 victory to force a Game 4. The Stadium was absolutely electric, hanging on each and every pitch. I was a wallet down, but at least I saw a Yankees playoff win in person for the first time.

The next day, as I was about to begin the process of replacing everything in my wallet (Drivers’ license, school ID, tampons, etc.), my Mom suggested I call the Stadium and see if they had my wallet. Worth a shot, right? After being on hold for 5 minutes and the guy asking my name like 3 times, they said that they actually have my wallet. I was absolutely shocked and ecstatic. This was about to save me a lot of time and money. I texted the group chat with all my friends who had been to the game the night before. I jokingly suggested that since they found my wallet, we had no choice but to go back for Game 4. Then we checked ticket prices.

I would’ve thought tickets would be well over $100, considering it could’ve been the last home game for the Yankees all year. Somehow, tickets were even cheaper for Game 4 than we got our Game 3 tickets for. Maybe people realized they had last minute conflicts, or were scared off by the chance of rain. Whatever. Regardless, we all had to decide within minutes whether or not to abandon our original plan of watching on the game on TV and “send it,” as the kids say these days. Send it, we did.

We walked in through Gate 2 and I quickly retrieved my wallet. Shoutout to the guy who said “I’d ask you to show ID but I doubt you have any left,” that made me laugh. We stood on the third base side near left field for the Yankees’ 2nd at-bat. We were right there for Todd Frazier’s and Aaron Judge’s doubles. The Stadium was going absolutely nuts. From where we were standing, it looked like Judge had just hit a three-run homer. Regardless, the Yankees had just scored four runs and knocked that nerd Trevor Bauer out of the game. (Disclaimer: I have nothing against nerds and am in fact a nerd myself but when you injure your finger flying a drone during the playoffs you bet your ass I’m gonna make fun of you for it.)

The Yankees tacked on three more runs with a Brett Gardner infield single (sorta), a sac fly by Gardner where third-base coach Joe Espada embodied our “send it” mentality for the night because it was a very shallow fly ball, and a solo homer by El Gary. Luis Severino completely bounced back from his disastrous wild card game start, pitching 7 great innings and giving up only three runs. After Dellin Betances did something that definitely wasn’t pitching for two batters, Tommy Kahnle slammed the door shut. Kahnle was brilliant, getting six outs on 22 pitches, including five strikeouts.

If you told me 24 hours after Game 3 I’d be walking out of Game 4, having witnessed another Yankee win and gotten my wallet back, I’d say you were absolutely insane. But baseball and life are both unpredictable, and anything can happen.

I’m obviously ecstatic the series is going to Game 5, especially after it seemed like we were done after the way we lost Game 2. But if you’re a Yankees fan that’s satisfied because they proved everyone wrong, you are incorrect. They need to win Game 5. This team has outplayed the best team in the AL (and all of baseball at the end of the season) in 3 out of 4 games. It’s time to take what they deserve and win this series.

CC/Kluber round 2, a literal rematch of Game 2. This time, it’s win or go home for both teams. Let’s go Yankees, baby.

 

The Yankees Suffered Their Worst Loss Since 2004 Last Night and I Am Heartbroken

I’ve seen the Yankees lose in the playoffs plenty of times before but last night is just a tough, tough pill to swallow. Ever since it became clear that the Yankees were playing the Indians and that likely AL Cy Young winner Corey Kluber would be starting Game 2, everyone talked about how important Game 1 was. Instead, Trevor Bauer looked like the Cy Young caliber pitcher, and the Yankees were dominated.

For some reason, all day Friday I said I had a good feeling about Game 2 and our chances of getting to Kluber. I think I was just trying to convince myself of it so I’d feel better, but nonetheless I felt like we were gonna get some runs off of him. Gary Sanchez confirmed my belief with his homer in the top of the first.

What I could not have anticipated, however, was the Bombers touching up Kluber for SIX runs in less than three innings. An Aaron Hicks 3-run shot had us Yankee fans dreaming of the series coming back to the Bronx tied at 1, and Greg Bird’s shot seemed to put the game out of reach.

Everything appeared to be going to plan. CC worked into and out of trouble multiple times in a gutsy five-plus inning performance before Joe Girardi turned the ball over to our dominant bullpen. As much as I hate Girardi right now, I’m not gonna come after him for this move. Sure CC was pitching great with a low pitch count, but he pushed all the right buttons when it came to the bullpen in the Wild Card game, and Chad Green has been money all year. But his next crucial decision is the reason I am calling for him to be fired, as well as thrown in jail.

I’m not gonna put in the replay of what happened next because I can’t bring myself to watch it again. With two outs, two strikes, and two runners on, Green throws a pitch that hits the knob of Lonnie Chisenhall’s bat and lands in Gary Sanchez’s glove. End of the inning, right? Wrong. The home plate umpire said the pitch hit Chisenhall. Sanchez was immediately adamant that the ball hit the bat and not Chisenhall. So Girardi, as a former catcher, puts his faith in Sanchez because he had the clearest view, right?

SPOILER ALERT: THIS IS NOT WHAT JOE DID.

Girardi decided that because the Yankees’ replay crew didn’t have enough time to see the super slow-mo before he had to make a decision on challenging, he was going to hold off and let the play stand.

Let’s understand what that means.

Girardi would rather take his chances and pitch to Francisco Lindor, the Indians best hitter/one of the best hitters in the American League, with the bases loaded than take a chance and potentially lose (because to be fair he couldn’t be 100% sure at that point) a challenge. How how how HOW is this a thought in his mind? And the fact that he tried to defend the move with the absolutely BULLSHIT excuse that he didn’t want to throw off Green’s “rhythm” with a challenge? I know he finally took the blame today but how long was it going to take this guy to hold himself accountable for the biggest managing blunder of his career?

You could also make the case that he left both Robertson and Betances in the game for too long, but I don’t even care about those moves. I could sit here and complain about bullpen usage for hours, but that’s one of the hardest tasks a manager has. But when you are faced with a situation where a challenge can get you out of an inning and the alternative is pitching to the other team’s best hitter with the bases loaded, challenging is probably a good idea.

I’ve never really been a big Girardi fan. I thought that the team overachieving this year meant he would be back for sure, but after last night I’m thinking differently. How are players supposed to get behind a guy who not only shoots his team in the foot in its most crucial game all season, but refuses to take responsibility for it after the fact? This Yankee team has the young core to compete and make runs deep into the playoffs for years to come. The Yankees’ front office needs to ask themselves: is Joe Girardi the guy to lead them there? Sure, he already won a World Series in 2009, but that was a team full of veterans. The present day Yankees are one of the youngest teams in baseball; is Joe Girardi the fearless leader they need to guide them through the playoffs? After last night, I think the clear answer is no.

Game 3 in the Bronx tomorrow night, I’ll be in attendance. I really wish I could’ve seen how crazy the stadium would be if the series was tied at 1, but it should still be rocking regardless. A 2-0 deficit is a tough hole to get out of but as the late Yogi Berra used to say, it ain’t over til’ it’s over. There’s also this El Gary tweet from earlier today.

After the ’04 ALCS, I’m definitely a believer in the fact that anything can happen in the game of baseball. The Yankees are home, Tanaka is on the hill, and there will be playoff baseball in the Bronx. If the Yankees proved one thing last night, it’s that the Indians are not unbeatable, that’s for damn sure. Let’s right this ship and force Game 4. Thumbs down for days.

They Scared Me Half to Death, But the Yankees Are Going to the ALDS

What a game. The thought of them losing had me sick to my stomach all day, and it only got worse after it was 3-0 Twins. If you told me before the game that Severino was going to pitch one third of an inning I would’ve said you were crazy. I mean, I knew there was a chance he would have some nerves and not pitch well, but man was he awful. He couldn’t hit any of his spots or keep the ball down, and even though both homers barely got out of the ballpark, the pitches were huge mistakes. I would’ve felt a little bad for him had we lost because it would’ve put a blemish on what was otherwise an outstanding season from our young ace. But in the moment I was furious at him; your ace has to be better than that in a game like that, regardless of how old he is or how much experience he has. Either way, it was a terrible start but thankfully it won’t be his last this season. I’ll be looking forward to him getting a chance to redeem himself in his next start, likely in Game 3 on Sunday in the Bronx.

Just like we all thought, Chad Green was indeed the first one out of the bullpen, being called upon to put out a fire. He did just that, stranding runners on second and third with one out by striking out Byron Buxton and Jason Castro. Chad Green has been an unsung hero for the Yanks all year, and has quietly established himself as one of the best relievers in baseball. A 3-0 deficit in the 1st didn’t feel great, but a 5-0 deficit would have been absolutely brutal.

Just as I was starting to think that maybe this would actually be the last game I saw the 2017 Yankees play, they came right back. A Gardner walk and a Judge single set up Didi Gregorious’ game-tying 3-run homer that sent Yankee fans into an absolute frenzy.

 

Talk about filling the shoes of Derek Jeter, Didi has been all you could ask for in a shortstop and then some. The guy is an absolute joy to watch, and I’m glad he was the hero last night.

After a scoreless second by Green, the Yankees quickly took the lead in the bottom half of the inning with a homer off the bat of Brett Gardner. It really seemed to be going foul off the bat, but it snuck into the second deck in right field not too far from the foul pole. Gardner easily has the most playoff experience out of anyone in the Yankees’ lineup last night, and you could tell the high stakes didn’t affect his composure.

Green created a bit of a fire of his own in the third, loading the bases with one out. This time it was David Robertson getting the call, and he almost induced an inning-ending double play to get out unscathed. However, the speedy Buxton couldn’t be doubled off at first, and the Twins tied the game at 4. Robertson then struck out Jason Castro to keep the score even.

After a Gary Sanchez leadoff double to start the bottom of the third, both Didi and Starlin Castro struck out. But Greg Bird, back from basically the dead after a 6-60 start and months on the DL, singled him home to regain the Yankee lead. Literally any halfway decent throw would have gotten Sanchez at the plate, as he isn’t exactly Bo Jackson on the bases. But it was up the line, so he scored easily.

In the Yankees’ next at-bat, they padded the lead thanks to a familiar face. I didn’t think Aaron Judge was going to get any pitches to hit last night, but he found one he liked and made the Twins pay.

For a guy who’s usually pretty low key, it was great to see the kid show some emotion after coming through in a big game. It was also great to see him thrive under pressure because the “Judge isn’t clutch” narrative has come up at a few times this year, and a homer in his first career playoff game certainly helps to silence those critics.

For as action-packed as the first few innings were, the remainder of the game was mostly uneventful. The only other scoring play was when Aaron Hicks walked in a run in the 7th to make the Yankee lead 8-4. Robertson went 3 and 1/3 innings to pick up the win, and Tommy Kahnle and Aroldis Chapman threw the final 3 and 1/3. Overall, the Yankee bullpen went 8 and 2/3 innings last night, surrendering just one run on five hits. I ripped Brian Kenny for his theory that Chad Green should start the game and let the Yankee bullpen handle it, but that’s basically what ended up happening.

No Yankee game has been this much of an emotional rollercoaster for me since Raul Ibanez hit the game-tying and walk-off homers in the 2012 ALDS. My friends and I kept talking about how different the feeling was going into the Wild Card game this year compared to 2015. The 2015 team was old and limped to the finish line, nearly blowing home field advantage for the game. You knew that even if they beat the Astros, they weren’t making any noise in the playoffs. The 2017 Yankees, however, had a great month of September, coming into last night’s game with momentum. By no means are they favorites against the Indians, but they have all the pieces to put up a good fight. For as good as the Yankees have been all year, it would have been a shame to see them in just one playoff game.

To summarize, for as much as Severino let us down, he was picked up by his teammates who rose to the occasion, such as Green, Didi, Robertson, Gardner, and Judge. The Yanks will get an off day before Game 1 in Cleveland Thursday, in a likely matchup of Sonny Gray vs. Trevor Bauer. When this series comes back home on Sunday, I’ll be in attendance. Forcing at least a split on the road seems necessary, and with Corey Kluber lurking in Game 2, the series opener will be absolutely huge for the Bronx Bombers.

October baseball baby, nothing like it. If you’re not almost throwing up because of how into the game you are, you’re doing something wrong. Let’s hope Thursday is a Sonny day & let’s go Yankees!!