Thursday, October 10, 2019

MLB Playoffs: Is It Too Easy For Davy To Beat Goliath?

The New York Yankees emerged from the four division series as the only team that had an easy time moving on. Of course, for Yankee fans, that was a lot of fun. For Twins' fans, not so much. But the other three series have been utterly fascinating while going the distance. We had a blowout Game Five in Atlanta as the Cardinals surprisingly moved on. And we had heartbreak in Los Angeles for Clayton Kershaw and the Dodgers. Tonight we find out who will emerge from the remaining division series as those scrappy Rays take the Astros to the limit.

The five-game series format of the division series does post angst of whether it is the best format for this stage of the Major League Baseball season. It seems to make it easier that the best team can be beaten in the frenzy. The Dodgers were easily the best team in the National League and they are going home. If the Rays pull off the impossible and beat the Astros tonight, then the best team in the American League will go home. That is a big "If" of course. But if it does, that means that both of the bests and most favored in their respective leagues will end their seasons against wildcard teams.

The wildcard gives those teams the sense of being the underdog with absolutely no pressure. The underdog is not expected to win. So they can play with abandon while the Number One seeds have all the pressure to go the distance because of the expectations. Since the five-game format does lead to such excitement, and because nobody wants to play baseball in the snow, I would leave that format as is, but I would make one tweak.

There has to be a bigger benefit for a top seed against a wildcard team. There has to be a premium for having the best record and winning a division. A wildcard team does not have home field advantage with the 2-2-1 format. But I think the format still gives a wildcard team a route to get a playoff series win. If the wildcard wins its two games at home, then you are guaranteed a Game Five (unless the wildcard team took one of the first two on the road). And anything can happen in a Game Five as we have seen.

I propose that the wildcard team only gets one home game out of the five. Again, there needs to be a reason to win a division and have the best record. Would a team such as the Yankees have fought harder down the stretch for the best record in the AL if they knew it meant four home games in the division series? I think so. As for the wildcard team, there has to be a real disadvantage for not winning a division. I think a 2-1-2 format does that.

This will never happen, of course, as there would be an outcry from the Nationals or the Rays about lost revenue. But my answer to them would be, "Then win the division!" If you think about it, the wildcard teams have just as much of a shot as the Twins and Cardinals received. I don't think that's right. There has to be a real benefit for winning the division and a real cost for not winning a division.

The National League Championship Series will feature the unlikely match-up of the Nationals against the Cardinals with the Cardinals getting a 4-3 home field advantage. I am not sure I would mess with that as a seven-game series seems to benefit the best team. But if a wildcard was involved, you could make it a 5-2 split something like 2-2-3. But, again, the seven-game format does make it harder for the emotional edge a five-game series gives a team as an underdog.

The American League is yet to be determined. And even though my Yankees are involved, I would want them to play the Astros. You want the two best teams slugging it out. There is a reason a heavyweight fight draws more than a welterweight. Plus, having half the games (or three of them) in that abomination of a stadium in St. Pete is not good for baseball. Plus, the Yankees have played the Rays 19 times already. Enough already! Facing the Rays in the ALCS is like playing Whack-A-Mole after winning the division over them in the first place.

It has been a fascinating playoffs already. And the buzz is good for baseball. You cannot ask for much better than having three of the four series go the distance. On the other hand, you want the best teams slugging it out in the Championship Series and the current format only gives division winners a slight advantage of making that happen. With apologies to wildcard teams and not denigrating the accomplishment of making it as a wildcard team, there should be a bigger penalty for not winning the division. We need to make it harder for Davy to beat Goliath.

Thursday, October 03, 2019

Yankees Look In Mirror At Twins

The Tampa Bay Rays already blew up my playoff bracket before it had much of a start. No longer needing to worry about my picks, I can concentrate on this ALDS between the Yankees and the Twins. With a five-game series, all conventional wisdom is blown away and the outcome is nearly impossible to predict. What can easily be said is that the Yankees and the Twins are so similar in structure that they could be the same image in a mirror.

Both teams have tremendous power as the Twins broke the season home run record this year and the Yankees finished one behind. The loss of the record (which really doesn't matter except for bragging rights) is another example of how the Yankees' last week of the season was atrocious. The Twins, on the other hand, finished super strong and barely ran out of time to catch up to the Yankees' win-loss record.

Both teams have very good managers. All Aaron Boone has done is win a hundred games in both of his seasons. Rocco Baldelli took the Twins to a hundred wins in his first season. One of them, probably Baldelli, will get Manager Of The Year. There is no advantage to be had here. The Yankees had a better record against teams over .500 and won the season series against the Twins and have historically beat the Twins in post season play. But all of those facts are meaningless heading into this series.

The pitching seems about as even as the offense. The Twins have had some bright spots in their rotation but no "stopper." The same can be said for the Yankees unless either James Paxton or Luis Severino are really on their games.

Boone recently announced that the rotation for the Yankees will start with Paxton, then Masahiro Tanaka at home in Game 2, and then Severino in Game 3 in Minneapolis. I am happy with that rotation and also happy (though sad) that CC Sabathia will not make the playoff roster (at least in this round). Tanaka is much better at home and Severino will give the Twins a new wrinkle they haven't seen in their home ballpark. In a short series, will the Yankees want to mess around with an "Opener" or a JA Happ in Game 4? Perhaps there will be enough days off for Paxton to pitch the second time.

One would immediately think that the Yankees have a big edge in the bullpen. I do not see it that way when it comes to the Twins. Their top four guys had great seasons with high strikeout rates and they walk less batters than their Yankee counterparts. For the Yankees to win, they need to win early.

Again, the offenses for both teams are a wash. The Yankees look like they will have the most bashable lineup of the season ready for the Twins with Edwin Encarnacion ready to play. They need him as he can be a game changer. The Twins' only question is whether Max Kepler is healthy and it looks like he will be.

I believe that one edge the Yankees have is defense. The Twins made the second most errors in the American League and all of their infield guys are in negative runs statistics. They lose a lot on defense with Byron Buxton out as it leaves the Twins without a true center fielder. The Twins do not throw out stolen base attempts on par with league average. The Yankees do.

The Twins were a much better team on the road this season than they were at home. That somewhat negates the home field advantage the Yankees hold. So really, there is no clear cut favorite in this series. Both teams are so similar and so close that it will come down to the bounce of the ball and which team makes the best plays and can do the best job pitching in the series.

What would you do with the Yankees' lineup? I have played a few scenarios in my head and like Sanchez as the DH with Romine behind the plate. But Romine would be a weaker play in the lineup.
I guess I would go something like this:

  1. D.J. LeMaheau 1B, 
  2. Aaron Judge - RF
  3. Edwin Encarnacion - DH
  4. Gleyber Torres - 2B
  5. Giancarlo Stanton - LF
  6. Gary Sanchez - C
  7. Brett Gardner - CF
  8. Gio Urshela - 3B
  9. Didi Gregorius - SS

I do think that the Twins were the best possible outcome for a first series match-up for the Yankees. The Astros are going to be tough no matter what. I was really afraid the Yankees facing Oakland and am less so of Tampa Bay. All that said, playing the Twins is no walk in the park. If the Yankees do not pitch well, this series will end up poorly.

Wednesday, September 18, 2019

Winning Means Being Quiet?

This post is kind of personal. It shows a thin skin on my part and I am probably an idiot for writing. But writing has always been my outlet. I spent much of my adult life being the adult in the room...the steady rock that guides through the storm. Sports is where I can show my full passion whether it is ecstasy or being crushed. And I write about that because I have never pretended that I was a journalist. I write from a fan's perspective. Just look at the name of this place, for Pete's sake. Lately, I have been criticized on Twitter because I have expressed frustration with the Yankees. Apparently, the common thread is that right now, as a fan of that team, I should be basking in only good vibes because my team is going to win and not ever complain. Bull-ticky.

Most of these posts are by friends I have had on Twitter for years. I can accept those. They have earned the right to tell me what they think. Others have come from fans on terrible teams. I understand where they are coming from. But their teams have not always been terrible and might not be terrible forever.

You get it worse when you are are a Yankee fan and I get that too--or a Patriot fan for that matter. In both cases, my fandom began before their successes. Well, to correct that statement, I became a Yankee fan as a boy in the mid-1960s. I missed the glory years and started loving the Horace Clarke, Roger Repoz, Tom Tresh Yankees. I have been a fan of the Patriots since the Steve Grogan days. So I am not just a coattail guy.

I have been watching the Yankees for over fifty years. They and the Beatles are stitched into my life just as much as losing my dad young and living an--at times--stressful teen years. I think I have a right to express things about what I am watching after fifty years. Am I wrong? I am not dumb when it comes to baseball. I am not an analytical maven, but I understand them just enough to see and enjoy their benefit. So I would like to think that after all these years, my criticism is fair. I can admit to being wrong unlike the other William who writes about the Yankees always from the perspective that Brian Cashman and Hal Steinbrenner are terrible and should have their impaled heads hanging on the Yankee Stadium gates.. I would say that I am negative maybe half the time. The other William is 100%. That's not me.

How different am I than fans of the Red Sox this year? The Red Sox have won it all four times since 2004 and had a magical season for the ages last year. Despite that success, when this year's Red Sox team became a clunker, the team and leadership were lambasted by their own fan base. Am I worse than that?

I've always tried to be magnanimous. When the Red Sox won, I congratulated the Red Sox fans and told them to enjoy it. I meant it. I have meant it when congratulating other successful teams and their fan bases. A team cannot win it every year. Not any more anyway. I know how good these fans of other teams feel. I have been there at every level. Of course I want them to bask in the glow of success. Who understands being a fan and begrudges that!?

There is a window for these team opportunities. The Astros might lose Gerrit Cole and Justin Verlander might actually age some day. They have a window. The Red Sox had a window and took advantage of it. Now the Red Sox have questions going forward. That is how it works. The Yankees have not won it all after 2009. They have not even won the division most of the time. The team has a unique window. And in New York and for its fans, it is all or nothing on those windows!

So if I see things that can trip the team up and cause them not to take advantage of this window, I'm going to say so. Yeah, they are going to win over 100 games. But having home field through the post season is still up for grabs. The Yankees need that if perhaps they face the Astros for the ALCS. One extra home game could make a difference there or in the World Series. Shouldn't that be more important than resting players that have had plenty of rest on the DL or with natural days off? Shouldn't that be more important than resting a bullpen and letting three games get away from them in Detroit and Toronto? I think the home field advantage is more important than ANYTHING!

The Yankees lost the first game in Detroit as Aaron Judge and DJ LeMaheu sat. Perhaps the game would have been 13-12 instead of 12-11 if both those players had played. Perhaps they would have won if Nestor Cortez Jr had not become this year's version of Hector Noesi. The pitching lineup that day was just awful.

And, yes, I am going to spout off about the Yankees' medical and training staff when so many of these injuries have been muscular. Yes, the Yankees have thrived despite the injuries, but at no time this year has the team had all of its best players on the field at the same time. Employment is based on success. When I managed my customer service team, I had fifteen measurable stats. They were posted every week. Everyone knew where they stood. Lack of success meant stepping aside for someone who succeeded. The Yankees' medical staff and trainers have failed. They need to step aside. That is how I see it and I will say it out loud or on Twitter.

I will complain when umpires fail doing their jobs. I am not a conspiracy theorist and looking for evil plots around every corner for the Yankees as a team. I am talking about calling the strike zone. The "Framing" stat is so bogus because it shows the catcher fooling an umpire after a bad call. We should be feting these catchers or fighting the poor umpiring? I think the latter. To have SO many of these frame possibilities to create a statistic is pathetic.

I will continue to call out Brett Gardner and Aaron Judge for looking at strikes down the middle of the plate and then swinging and striking out on pitches that are not strikes. They can do better. They should be more aggressive. When they are, they are both terrific. The announcers always say that Gardner can ambush a pitcher at times. At times? How about all those other times when Strike One and usually Strike Two are right down the pipe? Hey, that is what I see. I'm not allowed to express it when the Yankees win 100 games? I guess not.

The resting thing is what I get hit the hardest about when questioning the Yankees' sanity. Has rest helped the team this year when it comes to injuries? Uh no. I can see trying to limit a position player to 150 games. Personally, I do not see any statistic that guarantees that doing such a thing works. But if a guy has missed 70 games due to injuries, does he need regular rest? How absurd.

To me, what makes the Patriots the most successful is that they do not lessen the value of any game. They are all important. I have watched far too many games this season when the best team the Yankees could field were not on the field and the feeling seemed to be, "Maybe we can somehow win this while giving guys some rest." Yes, tell us that when the Yankees' season ends in the seventh game in Houston's ballpark. Oh right, the odds of a series going the full seven games are a long shot. I forgot.

Maybe some thought has gone into this. I can admit that I like a series against the Twins a lot better than a series against the Oakland Athletics. The A's can actually beat the Astros and then the Yankees would have to face them anyway (if they beat the Twins, which is a crapshoot too).

Frankly, I am petrified about the post season. This team has been smoke and mirrors all season. Aaron Boone should get Manager Of The Year. He really should. I think the Yankees will have a better team next season. But I want desperately for them to win this season because of that window thing. And, of course, because I am a big fan. So yeah, if you think I should be happy-go-lucky due to the team's success, oh well. That's not going to happen.

Monday, September 09, 2019

Toying With The Yankees Playoff Roster

The New York Yankees have just a handful of games remaining before the team starts its Post Season scramble. There are no easy roads as any series poses strong obstacles to overcome for the Yankees to grab the top prize. The interesting aspect of that coming time is the makeup of the 25-man roster the Yankees need to shape heading into the team's run for the glory. The team has a plethora of decisions to make and most are not as easy as they sound.

Setting up the pitching staff seems to be the most important aspect of this exercise, though, certainly not the only important piece. For a deep Post Season run, pitching, offense and defense are all critical. Let's look at the pitching decisions the Yankees need to make and then we'll look at some of the different scenarios and how the Yankees might attack them.

First, the bullpen no brainers (5):
Now, we need to add three more.

I am going here with a "best case" scenario. It is hopeful that the first two can contribute strongly and the playoffs require power pitching. Loaisiga looked great against Boston throwing 98 mph gas.

That leaves out Nestor Cortes Jr. Luis Cessa and Cory Gearrin. If either Severino or Betances cannot answer the bell, then add Cessa.

If all eight can be ready, you have an unbelievable bullpen of eight strong pitchers.

The Starters (4):
James Paxton
Masahiro Tanaka
Domingo German
JA Happ

That leaves out CC Sabathia. While that sucks emotionally, it just feels like the guy is done. Of course, if Sabathia was to pitch and had a great game, the emotional factor could be huge. But what are the odds of that happening? Happ has one strong start in his favor and a decent history. It is not a great choice, but Happ, at least, is healthy.

With only four starters, I can see an "Opener" scenario with Severino and perhaps you do add Cessa to give the team thirteen pitchers.

If the Yankees win home field advantage, then Masahiro Tanaka and Domingo German need to start at home. If the Yankees do not have home field advantage (Astros), then Paxton needs to lead off the series because he has the pure "stuff" to succeed on the road.

Happ would get the fourth game and then go with the Opener scenario for Game Five and back to the beginning for Game Six and Seven (if needed).

Okay, we more or less have our thirteen pitchers. Now we need twelve position players. Here is where it gets dicey. If Giancarlo Stanton can get a few games in, then you almost are forced to include him. I am glad I am writing this after seeing Mike Tauchman's injury (which sucks). I rule out Aaron Hicks completely. See you next year, Aaron.

If you include Stanton, then you've clogged up the DH because do you really want Stanton in left? Perhaps it might help to build the known commodities and their positions to see what we have remaining:


There are eight of your twelve. In my mind, you have to have Edwin Encarnacion. He either plays first or splits time at DH. That's nine. There are only three spots left.

Losing Mike Tauchman Sunday night to a calf injury changes things. I definitely would have penciled him in to start in Left. He, along with Judge and Gardner gave the Yankees superior outfield defense and Tauchman brought enough to the plate to keep him out there. I am pessimistic about this injury. According to Bryan Hoch, Tauchman had already been receiving treatment for his calf before this injury. His season may be done.

I still do not want Stanton in Left. Does that mean the Yankees go with Cameron Maybin? What other choice is there? Clint Frazier? That's a thought, but no. So Maybin is your tenth guy. He's also a good dugout guy and brings that dynamic. We only have two spots left. We have not settled first base yet, which seems strange.

Luke Voit has not been very productive lately. He has only played 24 games since the halfway point of the season and his OPS in those 24 games is only .741 with a paltry .373 slugging percentage. In my mind, he has forgotten what led to his success last year which was driving the ball the opposite way on outside pitches. His pull percentage is up a full seven percentage points this year. His hard contact rate has tumbled nine percentage points from last year. He has hit five homers since the end of May. It is really tough, but I would leave him off the Post Season roster.

But we have two spots! Here is probably a surprise. But I would add Tyler Wade. He can backup every position. And if you need a guy to run the bases for some of the big, slumbering runners on the team, you call on Wade. This gives you five guys on the infield. You start Encarnacion at first and replace him in the late innings with DJLM. You start DJLM at third and when he goes to first, you slide Urshela in there.

We now have three guys on the bench: Urshela, Wade and Romine. That pretty much matches what the Yankees have gone with all season. You can use the last spot for a pitcher. That could be either Cody Guerrin or CC Sabathia. Guerrin can mop up lopsided games and perhaps CC would be an opener and pitch three innings to start a game before bringing in Severino or Loaisiga. Okay, let it be Sabathia.

To sum this all up, let's look at a depth chart:

  • Left Field - Maybin, Stanton with Wade if needed
  • Center Field - Gardner, Maybin
  • Right Field - Judge
  • First base, Edwin Encarnacion, DJLM
  • Second Base - Gleyber Torres, DJLM, Wade
  • Shortstop - Gregorius, Torres, Wade
  • Third base - DJLM, Urshela
  • Catcher - Sanchez, Romine
  • DH - Stanton, Encarnacion, Sanchez (Sanchez needs to bat every game).

Pitching (relief)
Ottavino, Britton, Kahnle, Chapman, Green, Betances, Loaisiga

Pitchers (starters)
James Paxton, Tanaka, German, Happ

Pitchers (swing)
Severino, Sabathia, Cessa

The starting lineup for Game 1 should be:

  1. DJLM
  2. Judge
  3. Gleyber
  4. Encarnacion
  5. Sanchez
  6. Didi
  7. Stanton
  8. Maybin
  9. Gardner
The choices are difficult. But you want your best arms and your most dominant lineup in the playoffs with a few options for flexibility. That lineup looks scary, but would be scarier if that was Tauchman in the eighth hole and not Maybin. Apologies to Luke Voit, but this seems the best to me and the overall process has given me confidence that the Yankees are well placed to make a run at the title.

Wednesday, August 28, 2019

Aaron Judge's First and 100th Homers Nearly Identical

Aaron Judge, the New York Yankees' fan favorite slammed his 100th career home run last night in Seattle. Judge's 100th homer was hit some three years and eleven days after he hit his very first Major League homer at Yankee Stadium. The remarkable thing about the first and the 100th were how similarly they were hit.

See for yourself. This was Judge's first career homer, courtesy of MLB.com:


Here is Aaron Judge's 100th home run, also courtesy of MLB.com



They look pretty darned similar, didn't they!? Both were hit to center and though they were hit in two different parks, both homers banged more than half way up the batter's eye. How similar were they beyond this eye test?

Aaron Judge's very first MLB homer on August 13, 2016, traveled 446 feet. Last night's homer was projected at 462 feet. That is within 16 feet of his first one. Masahiro Tanaka was the starter for both games: Judge's first and last night. Both Judge homers made the score, 2-0 in the Yankees' favor. The pitches Judge hit for his first and last homers were in similar quadrants and both were up in the strike zone. The following is from Brooks Baseball and shows the placement of both. The first one is the first career homer off of Matt Andriese and the second is the 100th homer:



The similarities pretty much die down after that. Judge was batting eighth when he hit is first homer. He homered on the fourth pitch and it was an 87 mph cutter. Last night, Judge was batting second, hit the first pitch and it was a 92 mph fastball.

The one huge similarity with both homers is that they add to the Aaron Judge legend. For many of us, he is the reason we stay up late when the games are on the West Coast. He is the anticipation every time he comes to the plate. And when he hits one, he is the thrill that makes baseball so fun to watch.

It has been a fun ride watching Aaron Judge from his first game until now. Last night was a milestone. Hopefully, it will not be the last.

Tuesday, August 20, 2019

The Yankees Season Heads To The Sewer

The New York Yankees' 2019 season heads to the sewer this week...Oakland Coliseum that is (Lord, forgive me). It is my second worst baseball venue just behind Tropicana Field. The Coliseum is a place that has been outdated since a few years after they opened the place in 1966. The foul ground is famous and ridiculous and seems to cover more area than Rhode Island. The sewers there have been known to back up, of course, and that is the inside joke. But this series is not a joke as once again, the Athletics have put yet another surprise season together and have been playing .600 baseball since June. And, they are very good at home.

You look at the A's roster and you wonder how they do it. Four or five of their regular lineup members have a lower OPS+ than 100. The starting pitchers are a hodge-podge of castoffs from other teams and closer, Blake Treinen, has had a disappointing season compared to last year's amazing one. Treinen has been picked up by Liam Hendriks. Yes, that Liam Hendriks. Out of nowhere, Hendriks is having an incredible season with over twelve strikeouts per nine while walking less than three per. His ERA of 1.54 is backed up by a FIP of only 1.94. He has more than made up for Treinen.

The A's starting rotation has been solid despite not having any big arms or stars. Mike Fiers, the much-traveled 34-year-old has found a good home in Oakland. Since his pickup as a trade deadline deal a year ago, he has gone 16-5 in 35 starts with a solid ERA of 3.53 over that span. His WHIP this season is a solid 1.109. The Yankees will face him Wednesday night.

Brett Anderson has been a solid starter as has Chris Bassitt. Their best starter, Frankie Montas, is serving an 80-game PED suspension and will not return until September 25. The A's went out and looked for bargains in the rotation that could fill the gap and came up with Homer Bailey and Tanner Roark. The latter has been good while the former has not been good. The Yankees will see them both sandwiched around Fiers.

The bullpen is decent. Treinen is still trying to work it out, but Hendriks is getting the bulk of the closing duties. Middle-aged relievers Yusmeiro Petit and Joakim Soria still know how to get people out. The rest of the bullpen does not have flashy arms and have high walk rates. So if the Yankees can crack the bullpen early, they can do well.

As mentioned, the Athletics' lineup is spotty, which rhymes with Piscotty, who should be back for this series from the DL. That is actually good news as he does not hit that well. The catching corps for the A's have been an offensive drag. Josh Phegley is the regular, but no one would consider him a great-hitting catcher.

Second base has also been a disaster for the A's. Jurickson Profar continues to disappoint and the A's have recently experimented with old friend, Corbin Joseph. Joseph has yet to prove he can hit in the Majors.

Elsewhere, Robbie Grossman, Khris Davis and the aforementioned Stephen Piscotty have had disappointing seasons at the plate. It is difficult to forget, though, that Khris Davis kills the Yankees.

The good hitters the A's have are really good. Matt Olson at first, Matt Chapman at third and Marcus Semien at short have all had outstanding seasons. The Yankees are fortunate that center fielder, Ramon Laureano, is out with an injury. He had been mashing the ball as well. Mark Canha has been a major boost to the team and as a fourth outfielder, has played 90 games and has an OPS of .887.

Basically, the Oakland Athletics has a middling offense with some great hitters and a slightly above pitching staff with a lot of duct tape. But here they come again.

If you decide to stay up late this week to watch, here is what to expect. The Yankees have a better than good chance in Game 1 as Domingo German matches up really well against Homer Bailey. In Game 2, I favor Mike Fiers over JA Happ. In the finale, I would give the Yankees a slight edge with Masahiro Tanaka pitching in a big park against Tanner Roark. It will be an interesting series and one we might see again in the playoffs.

Monday, August 19, 2019

Yankees Middle Relief Brings No Relief

Sunday's loss to the Cleveland Indians really highlights a huge issue for the otherwise juggernaut team. If the starting pitcher has a bad day, the Yankees do not have pitchers who can stop the bleeding. The team's strength, of course, is the team's offense and the back end of the bullpen. But since the Yankees rely on all four members of the back end in games where they are ahead and they are never asked to pitch more than two games in a row, the middle area of the bullpen must close the gap. And they cannot.

The problem begins with the starting rotation. Masahiro Tanaka and Domingo German average slightly above five and two-thirds of an inning per outing. JA Happ, CC Sabathia and James Paxton average just slightly above five innings per outing and less than five and one-third. Everyone who follows the team knows that the lack of length (in innings) by this starting staff is a huge weakness. But since the Yankees did not (or would not) address the problem at the trade deadline, it is what it is and cannot be fixed.

If the Yankees are ahead in the game, then Tommy Kahnle, Adam Ottavino, Zack Britton and Aroldis Chapman must all pitch to cover the last four innings of the game. If the Yankee starters could go seven innings, then you could split the four and use two a night. That does not happen with this 2019 version of the New York Yankees. If you use all four two nights in a row, then the rest of the bullpen has to get the outs. They cannot. And sadly, the rest of the bullpen cannot even hold big leads forcing the back end of the bullpen into action when things seemed to be a done deal.

Let's look at the list of long relievers, middle relievers and the sad sacks of the rest of the Yankees' bullpen:
  • Jonathan Holder did a great job last season but has been a disaster this season. Now he is injured. His ERA is a bit inflated, but his FIP is not sterling and sits at 4.45. The strikeout rate is good, but he allows too many hits and homers.
  • Nester Cortez Jr. was cute for a while and heaven knows the Yankees' radio broadcasters love him. The cuteness has worn off and Cortez Jr. cannot seem to stop those tack-on runs from the other team that put games out of reach. He now has a 4.56 ERA and a FIP of 5.05. His WHIP is rapidly approaching 1.4.
  • Chance Adams did not work out. As much as Yankee fans who love prospects rooted for him, Adams does not look like a MLB pitcher. His numbers are simply horrid.
  • Stephen Tarpley has gotten a lot of air time and, at times, looked very good. But they have been too few and too far between. His WHIP is over 2, he walks too many batters and he gives up (like all on this list) a startling number of homers. He is now on the injured list.
  • Jonathan Loaisiga has only pitched in five games. And he has the proverbial "great stuff." But he cannot harness that stuff. His ERA is 5.94 and his FIP is slightly lower. His lack of command makes him unattractive. He has the stuff of a Luis Severino or a German. But until he can figure out some consistent way to make it work, he is not a good option.
  • Luis Cessa is a personal pet peeve. The ONLY reason he made the team out of Spring Training was that he was out of options and the Yankees did not want to lose him. That reality has made him like a Rule 5 player selection where the Yankees must keep him as part of the team all season. His ERA is 4.36, but his FIP is closer to five at 4.92. Cessa's most maddening trait is to get the first two outs of an inning and then walks a guy and all hell breaks loose.
  • Joe Harvey, Joe Mantiply and Brady Lail. Thanks for trying. We rooted for you.
  • David Hale is the only middle reliever that has gotten the job done. But he has a back issue and that is never good. He is out of action until, at least, the end of the month.
  • Chad Green has been a puzzle. At times he looks brilliant and then at times he is a mess. His overall numbers are bad. His ERA is 5.59 but his FIP is 4.19. His strikeout to walk rate is sparkling. But his WHIP and hits per inning are ugly. He was doing well as an "opener" and then he was not. 
What options do the Yankees have at this point? On the immediate end, there is not much. The team will probably give Loaisiga and Domingo Acevedo a shot at some point. The latter is intriguing. He has put up great strikeout rates an does not walk many (2.4 per nine). But he has given up a boatload of hits and homers for the Railriders in his first ten games. He is already on the 40-man Roster. And at some point, the Yankees will see what they have with Ryan Dull. Dull is also on the roster.

In the longer term, the Yankees can hope that Luis Severino can get back soon. He could pitch the remainder of the season in the bullpen, be an opener and add some quality innings. The same could be said of Jordan Montgomery. But Montgomery does not seem as close to returning as Severino. And, it would be great if Dellin Betances was ever available and can pitch close to his usual dominance.

It could not hurt things to try Loaisiga, Dull and Acevedo right now and DFA Cessa and Adams. The former has had four years to make his mark and has not. The latter simply does not seem to be a prospect any longer. Keep Chad Green and hope you get more good than bad. Hope that Hale comes back soon and limit Nester Cortez Jr. to one or two innings.

The reality is that the starting rotation will not get better. They cannot seem to limit the pitches per batter and per inning to get longer into games. The Yankees have to get a combination of relievers that can hold the other team to whatever damage the starters have allowed and give the offense a chance to get back in the game. Sabathia left after giving up four runs on Sunday. The Yankees scored four runs. Unfortunately, the bullpen coughed up another four runs making things a moot point and a loss.