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Bombers Fly Into Town: Yankees (85-47) at Mariners (56-75)

Can Brian Cashman and his boys wreak revenge on Seattle for the HQ2 loss, down in the swamp at T-Mobile?

Cleveland Indians v New York Yankees
“I know, I know, Brett, but technically he’s right: you do look like a basketball left out in the sun.”
Photo by Jim McIsaac/Getty Images

Fresh off a visit from the Blue Jays (sigh) that ended quite well for the home squad (cackle), the Mariners get to wake up in their own beds on Monday morning, head to Dick’s for lunch, eat down by the waterfront, and roll into T-Mobile for a fresh new series with another obnoxious east-coast squad that travels well. The Mariners can bring some confidence into a series with the Yankees, as they’ve gone 8-4 over their last 12 games and taken series from the Tigers, Rays, and Blue Jays (twice!) They’ll need every bit of that confidence, as the Yankees, yet again, are running away with the AL East—a monstrous 9 game span separates them from the Rays, despite having SIXTEEN (!) players on the Injured List totaling over $69 million in salary, including guys I’ve never heard of. Jake Barrett is a fake name Gio Urshela is using as part of an elaborate paycheck collecting scam and you’ll never convince me otherwise.

At a Glance

Yankees Mariners
Yankees Mariners
Game 1 Monday, August 26 | 7:10 pm
LHP J.A. Happ LHP Tommy Milone
60% 40%
Game 2 Tuesday, August 27 | 7:10 pm
RHP Masahiro Tanaka LHP Yusei Kikuchi
65% 35%
Game 3 Wednesday, August 28 | 1:10 pm
LHP James Paxton LHP Justus Sheffield
64% 36%

Team Overview

Overview Yankees Mariners Edge
Overview Yankees Mariners Edge
Batting (wRC+) 117 (2nd in AL) 105 (6th in AL) Yankees
Fielding (DRS) -10 (9th) -69 (14th) Yankees
Starting Pitching (FIP-) 104 (9th) 113 (13th) Yankees
Bullpen (FIP-) 86 (2nd) 111 (14th) Yankees

I am sure this comes as a huge shock to you all but the Yankees are better than the Mariners at literally everything. That said, their starting pitching has been surprisingly weak (by Bronx standards), and there’s been a fair amount of discontent at the Yankees for not signing more talent or trading for more talent in the last calendar year. Oh, also, the Yankees are spending over 200 million dollars on payroll this year. Totally unrelated thing I just remembered.

Projected Lineup

Player Position Bats PA BABIP wRC+ BsR
Player Position Bats PA BABIP wRC+ BsR
DJ LeMahieu 1B R 530 0.352 138 -0.3
Aaron Judge RF R 332 0.366 129 0.2
Didi Gregorius SS L 249 0.259 97 0.3
Gio Urshela 3B R 403 0.368 142 -3.0
Gary Sánchez C R 385 0.243 109 0.3
Brett Gardner CF L 435 0.272 109 4.3
Gleyber Torres 2B R 501 0.304 131 -0.9
Cameron Maybin DH R 216 0.392 131 0.9
Mike Tauchman LF L 258 0.364 137 1.4

Does this look like a lineup missing a bunch of really important parts? Because to me this does not look like a lineup missing a bunch of really important parts. I mean holy cow. They’re a literal plug and play franchise. The worst player in here, Didi Gregorius, has been hurt off and on all year in what is clearly a down year for him, and still is just a hair under league average with the bat. DJ Lemahieu? Career year. Gio Urshela? Career year. Mike Tauchman? BATTING NINTH WITH A 137 wRC+. Cameron Maybin? CAREER. YEAR. The Yankees are the undisputed god-kings of baseball, and I hate how very, very true that sentiment is. Maybe there’s something to that facial hair thing.

Probable Pitchers

New York Yankees v Oakland Athletics Photo by Lachlan Cunningham/Getty Images

LHP J.A. Happ

129 19.0% 6.7% 20.3% 41.3% 5.58 5.69
Pitch Frequency Velocity Spin Rate Stuff+ Whiff+ BIP+
Four-seam 46.8% 92.1 2322 99 124 96
Sinker 21.5% 89.4 2111 85 111 113
Changeup 13.6% 85.9 1716 60 111 98
Slider 17.6% 84.9 2198 93 62 95

I am pleased to report I have found the Yankees’ vulnerability: familiar old face J.A. Happ. The Yankees gave him $17mm in AAV this past offseason and he has grandly rewarded them by mostly looking like a 36-year-old on the mound, with a miserable FIP papered over a little by his durability, yielding a whopping 0.7 fWAR in 129 IP. He’s giving up dingers at a truly exceptional rate and looks generally fairly washed: none of the stuff is above average and only two of his pitches even approach average, though he still gets a passable number of whiffs. And yet, somehow, he boasts a 10-8 W-L record. The somehow is just that the Yankees hit the crap out of baseballs. You know who’s been a lot better than J.A. Happ? Tommy Milone. Who we get to see pitch against him.

RHP Masahiro Tanaka

150 19.2% 5.7% 15.7% 48.1% 4.68 4.44
Pitch Frequency Velocity Spin Rate Stuff+ Whiff+ BIP+
Four-seam 26.6% 91.8 2146 100 96 111
Sinker 4.4% 90.7 1908 69 80 77
Cutter 1.9% 87.9 2175
Splitter 27.6% 87.2 1578 129 57 103
Curveball 3.3% 76.2 2405
Slider 36.2% 83.4 2399 112 103 111

Tanaka has probably yielded the title of staff ace at this point (more on that in a minute) and that’s probably for the best. Since coming to America and New York, he’s been quietly effective every single year, posting a fWAR in the mid 2’s (save that one very nice outlier in 2016) and eating his way through innings reasonably well. It’s a career Yusei Kikuchi would love to emulate. Now 30, Tanaka is approaching the final year of his Yankees deal and has been just an okay investment for them, as he’s produced exactly market rate for WAR over the life of his deal. The arsenal is all over the place and the raw stuff is pretty good—the splitter, particularly, is about as unhittable as could be—but he’s seen a lot of balls leave the yard. This matchup should get a ton of attention from national media even while being played at 10PM on the East Coast, as he faces his countryman Yusei Kikuchi. Kikuchi will try to build on some recent success and to continue to work towards a Tanaka-esque career which everyone would welcome at this stage.

New York Yankees vs Los Angeles Dodgers Photo by Scott Varley/MediaNews Group/Torrance Daily Breeze via Getty Images

LHP James Paxton

120 29.5% 8.5% 16.3% 38.8% 4.43 4.08
Pitch Frequency Velocity Spin Rate Stuff+ Whiff+ BIP+
Four-seam 60.7% 95.7 2271 159 142 125
Cutter 21.9% 88.3 2087 81 192 93
Changeup 1.1% 86.0 2072
Curveball 16.3% 81.1 2003 116 128 94

Paxton probably IS the Yankees staff ace at this point. Stop me if you’ve heard this one: A pretty darn good season but relatively limited innings because of injuries. Paxton is the Yankees’ WAR leader despite having thrown the fourth-most innings. Big Maple? More like Big Able, folks. The fastball remains essentially unhittable, although really the cutter is way way more unhittable, and Paxton has been a very badly needed dose of excellence for a struggling Yankees rotation in 2019. This is another matchup that will get inordinate attention even for a Yankees game, as Paxton faces the centerpiece of the trade that got him. Given Justus Sheffield’s 2019 struggles in what I will broadly call “big moments”, and his tendency to press for results on the mound, I’m incredibly nervous to watch this game, but for once, let’s just watch our young gun go out and show the team that traded him away what they’re missing, shall we?

AL West

Team W-L W% Games Behind Recent Form
Team W-L W% Games Behind Recent Form
Astros 85-47 0.644 -- L-W-W-W-W
Athletics 74-55 0.574 9.5 W-W-W-L-L
Rangers 64-68 0.485 21.0 W-L-L-W-L
Angels 63-70 0.474 22.5 L-L-L-L-L
Mariners 56-75 0.427 28.5 W-L-W-L-W

AL Wild Card

Team W-L W% Games Behind Recent Form
Team W-L W% Games Behind Recent Form
Cleveland 76-55 0.580 +0.5 L-L-W-W-L
Rays 76-56 0.576 -- W-W-W-L-L
Athletics 74-55 0.574 0.5 W-W-W-L-L
Red Sox 70-62 0.530 6.0 L-L-W-W-L
Rangers 64-68 0.485 21.0 W-L-L-W-L

After briefly catching the Twins, Cleveland continues to chase them and now sits 3.5 back, much closer to falling out of playoff position than they are to taking the divisional crown. The Red Sox have righted the ship a tad, but also probably have way too much ground to make up at this point, barring an otherworldly September. The Rangers are present in this chart.

2020 Draft Order

Team W-L W% Games Behind Recent Form
Team W-L W% Games Behind Recent Form
Tigers 39-89 0.305 -- W-L-W-L-L
Orioles 43-88 0.328 2.5 W-L-L-W-W
Royals 46-85 0.351 5.5 L-L-L-L-W
Marlins 47-82 0.364 7.5 L-L-W-L-W
Blue Jays 53-80 0.398 11.5 L-L-L-W-L
Pirates 55-75 0.423 15.0 L-L-W-W-W
Mariners 56-75 0.427 15.5 W-L-W-L-W
Rockies 58-73 0.443 17.5 W-L-L-L-L
White Sox 60-70 0.462 20.0 W-W-W-L-W
Padres 60-69 0.465 20.5 L-L-L-L-W

We may as well just admit it to ourselves and the world now: There’s enough young talent on this team, and it’s going to play a weak enough schedule, that we’ll probably watch ourselves slowly inch the wrong way in these standings for the last month. Fortunately, enough of the season is played out I don’t think we can hurt 2020’s draft spot too much. Still, a random 5-game losing streak to some bad teams would be welcome, just to make sure we can hold on to the 7th spot at the worst (and maybe slip back up to 5th if the Blue Jays and Pirates will do us a solid, though the Blue Jays have really been marvels of incompetence lately.