Yankees Announce Post-ASB Rotation Order

The Yankees finished up a 4-2 homestand and a pretty solid final first half turn through the rotation yesterday.  Their diminished former ace pitched well enough to win on Wednesday, their new ace and backup ace looked like aces on Thursday and Friday, their recovering TJS guy continued to show some positive signs in his battle to regain his pre-surgery form on Saturday, and their young development project turned in his 9th start of 3 ER or fewer in his last 10 yesterday. The Yankee rotation has had no shortage of concerns and conversations surrounding it this season.  From injury concerns to workload concerns to performance concerns to concerns over who should and should not be in it.  After a first half of spot juggling, injury replacing, extra rest days, and harsh realities, the team already has its plan mapped out for the start of the second half.  Per Dan Barbarisi yesterday morning:

Looks like the rotation order you would have expected to see on Opening Day had all 5 of those pitchers been healthy.  Considering the order going into the break was Sabathia, Tanaka, Pineda, Nova, Eovaldi, there is clearly some more rest management and big picture planning at work here.  Factor in the days off for the All-Star break, and that starting 5 will open the second half with a rest schedule that breaks down like this:

Tanaka- 7 days Pineda- 7 days Sabathia- 10 days Eovaldi- 8 days Nova- 10 days

Clearly this shuffle is built around creating more rest time for Sabathia.  The team has made it clear that he isn't getting pulled from the rotation as long as he's healthy enough to stay in it, With him recently having his knee drained for the second time this season, the plan here seems to be to give him as much time off as possible to keep that knee healthy.

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Yankees Using The Simplest Formula In The Book To Drive Their Offensive Success

[caption id="attachment_74813" align="aligncenter" width="525"]Teix-A-Rod vs BAL Bash bros. Courtesy of Getty Images[/caption] I made this point on Twitter earlier today, but since not everybody in the world has had the good sense to follow me yet I figured it was worth expounding on here.  The Yankees are the cat's meow right now.  They're all that and a bag of chips.  They're 18-6 in their last 24 games, at 21-12 they now own the best record in the American League, and they're 4 games clear of Tampa Bay in the division with the chance to put more room in between themselves and the Rays tonight.

With all due respect to Michael Pineda and the ace relief duo of Betances & Miller, this blazing hot run has been driven by the insanely productive top of the batting order.  Jacoby Ellsbury, Brett Gardner, Alex Rodriguez, and Mark Teixeira have been the 4 best position players on the team thus far, and that's reflected in all 4 of them currently ranking inside the top 25 in the American League in wRC+.  Teix is 10th at 153, A-Rod 12th at 148, Gardner 20th at 138, and Ellsbury 23rd at 133.  The only other team that can claim to have that many players sitting that high in the rankings is the Kansas City Royals, and they are unsurprisingly leading the AL Central at 20-12.

What makes that statistical nugget even better is how these 4 guys at the top of the order have gone about generating the numbers they have.  They've followed a simple, straightforward, almost stupidly easy formula for generating runs.  Get the fast guys at the top of the order on base and into scoring position and have the big boppers behind them come up and knock them in.  Who knew, right?

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Quick Hit: Today's ST Opener Starting Lineup

Man it feels good to write a title like that again!  The Yanks open their 2015 Spring Training game schedule this afternoon against the Philadelphia Phillies, who are fresh off getting beat by a college team.  If only the Daily News could find a way to work a joke about that into a joke about A-Rod on their back page.  That would be hilarious! Anyway, here's the starting lineup for today's game:

1) Jacoby Ellsbury- CF 2) Brett Gardner- LF 3) Chris Young- RF 4) Garrett Jones- 1B 5) Jose Pirela- 2B 6) Austin Romine- C 7) Kyle Roller- DH 8) Jonathan Galvez- 3B 9) Nick Noonan- SS

SP) Adam Warren

There will also be a slew of top prospects playing off the bench and out of the 'pen today, so that should be fun.  Yankee baseball, baby!  It's back in a few short hours.

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Musing On Lineup Possibilities

[caption id="attachment_72000" align="aligncenter" width="550"]Joe Lineup Card "So I put Gardy here, and Teix here, and Didi here... "/Courtesy of Reuters[/caption] While they're still hampered by an old, declining, high-injury risk group of power bats in the middle third of the batting order, the Yankees have done pretty well to upgrade their positions of greatest weakness and add some much needed depth to the position player portion of their roster this offseason.  There are enough guys in place and a few more guys who'll be in play when ST starts to give Joe the potential to mix and match his lineups more strategically than he's been able to the last few years.  Then it was him mixing and matching just to keep guys healthy and have enough warm bodies to fill out a lineup card.  Now it could be much more geared towards playing matchups and emphasizing the strengths of each player, of course with the goal of keeping the aforementioned old, injury-prone players healthy remaining in place.

With that in mind, I'd like to take a crack at putting a pair of lineups together for next season, one for right-handed starters and one for lefties.  The Yankees have a lot more platoon-ability in their bench at the moment, and I believe Joe is going to utilize that tactic more this season as long as he has the healthy bodies to do it.  Keep in mind that this is me doing this in the mindset that I think Joe might have at the start of the season, not what I would do personally.

First let's tackle the lineup versus righties.  The Yanks are going to face more of them and they've given themselves the opportunity to build a 9-man lefty-swinging army to attack them, something that could pay big dividends when they're playing at home.  I think that will look something like this:

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Yankees Complete Lineup With Headley

After signing Chase Headley to a four-year, $52 million contract, the Yankees have all of their position players set for the 2015 season. Brian Cashman announced that Alex Rodriguez will be the full-time designated hitter. Martin Prado will be able to give new shortstop Didi Gregorius an experienced double play partner to play next to. Jose Pirela should be able to fill the utility role and Rob Refsynder should be able to go back to Triple-A for more seasoning. The best thing about this Yankees lineup is its depth. You could argue that their is no throw away spot in the order unless Gregorius or Brendan Ryan is in against a lefty. That certainly has not been the case in recent seasons with guys like Brian Roberts, Kelly Johnson, Jayson Nix, Chris Stewart and Vernon Wells in the lineup on a pretty consistent basis. Unfortunately, I could go on and on with that list.

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Considering A-Rod As The Regular DH

[caption id="attachment_71375" align="aligncenter" width="600"]A-Rod-HR-Celebration-vs-BOS Still the best home run celebration ever.[/caption] Yesterday was proof that Alex Rodriguez still matters in MLB, even if he is a broken down, disgraced former great who might not even be physically capable of playing anymore.  I actually found it humorous that Cash's comments about A-Rod's role next year were such a big deal.  I mean, in Yankee media circles it makes sense.  He still plays for the Yankees.  But to see it mentioned on the ESPN scroll like it was actual news was ridiculous.  Like anybody else was holding out hope that he would be the starter at third even after they signed Chase Headley.

So love him or hate him, people still want to know what's up with A-Rod and now we know how the Yankees are planning to utilize him next season.  With all the mileage on his body and multiple years remaining on his contract, the best way to get max on-field value out of him is from his bat.  The best way to get the most out of his bat is to keep him healthy and on the active roster, and the best way to do that at this point in his career is probably to limit him to batting-only duties.  Making him the regular DH was the logical move and it was good to hear verbal confirmation from Cash that the team is and was thinking about this logically.

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Quick Hit: Today's Lineup, and the Almost Best Defense

Derek Jeter, Brian McCann, and Mark Teixeira have the day off, so today's lineup will be: Brett Gardner, LF Martin Prado, 3B Jacoby Ellsbury, CF Carlos Beltran, DH Chase Headley, 1B Stephen Drew, SS Francisco Cervelli, C Ichiro Suzuki, RF Brendan Ryan, 2B

Shane Greene, SP

The defensive alignment of this team is almost perfect, with Drew and Ryan playing up the middle, strong defenders throughout the outfield, and Headley and Prado at first and third, respectively. However, Headley is the superior defender at third, and Prado has played 56 games at first base, as compared to four for Headley. While moving from third to first is a move down on the defensive spectrum, it is not necessarily a transition that can be made easily at the drop of the hat, so it seems curious that Joe Girardi would downgrade at both positions this afternoon.

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Quick Hit: Tonight's Lineup, Roster Moves

The first pitch for tonight's game is scheduled for 8:05 PM. Here's your lineup: Brett Gardner, CF Derek Jeter, SS Brian McCann, 1B Carlos Beltran, DH Chase Headley, 3B Francisco Cervelli, C Brian Roberts, 2B Ichiro Suzuki, RF Zoilo Almonte, LF

David Phelps, SP

To make room for Almonte, Jeff Francis was designated for assignment. This can be filed under 'duh,' insofar as predictability is concerned, as the team was carrying thirteen pitchers on the active roster, including three left-handed relievers (the other two being David Huff and Matt Thornton).

So long (for now), Jeff. We hardly new ye.

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Today's Lineup: Wheeler In Right

Yanks going with a little bit of a different look at the bottom today as they continue to deal with life without Teix and KJ.  Here's how Joe filled out his card for this afternoon's series finale: 1) Gardner- LF 2) Jeter- SS 3) Ellsbury- CF 4) Beltran- DH 5) McCann- 1B 6) Headley- 3B 7) Cervelli- C 8) Wheeler- RF 9) Ryan- 2B

SP) Greene

Here's hoping Brendan Ryan can handle second base better than B-Rob has been with sinker baller Greene on the hill.  Game thread coming up later.

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