What’s Happening in Baseball – July 6, 2021

I’m going to try something different here at The Titanium Spine. I thought I would do a handful of game recaps from the previous day, with highlights and analysis. For too long, I have leaned heavily on Yankees coverage, and I want to involve other teams. I want to expand my audience to fans of all teams, even minor league affiliates.

Let’s get started!

  • Red Sox at Angels – Clearly, the Shohei Ohtani show was in full swing in Anaheim in a 5-3 Angels victory. The All Star pitcher and hitter was on display, with seven innings of two-run ball on the mound. In addition, Ohtani smoked an RBI double off Nathan Eovaldi (9-5). The Angels scored three runs in the bottom of the first. Undoubtedly, the early lead set up Ohtani (4-1) and he settled in. David Fletcher went 4-4, while C Max Stassi added three hits. Raisel Iglesias locked down his 17th save for the Angels.

  • Phillies at Cubs – The wind was blowing out at Wrigley Field last night, and that usually makes for some wild contests. In 1979, these two teams had a game for the ages that resulted in a 23-22 Phillies win. Likewise, the Phillies won 15-10 last night, battering Chicago starter Jake Arrieta (5-9) to the tune of 7 runs over 1.2 innings. Arrieta left the ball up a lot in . As a consequence, Andrew McCutchen got Philly started with a grand slam in the top of the first inning. Bryce Harper had a five hit night, while Jean Segura added four hits of his own. In true Phillies fashion, their bullpen let the Cubs back in the game. Because their bullpen has been so awful, I hope Joe Girardi has a good supply of Pepto Bismol.

  • White Sox at Twins – Although the White Sox only had three hits, it was enough to get by in a 4-1 win over Minnesota. Carlos Rodon, fresh off being named to the American League All Star team, reeled-off six innings of one-run ball with eight K’s. Rodón (7-3) and José Berrios (7-3) matched up in a pitcher’s duel, with the latter pitching seven innings – the only blemish a two-run single to Chicago catcher Zack Collins in the second inning. Finally, in the bottom of the 9th, White Sox CF Billy Hamilton made the catch of the season, robbing Max Kepler of extra bases. Most certainly, you’ll see a lot of this highlight.

  • Yankees at Mariners – The Yankees have gone through a horrendous stretch, winning just 13 of their past 35 games. The team hit the road for a pair of series in Seattle and Houston, hoping to shake the funk. Apparently, the players meeting Aaron Judge called last week did some good. The Bronx Bombers got off to a good start, pounding Mariners starter Justus Sheffield (5-8) for six runs in 1.2 innings. Giancarlo Stanton hit a missile for a three-run bomb, and Luke Voit got off the schnide with a 5-hit night. Every Yankee in the lineup scored at least once, and eight of nine had at least one hit. Jameson Taillon (4-4) had his best start in Pinstripes, with seven innings of four-hit ball. He struck out nine.

So, I hope everyone enjoyed. I am looking forward to more recaps and highlights going forward. Have a great day! 😎⚾

Why Are Teams Interested in J.A. Happ? Let Me Explain…

Over the last few days, a few prominent baseball writers have shared on Twitter teams who are interested in former Yankees starter J.A. Happ, currently a free agent.

 

The comments are as you would expect, given his track record with the Yankees. Happ’s final game in Pinstripes was in Game Two of the ALCS against the Tampa Bay Rays, where he took over for Deivi Garcia at the bottom of the 2nd inning (which I thought was a horrible idea) and promptly imploded. That game is still fresh in the minds of Yankees fans, and many baseball fans who watched on national television.

No doubt, Happ struggled in his first full season as a Yankee in 2019. Similarly, his first couple of outings in 2020 were rocky as well. He made his next start on August 16 against the Red Sox at home, giving up only one run over 5.2 innings. That outing began a stretch of seven starts where he was literally the best starter in the rotation not named Gerrit Cole.

Coupled with Cole, the two of them were the most reliable starters on the team in September. The numbers in the image above speak for themselves. Seven starts, an ERA of 2.34 over 42.1 innings, a WHIP under one and almost a strikeout an inning. In addition, Happ averaged more than six innings each start. Believe me, General Managers across the league were paying attention.

Hopefully this can answer the question of why J.A. Happ is generating interest in the free agent market. So far, the Blue Jays, Red Sox and Angels publicly expressed interest. Don’t be surprised to see him return for a third tour of duty with the Toronto Blue Jays. He enjoyed playing there, and you can be sure he will be pitching with a chip on his shoulder the next time he faces the Yankees.

 

It’s Opening Day!

It’s finally here!

Opening Day in MLB is a holiday in my household. Personally, I feel that it’s better than Christmas. Baseball is my favorite thing in life after my son. Every team in baseball is full of optimism and dreams of hoisting the Commissioner’s Trophy in October.

And the weather is warmer in the vast majority of the country than it is on Christmas!

There is literally nothing on the agenda for me today than watching our national pastime. Good luck and best wishes to whomever you root for.

Enjoy the day, everybody!

Sizing up the Yankees Starting Rotation

Early this afternoon, the New York Yankees announced free agent J.A. Happ was returning to the team on a two-year contract with a vesting option for a third year. With Happ coming back, the Yankees now have six starting pitchers under contract for the 2019 season (although Sonny Gray most certainly won’t be returning to the team).

As of right now, the five man rotation seems to be shaping up as follows:

  1. Luis Severino
  2. James Paxton
  3. Masahiro Tanaka
  4. J.A. Happ
  5. CC Sabathia

It’s safe to assume GM Brian Cashman will still be looking to pick up another arm to add depth to the staff, especially since Sabathia’s balky right knee requires a DL stint to keep the pain at bay. Parker Bridwell, recently claimed on waivers from the Los Angeles Angels, was thought to be depth for the rotation. However, the team designated Bridwell for assignment, needing that spot on the 40 man roster for Happ.

Bridwell could always re-sign with the team on a minor league contract and accept a non-roster invitee, but he will be free to sign with any team.

There are still a good number of free agent starters available. Dallas Keuchel is still unsigned as of this writing, but with the Yankees already having three lefty starters, I would think they would look to add another righty for balance. I also think Cashman would prefer a less expensive option since the team will be paying north of 60 million just for the current five the team already has. A couple cheap options could be Clay Buchholz and Edwin Jackson. They both pitched very well for their teams this year and would assuredly be inexpensive in 2019. 45 year-old Bartolo Colon still wants to pitch. However, there are also a few guys in the Yankees system who could fill the role in Domingo German, Jonathan Loaisiga and Michael King. German and Loaisiga each showed promise as well as inconsistency in 2018, while King rose rapidly through the minors, starting in High-A Tampa and finishing with AAA Scranton Wilkes-Barre.

All eyes are on the big free agents, waiting with baited-breath to see where Manny Machado and Bryce Harper will end up, but it will also be interesting to see how Brian Cashman shapes up the rest of the Yankees’ pitching staff.