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The time for Chance Adams to get an opportunity to help the Yankees is fast approaching — June 8, 2017

The time for Chance Adams to get an opportunity to help the Yankees is fast approaching

by Mike Axisa

MLB: New York Yankees-Workouts

Fifty-six games into the 2017 season, the Yankees are one of three teams to use only five starting pitchers this year. The Yankees, the Cardinals, and the Braves. That’s the list. And soon it’ll be only the Yankees and Cardinals. The Braves put Bartolo Colon on the disabled list two days ago and will call up top pitching prospect Sean Newcomb to start in his place this weekend.

At some point this year, possibly sooner rather than later, the Yankees will use a sixth starting pitcher. It’s inevitable in baseball these days. The question is whether they will use that sixth starter because they want to use one to give their other starters rest, or because they have to use one due to injury or poor performance. Obviously the former is much more preferable.

Whenever the time for a sixth starter comes, one of the names the Yankees are sure to consider is Chance Adams, arguably their top pitching prospect overall (eh) and inarguably their top pitching prospect at the Triple-A level (duh). Last time out Adams took a no-hitter into the fifth inning. The start before that, he struck out 12 in six innings.

So far this season the 22-year-old Adams has a 1.55 ERA (3.34 FIP) with 26.5% strikeouts and 10.4% walks in eleven starts and 64 innings split between Double-A and Triple-A. Last year he had a 2.33 ERA (2.96 FIP) with 29.1% strikeouts and 7.9% walks in 24 starts and 127.1 innings. To call the reliever-to-starter conversion a success would be a pretty big understatement. Adams has been great since joining the rotation.

While the overall numbers look nice, Adams is not a finished product sitting in Triple-A. He’s still working to improve his changeup to combat left-handers, and his walk rate is a wee bit too high, which pitching coach Larry Rothschild recently chalked up to subpar fastball command. He’s working on it though. Here’s what Rothschild told Brendan Kuty:

“I think everybody  — the guys who have been working with him in the minor leagues — I think he’s been talked to about that certainly when he was with us (in big league Spring Training). I think it’s just a natural maturation process. I think he’s perfectly capable of (improving his fastball command). I think at times, just watching the tape of him this year, where he’s been good.”

Can Adams help the Yankees right now? I think so, though I’ll admit I’m less confident in his ability to step right into a big league rotation and be consistently solid from the get-go the way Jordan Montgomery did. That’s not intended to be a knock on Adams! Montgomery was a really polished prospect who’s been a starting pitcher basically his entire life. Going through a lineup three times wasn’t that new to him.

Adams has the tools to help the Yankees soon as a starting pitcher, and like most young starters, chances are there will be some bumps along the way. That’s baseball. He’s got to get his feet wet at some point though, and I think that time is rapidly approaching. Joe Girardi shot down Adams replacing Montgomery in the rotation — “Really? Are you kidding me? Come on now,” said Girardi to Bryan Hochwhen asked that over the weekend — so that won’t happen, nor should it.

On merit, the starting pitcher who most deserves to lose his rotation spot is Masahiro Tanaka, and even though I am in favor of giving him a little time out, I’m not sure it’ll happen. I think the odds are pretty good the Yankees will ride it out with him and hope he fixes things on the fly. In that case, pretty much the only way to get Adams’ feet wet in the big leagues is as a spot sixth starter. Call him up, make a start to give the guys a rest, then go back down.

There are some roster consequences to doing that, namely:

  1. Someone has to be designated for assignment to clear a 40-man roster spot.
  2. Someone has to be demoted to clear a 25-man roster spot, and they won’t be able to come back up for ten days.
  3. Adams would burn one of his three minor league options when he’s sent back down.

And maybe those things aren’t that big a deal. The Yankees could drop the wholly ineffective Tommy Layne from the roster, which would open both 25-man and 40-man spots, then call up any one of a number of players from Triple-A when Adams goes back down. Gio Gallegos, Luis Cessa, Ben Heller, etc. The Yankees would be tying up a 40-man spot for good though, so they’d lose some flexibility.

The minor league options thing might not be that big of a deal either. Should Adams go up and down these next three years, he’ll qualify for a fourth option because he’d burn his original three within his first five pro seasons. Also, if the Yankees need to think about using an option on Adams in 2020, something’s gone wrong. He should have established himself as a big leaguer by then. The 40-man is a bigger issue than the minor league options, I think.

The Yankees aren’t shy about throwing prospects right into the fire. Luis Severino made his big league debut against the Red Sox. Gary Sanchez was called up for a game last May specifically to face Chris Sale. I suppose the Yankees could call up Adams to make a spot start against the Orioles this Sunday, the day he lines up to pitch, which would allow them push Tanaka back a day so he could face the lowly Angels in Anaheim on Monday. Not the worst idea.

Either way, I get the sense Adams is going to make his big league debut very soon, as in before the end of the month. Hopefully it is on the Yankees’ terms (he’s ready) and their hand isn’t forced (someone is out and they need a starter). The Yankees are going to give Adams every chance to be part of the rotation long-term, and part of the process is allowing him to get his feet wet this summer. His time is coming and soon.

Klapisch: Yankees’ problem with Tanaka has become a crisis — June 7, 2017

Klapisch: Yankees’ problem with Tanaka has become a crisis

By Bob Klapisch

NEW YORK – None other than Pedro Martinez says it’s time to panic about Masahiro Tanaka and, judging by his latest disaster in a 5-4 loss to the Red Sox on Tuesday, it’s hard to disagree. What started as a slump has now mushroomed into a full-blown emergency for the Yankees. In fact, Tanaka would’ve been out of the rotation by now, except for his huge contract and the fact there’s no one to replace him.

Chance Adams? It’s probably too soon for the hotshot prospect who was promoted to Class AAA only three weeks ago. Adam Warren could fill in, or the Yankees could stretch out Chad Green or Bryan Mitchell. The Yankees are in a predicament all the way around, but it begins and ends with Tanaka. He’s throwing splitters in the dirt and sliders that are just helicoptering to the plate.

This is no longer just a problem with his delivery, either. After allowing five runs in five innings, including three more home runs, Tanaka admitted, “I’ve been pressing too much.” The YES cameras caught him look skyward and mouthing “wow” after Andrew Benintendi blasted one into the right field seats in the fifth inning.

It was a brief but telling moment of embarrassment for the normally stoic pitcher. For Tanaka to admit he’s struggling with his composure tells you how seriously the Yankees should regard the crash. Joe Girardi sounds supportive – “you don’t just forget how to pitch” – but don’t kid yourself about the wide berth. They know holding off the Sox will be impossible until (or unless) Tanaka is fixed and reclaims his role as the rotation’s strong man.

Actually, Tanaka isn’t the only veteran in trouble. Chase Headley, who batted only .165 in May, has been even worse in June, down to .157 after being held hitless on Tuesday. The crowd booed him after every failed at-bat, especially after grounding into an inning-ending double play in the fourth inning. If Tanaka is trying to out-run Adams’ inevitable promotion from the minors, then Headley is fighting the same losing war with Gleyber Torres, who is busy tearing up the International League, too.

Hank Steinbrenner was quoted this week saying the organization is in full go-for-it mode in 2017. This is no longer an equity-building summer for the future. The Yankees are still in first place with a realistic vision of the playoffs. So how much longer do they let Headley and Tanaka stand in the way?

Fair question for both, although it’s clear Tanaka can draw from a deeper reservoir of good will with Girardi. When the manager went out of his way to say, “This guy has been our ace for the last three years,” it means don’t expect to see a coup any time soon. Fair enough. The Yankees prefer to fix Tanaka instead of replace him. Only, how?

They’ve spent a month looking for the fatal flaw in Tanaka’s delivery and are as stumped today as they were when the slump began. He’s allowed 14 home runs in his last 36 innings – a fall so steep you almost have to believe the Japanese star is injured.

But here’s where Girardi refuses to yield. “There’s nothing that leads us to believe (Tanaka) is hurt,” he said. That checklist includes velocity (stable), arm angle (unchanged) and spin rate on his breaking pitch (within career norms).

So why would Martinez deliver such a devastating assessment on Twitter on Monday? He wrote, “I think (it) is time to panic about Tanaka. His stuff is not there; that Eastern Division is really tough; I don’t see him getting any better.”

You could dismiss this as hyperbole, except that Pedro is a Hall of Famer who understands the craft better than most. And, the quality of Tanaka’s pitches against Boston were so poor, he turned Martinez’s words into a prophecy.

Indeed, it was remarkable how little movement Tanaka generated with his slider, which used to be sharp enough to dot the outside corner against right-handed hitter. At times on Tuesday, Tanaka’s slider had the exact opposite effect – they backed up. After allowing back to back HRs in the fourth inning to Mitch Moreland and Hanley Ramirez, Tanaka tried to bury a slider in on Benintendi’s hands in the fifth. A good slider would’ve accomplished that, but not the one that was crushed tor right field. That was a helicopter, not a slider.

That’s when Tanaka appeared to go into shock. Wow, he said, looking skyward, out of answers.

“I can’t give up on myself,” he told reporters afterward. “I have to believe in myself that I’ll get over this.”

Honest as those words were, Tanaka’s vulnerability nevertheless comes as a shock to the Yankees, who’ve counted on him as their big-game pitcher since 2014. With Tanaka in retreat, the Bombers have no real ace who can match up with Chris Sale.

That’s why Tuesday’s matchup was so important to them. In any other setting, Tanaka against the underachieving Drew Pomeranz would’ve been a slam-dunk for the Yankees. This would’ve been the one win they could count on in a series they were lucky to not see Sale. But not lately, not now.

Tanaka has become the weakest link in the rotation, unable to keep the ball in the park against the lineup with the American League’s fewest home runs. If that isn’t a code red alert, then what is?

15 Yankees-Red Sox things: Pedro Martinez says it’s panic time for Masahiro Tanaka — June 6, 2017

15 Yankees-Red Sox things: Pedro Martinez says it’s panic time for Masahiro Tanaka

By Randy Miller

Yankees shopping for veteran third baseman? — June 5, 2017

Yankees shopping for veteran third baseman?

chase headley.,

New York Yankees third baseman Chase Headley (12) bunts in the first inning against the Toronto Blue Jays at Yankee Stadium.

By Joe Giglio

As the Yankees get set to come home for a huge set with the second-place Red Sox, a stellar start to the 2017 season now comes with a new set of expectations: Full-season contention in the AL East.

If the Yankees are going to reprise big April and early May performance, reinforcements are likely needed at first base (.563 OPS, worst in MLB) and third base (.622 OPS, 28th in MLB).

Starting pitching could be a big need at some point, but the biggest issues lie in the infield corners right now. While Greg Bird’s health could reshape first base, the Yankees’ best bet at the hot corner could be 20-year-old Gleyber Torres and his move to a new position.

Unless, of course, general manager Brian Cashman lands a veteran to replace the unproductive Chase Headley (3 HR, .648 OPS).

According to Nick Cafardo of The Boston Globe, the Yankees are indeed shopping for that player.

They’ve basically played at a high level all season. They’ve combined young talent with effective seasons from the veterans. The pitching staff — both starters and relievers — has been impressive. As Orioles manager Buck Showalter pointed out, “They’re for real. They really have gotten great work out of their starting pitchers. Aaron Judge is for real. That’s a good baseball team and I’m sure they’ll add to it if they need to.”

The Yankees are shopping for a third baseman, according to major league sources.

Frazier to Yanks?

Frazier to Yanks?

If the White Sox hold a fire sale, the ex-Rutgers star and Toms River Little League hero could be a Yankees target.

Among teams looking like potential sellers, Kansas City’s Mike Moustakas (.805 OPS, free agent after ’17), Chicago White Sox’s Todd Frazier (.702 OPS, free agent after ’17) and Pittsburgh’s David Freese (.772 OPS, signed through ’18) could be interesting options for the Yankees to consider.


Why Yankees believe Gleyber Torres can handle 3B in majors soon — June 3, 2017

Why Yankees believe Gleyber Torres can handle 3B in majors soon

By Brendan Kuty

Yankees may be rotation injury away from unleashing a weapon —

Yankees may be rotation injury away from unleashing a weapon

By Mark W. Sanchez

chanmce adams

Chance Adams

Chance Adams has had enough. The star prospect rocketing through the farm system wants to see the Yankees already.

From his apartment.

MLB.com has stupid blackout restriction crap,” Adams vented over the phone when asked if he has been watching the big league team. “So I usually can’t watch the game on my app. And I never watch TV — we don’t even have internet at my apartment. I usually never get to watch it. But I’ll check the boxscore and see how guys did. I usually just check the pitching stats when Monty [Jordan Montgomery] pitches, want to check up on him.”

Adams may be an injury away from not needing the “100 and whatever dollar” app to see the team he aspires to play for. Since being promoted from Double-A Trenton, the 22-year-old Adams has been nearly unhittable with Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre, posting a 1.57 ERA with 27 strikeouts in 23 innings. Opponents have hit just .147 off of him, and he’s coming off a six-inning, one-hit, 12-strikeout gem Wednesday.

“I felt good,” Adams said nonchalantly. “Just locating well, which I was happy with. Just getting ahead of hitters.”

Adams, with a mid-90s fastball and sharp slider to go with a big-time curveball and changeup, has excelled wherever the Yankees have placed him. The fifth-round pick in the 2015 draft has a minor league ledger of 23-3 with a 1.96 ERA.

Now he’s playing with the likes of Gleyber Torres, Clint Frazier, Tyler Austin, Dustin Fowler and Tyler Wade, an enviable nucleus seen as the future of the Yankees. The Bombers haven’t had any starting pitcher injuries this year — the five in their rotation have made every start — and Adams insists he won’t look ahead.

“Not one bit,” he said, when asked if the clubhouse talks about the future. “We just focus on the stuff we have to do daily. … We definitely don’t talk about that sort of thing.Justregular stuff, what we’re going to eat that day.”

After a 50-game suspension for testing positive for amphetamines, Mets prospect Gary Cornish made his return to the mound Thursday.

The right-hander, who can hit the mid-90s with his fastball and opened Mets eyes in Low-A Brooklyn out of the bullpen last year, is now a starter.

Cornish, a 19th-round 2016 pick from the University of San Diego, pitched to a 2.19 ERA last year and struck out 44 in 25 innings. He showed enough to earn a rotation crack.

“Very good for his first outing,” Single-A Columbia coach Jose Leger said of Cornish’s 6 ¹/₃ innings in which he allowed three runs. “He kept his composure, he threw a lot of strikes. Good breaking ball. He commanded well all of his offspeed pitches.”

Why Yankees’ Aaron Judge turned down playing for hometown A’s — May 27, 2017

Why Yankees’ Aaron Judge turned down playing for hometown A’s

beene judge

A’s general manager Billy Beane, left, and Yankees right fielder Aaron Judge.

By Brendan Kuty

NEW YORK — If you step on it, it’s only an hour-and-a-half drive fromAaron Judge‘s hometown of Linden, Calif., to Oakland.

That short trip was a factor among a few that could have deprived theYankees from their new face.

When the A’s selected Judge in the 31st round of the 2010 draft, he gave serious consideration to signing with them, he said before Friday’s game against Oakland at Yankee Stadium.

“There was a thought that maybe I could do this out of high school,” Judge said.

Fortunately for the Yankees, Judge passed on the opportunity.

And after three years of starring at Fresno State, New York nabbed him with the 32nd overall pick — and a $1.8-million signing bonus — in the 2013 draft.

All he’s done since then is become the 6-foot-7, 270-pound symbol of the youth movement that’s changed the complexion of the Yankees.

So far this season, the right fielder is far and away the favorite for the American League Rookie of the Year and he’s in the MVP conversation. He’s smashed an MLB-leading 15 homers with 30 RBI, a .315 batting average, a cannon right arm and disarming, easygoing personality that was on display on the “Tonight Show.”

But if not for a few priorities, Judge could have been doing it all while wearing green and yellow.

No. 1, Judge said, was that as an 18-year-old, he didn’t feel wasn’t prepared.

“I kind of knew right away that I wasn’t ready physically and mentally to go out in the real world and play professional baseball,” he said.

No.2? His parents, Patty and Wayne, and his brother, John, are teachers. He liked the idea of college. They did, too.

“They said, ‘This is your decision. You’re 18. We don’t want to influence your decision at all. But if you want to ask for our opinion, we’re here for it,'” Judge said.

“So, obviously, at 18, I said, ‘What do you guys think? I’m kind of leaning on you guys a lot and my agent. So, what do you think?’

They leaned toward college.

“‘You could go there for a couple of years. See how that is. You could get drafted again,'” Judge said his parents told him. “‘But you might as well get started on your education, something to lean back on.’

“They were a big influence on that.”

And No. 3? Staying close enough to home was big for Judge at the time. The drive between Fresno State’s campus in Fresno, Calif., is just a little more than two hours from Linden.

“I wanted to stay on the West Coast,” he said, “be close to home, be close to family.”

Imagining the Yankees’ lineup with Gleyber Torres — May 26, 2017

Imagining the Yankees’ lineup with Gleyber Torres

by Brendan Kuty

What’s Yankees’ Brian Cashman’s plan for Gleyber Torres? —

What’s Yankees’ Brian Cashman’s plan for Gleyber Torres?


New York Yankees’ Gleyber Torres (81) celebrates with Chase Headley (12) as he crosses home plate after hitting a home run in the sixth inning of a baseball game against the Detroit Tigers during spring training at George M. Steinbrenner Field.

by Brendan Kuty

Don’t expect to see consensus top Yankees prospect Gleyber Torres in the majors right away.

At least that’s what Yankees general manager Brian Cashman said Thursday, according to a report from the New York Daily News’ Mike Mazzeo.

Cashman said he wants the 20-year-old shortstop to “take the next step” at Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre, where the Yankees promoted him from Double-A Trenton on Sunday.

Cashman didn’t rule out moving Torres to the majors this year. According to the report, the GM talked about whether the team could move him up sooner than expected in case they need him due to poor performance or an injury.

“That’s possible,” Cashman said, according to the report. “That happens all the time where, ‘Hey, we’d rather him stay down, but the need is there and he’s the best alternative.’ A lot of times guys get brought in here even when they haven’t finished all aspects off. You saw Didi playing here when he came over from Arizona and he wasn’t a finished product, he couldn’t hit lefties. So guys continue to finish their development up at the big-league level. And Aaron Hicks is doing what he’s doing this year and he’s been finishing off his development the last few years with Minnesota and us.”

Torres hit .273 with five homers and 18 RBI and a .863 OPS at Double-A. In its early-season top 100 prospects update, Baseball America ranked Torres No. 2 in the game. Torres has been learning second base and third base, too.

The Yankees acquired him amid last year’s trade deadline sell off. Torres was the jewel of a package they got in exchange for closerAroldis Chapman, whom they re-signed to a five-year, $86-million deal in the offseason. In addition to Torres, the Yankees got 2013 first-round pick outfielder Billy McKinney, outfielder Rashad Crawford and swingman Adam Warren.

Yankees middle infield duo among MLB’s best — May 23, 2017

Yankees middle infield duo among MLB’s best

Blazing starts from Castro & Gregorius are helping Yankees stay atop AL East

By A.J. Herrmann

Yankees Castro-Gregorius middle infield duo playing their best baseball in 2017

In 2016, Yankees middle infielders Didi Gregorius and Starlin Castro became the first pair of teammates in franchise history to both surpass 20 home runs from the shortstop and second base positions in the same year.

This year, the Bombers’ double-play duo (and “Step Brothers” in spirit) are on pace to threaten those career-high marks, and put forth their best season in pinstripes yet.

Castro has hit the ball as well as any infielder in baseball this year, and enters Tuesday ranking top-five in the American League in runs (31), hits (58) and batting average (.335).

Among all major league second basemen, Castro ranks first in each of the aforementioned categories, as well as top-five in home runs (7), RBI (27), on-base percentage (.372), slugging percentage (.514) and extra-base hits (17).

If Castro were to maintain his current slash line totals (unlikely as it may be), he’d finish with career-highs in each category; and with seven round-trippers in his first 42 games this year, Castro’s on pace to finish the full season with 27, which would best his previous career-high of 21, set last year in his first season with the Yankees.

While some have dubbed Castro the “unsung hero” of this dynamic Yankees lineup, his impact has helped the Bombers stay near the top of the AL East division for much of the 2017 season.

The Yankees offense has also been thriving despite the early absences of Gregorius, who has hit the lights out since his return from the disabled list on April 28, and Greg Bird, who has continued to recover from an ankle injury.

Following Monday night’s 4-2 Yankees win over the Royals, New York skipper Joe Girardi remarked that Gregorius has “picked up where he left off last year” since rejoining the Yankees lineup. Sir Didi finished the night with two hits, including a two-run home run, raising his batting average to .333 (30-90) on the season.

Despite playing in just 22 games so far this year, Gregorius’ bat appears to be in mid-season form, and the Yankees are thrilled to welcome him back to the clubhouse. Of those 22 games, Didi has recorded multiple hits in 10 of them (including each of his first three games of 2017), to go along with a pair of home runs, one of which came against a fellow leftyMonday night against Kansas City.

Gregorius’ 30 hits on the year are tied for 10th-most among AL shortstops with Baltimore’s JJ Hardy (who’s gotten 58 more at-bats than Didi this year), and Kansas City’s Alcides Escobar (who’s gotten 75 more at-bats than Didi this year).

Didi’s .333 batting average ranks second among AL shortstops with at least 20 games played, and his 16 RBI (again, in only 22 games!) ranks eighth. The 27-year-old shortstop is on pace to finish 2017 with 30 doubles, 82 runs and 118 RBI, and if last year was any indication, his power numbers should continue to grow.

It’s hard to forecast what Didi’s trajectory might look like over the rest of the season based on his small sample size, but after the blazing starts from both Gregorius and Castro, the Yankees middle infield once again looks like it could be one of the best keystone combos in all of baseball.