If It’s Tuesday, It Must Be Severino

Luis Severino will look to end the Yankees 3-game losing streak Tuesday night. (Corey Sipkin NY Daily News)

Luis Severino will look to end the Yankees 3-game losing streak Tuesday night. (Corey Sipkin NY Daily News)

by Drew Sarver

A week ago tomorrow (Wednesday), the Yankees top prospect, Luis Severino, made his Major League Debut. The right-hander with the electric arm delivered five innings of solid pitching, but the Yankees fell to the Boston Red Sox 2-1. Severino makes his second start one day shy of his debut, and with a lot more pressure on him. The Yankees need their future ace to deliver a performance equal to or greater than his first start. That’s what happens when your team was on the wrong end of a three game sweep to the second place Toronto Blue Jays over the weekend.

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While the Yankees still lead the Blue Jays by three games in the loss column, the actual difference is 1.5 games since the Yankees have three games in hand. Severino makes his inaugural road start against the Cleveland Indians and another exciting young pitcher, Carlos Carrasco (11 wins, 3.76 ERA, close to 10 Ks per 9 innings pitched). That amps up the pressure even more, but if anyone can handle it, it appears Severino can.

Here’s what some of the Boston Red Sox had to say to the NY Post writers after facing the rookie:

David Ortiz, who homered off of Severino – “That young kid, he’s got good stuff, man. I think he’s going to be pretty good. He’s got a good fastball, cutter, a changeup. I think at the beginning of the game he was missing location a little bit, but other than that, his stuff was very explosive. Very good.”

Red Sox manager John Farrell – “[He’s] got a great arm. Severino’s got electric-type stuff. There’s no question we’ll see Severino a lot in years to come. That’s a good-looking young pitcher.”

The Yankees are counting more positive results tonight against and Indians squad that has lost 11 of their last 17 games.

Drew Sarver is the founder and publisher of On the Warning Track. He’s been writing about sports for years, particularly the Yankees on his well known blog My Pinstripes. He can be followed on Twitter at mypinstripes.

RaildRiders Win In a Run off

Ben Gamel legged out a rare inside-the-park walk off home run. (photo - thetimes-tribune.com)

Ben Gamel legged out a rare inside-the-park walk off home run. (photo – thetimes-tribune.com)

by On the Warning Track staff

A walk off home run? More like a run off home run. The Yankees Triple-A farm club, the Scranton/Wilkes-Barre RailRiders were tied at one apiece with the Pawtucket Red Sox in the 9th inning Monday night.

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That’s when Scranton’s Ben Gamel stepped to the plate and lined a base hit to right field that eluded outfielder Jonathan Roof, who tried to make a sliding grab. Off to the races we go.

Despite a small stumble coming around third base, Gamel slid home safely with a head first dive that was well ahead of the relay throw. Being mobbed by his teammates was a much riskier play.

Duda, You’re Amazin’

The Mets’ Lucas Duda has certainly been the Dude at the plate lately. (Photo credit: nypost.com)

By Brandon Karsten

What a stretch of 10 days it has been for the New York Mets. The Mets executed deals to get Yoenis Cespedes and Tyler Clippard before the trade deadline. Wilmer Flores was very tearful after rumors circulated that he was about to be sent to Milwaukee for Carlos Gomez, only to see the deal fall through and Gomez went Houston instead.

Then after sweeping a weekend home series against the NL East-leading Washington Nationals, the Mets won four straight road games and found themselves atop the division. In large part, it’s thanks largely to the contributions of first baseman Lucas Duda that the Mets are the talk of the town.

Things haven’t always been so easy for the now 29-year old. A native of Riverside, Calif., Duda attended USC and was drafted in the seventh round by the Mets after his junior year. He made his big league debut September 1, 2010 in Atlanta, where he went 0-for-3 and struck out. Duda recorded his first big-league hit two nights later in Chicago against the Cubs.

Duda did make the big league club at the beginning of the 2011 season, but then began a pattern of bouncing between Triple-A Buffalo and New York over the next two years. In 2013, Duda suffered a strained rib muscle that put him on the disabled list in late June. The injury helped reduce Duda’s average to .223, though he managed to play 100 games. In 2014, Duda career hit new heights with career highs in home runs (30) and RBI (92), despite a .239 average, and also became the Mets’ primary first baseman.

The 2015 campaign for Duda could be best described riding a roller coaster. Duda hit only two home runs in April, but hit for a .325 average and had an on-base percentage of .427. There was a bit of a cooling off period in May and then a June swoon when he batted .187 and had only one round-tripper.

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Duda’s bat started to heat up with the summer after the All-Star break. He started to find his long ball stroke with his first two homer game of the season on July 25, as part of a 15-2 rout of the L.A. Dodgers. In a 7-3 July 29 loss to the visiting San Diego Padres, Duda hit three home runs off three different Padres’ pitchers on his way to hitting four long balls in the three-game set.

The Washington Nationals rolled into Flushing on July 31, three games ahead of the Mets in the NL East after the Mets lost two out of three vs. San Diego and the Nats recorded a short two-game winning streak. New York won 2-1 in the opener after Wilmer Flores hit a walk-off homer in the 12th inning Friday. In the Mets’ 3-2 win Saturday, Duda hit two dingers and also stroked the go-ahead RBI double in the eighth. Then on Sunday, Duda, Curtis Granderson and Daniel Murphy each took Jordan Zimmermann deep in the third frame to help the Mets secure the sweep in the 5-2 victory.

In an eight game stretch from July 25 to August 2, Duda hit for a .393 average while smacking nine homers and drove in 12 runs to go with a .452 on-base percentage. His defense has also been spectacular with the NL lead in fielding percentage (0.999)  at first base. He also has thed fifth best totals for assists and double plays at his position. According to ESPN, perhaps this power surge of Duda’s can be attributed to a message from Mets manager Terry Collins to Duda to start producing or else he’ll find himself on the bench.

“I always thought he was going to have a good second half,” Collins said to ESPN’s Adam Rubin. “He’s a tremendous worker and wants to be good.”

With the sudden burst of offensive production from Duda, good is not the right word to describe his power surge at the plate that is lighting up both Big Apples – New York City and the big plastic one in center field at Citi Field. Duda leads the Mets with 21 HR and 55 RBI.

Brandon Karsten is a columnist for On The Warning Track. He can be found on Facebook or contacted by email at bkarsten2009@hotmail.com

Archer’s Slider is a Bullseye, but is it the Best?

Chris Archer's slider has helped him quickly climb the ladder to the elite pitchers in baseball. (Photo - tampabay.com)

Chris Archer’s slider has helped him quickly climb the ladder to the elite pitchers in baseball. (Photo – tampabay.com)

By Tanner Smith

Continuing in the quest to identify the best pitches in baseball, I will now focus on the best sliders in baseball. (In case you missed it, I’ve already discussed which pitchers had the best fastballs in baseball.) As I did in determing the best fastball pitchers, I will continue to use the great Pitch Type Linear Weights data from Fangraphs.com to help me come to a conclusion. And as before, I will continue to use the “eye test” as a major factor to select who comes out on top.

One thing to keep in mind is that Pitch Type Linear Weights data is more dependable for starting pitchers than relief pitchers, since there is a much bigger sample size to draw from for starters. For the purposes of this post I also used Fangraphs to help me distinguish different types of breaking balls. For example Corey Kluber’s devastating breaking ball is classified as a cutter, so it will not appear in this post.

Top three Starting Pitchers Sliders (Average MPH):

  1. Francisco Liriano (84.8)
  2. Chris Archer (88.0)
  3. Tyson Ross (86.6)

Going back to his days with the Twins, Liriano always had some of the best pure stuff in the Major Leagues. However until he came to Pittsburgh he could neverconsistently command the pitch. Since Pirates’ pitching coach Ray Searage helped him iron out his mechanics, Liriano has been able to get ahead of hitters in order to put them away with his signature slider. That pitch has always been his bread and butter and it has been better than ever in 2015, as it has registered the highest value of any slider according to Fangraphs.

Archer throws the hardest slider on this list at 88.0 MPH and he throws it a lot. According to Fangraphs, Archer has thrown his slider 40.1% of the time this year, nearly making him a two-pitch pitcher with his fastball and slider. Archer is throwing his slider more and harder than he ever has. In 2014, he averaged 86.2 MPH on the slider and threw it only 28.9% of the time. It is safe to say that an improved slider has led to his 2015 breakout. He ranks fourth in baseball in Fielding Independent Pitching (FIP) through 22 starts, right behind Max Scherzer and ahead of Kluber.

Speaking of two pitch starting pitchers, Ross is the prototype,  He has thrown his changeup only 0.3% of the time. He relies heavily on his slider, throwing it 44.6% of the time, and is effective with it, as his slider ranks third on the Pitch Type board. Ross’ high strikeout rate of 9.66 K/9 and groundball rate of 62.9% show that his two-pitch repertoire is working for him, in large part because of the slider.

Top Three Relief Pitchers Sliders (Average MPH)

  1. Dellin Betances (83.4)
  2. Sergio Romo (77.5)
  3. Ken Giles (85.8)

The slider is a staple for most relief pitchers and as a result the best three sliders in baseball may belong to relievers. Betances’ slider is obviously helped by his mid to high 90’s fastball, but it is filthy by it’s own merits. Betances actually throws his slider (51.6%) more than his fastball (48.4%). He uses all 6’8″ of his body to create a great downward plane for his slider and hitters usually are rendered helpless by it, especially when they are geared up for his fastball.

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Romo has a completely different slider than Betances, but it has helped him carve out a very nice Major League career despite the fact he only averages 87.5 MPH on his fastball. Romo’s slider is a true side-to-side sweeper as opposed to a Brad Lidge-type of slider that broke primarily downward. Romo only throws the slider 77.5 MPH, but he is able to throw it in any count for both called strikes and swing and misses out of the strike zone.

Giles will finally get a chance to close in Philly with the departure of Jonathan Papelbon and he certainly has the stuff for the job. He does not throw his slider (39.2%) as much as Betances and Romo, but he gets wicked downward movement on it like Lidge used to. He also throws it at times expceptionally – 90 MPH – and tends to lean on it when he gets in trouble. He’ll also use his slider exclusively against some great hitters, and get good results as a result of its location down in the strike zone. That’s when the pitch is close to unhittable.

Tanner Smith is a contributing writer for On the Warning Track. His previous work can also be seen on his personal site, Tannerball.com




Best Fastball in MLB – Is it Mad Max or is deGrom deBomb?

Max Scherzer and Jacob deGrom are dominating NL hitters.

Max Scherzer and Jacob deGrom are dominating NL hitters.

By Tanner Smith

One of the hardest things to quantify in baseball is how good an individual pitch is. It is easy to watch a pitcher pitch and say “that pitch was nasty” based on the result. However it is very difficult to say with any certainty that one pitcher’s fastball is nastier than another pitcher’s fastball. Thanks to the great folks at Fangraphs, however, we now have a base to start with.

The Fangraphs team have collected data on Pitch Type Linear Weights, which examines how each pitch effects the average run expectancy of the situation. For example, a fastball thrown for a called strike in a 0-0 count has a value while a fastball for a strike in a 1-1 count has a similar, but different value. Using this data as a starting point and the eye test to supplement this, I will give my top three of the best fastballs in the game, separating starters and relievers.

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Keep in mind that the most difficult part of this process is figuring out how each pitch in a pitcher’s repertoire affects another. For example, Clayton Kershaw’s curveball would undeniably be a good pitch for any pitcher but it’s effectiveness is heightened by his great fastball and slider. For now the focus will strictly be on the fastball, combining four-seamers and two-seamers into one category.

Top three Starting Pitchers Fastballs (Average MPH)

  1. Max Scherzer (93.7)
  2. Jacob deGrom (94.7)
  3. Gerrit Cole (95.7)

Scherzer may be the best pitcher in baseball right now, not in small part due to his fastball. He tops the Pitch Type Linear Weights leaderboard with his version, which he throws 58.2% of the time. Hitters tend to take very bad swings at the Scherzer fastball, even on the rare occasion that he misses his location.

deGrom is second on the fastball leaderboard, but this one is based a good bit on the eye test too. While it is often hard to discern much meaningful information from the All-Star Game, it was hard to watch the 2015 edition and not be blown away by how DeGrom blew away the three hitters he faced with mostly fastballs. He gets great late life on the pitch to the point that he almost throws a “riser” and hitters react to it as if it is 100 MPH instead of 95. Cole is lower on the fastball rankings, but he has become a top-flight pitcher while throwing his fastball 68.1% of the time. He gets ridiculous run on the pitch while maintaining his elite velocity. Cole is able to get through a lineup the first time through by relying primarily on his fastball.


Top Three Relief Pitchers Fastballs (Average MPH):

  1. Aroldis Chapman (99.6)
  2. Craig Kimbrel (97.5)
  3. Zack Britton (95.4)

The relievers’ section is based much more on the eye test than the starters’ section. The sample size for this season on the Linear Weights data is not large enough to be heavily relied upon. This is confirmed by the rating of Aroldis Chapman, as he only ranks 18th on the fastball leaderboards for relievers, but is the unquestioned number one in my rankings. He averages about 100 MPH and throw his heater 78.4% of the time. He is the only guy who I watch and think to myself that the hitters almost literally have no chance to hit, as he is effectively wild with his bullets. Chapman’s fastball also makes his changeup and slider close to unhittable, as no one is going to hit a 103 MPH fastball unless they are entirely geared up for it.

Kimbrel has had a down year by his own ridiculously high standards, but his fastball may have the most life of any fastball I have ever seen. He throws a legitimate rising fastball in the upper 90’s, which leads to embarrassing swings by opposing hitters and has partially lead to his career 14.61 K/9 ratio.

Britton may be a surprising name to be on this list, but I was swayed by the fact that he has thrown his fastball 90.6% of the time this year. That means the hitters should know what’s coming, but are still unable to square him up. He throws a mid 90’s two-seam fastball, which tumbles like a bowling ball, causing 75.3% of the balls put in play against him to be hit on the ground. He has also upped his strikeout rate to 10.27 K/9 this season, showing that the two-seamer is getting both strikeouts and ground-balls, two of the most optimal outcomes for a pitcher.

Tanner Smith is a contributing writer for On the Warning Track. His previous work can also be seen on his personal site, Tannerball.com

For Blue Jays The Price Was Right

The Blue Jays have landed the ace they needed in former AL Cy Young winner David Price.

The Blue Jays have landed the ace they needed in former AL Cy Young winner David Price.

by Drew Sarver

After much speculation that the Detroit Tigers were going to send David Price to the Los Angeles Dodgers, Toronto Blue Jays GM Alex Anthopoulos brought the southpaw north of the border on Thursday.

The Blue Jay sent pitchers Daniel Norris, Matt Boyd and Jairo Labourt in return. Once the Tigers confirmed on Wednesday that they would be sellers, it was just a matter of time before Detroit GM Dan Dombrowski found Price a new home. The 2012 AL Cy Young winner joins a rotation that includes 2012 NL Cy Young winner R.A. Dickey, veteran Mark Buehrle, Marco Estrada and Drew Hutchison. Aaron Sanchez, recently off the disabled list, was moved to the bullpen upon his activation.

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Price brings a power left-handed arm that strikes out 8.5 batters per nine innings and has a 2.53 ERA this season. He led the AL in strikeouts last season with 271. This is the second straight year that Price has been moved at the trade deadline. Last season, as a member of the Tampa Bay Rays, he was part of a three team deal that landed him in Detroit. Austin Jackson (Mariners), Drew Smyly (Rays). Nick Franklin (Rays), Willy Adames (Rays) were also part of the deal.

Price makes $19.5MM this year and is eligible for free agency after this season. In Norris, the Tigers get one of the top 20 rated players in baseball. The left-hander made five starts for the Blue Jays this season with a 1-1, 3.86 record. The 22-year old was sent to Triple-A Buffalo at the beginning of May, where he was having some control issues that contributed to a 4.27 ERA and 1.5 WHIP. From Baseball America:

Norris has crisp stuff including an overpowering fastball, but needs to repeat his delivery more consistently.

Boyd, a 24-year old left-hander, was dominant (6-1, 1.10 8.6K/9 IP) at Double-A New Hampshire and was promoted to Triple-A Buffalo in mid-June. He was solid there as well, with a 3-1, 2.77 mark and 37 K’s in 39 innings pitched. Per Fangraphs, he relies primarily on a low 90s fastball and his slider.

Labourt is a 21-year old lefty out of the Dominican Republic that, until this season, played a dozen games or so in the outfield since the Jays signed him in 2011.

Right now the Blue Jays are wearing the crown as king of the trade deadline with the acquisitions of Price and shortstop Troy Tulowitzki.

Drew Sarver is the founder and publisher of On the Warning Track. He’s been writing about sports for years, particularly the Yankees on his well known blog My Pinstripes. He can be followed on Twitter at mypinstripes.

Mets: Gomez’ Hips Don’t Lie – No Deal

Carlos Gomez won't be donning a Mets uniform again any time soon.

Carlos Gomez won’t be donning a Mets uniform again any time soon.

Several hours after agreeing to a deal with the Milwaukee Brewers, the New York Mets cancelled a trade for Carlos Gomez due to concerns over Gomez’ hips.

The deal would have sent pitcher Zack Wheeler and infielder WIlmer Flores to Milwaukee for Gomez, who would have been returning to the organization that originally signed him. But the deal fell through after physicals. Gomez’ agent, Scott Boras, denied there were any physical issues with his player.

“Carlos Gomez is in first class physical condition,” Scott Boras told the Daily News. “He is going to play another 15 years, as far as I know. He has never seen a hip doctor. He has no hip issue. Wherever that rumor popped up from, it is a complete misrepresentation of the player’s condition.”

It was an emotional night for Flores, one that played out in front of the Citi Field crowd as well as a television audience. Flores received a standing ovation when he came to bat in the 7th inning and could be seen shedding tears. (You’d cry too if you were going from the Big Apple to Milwaukee.) Flores’ manager, Terry Collins, talked to the media after the game about how difficult life can be for a player, especially a younger one.

“You guys think these guys are stone-cold robots, but they’re not. They’re human beings with emotions. This kid is upset, he’s sad, he’s been a Met his whole life, and he probably wants to be a Met… I feel terrible for Wilmer. As you guys know, they’re isn’t a finer guy in the clubhouse than him.”

As for the Brewers, Gomez’ teammates were happy he was sticking around (for now). Martin Maldonado took to Twitter to express he and his teammates’ feeling about Gomez.

Gomez still a Brewers nice, good friend and

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Report: Rangers Agree to Send Six For Hamels


Cole Hamels leaves Philly after a decade in a deal with the Texas Rangers.

Evan Grant of the Dallas Morning News is reporting that the Philadelphia Phillies and Texas Rangers have agreed on a deal that will make Cole Hamels a member of the Rangers. In return the Phillies will receive six players from Texas.

The players are reportedly pitcher Matt Harrison and prospects Jorge Alfaro, Nick Williams, Alec Asher, Jerad Eickhoff, and Jake Thompson. ESPN reported that Eickhoff is not part of the deal. In addition to Hamels, the Rangers will also receive Jake Diekman, and cash to help pay for the remainder of Hamels’ contract.

In acquiring Hamels, the Rangers get a left-hander who is among the best pitchers in the Major Leagues. His last start for the Phillies came on Saturday when he no-hit the Chicago Cubs at Wrigley Field. The 10-year veteran has compiled a 114-90 record with a 3.30 ERA and over 1,800 strikeouts in 1,930 innings pitched. A three-time All-Star, Hamels has finished in the top 10 in the NL Cy Young voting four times and earned a World Series ring when the Phillies captured the crown in 2008.

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Hamels put up outsanding numbers the last few season despite the fact the Phillies had become a poor team that didn’t score runs or play solid defense. The lefty has topped 200 innings in each of the five previous seasons and has made more than 30+ starts in seven straight seasons. He is owed the remainder of $23.5MM this season and $90.5MM through 2018. There are team and vesting options that would add another year to the contract as well.

The Phillies, meanwhile, have to be excited about the prospects they are receiving as they attempt to rebuild. Two of the keys to the deal are Alfaro and Thompson.  Alfaro, a catcher who was playing at Double-A Frisco, is ranked in the top 100 prospects by several ranking services and was ranked as the third best prospect in the organization by Baseball America. He’s a solid defender with a power bat.

Thompson, the number two prospect in the organization and another top 100 prospect, is a 6’4″ right-handed starter that was a teammate of Alfaro’s in Frisco. He was acquired from Detroit last season in exchange for the Tigers’ current closer, Joakim Soria. Through 17 starts in the Texas League, Thompson had compiled a 4-4, 4.72 record with 8K/9 IP. He has a low 90s fastball that he mixed with off-speed pitches.

Drew Sarver is the founder and publisher of On the Warning Track. He’s been writing about sports for years, particularly the Yankees on his well known blog My Pinstripes. He can be followed on Twitter at mypinstripes.


Mets Bring Back Carlos Gomez – Or Not

 (Photo by Ezra Shaw/Getty Images)

Carlos Gomez is probably smiling from ear to ear after being shipped by to New York. (Photo by Ezra Shaw/Getty Images)

by Drew Sarver

Update 7/29 11:50 pm – Mets GM Sandy Alderson told the media that a trade for Carlos Gomez will not occur. This from the Wall St. Journal’s Jared Diamond:


Carlos Gomez‘ first time around in New York didn’t work out so well. A .592 OPS in 58 games in 2007 was nothing to write home about. A year later, he was part of a package deal that was sent to Minnesota for ace Johann Santana.  Prior to the 2010 season, Gomez was sent to Milwaukee for shortstop J.J. Hardy. It was in the state of Wisconsin that Gomez blossomed as a powerful, speedy centerfielder. And now he will have the chance to show Mets fans what they’ve been missing on a daily basis since he was dealt away.

Gomez has been reacquired from the Mets  for pitcher Zack Wheeler and infielder Wilmer Flores. The 29-year old has average 23 home runs and 73  RBI the last two seasons. In addition, he’s picked up a Gold Glove Award and averaged 37 steals over the last three seasons. It’s a big upgrade to the Mets’ offense and defense. Current centerfielder Juan Lagares recorded a meager .617 OPS in 348 at-bats.

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Wheeler was acquired at the 2011 trade deadline from the San Francisco Giants for outfielder Carlos Beltran. He debuted in 2013 and was 18-16, 3.50 with 271 strikeouts in 285.1 innings pitched over his first two seasons in the bigs. He’s been sidelined this season due to having undergone Tommy John surgery in late March. With pitchers like Jacob deGrom, Matt Harvey, and Noah Syndergaard on their roster, Wheeler became expendable.

Flores showed a promising bat at times this season, but he was a defensive liability at shortstop.

Gomez has one year remaining on his contract (at $9MM a bargain) and is eligible for free agency in 2017.

Drew Sarver is the founder and publisher of On the Warning Track. He’s been writing about sports for years, particularly the Yankees on his well known blog My Pinstripes. He can be followed on Twitter at mypinstripes.