The Runner Sports

Yankees Lose In Ugly Spring Training Game: Takeaways From The Game

On Monday, the New York Yankees played in Bradenton, FL against the Pittsburgh Pirates in Spring Training action.  What were the big takeaways from this game?

Even for a road game, the Yankees boasted a lineup with all but one player who is on the 25-man roster.  Here was the starting lineup:

Gardner LF

Ellsbury CF

Castro 2B

Bird 1B

Headley 3B

Judge DH

Hicks RF

Romine C

Mateo SS

For the Yankees, this game was an ugly one.  The final score was 13-1, with positives from the game being few and far between.  Though wins and losses do not matter in Spring Training, putting a good performance is important.  The players who played today did not have a good day.  That is perfectly fine, however, there were some big picture takeaways to report from the game.

Pitching Takeaways

Bryan Mitchell Struggles

Heading into this start, Bryan Mitchell was piecing together a solid case for earning his way into the starting rotation. However, this start was a blemish on his record.  Starting off strong in the first inning, Mitchell fell apart in the second.  Giving up four straight hits, Mitchell surrendered three runs in the second inning.  Mitchell did not make it out of the third inning, where he gave up a home run to Jordy Mercer, before he hit his pitch limit for this start.

The fact that Mitchell got hit around is not concerning.  It happens to any pitcher, especially in Spring Training, where there are still adjustment periods to be going through.  For Mitchell, the concerning thing is not that he gave up hits and runs.  The concerning aspect of this start was how many pitches were left over the middle of the plate.  Out of the five hits he surrendered, four of them came off of pitches that were left down the middle.  Plus, Mitchell was behind in the count to the first three batters that got hits off of him.

Bryan Mitchell’s control has been a concern for the young starter before.  In his first two appearances, Mitchell was able to keep good command of his pitches.  After the first inning, that went away.  Personally, I think Mitchell is a top contender to make his way into the rotation.  But this start will not help him.

Depleted Pirates Torch Pitchers

With the World Baseball Classic officially underway, the Pittsburgh Pirates are a team who are missing numerous starters for the tournament.  All three of their starting outfielders (Andrew McCutchen, Starlin Marte, and Gregory Polanco), infielder Josh Harrison, and catcher Francisco Cervelli are all with their respective national teams.  That is five players of the Pirates’ starting lineup gone. Even missing these five players, the Pirates were able to put 13 runs on the Yankees pitching staff.

The majority of the 13 runs came in the seventh inning where the starters for both teams were already gone.  However, the starting lineup of the Pirates scored 6 runs.  Even though Mitchell and Jon Niese were the only MLB level pitchers who pitched, it is a little alarming that a lineup with a majority of prospects and minor leaguers put that much offense together on the pitching staff.

Quick Takeaways

  • There were five walks shared between J.P. Feyereisen and Evan Rutckyj in their brief outings.  Each pitcher pitched in less than an inning, with Feyereisen coming in relief of Mitchell in the third.  The control was not there today for these two.
  • Jon Niese had a solid inning of work to help him attempt to earn a spot in the bullpen. The former Mets’ pitcher faced four batters, with the only one reaching base by an error.

Position Players Takeaways

Aaron Hicks Performs Better Than Aaron Judge

Thus far in Spring Training, Aaron Judge has been the better outfielder between him and Aaron Hicks.  Judge had a batting average of .400 with one colossal home run back in the first game.  Meanwhile, Hicks’ average was at .250 heading into Monday’s game.  Between the two, Judge has been beating out Hicks for the starting job in RF.

However, in Monday’s game, Hicks performed better than Judge.  Each player scored a hit, but Hicks had a double and a walk.  Meanwhile, Judge notched another strikeout.  Though it is another strikeout, Ivan Nova threw a perfect pitch to get Judge swinging.  All in all, it was a good day for the two outfielders.

Without Gary Sanchez, Didi Gregorius, & Matt Holliday, Yankees Do Not Look Formidable

As mentioned above, only Jorge Mateo was not an MLB level player in today’s starting lineup. The rest of the lineup could be out there for a regular season game. This lineup was without Gary Sanchez, Matt Holliday, Chris Carter, or Didi Gregorius. Without those players, the lineup loses a lot of the fear factor that the Opening Day lineup will surely have. The lineup with these players forms a formidable and potent offense.  However, take these players out of it, then the lineup is not so scary.

Between Gregorius, Holliday, and Sanchez, that is 60 home runs from 2016. Though that is not an incredible amount of power, those three are the known power threats (along with Carter and Castro).  The trio who were missing from the lineup help add that fear factor that is normally in a lineup.

Top of the Order Needs to be Split

Over the offseason, there were rumors that the Yankees were considering breaking up the pairing of Jacoby Ellsbury and Brett Gardner at the top of the order.  After watching a couple of games with that pair leading things off, I tend to agree with that sentiment.  Ellsbury and Gardner are too similar in their styles at the plate to be right after each other. Sliding Ellsbury down the order to fifth or sixth could do wonders for the lineup. Though there is no quantitative evidence to support this claim, the feeling of the lineup is odd with Gardner and Ellsbury together.  Something felt right about Gregorius hitting second in the first game.

Quick Takeaways

  • Jorge Mateo got the start Monday at shortstop.  At the plate, he was very aggressive.  However, the bigger takeaway was his throwing.  Between this game and the last one I broke down, Mateo has made four throws that were off target.  Monday, one resulted in a batter reaching by an error.
  • If it was not for former Yankee Ivan Nova, the Bronx Bombers would have been shut out in this game.  Nova, who committed two errors in consecutive order, allowed Gardner to treach second on his first throwing blunder, then followed it up by allowing Ellsbury on by a fielding error.

Other Takeaways

Despite this game being a mighty struggle for the Yankees, Spring Training has been an exciting one with great successes.  It will be interesting to see how the prospects and non-roster invitees perform at short with Gregorius off with Team Netherlands in the WBC.  Gleyber Torres, Jorge Mateo, Pete Kozma, Ruben Tejada, and Donovan Solano are all looking to impress during their time at shortstop for the rest of Spring Training.

Griffin Fuller
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Griffin Fuller

Former Division 1 pitcher at Stetson University with an immense passion for the game of baseball. Grew up playing baseball from the age of 3. Student of the game of baseball in every aspect.Located out of Debary, Florida.
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Griffin Fuller
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