The New York Yankees reportedly alerted Major League Baseball to another instance of potential cheating on the part of the Houston Astros.
According to Andy Martino of SNY, the Yankees complained to MLB about blinking lights in center field early in Game 6 of the 2019 ALCS. The lights stopped early in the game, which the Astros won to advance to the World Series.
The Yankees also suspected that the Astros were alternating whistling and hand signs to tip off their hitters, and the type of whistling was different depending on the pitch.
This was the same series in which the Yankees complained about some suspicious whistling early in the series, which appears to have been picked up during game broadcasts. By 2019, MLB had standardized its camera angles, meaning that the infamous trash can approach Houston allegedly used would have been rendered less effective. Lights in center field would certainly be one way to get around that, though it’s not clear how they may have been used.
Aroldis Chapman has been one of the best relievers in baseball with the New York Yankees over the past three-plus seasons, and he wants to remain with the team going forward. But if he does, it will not be under his current contract.
Chapman holds a player option for the next two years and $30 million total remaining on his deal, and Jon Heyman of Fancred reports that he is not planning to opt in. The left-hander prefers to continue pitching in New York, but he wants an extension from the Yankees.
Chapman had 37 saves in 42 opportunities this season, and his 2.21 ERA was the lowest of his three full seasons with the Yankees. He’ll turn 32 in February, but Craig Kimbrel signed a three-year, $43 million deal with the Chicago Cubs after sitting out a significant portion of the 2019 season. You can understand why Chapman feels good about his chances of getting a big deal on the open market.
While some opponents think Chapman has lost some of his intimidation factor, he’s still one of the best relievers in baseball and has proven he can perform in a big market. It would not be a surprise if the Yankees pay to keep him.
The New York Yankees’ first meaningful offseason move is to make a change to their coaching staff.
According to Joel Sherman of the New York Post, the Yankees will part ways with pitching coach Larry Rothschild.
Rothschild had been the Yankees’ pitching coach since 2011. That’s a long time to stick in one position in the sport, and the Yankees clearly felt things had gotten stale. Despite winning 103 games, the Yankees sat firmly in the middle of the road statistically with a 4.31 team ERA. Their starters in particular underwhelmed, going through one stretch that was so bad that Rothschild publicly took the blame for their issues.
Another reason for Rothschild’s removal, according to Sherman, is that he was more old school and did not entirely adapt to the team’s preference to use more “new-age” strategies.
Joe Girardi, who originally hired Rothschild, just found a new job. Rothschild may just follow him there now that his Yankee obligations are finished.
The Houston Astros won a dramatic ALCS Game 6 in the bottom of the 9th off Aroldis Chapman, but the New York Yankees made a strategic blunder that contributed to the 6-4 Astros win.
The Yankees had tied the game in the top of the 9th inning on a two-run home run by DJ LeMahieu, which allowed them to bring Chapman into a tie game in the bottom of the 9th. Chapman retired the first two hitters, catcher Martin Maldonado and outfielder Josh Reddick, relatively easily. He seemed to lose command of his fastball against George Springer and walked the Houston outfielder to bring Jose Altuve to the plate with one on and two out.
Normally, facing Altuve in that spot would be a no-win situation. The Astros’ normal No. 3 hitter is Michael Brantley, but he had been removed for defensive purposes in the 9th. Instead of Brantley, light-hitting outfielder Jake Marisnick was on deck behind Altuve.
Chapman’s fastball command was still failing him, and he went to 2-0 on Altuve. At this point, Chapman shouldn’t have given Altuve anything to hit. Marisnick hit just .225 against left-handed pitching in 2019, and with Chapman’s overwhelming stuff, he would have had a significant advantage over the reserve outfielder.
Instead, Chapman left a breaking ball up on the outer edge, and Altuve smashed it for a series-winning home run.
We already know what Altuve can do against elite left-handed pitching. He hit .311 with a .677 slugging percentage against lefties this season. As good as Chapman is, Altuve absolutely mashes southpaws. The Yankees surely knew that. At 2-0, Chapman should have just pitched around him. Their failure to do so may have cost them a chance to play in a Game 7 and keep their World Series hopes alive.
The New York Yankees beat the Houston Astros 4-1 in Game 5 of the ALCS on Friday, setting up a situation where both teams will be piecing things together for Game 6 in Houston.
Thanks to Wednesday’s Game 4 rainout, both the Yankees and Astros lost what would have been a scheduled travel day Friday between Games 5 and 6. That meant that Justin Verlander and James Paxton could start Game 5 in New York, but it also left a void for Game 6.
After the game, Astros manager A.J. Hinch and Yankees manager Aaron Boone both confirmed they will work their way through a bullpen game for Game 6. The Astros, in particular, resisted any temptation to use Gerrit Cole on short rest, saving him for a potential Game 7 on what would be regular rest.
This is basically what Game 4 would have looked like had it been played as it was originally scheduled. The prevailing wisdom is that the Astros will likely try to get some length out of rookie pitcher Jose Urquidy. The Yankees’ situation is less clear, but they do have left-handed starter J.A. Happ, the losing pitcher in Game 2, available for length if they want it.
Both teams managed to save key relievers in Game 5. Justin Verlander got through seven despite the loss, and they only had to use Brad Peacock for an inning. The Yankees are in slightly worse shape, having used Zach Britton for 1.2 innings along with an inning of Aroldis Chapman, though they did get Chad Green a much-needed day off.
Cole has been dominant, and is the ace the Astros have left up their sleeve. Houston seemed to have potential Game 7 starter Luis Severino’s number in Game 3, but he settled in and limited the damage. The pitching matchup would favor the Astros in a potential Game 7, but if their pitching staff can outdo New York’s on Saturday, they would be able to save Cole for Game 1 of the World Series against Washington.
With their backs to the wall in Game 5 of the ALCS, the New York Yankees responded in a legitimately historic way.
Down 3-1 to the Houston Astros in the ALCS and already trailing 1-0 in a decisive Game 5, the Yankees stepped in against Justin Verlander and set a new franchise mark. DJ LeMahieu led off the game with a home run, and later in the inning, Aaron Hicks hit a three-run shot off the right field foul pole to give the Yankees a 4-1 lead.
What’s so historic about that? Never before in franchise history had the Yankees hit two home runs in the first inning of a postseason game.
No better way to move on from an incredibly difficult Game 4 than to make Yankee history in the very first inning.
The Houston Astros this week were once again accused of stealing signs during a playoff series, but they are not going to face any penalties from Major League Baseball.
A report on Wednesday claimed some members of the New York Yankees believed the Astros were using a whistling sound from the dugout to relay potential pitch types to their hitters during Game 1 of the ALCS Saturday night. MLB officials investigated the claims and determined the Astros did not break any league rules, Ken Rosenthal of The Athletic reports.
A lot of sign-stealing techniques are a violation of baseball’s unwritten rules but not actually prohibited. Opponents believe the Astros have pushed the envelope in recent years, as they were accused of similar antics when they played the Boston Red Sox in the ALCS last year. They lost that series.
The Astros scored three runs in the first two games of the ALCS and had their most success at the plate during Game 3, when no sounds were observed coming from their dugout. Whatever they were allegedly trying to do doesn’t appear to have worked, but there have been indications that people around baseball want the league to come down on them at some point. Like we have seen with the New England Patriots in the NFL, the paranoia may actually start to work in their favor at some point.
The New York Yankees reportedly believe that the Houston Astros were stealing signs in a way that broke “unwritten rules” in Game 1 of the ALCS.
According to Andy Martino of SNY, a Yankees coach noticed a whistling sound coming from the Houston dugout before certain pitches during the ALCS opener at Minute Maid Park. The Yankees became angry and yelled across the field, believing that the whistling was a form of sign-stealing and was being used to alert batters to what was coming.
A number of coaches and executives said that such an act would be widely considered a violation of the sport’s “unwritten rules.”
“They are NASA,” one coach said. “If a pitcher is tipping and the players can see from the dugout, no biggie. If they get it from somewhere else, that’s dicey.”
If the Astros had the Yankees’ signs, it didn’t really help them, as they lost Game 1 7-0. The whistling stopped for Game 2, which saw Houston win 3-2 in 11 innings. During that game, the Yankees frequently changed the signs even with no one on base, which indicates there was heavy suspicion that the Astros were stealing them.
Sign-stealing allegations have followed the Astros for a while now. A lot of it stems from the 2018 postseason, when some very suspicious things were happening early in the ALCS. The reputation for sign-stealing beyond what would be brushed off by other clubs has followed them ever since. For all the accusations, though, Houston scored three runs in 20 innings during the first two games, and actually had more success at the plate in the game where no whistling was observed. In that sense, it certainly doesn’t seem to have impacted the series much.
New York Yankees special advisor Reggie Jackson unleashed a foul-mouthed on-air rant against slugger Giancarlo Stanton on Sunday after learning that the highly-paid superstar would sit out Game 2 of the ALCS due to an ailing quad.
During an interview with Jim Bowden of the MLB Network, Jackson dropped multiple f-bombs out of frustration, questioning Stanton’s desire to stay on the field after missing 144 games due to injury this season.
“[Expletive], he’s been out all [expletive] year! How the [expletive] could he be hurt?” Jackson said, later adding that he didn’t realize they were live on the air.
After a few moments of silence, reality set in for Jackson.
“[I was] trying to make fun of the question, thinking it can’t go on the air with the swear words, I said, ‘He’s been out all [expletive] year,” Jackson explained via text with NJ Advance Media. “I thought [Bowden] would then say, ‘OK, Reggie, since you’re going to shoot yourself since we have the same birthday and you filled my tape with all the swear words, let’s do one for radio as we’re wanting to go on the air with you.’
“That was the an ‘Oh [expletive]’ for me. I thought it was all a joke. I almost choked when he said they were on the air.”
Jackson immediately reached out to Yankees media relations VP Jason Zillo to explain the situation and was informed he should bring it to Stanton before the media does.
“I immediately spoke to Jason Zillo and he advised I go in and talk to Stanton, which I did,” Jackson added in his texts to NJ Advance Media. “I’d just spent several days with him during his rehab [from a knee injury] and he graciously accept my faux paux.
“Please know this was said to belittle the question, not with intent or malice.”
Stanton batted .288 with three home runs and 13 RBI in 72 plate appearances this season.
Fresh from emerging victorious in a winner-take-all game against the Tampa Bay Rays, the Houston Astros may already be getting a head start on the warfare against their next playoff opponent.
Chandler Rome of the Houston Chronicle shared that the Astros’ radio broadcast used “New York, New York” by Frank Sinatra as its bump music right as the team was closing out the Rays in Game 5 of the ALDS.
While it might just be an innocuous way of celebrating the fact that the Astros are advancing to face New York, the song has taken on a life of its own, having been used in multiple Yankees-related troll jobs these last two postseasons.
The ALCS series, which starts on Saturday, pits the 107-win Astros, who have home-field advantage, against the 103-win Yankees, who have been off since sweeping the Minnesota Twins on Monday. The two teams were clearly the best two in the AL this season, and the anticipation is already sky high.