New York Yankees
(Updated: March 13)
New York battled the Red Sox hard all season, but they fell eight games short in the regular seasons while bowing out 3-1 in the League Division Series. The Yankees finished with 100 wins for the 20th time in their franchise 116 year history. Their success was impressive when considering the 89 games played by Gary Sanchez and 112 games by Aaron Judge.
Over the last two seasons, they scored 858 (2nd), and 851 (2nd) runs while bashing 508 home runs (2017 – 241 and 2018 – 267). Last year 12 batters had ten or more home runs, and six hitters had over 23 long balls. The Yankees placed 10th in baseball in ERA (3.78), but they ranked 3rd in the AL East behind Tampa (3.74) and Boston (3.75).
Their growth in 2018 came from a core three young players (Gleyber Torres – .271 with 24/71/6, MiguelAndujar – .297 with 27/92/2, and Didi Gregorius – .268 with 27/86/10) and strength in their bullpen.
The big move in the offseason was the addition of a front line starter (James Paxton) for top pitching prospect Justus Sheffield. The Yankees signed SS Troy Tulowitzki and 2B D.J. Lemahieu to help bridge the loss of Didi Gregorius (TJ surgery – due back in early June). New York added OF Billy Burns for bench depth in the minors. They lost 2B Neil Walker, SS Adeiny Hechavarria, OF Andrew McCutchen, SP Lance Lynn, and RP David Robertson to free agency. New York also cleared out a starting pitching slot by shipping SP Sonny Gray to the Reds.
The bullpen should be competitive again in 2019 with RP Zach Britton resigned. The starting rotation now has two aces as long as James Paxton can stay healthy for a full season, something he’s not done in his career. Last year Luis Severino and Paxton were top ten starters over the first half of the year, but they fell to 58th and 40th in the previous three months of the year.
There is enough talent of this roster for the Yankees to be the best team in baseball in 2019. They may need one more impact starting arm with health on the offensive side of the ball. Their clear edge over Boston is the bullpen in early January.
After three straight seasons with a batting average over .300, LeMahieu saw a sharp decline in his contact batting average (.326 – .372, .407, and .364 from 2015 to 2017). He finished the year with a career-best in his average hit rate (1.551) plus success with runners on base (RBI rate – 17). Even with 34 missed games due to a broken left thumb and an oblique issue, D.J. had a huge run rate (49) and a high run total (90). His walk rate (6.4) is trending down while remaining tough to strikeout (14.1 percent). LeMahieu continues to hit a high volume of ground balls (49.6 percent), but it was the lowest percentage of his career leading to a career high in his fly ball rate (29.6) and HR/FB rate (11.1). The change in ballpark can’t help his overall stats while possibly losing some at-bats over the second half of the year when Didi Gregorius returns to the starting lineup. The Yankees will use D.J. has a utility player while also having too many options at MI and 1B. Only a two-category player (BA and runs) with both edge expected to have some decline in 2019. Possible double digit HRs and SBs points to only an average option at second base this season.
Last season Judge missed six weeks late in the season due to a chipped bone in his right wrist. His season stats prorated over the same at-bats (542) as 2017 would come to 101 runs, 49 HRs, 88 RBI, and eight SBs. Overall, his production would have fallen off by 22 percent in combined runs and RBI and about ten percent home runs. His K rate (30.5) remains in a weak area, but he can overcome his downside in batting average by his high CTBA (.441). Aaron did take fewer walks (9.8 percent). Most of his success came against RB pitching (.285 with 19 HRs and 55 RBI over 302 at-bats). He hit .261 against lefties with eight HRs, but Judge only drove in 12 runs. Aaron has a massive HR/FB rate (29.0 – 35.6 in 2017). His swing path did lose some loft last year (35.0 percent fly ball rate – 43.2 percent in 2017). This draft season he’ll be drafted earlier in the second round in 15-team leagues in the high-stakes market. Impact power with triple-digit runs and RBI while chipping in with some steals. The key here is value in batting average. Don’t dismiss as a second piece to the puzzle as 60+ home runs are well within reach with a full season of games.
Last year Stanton set a career high in at-bats (617) and plate appearances (705) while turning in his second straight healthy season. Even with more playing time, Giancarlo fell short in just about area to his excellent 2017 season (.281 with 123 runs, 59 HRs, 123 RBI, and two SBs). His step back in success was a direct correlation to his failure in K rate (29.9), which almost matched 2015 (29.9) and 2016 (29.8). Stanton also lost some value in his walk rate (10.4 – 13.2 in 2017 and 11.4 in his career). The pressure of leading New York to a World Series fell on his shoulder with Aaron Judge and Gary Sanchez injured for a decent part of the year. Yankee fans and the front office quickly saw his flaws as a foundation player, while pining to land Bryce Harper. His swing played well vs. LH pitching (.316 with 13 HRs and 28 RBI over 152 at-bats) while showing more risk against righties (.249 with 25 HRs and 72 HRs over 465 at-bats). His fly ball rate (36.5) declined for the third straight year while still producing a high HR/FB rate (25.0 – 26.7 in his career). The shift to more at-bats at DH does help his ability to stay healthy. His ADP slipped to 23 in 15-team leagues. I expect better in his second year in New York. I’ll set the bar at .270 with 100+ runs, 45+ HRs, and 100+ RBI.
Sanchez falls into the 2018 bust category after playing in only 89 games. He missed a month of the season starting in late June with a groin injury then another five weeks when he reinjured the issue after playing only three games. After the season, Gary had left shoulder surgery to clean up an issue that was tied to the 2017 season. Sanchez took a few more walks (12.3 percent) with fade in his K rate (25.1). He struggled with righties (.171 with 12 HRs and 33 RBI) with minimal success against LH pitching (.229 with six HRs and 20 RBI). Other than batting average (.229), Gary appeared to be on pace for a nice season over his first 144 at-bats (27 runs, 12 HRs, and 33 RBI). For the remainder of the season (179 at-bats), Sanchez only hit .151 with 24 runs, six HRs, and 20 RBI. His HR/FB rate (18.2) fell short of 2017 (25.4) while adding more loft to his swing (42.9 percent fly ball rate). Over eight seasons in the minors, Sanchez hit .277 with 100 HRs, 431 RBI, and 37 SBs in 2,454 at-bats. In 2016 and 2017 between the minor and the majors, Gary has 64 HRs over 969 at bats. Power can be a problem for players coming off shoulder injuries. Sanchez has the talent to be an edge at catcher especially in today’s game where the position looks to be extremely weak. I’d draft him thinking a 20/80 season with a slight edge in batting average while understanding his edge and upside. Gary has an ADP in January of 58 as the first catcher off the board (coin toss with J.T. Realmuto).
Other than his low walk rate (4.1), Andujar did a lot right last season. He proved to be an edge run producer (17.5 percent RBI rate) with growth his average hit rate (1.735). Miguel did a nice minimizing the damage in Ks (16.0 percent). Over the last two months of the year, he hit .304 with 34 runs, 14 HRs, and 46 RBI over 217 at-bats highlighted by a great August (.320 with ten HRs and 29 RBI over 122 at-bats). Andujar played at a high level vs. RH pitching (.309 with 20 HRs and 70 RBI over 414 at-bats) while needing some growth against lefties (.264 with seven HRs and 22 RBI). His HR/FB rate (15.7) was the best of his career at any level. Before last year, he had the best season of his career between AA and AAA in 2017 (.315 with 16 HRs, 82 RBI, and five SBs over 480 at-bats) leading to late season call up to the majors (4-for-7 with four RBI). Andujar hit .274 over his six seasons in the minors with 51 HRs, 336 RBI, and 30 SBs over 2,271 at bats. This season I expect him to move up in the batting order helping his runs and RBI. I don’t view last year as an outlier, but he may have some regression power. Tee him up as a slight edge in batting average with a 25/80 skill set while waiting for an update In New York in his slot in the batting order.
Torres made the jump to the majors last year with minimal experience at AAA (.323 with three HRs, 27 RBI, and three SBs over 130 at-bats). After receiving short playing time in April (31 at-bats), Gleyber still hit .323 with no HRs and two RBI leading to an impressive May (.325 with nine HRs and 24 RBI over 83 at-bats). A hip injury in July led to a couple of weeks on the DL. Torres added a productive August (.272 with six HRs and 17 RBI) to his resume while taking 16 walks in 120 at-bats. He drove the ball against lefties (.254 with 11 HRs and 26 RBI over 118 at-bats) leading to a high slugging percentage (.576). His best overall success in batting average (.278) came against RH pitching (13 HRs and 51 RBI over 313 at-bats). Gleyber had a fly ball swing (42.7 percent) while setting a career high in his HR/FB rate (17.9). Over four seasons in the minors, Torres hit .282 with 23 HRs, 197 RBI, and 60 SBs over 1,349 at bats. His next step is cleaning up his K rate (25.2) while doing a nice job taking walks (8.7 percent). His minor resume shows more speed while supporting his 2018 CTBA (.379), which suggest a more balanced player. A possible .280+ hitter with 20/80/20 type season. I expect some regression his fly ball and HR/FB rates. He should be the 10th shortstop off the board with an ADP of 54 in the high-stakes 15-team market. If New York moves on from Brett Gardner as the leadoff hitter, Torres should be the player who gets first shot at the top of the order adding more value to his impressive skill set.
Hicks set career highs in at-bats (480), runs (90), hits (119), HRs (27), RBI (79) and walks (90). He had growth in his average hit rate (1.882) along with walk rate (15.5) while still maintaining a reasonable K rate (19.1). His OBP (.366) was .118 percentage points above his batting average (.248), which is a good sign to move to the top of the batting order if he can improve on his CTBA (.322). It’s not often when a Fantasy owner see a player score 75 percent of the time compared to his hits (helped by his 90 walks). Over three months from June 1st to August 31st, Hicks hit .262 with 55 runs, 18 HRs, 43 RBI, and five SBs over 263 at-bats. He still needs some work against lefties (.224 BAA) despite showing power (nine HRs and 22 RBI over 143 at-bats). His ability to play centerfield should lead to a further push in playing time. Aaron had a career-high HR/FB rate (19.0) in 2018. With 550 at-bats, .260 with 100+ runs, 25+ HRs, 80+ RBI, and 15+ SBs.
New York made a move at the trade deadline to acquire Voit as minor league option at first base. Over the first half of the year in the Cardinals system, Luke hit .299 over 234 at-bats with nine HRs and 36 RBI. His game made a huge step forward over the last third of the season for the Yankees (.333 with 14 HRs and 33 RBI over 132 at-bats). Over his hot run in the majors, Voit had a massive CTBA (.460) and a jump in his AVH (2.087) with both numbers being well above his career path in the minors. Over six seasons on the farm, Voit hit .288 with 65 HRs, 308 RBI, and six SBs over 1,982 at-bats. HIs K rate (26.7) in the majors was well above his minor league career (17.8) with showing the ability to take a walk (10.6 in the majors and 10.2 in the minors). Last year in the big leagues, he handled himself well against righties (.312 with eight HRs and 22 RBI over 93 at-bats) and lefties (.340 with seven HRs and 14 RBI over 50 at-bats). Trick or treat type Fantasy option in 2019. I get a Travis Shaw 2016 feel in Boston here. His game trailed major league value while still owning a high enough skill set to make a step forward with a better swing path. I can’t see him repeating his 40.5 percent HR/FB rate in the majors last year, but he deserves a shot at starting at-bat in New York. I prefer to gamble on him as a late corner infielder than pay for last year's stats. Think .280 with a 20/80 skill set while hoping for more upside.
Decline continues to creep into Gardner's game. Last year he scored plenty of runs (95), but regression in batting average (.236) didn't help his low ceiling in HRs (12), RBI (45), and SBs (16). His K rate (17.6) was better than his career average (18.4) for the last three seasons while continuing to a nice job taking walks (10.7 percent). His lack of success came vs. both righties (.235 BA) and lefties (.239 BAA). Last year he hit .210 or lower in April (.210), August (.209), and September (.209) with more emptiness in the playoffs (no hits in eight at-bats). His swing path delivered more ground balls in two of the last three seasons (2016 - 52.3 percent and 2018 - 48.7 percent). On the back road of his career with one more speed bump leading to a young blood taking his job for good. At best, a 15/55/15 player with batting average risk while his downside is the unemployment line.
In mid-October, Gregorius had TJ surgery on his right elbow. New York hopes to have him back in the starting lineup sometime in June. After the first 25 games last season, Didi was on pace for a monster year (.368 with 23 runs, ten HRs, 30 RBI, and two SBs over 87 at-bats). The excitement was short lived as he gave away all of his gains with a poor run over his next 33 games (.162 with one HR, six RBI, and six SBs over 136 at-bats). He played at a winning level over his last 76 games (.288 with 50 runs, 16 HRs, and 50 RBI over 281 at-bats). Gregorius continues to shave off strikeouts (12.1 percent) with a step forward in his walk rate (8.4). His swing will deliver fly balls (41.6 percent – 40.4 in his career) while offering a stronger HR/FB rate (14.8). Love his direction, but he may be tough to carry in the high-stakes market as any setback would lead to a waste of a critical bench spot on the roster. As a 20th round draft pick, his upside should outweigh the replacement value in the free agent pool. Player to follow this spring as his price point will be key to his draft investment value.
Tulowitzki didn’t play a game in 2018 due to a season-long recovery from bone spurs in his heels. With Didi Gregorius out for a good portion of the first half of the year, New York made a move to add a professional bat. In 2017, his K rate (15.4) came in better than his career average (16.6), but his walk rate (6.5) was a career low. His CTBA (.299) declined in each of the last three years, and it is well below his success in 2014 (.415). Troy missed another 98 games with a right ankle injury and a hamstring issue two years ago. Over the first 16 games of the season in 2017, he hit .263 with one HR and ten RBI with quiet stats (.245 with six HRs and 16 RBI over 184 at-bats) for the rest of the season. Tulowitzki's swing path turned into a shell of his previous resume. He had the weakest line drive rate (14.4) of his career with a huge spike in his ground ball rate (52.5). Tulowitzki was a special player in his career with the Rockies while battling multiple injuries over the last six seasons. Bottom feeder option with a career resume to surprise if his lower legs were the reason for his failure in 2017. When the price point is free, a Fantasy owner can't ignore the opportunity. Worth a short term bench dart in deep leagues.
Update: The window for a chance at starting at-bats for Tulowitzki probably closed with New York added D.J. LeMahieu, but a Fantasy owner still has to keep an open mind here as Tulo was a much better player in his prime with the Rockies.
Over five seasons in the minors, Bird hit .283 with 51 HRs, 202 RBI, and three SBs in 1,310 at-bats. His K rate (20.9) was much stronger in the minors than his results in the majors (26.3). Greg shows the ability to take a walk with New York in (10.3 percent walk rate - 14.9 in the minors). Over the last two seasons with the Yankees, Greg only hit .196 with 43 runs, 20 HRs, and 66 RBI over 419 at-bats while battling multiple ankle injuries in his career. Before the season even started in 2018, Bird landed on the DL for six weeks with a right ankle injury that required surgery. His only spark last year came in July (.265 with four HRs and 19 RBI over 83 at-bats). His low CTBA in 2017 (.267) and 2017 (.278) shows that he wasn’t healthy when comparing to his minor league resume. There’s a better player here, but he now has to compete with Luke Voit for at-bats. I would suggest if a Fantasy owner invests in Voit in the high-stakes market that they buy the insurance card with Bird. Spring training will help clarify this situation.
Ellsbury missed all of 2018 with a season-long battle with a left hip injury that required surgery in August. A labrum issue will take time to heal so he may not be ready for the start of spring training. In 2017, Jacoby had strength in his run rate (48) with a slight uptick in his AVH (1.521) while his CTBA (.321) fell in line with his last three seasons. He had a career-high walk rate (10.0) with some regression in his K rate (15.4). Ellsbury missed about a month of the season with a concussion. He’s owed $47 million at the minimum over the next three seasons ($5 million buyout in 2021). Worthless until he shows something on the field, which may not happen until April or May.
Austin Romine (C) – Romine hit .227 with 17 HRs and 100 RBI over 805 career at-bats in the majors while playing his best ball in 2018 (.244 with ten HRs and 42 RBI over 242 at-bats). He’s a career .273 hitter in the minors with 57 HRs, 340 RBI, and 19 SBs in 2,425 at-bats. Austin spent part of the last five seasons at AAA (.251 with 17 HRs and 96 RBI in 741 at bats). Not enough upside to earn a starting job while not being a lock to win the backup catching job.
Tyler Wade (IF) – Wade will compete for the utility infield role in New York over the first half of 2018. Over the last two seasons, he hit only .161 over 124 at-bats with the Yankees with one HR, seven RBI, and two SBs. His minor league resume (.272 with 20 HRs. 180 RBI, and 130 SBs over 2,371 at-bats) does show more upside especially in speed.
Clint Frazier (OF) – Frazier was the fifth overall draft pick by the Indians in 2013. Over his six seasons in the minors, Clint hit .275 with 73 HRs, 271 RBI, and 58 SBs over 2,093 at bats. He has a high K rate (24.6) with upside in his walk rate (10.5). Last year he missed more of the year at the major league level due to a pair of concussions. Clint hit .238 over 168 career at-bats in the majors with four HRs and 18 RBI. Still an upside prospect, but his path to the majors is cloudy without an injury or two.
For a Fantasy owner that invested in Severino in 2018, there is mixed emotion about his value in 2019. Before the All-Star break, Luis was one of the best pitchers in baseball (14-2 with a 2.31 ERA and 144 Ks over 128.1 innings). Over his next nine starts, he went 3-5 with a 6.95 ERA and 58 Ks over 45.1 innings while serving up nine home runs. Severino set a career high in wins (19) with more improvement in his walk rate (2.2). His K rate (10.3) finished just below his breakout 2017 season (10.7). Batters hit .238 against him compared to .208 in 2017 with his best value coming vs. righties (.227 BAA). His AFB (97.6) matched his career high, but batters hit .272 against it (.247 in 2017). His best pitch remains a slider (.191 BAA) while his changeup (.270 BAA) fell short of expectations (.171 BAA in 2017). There’s a special arm here, but Luis does throw a ton of sliders (36.0 percent in 2018) inviting a future elbow problem. His second half fade was due to a slight dip in the life in his pitches in the strike zone plus a drop in confidence. New York will score a ton of runs, and they have strength in their bullpen helping Severino’s win total. His increased first strike rate (69) points a sub 2.50 ERA with 250+ Ks with more upside if he adds more length to his starts.
Last season my best team in the NFBC started with both Luis Severino and James Paxton as my top two aces. In mid-July, I had the best pitching staff in the contest. Paxton had flashes of brilliance (no runs over seven innings with 16 Ks followed up by a no-hitter with seven Ks in his next starts), but he did underachieve his skill set in 2018 while missing five starts in August and September due to a left forearm issue and pneumonia. On the year, James allowed three runs or fewer in 21 of his 28 starts with three bad outings (3/31 – six runs and ten baserunners over four innings, 4/21 – five runs and nine baserunners over four innings, and 6/15 – six runs and eight baserunners over 2.1 innings). His walk rate (2.4) matched 2017 while showing strength over the last three seasons. His K rate (11.7) was the best of his career while improving in each of the last four seasons. His ability to throw more first-pitch strikes (66.1 percent) has been a key factor in his growth. Over the last two years, batters hit only .224 against him, but he did lose his way vs. lefties (.330 with three HRs over 103 at-bats) in 2018 after dominating them (.198) the previous season. His AFB (95.4) remains an edge. His top three pitched all graded well (four-seamer – .228 BAA, curveball – .235 BAA, and cutter – .145 BAA), but LH batters had success vs. his four-seamer (.362 BAA) and curveball (.350 BAA). New York made the right move for an arm that looks ready to offer impact value. James has never pitched over 160.1 innings in any season in his career. The Yankees need him to be a workhorse arm to win a World Series and defeat the “Force” in Boston. Paxton will get plenty of run support giving him a chance at 20+ wins with a full season of starts. His arm now has a sub 3.00 ERA skill set with enough strength to break the 250 K barrier with relative ease. In the high-stakes market in 15-team leagues, he’ll be drafted late in the fourth round.
Tanaka has been terrific in his five seasons in the majors (64-34 with a 3.59 ERA and 798 Ks over 824.1 innings), but he has left some stats on the table due to missed games. His walk rate (2.0) is an edge every year with productive value in his K rate in 2017 (9.8) and 2018 (9.2). Last year Masahiro missed a month of the season with a hamstring issue. Over a 21 start stretch from April 23rd to September 14th, he went 10-3 with a 3.01 ERA and 129 Ks over 125.2 innings. Over this period, Tanaka did allow 18 HRs, which has been his Achilles heel at times in the majors (2017 – 1.8 HRs per nine and 2018 – 1.4 HRs per nine). He had similar success against RH (.243 BAA) and LH (.236 BAA) batters while allowing 17 of his 25 HRs to righties. In between the cracks of the long baseball season, Masahiro did have an ERA over 4.00 in April (4.37), May (4.94), June (4.35), and August (4.40) with failure vs. the Red Sox (7.58 ERA and 1.789 WHIP with six HRs allowed over 19 innings). His AFB (91.7) fell in line with his career resume (91.5). He had the most success with his slider (.170 BAA) and split-finger fastball (.220 BAA), which he threw over 60 percent of the time combined. Tanaka pitches for a high scoring winning team while still having questions with long-term durability of his right elbow. His value within 15-team drafts will range from the early seventh round through the 11th round. An excellent chance at the most wins of his career with a 3.50 ERA and 175 Ks with 30 starts while understanding his injury downside.
Happ has had an interesting career in the majors. He flashed in 2009 when he went 12-4 with a 2.93 ERA and 119 Ks over 166 innings with the Phillies. From 2011 to 2014, J.A. was lucky to still have a job in the majors after posting a 32-44 record over 551.2 innings with a 4.75 ERA and 488 Ks. A trade to the Pirates in July of 2015 (7-2 with a 1.85 ERA and 69 Ks over 63.1 innings) unlocked the keys to his much-improved arm over the last three seasons (47-21 with a 3.44 ERA and 498 Ks over 518 innings). In 11 starts for New York in 2018, Happ went 7-0 with a 2.69 ERA and 63 Ks over 63.2 innings. Last year he set a career high in his K rate (9.8) while beating his career walk rate (3.3) for the fifth straight season (2.6). J.A. pitched great vs. lefties (.171 BAA) while also doing a nice job against RH batters (.237 BAA) despite allowing 25 of his 27 HRs over 539 at-bats. A big part of his growth has been more velocity on his fastball (92.0 in 2018 and 91.2 in his career) in his 30s. Last year batters only hit .207 vs. his four-seam fastball while also owning an edge slider (.168 BAA) for the first time in years. Happ has never pitched over 200 innings in a season. When adding in the Yankees' bullpen, he should win plenty of games with an ERA around 3.50 with enough K ability to strikeout 150+ batters with 180 innings pitched. I view him more as an SP4 than an SP3 in the high-stakes 15-team market, but his ADP (141) is high for his expected innings pitched.
Entering his 19th season in the majors, Sabathia has a 246-153 record with a 3.70 ERA and 2,986 Ks over 3,470 innings. Over his last three seasons, C.C. went 32-24 with a 3.76 ERA and 412 Ks over 481.1 innings. His walk rate (3.0) isn’t where it was earlier in his career, but he did have a bounce back in his K rate (8.2) in 2018. Wins will be tougher to come by for Sabathia going forward due to pitching in fewer games in the 7th inning (four times last year with none coming over the previous three months of the year). His command (17 walks and 32 Ks over 124 plate appearances) fell short vs. lefties even with a low BAA (.180). He can be up and down against RH batters (.264 BAA with 16 HRs allowed over 500 at-bats). Last year he threw his cutter (.237 BAA) over 40 percent of the time while no other pitch option offered an edge. After last season, he had surgery on his right knee and heart (blockage). A tougher piece to the puzzle with short innings and wins being in question. I see more regression than upside, but his major resume does give him a chance to offer another steady backend season. Sabathia only needs 54 wins to reach 300, but time is running out in his career.
Over four seasons in the minors, Loaisiga went 15-4 with a 2.63 ERA and 155 Ks over 171 innings. His career started at age 18 in the Giants’ system in 2013 (8-1 with a 2.75 ERA and 40 Ks over 68.2 innings), but he missed the next two years due to injuries. After signing with New York in 2016, Jonathan blew out his right elbow after one game, which required TJ surgery. In 2018, his season started at rookie ball and ended up in the majors. Over his 14 starts in the minors at three levels, Loaisiga went 6-1 with a 2.89 ERA and 67 Ks over 56 innings. In his first four starts with the Yankees, he went 2-0 with a 3.00 ERA and 21 Ks over 18 innings before landing on the DL for six weeks with a right shoulder injury. His AFB (96.0) continues to grow while offering a curveball and changeup combination. Interesting arm with huge durability issues.
After a good season at A ball in 2014 (9-3 with a 2.48 ERA and 113 Ks over 123.1 innings), German missed all of 2015 with TJ surgery on his right elbow. He pitched well over the next two seasons in the minors (2.94 ERA) leading to his first chance in majors in 2017 (3.14 ERA over 14.1 innings with 18 Ks). When asked to fill in as a starter last year for the Yankees, Domingo offered a big K rate (10.7), but he allowed too many HRs (1.6 per nine) with weakness in his walk rate (3.5). His best success came against righties (.228 BAA), but German failed to post an ERA under 5.00 in any of the first four months of the season. He landed on the DL in August with a right elbow injury. His AFB (94.7) is a plus while relying on a curveball (.181 BAA) and changeup (.333). Domingo’s overall career in the minors (29-20 with a 2.64 ERA and 453 Ks over 461 innings) points to more upside. With Luis Severino and C.C. Sabathia expected to start the year on the DL, German should earn a starting job for New York in April. Live arm with durability issues. Worth a swing as he’ll be just about free on draft while offering some good innings to start the year.
Adams started 2017 with six strong starts at AA (4-0 with 1.03 ERA and 32 Ks over 35 innings) with continued success at AAA (11-5 with 2.89 ERA and 103 Ks over 115.1 innings). Over his first 2+ seasons in the minors, Chance went 31-7 with a 2.33 ERA and 324 Ks over 313 innings. Last year he lost his way at AAA (4-5 with 4.78 ERA and 113 Ks over 113 innings) due to a huge step back in his walk rate (4.6 – 3.5 in his career). Adams pitched in the low 90s in his minimal time in the majors while using a slider/curveball combination to get batters out. His changeup needs a ton of work, and it will be the key to development at the next level. Last year I thought Chance was almost major league ready, but his lack of confidence and erratic command pushed him off the elite prospect status list. For now, just a name to watch with no clear path to the majors without a couple of injuries.
As talented as Chapman’s left arm may be, he continues to come up short in innings pitched and saves. He’s never had over 38 saves in any season in the majors while pitching fewer than 60 innings in each of the last three years. In 2018, Aroldis saw his walk rate spike to 5.3, but he did have his highest K rate (16.3) since 2014 (17.7). Before the All-Star break, Chapman went 3-0 with a 1.35 ERA, 68 Ks, and 26 saves putting him on a career-best pace. Three disaster games (eight runs and nine baserunners over 1.2 innings) over his next ten appearances led to a 9.39 ERA over 7.2 innings with 17 Ks. A left knee issue was the reason for his failure, which also lead to a DL stint and short appearance over the last two months of the year. His stuff is electric against both RH (.135 BAA) and LH (.136 BAA) batters. His AFB (98.9) fell short of his previous four seasons (100.3, 99.5, 100.4, and 100.1) while reaming one of the best in the game. Hitter had no chance against sinker (.095) or slider (.106) with elite success as well with his four-seam fastball (.165 BAA). Great arm with even more upside if he throws more strikes. New York will score a lot of runs this year, which hurts his ability to save plus games. With an ADP of 81, Aroldis will be an attractive buy with his expected edge in ERA, WHIP, and Ks.
The days of Betances being a workhorse reliever appear to be over. In 2014 and 2015, he averages 1.2 innings per game while seeing that number fall to one inning per game over the last three seasons. Last year he had almost the identical season as 2016 in walks (3.5 per nine), strikeouts (15.5 per nine), and batting average against (.201 and .186). Even with bouts of greatness (two runs and nine hits over 33.1 innings with 57 Ks), Dellin can fall off the cliff soon after (4.15 ERA over his next 17.1 innings with 28 Ks). He pitched well vs. both righties (.175 BAA) and lefties (.200 BAA), but base stealer did pick up 11 steals when facing RH batters over 137 at-bats. His AFB (97.8) remains one of the best in the game. Last year batters only hit .134 against his curveball with regression vs. his four-seam fastball (.252 BAA). Great bullpen arm with the talent to close. I expect another 100+ Ks with a chance at much more wins and a sub 3.00 ERA.
Britton blew out his Achilles in December of 2017, which came after battling a left forearm issue last year plus a late-season knee injury. Zach returned to the major in mid-June. He pitched well as the closer for the Orioles (3.45 ERA with four saves and 13 Ks over 15.2 innings), but he did walk ten batters. After a shaky 15 games with the Yankees (4.70 ERA), Britton settled down in September (no runs over 9.2 innings with nine Ks and two saves). His walk rate has been a problem of the last two seasons (4.3 and 4.6) leading to fade in his K rate (7.5). Zach pitched well against both RH (.202) and LH (.200) batters. His AFB (94.9) was below his career best in 2016 (96.3) while throwing it almost exclusively to get a huge number of groundballs (60.7 percent – 64.4 percent in his career). Nice lefty arm with closing experience. Britton will regain some of his lost upside with more first-pitch strikes (only 50 percent in 2018) while being viable insurance card in the 9th.
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