The Tampa Yankees started a six-game home stretch this week going up against the Lakeland Flying Tigers and Clearwater Threshers. Tampa has had dominant pitching performances more often than not in recent weeks. However, this week was a different story as pitchers who have been nearly automatic for Tampa slipped up a bit. The Yankees went 2-4 at home, but finished the week with a three-game sweep of Brevard County.
Josh Rogers previously had given up just one earned run in 27 1/3 innings pitched, but on Tuesday it was a different story. Rogers gave up four runs (two earned) off eight hits and 75 pitches. His defense wasn’t flawless, the Yankees had two errors that day, but one was his doing. Rogers went into his start on Sunday looking for a bounce-back and he got it against Brevard County. He went six innings giving up two runs and striking out six. Rogers has been the Tampa Yankees’ best starting pitcher along with James Reeves, but Reeves is another player who needed a bounce-back performance after his start last Sunday. Before that start, James Reeves didn’t allow more than two earned runs since becoming a starter, but his start on Sunday broke that streak. He pitched just four innings giving up four runs, and K’d three on 70 pitches. As stated before Reeves has been extremely strong for Tampa and his name has been thrown around in a possible promotion to Trenton along with Josh Rogers. However, a shock came later in the week as Reeves would make his first appearance out of the bullpen since June 7th. He did pitch throw two-full, and gave up just one hit. There’s no details yet as to whether Reeves will be going back to the bullpen or not.
Domingo Acevedo made his first start since returning from the 7-day DL after dealing with shoulder soreness. He pitched four innings and gave up just one run. Pinstriped Prospects learned Ace’ was supposed to be promoted to Trenton before his injury, with a clean second start that still could’ve been the case. However, Acevedo was scratched from what would have been his second start since his injury. It’s apparent some pain is still lingering and being that it was with his shoulder, that’s something the Yankees aren’t going to take a chance on. They’ve already lost James Kaprielian for what will most likely be the rest of the season, and should he get Tommy John surgery, 2017 as well.
Another pitcher that returned from the DL was Domingo German, who, though it being a small sample size, has not allowed more than one earned run in each of his starts for Tampa. Another pitcher who has showed promise, all-be-it with not as many games under his belt, Justus Sheffield. He made his third start for Tampa last week on Tuesday, pitching six full with three hits, no runs, and three strikeouts. His next start will be the series opener in Tampa against the first-place Dunedin Jays, on a whole week’s rest. Though he’s only had a total of six strikeouts since his debut in which he struck out 11 batters, Sheffield has his ERA at a slim 1.04 through 17 1/3 innings pitched.
Despite pitching injuries, the Yankees have gotten a great addition in Nestor Cortes since he was promoted from Low-A Charleston nearly a month ago. Though he’s given up eight earned runs in his 23.0 innings pitched for Tampa, his best performance came in his second (and most recent) start for the Yankees on Friday. Cortes had a no-hitter through 6 1/3 IP against Brevard County, he’d finish with nine strikeouts, no walks, two hits, and a win. It’s unclear as to whether Cortes will become a full-time starter yet, but as of now it seems he’s in the same process James Reeves was in before he became a starter.
The Yankees hitting has been helping them deal with pitching injuries, and it’s come back at the right time. They stumbled into the second half and beyond, after promotions and a slumping Jorge Mateo were the clear obstacles in the way. It’s been a whole different story as the team is back into the swing of things. Jorge Mateo is boosting his average back up, Zack Zehner and Thairo Estrada are staying consistent, and newer arrivals to the team have rejuvenated the offense. Zehner, second on the Yankees in hits (behind Mateo) with 103, and his average is up to .288. Thairo Estrada is perhaps the hottest hitter on the Yankees right now, batting for .394 in his last ten games. Estrada’s average was .256 on August 8th, but is now up to .276 as he is up to third in hits on the Yankees. Perhaps the most important key to the Yankees scoring is Jorge Mateo, and he has finally gotten back to his superior lead-off presence. All signs point to Mateo continuing his revival and leading the Yankees to postseason success should he finish the season in High-A Tampa.
As for the newer Yankees. There’s certainly been some adjustments for Gleyber Torres and Rashad Crawford since they were traded over to the Yankees from the Chicago Cubs. Crawford has tallied eight RBIs in his last four games, but Torres was mostly quiet this week with just five hits. Assuming Torres heats up in time for the playoffs, and Crawford keeps contributing, it’ll have the team in good shape for the postseason. Tampa has six straight home games, it could be a chance for Torres to get a hot streak going. As for Crawford, he’s hitting .269 in away games and .238 in Tampa, the six games at Steinbrenner Field could give him a chance to get his home numbers up as well.