Yankees 1, Mets 0: Whitley shines in his debut

The Star-Ledger-USA TODAY Sports

After dropping the first two games in the Subway Series, a strong debut by Chase Whitley and a dominant bullpen performance helped give the Yankees a series tie.

For the first time since October 6, 1908, the Yankees played in a game in which both starters made their Major League debut. For the Mets, Terry Collins gave the ball to Jacob DeGrom, ranked by FanGraphs as the Mets' seventh best prospect coming into the season. Coming into his debut DeGrom put up a 4-0 record with a 2.58 ERA, 3.72 FIP, and a 2.90 K/BB in Triple-A. For the Yankees, Joe Girardi gave the ball to Chase Whitley, a relatively unknown pitching prospect who was drafted in the 15th round of the 2010 Draft out of Troy University. He got a look in Spring Training, but the Yankees were not satisfied with his performance. He pitched in Triple-A to the tune of a 2.39 ERA, 1.75 FIP, and developed his slider which forced the Yankees' hand to give him a shot, especially with the depleted rotation.

They certainly capitalized on their shot at The Show. For the first four innings, both starters matched each other blow for blow. Whitley recorded his first Major League hit, and recorded that hit before he even allowed one. DeGrom too recorded a hit, the first hit for the Mets' pitching staff. In the bottom of the fifth, the Mets threatened and forced Whitley out of the game. He walked both Ruben Tejada and Juan Centeno; DeGrom then sacrificed to move the runners to second and third. At 74 pitches, Girardi pulled Whitley from the game and brought in Dellin Betances. Whitley finished his evening at four and two thirds innings, allowing only two hits and two walks with four strikeouts. For a rotation that has seen pretty disappointing performances across the board (except for Masahiro Tanaka), this was a nice boost. Betances subsequently got Eric Young Jr. to ground out and the threat was neutralized.

Then we got to see the Dellin Betances show. In the bottom of the 6th, he struck out the side. Then when he came in in the bottom of the 7th, he... struck out the side again. He was pumping gas and the curveball was just downright filthy. He now has 15.55 K/9, with more strikeouts than Ricky Nolasco, Phil Hughes, and Hiroki Kuroda. He's been that good. Here is the obligatory GIF, courtesy of Andrew Mearns:

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In the top of the 7th, the Yankees finally broke the deadlock. With one out and Mark Teixeira on first, Brian McCann grounded into what should have been the inning-ending double play, but the throw got away at first and McCann was safe. Alfonso Soriano came to the plate, and in the midst of a season where he has looked dreadful at times (80 wRC+)--he showed a pulse. Soriano laced a liner to the left-center field gap for a double, driving in McCann all the way from first. The defensive miscue at first really came back to bite them. DeGrom was finished after that inning, but what a night he had: 7 innings, 4 hits, 1 earned run, 2 walks, and 6 strikeouts. The Mets are definitely happy about that outing.

The Yankees threatened to score in the top of the 8th but were unable to convert; there were two one-out walks from Brett Gardner and Kelly Johnson, but they were unable to score even after a wild pitch advanced them as Derek Jeter forced a fielder's choice at the plate and Jacoby Ellsbury flied out. The Mets did their own threatening as well in the bottom half of the frame. Adam Warren came in, and although he struck out both Centeno and Young Jr., he allowed a walk to Bobby Abreu (!!) and a single to Daniel Murphy. With runners at the corners and two outs, Joe Girardi brought in his closer David Robertson to face the ever-imposing David Wright. Robertson did what reliable closers do and got Wright to ground out to end the threat. That was the highest leverage situation of the game (5.19 LI) and Robertson handled it marvelously.

In the top of the 9th, the Yankees tried to tack on an insurance run via Teixeira and Soriano singles, but Yangervis Solarte grounded into a double play to end the inning. Then in the bottom of the ninth, David Robertson came in to close out the game by retiring the Mets in order.

After dropping the first two games of the series in a sloppy fashion, the Yankees have turned it around to win two close and well-played ball games. It's just what the doctor ordered. The Yankees will now face the Pittsburgh Pirates at home for a three game set before going on the road to Chicago. Tomorrow's starters will be Edinson Volquez for the Pirates and David Phelps for the Yankees. There's supposed to be significant rain in the area, but if they do play the game will start at 7:05 PM EST. You can catch the game on YES or MLB.tv.

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