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Around the Empire: Yankees news - 9/4/21

Gleyber Torres is back, but Andrew Velazquez isn’t going anywhere; Gio Urshela receives “encouraging” news; what’s behind DJ LeMahieu’s power outage; does messing with hitters’ timing actually work; ESPN’s experts make predictions for September

MLB: Seattle Mariners at New York Yankees Wendell Cruz-USA TODAY Sports | Randy Miller: Yankees starting shortstop Gleyber Torres returned to action last night, but that does not mean that the Andrew Velazquez story is done just yet. The Bronx native remains on the roster, despite appearing to fill the same role as Tyler Wade, as the Yankees believe that his speed and positional versatility can be used as weapons late in games down the stretch. With Gio Urshela currently day-to-day with a wrist injury and Torres likely to receive extensive rest as he ramps back up after his rehab assignment, expect to see Velazquez on the field on a regular basis for at least the next week or so.

New York Post | Greg Joyce: Speaking of Urshela, in a rare bit of good injury news, the Yankees third baseman received “encouraging” news when the results of his MRI came back. Additionally, he took grounders, swung the bat, and had a catch prior to yesterday’s game, and pending how he feels this morning, could be back in the lineup as soon as today.

FanGraphs | Chet Gutwein: After two seasons of MVP-caliber performances in pinstripes, second baseman and leadoff hitter DJ LeMahieu has had a bit of a down season to begin his six-year contract, despite the fact that his contact profile has remained largely unchanged. Much of that decline in production has been the result of a massive drop in home run/fly ball rate, and while some of that was the result of natural progression to the mean — he had been significantly outperforming his batted ball profile — this drop is, to quote Gutwein, “outside of the expected error bars that come with seasonal fluctuations.” Unfortunately, it seems that the de-juiced ball might be the culprit, as LeMahieu’s opposite field “wallscrapers” over the short porch fit the profile of balls that have been most affected by the league’s decision to deaden the baseball.

Pitcher List | Zach Hayes: Néstor Cortes Jr. has been one of the greatest stories of the season, as his funky delivery has baffled opposing hitters throughout the league. But does messing with a hitter’s timing actually work? Hayes watched every single one of Cortes’s 1000 pitches, breaking them down by arm angle, game situation, result of the pitch, result of the plate appearance, and various other factors, in an effort to answer this very question. I highly recommend reading this piece if you have the time, as Hayes breaks down his analysis with a healthy supply of examples, but for those of you in a rush, the answer is....yes, but not in the way you might think. The pitch that Cortes messes around with does not itself see results all that different from his normal pitches, but the at-bat typically ends in a positive result for the pitcher. To that I say, “Keep at it, Nestor.”

ESPN: ESPN’s baseball experts got together to make some predictions about the final month of the season, and not surprisingly, many of these questions involved the Yankees. Only one, Jesse Rogers, has pegged the Yankees as the eventual World Series champions, twelve of the seventeen have Gerrit Cole as the AL Cy Young Award winner, and Marly Rivera sees the Yankees somehow winning the AL East. From their mouths to the baseball gods’ ears.