Ahh, the beautiful parts of a loss. Girardi did a good job bringing in Proctor and guaranteeing we would lose the game! I am sure you are like me where there was such a sense of “hidden” enthusiasm for the Red Sox having one of the biggest collapses in history and failing to make the playoffs. Entering the 8th inning of each of the games TB was down 7-0 and Boston was up 3-2 so it appeared that a playoff game would not be needed and the Red Sox would advance to the playoffs. Then TB put up 6 runs in the 8th inning. This event was the only event that I was unhappy with and that was because Logan and Ayala didn’t get the job done. Logan in particular as he is our only somewhat reliable lefty. Ayala has been pretty good as well as has Wade, but Wade faded a little down the stretch and my original thought was might have pitched himself off the postseason roster. Logan is definitely on it more on this later.
Anyway, TB down to their final strike and Baltimore down to their final strike with 2 outs and nobody on…set up a dramatic HR from TB and back to back doubles followed by a single sending Boston to an excruciatingly devastating loss (not sure I have ever used those two words back to back). Proctor sealed the deal on our side and TB enters the playoffs.
Some people said the Yanks should have used Rivera and gave some BS about that, but anyone who said that is a moron. The plan was to give Rivera, Robertson and Soriano work Tuesday and then rest for two day before tonight…NOTHING should change that. The classy Francona even said as much when he said the Yanks earned the right to play all their backups if they want; we have to do our job.
Let’s talk about Detroit. I haven’t seen that much of them, but we know they have Verlander and Cabrera. CC has a neutral matchup against them as they have righties but they are not lefty killers – some hit righties slightly better and some are a little better against lefties…pretty even overall. CC has pitched twice against them this year and had an ERA of 4.15; we will need better than that; the changeup better be working. They don’t have a lot of lefties that aren’t switch hitters so we will see a ton of righties; CC has been great against lefties this year (.554 OPS against compared to .709 for righties). Avila is the main lefty – catcher – who a lefty to face makes sense as his splits are pronounced with a .939 against righties and a still respectable .779 against lefties. The others are
Detroit is a solid team, but they are not as powerful as the Yankees or Texas in the lineup, they do have Verlander though and he is a stud. Just like CC he pitched twice against us and had an ERA of 4.5; I would be happy if he pitched 6 innings and allowed 3 run again.
They will then throw Fister who has pitched great since going to Detroit (8-1) with a microscopic 1.79 ERA. In a short series like this (and I hate the 3 out of 5 with so many days off; you really only need a 2 man rotation and it doesn’t tell you who the best team is) those 2 are tough to beat. Fister is a control pitcher and we need to hit his mistakes. He walked only 5 batters in 70 innings with Detroit this year…very Mariano like.
Their should be closer, Al Albuquerque is extremely tough to hit; batters only hit .142 and had only ONE extra base hit all year off of him (a double). His slug against is (what might be a major league record) .149! That is not a misprint; .149 slug against is unheard of. He does walk guys though, walking 29 batters in 43 innings. Obviously, he has electric stuff and did not allow a single earned run after the all star break. Having a reliable relief group is always critical in the postseason and he has been great. It is surprising he is not their closer. Against us he has been typical, pitching 2 innings, not allowing a hit and walking one and striking out 2. 2 starters and a good pen are tough in a short series.
As I have said many times, once you get to the playoffs it is a crap shoot as anything can happen. One hot pitcher or cold pitcher can win or lose a series…one hot batter or cold batter could sway things as well. The Yankees offense should be our big advantage and they need to get the job done against these pitchers. Our defense is also an advantage over other teams, but that helps our pitching. Again, the offense needs to do their job. As much as Soriano has been up and down, I like that we can shut down the game in the 7th, 8th and 9th.
I might post more about our roster later, but many people said that Colon has pitched his last game in pinstripes and while he has not pitched well of late, I would consider him out of the pen. I would also definitely keep Golson or Dickerson on the roster (probably not both). Against Detroit, I also would not keep Romine on the roster as Montero could be the backup and I would also have Posada on the lineup (which surprises me, but he did have a .269/.348/.466 against righties for a decent .814 OPS).
The Yankees will release their roster later today, but I would go with all the guarantees of Rivera
I would have Posada and one of Golson/Dickerson as well which puts us at 21.
We then have Hughes, Colon and Burnett, Wade and Ayala (and Valdez, but against Detroit I would not roster him…and this is form someone that finds it absurd that we have only one lefty in the pen) One of these 5 will be left off. For the year Ayala and Wade deserve to be on, but Wade has struggled of late with HR’s. For the year he has been very good against righties with an OPS against of .541 (and I like specialty guys in the postseason). Ayala has been more consistent, but also gets hit a higher clip and has been pretty even against each. They both had ERA’s below 2.20 so they have been good, but we saw them not get the job done against TB in the last game. Ayala in only 2 innings did allow 2 runs against Detroit and had a 2.79 ERA after the All Star break. When looking at the numbers, Wade was not as bad as I felt. The two homers he allowed were big, but those were his only 2 runs allowed in the month of September, but 2 HR’s in 11 innings is not that good. Overall, I would keep Wade over Ayala (this surprises me as if you would have asked me before reviewing the stats my answer would have been different) and I would use Wade against righties as a specialist or depending on the situation extend a little.
Hughes – for some reason I feel like he would be OK out of the pen. His walks have been killing me and I am not in love with his stuff, but I could see him coming in and helping. For the year he is .841/.729 (so lefties have crushed him).
Burnett – Last year I said he should not be on the postseason roster and Girardi mishandled him and allowed him to lose a game (Girardi was awful last year and can’t be trusted to be smart with someone). AJ, looked better with his adjustment in his mechanics and as I said last year and earlier this year I would have liked to see him out of the pen more as his stuff (2 pitches) is more conducive for that. I could see him coming in and doing well. Of course, he could come in and be wild as heck as well. He is a little better against lefties .777/.831. It is a bad time to experiment, but he is suited to come in with nobody on or come in with a runner on 2nd where a walk won’t kill you. He also could matchup with the switch hitters who hit better against lefties.
Colon – people have been quick to throw him out, but I am not in agreement. The main concern I have is that his velocity is down. This is key for him. If he is throwing 92 you have too be careful (much like Hughes even though they are very different). For the year he was very good against righties as well with a .621 OPS but lefties got him at .880.
So what you have is a steady but unspectacular Ayala, you have a righty specialist in Wade, you have 2 longer relief guys in Hughes and Colon who are good against righties and then Burnett who is the longer relief guy slightly better against lefties. One could argue that Wade is not needed if Colon or Hughes are kept even though Wade has been better. One could easily argue that Burnett doesn’t deserve any postseason…period.
I honestly don’t believe a clear wrong or right decision can be made here. You could go with any variety of guys (4 out of 5 and it is not wrong or right. My 1st take is Wade should get on it because he is the best at one thing and I want that righty specialist. Not to cop out but the rest is superfluous as it is all about who do you think will pitch better. For some odd reason I feel Burnett would do well as a reliever. I think I would leave Ayala off the roster, but I could understand other views. I also think we probably don’t need more than 10 pitchers, but I would rather be able to matchup pitchers than the possible choice of needing Romine in case we pinch hit for Martin. The issue is that we don’t have a pinch hitter most likely that would make sense, unless a lefty was brought in and Montero was on the bench. At that point I would let him catch.
I could see carrying Romine instead of an 11th pitcher as well because of all the days off. The one thing that is critical from Girardi is that if a pitcher is off, you don’t stick with them as we have plenty of pitchers and plenty of days off. This short series is something I hate, but the truth is that Soriano, Robertson and Rivera could pitch EVERY game in the 7-9 innings so all we need is 5 innings and a matchup game. This underscores the silliness of a 5 game series with 2 off days. I think the postseason should be played every day, just like the regular season.
CC against Verlander should be fun to watch.
Last funny item I read…
The other day Martin got thrown out of the game…he said to the ump, “did you stretch before the game?”…the ump looked funny and asked, what?... and Martin asked the same question, “did you stretch before the game?” The ump gave a quizzical look and Martin said, “You seem a little tight today” that ended Martin’s day and was tossed.