Oct
20

Yanks offense goes from powerhouse to porous in ALCS

By

We’ve all seen this before: Yankees offense scores 900 runs in the regular season, goes to sleep in the playoffs. The difference this year is that some guys are still hitting. That, and the superb pitching allowed even a porous offense to come out ahead in the first five postseason contests. But, as we saw yesterday, the holes in the lineup can be killers. The Yanks could have scored eight, 10 runs yesterday if they hit with runners in scoring position. Instead, they relied on the solo homer. That won’t always work.

That the bottom of the order isn’t hitting is one thing. That Mark Teixeira isn’t hitting is another. He’s had a pretty bad playoffs overall, notching just two hits in the ALDS. Of course, those two hits were as big as they get: a single prior to a game-tying homer, and a walk-off shot in the same game. Since then, in four games, Teixeira has just one hit. He is 1 for 13 in the ALDS with a lone single, walking three times to five strikeouts. It hurts so much more because he’s batting in the three hole.

It’s April all over again for Tex. It appears the long breaks have disrupted his rhythm. That’s anecdotal, of course, but it matches with what we’ve heard about Teixeira from day one. He starts slow every year because he needs to get into a rhythm from both sides of the plate. Joe Morgan (of all people) explained it on a Sunday Night Baseball broadcast, noting that while most hitters transfer their weight from their back foot to their front, Teixeira stays on his back foot for his whole swing. I wonder how much Tex would benefit from having a non-roster pitcher, like Brian Bruney, throw him live BP, at game speeds.

Robinson Cano came to the plate twice yesterday with runners on first and second with none out, and twice bounced into a fielder’s choice. In fact, he doesn’t have a hit with runners in scoring position all series. His only RBI came on a triple with a man on first. He’s just 3 for 13 in the series with a GIDP. The Yankees certainly need the guy who hit .320 this season.

Batting after Cano is Nick Swisher, who has been equally as bad if not worse. After going 1 for 12 in the ALDS, Swisher is 2 for 10 in the ALCS with five strikeouts. A few of those have been costly, coming with a runner on third and less than two outs. Swisher’s woes at the plate are amplified when A.J. Burnett starts. Because Jose Molina bats ninth and Jorge Posada is out of the lineup, Swisher hits sixth. Unless he does something tonight, putting him in that spot isn’t the best idea.

Rounding out the order is Melky Cabrera who, after a good Game 1, has slowed down considerably. He went 1 for 2 with two walks in the opening match, but since has gone 2 for 11 with no walks and four strikeouts. He’s the No. 9 hitter, so it’s tough to expect the world from him. Still, Melky has stumbled in the playoffs. He’s just 5 for 25 this postseason, which is bad even for the last hitter in the lineup.

So far the Yankees have gotten by with timely (i.e., late) hitting and solid pitching. But the home runs won’t come against everyone. The Yankees have to start taking advantage of their opportunities earlier in the game, and that means Teixeira, Cano, Swisher, and Melky have to produce. After yesterday’s loss, the Yankees could use it tonight more than ever.

Categories : Offense

83 Comments»

  1. I guess this shows how good Yankee pitching has been–even yesterday’s loss wasn’t any sort of rout.

    That said, it’d be nice to see the other guys start to hit. I’ve personally thought that some of the guys struggle to hit in cold weather–which could explain Teixeira, at least–but I would argue that there’s probably more to it than that.

    At any rate, this is why they say pitching (and defense) wins championships.

  2. Mike HC says:

    This team relies on the homer and power pitching. It is just how we are built. We can win with “small ball” every now and then, but that would be the exception rather than the rule.

    • The Three Amigos says:

      That’s not even true. We have won more then enough this year by getting hit after hit in key spots.

      • Mike HC says:

        I know. I really did not mean to pigeon hole the team, but it is safe to say we are a home run hitting team

        • Yeah, and that’s generally a very good thing. However, the Yankees definitely aren’t the type of team that always needs the home run to win the game. Just because they lost yesterday because of the lack of a big non-HR hit doesn’t mean they can’t win w/o the homer.

          • Mike HC says:

            I agree. I still think we trend closer to the home run approach than the single, steal, bunt, sac fly approach. But we can do it both ways.

  3. Bryan says:

    I was watching the game yesterday and it looked like Swisher was completly overmatched. As soon as he got two strikes on him you knew a curveball was coming and he was just flailing at it.

    • Mike HC says:

      The good thing is that Swisher can carry us offensively if he has a good game. I’m still holding out hope that he has a two home run game, or homer and two doubles, etc … in one of the next two in LA. Teix also has this capability. I think it is only a matter of time before they have a breakout game.

    • toad says:

      I was watching the game yesterday and it looked like Swisher was completly overmatched.

      Yes. And so was Cabrera. It just seemed in general that all the Angels had to do was throw a breaking pitch and they got a strikeout.

      Maybe Gardner should start in place of Cabrera tonight.

      • Mike Pop says:

        Melky had a great series up until yesterday IMO.

      • pete says:

        i agree about melky but i thought swisher had a lot of good swings

        • sam says:

          not on the breaking ball he looked looost.
          his AB in the the 4th and the 10th, everyone in the world know the 1-2 pitch was going to be a breaking ball in the dirt.

      • Sam P. says:

        Absolutely – Melky was just flailing at multiple pitches that bounced to the plate. You just knew a curve was coming – Melky was jacked up to swing away. That’s something that seems almost tangible with Melky … you can tell when he’s swinging for the fences. He just exudes it. Maybe someone else knows what I’m getting at here.

        I don’t think I’d be surprised to see a Gardner start over Melky, simply b/c Swisher won’t be benched for Gardner. Thoughts?

      • Chris C. says:

        “Maybe Gardner should start in place of Cabrera tonight”

        Yeah, sure. Let’s start Gardner against Scott Kazmir. And maybe, just maybe, he’ll manage to foul one or two off.

  4. Raf says:

    the bottom of the order not coming through yesterday was huge. especially early in the game when they had Weaver on the ropes. you put some more runs on the board there and the deficit for the Angels seems even larger against Pettitte and the bullpen.

    • Chris C. says:

      Okay, okay, enough with the Yankee offensive woes. The Angels aren’t hitting either. At least the Yankees have about 10 homers, to the Angels 2.

      I mean geez, if that was the Yankees who couldn’t plate a run in the bottom of the 9th last night, I’d be pulling my hair out!

  5. Mike Pop says:

    I blame A-Rod for the offensive struggles.

  6. Rose says:

    I had written this in the other thread a little too late I guess…

    The bottom line is, we have to start hitting better. It hasn’t been that great even in the ALDS against the mediocre Twins pitching. The reason we’re even up 2-1 right now is because of our stellar pitching. Though, unfortunately yesterday we realized that even very GOOD pitching isn’t good enough. Anything less than stellar pitching will result in a loss if we keep hitting the way we have been.

    Aside from Jeter, Matsui and Posada…the batting averages are pretty bad. Teixeira’s .077/.250/.077 line for the ALCS or even .120/.241/.240 line for the entire post-season isn’t helping in the 3 hole at all. Damon’s batting .214 in the 2 hole, Melky and Cano are batting .200 a piece, Swisher’s patience has disappeared with a .208 OBP for the entire post season…

    It just seems that every OTHER guy seems to be getting hits or on base. Jeter is hitting alright, Damon and Tex aren’t. Arod, Matsui, and Posada are hitting…but not together most of the time. Johnny Damon and Mark Teixeira COMBINE for TWO RBI’s in the entire post season thus far.

    This just ain’t going to cut it.

    If it continues like this it’s going to come down to pitching…and unfortunately, the Angels have MUCH more pitching depth than we do.

    • A.D. says:

      If it continues like this it’s going to come down to pitching…and unfortunately, the Angels have MUCH more pitching depth than we do.

      I very much disagree with this, I don’t see how the Angels have more pitching depth given the Yanks aren’t throwing a 4th starter. What this would do is take away the Yankees distinct advantage of a better hitting lineup than the Angels, and thus make it a tighter series that it should be.

  7. Rob says:

    Edited by RAB. Warning that your post is off-topic does not make it okay.

  8. steve s says:

    Comparatively speaking the Angels are doing worse overall offensively than the Yanks (Morales is as bad as Tex, Juan Rivera and Swisher have both been futile and Abreu/Figgins have been collectively worse than Cano/Melky). Real problem is Jeter/Arod are bound to cool down (and have to some extent despite the HR’s) and Arod will start fishing soon because Angels are now pitching around him. If Yanks lose tonight I don’t see how Girardi goes with Molina over Posada in Game 5 plus I think Gardner will get the start over either Melky/Swisher in Game 5 as well.

    • Count Zero says:

      ^This.

      Teams don’t get to the CS by being one-dimensional (most of the time). Both teams are pitching well, and the result of that is there are a lot of guys on both sides with terrible lines. If you were expecting the Halos to come in and give up 6 runs per game you were dreaming.

      Pitching and timely hits are going to make the diff in this series. Melky might yet get one — so might Swish. (cf. Hairston in game 2.) Tex and / or JD might get hot. But overall, scoring four or five in a game should lead to a W, because these are quality rotations with at least one or two quality relievers behind them. A blowout in any game would be a surprise — it is not something to be expected.

  9. ansky says:

    IMO, the minute Tex starts hitting, this series is over. Jeter is hitting so he’d be on for Tex to drive in, then AROD can drive Tex in and Matsui and Jorgie are hitting so that would render the bottom of the lineup inconsequential. Tex just has to get hot b/c he’s looked at terrible at the plate. He brought his glove but left his bat in the regular season.

  10. Nady Nation says:

    And yet, Jorge will continue to be benched for Burnett’s starts. Why not let AJ inevitably toss some wild pitches to a guy that’s raking this postseson, instead of to another offensive black hole. Molina and his defensive wizardry behind the plate have yet to impact AJ’s erraticness/wildness this postseason.

    • Bo says:

      Come on. That gives Girardi an extra bat on the bench and ample pinch hitting/runners chances. Hes salivating at the thought of Game 5.

  11. sam says:

    the lineup today needs to have a change in the bottom of the lineup.
    can we get CC to hit today?

    • Kiersten says:

      I would have rather seen CC hit yesterday than Cervelli.

    • steve s says:

      Actually, if it didn’t mean Matsui had to sit, that would not be as crazy as it sounds on first read.

      • Chris C. says:

        Oh no, it’s crazy.

        Girardi manages scared as it is…….can you imagine the look on Girardi’s face if CC grounds one to the infield, then starts limping to first base??

        He’d be finished. I honestly feel that Joe Girardi would not even get to see a game 4 if that happened.

  12. Mike Pop says:

    I was more upset at the Yankees not being able to get to the Angels pen yesterday than anything really. Beside Hip Hip Jorge’s home run, they didn’t do ish.

    Frustrating, especially when that is your known advantage coming into this series.

  13. Steve S says:

    With all the criticism of Girardi and this might have been mentioned already so I’m sorry but why not start Gardner over Melky yesterday? Did one of the RAB guys bring up that Melky was 0-12 against Weaver? The whole point of bringing Guzman was that you may need to pinch run when Gardner gets a start and you really dont have that extra set of legs on the bench.

  14. Riddering says:

    This is just semantics but I always hate the phrase “rely on the longball”. What’s meant, of course, is that the offense needs to score runs in any manner presented to them, ie if there’s a runner on third with less than two outs you have to get him in. (Sidenote: KLong’s notebook is vastly superior to Girardi’s and I have faith in him that he’ll follow up on Swisher’s failures yesterday in the man-on-3rd/less than 2 outs situations.) But it sounds like a criticism, as though the lineup plans to go out there and only hit solo bombs.

    The problem isn’t solo homeruns, of course, being that they were lifted off the most productive bats in this postseason. The problem is inconsistent production out of the lineup. As important as Tex’s bat is, I’m maybe a little more concerned about the bottom of the lineup not getting anything done to give the next guy a chance. Swisher’s only worked two walks in the postseason so far. Two!

    I agree with Rebecca – the flat offense really goes to prove how much pitching has carried the team thus far. Now it’s time for the lineup to crawl out of the arms of Jesus the pitchers and walk on their own two feet.

  15. mryankee says:

    Melky Cabrera has been horrible as has Tex at least offensively and Robbie Cano and Nick swisher. Even with all that the Yankees still had a chance to win the game and Girardi scrwed it up by bringing BP Alfredo Aceves. Those are the types of moves that get managers fired. DROB was throwing bullets and he brings in that chump

  16. Moshe Mandel says:

    Tex did have two walks yesterday, so hopefully he is seeing the ball a bit better. Of course, if they lose, he will be the new ARod and everyone will want him shot along with Girardi. Sometimes, I really hate Yankees fans. The sense of entitlement to win every playoff game has led to this ridiculous backlash against the manager for one admittedly bad move. I’ve seen calls for him to be fired over it, and I’m sure Tex will get similar treatment if they lose this series.

    • mryankee says:

      Not winning every game, but winning games they should win. To me Girardi’s move was nothing more than ego, trying to be smarter than Sciossa. There is no way on earth Alfredo Aceves should be pitching in any importatnt playoff games. His stuff is mediocre and that might be good enough in July but not in October. Tex is getting paid a lot of money and he desrves the same treatment any other star gets when he does not produce. That was a winnable game they pissed away and now the Angels have hope and are at home for the next two.

      • Moshe Mandel says:

        Aceves would have been in the next inning anyhow. As someone posted yesterday:

        Kendrick is 1 run above average per 100 fastballs. He’s above average .3 runs/100 curveballs, and negative for other offspeed pitches. Robertson is above average for his fastball (1.03 runs) and below average for his curveball (-1.43). Aceves is below average for his fastball (-.06) and above average for his offspeed stuff (CT: .99, CB: 1.42, CH: 3.42). That seems like solid logic for making the change.

        So the idea was that Aceves would be pitching the next inning anyhow, so you can use him one out early to get the better matchup. I don’t like the move, but it is not nearly as ridiculous and “fireable” as people are making it out to be.

        • mryankee says:

          If they lose the series I think that would be considered. This is something Giaragdi dies and I dont get it and it usually does not work. Also remember when he came out the pitch before Guerrero’s home run now whatever he said obviosuly did not work there. Sometimes Girardi should learn less is more. Aceves twice now has cost the Yanks a tie or the lead. I would prefer to let DROB stay in get the final out and if we get the lead go to Gaudin to close the game. Aceves is just too timid with his stuff to be trusted. All we ever hear is how the Ynaks are judged by October well there is no excuse for this team to not win it all and the one person that gets in the way at least yesterday was Girardi.

          • Also remember when he came out the pitch before Guerrero’s home run now whatever he said obviosuly did not work there.

            Yeah it’s totally Girardi’s fault that Pettitte threw a bad pitch. Totally.

            • mryankee says:

              Not Girardi’s fault but someone of the three decided to throw a cutter across the plate in on Guerrero. The one pitch he could pull his hands through on and hit. Of the three nobody considered throwing a fastball up and away or curvein teh dirt. Guerrero is amped up in that situation and probably would have went fishing.

            • mryankee says:

              Not Girardi’s fault but someone of the three decided to throw a cutter across the plate in on Guerrero. The one pitch he could pull his hands through on and hit. Of the three nobody considered throwing a fastball up and away or curvein teh dirt. Guerrero is amped up in that situation and probably would have went fishing.

              • Pettitte threw a bad pitch. That’s on Pettitte and nobody else.

                • mryankee says:

                  Your right about the execution I am not arguing that my issue is the call. You just cant go inside there against a guy who is looking to jerk the ball. I kknow the cutter is his bread and butter pitch but you hvae to take your chanes on something down and awaty. Guerrero golfs that pitch out of the yard toright field you tip your cap to him.

                • You don’t throw down to Vlad, you throw up and in.

                • mryankee says:

                  Dow and away in the dirt? I think he would have chased. I am ok with up and in but the up is the key part. Again I think off speed spuff away would have been the smarter move if he hits a single I coud live with that. Pettite or whoever called the pitch gave Vlad the only pitch he would probably have hit out

          • Moshe Mandel says:

            Have you ever watched Aceves? Obviously not. His reputation is for being fearless, for throwing any pitch at any time. Timid? Stop making stuff up to rip on Girardi. And if it usually does not work, they wouldnt be where they are. This is exactly what I meant about Yankee fans.

          • Chris says:

            It usually does not work? The Yankees had the best record in baseball in the regular season and have the best record (so far) in the playoffs.

            • mryankee says:

              I am saying when he changes a pitcher after one or two outs when said pitcher is pitchng well. Most of the Yankee wins this year at least the close games were Phil in the eighth mo in the ninth. In this situation DROB wAS rolling there just was no reason to bring Aceves in, I would have understood Gaudin who gets more strikeouts but Aceves just should not have been out there.

              • Chris says:

                Some stats comparing Aceves and Gaudin:

                Aceves: 7.4 K/9 and 1.7 BB/9
                Gaudin: 7.3 K/9 and 4.3 BB/9

                • mryankee says:

                  Guadin is a little more experienced and is a starter which would explain the walks being a bt higher. I like someone in that situation who on his last time out did not cough up a run. You cant tell me you thnk Aceves should have been put there.

                • No, being a starter does not explain the walks.

                  I can’t stand the Aceves bashing. He was super out of the pen this year. But because everyone wants a goat for the loss, they immediately forget that.

                • mryankee says:

                  What does that matter what he did this year. I agree he was a nice find and did some good work, no doubt about that. In a game like yesterday you have to go with the hot hand, DROB has been great this postseason. Aceves has not and in that matchup while I agree you want to go offspeed to Kendrick if gets a single off DROB, i like the chanes of drob striking out Mathis then I do Aceves getting Mathis out. After the playoffs I am all for congratulating and thanking everyone, but that was a bad call.

                • Chris says:

                  You keep changing your argument to reach the conclusion that Girardi was wrong. You’re upset that the Yankees lost in the way they did, and Girardi is the easiest person to blame. There is nothing I can say that would convince you otherwise.

                  And for the record, I would not have pulled Robertson there, but I can understand why Girardi did it and I don’t think it was a horrible move.

        • TheZack says:

          While I agree, Moshe, about the entitlement, its just plain foolish to not question questionable moves. At a certain point, a batter’s ability to hit a fastball versus a curveball should cede to a pitcher pitching really well who doesn’t give up many HRs. Sure, Ace was going to probably come in the next inning, but that doesn’t justify the move at the moment. What happens next inning doesn’t matter if you don’t get there. Period.

          Of course its not fireable, but the idea that it was a “better matchup” is a pushing it a bit. Anything you gain from a better #s matchup you give up in the quality of the pitcher and taking out a pitcher in rhythm throwing great.

          But, whatever, it all comes down to CC again.

        • Mike HC says:

          You are 100% right.

      • pat says:

        If Tex doesn’t make like 5 great plays in the field yesterday that game is lost easily.

    • Tampa Yankee says:

      Sometimes, I really hate Yankees fans. The sense of entitlement to win every playoff game has led to this ridiculous backlash against the manager for one admittedly bad move.

      +1 and it’s not just playoff games. I mean if we go back to the game threads and recaps from any loss it’s the same way.

      From my viewpoint we lost a game in which we had chances to win and unfortunately Girardi’s didn’t pay off but we still have a 2-1 lead with our ace on the mound.

      I mean, in order for the Angles to win this series (going into last nights game) they’d have to beat us 4 out of the next 5 games with 2 of those started by Andy, 2 by CC and 1 by AJ. I liked our chances then and I still like them now.

  17. Chris says:

    What’s amazing about the Yankees is that even with more than half their lineup not hitting, they are still the second highest scoring team in the playoffs.

  18. Tank Foster says:

    It’s tough…I don’t know what data Girardi has in his notebook, but in general one thing I’ve seen that I shake my head about is making decisions based on small data sets. How many times could Kendrick have faced either Robertson or Aceves? Certainly not enough to generate meaningful numbers to guide a decision, certainly not a decision that would trump the fact that Robertson has been very effective in the playoffs, and Aceves has been iffy.

    If Girardi was using the more advanced data like what I read above – the +/- numbers for the pitcher and hitter vis a vis fastballs versus off-speed pitches, well that makes a little more sense, but it’s still dangerous waters to be navigating. Moshe Mandel wrote:

    Kendrick is 1 run above average per 100 fastballs. He’s above average .3 runs/100 curveballs, and negative for other offspeed pitches. Robertson is above average for his fastball (1.03 runs) and below average for his curveball (-1.43). Aceves is below average for his fastball (-.06) and above average for his offspeed stuff (CT: .99, CB: 1.42, CH: 3.42). That seems like solid logic for making the change.

    I take this to mean that Kendrick accounts for one more run than an average player (or a replacement level player, not sure) per 100 fastballs he sees. He’s slightly better than average for curveballs, and worse for offspeed pitches. I assume the numbers for the pitchers are opposite, meaning a +1 for a pitcher would negate a +1 for a batter. Moshe believes, I think, that Kendrick’s negative numbers against offspeed pitches, and Aceves’ very good numbers on his offspeed pitches add up to a “logical reason” to change to Aceves.

    If I understand these numbers correctly, I disagree, at least somewhat, that they present a convincing case to change pitchers. Numbers like these – 1 run/100 fastballs – are aggregate numbers, which reflect the run value of things like walks, singles, doubles, etc. The numbers would be very powerful predictors of success if you were planning what sorts of pitchers to use against Kendrick over the course of a season. As for a single at bat, the numbers are less relevant. The question is, which pitcher is most likely to prevent Kendrick from a) hitting a homer, and b) getting on base. The first things I would want to know is homerun rate and swing and miss rate, and I would base my primary decision on that. Given the recent effectiveness of Aceves v. Robertson, I would think the chance of Kendrick putting the ball in play or over the fence was far higher against Aceves. The effectiveness of Robertson’s fastball would maybe neutralize Kendrick’s fastball hitting ability; the lack of effectiveness in Aceves’ fastball, and his recent slumping and trouble with control, make it harder for him to use his offspeed pitches effectively.

    These are actually situations where I like the manager’s “hunch” as much as the data. Unless it’s something obvious, like Trot Nixon hitting .112 against lefties, and you have Billy Wagner warmed up, it’s pretty hard to “calculate” what pitcher to use with certainty for a single at bat, and I actually think the old school “hunch” method is probably better.

    I think Girardi is smart, and he has done very well with Yankee pitching staffs for 2 years. Maybe he’s better at preparation and worse with in-game strategy, but even though I disagreed with this move, I’m not too upset with him. For whatever reason, he did what he thought gave them the best chance to win. Sometimes things don’t work out.

  19. Short Porch says:

    The Angels are in this for a reason.

    Is it a surprise that Swish, Melky aren’t hitting well against the second best team in the AL?

    Tex’s timing, we know about. What if his issues are exacerbated by some excellent pitching on the Angel’s part?

    Give credit where credit’s due. This is for the pennant, and they’ve played us tough in these three games.

    • Bo says:

      Giving credit is one thing. But come on. Man on 3rd less than 2 outs twice and Swisher cant get him in.

      I dont care if its Koufac pitching. You get the run in.

  20. Stonnie says:

    Anyone else bothered by Cano’s lack of hustle after he has grounded ouy to 2nd? Seems like he slows down about 1/2 way to first. Being the palyoff’s & all, I would’nt mind seeing him run one out.

    • Tank Foster says:

      I used to say that. In general, I’d still say you’re right that you should hustle, and certainly not look like you’re giving up half way. But these guys look at their legs the wrong way and they get hamstring injuries, so when it isn’t necessary and the out seems automatic, I don’t mind them dogging it to first. As long as he’s moving and would be able to be there if there’s a bad throw. I realize there is always some scenario whereby the extra hustle will give you a base now and then, but overall, I don’t get on the players too much anymore given the injury issue. There is a hazard to going maximum exertion all the time.

  21. Check out this graphic showing who’s stepping up (and who’s not) in the Yankee offensive lineup.

    http://visualbaseball.wordpres.....e-occasion

  22. [...] anyone’s guess as to why the Yankees’ offense is slumping (or was slumping, if you believe they broke out last night), but being out of rhythm is certainly [...]

  23. [...] suffering their first lost of the postseason the day before, everyone was wondering what happened to the vaunted Yankee offense. Well, any questions were answered when the Yanks blew the Angels out in Game Four, putting the [...]

Leave a Reply

You may use <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <strike> <strong> in your comment.

If this is your first time commenting on River Ave. Blues, please review the RAB Commenter Guidelines. Login for commenting features. Register for RAB.