The need for good Thames against Texas

Lining up the ALCS rotation
For the ALCS, an expensive ticket and a promo
Mr. Thames to you. (AP Photo/Bill Kostroun)

Marcus Thames has been everything the Yankees could have possibly asked him to be and then some. He was brought in to hit lefthanded pitching and has done just that (.300/.352/.454, .354 wOBA), but he’s also been much better than expected against righthanders (.268/.347/.549, .382 wOBA). He’s produced numerous big hits throughout the year, like this walk-off homer against the Red Sox, this walk-off single against the Blue Jays, this go-ahead homer against the Jays, and of course this go-ahead single against the same Rangers’ club that the Yanks will face in the ALCS starting Friday. As good as Thames has been this season, his team is going to need just a little bit more out of him against Texas.

Although neither team has officially released their ALCS rotation yet, the Rangers are expected to start the series with C.J. Wilson and Colby Lewis before giving the ball to Cliff Lee in Game Three. Tommy Hunter is your probable Game Four starter. It’s highly likely that each team will win at least one game at some point, meaning that Texas will be able to give the ball to a southpaw three times in the first five games of the series (Wilson twice, Lee once). These aren’t your everyday lefthanders either. Wilson annihilates batters of the same hand (lefthanded batters had just a .205 wOBA with just five doubles and no homers off him this season) and Lee … well … is Cliff Lee.

Even though Curtis Granderson has improved immensely against lefties since working with Kevin Long (.380 wOBA vs. LHP since the changes that, ironically, took place in Texas), his offensive ability is likely to be somewhat compromised during those three games. Ditto Brett Gardner, even though he was more than respectable against lefties this season (.332 wOBA, .351 vs. RHP). Alex Rodriguez was uncharacteristically awful against lefthanders this year (a solid .335 wOBA, but Alex is held to different standards than mere mortals) as well. That’s why they need Thames to be on top of his game, he’s got to pick up the seemingly inevitable slack.

The good news is that Marcus has already shown he can do that, albeit in a tiny sample. When Mark Teixeira was away with his birth-giving wife in early August, Thames not only stepped in as the three-hole hitter for two games, he basically replaced (or even improved upon) Tex’s production as well. He went 5-for-10 with a homer in the two games (started by Wilson and Lee of all people), with one of the hits being that go-ahead single linked above. He took Frank Francisco deep one inning before that to bring the Yanks to within one. Of course it was all or nothing for Marcus that series, because he struck out in the five plate appearances in which he didn’t get a hit. That’s the trade off you get with a guy like him though.

The Twins learned the hard way that the Yankee lineup is extremely deep with no easy out(s), especially their two lefties Francisco Liriano and Brian Duensing. Thames was a big reason for that, as he has been all season, but the team still needs a little more out of him. They know that, he knows that, the other team knows it, everyone does. Thames has been worth every penny of his $900,000 salary so far this season, but the job isn’t done yet.

Aside: That’s easily my favorite picture of the season so far. So badass. Here’s that play, if you’re curious…Also, check out this Wall Street Journal piece on Thames. Mike Sielski spins a great tale of Thames’ friendship with former Yankee farmhands Jeff Nettles and Drew Henson as well as his time in Detroit.

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Lining up the ALCS rotation
For the ALCS, an expensive ticket and a promo
  • Captain Jack

    I’m more worried about Good AJ, Hughes, and Andy…but yes, aside from the obvious key players, Thames is the most important.

  • Captain Jack

    So what’s the lineup against Lee and Wilson?

    Jeter
    Swisher
    Teixeira
    Rodriguez
    Cano
    Thames
    Posada
    Granderson
    Gardner

    ?

    Or flip Thames and Cano?

    • http://www.twitter.com/tomzig Tom Zig

      Cano always bats 5th.

      So your line up is correct.

      • Captain Jack

        Agreed. October isn’t the time to get cute with the lineups.

        • http://www.twitter.com/tomzig Tom Zig

          Go with what got you here.

    • http://www.secondavenuesagas.com Benjamin Kabak

      Same thing it was against Liriano and Duensing.

  • Captain Jack

    Also does Austin Kearns get a plate appearance this series? He has a strong history against lefties and would he be better than Gardner in a key situation?

    • larryf

      No and no hopefully.

    • http://www.twitter.com/tomzig Tom Zig

      I’d probably keep Granderson in there. He has been on fire of late. Plus Kearns is striking out at a rate that would make Mark Reynolds jealous.

      • Captain Jack

        Maybe use Kearns to keep the pitcher’s seat warm.

        • http://www.twitter.com/tomzig Tom Zig

          Haha yeah, and have him wear the pitcher’s jacket while whoever it is, is pitching. You know so the jacket isn’t cold when the pitcher puts it back on.

        • Jay T

          And, don’t you want to keep the better defense out in field? In these games, catching the ball becomes so much more important. Bolster the “D” and prevent runs.

          • Captain Jack

            They have Golson for that.

            • chriskeo

              I think he was implying that Gardner/Granderson are much better defenders than Kearns, so they should stay leave it as is to have the best D.

              • MikeD

                True, although that says a lot about our OF defense this year with Swisher being the weakest defensive link, and he has been solid. Kearns is a very good defensive OFer, especially in right.

            • http://www.twitter.com/tomzig Tom Zig

              this

            • larryf

              Golson only for late inning “3G-excellent coverage” defense

    • http://twitter.com/kschmidt2 Kiersten

      The only way I see Kearns getting an at-bat is if Girardi uses Golson as a pinch runner and then needs a pinch hitter for him.

    • Chris

      I could see Kearns starting against Lee. Gardner’s take-take-take style would probably be effective against Wilson, but not so much against Lee.

      • Captain Jack

        Now that’s an interesting point, something to think about for sure.

      • larryf

        take- take- foul- foul- foul can raise the pitch count and Brett doesn’t strike out as much as Kearns and can get on base with a bunt or infield hit.

        I could not see Kearns starting against Lee.

        • CS Yankee

          I could not see Kearns starting against CHoP, could you?

      • Dalelama

        Exactly, if Brett can’t walk he is virtually worthless offensively especially against good pitching.

  • Dream of Electric Sheep/ still haven’t register /too lazy

    I agree Thames is an important cog and will need be counted on in the ALCS. Also, I like give my man Moseley some props ; he will also play a vital part in the case of Burnett implosion. I hope it doesn’t occur , but having Moseley as a long man certainly ease some of my anxiety in starting Burnett.

    Short leash , short leash ! Joe.

    • http://cid-e3a022289d65b5c0.skydrive.live.com/self.aspx/Assorted/foul.jpg Andy in NYC

      Just curious…what’s with your unusual punctuation, placing a space before your commas? Never seen that before.

      • Dream of Electric Sheep/ still haven’t register /too lazy

        I feel like they need breathing space.

        • http://cid-e3a022289d65b5c0.skydrive.live.com/self.aspx/Assorted/foul.jpg Andy in NYC

          OK…so just a personal quirk, then. Got it. Thanks.

          • Dream of Electric Sheep/ still haven’t register /too lazy

            :) I call it a certain ‘artistic freedom’. though , some might think autistic.

            • http://cid-e3a022289d65b5c0.skydrive.live.com/self.aspx/Assorted/foul.jpg Andy in NYC

              ;-)

    • http://www.secondavenuesagas.com Benjamin Kabak

      Burnett >>>> Moseley. It’s not that close really despite Burnett’s struggles. If Moseley is pitching in a playoff game, the Yanks will either be leading by 15 runs or in serious trouble.

      • CBean

        This. Despite AJ’s shitty year, he does actually have great stuff when he can bring it. Moseley does not. Hopefully AJ can bring it.

        • CS Yankee

          AJ will need to bring it and kill it as he’ll have The Great Gazoo catching him and likely affect run production in a bad way.

      • Dream of Electric Sheep/ still haven’t register /too lazy

        Hyperbole aside , Ben. I think AJ probably is the better option. I like Moseley for earnest and humble demeanor , that’s all.

        I will say this , If Mos is on the roster,In the event the first sign of implosion from Burnett , I believe Joe will go to him. So , he will be entrusted with the role of hold’em there so to speak. Can he do it? it remains to be seen.

        • CS Yankee

          I would rather see Joba if we need high leverage outs prior to the 7th inning. He would be good for a few solid innings, I would think.

          1-6 innings in trouble = Joba 1st, followed by whoever
          7th = Drob
          8th = Wood
          9th = Mo
          Loogy = Logan

          • Dream of Electric Sheep/ still haven’t register /too lazy

            If Burnett gets blown out , it won’t be a high or mid leverage situation. It will simple be a situation.

            • Dream of Electric Sheep/ still haven’t register /too lazy

              *simply

            • http://www.twitter.com/tomzig Tom Zig

              But it wouldn’t be the situation would it?

              Do I have pay royalties for that?

              • Dream of Electric Sheep/ still haven’t register /too lazy

                No, RAB members gets free dibs. Only if you already register though.

              • Jerome S.

                DID YOU SAY MY NAME?!
                (Queue douche beat, shirt tear-off here).

          • http://www.twitter.com/tomzig Tom Zig

            Since the Wood acquisition, DRob has been put in the fireman role. In which case Joba would come in to start the next inning if DRob has already thrown a bunch of pitches.

            So say our SP makes it to the 6th and then gets into a little bit of trouble and it’s a close game, I bet Girardi goes to DRob a.k.a. Houdini to get out of the inning. I would presume Joba would then start the 7th.

            • Dream of Electric Sheep/ still haven’t register /too lazy

              If we did not need two long man, which I think we do in the case of Burnett supernova. I would consider Ring as a second lefty option instead of Mitre.

        • http://cid-e3a022289d65b5c0.skydrive.live.com/self.aspx/Assorted/foul.jpg Andy in NYC

          I like Moseley for earnest and humble demeanor[…]

          …and Mo knows, Moseley has plenty of reasons to stay humble…

          :: ducks before getting hit by electric sheep, thrown by insomniac android ::

          • Dream of Electric Sheep/ still haven’t register /too lazy

            Andy in NYC – “I’ve seen things you people wouldn’t believe. Attack ships on fire off the shoulder of Orion. I watched C-beams glitter in the dark near the Tannhauser gate. All those moments will be lost in time… like tears in rain… Time to die.”

        • MikeD

          Mitre is also on the roster, right? I’d imagine Joe will have a quick hook and will pull AJ before things get too out of hand. That means both Moseley and Mitre will be on call.

  • nsalem

    I would like to see Thames batting behind Posada vs Wilson. Jorge is a very patient hitter and is a good candidate to draw some walks against a type of pitcher like Wilson (high BB rate against righties). If Thames happens to go deep the more men on base the merrier.

    • pete

      I like this idea, actually.

  • larryf

    Cervelli-remember him?-he hit lefties very well this year and was also effective with RISP. He may play a role off the bench.

    • CS Yankee

      He will with AJ pitching

    • http://twitter.com/cephster Ross in Jersey

      A lot of Cervelli’s success was BABIP-fueled luck early and late in the season. He’ll come off the bench for defense, but you’d see Kearns first if they needed a righty bat.

      • http://theyankeeu.com Matt Imbrogno

        “defense”

        • http://twitter.com/cephster Ross in Jersey

          Sorry, by “defense” I meant “inspiring fear with fist pumps”

          • ShuutoHeat

            Nothing beats fear instilled by fist pumps.

  • MikeD

    That is a great shot, capturing the moment when 45,000 people, including one umpire, are wondering if it’s a HR, and the expression of one man who knows it’s a HR. The man who hit it is the only one not looking toward LF.

  • Xstar7

    HAPPY THAMES ARE probably never gonna be here again.