The need for good Thames against Texas


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.

Categories : Playoffs


  1. Captain Jack says:

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

  2. Captain Jack says:

    So what’s the lineup against Lee and Wilson?



    Or flip Thames and Cano?

  3. Captain Jack says:

    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?

  4. Dream of Electric Sheep/ still haven't register /too lazy says:

    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.

    • Andy in NYC says:

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

    • 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 says:

        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 says:

          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 says:

        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 says:

          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 says:

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

          • Tom Zig says:

            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 says:

              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.

        • Andy in NYC says:

          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 says:

            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 says:

          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.

  5. nsalem says:

    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.

  6. larryf says:

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

  7. MikeD says:

    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.

  8. Xstar7 says:

    HAPPY THAMES ARE probably never gonna be here again.

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