Oct
03

Division series loss an unfamiliar feeling

By

Yesterday the Yankees experienced something that hadn’t happened since 2007: they lost a game in the divisional round of the playoffs. The previous loss ended their season and drove the them to seek new management. This loss brings neither consequence. In fact, this loss could have been seen as inevitable, since the Tigers are not the Twins and therefore will not lay down in the ALDS. Make no mistake, though: despite what you might hear, the Yankees are still in prime position to advance.

If you’re the type that pays attention to what the traditional media writes, you might think the Yankees are in poor position now. After all, there are just three games left, and Detroit plays two of them at home. Detroit also starts their ace and presumptive AL Cy Young Award winner, Justin Verlander, in the first of this fresh three-game set. Combine that with closer Jose Valverde’s prediction, that the Tigers would take the next two games, and you have a recipe for Yankees defeat.

That is, you’d have a recipe for defeat if the above paragraph wasn’t filled with tripe. Valverde’s statement means nothing. He’s teetered on the edge of defeat all season without actually experiencing it, and he could easily cause his team to lose one of those next two games. As for home field advantage, we’ve seen so many postseason instances where it has meant nothing. Yes, the home team does generally win more games than the away team. But when we narrow the field to the best four teams in the league, and we set the standard to a mere five-game series, that goes out the window. There’s no sense in quoting the odds for that type of sample.

(In fact, only two World Series participants in the last five years have swept the LDS: the Yankees in 2009 and the Rockies in 2007.)

In Justin Verlander the Yankees face one of their toughest challenges of the year. There is no doubt that Verlander will win — has already won — the 2011 AL Cy Young Award. His numbers stood out in every way, from his gaudy innings total to his minuscule ERA. But if we dig just a little deeper, we can see that his opponent tonight, CC Sabathia, hasn’t lagged far behind. So while the Yankees will face a tough challenge, so will the Tigers.

Verlander threw more innings, struck out more per nine, walked fewer per nine, and allowed fewer runs than CC Sabathia. Those surface numbers certainly make his Cy Young case. Sabathia did perform better than Verlander in one aspect: suppressing home runs. He allowed just 17, while Verlander allowed 24. Sabathia’s home run total is even more impressive when we look at that one game against the Rays, in which he allowed five solo shots. We can’t remove them from his record, since they did happen. But we can put that in perspective and note that he allowed just 12 homers in his other 32 starts.

Still, that isn’t the greatest difference between Sabathia and Verlander. That difference occurs when we examine the quality of opponents each faced. Sabathia faced the ninth most difficult hitters in the AL this season. That is, only nine pitchers in the AL faced tougher hitters than he did, as measured by overall opponents’ OPS. Unsurprisingly, seven of the eight pitchers ahead of him pitch in the AL East. Ivan Nova ranks 13th on that list, Bartolo Colon 14th, and A.J. Burnett 17th. Verlander’s name doesn’t appear until No. 39. His opponents combined for a 2011 OPS of .739, to CC’s .760. Verlander might have performed better, but CC turned in his impressive performance while facing tougher hitters.

The feeling that followed yesterday was a strange one, indeed. The last time Yankees fans felt it, the pain of a playoff series went with it. This is not the case this time around. In fact, the Yankees are still positioned to win this. Detroit’s greatest weapon goes tonight, but his greatest foil goes opposite him. Even if Detroit does squeak out Game 3, they’ll throw two hittable pitchers in Games 4 and 5. It might feel odd, this losing in the LDS thing, but it’s far from the end. It might even be the beginning.

Categories : Playoffs

72 Comments»

  1. Ryan says:

    Hooray for sanity, perspective, and optimism.

    • I’d love to share in any of those three things. Just ask my friends. But, seriously, there’s little factual support for the optimism suggested in the article. To begin with, the notion that home-field advantage means nothing in this specific case, just because it means nothing generally, is wrong. The Yanks played the Tigers at the Grand Canyon On The Detroit River four times this season, and lost three of them — two of them badly. Second, Sabathia has already under-performed in such settings in the past. Third, Porcello v. Burnett is no contest. And last, but certainly not least, the Tigers don’t have to worry that their manager will decide to pinch-hit a guy with 0-for-career numbers against Benoit, leave a gassed pitcher out there for the heart of the other team’s lineup in the sixth inning, or send a gutless nobody out to pitch the ninth while the best bullpen in the game sits on folding chairs and watches.

      • I’m just gonna warn you here, citing samples as small as the ones your using as proof of home-field advantage does not go over well when posting on a pretty statistically minded blog.

        I posted below re: Porcello and Burnett. Much more of a contest than you think, you just haven’t watched or rooted for Porcello this year so you don’t realize it.

        Garcia had thrown 70 pitches. There’s no way he was gassed. The move was debatable, but not because Garcia was tired.

        You don’t have to share the optimism, but sanity and perspective can still be had.

        • Thanks for the teachable moments, dad. FWIW, (1) The Yankees *never* play well at Comerica. This year’s series was just the easiest example. (2) Garcia was gassed *for* *the* *season*, and, indeed, hadn’t thrown into the sixth inning in any game since July — presumably b/c the Yankees know he’s gassed. (3) I’ll believe Porcello v. Burnett is a push when I see tandem goose-eggs on the scoreboard. (4) The Girardi critique is conspicuously hanging fire.

          • Whatever. You used no concrete evidence whatsoever for any of your “points”. Not really sure why I should buy anything you just said.

            #1: They haven’t been great @ detroit, but we’re talking 3-5 games a year at MOST. Forgive me for not drawing broad reaching conclusions on such a tiny sample size.

            #2 Why do you believe Garcia is gassed? He hasn’t thrown a crazy # of innings, and has always been durable. Girardi has a better idea of his endurance level than either you or I do. And even if he IS gassed, it’s not as if his pitching style relies on his amazing stuff anymore.

            #3 is just irrational. Tigers fans will say the same thing about Porcello. Proximity and emotion trumps logic to the vast majority of fans. And one start doesn’t mean anything as to which starter is better.

            #4, I think manager’s effects on games are overrated. I’m not a big girardi guy, but I’m not losing sleep over it. Not many managers are fantastic.

            • “They haven’t been great @ detroit, but we’re talking 3-5 games a year at MOST. Forgive me for not drawing broad reaching conclusions on such a tiny sample size.”

              I looked it up: They’re 22-25 there, over all time, which I have to say is considerably better than I would’ve expected to find. Over the last three years, they are 3-11. If you really insist I suppose we could test the hypothesis at the 95% confidence level that a 0.214PCT is significantly different from the Yankees’ overall record during that same time, despite having only 13 degrees-of-freedom.

              “Why do you believe Garcia is gassed?”

              Maybe because his boss believes he is gassed, as witnessed by the fact that he hadn’t been allowed to pitch into the sixth inning of any game — until, that is, it actually mattered. …Oh, and then there’s the small detail that Joe Sheehan, Jeff Passan, and Ted Keith — all of whom get paid to have opinions about this sort of thing — agree with me that it was a mistake not to start someone in the ‘pen at the conclusion of the fifth inning. (…Cue the red-herring argument about me parroting someone else’s commentary, in three, two, one….)

              “#3 is just irrational.”

              Burnett’s ERA in his last ten starts is 6.99, while Porcello’s is 5.28. For the season Porcello’s is 4.75 and Burnett’s is 5.15. The last time Burnett pitched at Comerica, the Yankees lost 6-3. The winning pitcher in that game? Rick Porcello.

              “#4, I think manager’s effects on games are overrated. I’m not a big girardi guy, but I’m not losing sleep over it. Not many managers are fantastic.”

              Not many managers are fantastic. Many more, however, are at least not a hindrance to their team. Again, the response here is non-responsive — presumably because there’s no response. Joe Girardi’s decision-making gave that game away.

  2. Randy says:

    Thank you for the much needed perspective.

  3. Rockdog says:

    Agree with all of this. Facing Verlander and having Burnett pitch is not the best, but I remain optimistic. First, Burnett with likely be on a short leash. Second, Verlander is not unbeatable. (He is really good, but as Joe points out, so is Sabathia). Lastly — if we win one game, it’s back to the Bronx for a game 5.

    • Game-1 certainly had the early appearances of a Verlander loss before the rain made it impossible to continue. The only question for us is whether that was his scare, and he’ll revert to mean — or if it’s a sign that he might be on shaky footing at the end of a long season — or somewhere in-between.

    • Ricky says:

      “Second, Verlander is not unbeatable.”

      he lost to the O’s on his final regular season game in Detroit so “not unbeatable” is right

  4. Guns of the Navarone says:

    The previous loss ended their season and drove the them to seek new management. This loss brings neither consequence.

    That’s a shame.

    • Mike Axisa says:

      You really think they should get rid of Girardi?

      • Guns of the Navarone says:

        Not really. But I wouldn’t lose sleep over it if they did… just put it that way.

        I know there’s not much of a better alternative. Overall I thought he did a very good job this year when you get over the bunts and some other nonsense. But when he starts hurting this team’s chances to win in the postseason, I get a little ornery over it.

        • Yeah, I dunno. As much as I agree that I think Girardi tends to manage each game sub-optimally, he does keep the pen rested during the year(although, wtf, if you aren’t gonna use it yesterday, then when?).

          If I thought there were a better option out there, I’d be ok with a change. But if you’re picking from a pool of mediocrity, might as well take the guy who handles the media relatively well, seems to keep his players happy, and doesn’t kill the arms he has.

          • Guns of the Navarone says:

            As much as he keeps the pen rested, I’m actually worried about rust on some of these relievers. I believe they’re going to pitch tonight regardless of what happens, but it’ll be on FIVE days rest now (I think).

            You’re right about the team responding to him. And I give him a lot of grief but the decision to bat Cano 3rd was refreshing.

            But so far he’s being out-managed by Jim Leyland. That’s… disappointing.

        • Ted Nelson says:

          Everything a manager does that doesn’t work out goes against him, but the decisions he makes that do work out are taken for granted. It’s an impossible standard.

          Girardi did move Cano to the 3-hole for the playoffs. What move did he make that hurt the team?

          • Guns of the Navarone says:

            Ted, it’s a standard that EVERY manager is held to. This is his job. A player’s job is to hit the ball and field the ball. If they fail at that job they will be criticized, sometimes unfairly, for it. That’s the nature of the game.

            I understand the frustration with second-guessing. I personally don’t hold the manager accountable based on whether or not his move “works.” I want to see the manager put the proper pieces in place. That’s his job; to put the team in a position to win. Anything outside of that is not under his control.

            For example, I agree with Leyland’s move to have Al Alburquerque face Cano in Game 1. He went against the grain so to speak and ignored the platoon advantage. He knew Cano’s numbers against LHP and decided to go with his strikeout reliever. It didn’t work out. But that was the correct call.

            • Ted Nelson says:

              “Ted, it’s a standard that EVERY manager is held to.”

              Yes, that’s why I said “a manager” and not Joe Girardi.

              “I want to see the manager put the proper pieces in place.”

              According to whom? Why is your opinion on who the proper pieces are better than Joe Girardi’s or any other individual’s? Reasonable people can disagree. Another manager might have had a very good reason to go with a different reliever vs. Cano instead of Alburqueque (he thought a certain strength matched up against Cano… he decided to bring in Benoit or Valverde as a fireman rather than late inning guy) and that would not have been the correct call according to you since Alburqueque is a “strikeout guy?”

              You have yet to point out what you disagree with from Girardi and why. Leyland puts in the guy who gives up the grand slam, it’s the right call according to you, and he is out-managing Girardi despite you not analyzing any move by either manager beyond “left handed reliever” vs. “strike-out reliever.”

      • Bill says:

        Say the Yankees lose this series. If Girardi makes the same mistakes next year and the team falls short of its goal, I would seriously consider getting a new manager if I were the Yankees braintrust. During that stretch in September people on this site were defending Girardi’s questionable moves by saying he was just resting his guys for the postseason (even though a good number of those moves were not consistent with that perceived goal). But now these moves are continuing into the playoffs, a time where every out is precious.

        • Mike Axisa says:

          He made one pitching change that can be classified as “resting his guys.” That’s it.

          • Bill says:

            Why would you rest Soriano and Robertson there? This is the playoffs, and those guys hadn’t pitched since Wednesday. It shows bad judgement. Girardi even said his bullpen was well rested after Game 1. There’s no good reason not to go to at least Soriano there. I’m not at all saying that move cost the Yankees the game, but it’s still a bad sign to me when the manager is resting his bullpen in important games when it’s not necessary at all. And we have no real way of knowing whether Girardi put Ayala in because he wanted to rest his guys or if he put him in because he actually thinks he’s good.

            • Ted Nelson says:

              The Yankees would have had to score 3 runs off Valverde in one inning to tie that game, which is so far against the odds that there is justification for resting your pen for more important games you have a better chance of winning.

              It amuses me that people get all bent out of shape when Girardi bunts because they think it goes against the odds based on a general table available to Girardi and the Yankees stats department as well as the public, but then to also get mad at him for going with the odds? It just becomes get mad at anything that goes wrong or you would have done differently criticism. Either he should manage to the odds as people wish in the bunting situation and you should let managing to the odds in the bullpen situation go, or he should manage subjectively as you wish him to do in the bullpen situation and you should let the bunting go.

              • Guns of the Navarone says:

                Any criticisms of Girardi’s bunting tactics and his bullpen management yesterday are completely mutually exclusive.

                When you look at the moves he made yesterday, and the explanations given for those moves, they don’t line up. They don’t make sense.

                The manager gave up on the game. Period. I don’t care that it didn’t end up costing the Yankees the game. What bothers me is his attitude towards that particular situation – conceding that his team probably wouldn’t come back from THREE RUNS down against Jose Valverde based on “what he’s done all season.”

                How can you defend that? I’m serious. How can you possibly defend that?

                The only thing worse than bringing in Ayala in that situation is the explanation he gave for that action. Where was the harm in bringing in a better reliever to try and hold the game at three runs? The bullpen is a strength for this team and it is BEYOND well rested. There is simply no justification for it. None.

                Joe Girardi didn’t manage to win the game. He chose not to use his better relievers to hold the game close in a POSTSEASON game. There’s no more stroking Girardi and his “long-term” approach. There is no long-term. I want my manager to put the team in a position to win THAT GAME.

                Girardi’s moves can be criticized on a case-by-case basis. You don’t manage a game with one blanket rationality. Do you what’s best for the team as the situation arises. I think it’s crystal clear that he did not do that yesterday. This is the postseason and everything is under a microscope. His management of yesterday’s game was atrocious.

                • Ted Nelson says:

                  “The manager gave up on the game. Period.”

                  And this might be the right thing to do. Managers constantly sacrifice short-term gains for long-term gains. If stopping the team from scoring was so incredibly important he could bring in Mo earlier than the 9th. He could bring in CC to stop them from scoring this game and sacrifice his start next game. He chooses not to do that to have Mo ready for extra innings later if they beat the odds and come back and/or the next couple of games. He chooses not to bringing in his best pitcher, CC, so that he can start the next game.

                  It is very comparable to the bunt logic.

                  “Joe Girardi didn’t manage to win the game.”

                  He is not paid to win that game. He is paid to win the series.

                  “He chose not to use his better relievers to hold the game close in a POSTSEASON game.”

                  It wasn’t particularly close. They were down by 3 runs with one last ups left.

                  “There is no long-term. I want my manager to put the team in a position to win THAT GAME.”

                  So he should have brought in CC Sabathia then.

                  “Do you what’s best for the team as the situation arises.”

                  So “do you” go against the odds in one case and with them in another?

                  “His management of yesterday’s game was atrocious.”

                  Based on what? You have cited one decision he made. Nothing else.

    • CP says:

      That’s a shame.

      You would prefer that last night’s loss ended their season?!?!

  5. Sarah says:

    I want at least part of Valverde’s prediction to come true: not to return to the Bronx. Let’s win the next two and be done.

    • Mike Axisa says:

      Valverde’s halfway to Jimmy Rollins. He got the predicting the series win out of the way, now he just needs to say his team is the better team even after they lose the series.

  6. Erica says:

    Thank you for this, Joe! I feel a lot more positive about tonight’s game right now. I think we all just needed a well-written smack in the face telling us that we’re overreacting and that we’ll be completely okay.

  7. Guns of the Navarone says:

    CC has done a great job limiting home runs, but the Tigers are a much better offensive team at home. An .811 OPS at home vs .738 OPS on the road. They’ve hit 94 home runs at home compared to 75 on the road despite playing in that big ballpark. The Yankees have hit 122 at home for some perspective.

    Common sense dictates that the Yankees would have an advantage with the better offense in a run suppressing environment. But at home, the Tigers hit like the 2011 New York Yankees, if not better.

    • Rebelwb says:

      Nice enough Guns for a selective use of HR totals. Are you a Tigers troll? You neglected to mention that the Yankees have 100 home runs on the road, which is 25 more than the Tigers 75 if you are mathematically challenged. Compare 122 home runs at home for the Yankees vis a vis the Tigres 94, or 28 more. Either way, home or on the road the Yankees hit 25-28 more home runs than the Tigres. To me that’s NOT “like the 2011 New York Yankees” nor even better.

      Another way to spin it Guns of Tigerone (there’s no “the” in Maclean’s book btw), the Yankees have hit more home runs on the road than the Tigers at home. I know I’m not accounting for the difference betw Comerica and YS, but you were the one who brought up the difference. Go root for MSU or the Lions or the Red Wings.

      • This is totally uncalled for, and a big reason why I can’t read comments in the postseason.

      • Guns of the Navarone says:

        Relax. I’m just giving information that I found and thought was pertinent to the discussion.

        I have no idea why you’re discussing the Tigers’ home runs on the road. They’ll be playing at home. The fact that the Yankees hit more home runs on the road than the Tigers is irrelevant and doesn’t make sense in the context of this discussion.

        And the point is that they are a much better offensive team there and hit the majority of their home runs their despite a ballpark that suppresses home runs. Their offensive numbers at home are comparable or better than the Yankees’ overall numbers, the exception is the HR total as the Yankees are the best HR hitting team in baseball.

        My handle is in reference to one of my favorite Pulp Fiction quotes. It’s also the name of a band a few of my buddies play in.

        Not that I needed to explain any of that to you.

  8. Darren says:

    I’m not the biggest Girardi fan, but most of the dopes calling for his head have no suggestion as to who to bring in instead. You also fail to put the Manager of the New York Yankees into context. 95% of the job is (a) not messing up any of the expensive pieces you have through the 162 game grind, (b) managing the egos enough so the players can perform (c) being pretty good with the media every day for 6 months, (d) being someone the owners like and trust REGARDLESS OF ANY SPECIFIC STUPID MOVE MADE IN THE POST SEASON LIKE BRINGING IN AYALA INSETAD OF ROBERTSON

    Name me two managers who are perfect or who you would think would never mess up the way Joe does. Sometimes being very good at the 95% of the job is all you need to win the WS. See 2009. And see Torre for 5 Rings as example #2.

    Who do you want that you think would be perfect? tito? ha, he just got run out of town, you’ll be killing him too.

    There comes a time when a manager has exhausted his good will and we all felt it with Joe in the bad era of 2004-2008, but even then, a lot of the balme goes to Cashman/Hank N Hal for bad signings.

    But Girardi is not even close to exhausting that time frame yet.

    • Darren says:

      Derrr, meant 4 rings for Torre obvs

    • Seems like most managers have some kind of weakness. A lot of them don’t handle clubhouses well, don’t handle the media well, etc. But since it’s hard to see exactly how that affects the play on the field, it seems to be easier to swallow(maybe not though, just my opinion).

      Since Girardi seems to be great at all the behind the scenes stuff but apparently is not as statistically minded as the mainstream media wants to believe, and makes some really, really weird decisions in game, it’s easier to get upset.

      I’m on the, “Meh. He’s a manager, I don’t really care” side, here.

      But still. Ayala. WTF?

    • CP says:

      “The other guy” is always a better option than “the current guy”

  9. Across the pond says:

    I particularly loved Sherman tweeting that the Yanks have won game 1 of the ALDS 9 times, and lost the series 5 of them times. 5!!! Never mind the 4 they did win.

    So it’s basically still a crapshoot.

    Which we already knew about the playoffs.

  10. Bill says:

    I think the Yankees have a good shot to win this series, even though Burnett is Game 4 is a frightening proposition to say the least. I think most of the negative feelings about the Yankees chances in the next three games can be attributed to bullshit spouted by the media. They’re just happy that the Tigers won a game at Yankee Stadium and seemingly have the advantage. Most of these “experts” picked the Tigers to win the series, and are the very same “experts” that predicted that the Red Sox would win the World Series. They just want to look smart. One thing I’m very curious to know: Did Girardi have Ayala pitch the 9th because he thinks he’s a good pitcher, or was he waving the white flag? In either case, it showed poor judgement by the manager. I had a bad feeling about that inning as soon as Ayala came into the game. Let’s hope he doesn’t pitch again unless it’s a blowout.

  11. Drew says:

    Is anyone forgetting the AJ Burnett is starting Game 3. Tonight is a must win game.

    • Bartolo's Colon says:

      aj’s starting game 4, tonight is game 3

    • chaz says:

      AJ’s pitched some very good games in Detroit. In the game this year he melted down in the 7th. I doubt he gets that far in a playoff game.

      CC’s the one who has had big time trouble in Detroit, with the Yankees and Cleveland.

    • Even if we lose tonight, our offense is still good. AJ’s starting for us, but Detroit has to run out their 4th starter too, and Porcello has had his share of blow-ups.

      The only must win games are elimination games. Tonight is just a “Please win, otherwise this series gets a lot harder” game. The Yankees are more than capable of winning two games in a row.

    • Kosmo says:

      Last time I looked Burnett would be starting game 4.
      But as you say a must win.

    • CP says:

      Are you forgetting that Porcello is starting Game 4 as well?

  12. Tiny Tim says:

    CC’s gotta get the W tonight. Series is over if he doesn’t and that’s just all there is to it. Win or go home.

  13. Dave B says:

    Calling for Girardi’s head is completely illogical given the results of the entire season. The Yankee lineup is what it is and it will score runs. If you would have told me of the injuries and lack of production of some starters and relievers AND we would still finish with the best record in the AL I would have told you to put down the crack pipe. Yet Girardi waded through this without over-taxing the bullpen or starting pitchers.

    Things happen in the postseason, but if they go down it isn’t because of Girardi.

    By the way, “tripe” is an apt description of Valverde. I can’t stand that guy. I agree he is ripe for a 9th inning meltdown and hope the Yankees can do it to him.

  14. Dave B says:

    Joe or Mike – How is it that Verlander only is 39 compared to CC’s 9th ranking of ‘most dangerous lineups faced’? Is this the AL East skew, or is the data so tight that the difference between #9 and #39 facing Boston 4-5 more times? Who is #1 on the list?

    I have a hard time getting my mind around this data set.

    • CP says:

      I assume the list is among qualified pitchers (at least 162 IP). There were 42 such pitchers in the AL this season.

      What I don’t understand is the number itself. The AL average OPS this year was .730, and the average AL pitcher gave up a .726 OPS (the difference I assume is interleague). Either way, these numbers are worse than the .739 OPS that Verlander supposedly faced and he faced one of the weaker set of hitters in the league.

    • Since 4 of the top 5 offenses in the AL came from the East, yeah, it has a lot to do with the division in which CC pitches. As I said in the article, Nos. 1-9 contain 8 AL East pitchers.

      The numbers aren’t necessarily close. There’s a big clump at the top, but as you can see there’s a decent difference between CC at 9 and Verlander at 39.

  15. Guest says:

    Agree that there is a lot of chicken littleism going on with this Series. Yanks are still the better team and have a good shot at winning two out of the next three.

    One quirky fact:

    Unless I am mistaken, the Yankees haven’t won an LDS against a non-Minnesota Twin opponent since 2001. (Which goes to how many times they’ve played the Twins in the LDS more than anything else, but still quirky).

    • Carl says:

      When your team has gone that long without advancing out of the ALDS except when facing one team, you have to believe that team is due. I’ve looked at this ALDS as a proving point that the Yanks don’t need to face Minnesota to get past the first round, so if they’re still in prime position to advance, might as well get to it.

  16. Bill says:

    What do you guys think will happen if Burnett gets shelled in Game 4? Will they continue to trust him with meaningful starts? Will they look to cut him? Personally, for me to trust AJ Burnett, he would have to pitch great in all of his postseason starts this year. Two years of atrocious pitching will not be easily erased from my mind.

    • Kosmo says:

      Let´s hope NY wins Burnett´s start then we can continue talking about his “postseason starts“.
      If SF Giants are considering releasing Zito maybe NY might have to consider doing the same. For me 2 more years of AJ would be intolerable.

      • Bill says:

        Yea, I referred to the plurality on the “postseason starts” provided that the Yankees advance and they give Burnett another start. One good postseason start would not make me feel much better about Burnett. But let’s say hypothetically that Burnett pitches well in his start in Game 4 and pitches well in the ALCS and World Series, I would be a little more optimistic about Burnett heading into the final years of his contract.

    • Monteroisdinero says:

      And if he pitches well he will have done enough in the minds of many fans to provide cover for 2 more years of suckitude-just as he has the last two years.

      Next year’s mantra after his usual crappy start:

      “Remember game 4 ALDS against the Tigers!”

  17. Yank The Frank says:

    Where are the Twins when you need them?

  18. Kostas says:

    Why does everyone assume that Porcello is just as hittable as the enigma that is AJ?

    This does not play out well for the Yankees having to depend on AJ.

    • Because he is. In fact, he’s more hittable.

      AJ: 190.1 IP, 190 hits.
      Porcello: 182 IP, 210 hits.

      He was more hittable against worse competition. AJ strikes out nearly 3 more guys a game than Porcello does. I’m not arguing that AJ is better, far from it. But more hittable? That’s Porcello.

    • Dave B says:

      I can envision a scenario of Burnett as the modern day Kenny Rogers with the Yanks, or as the Andy Pettitte playoff warrior. I could likewise envision Porcello the exact same way.

      As Suzyn (sp?) and John would say: How do you predict baseball?

      In this situation, we are all just blathering and hoping for the best.

  19. Just fyi:

    Your game 4 starters.

    era/fip/xfip: 5.15/4.77/3.86
    era/fip/xfip: 4.75/4.06/4.02

    I was going to say guess which one is ours, but yeah the higher ERA gives it away. For reference though, a .4 difference in ERA is almost negligible in one game. And Porcello faced a much worse division offensively.

    For anyone panicking if Sabathia comes up short tonight, the Tigers probably aren’t thrilled about tomorrow’s starter either.

  20. Mark says:

    Genuine question, what is the financial gain of making the playoffs/progressing? Would 3/4 great postseason starts make up for crappy reg season for AJ?

  21. mike says:

    the absolute key to these next games is DONT give Cabrera ANYTHING to hit – not once, not a single pitch, not with the bases empty….never.

    Especially in their ballpark, where the rest of the Tiger’s relative lack of thump will require them to string together a rally of 4-5 AB’s to score a run or two -which is pretty hard to do, especially with the Yanks pen and Sabathia.

    The Yanks – even back with Torre – seemed to have an institutional aversion to pitch around guys who kill them (Cabrera, Papi, Manny etc), and often pay the price.

  22. Jorge says:

    The Yankees are not going to sweep every playoff series. Hell, they’re not going to win every playoff series. This series is not going to be a cakewalk, and losing a game is something that should be expected by every fan.

  23. troy says:

    Could someone post a link to where I can find, the pithers who have faced the toughest competition?

  24. Spreadsheet Sam says:

    I did a lot analysis to see “what if” the Tigers and Orioles swapped divisions. I took the Tigers record against each other team, figured out the winning percentage, and multiplied that times the number of games the O’s played against that team (swapping the Tigers and O’s, of course). The result: 83 wins for the Tigers, and 75 for Baltimore.

    I was too lazy to readjust the Yankees, Red Sox and other teams’ records to reflect their harder/easier schedules, so I don’t know for sure that Detroit would be a fourth place team in the AL East– it looks pretty close between them and TB if I eyeball it. I also ignored the fact that Detroit would have got to feast on the Red sox over the last month of the season, just like everyone else in the East.

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