Thoughts following ALDS Game One

Fan Confidence Poll: October 8th, 2012
Four Yankees crack Baseball America's Top 20 Florida State League prospects list
(Patrick McDermott/Getty)

The best and worst thing about baseball is that they play everyday, so last night’s Game One win is already a thing of the past. Game Two is less than nine hours away and the Yankees have a chance to grab a commanding 2-0 lead in the series behind Andy Pettitte.

1. I still can’t get over how ridiculous CC Sabathia was last night. He threw first pitch strikes to 25 of 35 batters faced and just overwhelmed the Orioles. For all the grief he catches for his subpar playoff record (4.56 ERA in 94.2 IP), he now has a 3.36 ERA in 69.2 innings in the postseason as a Yankee. In the regular season, he owns a 3.22 ERA in pinstripes. The Yankees have also won nine of his eleven playoff starts now, with the two exceptions being Game One of the 2009 World Series (offense got Cliff Lee’d) and Game Three of the 2011 ALDS (Rafael Soriano gave up a tie-breaking homer to Delmon Young). I throw out the process stuff and just focus on the results come playoff time because all that matters is wins and losses (regardless of how they look), and the Yankees sure do an awful lot of winning behind Sabathia. What a stud.

2. While on the subject, fill in the blank: Sabathia is the best Yankees pitcher since _______________. If we’re talking just one specific year, it’s probably 2001 Mike Mussina, who was flat-out nasty (3.15 ERA and 2.92 FIP in 228.2 IP). CC’s best year in pinstripes was last year (3.00 ERA and 2.88 FIP in 237.1 innings). If we’re talking about a four-year stretch, then I guess you have to go back to 1977-1980 Ron Guidry (2.67 ERA and 2.82 FIP in 940.1 IP). During his four years in New York, Sabathia has pitched to a 3.22 ERA and 3.28 FIP in 905 innings. Greg Maddux (Braves) and Randy Johnson (Diamondbacks) will forever be the gold standard when it comes to big money pitching contracts, but CC has been about as good as we could have possibly expected when he signed back in December 2008.

(Jeff Gross/Getty)

3. I don’t know if I underrated the Reds or overrated the Giants. Probably a little of both. Cincinnati has outscored San Fran 14-2 in the first two games of their series, hitting three homers off Matt Cain and Madison Bumgarner in 9.1 total innings. Someone should tell them you can’t hit homers off good pitching in the playoffs. The Reds can really score runs and that back of the bullpen — Sean Marshall, Jonathan Broxton, Aroldis Chapman — is as good as it gets, but the big x-factor for them is Johnny Cueto. If the back spasms that forced him out of Game One after two batters linger, they could be in trouble. If he’s fine moving forward, I have to think they’re the favorites to come out of the NL.

4. You know what the Yankees don’t enough credit for? Not striking out much. Yes, I know that sounds silly when they have 195-strikeout man Curtis Granderson on the roster, but this season the Bombers struck out just 1,176 times, the tenth fewest strikeouts among the 30 clubs (sixth lowest among AL teams). Their 18.9% strikeout rate was the ninth lowest in baseball this year. I’m not trying to make them out to be a team full of Marco Scutaros or anything (seriously, go look at his strikeout rate, it’s microscopic), but for a club that hits for this much power, the Yankees really don’t strike out a whole lot. Baltimore’s pitchers threw a total of 186 pitches last night and only got 16 swings and misses. That’s pretty good.

5. Might as well close with a fun and mostly useless stat: the Yankees have the same number of playoff wins at Camden Yards as the Orioles (four). There’s really nothing meaningful to this, but it is kinda neat in my opinion. It’s awesome to watch your team go on the road and take care of business like that. And just for the record, the Yankees also have the same number of playoff wins at Safeco Field as the Mariners (also four). They can pass the Orioles in Camden Yards playoff wins tonight, but I guess it’ll be a while before they get an opportunity to break the tie with Seattle.

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Fan Confidence Poll: October 8th, 2012
Four Yankees crack Baseball America's Top 20 Florida State League prospects list
  • Robinson Tilapia

    I think filling in the blank with one year of Mussina would be somewhat silly. Guidry in his prime would be the most likely answer, but it’s even possible that, when this is all said and done, Sabathia’s stint at the front of the rotation will be longer than Guidry’s shortened time. If he turns out to be historically better than Guidry, the names we start talking about are something indeed.

    #notanace

    • Austin Aunelowitzky

      Don’t forget Gator Won 21 in 1983 and 22 in 1985… He wasn’t done at the end of the 77-80 4 year run.

      • Robinson Tilapia

        We can say 78-83 was a very strong period for him, with a comeback in 85 before declining. One championship in there, and some of that without a whole lot behind him.

        ’78 notwithstanding……CC’s run has the ability to at least be equal to that before it’s all said and done. What do you think?

        • Austin Aunelowitzky

          Gotta start Gator at ’77 and give him credit for 2 rings. I definitely think CC can be equal and maybe better over as many years. He’ll need to be since he will be the only true ace on the team through two years of reducing payroll in ’14 and ’15.

          • Robinson Tilapia

            I’d still put both of them, along with Pettitte, as my favorite three Yankee starters of, at least, my time.

      • not that mike

        BillyBall runied Guidry in ’83…..he pitched 21 complete games! No wonder his arm fell off in ’84….and anyone who remembers Guidry in ’85 and beyond remembers he was not the same pitcher (even though he had a big season of wins in ’85) and got by on smarts and location

  • http://www.decandido.net Keith R.A. DeCandido

    but I guess it’ll be a while before they get an opportunity to break the tie with Seattle

    Yeah, well, we thought that a year ago about Baltimore…..

  • Eddard

    1. CC was a dominant ace last night. Made one bad pitch to McClouth and that was it. We need him for Game 1 if we’re to win the ALCS so it’s up to the other starters to follow suit.

    2. Sabathia is the best Yankees starter since Roger.

    3. The Reds are a good team and they still have their ace lined up for Game 3. Imagine if CC had gone down last night after 1/3rd of an inning. We would have been screwed.

    4. They work counts. A lot of the players have really good eyes for the ball. Alex looked overmatched at times but everyone else did well.

    5. Andy on the mound to essentially put the series away. It’s a great day to be a Yankee fan.

    • Robinson Tilapia

      We’re fucked.

      • gc

        LOL

      • Eddard

        I predicted we’d win last night’s ballgame 6-2 so we’ll be just fine. It’s in Andy’s hands now.

        • http://yanksgoyard.com/ Joe F

          Hey that’s a good prediction. I’d love Andy to essentially put it away tonight, but don’t get too ahead of ourselves.

  • http://yanksgoyard.com/ Joe F

    There’s no doubt CC is awesome. Will go down as one of our greatest starting pitchers ever. I’ll gladly say he’s the best I’ve seen as a fan of the Yankees since 2003. That being over a long period stretch. I did witness Clemens, Pettitte, and Mussina; although I’ve never seen them pitch this dominantly.

    As for the NL, I guess you underrated the Reds. They’re THAT good. I called them the scariest National League in a post I made last month. They have all the pieces. Todd Frazier is their bench option after a great rookie year. Votto, Phillips, Bruce, Rolen, Ludwick, etc. all scary names.

    You’re right about Cueto, but they do have other solid pitchers. Not as good as Cueto, but solid nonetheless. Not that surprised because the Giants offense is pretty mediocre. While the Reds have a good one.

    • Robinson Tilapia

      It’s been four seasons where you didn’t have to worry about who else was in that top slot of the rotation, some of this season’s bumps notwithstanding.

      I’d easily put that sort of performance above any of the guys in the dynasty period if it continues for even a couple of more seasons. If he were to drive off a cliff in the off-season, it’s still some run.

      Peak Guidry’s a great comparison (and, I know, Joe, hard to compare to what you don’t remember, although I can’t really claim to actually “remember” Guidry’s 25-3 in ’78), but I think his run at the top of the rotation in pinstripes may wind up being better, although we’ll probably hold the Andy’s and Guidry’s nearer to our hearts as home-grown guys…..and now I’m talking out my ass, so I’ll stop.

      • http://yanksgoyard.com/ Joe F

        haha

        At least we know no one will surpass Whitey Ford.

      • not that mike

        you are correct in the perception of Guidry/Sabathia…as fans we were always confidant in them, but they were never a dominant “ace” like Pedro ( for instance)in his prime

        • I am not the droids you’re looking for…

          Huh? 1978 says Hi.

  • DERP

    It looks like there is more bad weather for tonight.

    • Winter

      Unfortunately it does. Weather.com has scattered showers for Baltimore starting at 4:30 and continuing into the night.

    • http://yanksgoyard.com/ Joe F

      If we don’t play today will be a failure. Even if I bought NBA 2K13 for 16 cents due to me giving in all my old games.

  • DJ4K&Monterowasdinero

    Maybe this is true of all pitchers but when you can throw a changeup for strikes in hitters’ counts and you can command the outside of the plate you can be an

    ACE.

  • JobaWockeeZ

    Why are we using FIP and ERA for the criteria? CC is playing in a really awful offensive environment these days. In the steroids era you could name 3-4 offenses that can score 900 runs in the AL alone. The Yankees barely scored 800 runs this year. And CC doesn’t even face them.

    But even using that CC’s WAR is still really high but in a 4 year stretch Mussina was able to basically match CC from 2001-2004. His 3.36 FIP really isn’t that far off either.

    • Robinson Tilapia

      Spent too much time thinking about this not to reply.

      Didn’t look as closely at CC’s stats during the period, although I’ll assume there’s a strong chance he’s not leading the team in innings pitched this season. I think you’re right to bring up Mussina, as it’s much harder to realize how good he was during the period than CC has been in this one, mostly because we tend to think of CC as carrying the staff on his back at times. Mussina led the team in innings pitched in all those seasons, except for 2004. The other seasons, there were multiple guys with 200+ innings on the team, pretty much multi-ace-like (2004 probably being the strong exception there.) I’ll leave the advanced stats to you guys, but will take you at your word that Mussina came close to CC.

      My question, taking this away from straight stats, is whether what’s around you helps dictate how much of the “best” you are. Mussina was a part of some great staffs, certainly, at least in the eye test, better than anything CC or Guidry pitched with.

  • https://twitter.com/Mattpat11 Matt DiBari

    Last night was probably his best playoff start with us, and there are probably only three or so real gems (this and the Angels games) but I really can’t recall him going out there and just stinking it up either. I feel comfortable with him on the mound.

  • Bartolo’s Colon

    i’m hoping for a game like this one for andy tonight. thanks for ruining everything jerry hairston jr. i was supposed to go to this game, but ended up going the next night to see aj pitch.

    http://www.baseball-reference......8310.shtml

  • DERP

    Tonight will be Pettitte’s first postseason start at Camden Yards since 10/13/96.

  • beerisgood

    2010 ALCS (Game 1) was the only brutal start for CC as a Yankee:
    4.0IP/6H/5ER/4BB/3K

    • http://twitter.com/#!/Clay_Bellinger Clay Bellinger

      And they actually won that game.

  • Matt B

    Just to add one musing of my own, and maybe it’s just cause he’s a guy I enjoy rooting for and it’s gotten lost amidst the bigger stuff – but nice job by Raul Ibanez last night. In particular, I thought his single right after the Martin bomb was a pretty big hit – put Johnson back in trouble right away, no time to settle in and set the stage for the rest of the rally. Also, while most of the credit goes to Jetes, good job to get to third on the hit and run. Finally, though it’d didn’t result in any runs, nice job hanging in and working the walk against the lefty Patton – I was surprised Joe give him the AB and well done.

  • Robinson Tilapia

    Stephen A. doing his best stuart a impression right now on Alex.

    • Bill

      yea jesus… we won, breathe

    • I am not the droids you’re looking for…

      It’s what happens when people who know squat about baseball talk about baseball.

  • gc

    OK, I know we all want to see the Yanks in the World Series this year, and there is still so much to happen before even thinking about that. That being said, if they DO get there, this is what I want to happen: They need to play the Reds, and when Bronson Arroyo pitches against them, they need to light him up like a Christmas tree just so Mike Francesa might FINALLY shut up about how great he thinks he is. Even in recapping the Yanks/Orioles game last night, he had to go out of his way to talk about “his boy” (yes, he actually used those words) Bronson Arroyo and how clutch he is, and how he’s been hoping for years that the Yankees sign him because he so incredibly awesome. It’s enough to make you vomit.

    • Squints

      I dont care who the Yanks play in the World Series, I think they can run with any of them. What does it matter what Francesa thinks or says?

    • Robinson Tilapia

      He’ll just sit there ane yell out “I CAN’T BELIEVE IT” over and over for about two hours. God, I hate him.

    • SammySosasBleachingCream

      THEY NEED TO SIGN ARROYO AND INGE!!!

  • TLVP

    Best high end pitching contract was Pedro Martinez

    CC is the best since Mo 1996

    • TLVP

      On second though, I nominate Pedro as equal to Randy Johnson – higher peak, tougher league, but worse postseason performance

  • JLC 776

    Here’s a stat that means nothing but is fun to think about anyway.

    Someone brought it up a couple of months ago, but by my unofficial count, the Yankees are now 27-7 in games immediately following or preceding a scheduled off-day (there’s probably one or two rain outs tainting my count, but like I said, it’s unofficial).

    What does this mean? Probably nothing, but it’s fun to imagine that rest greatly helps our veterans. And there are a lot of off-days in the postseason.

    • JLC 776

      Dammit… screwed up the bb code. Ignore my mass block of bolded text.

  • http://stoogazzo@comcast.net Tom Morea

    Mike, I know you are a big A-Rod fan. However, I would really like to know what you feel is in store for A-Rod in the next five years;whether he will be able to pull out of his downward slope; whether he will regain some semblance of what he once was; his contract situation, and how long he will be able to endure the criticism and slurs that will surely come of this once great ballplayer.