Thoughts following the ALDS

Bring on the Tigers: Yankees headed to the ALCS after Game Five win
Yankees drop Nunez from ALCS roster, add Eppley
(Al Bello/Getty)

I gotta tell ya, those Orioles put up one hell of a fight. I don’t just mean in the ALDS, they were giving the Yankees problems all season and especially down the stretch in September. They were never able to take that next step and pass New York in the standings though, including in Game Five last night. Give the Yankees some credit, they could have easily wilted down the stretch and let the underdog waltz on by and into first place. It didn’t happen.

1. I know he threw 121 pitches last night, but I don’t see how the Yankees could not bring CC Sabathia back on three days’ rest for Game Three of the ALCS. If the Yankees keep him on regular rest for Game Four, he’d only make one start in the series. That can’t happen, you have to make sure he makes two starts if the thing goes the full seven games. Running Sabathia out there on short rest in Game Three sets him up to start Game Seven on normal rest (or if you’re optimistic, Game One of the World Series on extra rest), which is exactly what you want. Even if they have to limit him to 90-100 pitches in Game Three, getting him back out there is the right move.

2. A huge benefit of Sabathia’s complete game is that the entire bullpen got last night off. Yeah, both David Robertson and Rafael Soriano warmed up, but that’s not a big deal. This ridiculous playoff schedule will force the Yankees to play five days in five days, the first three of which are already in the books. Joe Girardi can now nuts with Robertson and Soriano these next two days knowing Monday is a scheduled off-day. That’s huge and it shows exactly why the impact of Sabathia’s gem extends beyond last night.

(Elsa/Getty)

3. At this time yesterday I was pining for Curtis Granderson to be benched because he was such a non-factor in the series. Today I’m hear to tell you that I thought last night was very encouraging. You could see his at-bats get progressively better — line out the first at-bat, line drive single in the second at-bat, homer in the third at-bat — and overall he just looked much more in control. It felt like Granderson was so anxious to swing that he was starting his bat before the pitcher released the ball earlier in the series, but yesterday he remained patient and let the pitcher come to him. “The big thing for Grandy is to swing at strikes … If he swings at strikes, he’s going to do damage,” said Joe Girardi prior to Game Five, and that’s exactly what Curtis appeared to do. By no means is he out of the woods, but at least now he has positive results to build on.

4. Because the Yankees are going to play five games in five days, Russell Martin will have to spend five consecutive games behind the plate. I don’t think that will be a big deal at this point of the season, he’s clearly the number one catcher and the playoffs are not the time to be resting regulars, but I am concerned about him wearing down a bit. Martin has a history of performing (substantially) better with regular rest, and the last thing the Yankees need right now is another dead spot in the batting order. Unfortunately there’s just no way they could take him out of the lineup right now.

5. We all know the Tigers have a strong rotation and that great middle of the order, but one area where I feel the Yankees have them beat is in the bullpen (and on defense, but that’s another matter entirely). Jose Valverde is very beatable (especially of late) and Joaquin Benoit is a homer machine. Seriously, dude allowed 14 homers in the regular season (71 innings) plus another one in the ALDS. Justin Verlander, Doug Fister, Anibal Sanchez, and Max Scherzer are as tough as playoff rotations get, so the key will be waiting them out and forcing Jim Leyland to dig into that bullpen. The Yankees have been doing that for years and will need to do it again in the ALCS, and I think a staff of fastball-first right-handers is a better matchup for New York than some of the kitchen sink guys Baltimore ran out there. That relief corps is very combustible.

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Bring on the Tigers: Yankees headed to the ALCS after Game Five win
Yankees drop Nunez from ALCS roster, add Eppley
  • http://www.twitter.com/matt__harris Matt :: Sec110

    I say wait until the off day in between games 2 and 3 to decide. 0-2, 100% he starts, 2-0, 100% he doesn’t, but 1-1, that’s a tough call.

  • Rich in NJ

    If Granderson can come up big, so can A-Rod. He needs to play, even if he bats 9th.

    • dalelama

      Why?

  • http://www.twitter.com/matt__harris Matt :: Sec110

    I’m just not sure he can catch up to a hard fastball from a RHP at this point. Whether it’s mental, physical or whatever, he’s lost vs RHP.

    • Rich in NJ

      That’s the way Granderson looked until yesterday.

      • Jose M. Vazquez

        Yes but Granderson hit 43Hr during the season and drove home 106. Arod has not been good for 2yrs injuries taken into consideration.

        • Mike HC

          Yea, the biggest difference is that Curtis is healthy, while ARod had a bad hand.

          • dalelama

            No one has confirmed Arod has a bad hand. In my opinion the evidence points otherwise as Girardi did not mention hand issues when he benched him. I am confident if Arod’s hand still bothered him Girardi would have mentioned it to help Arod save face.

    • Monterowasnotdinero

      No xtra base hits in 77 post season abs but keep running him out there.

      I will be shocked if ARod turns it on against these tough righties as they off speed him to death and bust him in with fbs.

      He has got to guess right one of these games though! Be patient everyone.

      • Steve (different one)

        Well someone has to play 3B, right? And I’m pretty sure Chavez took an 0fer in the ALDS, no?

        But he’s not ARod so it doesn’t count.

  • Brandon

    Couldn’t they pitch CC game four on regular rest then pitch him game seven on three day rest ?

    • Neil

      I agree with that Logic. This way you don’t also have to start Kuroda on short rest for game 2.

      1) Pettite
      2) Nova
      3) Kuroda
      4) C.C.
      5) Pettite
      6) Kuroda (Short Rest)
      7) C.C. (Short Rest)

      There’s a change this series doesn’t go to 7. We gotta hope we can win it in 5/6. that would really set us up for the world series.

      keep Joba off this roster (let him fully recover), and let Hughes take his spot as middle reliever, and Nova take Hughes’s sport in the rotation for one turn.

      Nova of course has a quick hook for game 2 with Phelps and Nova backing him up.

      • Neil

        Phelps and Lowe. mental slip.

        • Brandon

          I like it. We need to avoid game seven all together because that means two verlander starts in the series.

          • Robinson Tilapia

            Yeah. Hughes pitches Game 6 in that scenario. I don’t think you need to burn Kuroda like that.

      • Rob H.

        Why would you take Hughes out of the rotation? He has been much better than Nova has been all year and there is no way you can trust Nova getting a start in any way, shape or form. Plus, Hughes had a great start against the Orioles. You don’t reward him by dropping him from the rotation.

      • http://www.twitter.com/matt__harris Matt :: Sec110

        Ehh, not a fan of Kuroda on short rest.

        • Bavarian Yankee

          same here. I’d go like this:

          1. Pettitte
          2. Nova
          3. CC
          4. Kuroda
          5. Hughes
          6. Pettitte
          7. CC

          • http://www.twitter.com/matt__harris Matt :: Sec110

            1. Pettitte
            2. PHELPS
            3. CC
            4. Kuroda
            5. Hughes
            6. Pettitte
            7. CC

            fixed.

            • Robinson Tilapia

              Exactly. I said Hughes for Game 6 above only because I directly substituted the Kuroda short rest start for him, but this makes much more sense.

              Hughes may have to kill someone with his bare hands while on the mound to win some respect.

      • Brendan

        I think anyway we slice and dice this, it means Andy needs to come up big for us in this series. Really big.

  • Brandon

    Couldn’t they pitch CC game four on regular rest then pitch him game seven on three day rest?

    • Mike HC

      Yea, I think it makes more sense to go with this strategy. This way he only has to go on short rest if completely necessary.

  • Eddard

    1. I think it depends on how the first two games go. If we’re down 0-2 I think you have to bring CC back on short rest in Game 3 vs Verlander. If we’re up 2-0 or it’s 1-1 I think you just have Kuroda pitch Game 3 vs Verlander and save CC for game 4. He can always come back in Game 7 on short rest.

    2. Yep. And both DRob and Soriano had been used for multiple innings the prior nights as the games went into extras. Now they’re both available for Games 1 and 2. We have the edge in the bullpen with these two. Benoit, Coke and Valverde don’t scare anybody.

    3. Very encouraging. As easy as it is for 4-5 players to go in a slump it’s just as easy for them to turn it around next series and this lineup would be unstoppable.

    4. It’s the postseason. This is why they took it easy on him during the regular season so he could play every postseason game.

    5. Valverde blew Game 4 and I watched him throw belt high and straight 91 mph fastballs. He’s not what he was last year and we almost got him. Benoit isn’t either. The only batter Benoit can overpower is ARod. Coke is no Matusz

  • The Moral Majority is Neither

    Pettitte
    Phelps
    Kuroda
    Sabathia
    Hughes
    Pettitte
    Sabathia

    Lineup: Jeter Ichiro Cano Teixeira Ibanez Swisher Granderson Rodriguez Martin

    • Steve (different one)

      This is what I was thinking.

    • Jose M. Vazquez

      Insert Rodriguez in the sixth spot if he plays and Swisher out. Replace with Gardner or Ibanez.

    • Mike HC

      Yea, this looks about right to me. Although I would bat ARod above 8th, probably 6th, you know, just to avoid the parallels with Torre batting him 8th.

    • 27 rings

      Agree except I would put Gardner over Swisher. Tired of watching swisher. He should play only against righty’s.

      • 27 rings

        I mean lefty’s.

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

        Correct, 27 rings, Bozo the Clown’s act is wearing very thin. He is a lifetime 250 hitter, and he struck out 141 times this year, hit 111 in the playoffs and he still laughs and laughs.

    • Mike K

      Andy
      Phelps
      Kuroda
      CC
      Andy
      Hughes
      CC on 3 days rest

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

    Not too many comments on Bozo the Clown Swisher and his clutchless performance. However, he still maintains that perpetual grin. Next year Bozo the Clown will take his act to another team.

    • Monterowasnotdinero

      Agree. As I said on another post, he is like a AAAA player. Fine in the regular season-a scrub in the post season. He also SUCKS in the OF. No arm, no speed, sliding to balls etc.

      Tired of his post season cheerleading role.

      • jjyank (The Stare Is Dandy)

        Swisher is a AAAA player? That’s absurd.

        • Robinson Tilapia

          I know a guy in Seattle who played like one this year.

          OH SNAP.

          #absolutelykidding

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

          Why is that absurd? You see what Bozo the Clown does in the post season against the good starters. The Clown is a lifetime 250 hitter and he struck out this year 141 times.
          The Clown is an inadequate right fielder, slow afoot, no arm, and he laughs all the time, even when he strikes out. Next year he can take his laughing act to another team.

          • Robinson Tilapia

            Nick Swisher’s career stats.

            http://www.baseball-reference......ni01.shtml

            Take your act to LoHud.

          • Nigel Incubator-Jones

            You know, in the animal kingdom, baring your teeth is a sign of aggression!

          • jjyank (The Stare Is Dandy)

            Well first of all, I automatically don’t take you seriously when you sink to the level of “Bozo The Clown”.

            On to the point at hand, if you’re going to back up your argument with batting average…well, I’m not sure if I can help you. But I might as well try.

            Swisher’s wRC+’s the last few years:

            2012: 128
            2011: 124
            2010: 135
            2009: 125

            So tell me, what is the definition of a AAAA player? A guy who is replacement level, right? At least that’s my definition. How does a guy who is consistently 25+% better than league average a AAAA player?

            But go, on, keep citing batting average and smiles.

            • jjyank (The Stare Is Dandy)

              In addition, in case wRC+ scares you, Swisher has never hit less than 21 home runs in a full season. Never, in 8 seasons. I’d love to see a “AAAA” player do that.

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

              I’ll grant you, he would be an adequate utility player or part-time dh.

              • jjyank (The Stare Is Dandy)

                M’kay, I’m done feeding the trolls for now.

            • http://www.riveraveblues.com Mike Axisa

              But what is his SAR (smile above replacement)? There is no bigger character flaw than smiling. Period.

              • dalelama

                What makes Swisher so frustrating is his disappearing act every October. I think I saw a stat the other night that he is 1 for 34 with RISP in the post seasson. I think I could top that at the age of 54.

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

        Great post, Monterowasnotdinero. However, you forgot to indicate that he laughs all the time, even when he strikes out.

        • http://www.riveraveblues.com Mike Axisa

          Who cares if he smiles? That’s the stupidest most irrelevant thing imaginable. There are plenty of reasons to dislike Swisher, but smiling is not one of them. It’s a facial expression.

        • Deep Thoughts

          It’s because he’s playing a game. If you don’t get that, and confuse it with something important, then you’re doing it wrong.

  • Eddard

    If Nova is added to the roster who do they take off? Rapada would be my guess since he’s just a specialist. The only lefty you worry about is Prince and you have to figure Logan will get the task vs him. If Nova isn’t added then they’ll probably just try to get 6-7 innings out of Phelps and Lowe. I think starting Kuroda on short rest would be a disaster.

    • BigBlueAL

      Probably take off Nunez and go with 12 pitches.

      • Monterowasnotdinero

        Agree with the last 2 letters of the name “ez”

        However the first seven should be “Rodrigu”

        • Robinson Tilapia

          Something tells me you’re not the guy usually posting with some variation on that screen name.

  • NapLajoieOnSteroids

    Hopefully, if they can blow out one of the games at Yankee Stadium, they might be able to pull Martin for a little bit of rest.

  • Mike HC

    6. Playing meaningful, playoff atmosphere games in September helped prepare this team for the playoffs. There was no adjustment period to the high tension, close games that the playoffs bring because they have been in a dog fight for weeks and weeks now. Plus, how great was September this year for the fans.

    7. Prince Fielder, Miguel Cabrera and Delmon Young probably weigh a combined 1,000 pounds. Not even exaggerating. Detroit has got the best O-Line in baseball!

    • Mike HC

      Exactly, this team actually has championship caliber pitching.

      • Mike HC

        This is meant in reply to Eddard below.

  • Eddard

    I like our chances. Last year the Yankees started Ivan Nova twice, Freddy Garcia and AJ Burnett in the 5 game series. This year it’ll be Pettitte and Sabathia twice, Kuroda and Hughes for 6 of the games. And with Andy and Sabathia pitching 4/7 games I don’t think they’re going to let Miggy Cabrerra beat them. Take your chances lefty on lefty vs Prince. Miggy has always destroyed the Yankees. Don’t pitch to him.

  • Mick taylor

    The lineup should be: jeter ichiro Tex cano arod grandy ibanez Martin Dickerson or Gardner ifhe can hit . If you wantto give the tigers abetted chance to win, then swisher. Yanks will really hurt themselves if swisher hits anywhere but 9th. Rotation: petite phelp s kuroda cc Hughepetite c c unless we are down 0-2. Then cc game3

  • 27 rings

    We HAVE to start Gardner over Swisher! How much more sample do we need to know that Swisher is a choker. Also, nobody should need to start on 3 days rest. Pitching is not our weakness.

  • 27 rings

    We only have 2 guys in the pen we can count on this year. We need innings from our starters, and short rest will kill that.

  • Mick taylor

    Also don’t forget umpires gave games to Detroit last year with their strikezone . Hopefully that will not happen this year.I hope also yanks bunt on Cabrera and fielder since they are bad fielders. That is a reason to have Gardner c dick replace swisher. That and I have a hard time believing cdick will hit 100 like swisher, who is the. Worst hitter in the history ofthe post season. Stats don’t lie swi sh lovers

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

      You’re right on, Mick. Bozo the Clown Swisher is a pathetic case. Not only is he a clutchless bum, but he’s an inadequate right fielder, with no speed and no arm, and to add to that he’s a lifetime 250 hitter and he struck out 141 times this year. But the Clown still laughs and laughs and the Yankee fans kiss his ass.

  • 27 rings

    Nunez off roster. Peppy added. Phelphs in game 2. Done.

    • 27 rings

      I mean Epply added,

  • Countryclub

    Supposedly Long pulled Granderson aside before yesterday’s game and showed him all the pitches he’d been swinging at. Grandy was surprised at how bad he was chasing balls out of the zone. And yesterday he seemed to make the adjustment. Hopefully that continues.

  • bkight13

    I would def roll with Phelps and all hands on deck for Game 2. Sets up Kuroda and CC for 3 and 4.

    Pettitte
    Phelps
    Kuroda
    CC
    Hughes
    Pettitte
    CC

    Pettitte and Kuroda could use the rest and Hughes should start in DET. MLB absolutely killed us with this schedule(though ARod making contact Thurs night would have been huge).