Welp, you can’t say they didn’t have their chances. The Yankees dropped Game Two of the ALDS to the Orioles despite Andy Pettitte’s admirable seven innings of work. More to come … eventually.
Another thread to keep things moving along. Some runs would be nice, as would allowing Robinson Cano to swing the bat with a man on-base.
Here’s another thread to help keep the site moving smoothly. Let’s go Yankees.
Joe Torre used to always say that Game Two was the most important game of a playoff series because if you won Game One, you’ve got a chance to really take control of the series. On the other hand, if you lost Game One, you’ve got a chance to get back in the series and tie things up. I respectfully disagree — I’m in the “the most important game is the next one” camp — but it wasn’t a coincidence that Torre always lined Andy Pettitte up for Game Two. He trusted him to either give the Yankees a 2-0 series lead or tie it up a 1-1.
Pettitte will be on the mound in Game Two tonight after CC Sabathia pitched the Yankees to a win in Game One, with a big assist from the offense for their five-run ninth inning. Andy made three regular season starts after coming off the DL, allowing just two runs in 16.2 total innings. He stretched his pitch count up to 94 last time out and should be good for 100+ offerings tonight, especially after eight days of rest. The entire bullpen is fresh as well following Sabathia’s outing. Here are the lineups…
New York Yankees
SS Derek Jeter
LF Ichiro Suzuki
3B Alex Rodriguez
2B Robinson Cano
RF Nick Swisher
1B Mark Teixeira
C Russell Martin
CF Curtis Granderson
DH Eduardo Nunez
LHP Andy Pettitte (5-4, 2.87)
LF Nate McLouth
SS J.J. Hardy
RF Chris Davis
CF Adam Jones
C Matt Wieters
1B Mark Reynolds
DH Jim Thome
3B Manny Machado
2B Robert Andino
LHP Wei-Yin Chen (12-11, 4.02)
It’s been raining in Baltimore most of the day, but things are supposed to die down later tonight. Whether the rain dies down enough for them to get the game in without a lengthy delay remains to be seen. Hopefully the can get a full nine innings in and there won’t be a mid-game delay. Anyway, the game is scheduled to start at 8:07pm ET and can be seen on TBS (or TNT if the Nationals and Cardinals are still playing). Enjoy.
Update (7:51pm ET): Guess what? They’re in a rain delay. A start time has not yet been announced, but appears that the delay will be shorter than last night’s. At least I hope it will be.
Update (8:10pm ET): The game is scheduled to begin at 8:45pm ET.
Andy Pettitte’s return from a one-year retirement stint has been a smashing success to date, though a fluke leg injury cost him more than two months of the season. The 40-year-old left-hander hinted in August that the extended DL trip put the thought of returning to the Yankees to pitch in 2013 into his mind. Simply put, he hadn’t gotten all of the baseball out of his system due to the injury. While speaking with the media yesterday, Pettitte reiterated that returning as a player next year was still a consideration, if not downright likely.
“I know one thing: I know the competition and the desire to compete is still there, and I don’t feel like I kind of got that itch out from the 70 innings or so that I threw this year,” said Andy. “I was expecting to do a little bit more work than that. But we’ll see. We’ll see how this goes, and then I’ll factor everything probably in … it’s going to be a situation where you, again, just need to go home, see if I want to do this again.”
The Yankees would, without question, welcome Pettitte back with open arms next season if he decided to return for another year. They’d probably give him a sizable raise as well, considering he only pulled in $2.5M this year. Brian Cashman admitted to offering Pettitte upwards of $12M back in December, before the left-hander decided to return. He told the club to move forward with their offseason plans without him, and that money wound up in Hiroki Kuroda’s pocket.
For now, the most important thing is Game Two of the ALDS tonight. Pettitte has made 42 (!) playoff starts in his career, so this certainly isn’t his first rodeo. He’s pitched on all sorts of rest and through every weather imaginable, so a little drizzle and eight days off shouldn’t be much of a concern tonight. There’s a good chance retirement will again cross Andy’s mind if he helps the Yankees win the World Series, and as much as I love the guy, I sure hope we get to find out in a few weeks.
Via Anthony McCarron, the Yankees have designated right-hander Cory Wade for assignment. The move clears a 40-man roster spot for Dellin Betances, who was activated off the 60-day DL so he could pitch in the Arizona Fall League.
It was quite a fall from grace for the 29-year-old Wade, who gave the Yankees about 55 great innings before falling apart in late-May. He was an important part of the bullpen in the second half last year and for the first six weeks of 2012, but for whatever reason he just lost the ability to locate. That’s a recipe for disaster given his pure finesse approach. All told, his Yankees career featured a 4.23 ERA (4.13 FIP) in 78.2 innings after being plucked off the scrap heap. For shame, I liked Wade.
Betances, 24, was placed on the minor league DL with shoulder tendinitis in late-August, but the Yankees recalled him and stuck him on the 60-day DL to clear a 40-man spot for Andy Pettitte last month. He had a nightmare season that included a demotion from Triple-A to Double-A. The AzFL season begins tomorrow, and Betances is one of seven Yankees prospects heading to the desert.
The Yankees took Game One from the Orioles last night, and in Game Two tonight they’ll give the ball to the playoff-tested Andy Pettitte. The Orioles are starting a left-hander of their own, but not a veteran like Pettitte. Rookie Wei-Yin Chen will be on the bump for Baltimore, the first playoff start of his MLB career.
Chen, 27, was born in Taiwan but spent the 2005-2011 seasons pitching for the Chunichi Dragons in Japan, where in 2009 he posted the league’s lowest ERA (1.54) in more than 50 years. He was not only the sole Orioles’ pitcher to remain in the rotation from Opening Day through the end of the season, he was also the only pitcher to make more than 20 starts for the team. His 32 starts and 192.2 innings are both career highs (including his time in Japan, obviously), and Chen appeared to hit a bit of a wall in September. It’s not just the raw starts and innings totals, it’s also going from a once-a-week schedule to a once every five days schedule.
2012 Performance vs. Yankees
Chen’s first ever start in the big leagues came against the Yankees, who have handled him well three of the four times they’ve faced him. For whatever reason, the left-hander always seems to keep them off balance the first time through the order before the Yankees get to him the second and third times through. Maybe I’m wrong, but it just feels like that’s the case. The two underwhelming September starts fit the whole “hitting a wall” narrative.
Pitch Selection (via Brooks Baseball)
Chen may throw five different pitches, but his sinker and curveball are rarely used fourth and fifth offerings. He’s primarily a fastball/slider guy against lefties while going fastball/changeup against righties, which is not uncommon at all. The four-seamer resides in the 90-91 mph range and the velocity held constant throughout the year, which doesn’t fit the whole “hitting a wall” narrative. Chen’s slider sits right around 80 while his changeup is more or less in the mid-80s. The sinker is at the same velocity as the four-seamer while the curve is a slow bender in the low-70s. Yes, the low-70s. As the data in the table shows, Chen likes to pitch backwards a bit, especially against lefties. He’ll start them out with a breaking ball four out of ten times.
Performance & Results
The story of the Orioles’ rotation is “small sample size,” as their starters in each of the first three games of the series only have one year of data to look at. Game One starter Jason Hammel completely changed his pitching style this season, and both Chen and Miguel Gonzalez (the Game Three starter) are first-year big leaguers. It sucks, but it is what it is. Anyway, opponents made sure to platoon their lineup against Chen and for good reason — he strikes righties out at a lesser rate than lefties while also generating fewer ground balls.
After carrying a 3.46 ERA (4.01 FIP) through his first 22 starts, Chen pitched to a 5.34 ERA (5.17 FIP) in his final ten starts of the season. That’s where the whole “hitting a wall” thing is coming from. He allowed at least five runs four times in those ten starts, and completed six full innings of work only five times. Right-handed batters tagged him for a .316/.356/.580 batting line with eleven homers in 192 plate appearances during that time, though the southpaw did hold fellow lefties in check (.220/.246/.356 in just 62 plate appearances). I assume Eduardo Nunez will get the start at DH over Raul Ibanez, and it goes without saying that the righties will have to carry the torch offensively against the Baltimore starter.