Via Ken Rosenthal, Brian Cashman said that CC Sabathia will start Game Three of the ALDS on Monday night. The team has ruled him out for Game Two tomorrow after he threw 27 pitches in the game and 48 pitches in warm-ups before the rain last night. Justin Verlander will start Monday for the Tigers, meaning each team will only get one full start from their ace. For shame.
Five of the Yankees’ first eight picks in the 2005 draft have reached the big leagues, and one of those picks was Doug Fister. Taken in the sixth round out of Fresno State, Fister did not sign with New York and instead went back to school for his senior year. The Mariners took him in the seventh round the next year, and put him in their rotation three years later. Two years after that, they traded him to the Tigers. Two months after that, he’s starting Game
Two One of the ALDS against the team that first drafted him.
Fister will inherit a somewhat unique situation following last night’s suspension, entering the second inning of a 1-1 game. The Tigers still have 24 defensive outs to get, the Yankees just 21. Let’s get to know the former Yankees’ draft pick…
A command and control monster, Fister posted a 57-5 K/BB ratio in 70.1 IP across ten starts (and one relief appearance) after the trade to Detroit. His 1.79 ERA with the Tigers is stellar, and his overall season numbers were very good: a 6.07 K/9 with a 1.54 BB/9 and a 47.5% ground ball rate. Fister doesn’t have much of a platoon split.
A five-pitch pitcher with two different fastballs, the name of Fister’s game is contact and quick outs. Linear weights indicate that his two breaking balls are just a touch below-average, less than one-third of a run below-average for every 100 thrown. FanGraphs lumps the two fastballs together, but collectively they’re almost a full run better than average over the course of 100 pitches. The change is his most effective and also least used pitch, leading me to believe the linear weights data might be falling victim to some sample size noise.
The usage patterns indicate that Fister attacks all hitters generally the same way, just with a few more fastballs to righties and a few more changeups to lefties. The overall lack of swings and misses isn’t surprising considering how around the plate he is. Fister’s a huge dude (6-foot-8), and he gets good downhill plane on everything judging by the strong grounder rate.
Another straight forward guy, Fister doesn’t pitch backwards as much as you might expect someone with his stuff to. He will get ahead with the fastball, but is just as likely to throw his slider as he is his curveball and changeup with one strike. The slider seems to be his go-to pitch with two strikes.
Extreme strike-throwers like Fister always throw a wrench into things because the Yankees can’t sit back and wait for him to paint himself into a corner. Well, they can do that, but they’ll be behind in the count before you know it, and that leads to defensive at-bats rather than aggressive attempts to do damage. Luckily, Fister will allow the Yankees to put the ball in play, and Detroit’s defense is nothing to write home about (especially in the outfield corners and at both short and first).
MLB exec Joe Torre announced that ALDS Game One has been suspended due to rain. The game will resume at 8:37pm ET on Saturday at the same point they left off tonight: tied at one in the middle of the top and bottom halves of the second inning. Game Two will be pushed back to Sunday at 3:07pm ET, so the teams lose that off day. Absolutely brutal.
The two clubs will use their Game Two starters tomorrow night (Ivan Nova and Doug Fister), and then their Game Three starters on Sunday (Freddy Garcia and Max Scherzer). Justin Verlander will start in the new Game Three on Monday, and CC Sabathia is likely to start that game as well. He threw 27 pitches tonight and intends to lobby for Sunday’s start.
The loss of the off day means the Yankees will need a fourth starter, and Joe Girardi indicated that he’s leaning towards A.J. Burnett for Game Four. Jim Leyland said that Rick Porcello will start a potential Game Four, and both teams would presumably bring back tomorrow’s starters for a potential Game Five on normal rest. Ken Davidoff says the teams will be allowed to revise their rosters, so the Yankees could choose to add Bartolo Colon if they want. There’s also the issue of bullpen rest now; forget about going nuts with Rafael Soriano, David Robertson, and Mariano Rivera.
Tomorrow’s weather forecast calls for rain, and Torre indicated that MLB will
consider a doubleheader if they have another delay/suspension not allow a postseason doubleheader. Leyland doesn’t plan to make any immediate lineup changes even though they will no longer be facing a lefty on Saturday.
Five years later, the Yankees will have their chance at revenge. The Yankees took Game One of the 2006 ALDS but fell flat the rest of the way, losing the next three. Alex Rodriguez infamously batted eighth in the fourth and final game.
Only a handful of players will play in this series after playing in that one, and most of them wear pinstripes. One of them played for the Tigers in 2006 and will play for the Yankees in 2011. Gone are the likes of Gary Sheffield, Bobby Abreu and Randy Johnson, replaced by Mark Teixeira, Curtis Granderson, and CC Sabathia. Joe Torre has been replaced by Joe Girardi, a manager that has guided his team to wins in four of his five playoff series. It’s not so much revenge as it is the start of a new rivalry between two clubs that figure to contend for many years to come. Here are the lineups…
Austin Jackson, CF
Magglio Ordonez, RF
Delmon Young, LF
Miguel Cabrera, 1B
Victor Martinez, DH
Alex Avila, C
Ryan Raburn, 2B
Jhonny Peralta, SS
Brandon Inge, 3B
Justin Verlander, SP
New York Yankees
Derek Jeter, SS
Curtis Granderson, CF
Robinson Cano, 2B
Alex Rodriguez, 3B
Mark Teixeira, 1B
Nick Swisher, RF
Jorge Posada, DH
Russell Martin, C
Brett Gardner, LF
CC Sabathia, SP
It’s chilly and windy in New York, and there’s a chance of rain a little later tonight (around midnight or so). The game is scheduled to begin at 8:37pm ET, and you’ll be able to watch on TBS and listen on either WCBS 880 or ESPN Radio. Remember, we’re trying to win a ring around here.
With all the talk about how great Justin Verlander is and how well Doug Fister has pitched since the trade to Detroit, it’s easy to forgot that those guys have combined for just seven complete games out of 65 starts. Someone has to pitch after they leave, and that’s who we’re going to look at now.
The Best Closer In Baseball*
Known more for his celebrations than for his actual performance, Jose Valverde had a very nice year but hardly a great one. He did strike out 8.59 batters for every nine innings pitched, but he also walked 4.23 during the same time interval. A 42.9% ground ball rate isn’t great but it’s doable given the strikeouts and his home park. A fastball-splitter pitcher, Valverde has a pretty significant reverse platoon split because he rarely throws the splitter to same-side hitters.
* Assuming you think going 49-for-49 in save chances is meaningful.
The Best Setup Man In Baseball**
The guy that started all the multi-year contract madness for free agent relievers last summer, Benoit rebounded from a terrible start (7.98 ERA as late as mid-May) to finish very well (1.36 ERA thereafter). His peripherals weren’t as strong this year (9.30 K/9 and 2.51 BB/9) as they were last year (11.19 and 1.64, respectively), but that’s not surprising. Tough to repeat that kind of performance. Benoit’s a fastball-changeup guy, which really isn’t all that different than fastball-splitter. He gives up a ton of fly balls (38.9% grounders) and has a reverse split like Valverde, but it’s not nearly as pronounced. The Yankees saw plenty of Benoit with the Rays last year, so they know what’s up.
** Assuming you’re talking about 2010 and not 2011.
The Best Strikeout Reliever In Baseball***
If someone comes up from the minors and gives up 21 hits while striking out 67 in just 43.1 IP, you can bet they’ve pitched their way into high-leverage relief work. That’s exactly what Al Alburquerque has done, though he’s offset his sky-high strikeout rate (13.92 K/9) with an equally high walk rate (6.02 BB/9). He’s the Luke Gregerson of the AL, getting an absurd amount of swings and misses (15.5%) by throwing a ton of sliders (52.4%). Albuquerque hasn’t given up a run since the end of June, though there was a DL stint in July.
*** Unless you’re talking about guys that threw more than 43.1 IP.
The Tigers are carrying a dozen pitchers on their playoff roster, including all five of their starters. Either Brad Penny (5.02 FIP) or Rick Porcello (4.06 FIP) will start Game Four while the other serves as the long man, so that means no Verlander on three days rest. Phil Coke (.215/.289/.295 vs. LHB) and Dan Schlereth (.174/.273/.256 vs. LHB) are the two lefties, Ryan Perry (3.94 FIP) the spare righty.
Most of the attention paid to the Yankees-Tigers ALDS matchup has focused on the pitchers for the time being, and why not? Justin Verlander and CC Sabathia are worthy Cy Young candidates, Doug Fister’s been pretty great since the trade, and the Yankees have some questions to answer later in the series. Pitching is only half the battle thought, the Yankees have to deal with Miguel Cabrera and the rest of their offense as well.
Shutting Down Miggy
This will be the easiest section of the post. You know why? Because there’s no way to shut down Miggy Cabrera, he’s just too good. The guy hit .344/.448/.586 this season after hitting .328/.420/.622 last season. He’s also a .374/.439/.729 hitter in 30 career games against the Yankees. There’s just no stopping him, accept it. There’s also little chance of stopping Victor Martinez, who hit .330/.380/.470 this year (.281/.346/.507 career against the Yanks). These two guys are just too good, even the best game planning could prove fruitless.
Therefore, the best way to lessen the impact of Detroit’s 4-5 hitters is to keep the guys hitting in front of them off base. Thankfully, Jim Leyland helps out a bit with this. Leadoff man Austin Jackson got on base just 31.7% of the time this year and never topped a .333 OBP after the fourth game of the season. Three-hole hitter Delmon Young is a Grade-A hacker (.302 OBP overall, .298 with the Tigers); his value comes from the occasional homerun. Wilson Betemit has been hitting second of late and is easily the best hitter ahead of Miggy and V-Mart. His .285/.343/.452 season line is buoyed by a .292/.346/.525 performance in MoTown. Jackson (22 steals) is their only stolen base threat, so keeping him and Young off the bases in front of he two big bats is imperative.
Don’t Forget About …
… Alex Avila and Jhonny Peralta. Avila, a former teammate of David Robertson’s in college, will garner some MVP votes after hitting .295/.389/.506 with 19 homers this year. He’s the only significant left-handed bat in the Tigers’ lineup, but he’s more than held his own against southpaws this season (.279/.349/.430). Avila also does most of his hitting to the opposite field (spray chart), which is good for the Yankees because a) that’s where Brett Gardner is, and b) left field is the biggest part of Yankee Stadium.
Peralta, the former Indian, had a sneaky good year at the plate (.299/.345/.478). He bats right behind Avila, who bats right behind Martinez and Cabrera. These two aren’t as dangerous as the two big guys, but they’re definitely not pushovers either, Avila in particular. They’re the ones the Yankees will have to be really careful with, since Miggy and V-Mart figure to spend a lot of time on the bases.
Both Young and Jackson are pretty bad at getting on base, as are the two remaining spots in Detroit’s lineup. Magglio Ordonez has been both hurt and basically unusable (.255/.303/.331) this season. The second base platoon of Ryan Raburn (.274/.321/.486) and Ramon Santiago (.245/.301/.361) is solid at best.
Clearly, the Tigers’ offensive attack revolves around Cabrera and Martinez, with Avila doing a great job of being the third wheel. Keeping Jackson and Young off base will be pretty important, as will keeping Peralta under wraps when the three guys in front of him inevitably reach base. It’s a potent offense (.336 wOBA), but there are definitely spots where the Yankees can pick their poison, so to speak.
When the Yankees take the field against the Tigers tonight and CC Sabathia readies his warm up pitches, for fans who were in attendance on Opening Day, it will be a sight evocative of that cold afternoon in March. Nearly six months to the day since the season opened, the Yankees and Tigers will square off with a trip to the American League Championship Series on the line.
The Yankees and Tigers of course faced each other a handful of times this year. The one-time AL East club moved to the Central when the Tampa Bay Devil Rays were granted a team in 1998, and the Yanks see the Tigers far less frequently than they used to. In fact, the two clubs have not met since May 5. Players have changed; club personnel have changed; but here we are.
It’s tough to draw many conclusions from the Yanks’ seven games against the Tigers. The opening set was played amidst some decidedly non-baseball-like weather, and the May series kicked off a stretch of the schedule in which the Yanks went 3-10 over 13 games. It was ugly. But we’ll relive them anyway.
With winds at 12 miles per hour and game-time temperatures at 42 degrees, it felt more like winter than baseball season on Opening Day. Justin Verlander and CC Sabathia would face off against each other, but neither ace would last long enough to grab a win. Verlander struck out eight but walked four in six innings while CC struck out seven and walked two. With the game knotted at 3, the bullpens became key. Joba Chamberlain drew the win when Curtis Granderson homered against Phil Coke. Rafael Soriano and Mariano closed it out, and the Yanks would never be a .500 team this year.
A Saturday, 52 degrees, and yet the balls were flyin’ out of the stadium. Teixeira blasted a three-run job, and Russell Martin’s first Yankee Stadium homer brought in three as well. A.J. pitched just well enough over five innings to get the win, and while the Tigers tried to rally back against Boone Logan and Luis Ayala, they couldn’t overcome an early 6-0 deficit. It was Yankee baseball, as she is meant to be played.
It was the first indication that Phil Hughes just wasn’t right. In the finale of the opening series, Detroit dopped a ten-spot on New York. Hughes lasted just four innings, and Bartolo Colon threw four ineffective innings of his own. Jorge Posada, defying age, blased two home runs, but Miguel Cabrera did the same. Jose Valverde danced off the mound, and the Tigers had their first victory of the young season.
At the time, we were expecting a good game as Bartolo Colon with his fountain of youth was to face Justin Verlander, and these two pitchers did not disappoint. Again, the Yanks tagged Verlander for four walks while the Tigers’ ace struck out eight over six innings. Colon K’d seven in as many innings. With the game tied in the ninth, though, Jose Valverde faltered. A run scored on a Nick Swisher single, and a passed ball allowed the Yanks some breathing room.
At the time, we didn’t know the tailspin into which the Yanks would head after this game. It seemed like an ordinary loss. Brad Penny, who the Yanks had beaten badly in April, held the team to an unearned run over six innings while CC wasn’t at his best. Even though Detroit went 2 for 10 with runners in scoring position, they didn’t need to do any better, and the Bombers helped them out on the basepaths when Andruw Jones was thrown out at the plate. The Yanks would then lose three in a row and nine of their next 12.
Max Scherzer, 8 IP, 4 H, 0 R, 2 BB, 9 K. ‘Nuff said. Freddy wasn’t bad, but he couldn’t touch that.
This was ugly. The Yanks, up 2-1 after 5.5 innings, simply fell apart over the final frames of this game. In the pivotal seventh inning in which the Tigers scored three to take the lead, A.J. hit Ryan Raburn who was hitting .229 at the time, and an Eduardo Nunez error — shocking, I know — lead to a pair of unearned runs. Earlier in the game, A.J.’s own error led to a previous unearned run. This was a game best left to the growing pains of May.