Monday, October 3, 2011

From Pat: Pivotal Game Three

Note:  This one's from PF At Work.  Sorry for the delay.

Popular opinion seems to be that the rainout helped the Yankees. Instead of seeing Verlander twice they now will only see him once. I'm not so sure. Yes, seeing Verlander once instead of twice is a good thing. But now, instead of seeing him in Game 1, they are seeing him in Game 3. Game 3 is a far more pivotol game in terms of swinging a five game series than Game 1. The Yankees do have C.C. Sabathia on the mound, but they are still facing Justin Verlander at home instead of on the road in front of a crowd that is going to be bananas. The Yankees also go from being able to use a three-man rotation to now needing a fourth. That means, should they lose tonight, they'll have A.J. Burnett trying to stave off elimination on the road in Game 4. Wonderful.

In general, I'm of the mind that any change in schedule helps the inferior team. Instead of there being a routine things are on the fly. This weekend at Yankee Stadium I was having flashbacks to 2006. The Yankees beat the Tigers pretty handily in Game 1, and then Game 2 was rained out. Instead of being played at night, Game 2 was played during the day, as was the case this weekend. I've always thought Yankee Stadium was a more intimidating place to play at night, especially in the playoffs. The fans are more revved up. There is a little mroe bite in the air. The lights are bright. It's just a little more dull during the day. Having been at both games this weekend, I can confirm that was certainly the case this weekend. Granted, the Yankees gave a lot more to cheer about Saturday night and a lot less on Sunday day, but still. It just didn't have the same feel and Detroit - a team that played sloppy and borderline tight baseball on Friday and Saturday - looked completely comfortable on Sunday.

Not everything about the rainout is bad for the Yankees. The Tigers do not have as deep a bullpen, and they have been forced to use their 3 big arms on the back-end heavily already in this series. And the Yankees have hit them hard. Albequerque only threw 7 pitches on Saturday night, but Cano sent his second pitch of the night for a Grand Slam (only the Cano run was charged to him, but a Grand Slam is a Grand Slam). Then in Game 2, Benoit worked 2 innings and Valverde threw 34 pitches in the 9th. Scherzer no-hit the Yankees for 5.1 innings, and shut them out for 6. Then Detroit's set-up man and closer gave up 5 baserunners and 3 runs in their last two innings of work. I initially thought the rainout would help the Tigers' bullpen. The Yankees have a better back-end, and with the originally planned Sunday off-day it guaranteed that the Yankees would have all of their bullpen available for every game. The rainout made if 4 games in 4 days and took that guarantee away should the first few games be close. But with two games in the books, the Soriano/Robertson/Rivera have combined to throw 3 pitches (Rivera faced the last batter in Game 1, striking him out on 3 pitches). They are all completely rested going into tonight, prepared to go innings 7-9 at a minimum, perhaps more if needed. Meanwhile Detroit's key bullpen arms are pretty spent. They are critical in the middle of the lineup.

Shows you how things can change. Perceived disadvantages turn out to be an advantages, and vice versa. I hope that happens with more perceived disadvantages after the rainout for the rest of this series.

Finally I just want to point out two last things. First, Robinson Cano is absurdly talented. I'm glad that he is finally batting 3rd/4th in the order over A-Rod and Tex. He flat out took that game over on Saturday night, in tough hitting conditions. If the wind wasn't blowing in his first double off the top of the wall might have been 10 rows deep - to the opposite field. Second, the Yankees' offensive performance yesterday was just an embarrassment. After hanging 9 runs on the Tigers in Game 1, they didn't muster a hit until the 6th inning. Give credit to Max Scherzer, who is extremely talented and was great yesterday. And no doubt the Yankees hit some balls hard that were at people. But get a hit. This is a playoff game and there were weak at bats all over the place. Teixeira and Rodriguez need to make some things happen these next two games in Detroit. One hit in two games between the two of them isn't helping this offense score against good pitching. They are critical in the middle of the order for the Yankees.


Anonymous said...

Good stuff PF, love this kind of deeper thinking on these things instead of the echoing on Verlander being avoided. I do not see the bit on the bullpen being necessarily a plus or a minus due to just the rainout alone- the depth of the 'pen is just a fact of the roster and whether the Yankees get into it is up almost entirely to them. Of course, now that it has broken down the way it has, the fewer rest days will only help NY.


Ross Kaplan said...

The Yankees bullpen is certainly a strength, but that is useless unless it's utilized properly. The run Ayala gave up in the 9th could have been easily avoided, if Girardi was more concerned about putting his team in a position to win the game than resting his bullpen, by pitching Robertson or maybe even Soriano.

At the very least the Yankees put a dent in Valeverde's confidence so as long as they can keep it a 2-run game they have a chance to pull out the victory.

the gm at work said...


Agree with Tim C's commentary - it's refreshing to get some actual insight instead of regurgitating what we've already heard on the Worldwide Leader.

Also, let's not give Verlander the same treatment all the sensationalists gave friggin Cliff Lee a few years ago. Yup, he's having a great year, but it's not like you can pencil in every start as a win. He's facing Sabathia, who can be just as good as he is. Also, it's worth taking a look at Verlander's numbers against good teams. Texas? Fine, he's been good. Red Sox? He's been good there as well, which is probably largely indicative of the fact that they probably read the pitching matchups and laid down because it wasn't worth trying that night because it was a marathon and not a sprint. But the Yankees and Rays have touched him this year. He hasn't lost, but we're talking about 13 runs in 25 innings over four games. Meh.

Yanks definitely take one of the next two. This one's going five.

Anonymous said...

The additional plus for the Tigers, though, is that if Verlander can ice up the Yankees in Game 3 they can almost 'concede' Game 4 if it gets out of hand. Obviously, in the same sense that the 'pen issue comes up only if a team hits, this would only come up if Verlander went eight or so and the Tigers were up 2-1. But it could make Game 5 a real toss up if the Tigers can approach Game 4 with a 'punt-it' attitude instead of wasting limited bullpen resources.

In other words...the positioning of Verlander in Game 3 could give Detroit's pen two off days if things roll right- I suppose this is the 'crapshoot' element that whiny Billy Beane was complaining about in Moneyball.


the gm at work said...

Tim C,

Two nights off for the Tigers bullpen is a good thing, because I don't know if you've heard, but traveling in baseball is really difficult. Too many night games on getaway days. The TV schedules really make it unfair for the health of these poor guys.

the gm at work said...

By the way, Tankenstein, I got a question for you right now. A few weeks ago you cited a New York Times article making a semi-mockery of a gentleman we graduated with. The question: What are the changes this guy is NOT occupying Wall Street right now? I'd say the chances he's anywhere else in the world is about 3%.

the gm at work said...

*ARE about three percent.

Ross Kaplan said...

DV, you're being too generous, I'd actually give less than 1 percent odds that the aforementioned Jack Drury is not participating in the Occupation of Wall Street and is currently in one of the tents of Zucotti Park. He may have sold and worked for dad's company, but he still has his reputation to uphold in the eyes of his hipster friends. If you really want to raise the stakes, I'd put 80% odds on the fact that not only is Jack Drury actively participating in the Occupation of Wall St, but that he is also contributing writer for the movement's official newspaper, the Occupied Wall Street Journal (this is no joke).

The GM said...


I overestimated the probability by 200%? Guess my future isn't going to be in Vegas.