The Curse of Jerry Hairston, Jr./Eric Hinske:

Thursday, October 12, 2017 Didi drives Yanks to ALCS date with Astros

The Yankees believed they had the right blend of talent not only to force the American League Division Series back to Progressive Field, but to win it all. Having made good on that promise by knocking off the defending AL champion Indians, New York’s improbable and exhilarating run at a 28th World Series title will now run through Houston.

Didi Gregorius homered twice, CC Sabathia rolled back the clock with nine strikeouts before turning it over to the bullpen in the fifth inning and the Yankees completed their historic comeback from a daunting deficit, advancing past the Indians with a 5-2 victory in Game 5 of the ALDS on Wednesday night.

“For me to be here with these guys is just unbelievable,” Gregorius said. “This amazing, young team that we’ve got, everybody helps each other out here. Everybody wants each other to be good. I think that’s the motto since I got here.”

Well, that was okay.

Remember how shitty 2004 was? I don’t mean to bring up a terrible memory, but I was thinking about it because, at the time, despite the Yankees being up 3-0, I really hated the pitching match-ups for the next four games and I remember telling people throughout the Boston comeback that I was thinking that the Sox had a real chance the whole time. Similarly, the Yankees’ pitching advantages in Games 3 and 4 made this comeback look possible. Even before Game 2, I recall noting, “Okay, so they’re going to lose tonight, but they really should win Games 3 and 4 and then who knows?” Of course, they should have won Game 2. Speaking of Game 2, Joe Girardi seriously looked happier with this win than he did when they won the World Series in 2009, that’s how pumped he was that his team got his back after the big Game 2 blunder. Good for him.

While Didi was the main hero in Game 5, it is definitely worth noting that three of the key contributors in this game - CC Sabathia, David Robertson and Brett Gardner - all played for the Yankees in the 2009 World Series. That’s pretty awesome.

Houston will be a tough matchup, but the Yankees are now a tough matchup themselves for everyone else, so it should be a fun series.

Let’s hope that the Yankees keep the good times rolling as they head into Houston.

--Posted at 4:43 am by Brian Cronin / 95 Comments | - (0)


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Why didn’t Sanchez tag Austin Jackson. Is the game even over?!?

The ump considered Jackson to have abandoned his ability to run the bases and was thus ruled out. But yeah, Sanchez really should have just quickly tagged him. I dunno why he didn’t.

Where will D-rob rank amongst Yankee relievers when he retires?

And what’s up with Judge? If the strike zone isn’t being called fairly to him, why isn’t Girardi throwing Gatorade bottles on the field or something?

This is a very talented team that can win even when their best hitters don’t hit. Any manager is fortunate to manage this talent.

IIRC, the Yankees could have won that last series in Houston but those happened to be the games were both Betances & Chapman completely fell apart.  We all know what happened with those guys and the team over the next month.  The good news is that Chapman is back to his normal self.  Were we also missing Hicks for those games? Where would be this postseason without Hicks?

If Sevy is on full rest for game 2, I go with him. That way you get Tanaka at home.

It’s been so long that I didn’t realize the format was 2-3-2. I honestly prefer starting the series with the pressure to win being on the other team. Steal 1 and you go home with a chance to close it out. I also like that we have an actual home field advantage now vice those mid 2000s ALDS games where it looked like the fans at the stadium were bored.

I think our pitching is better than Houstons.

Judge needs to start doing something at the plate, even if it’s just getting back to getting on base.

Yankee DHs are 0 for the postseason. Might as well try Holliday against Keuchel. If not, why have him on the roster. At least if they get to the WS, they won’t feel like they’re at a disadvantage having the pitchers hit in the NL park.

[7] Agreed.

If the series goes long, and Tanaka goes game 2, both his starts are on road. If he goes game 3, he’ll at least have 1 home start mixed in with a potential road start in game 7. Severino has good road numbers so I am comfortable with Gray-Severino-Tanaka-CC and then loop around to Gray-Severino-Tanaka based on circumstances of the series.

[9] Holliday needs to DH, at least against lefties.

Too much is being made of Tanaka’s home/road splits. Just last year he was significantly better on the road. I don’t care where he’s starting.

Tanaka home/road is as meaningless as his day/night. Tanaka’s been around the block, he’s not a rook.

Agree use Holliday against Keuchel But maybe something else is going on in that Joe;had a couple of chances to PH Holliday for Els and didn’t.

I agree as far as home/road but I’m trying to look at this realistically and you know Joe actually does give merit to that.

I would use Austin as DH and Wade as the pinch runner.

[13] I don’t think you could have brought Holliday into the series that cold. Maybe I can’t describe it, but a PA in a game 1 vs a PA in a game 5 ALDS are not the same thing.

I agree Holliday has to go in. No performance from Ellsbury or Headley, and if you wanted to set up your bench for success, you have a switch hitter and your best baserunner on the bench.

[13] I don’t think you could have brought Holliday into the series that cold. Maybe I can’t describe it, but a PA in a game 1 vs a PA in a game 5 ALDS are not the same thing.

I agree Holliday has to go in. No performance from Ellsbury or Headley, and if you wanted to set up your bench for success, you have a switch hitter and your best baserunner on the bench.

Didn’t Houston JUST kick Tanaka’s ass at Yankee Stadium this season?

They really pitched Judge well.  The auto strikezone isn’t infallible as hitters move a bit, but statcast says that only a handful of the called strikes against Judge were out of the zone or close (the one were Gardner was caught stealing was definitely Ball 4).

[8] Five years. For Houston it’s been never. I’m excited!

If they’re not going to use Holliday as a pinch hitter or DH than the doesn’t need to be on the roster.

16 I agree but there was an earlier game where the situation arose.

Holliday has been terrible.  He’s the last option off the bench and should be.  I don’t know why people are up in arms about it.

Congrats! I see a Yankees-Dodgers WS coming. The Astros’ pitching isn’t good enough to win a long series. Good luck y’all.

23 No good options at DH Els and Chase combined 0/20 and a keuchel is more a crafty LHP than a power pitcher so I’d go with him at DH in game one and probably only game one.

I suppose Holliday is on the roster in case of in-game injury.

Anyone want to see that Gardner AB pitch by pitch?

[25] - Is it really indefensible to say Holliday deserves to be the last option off the bench?  Honestly, a few games shouldn’t change things.  They shouldn’t pull a Torre and drop Judge to 8th.

Everyone is what they are going to be.  Play the games.

28 I’d keep the lineup exactly as it is, I would NOT drop Judge but I might let Holliday DH and bat 8 or 9 against Keuchel.

BTW if Verlander still throws 100 might not be crazy to play Toe against him.

[23] I’m not up in arms, but if they don’t have a use for him, put someone the roster that they can actually use like a late inning defensive sub, or a real pinch runner, or Andujar and use him as a DH/pinch hitter, or another pitcher.

If they’re not willing to start him Friday then he should definitely be off the roster replaced by probably Wade.

Is the umpiring crew going to be different? If so, keep batting judge high. If they’re not calling bocce balls at his toes, he’ll be fine.

[24] Calling out the reverse-jinx

And is Ellsbury as a DH really that much better than Holliday? In nearly same amount of PA this season its a 101 wRC for Els and 98 for Holliday. One gives you speed and some OBP, the other power.

One happens to be lefty, the other righty. So I do think it makes sense to start Holliday against Keuchal (125 wRC v LHP this year, not sure about large sample size career split) and Els or Headley against the RHP. And it also comes down to this: do you want the power bat on the bench to PH or the speed guy on the bench to PR late in the game?

Reading Indians blog comments really drives home the difference between a large-market club and mid markets like Cleveland. While we all think of Cleveland as a great young team that will be a powerhouse for years, the consensus over there is that the window is closing fast, and they’ll have to tear it down and rebuild within the next few years. No one expects them to be able to keep Lindor or Kluber. Could just be their depression talking, but it’s fascinating that the window for a Cleveland is 5 years at best, whereas Yankee fans look at this window for the next decade and no one doubts the Yankees’ ability to keep every single one of their core players.

[36] Unless they have and he turned it down, I have no clue why CLE haven’t approached Lindor anytime in the past 2 years on long-term contract to buy out arb and some FA years.

Current prices for Keuchel vs. Gray: Yanks +160/Astros -180. Total 8.5, -120 to the under.

To win it all:

Cubs +700
Nats +700
Dodgers +150
Astros +200
Yankees +350

(After today’s game I’d expect the Cubs/Nats winner to sit around +375)

To win the AL:

Yankees +150
Astsros -170

Can they change the roster between the ALDS and the ALCS? Looking at Holliday in particular.

I’m still kind of in shock.  I mean, I’m sure I’ll be crushed when they get swept out of the ALCS, but for today it’s like they won the Series.

(41) Yes

[42] Even though they’re the unclutchest unchlutchers who ever unclutched and went something 0-50 in one run games, they’ve won four elimination games already this postseason.  That’s pretty damn impressive.  Houston’s better, and will probably beat them, but Cleveland was better too so who knows?

[42] I’m still in shock.  I’ve been meaning to post a comment here but it still hasn’t sunk in.  Don’t know what to write.

[42] Still can’t decide if this postseason is more 2001 or 2012.

I’d add Clint over Holliday.

Not that it matters for Inevitable Losers.

[44] 44.4% chance of beating the ‘Stros, per ESPN’s interactive from before the DS started.

Keuchel owns them and game 1 is grim, but Verlander is 6-7 lifetime vs NYY with a 3.87 ERA/ 1.39 WHIP. Different team now, but a better Verlander for most of the years he compiled that record. Game 2 with Sevvy is completely winnable.

I’ll take Tanaka/CC over McCullers/Morton (or Peacock).

Seems like a solid coin-flip series.

[42] Yeah, it’s been so long since they’ve played as this much of a playoff underdog. I’d say not since ‘96.

Nobody asked for this, but here’s my take on Judge: against a team’s closer, I’d rather see Gardner, Didi, Sanchez, or even Hicks at the plate before Judge. It’s not that he’s unclutch due to the situation, it’s he’s too easy to strike out for a pitcher with elite stuff.

Don’t get me wrong. I’ll take the 8 WAR and deal with the strikeouts. But am I way off base?

[40] The Yankees are an awesome play at those odds.  If I still knew a bookie I’d put at least $500 on the Yanks.

This series is a toss-up, IMHO.  Feels a lot like the 2001 Mariners series.  Made nice money on that one, but fucking Rivera pissed it a way for me in the WS.

[49] I think it depends what you need.  If you need a walk, or a 3-run HR you want Judge.  If you’ve got a man on 2nd and need a single, you don’t want Judge.

[48] I’ll do a more detailed post tomorrow when we have final ALCS rosters but a WAG for me right now is:

Houston: 61.17%
Yankees: 38.83%

Astros are a pretty damn good team right now.  They are probably the best team in baseball in a short series where they can concentrate their innings among their best pitchers.

[51] Part of my concern is that late in a game you typically don’t need a walk. Hopefully he shuts me up in the games ahead.

I think reasonable umpiring yields better results for Judge.

All season long, Judge has struggled against power pitchers and the best power ptichers are the ones who pitch late in the game, which is why his late game numbers are terrible. So yes, he’s definitely not the guy you want to see up late in a game.

But hey, a guy who crushes bad pitching for 162 games is more than worth the fact that he will struggle when he’s facing top pitchers constantly.

Tanaka Game 1
Severino Game 2

The right move, but it says a lot about where Gray is right now.

CC Game 3
Gray Game 4

Extra day of rest is nice. Tanaka’s numbers against Houston? Pretty rough. .322/.394/.729, notably Altuve (.364/.364/.727 11 ABs) and Correa (.500/.545/1.100 10 ABs). In his last four starts vs. Houston, Tanaka has a 10.38 ERA.

Some major recency bias by Girardi there.

But hey, I guess it worked with CC, maybe it will work again with Tanaka. So, if they make it to Game 7, bullpen game?

Dh - could add Tyler Austin to the roster and use him…

I would use Austin.

60 Not a bad idea he has terrific splits against LHP.
56,57 Smart but unexpected.

Tanaka, Sevy, CC, Gray.

Aren’t they restricted to players that were on the 25 man roster before they expanded in September unless there is an injury exception?  I don’t think Clint and Austin are eligible are they?


But hey, a guy who crushes bad pitching for 162 games is more than worth the fact that he will struggle when he’s facing top pitchers constantly.

The definition of playoff pitchers.

Holliday to DH Friday.

[66] - Ha ha.  I thought that said DL at first.

[64]  No, I think it’s players on the 40 as of the non-waiver trade deadline.  Exceptions for injuries—can add pitcher for a pitcher or position player for a position player.

I can only imagine Gray will suck from rust.

(68) Actually I think it’s even looser than that. I think it’s defined as “in the organization”, so technically you could add someone to the 40 man, call them up and play them in the playoffs.

On the other hand, maybe Gray was tiring and the extended rest might rejuvenate him?

So Tanaka and Severino both on normal rest after each throwing 7 stressful innings… I guess if they can get 5 innings out of each that’s all they need. Just hope that if there’s a carry over effect from the last start it affects endurance, not command from the get go.

Isn’t Tanaka bad with extra rest? Or is he really good?  I forget.

I thought he was better with extra rest, but maybe that’s urban legend. It’s just that his last game wasn’t an ordinary game. Then again, maybe everything was working so well he didn’t feel as stressed as I did.

Smoltz was trying to peddle the story yesterday about Kluber always bouncing back from a shitty game, and since Game 2 was shitty, he was going to be unhittable last night. Didn’t work out that way. Mostly because that was a crock of shit.

All this stuff is a crock of shit, too. Home/Road, rest, too much rest. Crock. Of shit.

You can talk yourself into any prediction, and when the coin lands Heads you think you’re a genius.

Like Smoltz. Just like Smoltz.

I thought he was better on extra rest due to the whole Japanese pitchers in Japanese leagues only pitch one per week deal? I could have that completely wrong though.

[69] He’ll pitch a three-inning simulated game.

Given how Gray has looked lately I agree with 1 start in this series.  I know his track record should give him priority over C.C. but I can’t fault Girardi’s decision with the recent results.  C.C. has looked exceptional.

There’s a reason we weight recent statistics.

The poor National fans great success in the regular season every year and then squat.

Murphy is a helluva hitter sharp move by Alderson to let him go.

66 Girardi said stay tuned.

Has any player ever won both LCS and WS MVP, or will Bird be the first?

[83] Don’t forget regular season too.

[80] Its hard to believe that Scherzer would be the reason for the Nats to lose this deciding game.  He was not competitive in that one inning.

In reading through these comments about the Astros and how their pitching stacks up, just consider that Chris Carter played in a bunch of games against Houston this year.  Chapman & Betances also had terrible games against Houston when they were struggling.  The Yankees are not the same team right now, and I have a better feeling that things will be different this time around compared to the regular season.

[85] I’m having trouble finding the complaint. Are you at the right site?

[81] Why didn’t the Mets sign Murphy?  If he just replicated his last couple of Mets season, it would already have been worth it?

[86] I know, I feel a little dirty.

[85]  Well, Betances won’t pitch at all vs the Astros, so that’s taken care of.

The Nats are like the Braves of the early 90s.  Consistently good teams, barely won one Series, nobody likes/liked them.  I mean really, there’s a Washington fan base?  No way.  And the Braves had empty seats in their WS games.

My suggestion is, contract the Nats into the Yankees.  NY gets to keep whoever it wants, the rest, including front office, get sent to Puerto Rico to help rebuild.

My only fear is that Bryce Harper would then be a Yankee.  I do not believe in that guy.  He’s a slightly healthier Nick Johnson.  And in the real world, I am desperate for them not to sign him.

[89] He’s a healthier Nick Johnson with a 156 OPS+ from ages 22-24. Why the fuck do people complain about this guy?

The worry with Harper is that you’ll have to sign him based on the idea that his best season will be his regular production, while he showed in 2016 that he is capable of just having a mediocre season mixed in there out of nowhere (no injury-related reason, for instance), so you’d be paying, like, $35-40 million to a guy who might just drop in a 2 WAR season at any point.

Since he COULD easily get better in his late 20s, it still makes sense to give the guy all the money, but there is a clear, identifiable risk with Harper that wasn’t present with, say, A-Rod when A-Rod became a free agent at the same age that Harper will become a free agent.

[91]  also, Harper has pretty consistently missed 15-40 games each season due to injury as a young guy.  As a 30 year old, that could be 60-100 when he’s getting paid $40m.

How does one not believe in Bryce Harper? Is that a troll? Say you don’t think he’ll be healthy and that is concern for a long-term deal, but how in the world does one not think Bryce Harper is legit?

Also, I am the only person who is mystified by the lack of trust in Gray? I get the trade was a long-term play, so where he starts in the postseason doesn’t mean it was a bad trade just yet…but did he struggle THAT poorly? You’re telling me CC deserves THREE starts before he gets ONE?

Yes, recently he has pitched like the 4th best pitcher but we’re also smart enough to not trust SSS and recency bias. Plus, he’s going TWELVE days between starts.

I hope it works out and people can tell me “told you so” but I don’t know.

[93] Maybe the Yankees found a mechanical flaw and are trying to fix it, but need as much time as possible. Or you just ride a very effective CC as long as you can. There is something to sticking with the hot player.

If the Yankees advance and Gray dominates, I’m sure that will change the math for the WS/ But for now, Gray has been shaky across most of his recent starts.

Looks like no roster change for the ALCS.

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