Thursday, September 6, 2012
The Postseason Implications of this series with Baltimore
I have to admit that I really have no idea how good the 2012 Orioles are. Much has been made of the fact that they’ve been outscored this season, but that ignores the fact that their current roster is not the same as the roster they had earlier in the year. Team talent is not static, and any analysis that assumes that what the Orioles have done all season long is the best way to assess how good they are at this very moment is simplistic and lazy.
That being said, I’m kind of lazy myself and don’t feel like revising and re-running all their projections right now. But anyone that wants to discuss how good/bad the Orioles really are should at least acknowledge that they’re no longer giving starts to Tommy Hunter, Brian Matusz and Jake Arrieta, and what they did in the rotation in the first half of the year should have little bearing on how good the Orioles will be over the rest of the season. The fact is, they’re right in the heart of the postseason race and anything can happen from here on out. They very well could win the World Series if everything falls into place for them.
I also am fairly uncertain about how good the Yankees are right now. I’m reasonably sure they’re not the 94 win team they projected to be at the start of the year when they had Mo and Brett Gardner and Michael Pineda, and that they probably won’t be that good through the end of the year given the injuries they’ve been dealing with and the apparent loss of Curtis Granderson and Andruw Jones’s ability to hit a baseball. Jones should be less of a concern than Granderson, but Joe Girardi’s stubborn insistence on playing him against every LHP the Yankees face makes him a lot more important to this team than he ought to be. Especially when teams are champing at the bit to throw every LHP they can find against the Yankees, which is logical.
We also don’t know if/when they’ll get Mark Teixeira, Ivan Nova and Andy Pettitte back and what they’ll do if/when they do come back. All three have the potential to significantly improve this team, but all three have a very realistic chance of not being able to return and be effective. I don’t think that’s pessimistic, I just think it’s realistic. If the Yankees can get all three back, they improve the lineup and the rotation and the bullpen and start to look like one of the better teams in baseball, if not the best, again.
Rather than using projections and YTD performance for this run through the postseason implications of this series, I’m going to just assume that the Yankees and Orioles are roughly .500 teams. So consider this more theoretical than the typical postseason odds I run.
In that case, here’s how the postseason probabilites for the AL look as of this morning.
W: Projected final 2011 wins
L: Projected final 2011 losses
RS: Projected final 2011 runs scored
RA: Projected final 2011 runs allowed
Div: Division win percentage
WC1: Wild card win percentage
WC2: Wild card win percentage
PS: Postseason percentage (Div + WC1 + WC2)
And here’s how they look for each of the possible outcomes of this series.
Remember that I’m assuming the Yankees are Orioles are .500 teams. If you think that’s too pessimistic for the Yankees and too optimistic for the Orioles adjust accordingly.
The Yankees, Orioles, Rays, White Sox, Tigers, A’s and Angels are all bunched within four games of each other, so it’s likely going to be a dogfight to qualify for the postseason. Hopefully the Yankees are better than a .500 team and can pull away from the pack a bit.
Getting back to Yanks vs. O’s, your pitching matchups for the series are:
Thursday, September 6, 2012
David Phelps, RHP (3-4, 3.13 ERA) vs. Jason Hammel, RHP (8-6, 3.54 ERA)
Phelps hasn’t been great over his last couple of starts, including his last start against Baltimore where he walked 6 in 4.2 innings. Hammel was the Orioles’ best starter through June 22 with a 2.61 ERA, but he lost effectiveness over his last four starts, probably at least partially due to a knee injury that ended up requiring surgery that put him on the DL on July 13. He’s making his first start since returning from the DL and may be rusty. Let’s hope so.
Friday, September 7, 2012
Phil Hughes, RHP (13-12, 4.18 ERA) vs. Wei-Yin Chen, LHP (12-8, 3.79 ERA)
Hughes was cruising through his last start against Baltimore through five innings, but the wheels came off in the sixth. Maybe if he walks Mark Reynolds every time he can keep the Yankees in this game. Wei-Yin Chen was dominant against the Yankees in his last start, but his bullpen and defense ended up making his final line look less than great in a game the Yankees stole thanks to a J.J. Hardy error.
Saturday, September 8, 2012
CC Sabathia, LHP (13-4, 3.42 ERA) vs. Joe Saunders, LHP (1-1, 4.63 ERA)
Two finesse lefties face off in the third game of this series. The Yankees really needed a big game from CC in his last start against Tampa, but didn’t get it. I’d like to think they’ll get it here but CC hasn’t looked like CC this year and while his peripheral stats are pretty similar to what they’ve been throughout his Yankee career, his fastball velocity is still down almost 2 mph and I think it’s having a significant impact on his effectiveness. Saunders is back from Little League, and has made one crappy start and one pretty good one. As a lefty, he’s sure to give the Yankees fits.
Sunday, September 9, 2012
Freddy Garcia, RHP (7-6, 5.09 ERA) vs. Zach Britton, LHP (5-1, 4.15 ERA)
Garcia’s got a 7.53 ERA over his last three starts while averaging less than 5 innings per game. He’s given up 12 runs over those three games. Zach Britton has a 0.94 ERA over his last four starts, and has struck out 29 hitters in 28.2 innings while going 4-0. Oh, and he’s a lefty.
I hate these pitching matchups. It will be a monumental task for the Yankees to win this series. I suppose Phelps vs. Hammel might be okay if Phelps rebounds a bit and Hammel is rusty. I’d be shocked if Hughes outpitched Chen. CC should be able to beat Saunders, but WTF knows? And that last game looks like a disaster.
I think we’re looking at a split here at best, and wouldn’t be surprised to see the Orioles taking 3 out of 4. Even if that happens, that just means the Yankees will be down by a game in the division as they head to Boston for three games while the Orioles get to host Tampa Bay for three. Unfortunately, this will probably be Boston’s version of the postseason. Fortunately, Boston’s probably not all that good right now and it may not matter.
I realize we feel like the Yankees should be in the postseason every year given their payroll, but it’s kind of fun to have meaningful games in September, isn’t it? Living and dying on every pitch for a month is an emotional roller coaster but that’s part of the entertainment factor of baseball, and one we don’t necessarily get enough of as Yankee fans who usually are watching their team set up their postseason rotation over the last few weeks of the year. It’s like an extended version of the postseason.
It also might be a good reminder that just getting into the postseason is a pretty good accomplishment in and of itself and the season’s not a failure if the Yankees don’t win the World Series. Despite what Randy Levine will surely say at the end of the year if they don’t.
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