Playoff Preview with the Pulse Network

This morning, I talked with Butch Stearns over at the Pulse Network about the baseball goings on. We discussed the Terry Francona/Theo Epstein situation (comparing it to Brian Cashman/Joe Torre post-2007) and of course, the upcoming ALDS matchup between the Yankees and Tigers. Watch here and enjoy!

Game One Gunslingers: The best ALDS pitchers duel ever?

Last year, on the occasion of Roy Halladay and Tim Lincecum matching up in Game 1 of the NLCS, I wrote about how exceedingly rare it was for two truly elite pitchers (by “elite,” I mean, among the top five or so pitchers in the game at the given moment) to square off in a postseason game.  Obviously, one cannot guarantee that two such pitchers will even make the playoffs, much less have their teams meet and their throwing schedules line up.  Thankfully, for a second season in a row, the stars have aligned, and Game 1 of the ALDS in New York will not only feature two of the top talents in the league, but the two prohibitive favorites for this years AL Cy Young.

Not since 2001, when Cy Young winner Roger Clemens lost to runner-up Mark Mulder has the ALDS featured such a matchup.  And 2001, as you may recall, was not the greatest season for pitching.  The Rocket’s 5.4 rWAR would barely be good enough for 8th in the AL in 2011, as far from Cy Young consideration as Doug Fister or Gio Gonzalez.  Before tonight, the best cumaltive rWAR for opposing pitchers in an ALDS matchup was Pedro Martinez and Tim Hudson in 2003.  C. C. Sabathia and Justin Verlander have been 1.4 wins better.  So, I posit that we have the good fortune of kicking off the 2011 playoffs with the best pitching matchup in ALDS history.

Further giving us the sense that this pairing was fated, one might remember that these were the Opening Day starters in the Bronx many moons ago.

First, the basics:

As Brien argued not long ago, while the mainstream media have positioned Verlander as the clear Cy Young (and even MVP) frontrunner, Sabathia has a strong case, especially according to the advanced metrics.  These are similar players, and not just according to their statistical performances.  Obviously, they both epitomize the power pitcher.  Verlander tied Alexi Ogando for the MLB lead in average fastball velocity in 2011 at 95.0 MPH.  Sabathia ranked 8th at 93.8 MPH.

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Story of a Season: Russell Martin

When the Yankees announced they were signing Russell Martin after he was non-tendered by the Dodgers, I was thinking one thing: He’s a placeholder for Jesus Montero. Once Montero was ready–maybe around May or June–Martin would shift to the backup role, Montero would catch, Cervelli would go…somewhere. Well, it didn’t happen that way, and that’s not necessarily a bad thing. Martin caught fire coming out of the gate and ended up as a pretty valuable player for the Yankees. He added good offense for a catcher, he played good defense, and the pitching staff seemed to like working with him. Continue reading Story of a Season: Russell Martin

Bring on the Tigers

Autumn is one of my favorite seasons. The summer heat fades away; jackets, sweaters and scarves make a comeback; the leaves crisp, color, and then hue the ground. People start carving pumpkins and planning Halloween costumes.

More importantly, Autumn is when the Yankees play postseason baseball. This year, the Bombers will open the playoffs against the Detroit Tigers, a team with two legitimate top tier MVP candidates, a very strong 1-2 punch at the top of their rotation, a solid bullpen, and a number of under-the-radar position players who have turned in impressive 2011 seasons. Make no mistake, the Yankees will have their hands full in the first round.

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Continue reading Bring on the Tigers

2011 ALDS Preview, Part 3 | Game 1 Starters: CC Sabathia vs. Justin Verlander

For previous installments of TYA’s 2011 ALDS Preview, please see the following: Part 1: The 2011 Yankee Offense, Top to Bottom Part 2: Head-to-Head Overall Team Numbers The Yankees will send CC Sabathia to the hill for his 6th career Game One start with the Bombers. Sabathia has a 3.41 ERA over 31.2 innings across his five previous Yankee Game 1 starts, although that figure drops to 1.67 if you take out his uncharacteristic 4 IP, 5 ER performance against Texas in last year’s ALCS. Here’s Sabathia’s season line, along with some selected splits: It’s no secret that CC put Continue reading 2011 ALDS Preview, Part 3 | Game 1 Starters: CC Sabathia vs. Justin Verlander

ALDS Preview Radio Show

Last night, I co-hosted a 1-hour radio show with Mike Silva of New York Baseball Digest. We covered a host of topics from the amazing final day of regular baseball, our expectations for the Yanks in the ALDS, the prospect of adding an additional Wild Card team, and some other issues surrounding the teams including a Deadspin rumor that nobody else has touched. Mike and I always have fun when we do these shows, and the hour flies by. You can give it a listen here.