ALDS Game One preview: Yankees @ Orioles

Hello October!:

It’s been nothing but gorgeous weather here in the mid-Atlantic for the past month or so, but October came in with a vengeance yesterday evening. I, for one, went from wearing shorts on a trip to the park yesterday morning to sleeping in a sweatshirt with the windows thrown open overnight, and it’s only gotten more stark today. It’s cool, it’s wet, and there’s no break in sight for this evening. Local forecasts are calling for temperatures in the mid 50s and an increasing chance of precipitation at game time, though more on the level of light showers than torrential downpours. So expect the game to be played under cold(ish), wet, conditions. Just how playoff baseball in the Northeast is supposed to be, right?

Jason Hammel:

It’s not very often that C.C. Sabathia feels like the less important pitcher in a playoff match up, but in the early going all eyes are going to be on Jason Hammel today.… Click here to read the rest

Who’s Jason Hammel?

It’s somewhat of a surprise that we’re seeing Jason Hammel pitch tonight. He’s been far from a bad pitcher in 2012, showing a 3.23 FIP and a 3.43 ERA, but he’s also thrown just 8.2 innings since mid-July. It’s a risky move for the Orioles, but Buck Showalter and company are playing with house money right now, and his recent decision to start Joe Saunders in the Wild Card playoff game paid off nicely.

When looking at his numbers against the Yankees, I’d usually select career numbers, as to get the biggest sample size, but as we’ll see later, Hammel is a different pitcher in 2012. Despite this, he’s still been mediocre against the Yankees in 3 starts, posting a 3.94 ERA through 16.0 IP, but also sported a 1.563 WHIP and allowed a 10.1 H/9. Up and down the Yankees lineup, almost every player has a history of hitting the right handed pitcher, in particular Alex Rodriguez, who has 4 homeruns and a 1.371 OPS in 22 at bats.… Click here to read the rest

Alex Rodriguez is beyond redemption

The heading on this piece sounds harsh and it was not meant to be. A-Rod had his 2009. That was the last season that he was the former Alex Rodriguez, the superstar version. And he came up big in that post season. He performed in that post season the way you expected a superstar to perform. He is beyond being a superstar now. Now, Alex Rodriguez is just a better than good player. And that is all the Yankees need and expect him to be. And as such, the meaning of the heading is that he is beyond his capability to be the big bat that hoists the Yankees on his shoulders and leads the team to glory.

For those that focus on the money Alex Rodriguez makes, let it go. That money is a sunk cost and yes it is a problem because of 2014 and the hard cap that Boy Steinbrenner is dictating. But there is nothing the Yankees or Alex Rodriguez can do about that.… Click here to read the rest

Orioles starting Hammel in Game One

That “when healthy” qualifier is a pretty big one, however, if only because that hasn’t been lately. Hammel pitched just three innings of his start in Detroit back on July 13th, and then didn’t make another start until September 6th, against the Yankees. He went 5 innings in that game, and then lasted 3.2 innings against the Rays on September 11th, and hasn’t made another appearance since then. In other words, the Orioles will be anchoring their ALDS staff with a pitcher who hasn’t appeared in a game in just under a month, and has a total of 11.2 innings pitched since the All-Star game.

Somewhat reassuring for Showalter, I assume, is that, in that September 6th game against the Yankees Hammel struck out six and walked just two in holding the Bombers to just a single run, so if rust was an issue then he wasn’t showing it at all. Still, I think the Yankees are catching a slight break here.… Click here to read the rest

ALDS preview: Yankees vs. Orioles

New format:

First of all, one factor that will come into play right from the beginning is the new format the ALDS is taking for this season. Because of the desire to shoehorn the wild card round into the existing postseason schedule, the ALDS was altered from a 2-2-1 format to a 2-3 format, with the higher seeded team opening on the road and finishing at home. What this means is that, in addition to the change in opening venue, there’s only one off day in the midst of a five game series instead of two, so the Game 2 starter can’t pitch Game 5 on normal rest. You either have to use four starters for five games or have two guys throw on short rest. It’s an exceedingly goofy way to do things, but such is life until it changes back next year, and it’s going to affect everyone more or less the same way at least. Though the Yankees have been pretty aggressive at being willing to use C.C.Click here to read the rest