ALDS Game One preview: Yankees @ Orioles

Yes, that’s really a thing. The New York Yankees will open their latest postseason run in Baltimore, of all places. Against the Orioles. After 14 straight losing seasons the Orioles managed to shock the world by winning 93 games and securing a wild card spot, then did it again by defeating the reigning two time American League champions 5-1 in Arlington Friday night. Now they’ll have to take three of the next five games against the most decorated franchise in the sport, and there’s nothing Orioles’ fans would like to see more right now.

As I said yesterday, the Yankees are the clear favorites on paper, but that hasn’t made any difference where the O’s are concerned this year, and fortune has already broken their way before the series even opens. Remember how the one game wild card game was supposed to be a big disadvantage for the winner, because they’d have to burn their best starter for the win-or-go-home game? Well thanks to Joe Saunders performance of a lifetime that doesn’t apply to Baltimore, who get the luxury of setting their rotation up exactly as they want it for the series. That includes calling upon Jason Hammel to square off with C.C. Sabathia today. Let’s take a look at the players and factors that will loom large in this evening’s contest.

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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 Continue reading Who’s Jason Hammel?

Yankees set ALDS roster

The Yankees just announced the roster they’ll be using for the ALDS, and there were pretty much no surprises whatsoever. We already knew that Casey McGehee and Andruw Jones wouldn’t be making it, and with Brett Gardner something of a no-brainer the only two open spots were for the last guy on the bench and in the bullpen. Those positions went to utility man Jayson Nix and long-reliever Derek Lowe, respectively, which is what we had all pretty much assumed would be the case since yesterday afternoon. Continue reading Yankees set ALDS roster

Alex Rodriguez is beyond redemption

John Saunders of ESPN has a video blurb where he basically says that Alex Rodriguez needs to lead the New York Yankees to a title this season to find redemption. And perhaps you might agree if you only focus on what the man is being paid. But the piece is misguided because Alex Rodriguez is no longer the guy who has to carry the Yankees. After a couple of seasons muted by injuries and knowing the man is on the downward side of his career, he simply is not that guy anymore. He is a cog in a wheel and he simply has to play his position well and get his share of hits and he will do his part. Robinson Cano leads this team now and he is that guy who has to have a big post season for the Yankees to compete.

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Orioles starting Hammel in Game One

It had been assumed all week that, if the Orioles made it to the ALDS over the weekend, injured starter Jason Hammel would return to pitch sometime this weekend, and yesterday manager Buck Showalter made it official by naming Hammel the starter for Game 1 this afternoon. Acquired along with Matt Lindstrom from Colorado in a controversial trade that sent fan favorite Jeremy Guthrie to the Rockies, Hammel went on to be the O’s best pitcher when healthy, posting a 3.43 ERA and 3.29 FIP in his 20 starts.

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Jones not on ALDS roster

The Yankees don’t have to turn their official ALDS roster in until 10:00 this morning, and odds are they won’t make any official announcements until then, but they have apparently told some of the players who aren’t going to be on it at least. Friday night Casey McGehee told Andrew Marchand he had been informed he won’t be on the roster, and yesterday Andruw Jones told reporters the same. Jones really has no role he can play well at the moment, as he didn’t even manage to effectively hit lefties this season, and he at least seems to understand he played himself out of it. “It’s disappointing,” Jones said. “I’m more frustrated with myself than anything. I just didn’t finish as strong (as) I wanted to finish, so I don’t think I deserved to be on it.” Don’t think many Yankee fans would disagree with you there, Andruw.

If Jones and McGehee both know they aren’t going, it sounds like Jayson Nix might be healthy enough to play after all. Failing that, I guess the Yankees could take Chris Dickerson as a runner/defensive replacement, but that would leave them without a right-handed pinch hitter off of the bench, given that Chris Stewart and Eduardo Nunez would have to be the backup catcher/middle infielder, respectively.

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Pettitte to start Game 2

Joe Girardi met with reporters earlier this evening in Baltimore, and while the team won’t announce their ALDS roster until they have to turn it in tomorrow, he did announce that Andy Pettitte will start Game 2 of the series Monday night in Baltimore, with Hiroki Kuroda starting Game 3 in New York. In a normal 2-2-1 ALDS format this would be a much bigger deal, as Pettitte would be lined up to make two starts if C.C. Sabathia were to pitch Game 4 on short rest, but thanks to the 2-3 layout of this year’s series that’s irrelevant. The Yankees will start Game 4 if it makes it that far, and Pettitte and Kuroda will both make just one start, regardless of who goes first. I would imagine that this decision is about giving Kuroda a little bit more rest as much as anything.
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ALDS preview: Yankees vs. Orioles

Today feels a lot like the calm before the storm. Sure, there was no baseball on Thursday, but there was a lot of excitement left over from Wednesday night’s division clinching finale, and a lot of fresh angles from which to look at both the Yankees’ regular season and the upcoming postseason. And, of course, yesterday was the day of the brand new wild card games, including the American League version that would determine the Yankees’ ALDS opponent. Today, however, is almost eerily quiet on the baseball front, with everyone en route to Baltimore for the opening of the series, and no fresh news about the playoff roster, rotation, injuries, etc. as of yet.

But after watching the Orioles grind out a 5-1 victory over Yu Darvish and the Rangers last night, we at least know who the two teams in the series will be, so what do you say we break up the monotony of this snoozy Saturday by breaking down the matchup in broad strokes?

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