Not So Amazins

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A few random and most likely irrational fun-facts about the now 37-36 New York Mets:

– Only the Giants (45) have hit less home runs than the Mets (46) this season.

– In the first year of a three-year, $36 million contract, the Mets are
paying Oliver Perez $12 million in 2009. So far that’s good enough for
one win. A pretty good win-to-highway-robbery ratio if you can get it.

– While David Wright has whiffed 73 times already this season (on
pace for 163), the Mets have struck out less (394) than any team in the
majors.

– Gary Sheffield, who wasn’t even under contract with the club until April 3, leads the team with just nine home runs.

– Brett Gardner has more hits (5) than the Mets (4) during the first two games of this weekend’s Subway Series.

– Bouyed by the strong play of Omir Santos, Mets catchers have driven in more runs (51) than any other team in the majors.

– And finally, according to Mets Today,
the team currently has approximately $67,675,000 worth of players on
the disabled list. This figure is roughly equal to that of the Twins
payroll, while higher than the Rays, Athletics, Nationals, Pirates,
Padres and Marlins.

You know, the other night, as I watched Fernando Nieve toss six
scoreless innings against the Cardinals and Nick Evans go 2-for-3 with
a home run, it was easy to feel pretty darn good about this pack of
scrappy nobodies. Unfortunately for Mets fans, nearly every underdog
story comes with an expiration date. And after being humbled through
the first two games of this weekend’s interleague series against the
Yankees, I’m afraid we’re left rooting for curdled milk.

In the playoffs, the Yankees’ weakness has become their strength

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Two weeks ago, when the playoffs began, the idea of “bullpenning” once again surfaced, this time with the Yankees as a focus. Because their starting pitching was believed to be a weakness — they had no obvious ace like a Dallas Keuchel or Corey Kluber — and their bullpen was a major strength, the idea of chaining relievers together starting from the first inning gained traction. The likes of Luis Severino, who struggled mightily in the AL Wild Card game, or Masahiro Tanaka (4.79 regular season ERA) couldn’t be relied upon in the postseason, the thought went.

That idea is no longer necessary for the Yankees because the starting rotation has become the club’s greatest strength. Tanaka fired seven shutout innings to help push the Yankees ahead of the Astros in the ALCS, three games to two. They are now one win away from reaching the World Series for the first time since 2009.

It hasn’t just been Tanaka. Since Game 3 of the ALDS, Yankees pitchers have made eight starts spanning 46 1/3 innings. They have allowed 10 runs (nine earned) on 25 hits and 12 walks with 45 strikeouts. That’s a 1.75 ERA with an 8.74 K/9 and 2.33 BB/9. In five of those eight starts, the starter went at least six innings, which has helped preserve the freshness and longevity of the bullpen.

Here’s the full list of performances for Yankee starters this postseason:

Game Starter IP H R ER BB SO HR
AL WC Luis Severino 1/3 4 3 3 1 0 2
ALDS 1 Sonny Gray 3 1/3 3 3 3 4 2 1
ALDS 2 CC Sabathia 5 1/3 3 4 2 3 5 0
ALDS 3 Masahiro Tanaka 7 3 0 0 1 7 0
ALDS 4 Luis Severino 7 4 3 3 1 9 2
ALDS 5 CC Sabathia 4 1/3 5 2 2 0 9 0
ALCS 1 Masahiro Tanaka 6 4 2 2 1 3 0
ALCS 2 Luis Severino 4 2 1 1 2 0 1
ALCS 3 CC Sabathia 6 3 0 0 4 5 0
ALCS 4 Sonny Gray 5 1 2 1 2 4 0
ALCS 5 Masahiro Tanaka 7 3 0 0 1 8 0
TOTAL 55 1/3 35 20 17 20 52 6

In particular, if you hone in on the ALCS starts specifically, Yankee starters have pitched 28 innings, allowing five runs (four earned) on 13 hits and 10 walks with 20 strikeouts. That’s a 1.61 ERA.

While the Yankees’ biggest weakness has become a strength, the Astros’ biggest weakness — the bullpen — has become an even bigger weakness. This is why the Yankees, who won 10 fewer games than the Astros during the regular season, are one win away from reaching the World Series and the Astros are not.