Daily Dose: Sore hammy sidelines Young

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Texas’ playoff chances took a big hit Wednesday, as Michael Young was diagnosed with a strained left hamstring that’s expected to sideline him at least two weeks. Not only does losing Young hurt because he’s hit .322/.376/.524 with 59 extra-base hits, the Rangers’ alternatives at third base are underwhelming. Chris Davis got the start Wednesday, with Hank Blalock at first base and Julio Borbon at designated hitter.
However, manager Ron Washington indicated that he’d prefer to leave Davis at first base while playing Omar Vizquel or Esteban German at third base most of the time. Davis will be in the lineup one way or another and has gone 11-for-35 (.314) with two homers, nine RBIs, and “only” 10 strikeouts in nine games since returning from the minors. Aside from a little speed, Vizquel and German are without fantasy upside.
While the Rangers try to stay in the playoff picture without their most valuable player, here are some other notes from around baseball …


* Brad Penny followed in John Smoltz’s footsteps by getting released by the Red Sox after flopping in Boston and then fleeing back to the NL. He stayed down the Smoltz path Wednesday with eight shutout innings in his Giants debut. Penny had been 0-4 with a 9.11 ERA in his last five starts, so at first glance he looks just the latest guy to thrive in the NL after struggling in the AL, but he beat the defending champs in Philly.
* Scott Kazmir was sharp in his Angels debut Wednesday, allowing two runs over 6.1 innings while striking out eight and walking just one. He retired 18 batters in a row at one point, and showed good velocity and control, but it wasn’t enough to avoid a loss because Felix Hernandez tossed eight shutout innings. King Felix tied a career-high with his 14th win and sliced his ERA to 2.65, which trails only Zack Greinke at 2.32.
* Florida’s double-play combo “openly argued” in the clubhouse Wednesday as Dan Uggla accused Hanley Ramirez of not caring about the team enough to play through injuries because of his $70 million contract. Meanwhile, not only is Ramirez hitting a league-high .355 while leading the team in RBIs, runs, steals, and OPS, he’s played 124 of 133 games despite battling various leg injuries all year. Uggla should shut up.
AL Quick Hits: Adam Jones could miss the remainder of the season with a sprained ankle suffered Tuesday, leaving Felix Pie to man center field … Mariano Rivera was unavailable Wednesday because of a strained groin … Josh Beckett struggled again Wednesday and has now served up 14 homers in his last five starts … Joe Nathan wasted Brian Duensing’s seven scoreless innings Wednesday by serving up multiple homers for the first time in six seasons … Brett Gardner (thumb) is slated to begin a rehab stint Thursday at Triple-A … Rick Porcello needed just 80 pitches to record 21 outs Wednesday, giving up two runs … CC Sabathia became the AL’s first 16-game winner Wednesday by allowing one run over seven innings … Brian Bannister exited Wednesday’s start in the second inning due to shoulder fatigue … Josh Hamilton left Wednesday’s game with lower back soreness … Ian Kennedy threw batting practice Wednesday for the first time since undergoing May surgery for an arm aneurysm.
NL Quick Hits: Stud catching prospect Buster Posey joined the Giants for the stretch run Wednesday, but likely won’t see a ton of starts … Ubaldo Jimenez turned in his 11th straight Quality Start with eight innings of two-run ball Wednesday … Ted Lilly and Carlos Marmol combined on a five-hit shutout Wednesday … Miguel Tejada was hitless Wednesday to drop his batting average below .300 for the first time since May 8 … Chris Carpenter won his 10th straight game Wednesday, improving to 15-3 with an NL-best 2.28 ERA … Carlos Beltran (knee) went 1-for-3 with a walk in a rehab game Wednesday at Single-A … Tony La Russa said Wednesday that impending free agent Troy Glaus is unlikely to see much playing time down the stretch … Corey Hart (appendicitis) is slated to start a rehab assignment Thursday at Triple-A … Neil Walker went 0-for-4 with an error Wednesday in his first MLB start … Jason Giambi knocked in the go-ahead run Wednesday for his first Rockies hit.

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.