Don't call it a comeback

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Nick Swisher had a great night last night:  two homers, including the walkoff job.  He’s had a great season, too: he’s hitting .254/.378/.506 with 26 homers, many of those in key situations.  The New York fans love him too, and no matter how good a year Jeter, Teixeira, and Rivera are having, one gets the sense that, if this Yankees team wins it all (and with the hype they’re starting to get, it will be a disappointment if they don’t), Swisher is going to get an outsized amount of credit for it.

Given how poor his 2008 was, he’ll also likely get a ton of consideration for the Comeback Player of the Year award.  The Star-Ledger’s Marc Carig, however, wants you to know that Swisher’s 2009 has less to do with him doing anything to “come back” than it does with him simply avoiding the awful luck he had in 2008:

What’s changed? Well, scenery, for one. Swisher is having a lot more fun contributing to a winning team in New York than he did languishing for a winning team in Chicago. That’s to be expected.

But the real answer lies in Swisher’s luck.

It’s not so much that Swisher has gotten incredibly lucky this season. It’s more that his luck hasn’t been horrendous.

According to Fangraphs, Swisher’s line drive rate this season is 16.5, which is actually a dropoff from his miserable 2008 campaign. But unlike last year, there is virtually no difference between his expected BABIP (.285) and his actual BABIP (.286).

In other words, even though he’s not hitting the ball as hard as he did in ’08, Swisher is getting exactly what he deserves for the contact that he is making.

A lot of folks have been surprised by Swisher’s season, but given how freakish his 2008 BABIP was, the stat savvy aren’t. And you can probably include Brian Cashman in that group, so kudos to the GM for making a wise move in acquiring him.

And heck, you can still give him the Comeback Player of the Year award if you want to.  He’s from West Virginia and went to Ohio State, and guys like that are pretty awesome no matter how good or bad their luck happens to be.

The Cubs will try to clinch the NL Central on Tuesday

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The Cubs soundly defeated the Cardinals on Monday night, 10-2, sending their magic number down to one. They will try to clinch the NL Central on Tuesday with another win against the Cardinals. Alternatively, if they lose, they can still clinch if the Brewers also lose on Tuesday.

The Cubs, of course, won the Central last year en route to winning their first World Series since 1908. It wasn’t nearly as easy this year as the club was below .500 entering June and was exactly at .500 entering July. A 16-8 July, 17-12 August, and 15-8 September have helped put the Cubs back in position to return to the postseason.

Not to be forgotten, the Cardinals were eliminated from NL Central contention with Monday’s loss. Now they have their sights set on the second NL Wild Card slot and currently trail the Rockies in that race.

The matchups for Tuesday’s action:

Carter Capps to undergo surgery for thoracic outlet syndrome

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Dennis Lin of the San Diego Union Tribune reports that Padres pitcher Carter Capps will undergo surgery this offseason to address thoracic outlet syndrome, which doctors believe caused the right-hander’s blood clots. The Padres hope to have him ready by spring training next year.

Capps, 27, underwent Tommy John surgery last year and didn’t debut this season until August 7. He made 11 relief appearances, yielding nine runs on 12 hits and two walks with seven strikeouts in 12 1/3 innings. He went back on the DL on September 12 due to the blood clot issue.

The Padres acquired Capps from the Marlins last July in the Andrew Cashner trade which ended up having a lot of moving parts. Capps will enter his third and final year of arbitration eligibility this offseason. It’s quite possible the Padres choose to non-tender him.