Bullpen looks like Phillies' only weakness

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Prior to Brad Lidge’s arrival Brett Myers served as the Phillies’ closer for most of 2007, converting 21-of-24 saves with a 2.87 ERA and 64/18 K/BB ratio in 53.1 innings as a reliever.
Myers has spent most of this season on the disabled list following hip surgery, but with four scoreless appearances in five tries since returning two weeks ago he’s seemingly an alternative to Ryan Madson as the replacement closer now that Lidge has pitched himself out of ninth-inning duties.
However, manager Charlie Manuel said yesterday that Myers is not an option yet:

Watching him the three or four times we’ve run him out there, he’s not quite ready. He still has some problems at times. It’s kind of like he’s back in spring training. He’s not 100 percent. He has soreness, which is kind of normal because he missed so much time. Right now, he’s not ready to be turned loose.

For the most part the Phillies look incredibly strong heading into the postseason. Offensively they lead the NL in homers, doubles, slugging percentage, and runs scored. Cliff Lee and Pedro Martinez are a combined 12-2 with a 2.74 ERA since joining the team, Cole Hamels has gone 3-1 with a 1.43 ERA in his last five starts, and the presence of Joe Blanton and J.A. Happ makes for perhaps the deepest rotation in baseball.
Yet all the good hitting and all the strong starting pitching can go for naught in the postseason if relievers can’t hold leads and Lidge’s collapse combined with Chan Ho Park’s hamstring injury and Myers’ uncertain status has turned the Phillies’ bullpen into a major question mark. Luckily they have a 7.5-game lead in the NL East and three more weeks to sort things out before embarking on their title defense.

Yankees decide to keep Luis Severino on regular rest, give Twins potential Wild Card preview

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Yankees starter Luis Severino pitched last Friday, putting him on track to start Wednesday’s series finale against the Twins. The Yankees mulled the possibility of pushing him back to start on Friday against the Blue Jays after an off day on Thursday so that the Twins wouldn’t get an early look at Severino in a potential AL Wild Card matchup.

However, MLB.com’s Bryan Hoch reports that Severino will indeed start on Wednesday against the Twins instead of Masahiro Tanaka. Hoch adds that Severino’s preference is to pitch on regular rest.

Severino, 23, has been the Yankees’ best starter this year and would be the most reliable arm in a must-win game. The right-hander is carrying a 13-6 record with a 2.93 ERA and a 218/49 K/BB ratio in 184 1/3 innings.

Entering Tuesday’s action, the Yankees hold a five-game lead over the Twins for the first Wild Card slot. The Angels hold a 1.5-game lead over the Angels for the second slot. The Yankees are also very much in the AL East race, trailing the Red Sox by only three games with 12 games left in the regular season.

You should probably pay attention to Matt Olson

Associated Press
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The claim of “East Coast Bias” is often hurled as an accusation of smug superiority, and it’s often met with denial, but it’s a thing. It’s not the exact thing the west coast people think it is — it’s not hate, it’s just a function of time zones and TV ratings — but there are certainly factors that cause stuff that happens in California to get shorter shrift than that which happens back east, where most of the national media people are.

One thing getting short shrift this year: the performance of Oakland A’s first baseman Matt Olson, which one has to imagine would be getting all kinds of press if he played back east.

Wait, we don’t have to imagine that at all. Because Olson is doing basically the exact same thing Yankees catcher Gary Sanchez did last year, and Sanchez got tons of headlines for it while I’m guessing most baseball fans who either (a) live outside of the Bay Area; or (b) aren’t big fantasy players, attuned to all of the latest callups, haven’t heard Olson’s name much if at all . Their respective lines:

  • Sanchez 2016: 53 games, .299/.376/.657, 20 HR, 168 OPS+
  • Olson 2017: 54 games, .267/.360/.663, 22 HR 168 OPS+

Sanchez’s rate stats were better but Olson is doing it in tougher parks for hitters. Obviously Sanchez is catching and Olson playing the corner, but a dude coming out of the minors to put up these kinds of numbers in the final two months of the season is rare. That it’s happening again, in almost the same way, is quite the thing.

Part of the reason for the discrepancy in press is that Sanchez was making a strong argument for the Rookie of the Year Award despite playing less than half the season whereas Olson has no shot given what Aaron Judge has done this year. But I’m guessing more of it is simply a function of Olson’s games starting at 10:30 or so back east and most of us not seeing what he does unless we look at the box scores the next day.

Still, Olson, the A’s first round pick from 2012, is not someone to sleep on. And, given that he hit 23 homers in 79 minor league games this year — the last guy to hit 20 in both the bigs and minors in the same year was Giancarlo Stanton — he’s not a fluke. Indeed, he’s one of the few rays of sunshine for the Oakland Athletics. And someone to whom us folks back east should pay a bit more attention.