Giving Thanks

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MLB.com lists some of the many things we baseball fans have to be thankful for this fine morning:

Thanks to Nationals right-hander Craig Stammen, Orioles right fielder
Nick Markakis, Marlins club representatives and anyone else who was
spotted this past week delivering turkeys and meals to families in
need. There is only one word.

Thanks to Tigers outfielder Magglio Ordonez for allowing your famously
flowing locks to be cut and auctioned for charity. The proceeds
provided about $6,000 to Imerman Angels, a Chicago-based nonprofit
group that connects those battling cancer with those who have survived
it to provide inspiration.

Thanks to 2009 Roberto Clemente Award winner Derek Jeter of the Yankees and your Turn 2 Foundation for pointing so many kids in the right direction. While we’re at it, thanks for taking us along for that joy ride resulting in hit No. 2,722 to pass Lou Gehrig for No. 1 on the Yankees’ all-time list.

Thanks to everyone involved with the youth initiative that was the focus of Game 4 of the World Series. Reviving Baseball in Inner Cities presented by KPMG, along with the Boys & Girls Clubs of America, continued to overcome inherent challenges in making baseball available for all kids.

There were many club-level Komen events as well, like the one on Sept. 5 at Oakland, where the A’s raised $75,690 on Breast Cancer Awareness Day. Proceeds benefited the American Cancer Society, Northern California Cancer Center and Komen. Those events are so common and worth highlighting as an example here.

Thanks for everyone who helped with the Prostate Cancer Foundation efforts on the annual Father’s Day events at the ballparks. And thanks to the late Michael Goldsmith, whose plea as a fan with Lou Gehrig’s disease inspired the initiative that led to 4♦ALS Awareness.

There are many other things listed, both charitable and merely baseball-related.  It’s worth a gander to see just how much those in and around baseball do for the community and to simply make our little lives a bit more enjoyable between April and November.

The CTB family would like to give thanks too.  When we launched this blog back in April we would have been happy if our mothers and girlfriends* read it.  It’s been nice to see the community grow these past few months and stay with us as the baseball season has turned into the hot stove season.

And it is a community: more than just we knuckleheads opining on stuff, CTB has become a place for baseball conversation, and you can’t have a conversation unless someone is talking back to you.  Sure, sometimes you yell back at us, but that’s OK. Keeps us on our toes.  The point is, we thank you for coming by each day, and we look forward to continuing to bring you all the baseball news (and rumors and gossip and vendettas and occasionally innuendo) that’s fit to print.

Thanks,

The CTB Team

*These girls are hypothetical; we’re bloggers after all.

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.