UPDATE: The Orioles have not offered Matt Holliday $130 million

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UPDATE: “Andy MacPhail vehemently denied a report today from Foxsports.com that said the club had made an 8-year, $130 million offer to free-agent outfielder Matt Holliday.”  Buster Olney‘s source: “The story is not accurate in any respect.”

Ahem. I wonder if someone, say, an agent known for trying to create the perception of high demand for his clients, had anything to do with getting that little nugget out there?

2:54 P.M.: Following up on yesterday’s stuff about the Cardinals’ optimism regarding Matt Holliday comes word from FOX’s Tracy Ringolsby that the Orioles, who had previously been sniffing around Holliday, could be more serious players than we first thought:

Baltimore, meanwhile, did make an eight-year, $130 million offer to
Holliday, and general manager Andy MacPhail did discuss the possibility
of arranging a meeting between himself, Orioles owner Peter Angelos and
Holliday in Austin, Tex., where Holliday is living in the offseason.

$130 million over eight years is $16.25 million a year. That’s way more playable than I think anyone had assumed Baltimore’s offer to be, and certainly looks a lot nicer a few weeks deeper into the offseason.  I would assume that, like the Cardinals’ offer, which is reportedly in the $15-16 million range, some of those years are all vesty and optiony.

But if there’s any movement on that — say, one extra guaranteed year or some easing up on the rigor of the vesting — Holliday could easily wind up in Baltimore instead of St. Louis.  And the fact that the Orioles are willing to talk to Holliday about this some more suggests that there could be movement.

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.