Marlon Byrd is paying dividends already

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Marlon Byrd headshot.jpgIf Milton Bradley-Marlon Byrd comparisons weren’t lame enough, stuff like this makes them lamer:

After Marlon Byrd saw Carlos Marmol throw a batting practice
session recently, he pulled the young Cubs closer aside. Byrd could
tell what Marmol was throwing. “I fixed it,” Marmol said Tuesday. “It’s not a good thing. I know what I have to do . . . He talked to me. He’s my teammate. I don’t want somebody else to see my pitches.”

Can anyone picture Milton Bradley doin’ that?

Something else from the article that caught my eye was Byrd saying that he learned to spot pitch-tipping from Ricky Ledee.

I don’t know if anyone else is like this, but there are certain guys who I never think of as aging, and Ricky Ledee is one of them. There’s no real reason for this, but in my mind, he’s still a Yankees prospect from the mid-90s, so it’s physically impossible for him to have mentored the (in my imagination) much older Marlon Byrd.

Others in that camp: Jim Palmer, Livan Hernandez (don’t ask me why), Jeter, Scott Rolen and a handful of others. It has nothing to do with physical appearance, personality, style of play or anything like that. They’re just guys who, when someone mentions their name, I think of as 23 years old for some reason. 

Maybe I should see a doctor about that.    

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.