Brewers preparing prospect Mat Gamel to play somewhere other than third base

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Once viewed as the Brewers’ third baseman of the future, Mat Gamel’s injuries and struggles defensively have kept him in the minors far longer than expected when he ranked 34th on Baseball America‘s list of the top prospects in baseball prior to last season.
Gamel got a brief look at third base last season before giving way to Casey McGehee and has spent all of this year in the minors despite continuing to hit well, which is why it’s no surprise that the Brewers announced he’ll start to see playing time as a first baseman and right fielder at Triple-A.
Here’s how assistant general manager Gord Ash explained the decision:

You don’t want to limit your options. I went there three weeks ago or so and we talked about the fact that in order for him to come to the big leagues and get at-bats, he’s going to have a play a few different places. So we’ve gone from the practice to games.

Gamel will still see plenty of time at third base for now, but clearly the Brewers don’t trust his glove enough to view him as a long-term option there and so instead the idea was to prepare him to potentially replace either Prince Fielder and Corey Hart. Now that Hart has signed a three-year extension, Gamel is insurance for Fielder either leaving as a free agent after next season or being traded before then.
Of course, now Gamel’s bat is also somewhat in question since he’s hit a good but not great .283/.367/.467 with 20 homers, 30 doubles, and a 145/65 K/BB ratio in 135 total games at Triple-A. He no longer looks like an elite bat, which is even more of an issue at an offense-driven position like first base or right field.

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.