The first thing everyone wanted to do after the Rangers’ domination of the Yankees last night was to speculate how much New York would now pay for Cliff Lee this winter. Fun topic, but let’s save it for the hot stove season, OK?
The second thing everyone wanted to do after the Rangers’ domination of the Yankees last night was to fret about A.J. Burnett starting a pivotal playoff game. Also a fun topic, but with Joe Girardi making it clear that he’s sticking with Burnett, it’s not really a debatable point anymore.
The third thing on people’s minds is the most interesting and most important: where is the Yankees offense? Yes, Cliff Lee was incredible last night, but the Yankees lineup didn’t do much against Colby Lewis of C.J. Wilson either. But for a single breakout inning in Game 1 that was probably more the fault of Ron Washington’s bullpen mismanagement than anything else, the hitters have been silent. The tale of the tape:
- Alex Rodriguez: 2 for 13;
Of the Yankees’ primary offensive weapons, only Robinson Cano, who is 5 for 13 with a couple of homers, has been contributing in a material way.
So covet Cliff Lee all you want, Yankees fans. And freak out about A.J. Burnett all morning and afternoon. But know this: if the Yankees end up losing this series, it will not be because of those two guys. It will be because the vaunted Yankees offense is not getting the job done.
The Marlins are intent on adding one of the three best relievers available on the free agent market, Jon Heyman of FanRag Sports reports. Those three, of course, are Aroldis Chapman, Kenley Jansen, and Mark Melancon.
As Ashley noted earlier, Melancon is reportedly fielding multiple four-year offers in excess of $60 million. The price tags for Chapman and Jansen are likely to match or exceed that. The Marlins haven’t typically been eager to whip out the checkbook for free agents but with the bullpen being the name of the game in baseball these days, GM Michael Hill may feel the need to match his rivals.
The Nationals, Giants, Yankees, Cubs, and Dodgers are the teams most often linked to the “big-three” group of relievers, so it won’t be easy for the Marlins.
A.J. Ramos handled the closer’s role for the Marlins this past season and did an admirable job, saving 40 games with a 2.81 ERA and a 73/35 K/BB ratio in 64 innings. There’s no doubt, though, that Chapman, Jansen, or Melancon would represent a significant upgrade in the ninth inning.
C. Trent Rosecrans of the Cincinnati Enquirer reports that Reds manager Bryan Price is likely going to use a trio of pitchers in the closer’s role: Raisel Iglesias, Tony Cingrani, and Michael Lorenzen. At RedsFest on Saturday, Price said:
I’d say right now that we have a series of guys that I’m comfortable with in the ninth inning and that would include (Raisel) Iglesias, (Tony) Cingrani and (Michael Lorenzen). Should we stay with this format – which I intend to do – all three of those guys and maybe more could have opportunities in save situations. At this point in time, there’s no defined closer. There are multiple options and I’d like to stick with the philosophy that we’re going to have our multi-inning guys, so we’re going to need multi-closers.
This seems to be part of the new bullpen zeitgeist in which managers are shying away from strictly-defined roles for their relievers. Indians manager Terry Francona’s postseason success using Andrew Miller likely had some degree of influence on Price’s willingness to go with a three-headed giant.
Iglesias started the 2016 season in the Reds’ rotation but missed two months with an injury, then moved to the bullpen in late June. Price put him in the closer’s role down the stretch in September. The right-hander overall finished the season with a 2.53 ERA and an 83/26 K/BB ratio in 78 1/3 innings.
Cingrani battled control issues in his 63 innings of work this past season, finishing with a 4.14 ERA and a 49/37 K/BB ratio. He’s left-handed, though, and gives Price some matchup flexibility in the late innings.
Lorenzen impressed in his first full season as a reliever, ending the year with a 2.88 ERA and a 48/13 K/BB ratio in 50 innings. The right-hander uses a fastball that sits around 96 MPH on average along with a cutter and slider.