Here’s the Yankees’ lineup for Game 6 of the ALCS tonight against Colby Lewis:
1. Derek Jeter, SS
2. Curtis Granderson, CF
3. Robinson Cano, 2B
4. Alex Rodriguez, 3B
5. Lance Berkman, 1B
6. Nick Swisher, RF
7. Jorge Posada, C
8. Marcus Thames, DH
9. Brett Gardner, LF
Berkman moves up in the lineup, but the bigger surprise is Thames drawing a rare start against a right-handed pitcher. How rare? Well, he’s started a grand total of one game versus a righty since September 1 and that came on the final day of the season when the Yankees had nothing to play for.
Thames hit well versus righties overall this season, but the sample size was all of 95 plate appearances and for his career he’s batted just .236 with a .296 on-base percentage off righties, albeit with a ton of power and a solid .480 slugging percentage. Of course, with Mark Teixeira out the Yankees don’t have a whole lot of other options.
We’ve poked fun often at the spring training trope of players showing up to camp in the “best shape of [their] life.” Reds first baseman Joey Votto has turned that entirely on its head. Talking about his offseason, the 2010 NL MVP said, “I tried to get fatter. I succeeded at that apparently. We did all the testing and I am fatter,” Zach Buchanan of the Cincinnati Enquirer reports. Votto, of course, wasn’t trying to say he’s not in shape; he was just using some of his trademark self-deprecating humor.
Votto did get serious when discussing the state of the rebuilding Reds. As Buchanan also reported, Votto said, “I think we’re starting to get to the point where people are starting to get tired of this stretch of ball. I think something needs to start changing and start going in a different direction. I’m going to do my part to help make that change.”
Votto, 34, is under contract with the Reds through at least 2023, so he still has plenty of incentive to help see the rebuild through. He has been nothing short of stellar over the last three seasons. This past season, he hit .320/.454/.578 with 36 home runs, 100 RBI, and 106 runs scored in 707 appearances across all 162 games. Votto led the majors in walks (134) and on-base percentage and led the National League in OPS (1.032).
Despite Votto’s presence, both FanGraphs and PECOTA are projecting the Reds to put up a 74-88 record. The club had a pretty quiet offseason, expecting to enter 2018 with largely the same roster as last year.