Clint Barmes talks about the deer meat injury

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If Clint Barmes never got another major league at bat, he’d still always be remembered for the injury he sustained in the summer of 2005 while carrying deer meat up the stairs of his apartment building.  He talked about that in the Houston Chronicle yesterday. This part struck me:

Barmes was a .318 hitter in 86 major league games before the mishap. He has batted .244 in 579 games since.

“It’s one of those things where everybody is like, ‘What would have happened if I didn’t get hurt?’ ” Barmes said. “I’ve thought about that. I’m not going to lie.”

Before 2005 he had two cups of coffee in which he didn’t hit terribly well. Before that, in six minor league seasons, he didn’t hit significantly better than he has in his major league career.

I’m not suggesting that his collar bone injury had no effect on him — I broke my collar bone 17 years ago and I still feel some random effects from it — but is it not possible that his 86-game hot start in 2005 was a tad fluky?  Only once in his career before that stretch had he hit above .300, and that was on his second go-around at AAA at age 25 in extremely hitter-friendly Colorado Springs.

The collar bone injury makes for a good story — and Barmes even credits the injury for him getting serious with the woman he went on to marry — but I don’t think it’s at all clear that, but for the injury, Barmes would be winning batting titles and making eight figure salaries.

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.