While waiting for the decisive Game 5 to start, it’s hard not to notice that the Yankees have outscored the Tigers 26-14 through four games in the ALDS.
And I get the feeling tonight’s game will play out in the same manner that the previous games did: either the Yankees will win big or the Tigers will prevail in a tight one.
Of course, the Yankees can win a close game, too, what with David Robertson and Mariano Rivera well rested and ready to combine to work the final three innings tonight. And the Tigers offense, while not quite as explosive as the Yankees, did have 11 games of at least 10 runs scored this season (that was tied for eighth in the majors; the Yankees were third with 17).
But I think this is going to come down to Doug Fister. I suspect that Ivan Nova will give up two or three runs in six innings and that the Yankee bullpen will put up zeroes from there. So, if the Tigers get a performance from Fister that rivals the gems he delivered down the stretch (he had a 0.64 ERA in his final eight starts), they should win.
Yet my guess is that it won’t play out that way. Fister blew away my expectations for him this year, but I still don’t see him having the kind of stuff that plays well against the kind of lefty-heavy lineups that the Yankees feature. I think his giving up six runs in 4 2/3 innings back in Game 1 was less a bad performance from him and more the Yankees simply being better than he is.
So, we’ll see how it plays out. I’m picking the Yankees to win 8-3, but maybe Fister can prove me wrong yet again.
Brewers’ right-hander Phil Bickford received a 50-game suspension after testing positive for a drug of abuse, per the Los Angeles Times’ Bill Shaikin. This is the second time Bickford has been suspended for recreational drug use, as he was previously penalized in 2015 after testing positive for marijuana prior to the amateur draft.
Bickford was selected by the Giants in the first round of the 2015 draft and was later dealt to the Brewers for lefty reliever Will Smith at the 2016 trade deadline. He finished his 2016 campaign in High-A Brevard County, pitching to a 3.67 ERA, 10.0 K/9 rate and 5.0 BB/9 over 27 innings.
Two other suspensions were handed down on Friday, one to Toronto minor league right-hander Pedro Loficial for a positive test for metabolites of Stanozolol and one to Miami minor league outfielder Casey Soltis for a second positive test for drugs of abuse. Loficial will serve a 72-game suspension, while Soltis will serve 50 games. All three suspensions are due to start at the beginning of the 2017 season for each respective minor league team.
Brewers’ GM David Stearns issued a statement after the Commissioner’s Office announced Bickford’s suspension (via Vince Lara-Cinisomo of Baseball America):
We are very disappointed to learn of Phil’s suspension, but we fully support the Minor League Baseball Drug Prevention and Testing Program and its enforcement by the Commissioner’s Office. Phil understands he made a mistake, and we fully anticipate that he will learn from this experience.
Confirming a report from Tuesday, the Diamondbacks officially signed right-hander Fernando Rodney to a one-year, $2.75 million contract on Friday. The 39-year-old stands to receive up to $4 million in incentives, per Jack MacGruder of FanRag Sports, with $250,000 kicking in when the veteran reaches 40, 50 and 60 appearances and $500,000 if he reaches 70.
Rodney came three games shy of the 70-appearance mark in 2016 during back-to-back stints with the Padres and Marlins. He put up a cumulative 3.44 ERA on the year, which effectively disguised the extreme split during his performances in San Diego and Miami. The Diamondbacks aren’t anywhere close to contending in 2017, but Rodney should stabilize the back end of their bullpen while providing Arizona GM Mike Hazen with a potential trade chip during next year’s deadline.
Hazen issued a statement following the signing:
With Fernando, we’re getting an established Major League closer and a veteran presence in the bullpen. It is helpful to have someone with his experience on the back end to slow the game down and get the final three outs.