Alex Rodriguez is having the worst season of his career, finishing the first half hitting .269 with 13 homers, 38 RBIs, and a .436 slugging percentage in 82 games.
Both his batting average and slugging percentage would be career-lows and he’s on pace to finish with an OPS below .800 for the first time in 17 full seasons as a major leaguer. All of which isn’t shocking considering he’s 36 years old and showed major signs of declining last season when he missed 63 games with injuries and had what was at the time the worst season of his career by hitting .276 with 16 homers, 62 RBIs, and a .461 slugging percentage.
His yearly OPS has dropped from 1.067 to .965 to .933 to .847 to .823 to .793 since winning the MVP in 2007 and between the aging and injuries Rodriguez seems unlikely to reverse that pattern. However, manager Joe Girardi has yet to bat him anywhere but third or fourth in the Yankees’ lineup and told Austin Laymance of MLB.com that he believes Rodriguez is going to have a big second half:
He’s due. It is what it is. Sometimes guys don’t get hot in the first half. Sometimes they have torrid second halves. … No one knows what the future holds, but I would say he’s due. Maybe he hasn’t driven in all the runs that we maybe expect, but he’s been on base, he’s hit some home runs and he’s a middle of the order guy.
Rodriguez is certainly capable of getting hot and even as a shell of his former self he’s been an above-average hitter as is, but the Yankees of all teams can do better in the middle of the lineup.
Dating back to 2010, among all hitters with at least 1,000 plate appearances Rodriguez ranks 84th in batting average, 56th in on-base percentage, 42nd in slugging percentage, and 46th in OPS. At this point he’s merely a good, solid hitter with occasional power … except he’s batting third or cleanup for the team with MLB’s best record and is still owed $114 million from 2013-2017.
Jacob deGrom put together one of the best post-season starts in Mets history, outdueling three-time Cy Young Award winner Clayton Kershaw to pitch his team into a 1-0 NLDS lead. The right-hander fanned 13 over seven shutout innings, holding the Dodgers to five hits and a walk as the Mets won 3-1.
deGrom’s game score of 79 is the fifth-best by a Mets starter in the playoffs, behind Jon Matlack, Mike Hampton, Bobby Jones, and Tom Seaver, according to Baseball Reference. As Katie Sharp notes on Twitter, deGrom is one of three pitchers to hold the opposition scoreless on 13 or more strikeouts and one or fewer walks. The other two are Tim Lincecum and Mike Scott.
In the eighth inning, reliever Tyler Clippard allowed a one-out double to Howie Kendrick followed by an RBI single to Adrian Gonzalez as the Dodgers finally got on the board. Closer Jeurys Familia entered and recorded the final out of the eighth inning by inducing a weak line out from Justin Turner. In the ninth, Familia worked a 1-2-3 frame to wrap up the game.
Kershaw remains winless in the post-season since Game 1 of the 2013 NLDS, a span of seven starts. He gave up a solo home run to Daniel Murphy in the fourth inning, then walked the bases loaded in the seventh inning before departing with two outs. Reliever Pedro Baez entered and allowed two of his inherited runners to score when David Wright lined a single to center field. On the evening, Kershaw was on the hook for three runs on four hits and four walks with 11 strikeouts. Though he lost his command a bit towards the end of his start, the lefty pitched quite well and will be on the receiving end of some unnecessary criticism as a result of taking another post-season loss.
deGrom and Kershaw both struck out 11 batters, the first time that has happened in a major league post-season game.
Michael Cuddyer didn’t look too good out in left field for the Mets.
Game 2 of the NLDS will continue on Saturday at 9:00 PM EDT. Noah Syndergaard will start for the Mets opposite Zack Greinke of the Dodgers.
For the first time in major league history, both pitchers in a playoff game have struck out at least 11 batters, per MLB.com’s Paul Casella. Mets starter Jacob deGrom has pitched just a hair better than Dodgers starter Clayton Kershaw overall. deGrom has blanked the Dodgers over six frames on five hits and a walk. Kershaw made one mistake, resulting in a solo home run to Daniel Murphy in the fourth inning. He’s allowed four hits and four walks total in 6 2/3 innings.
The last time opposing starters each struck out 10 in a post-season game was back in 1944 in Game 5 of the World Series when Mort Cooper of the St. Louis Cardinals struck out 12 and Denny Galehouse of the St. Louis Browns struck out 10.
Mets outfielder Michael Cuddyer has already made a pair of mistakes in left field and he’s only four innings into the first game of the best-of-five NLDS against the Dodgers.
Leading off the second inning, Justin Turner sent a well-struck liner to Cuddyer which was quite catchable, but the ball clanked off of the veteran’s glove. Turner was credited with a double. Mets starter Jacob deGrom was able to work around the misplay, striking out Andre Ethier, A.J. Ellis, and Clayton Kershaw to close out the frame.
With two outs in the third inning, Corey Seager sent a fly ball down the left field line. Cuddyer took an inefficient route and the ball bounced about a foot inside the foul line, then into the stands, giving Seager a ground-rule double. To add insult to injury, Cuddyer ended up tumbling over the fence. deGrom, again, worked around Cuddyer’s mistake, striking out Adrian Gonzalez to end the inning.
Because he bats right-handed, Cuddyer got the start in left field over the left-handed-hitting rookie Michael Conforto against Kershaw, a southpaw. Conforto mustered only a .481 OPS against lefties this season compared to Cuddyer’s .698. Despite the batting disparity, one wonders how short a leash manager Terry Collins has on Cuddyer given his defense.