The Yankees decided it wasn’t in their best interests to play Alex Rodriguez against Jason Hammel in Friday’s Game 5. So why on earth would he start against any of the right-handers the Tigers will throw in the ALCS?
Here’s how he’s performed against Detroit’s rotation:
Doug Fister: 1-for-5, 1 BB, 1 K
Max Scherzer: 1-for-10, 1 BB, 4 K
Justin Verlander: 8-for-24, 3 HR, 4 BB, 3 K
Anibal Sanchez: 0-for-3
Rodriguez sat today even though he was 8-for-22 with four homers against Hammel. It was a more favorable matchup than any of the four that are coming up for him. The interesting thing is that Rodriguez has excelled against Verlander, particularly this year. He was 4-for-6 with two homers in two games against the Tigers ace in 2012. Still, it’s hard to see the A-Rod of the last few days getting around on Verlander’s heat.
All that said, he’s still Alex Rodriguez, the active major league leader in homers and RBI. I’d actually be in favor of playing him against Fister in Game 1. If he has some good at-bats, stick with him. If he doesn’t, pack him in mothballs. It’s not fair that the rest of A-Rod’s postseason should come down to his performance in one game, but this isn’t about being fair; it’s about winning.
Last week it was widely speculated that Shohei Otani, the highly-touted Japanese pitcher/designated hitter who stars for the Nippon Ham Fighters, would not come to the United States to play due to changes in the new Collective Bargaining Agreement. The upshot: the new CBA caps money available to international free agents under age 25 at $5-6 million and Otani, 22, would be worth way more than that, so why take the pay cut?
Now, however, Jeff Passan of Yahoo reports that the Fighters are set to post Shotei Otani following the 2017 season. Passan says that his sources have told him that there are potential ways around the limit on spending for under-25 players like Shohei Otani and he links a Japanese article from Sponichi which says the Fighters would post him after the 2017 season.
It’d be interesting to see what that loophole is. Without knowing the exact terms of the CBA on this score it’s impossible to know, but one possibility is that there are different rules applicable to those with professional experience in other countries as opposed to amateur free agents.
Whatever the case, the notion that we could see Otani in the U.S. at age 23 or 24 is pretty exciting.
Jim Salisbury of CSN Philly reports that the Phillies are close to signing free agent reliever Joaquin Benoit. An announcement is expected before the winter meetings end on Thursday.
Benoit, 39, has quietly been among the better relievers in baseball over the past seven years. This past season with the Mariners and Blue Jays, the right-hander put up an aggregate 2.81 ERA with a 52/24 K/BB ratio in 48 innings. That included a 0.38 ERA in 23 2/3 innings after the Jays acquired him from the Mariners.
Benoit suffered a torn calf muscle during a benches-clearing brawl with the Yankees near the end of the regular season. He’s expected to be healthy for spring training.
The Phillies have now added three relievers this offseason with Benoit, Pat Neshek, and David Rollins.