As I wrote this morning, the smart money is on the Tigers. They’re up 2-0, they’re at home and they have Justin Verlander on the hill. Not a bad way to live life.
But no matter who is favored, I’m rather surprised at how many people seem to be totally writing the Yankees off as dead. Sure, if they don’t turn things around quickly they are roadkill, but there is nothing about their current plight that is 100% unprecedented or 100% fatal. From the AP:
The 1974 Oakland Athletics won the World Series despite hitting .198 in the postseason. The 1962 Yankees did as well, even though Mickey Mantle and Roger Maris were a combined 7 for 48. Perhaps the most encouraging historical memory for the Yankees comes from another of their championship seasons. In 1996, New York was shut down by Atlanta in the first two games of the World Series. At that point, the Braves had won five straight games by a combined score of 48-2. Then the Yankees took the next four and won the title.
I remember 1996 quite well, of course.
The point isn’t that things are good for the Yankees. They’re awful! The point is that fundamental nature of baseball simply does not prohibit anyone who is hitting poorly to suddenly start hitting well. It certainly does not prohibit anyone who is down 2-0 to come back. Momentum in such matters is a myth.
I think the Tigers will win this because so much is in their favor at the moment and thus so are the odds. But if the Yankees break out the bats tonight and win a game against Justin Verlander — and Verlander did lose eight times this year — they find themselves down 2-1 and with their ace, CC Sabathia on the mound tomorrow.
In light of that, why does it seem so hard for people to acknowledge at least the possibility for a comeback?
Earlier, Craig wrote about the negative reaction within the Phillies’ clubhouse after outfielder Odubel Herrera A) flipped his bat on a fly out, and B) failing to run out a dropped third strike. Manager Pete Mackanin was one of Herrera’s critics, unsurprisingly, but so was catcher Cameron Rupp.
Via the Philadelphia Inquirer’s Matt Gelb, Rupp said that the Phillies’ frustration with Herrera is “not a secret.” He said, “Pete is the manager and what he asks us to do, we’re supposed to do. It’s a team thing and one guy can’t just not follow the rules. It’s not the first time. It has happened before and that’s something we don’t want to see. We want him in the game. He’s a good player. It’s hard for us. He’s a grown man. He has to learn on his own. We can only say so much.”
Though Rupp didn’t directly say his criticism of Herrera pertained to bat flips, we can logically deduce it as such. Herrera doesn’t commonly fail to run out dropped third strikes, but he does commonly flip his bat, particularly on non-homers.
Rupp had a good game against the Astros on Wednesday night, blasting a pair of two-run home runs. The problem? Rupp flipped his bat. In a 9-0 game.
The MLB.com video doesn’t really give a chance to see the full extent of Rupp’s flip, so here’s a .gif from Chris Jones:
And just in case anyone feels I’m interpreting the situation through a biased lens, Phillies beat writer Ryan Lawrence of The Philly Voice also saw it the same way.
We should probably expect Mackanin to bench Rupp for the next two games like he did Herrera, right? What’s that, you say? Certain players were more likely to be criticized for expressing emotion and perceived lack of hustle? Really makes you think.
Joel Sherman of the New York Post reports that the Nationals will call up top pitching prospect Erick Fedde to start in place of Stephen Strasburg on Saturday. Strasburg left Sunday’s start against the Diamondbacks due to “some nerve impingement.”
Fedde, 24, was the Nationals’ first-round selection (18th overall) in the 2014 draft. The right-hander is the No. 3 prospect in the Nationals’ system, according to MLB Pipeline. Between Double-A Harrisburg and Triple-A Syracuse, Fedde has a 3.72 ERA with a 69/21 K/BB ratio in 77 1/3 innings.
The Nationals still seem hopeful that Strasburg won’t need a stint on the disabled list. Saturday, of course, will mark five games since his last start which happens to be half of the minimum disabled list stint. The Nationals could always DL him retroactive to Monday. (Update: The Nationals will indeed place Strasburg on the DL, per MLB.com’s Jamal Collier.)