Dan Haren said yesterday was “one of the most anxious days” of his life

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If you thought the drama involving Dan Haren yesterday was crazy from an outsider’s perspective, just imagine being the guy in the middle of it all.

Alden Gonzalez of MLB.com caught up with Haren late last night after the proposed deal with the Cubs fell through and the Angels bought out his $15.5 million option for 2013, making him a free agent.

Haren actually followed the proceedings via Twitter, which he admitted was pretty nerve-wracking given the constant conflicting reports throughout the night.

“I don’t even know what to think, really,” Haren said in a phone interview with MLB.com late Friday night, moments after his roller-coaster day was finally over. “This day has been one of the most anxious days of my life, definitely of my baseball career. I’ve been glued to my phone all day. I’ve tried to stay as busy as I could, but the fact of the matter is I was trying to keep up with what was going on.”

Once reports surfaced regarding the trade, Haren and his wife warmed to the idea of spending some time in Chicago. However, it wasn’t long before Angels general manager Jerry Dipoto told him that the deal was off and that his option was being declined.

“I don’t know what went on on his end, but I knew he wasn’t going to make any quick decisions,” Haren said. “I had the feeling that it was going to go on throughout the day, and it definitely did. I knew the deadline was today. My agent was in town and we were kind of going through it together. Like I said, it was a very anxious day for me, for my wife, just not knowing where our next city would be. I thought for sure it would be somewhere else. I thought for sure I’d know today where I’d be playing next year, but that’s obviously not the case.”

Haren is interested in returning to the Angels and would do so at a discounted rate, but Dipoto said last night that the possibility isn’t all that likely. On the bright side, the 32-year-old right-hander got a $3.5 million buyout for his troubles and should fetch a multi-year deal as one of the top starting pitchers available in free agency, even coming off a down year.

Keeping Zack Greinke is expected to be the Angels’ No. 1 priority this offseason, even though Dipoto says that he isn’t “isolated” on signing him. It’s going to take big money to keep Greinke in the fold and he appears to have quite a bit of leverage with the Angels at the moment, as their projected rotation for 2013 currently includes Jered Weaver, C.J. Wilson, Jerome Williams, Garrett Richards and Barry Enright.

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.