Joe Maddon wishes Miguel Cabrera “wouldn’t cry so much”

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I don’t know that I get this weekend’s unpleasantness between the Tigers and Rays. If there is a backstory I don’t know about, fine, but all I saw was Fernando Rodney buzzing Miguel Cabrera. Which, sure, you don’t guys throwing up and in like that, but it’s not like he hit him or, based on the game situation and their histories, had any reason to hit him.

But Cabrera jawed at Rodney, Jim Leyland jawed after the game and then yesterday Rick Porcello hit Ben Zobrist. This left Joe Maddon in a reflective mood after yesterday’s game:

“I don’t debate, this guy is outstanding,” Maddon said of Cabrera. “He’s wonderful. I just wish he wouldn’t cry so much.”

And it kinda is about the crying, you’d have to think. If Cabrera just walks back to the dugout on Saturday rather than yell at Rodney, I bet Leyland doesn’t say anything after that game and Porcello doesn’t feel obligated to plunk Zobrist. But when your big star does that you get questions asked about you. And when you’re on the bubble like Porcello, you err on the side of abiding by all of baseball’s macho “we protect our own” code because when push comes to shove let no man say you’re not a team player.

In this case, no harm done. But it’s not hard to imagine Zobrist breaking his wrist on a hit-by-pitch. Or someone getting hurt in a brawl after any of it. And it’s just the stupidest thing in baseball.

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.