A-Rod’s lawyer was totally owned on the “Today Show” this morning.

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A-Rod’s combative new lawyer, Joe Tacopina, was on the “Today Show” this morning. He repeated some of his recent talking points about how he and A-Rod would love to talk about all of the stuff that has gone into the Biogenesis case and his defense but that he is prohibited from doing so by the confidentiality provisions of the Joint Drug Agreement. Then Matt Lauer said this about a letter he just received from MLB:

“They sent us a letter saying that if you’re willing to sign this letter, that they are willing to waive the confidentiality clause in the Joint Drug and Prevention Program, that they’ll be allowed to talk about everything and you’ll be allowed to talk about everything.  They said that would include all prior violations of the program committed by Rodriguez, all documents, records, communications, text messages and instant messages related to Rodriguez’s treatment by Anthony Bosch.”

Tacopina offered to read the letter. Then stumbled this out:

“Listen. We would love nothing more than to be able to discuss the testing history, the scientific evidence and the tests of Alex Rodriguez under this JDA drug program, nothing more.”

That, my friend, is a pretty good ambush.

Of course, one has to ask whether anyone really needed to add ambush tactics into what has been going on here.  It’s already a giant circus thanks to Rodriguez’s attorneys’ tactics and the whole drama with the Yankees about A-Rod’s injuries unfold over the weekend and this kind of thing makes it into even more of one.  Major League Baseball has the upper hand given its suspension of A-Rod, its reportedly strong case against him and public sentiment being overwhelmingly on its side.  Why it feels it should get into the mud with a guy like Tacopina — who lives in the mud 24/7/365 —  is beyond me. I’d take the high road if I was MLB.

Of course I’m not MLB so this sort of thing is as entertaining as all get-out.

Beyond that, Tacopina went on the offensive, saying the Yankees haven’t been truthful about A-Rod’s injuries, both this summer and last fall during the playoffs. He also attacked Anthony Bosch. As I’d say with MLB, I’d ask why Tacopina thinks it’s best to wage his battle in public rather than in private. Winning in the court of public opinion — if this is what he’s trying to do — is pretty meaningless when there is a real court or arbitration that actually matters coming up. But again, we’re dealing with a guy who lives for this stuff for whatever reason.

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.