In today’s column for the Boston Globe, Nick Cafardo reports that free agent first baseman/DH Lyle Overbay hasn’t drawn much interest thus far in the off-season. Overbay turns 37 years old next month and has posted a below-average adjusted OPS in each of the past three seasons (88, 95, 87; 100 is average) but he proved to be quite useful to the Yankees when Mark Teixeira succumbed to a wrist injury.
If used as a platoon partner at first base or at DH, Overbay makes sense for a team looking to boost production on a budget. He posted a .748 OPS against right-handed pitching last season compared to .516 against lefties and has an .815/.684 split over his 13-year career. Cafardo suggests the Orioles or Indians could be fits but doesn’t expect Overbay to find a home until January.
Unfortunately for Overbay, this off-season has featured a glut of options at first base, so his value is less than it normally would be in a typical off-season. Five free agent first baseman signed multi-year deals, another six received a one-year deal, Kevin Youkilis went to Japan, and still there are in excess of ten free agent first basemen remaining including Overbay.
The Yankees and Astros are set for Game 7 of the American League Championship Series on Saturday, and neither team will hold back as they seek a World Series berth. The Astros are prepared to back starter Charlie Morton with any able-bodied pitcher in their ranks — including Justin Verlander, though A.J. Hinch said it would be a “dream scenario” to get anything more from his ace — while the Yankees are prepared to utilize all but a few of their arms. One pitcher you won’t see? Right-hander Masahiro Tanaka, who last took the hill for the Yankees during their Game 5 shutout on Wednesday.
Tanaka expended 103 pitches over seven scoreless innings in his last start, fending off the Astros with three hits, a walk and eight strikeouts. He hasn’t pitched on fewer than three days of rest all year, and even with a do-or-die scenario facing the Yankees on Saturday night, manager Joe Girardi doesn’t want to compromise his starter’s ability to stay rested and ready for the World Series.
Girardi will also play it safe with fellow right-hander Sonny Gray, who dominated in a five-inning performance in Game 4. All other pitchers should be available and ready to go, though the club is hoping for a lengthy outing from veteran starter CC Sabathia. Sabathia is no stranger to the postseason: over eight separate playoff runs, he touts one championship title and a collective 4.24 ERA in 123 innings. He held the Astros scoreless in his Game 3 start, blanking them over six innings on three hits, four walks and five strikeouts for an eventual 8-1 win.
Even without Tanaka or Gray likely to take the mound for Game 7, the Yankees will enter the series finale with history on their side. Per MLB.com, they have a 4-3 road record in Game 7s and are 6-7 in all 13 Game 7 finales to date. The Astros, on the other hand, dropped their first and only Game 7 clincher back in 2004, when the Cardinals capped the NLCS with a 5-2 win in St. Louis. The teams are scheduled to face off for the first-ever Game 7 at Minute Maid Park on Saturday at 8:00 PM ET.