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Mets fire their pitching coach, trainer

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The New York Mets announced today that their longtime pitching coach Dan Warthen and their long time head trainer, Ray Ramirez, won’t be back in 2018. Warthen, who has been the Mets pitching coach since 2008. Ramirez had held his position since 2005. Warthen has been offered another job in the organization.

Ramirez has drawn ire from Mets fans and, at times, the press in the wake of numerous critical Mets injuries over the years. It’s worth noting, however, that the fan and media anger at injuries has often been spurred by the manner in which they were communicated to the public — or sometimes not communicated — or how the team has decided to employ — or not employ — the disabled list. Which is to say that, while many have questioned Ramirez over the years, it’s not at all clear that the Mets injury issues are markedly different than those of any other team, let alone that they are the fault of Ramirez. Still, expect some Mets fans to be happy about this move.

As far as other coaching moves, the Mets announced that they will keep hitting coach Kevin Long, assistant hitting coach Pat Roessler and third base coach Glenn Sherlock, who is already under contract for next year. Bench coach Dick Scott, first base coach Tom Goodwin and bullpen coach Ricky Bones will be granted permission to speak to other teams, pending the choice of a new manager.

The Astros gave the Yankees an opening. Keuchel and Verlander will try to close the door.

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If Game 4 of the ALCS had been even remotely conventional, it’d stand at 3-1 in favor of Houston right now. The Yankees’ starter pitched well but got no run support. A mighty Astros team with an ordinarily good closer in Ken Giles had a 4-0 lead in the late innings. As the Yankees set out to mount a comeback, a base runner fell down in between first and second and should’ve been dead to rights. This is playoff baseball, however, so stuff, as they say, happens. The runner was safe, the closer struggled, the Yankees rallied and now we’re tied 2-2.

But are we even at 2-2?

On paper, no, because the Astros now will send Dallas Keuchel and Justin Verlander out in Games 5 and 6, and that gives them a clear advantage. Keuchel dominated the Yankees in Game 1, tossing seven scoreless innings and striking out ten batters. Verlander struck out 13 batters in a 124-pitch complete game in which he allowed only a single run. Beyond the mere facts of the box scores, however, the Yankees have looked profoundly overmatched by both of the Astros’ aces, in this postseason and on other occasions on which they’ve faced off against them. Most notably in the 2015 wild-card game at Yankee Stadium when Keuchel pitched six scoreless innings in the 3-0 victory.

But remember: stuff happens.

Stuff like Aaron Judge‘s and Gary Sanchez‘s bats waking up. The two most important sluggers in the Bombers lineup combined to go 3-for-6 with two doubles, a homer, a walk and five RBI in last night’s victory. Each of them had been silent for the first three games of the series but if they’re heating up, the Yankees will be a lot harder to pitch to.

Stuff like Masahiro Tanaka showing that he can tame the Astros’ lineup. Which he did pretty well in Game 1, giving up only two runs on four hits in six innings. He was overshadowed by Keuchel in that game, but it was a good performance against a strong lineup in a hostile environment. Tanaka pitches much better at Yankee Stadium than he does on the road, so don’t for a second think that the Astros bats will have an easy time of it today.

Stuff like the Yankees bullpen still being the Yankees bullpen. Yes, the Astros got to David Robertson yesterday, but it’s still a strong, strong group that gives the Yankees a clear advantage if the game is close late or if they hold a lead.

All of which is to say that we have ourselves a series, friends. While, 48 hours ago, it seemed like we were on our way to an Astros coronation, the Yankees have shown up in a major way in Games 3 and 4. If you’re an Astros fan you should feel pretty confident with Keuchel and Verlander heading into action over the next two games, but we have learned that absolutely nothing is guaranteed in the postseason.