Joe Girardi confirmed that Johnny
Damon will start in left field for Game 3. While he didn’t make it
official, this all but guarantees that Hideki Matsui will be sitting on the bench to start Saturday’s game in Philadelphia.
While Nick Swisher and Damon have
batted a combined .176 with two home runs and six RBI during the
postseason, Matsui has been one of the club’s most reliable
contributors, batting .278/.422/.472 out of the No. 5 hole, including a
go-ahead solo home run against Pedro Martinez in Game 2. However, his
surgically-repaired knees will have him relegated to the bench.
“We’ll use him in a role to pinch hit when we feel that he can be most
valuable to us,” Girardi said. “It might be a situation where you might
think about a double switch, but you don’t want to lose his bat.”
Matsui hasn’t played a single game in the field all season, and when asked if he would be capable of doing so, his answer wasn’t very encouraging.
“I can’t tell you what my confidence level would be,” he said
through interpreter Roger Kahlon. “My knees are pretty calmed down
right now, in that sense I feel pretty good.”
“I haven’t been in the outfield in more than a year. I have to see how I feel once I get out there.”
Girardi is surely hoping that the Yanks can chase Cole Hamels early and he won’t even have to worry about using Godzilla.
Yankees starter Luis Severino and Phillies starter Aaron Nola both signed contract extensions within the last week. Severino agreed to a four-year, $40 million contract with a 2023 club option. Nola inked a four-year, $45 million deal with a 2023 club option.
While the deals both represented significant raises and longer-term financial security for the right-handed duo, some feel like the players are selling themselves short. It has become a more common practice for players to agree to these types of deals in part due to how stagnant free agency has become. Get the money while you can.
Mets starter Noah Syndergaard is in a similar situation as Severino and Nola were. He and the Mets avoided arbitration last month, agreeing on a $6 million salary for the 2019 season. He has two more years of arbitration eligibility left. A contract extension with the Mets would presumably cover both of those years plus two or three years of what would be free agent years. As Tim Britton of The Athletic reports, however, Syndergaard plans to test free agency when the time comes.
Syndergaard said, “I trust my ability and the talent that I have. So I feel like I’m going to bet (on) myself in free agency and not do what they did. But if it’s fair for both sides and they approach me on it, then maybe we can talk.” He clarified that he would be open to a conversation about an extension, but the Mets thus far haven’t approached him about it. In his words, “There’s been no traction.”
Syndergaard, 26, has been one of baseball’s better starters since debuting in 2015. He owns a career 2.93 ERA with 573 strikeouts and 116 walks in 518 1/3 innings. Among pitchers to have logged at least 400 innings since 2015 and post a lower ERA are Clayton Kershaw (2.22), Jacob deGrom (2.66) and Max Scherzer (2.71). Syndergaard made only seven starts in 2017 yet still ranks seventh among pitchers in total strikeouts since 2015.
If Sydergaard doesn’t end up signing an extension, he will be entering free agency after the 2021 season. The collective bargaining agreement expires in December 2021 and a new one will likely be agreed upon around that time. Syndergaard will hopefully have better prospects entering free agency then than players do now.