Free agent-to-be Jacoby Ellsbury was part of the Red Sox arsenal that helped knock the Tigers out of the playoffs. “If you can’t beat ’em, sign ’em,” the Tigers must be thinking. Nick Cafardo of the Boston Globe suggests that, given the Tigers’ lack of success with Austin Jackson atop the lineup, they could pursue Ellsbury during the off-season. Cafardo also names Shin-Soo Choo, who spent the 2013 season playing center field and leading off for the Reds.
You may be able to add free agent Jacoby Ellsbury to the list of potential leadoff hitters the Tigers could bid on. Another Scott Boras free agent, Shin-Soo Choo, is also a candidate.
“That’s the one team we haven’t heard Ellsbury’s name mentioned with,” said one American League general manager. “We’ve heard a lot about the Mets, Mariners, Rangers, but the Tigers make perfect sense. They are a big-market team with big resources. There’s a relationship with Scott and Mr. Ilitch. They’ve done business before and there’s no reason they can’t do business again.”
Ellsbury suffered a broken foot in early September when he fouled off a ball. He sat on the bench for three weeks, then came back at the end of the season just in time to join the Red Sox for the playoffs. He finished the regular season with a league-leading 52 stolen bases in 56 attempts while hitting .298. In 45 trips to the plate during the 2013 post-season, Ellsbury has a .400/.467/.525 line along with six stolen bases in seven attempts. He is a high-ceiling kind of player, valued at five or more Wins Above Replacement in the last three years, according to Baseball Reference.
Despite the perception, the Tigers actually had the fourth-highest OPS (.751) out of the lead-off spot in the batting order during the regular season among American League teams. Jackson led off in 127 of 162 games.
The Yankees defeated the Astros 4-1 during Game 5 of the American League Championship Series on Friday night, staving off a potential postseason elimination and forcing the series to at least six games.
In just the third playoff appearance of his career, Yankees southpaw James Paxton turned in another impressive performance, limiting the Astros to four hits and four walks over six innings of one-run ball. According to MLB Stats, his nine strikeouts made him the second Yankees lefty to record multiple starts of 8+ strikeouts in the same postseason campaign, two decades after David Wells did so for the 1998 championship-winning club.
Paxton’s strong outing was backed by a handful of runs from DJ LeMahieu and Aaron Hicks, both of whom went deep against Astros ace Justin Verlander in the bottom of the first inning. LeMahieu’s leadoff solo shot marked his first postseason home run since Game 1 of the ALDS, while Hicks’ three-run 347-footer was his first home run of any variety since July 24 (and his first in the playoffs since the 2017 ALDS).
Neither team managed a single run after the first inning, leaving the two pitching staffs to duke it out for eight quick innings. Verlander outlasted Paxton — taking the game through the seventh with five hits, four runs, and nine strikeouts — but even with a flawless contribution from Brad Peacock in the eighth, there was little the hurlers could do to help the Astros solve Paxton and an airtight Yankees bullpen.
With the win, the Yankees will try to push the series to a full seven games in order to snatch the AL pennant from the Astros. They’ll have to do in Houston, however, as the Astros will regain home field advantage when Game 6 kicks off on Saturday at 8:08 PM EDT. Neither starter has been announced yet; per Houston skipper A.J. Hinch, it will likely be a bullpen day.