Short Nerd Chief

Posts Tagged ‘playoffs’

Help, I’ve Fallen and I Can’t Get Out of the First Inning

Posted by Fred on October 11, 2007

heredia.pngPaul at Yanksfan vs Soxfan has a list of the Top 10 worst postseason pitching performances, compiled using Bill James’ game Score stat. I’ve never been a big fan of GS, as it rewards pitchers whose managers are prescient or observant enough to yank them early in the game. Thus, here’s another list, including any starter who managed to give up five runs or more in an inning or less:

  1. Todd Stottlemyre (St. Louis), 1996 NLCS Game 5 vs. Atlanta: 1 IP, 9 H, 7 ER, 0 BB, 1 K
  2. Tom Glavine (Atlanta), 1992 NLCS Game 6 vs. Pittsburgh: 1 IP, 6 H, 7 ER, 0 BB, 0 K, 1 HBP, 2 HR
  3. Bartolo Colon (Cleveland), 1999 ALDS Game 4 vs. Boston: 1 IP, 6 H, 7 ER, 1 BB, 1 K, 2 HR
  4. Gil Heredia (Oakland), 2000 ALDS Game 5 vs. New York: 0.1 IP, 4 H, 6 ER, 2 BB, 0 K
  5. Donovan Osborne (St. Louis), 1996 NLCS Game 7 vs. Atlanta: 0.2 IP, 5 H, 6 ER,1 BB, 0 K, 1 HBP
  6. Steve Trachsel (New York Mets), 2006 NLCS Game 3 vs. St. Louis: 1 IP, 5 H, 5 ER, 5 BB, 1 K, 1 HR
  7. Jaret Wright (Cleveland), 1998 ALCS Game 1 vs. New York: 0.2 IP, 5 H, 5 ER, 1 BB, 1 K
  8. Rick Rueschel (San Francisco), 1989 NLCS Game 2 vs. Chicago: 0.2 IP, 5 H, 5 ER, 0 BB, 1 K
  9. Bret Saberhagen (Boston), 1999 ALDS Game 5 vs. Cleveland: 1 IP, 4 H, 5 ER, 1 BB, 0 K, 2 HR
  10. Karl Spooner (Brooklyn), 1955 World Series Game 6 vs. New York: 0.1 IP, 3 H, 5 ER, 2BB, 1 K, 1 HR

Amazingly, two postseason series each contain two entries on that list, the 1999 ALDS, in which Bret Saberhagen nearly gave away the benefits of Bartolo Colon’s implosion a game earlier (two duds in a five game series); and the 1996 NLCS, in which the Cardinals managed to get only 1.2 IP out of Todd Stottlemyre and Donovan Osborne (1.2 IP, 14 H, 13 ER in two games).

Also, note that Colon’s performance on three days’ rest is a large part of the reason Eric Wedge started Paul Byrd in Game 4 this year instead of bringing CC Sabathia back on short rest. It’s also why, barring a 3-0 Sox lead heading into Game 4, you’ll see Byrd and not Sabathia in the ALCS.

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Game 1 recap: what year is it again?

Posted by Fred on October 5, 2007

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On a night that ace C.C. Sabathia was stymied by old fogy umpire Bruce Froemming’s paper-thin strike zone, it was 1995 all over again as Kenny Lofton helped the Indians spank the Yankees to take a 1-0 series lead.  Lofton, Victor Martinez and Ryan Garko went a combined 9-17, with 2 2B, 2 HR, 6 R and 9 RBI.  Kenny even had his 33rd postseason stolen base.  Asdrubal Cabrera added a HR and scored twice.  In the 44 games since Cabrera was inserted as the regular second baseman and #2 hitter, the Indians are 32-12. In the 36 games since Lofton was put in the 7 hole on a fairly regular basis, he is hitting .296 and the team is 27-9.

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Sabathia ended up walking six in five innings (including an intentional pass to A-Rod to get out of a dicey 5th with a one-run lead intact), but was able to limit the damage to three runs.  He clearly didn’t bring his A game – those six walks match his total for all of September – but Froemming’s strike zone clearly didn’t help matters any.  More importantly, he put the team in a position to win, and Jensen Lewis, Rafael Betancourt and Rafael Perez finished with four strong innings, giving up only a meaningless ninth inning single and striking out six while walking none.

On the other hand, Chien-Ming Wang looked like a shell of an 18 game winner, A-Rod went 0-2 with two walks, and Joe Torre’s bizarre decision(s) to start Doug Mientkiewicz (0-1 before being lifted in the 5th) and Hideki Matsui (0-4, 2 Ks, 5 LOB) backfired as the Yankees lost their fourth postseason game in a row.

One game does not a series make, and the Tribe remains in a tenuous position.  Andy Pettitte starts tonight for the Yankees, who has a reputation as a stopper (70-39 career in games following a Yankees loss).  The Yankees are also a veteran team unlikely to be fazed by being blown out – in games following losses of five runs or more in 2007, the Yankees went 10-5.  Fausto Carmona takes his 19-8 record to the hill for the Tribe.  It will be important for Carmona to eat some innings, as Wedge used his three best relievers for four innings last night.  Perez pitched two innings, which would suggest he may be unavailable.  Twice this year he has pitched following a 2+ IP appearance.  On August 8 he pitched 2 1/3 innings against the White Sox, and pitched an inning the next night (0 H, 0 ER, 1 K, 0 BB).  Then on August 26 he pitched 2 innings against the Royals, appearing the next night against the Twins for a three-pitch inning (the 5-4-3 triple play).  Overall, Perez has been pretty good pitching on no rest (7 appearances, 7 1/3 IP, 4 H, 0 ER, 5 K, 0 BB).

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Game 1: Tribe vs. Yanks

Posted by Fred on October 4, 2007

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In a couple of hours, it’ll be Game On (cue the Imperial Death March music). With the other three series starting yesterday, commentary on the Tribe-Yankees series has been a battle of dueling conventional wisdom. Conventional Wisdom A says that in a short series, pitching reigns supreme – no matter how well the Angels play the rest of the way, Beckett’s performance yesterday places them in a huge hole. Advantage here would appear to go to Cleveland, with two legitimate Cy Young contenders facing one semi-legitimate Cy Young contender and a bunch of old guys. Conventional Wisdom B says go with experience, of which the Yankees have a closetful and the Indians have Trot Nixon.

The early trend seemed to be for pundits to go with Cleveland’s pitching over the Yankees offense, with the majority of the ESPN prognosticators picking Chief Wahoo over Pinstripe Man. Late returns suggest it’s going the other way, as the burden of that 0-6 record against the Yankees looms larger. Looks like a 5 game series that could go either way, with the first game even more important than usual. If the Indians win tonight, the Yankees know they have to face Sabathia again and Carmona twice, and the Tribe knows the 0-6 record means nothing. If the Yankees win, do the kids from Ohio see a first-round loss as inevitable?

Tonight’s game features Sabathia and Wang:

		Starts    W-L    IP  	K      BB    WHIP    ERA
CC Sabathia     34        19-7   241    209    37    1.141   3.21
Chien-Ming Wang 30        19-7	 199    104    59    1.294   3.70

Over the last ten starts, Sabathia is 5-1 with a 2.43 ERA (74 IP, 61 K, 14 BB). Wang is 6-2 with a 4.16 ERA (62 IP, 40 K, 25 BB). Over the last five, the edge goes to Sabathia as well, 4-0, 2.37 vs. 3-1, 2.37.

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ESPN predicts Tribe in five games

Posted by Fred on October 1, 2007

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OK, so now I’m worried. Yankees and Red Sox fans remain confident that the inevitable will happen and we’ll reprise 2004. Before New Yorkers assume that that 0-6 mark will mean a sweep of the NLDS, recall that 2004 was also the last time the pinstripers faced Sabathia.   And that the sixth and final victory occurred on  August 12. Two games later, Eric Wedge inserted Asdrubal Cabrera as the everyday second baseman and the rest is history (31-12 the rest of the way).  Also, Pronk finally woke up from his five-month slumber, and posted a .965 OPS with 23 RBI in September.  I still worry about the Yankees more than any other team, but it’s not what NYY fans think it is, especially if Sabathia and Carmona keep the game away from Borowski.

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NL Mayhem

Posted by Fred on October 1, 2007

Yesterday epitomized why baseball remains the most exciting of the American sports. Seven months, 32 spring training games and 161 regular season games in the books, and the NL playoff picture was still a mess. Going into yesterday, all we knew was that the Cubs had clinched the Central and the Diamondbacks had made the playoffs. Still in contention were the Padres, Rockies, Mets and Phillies. Making it even better was that the D-backs and Rockies were playing each other. Of course, we know how the Mets and the Phillies turned out…

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By losing to the Marlins in probably the worst of Tom Glavine’s 669 career starts (5 H, 2 BB, 7 ER, 1 out), the Mets completed the greatest September swoon in the history of baseball, blowing a seven game lead with only 17 to play. Mets fans, history suggests the glass is half full – in 1995, the Angels blew a six game September cushion to the Mariners, and followed it up with a 70-91 mark in 1996 (finishing 19½ games behind the Rangers), but you can see where the Halos are today.

The Mets slide and Phillies rise made the headlines, but one should not let that obscure what the Rockies accomplished. On September 1st, the Rockies were 69-66 and sat in fifth place in the NL wild card standings, 6 games behind the Padres.  The Rockies finished the season 20-7, made up those 6 games and play a one-game playoff tonight for the final NL playoff spot. Of course, they have to do it against the likely NL Cy Young winner in Jake Peavy, and will have to do it with Cy Young non-candidate Josh Fogg.

That points out two things that are great about baseball. First, no woosie tiebreakers to decide postseason spots. The Rockies and Padres instead play a 163rd game, loser goes home. Had yesterday played out differently, you could even have seen a five-team cage match to decide three playoff spots (albeit with the D-backs guaranteed no worse than the wild card).  Second, even if the Padres win tonight and make the postseason, they will be punished. Unless they jump to a huge early lead and yank Peavy, they will not be able to use their ace until Game 3 against Philadelphia on Saturday, unless they pitch him on two days’ rest on Thursday. In a short series, that is a huge difference. Contrast that with the Red Sox and Angels, each of which will be able to give their two best starters (Beckett/Schilling and Lackey/Escobar, respectively) two starts apiece on normal rest.

It’s awesome, baby.  And just because it’s great to see New Yorkers cry (and because I’m hoping that a different set of New Yorkers are crying on Sunday):

 

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