Friday, October 6, 2017

Yankees set to lean on CC Sabathia in ALDS Game 2

Photo credit: Keith Allison
The Yankees are building a youthful core, but if they’re going to stick with the Indians in the American League Division Series, they will need a sterling Game 2 performance from the roster’s elder statesman, CC Sabathia.

The Yankees offense was stifled by Indians’ pitching in Game 1, something that might be an issue in Game 2 with Cleveland’s ace and Cy Young favorite, Corey Kluber, on the mound. It will be up to Sabathia to stick with Kluber. If the 2017 regular season is any indication of what’s to come, the 37-year-old left-hander is the pitcher the Yankees want on the mound.

Yankees manager Joe Girardi believes Sabathia is the right pitcher under difficult circumstances.

“This has been a guy that we’ve relied on heavily after losses this year,” Girardi told the media after the Game 1 loss. "He's been in a ton of these games, and you know that there's no situation that is too big for CC.”

In 10 starts after a Yankees’ loss in 2017, Sabathia is 9-0 with a 1.71 ERA. That’s the definition of a stopper, something the Yankees sorely need Friday afternoon. Sabathia on the hill goes beyond the success he’s had this season after a Yankees’ defeat.

Sabathia (14-5, 3.69 ERA in the regular season) has carried teams to the postseason and through it in the past. Sabathia has appeared in 19 postseason games (18 starts), going 9-5 with a 4.53 ERA. The ERA might not bring much confidence, but there are several postseason outings in which Sabathia has dominated his opponents, including five starts in the 2009 postseason (36 1/3 IP, 1.98 ERA) and two starts in the 2012 ALDS (17 2/3 IP, 1.52 ERA).

Arguably the biggest factor for Sabathia in Game 2 is that vast postseason history and translating it to a singular game in front of him. As we saw 23-year-old Luis Severino struggle in his first career postseason start in the AL Wild Card Game, nerves can take a toll on an inexperienced pitcher.

Sabathia’s experience level — been there, done that — will allow him to step onto the Progressive Field mound with plenty to reference and likely a certain calm that can only come with knowledge of what lay ahead. Sabathia should be able to drown out the hometown noise, and concentrate on the task at hand, putting up zeroes to allow the Yankees offense time to manufacture runs off Kluber.

The Yankees will not be eliminated with a loss Friday, but it will be extremely difficult to come back from 0-2 down deficit against a team that won 102 games in the regular season. In order to “steal” a win, the Yankees youth will lean on Sabathia, their grizzled veteran, to carry them back home evened up in the series.

Thursday, September 28, 2017

Sporting News: Playoff-bound Twins leaned on team-first approach after disappointing trade deadline

The Minnesota Twins, yes the same team that lost 103 games in 2016, have secured a spot in the 2017 postseason.

The Twins are in this position despite a divergence of thought between the front office and the clubhouse at the trade deadline. The organizational hierarchy performed a major pivot by turning its attention to the future after an initial decision to invest in 2017. However, that didn’t prevent the group of players from coming together behind their manager’s team-first approach to push for the present.

“I didn’t get long-winded about [the trade deadline deals],” Twins manager Paul Molitor told Sporting News. “We did have a little talk, but when things like this happen you’ve got to take care of your own business and look at your own situation.”

Thursday, September 21, 2017

Sporting News: Carlos Correa's meteoric rise is hardly a surprise

At just 22 years old, Astros shortstop Carlos Correa is at the top of his game and has quickly become one of baseball’s brightest stars.

Before Correa went down with a torn ligament in his left thumb on July 17, he was cruising toward the finest statistical season of his young career. Not only was Correa putting up career numbers, he sat near the top of the American League and MLB leaderboards in many offensive categories.

Correa, who ranks near the top on Sporting News' 2017 list of MLB's top young players, was dismantling pitching this season, batting .320 with a .400 on-base percentage, .566 slugging percentage, 20 home runs and 66 RBIs in just 375 plate appearances. Correa’s 157 wRC+ was good for seventh in the majors (fourth in the American League) among players with at least 300 plate appearances at the time of his injury.

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Friday, September 15, 2017

Sporting News: Opt-out clauses in baseball are no longer reserved for game's elite

It once took plenty of hubris to request an opt-out clause in an MLB contract.

In 2001, Alex Rodriguez, then one of the best hitters in the game, began a 10-year, $252 million contract with the Rangers which stipulated he could walk away from the deal 70 percent of the way through its term. It was a monstrous salary guarantee coupled with a contingency to pursue even more, while seemingly leaving the signing club high and dry.

But A-Rod was a superstar, his reputation having enough pull to make an opt-out possible. Times have changed.

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