Texas Rangers: David Robertson
* The Rangers have looked unstoppable in winning 13 of their first 16 games. The Yankees, who have looked good since getting swept in Tampa Bay in the first series of the season, have won nine of 12.
* Mike Napoli leads the Rangers' Big 3: Texas has three hitters performing at a very high level so far: Josh Hamilton, Michael Young and Napoli. We've talked a lot on this blog about Hamilton. But what about Napoli?
After a 2-for-20 start, Napoli has 12 hits and six home runs in his last 29 at-bats. He swung at better pitches this past week than he did earlier in the season, striking out less and ending more at-bats with a ball in play. Let's take a look:
First seven games: 0 HR, 60% in-zone swing percentage, 27% chase percentage, 35% strikeout percentage
Next seven games: 6 HR, 70% in-zone swing percentage, 16% chase percentage, 23% strikeout percentage
* Bullpen play has been solid for both teams. Yankee relievers have had plenty of work so far, pitching 54 2/3 innings in 15 games.
* David Robertson again has been a great. He’s pitched eight scoreless innings this season and held opponents to 0-for-10 with runners in scoring position (they were 13-for-93 against him last season in those spots).
* In 38 2/3 innings, Rangers relievers have struck out 36 batters and walked only three. Alexi Ogando has 10 strikeouts and no walks in relief this season.
* The Yankees’ bullpen has excelled at getting strikeouts, putting together a league-high 28.6 percent of all hitters they’ve faced. Yankees relievers have 65 strikeouts, only 12 fewer than the club's starters.
* The Rangers and Yankees are the top two bullpens this season in Win Probability Added, which aggregates the change in a given team’s win probability after every batter. Each bullpen has added close to two wins to its team’s win probability so far this season.
* Texas boasts the two top relievers in terms of strike percentage (minimum 30 batters faced). That's Mike Adams at 75.1 percent and Ogando at 71.5 percent.
With two more strikeouts in Game 1 after he started things off with a first-inning, three-run homer, Hamilton finally found patience with the lumber in Game 2 as the New York Yankees clearly decided they weren't going to let Hamilton to beat them.
Hamilton walked four times in five plate appearances. Twice he was walked intentionally with Vladimir Guerrero batting behind him. He had walked just three times in the previous six postseason games, while going just 3-for-22.
"I've gotten better at it [patience at the plate]. I probably could have had five walks, but, man, you just want to hit when you're up there," Hamilton said. "It's hard to control the reigns every once in a while."
The one at-bat in which Hamilton didn't walk, he struck out against right-handed reliever David Robertson. Hamilton saw six pitches in the at-bat. One was a fastball and the final four pitches he saw were all curves.
"Like I said, I could have had five walks today, but that one at-bat, I wanted to do something," Hamilton said. "But, that's just a constant thing about baseball. You learn from it. You're going to make mistakes again. You'll get in that mode again and then you reset the trap and go back to doing what's best for the team."
103.3 FM ESPN PODCASTS
Play Podcast Rangers GM Jon Daniels joins Fitzsimmons and Durrett to tackle the tough questions after his team failed to advance to the playoffs.
Play Podcast Nolan Ryan joins Galloway and Company to discuss having Nelson Cruz back in the lineup and how the Rangers are feeling heading into their wild-card play-in game against the Rays.
Play Podcast ESPN Insider and senior MLB analyst Jim Bowden joins Fitzsimmons and Durrett to discuss the wild-card race and the Rangers' chances of making the playoffs.
Play Podcast Chuck Cooperstein joins Ian Fitzsimmons and Tim MacMahon to discuss why he feels Rangers pitcher Yu Darvish isn't an ace.
Play Podcast Elvis Andrus joins Galloway and Company to discuss the Rangers' stretch run and the morale level in their clubhouse.
Play Podcast Nolan Ryan joins Galloway and Company to discuss the latest Rangers news, including the team's struggles, Ron Washington's job security and a rumored trade with the Braves.
Play Podcast Ron Washington joins Ian Fitzsimmons and Tim MacMahon to discuss the Rangers' dismal September, who's to blame for their September struggles and his status as the team's manager.
Play Podcast Fitzsimmons and Durrett discuss how some people are calling for the Rangers to fire manager Ron Washington.