Friday, June 8, 2012
Double play: Keys to the Subway Series
By ESPN New York staff
AP Photo/Seth Wenig
Given how close the teams are in record, don't be surprised if the Subway Series comes down to a close play at the plate.
We gathered ESPNNY bloggers Mark Simon and Katie Sharp to hone in on the key statistical aspects to the Subway Series matchups. Here are their takes.
What's the biggest offensive key to the series?
Sharp: It’s no secret that the Yankees live and die by the longball. The Yankees lead the majors with 84 homers and have scored more than half of their runs via home runs. They are 0-12 when they don’t go yard –- they're the only team in MLB that hasn’t won a game without a home run -- and 31-13 when they do homer.
Simon: The Mets need to get good days out of their left-handed bats in the first two games of this series.
Lucas Duda’s recent roll needs to continue in Yankee Stadium, where the right-field porch should be very inviting. But he can’t do it by himself. He needs the support of Andres Torres and Ike Davis, who rank second-worst and third-worst among NL hitters hitting left-handed versus right-handed pitching, with batting averages of .171 and .165 respectively.
What's the biggest pitching key to this series?
Sharp: The Yankees recent surge to the top of the division has been fueled by several outstanding performances from the rotation, but the bullpen will be more important this weekend. The Yankees have the pitching edge in the late innings with a 2.84 bullpen ERA compared to the Mets’ 5.33 relief ERA, and will need it to shut down a Mets team that leads the majors in OPS in Close and Late situations.
Simon: This will be the first time pitching in Yankee Stadium for Dillon Gee and Jonathon Niese. They need to understand how small this park can play at times. That means not throwing pitches over the heart of the plate, even when desperate to throw a strike. Yankees hitters are hitting .370 with a .773 slugging percentage against “middle-middle” pitches in Yankee Stadium this season, well above the major-league averages of .330 and .583.
What's the biggest defensive key to this series?
Sharp: Pray for as many strikeouts as possible. The Yankees have the worst outfield defense according to Defensive Runs Saved, and only the Tigers have converted fewer groundballs into outs than the Yankees this season. The team is making the plays they should make, with the fewest errors in the majors, but struggle to get to balls out of their comfort zone.
Simon: The Mets have the most double-play related miscues of any team in the majors. They can’t afford to give the Yankees extra outs in situations in which they have the chance to turn double plays.
Who on the other team scares you the most?
Sharp: The easy answer on the Mets is David Wright, but I’m going in a different direction, and choosing Kirk Nieuwenhuis. Nobody on the Mets has been better in clutch at-bats than Nieuwenhuis. He leads the team in go-ahead or game-tying hits in the seventh inning or later, has an OPS near 1.000 in high-leverage situations, and also boasts a few web gem-worthy, game-saving catches.
Simon: Yes, it’s way too easy to pick the big star (which eliminates almost the entire Yankees lineup), so I’m going to go say that it’s the super-subs like Eric Chavez and DeWayne Wise who scare me most.
The Yankees have had their fair share of unlikely standouts against the Mets the last two years. Kevin Russo and Chris Dickerson have as many multi-RBI games against the Mets in that span as Alex Rodriguez. Someone will step up and make the Mets fan skittish.