Wednesday, October 17, 2012
W2W4: ALCS Game 4
By Mark Simon
Max Scherzer Stats To Watch If Alex Rodriguez and Jayson Nix didn't start against Justin Verlander, it seems unlikely they'll start against Scherzer. If they do, keep this in mind: Rodriguez is 1-for-12 against Scherzer and Nix is 0-for-9 with seven strikeouts.
Lowest Slug Pct vs. Active Pitcher Alex Rodriguez: Minimum 10 AB
>>1-12 career vs. each (the hit was a single)
There isn't a Yankee on the roster with better than a .267 batting average against Scherzer, unless you count Eric Chavez, who is 2-for-2 against him with a walk.
How do you hit Scherzer?
A starting point is a lefty-loaded lineup. Lefties hit .292 with an .831 OPS this season against him. Righties hit .201 with a .588 OPS.
The challenge for them will be hitting Scherzer's fastball. Lefties put only 28 percent of their swings against his heater in play this season, a rate surpassed only by Dodgers lefty Clayton Kershaw, among ERA title-qualifying pitchers.
CC Sabathia Matchups to Watch Miguel Cabrera has great numbers against Sabathia: a .357 batting average with eight walks and a 1.117 OPS in 28 at-bats. But Sabathia did an excellent job against Cabrera this season.
The AL Triple Crown winner was 1-for-10 against Sabathia in the regular season, with a walk (plus a reached-on-error).
Pitch to Watch -- Sabathia's Slider Last 5 Starts
Hits + BB
Sabathia has had success against Cabrera when he has pitched him inside. Cabrera has seen 45 pitches against Sabathia that were on or just off the inside corner, and they've resulted in 10 outs and only one time on base (a double).
Cabrera is being pitched inside a lot this postseason; when an at-bat has ended with an inner-third or closer pitch, he has been held to just two hits, a reached-on-error, a hit by pitch and a walk, to go with 11 outs.
Cabrera might be due to hit one out. He hasn't yet in the postseason. He typically averages a home run every five fly balls, but has none on 10 fly balls in the playoffs.
The other thing to watch is who starts at catcher for the Tigers. Alex Avila is 1-for-11 with seven strikeouts against Sabathia. His backup, Gerald Laird, is 10-for-24 with four walks against Sabathia.
It makes some statistical sense for Laird to start. Scherzer had a 3.38 ERA in 56 innings when his battery mate was Laird, compared to a 3.68 ERA in 127 1/3 innings with Avila. Scherzer allowed only four home runs with Laird catching, but yielded 17 with Avila.
If Sabathia goes at least eight innings tonight, he would be only the third Yankees pitcher with three starts of at least eight innings in a single postseason, joining two pitchers who did it in the 1921 World Series: Carl Mays and Waite Hoyt.
What to do with Curtis Granderson? Joe Girardi has been extraordinarily loyal to Granderson, who is 0-for-10 with six strikeouts in this series. Granderson could become the fifth Yankee to go hitless in an LCS or World Series in which he had at least 10 at-bats.
Two teammates are on that list. Brett Gardner was 0-for-10 in the 2009 World Series against the Phillies. Mark Teixeira was 0-for-14 in the 2010 ALCS against the Rangers.
Stats of the Day The Yankees have lost two games this postseason in which they allowed two runs or fewer. It's the first time they've suffered two such losses in a postseason since 1981.
The Yankees' postseason ERA is 2.25. The lowest postseason ERA they've ever managed in a year in which they did not win the World Series was 2.73 in 2003.
The Yankees haven't been swept in a postseason series since 1980, when they got swept by the Royals in the ALCS. They have played 36 postseason series since then without being swept. Elias notes that's the longest sweepless streak in MLB history.