Why The Yankees Will Have A Tough Time Come The Playoffs

by PaulCatalano

Simply put: Quality lefties give them trouble. The last two nights will attest to that.

Against Cliff Lee and David Price in the past 2 games, the Yankees managed 5 hits in 16 innings. They didn’t score one run.

In fact most of the top lefties in baseball pitched well against the Yankees’ supposed juggernaut of a line-up. This year, Cliff Lee in 23.1 IP had a 3.09 ERA with 18 Ks and a .945 WHIP. Dallas Braden had a 2.09 ERA in 11 IP. The Yankees did shell Price once in July, but in the other 2 starts, Price held them to 3 runs in 15.2 IP. Matter of fact, Price over his career, has a 3.22 ERA against the Yankees in 6 starts. Dallas Braden has a 2.45 ERA this season against the Yankees. Jon Lester has a 2.95 ERA and 17 Ks in 18.1 IP. In 2 games, Johan Santana had a 3.29 ERA against the Yankees this year. His teammate Hisanori Takahashi, in 2 starts did even better—12 IP and no earned runs. Clayton Kershaw pitched 7 innings of 2 run ball. Heck, the ancient Jamie Moyer pitched 8 innings of 2-run ball.

Now this isn’t to say the Yankees never hit well against a lefty—it’s just to say that there is plenty of evidence to say that they have trouble against quality lefties. And in a short playoff series where they might face Cliff Lee, David Price or Francisco Liriano (3.46 ERA this season with 14 Ks in 13 IP) twice in the series….well that doesn’t bode well.

So what’s going on—why is this happening in such a potent lineup? Let’s take a look at the righties in the Yankee lineup. Jeter is batting just .274 against lefty starters, down from .322 lifetime; and .313 against all lefties, down from .344 over his career. For Rodriguez, it’s even worse: he’s batting .244 against lefty starters and just .212 overall against all lefties. Take his career cumulatively and it’s down from .289 and .290 respectively. For Posada, the song remains the same; lifetime, Jorge’s BA against lefties is .296; this year it’s .264.

Let’s go further. The 2009 Yankee right-handed batters hit .286 against lefties. This year’s model features righties hitting just .269 against lefties. The entire Yankee lineup hit .286 against lefties last year with a .480 slugging percentage; this year that number is down to a .259 BA with a .429 slugging percentage. Makes you wonder where the Yankees would be without Marcus Thames’s .315 BA and .468 slugging percentage.

Also, throw in the fact that Curtis Granderson (.245 BA against lefties) and Brett Gardner (.252 BA against lefties) essentially replaced Melky Cabrera (.268 BAA lefties), Johnny Damon (.269 BAA lefties) and Hideki Matsui (.282 BAA lefties with a .618 slugging percentage). Brian Cashman replaced these players—and in the case of Gardner, with a nice player— but did next to nothing to shore up the lineup against quality left-handed starters.

Next year, maybe Jesus Montero comes up and solves the problem (.284 BA and .530 slugging against lefties in AAA), or the Yankees sign Jermaine Dye or someone else off the trash heap and they discover the Fountain of Youth. But for right now; heading into the playoffs—with the aforementioned Rodriguez and Jeter underplaying against lefties, with Nick Swisher hobbled, Lance Berkman absolutely pathetic against lefties and Cano cooling off after a hot start—where do the Yankees turn for help? What happens if Swisher is really injured or Teixeira gets into a slump?

The Yankees have enough problems now with their pitching (Does anyone besides Sabathia stand up? Will Pettitte able to be the Risen Savior? What the heck is up with Joba?), they don’t need problems with their lineup. But that is what the have now with nagging injuries, creeping age issues and the inability to hit quality lefties. They have a real problem. And October is coming.

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22 Responses to “Why The Yankees Will Have A Tough Time Come The Playoffs”

  1. Jim Says:

    may the nightmares of yankee fan’s come true.

  2. brautigan Says:

    This is why I hate Yankee fan:

    They have the best record in baseball and it just isn’t good enough.

    You guys act like you’re 8 games back of making the playoffs. You act like you got stuck with Mariner season tickets.

    Get a freaking grip Paul………………..you can always sign the best 3 free agents next year too!

  3. Raul Says:

    I’ll play ball, despite Brautigan having a very legitimate point.

    Cashman recognized that he needed a right-handed power bat that could hit lefties, but he was unwilling to give Montero a chance (probably because of his slow start this year) and he didn’t want to spend any money. Enter Austin Kearns, who’s pathetic.

    The problem isn’t necessarily with lefties. I just don’t see much power coming from right-handed batters, period.

    Regarding Joba Chamberlain, he’s actually pitched well recently. We’ll see if that continues.

    What is unfortunate is that the Yankees were hoping they could run through these playoffs without relying so heavily on Sabathia and Pettitte (as they did last year) and they’re in the same position again.

    Burnett has been terrible, and Vazquez has a dead arm. Phil Hughes started the season very well, and I thought he would bounce back very well in September, hasn’t returned to form (although let’s see what he does tonight).

    I think one un-discussed area where the Yankees may have a hard time is in allowing steals. I expect Texas or Minnesota (or Tampa, should they get that far) to try and run wild on Posada any chance they get.

  4. Chuck Says:

    Personally, I can think of at least two or three reasons why the Yankees will have problems in the postseason, none of them being their averages against lefty starters.

    Bullpen blows.

    No bench flexibility.

    Girardi’s a moron.

  5. Bob Says:

    Chuck, their bullpen could actually save them. As Raul said, Joba has pitched well recently, ( although he could revert back to form) and Wood has been fine. Plus one starter will go to the bullpen.

  6. Chuck Says:

    Good point, Bob.

    The more Javy/Hughes/Pettitte pitch out of the bullpen, the less those other pieces of crap do.

  7. Raul Says:

    Hughes doesn’t throw a cutter, does he?
    He should.

  8. Chuck Says:

    His cutter is better than Mo’s.

    According to Mo, anyway.

  9. Raul Says:

    He needs to throw that sucker. He’s not pitching bad tonight but he gave up a 2-run homer to Dan Johnson that put the Yankees down 2-1.

    Dan…Johnson.
    Seriously.

    Hughes starts throwing cutters to lefties and paints the outside corner with his curve…he reaches King Felix status.

  10. Chuck Says:

    I have no doubt he will, once he learns to trust his stuff and the Yankees stop jerking him around, he will be right up there.

    He’s given up three hits through six..I’ll take that all day long. One bad pitch isn’t something to stew over.

    Besides, the Yanks should be killing James Shields. Entering this year he was something like 1-7 with an ERA over 6 lifetime, this year he’s Cy freaking Young against them.

    And I just saw the replay from Crawford getting thrown out at third last night.

    He looked safe to me.

  11. Raul Says:

    You’re right.

    But regarding Crawford, I thought he was out.

  12. Chuck Says:

    I saw it online and obviously not a good picture or angle. The behind third base camera looked like he got his foot in, with ARod tagging him up on the knee.

    The straight down the line shot from first base he was a dead duck.

    Still a boneheaded play.

    I’m glad Goly got to show his arm, though.

  13. Raul Says:

    Hughes just struck out Evan Longoria. It’s not really a big deal, but that was one sick ass curve ball Longoria just looked at.

  14. Raul Says:

    Fucking Dan Johnson….again.

  15. Chuck Says:

    Dear Carlos Pena,

    It is with deep regret the Tampa Bays organization bids you adieu. We certainly appreciate all you have done for us during your time here, but, as you must know, if we needed someone to hit below the Mendoza line we would actually sign Mario Mendoza.

    For two consecutive seasons you have established major league records for the lowest BA in a season for a player with 25 or more homers and have now associated yourself, for life, with the likes of Richie Sexson and Rob Deer.

    Seeing as you are a Type B free agent and likely won’t get us anything worthy in return with a supplemental pick, we will no offer you arbitration, and will turn over first base to a player already in our organization.

    Fucking Dan Johnson.

    Again.

    Sincerely,

    The Tampa Bay Rays.

  16. Chuck Says:

    Johnson’s second homer was on a cutter.

  17. Raul Says:

    If it was a cutter, it was a pretty shitty cutter.
    Down and in? Good lord. You might as well roll the ball towards the plate like a bowler.

  18. Chuck Says:

    Well, it was a cutter according to Gameday/PitchFX.

    And we know how reliable that information is.

  19. Chuck Says:

    “And we know how reliable that information is”

    82 mph slider?

    I don’t think so.

  20. JohnBowen Says:

    PitchFX registered utility outfielder Joe Inglett’s pitches as knuckleballs when he came in for a garbage inning in a blowout against Cincinatti.

    They weren’t knuckleballs. He was legitimately throwing 55 MPH.

  21. JohnBowen Says:

    And do you wanna know the real reason they’ll struggle in the playoffs?

    Because they’ll be playing the best teams in baseball.

    In a short series, anything can happen. Basically they have about a 1/8 chance of winning the World Series. Maybe a little more…but that’s basically what they’re looking at.

  22. Shawn Says:

    Yeah Brautigan, I totally agree with you. I’m a Met fan and… I don’t think I need to say anything else.

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