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Front Page: Yankees' Weaknesses: The Lineup


Achilles has his heel. Samson has his haircut. Superman, his kryptonite. We build our myths with their weaknesses, and so it is with baseball’s myth, the Yankees. A high-level overview of the Yankees lineup reveals some strategies for approaching the Evil Empire. For even more detail I highly recommend Andrew Thares' excellent deeper dive into several of the Yankees hitters.The Yankees Lineup (Also) Looks Like The Walking Wounded

Twins fans who are lamenting the injury bug that has afflicted their lineup can take some consolation in the Yankees travails. Like the Twins, their starting center fielder (Aaron Hicks) is out for the season. Twins fans are wondering if Max Kepler and Marwin Gonzalez will be at full speed since they missed the last series of the season. Yankees fans are wondering the same about designated hitter Edwin Encarnacion, who has 34 home runs this year, suffered an oblique injury, and was held out of the last Yankees series.

 

There’s more. While Twins fans wonder if nagging injuries might limit some of their better players, Yankees slugging catcher Gary Sanchez just returned last week, played in two games and went 1-6 with four strikeouts. Finally, Twins killer Didi Gregorius, who went 8-10 with 10 RBI in two games this year at Target Field (read that last fragment again), seems to be wearing down as the season goes on after returning mid season from Tommy John surgery. He’s batting just .190 in September.

 

That raises questions about the #3, #5 and #6 hitters in the Yankees lineup, which isn’t to say this isn’t a killer lineup. But recognizing that some players might not live up to their previously established reputations makes it easier to concentrate on match-ups. Which is handy because….

 

The Heart Of The Lineup Can Be Navigated Using Match-ups

Overall, the Yankees offense has been pretty effective versus both right-handed (.823 OPS against) and left-handed (.852 OPS against) pitching. But that high-level balance is a result of a lot of blending of extreme splits.

 

Leading off is right-handed batting DJ LeMahieu. The 31-year-old is having one of his best years, hitting .327 with an .893 OPS. That includes a respectable .830 OPS against right-handed pitching, but in insane 1.066 versus left-handed pitching.

 

Next up is Aaron Judge, one of the superstars in MLB right now. The 27-year-old also bats right-handed and features similar splits: .847 OPS (including a .247 BA) against right-handers but a .343 BA with an 1.124 OPS against left-handers.

 

Likely batting fourth will be Giancarlo Stanton, who has had a legitimately crummy year due to a variety of injuries, posting just 72 plate appearances. But the (stop me if you’ve heard this before) right-handed batter has crushed left-handers in those 72 plate appearances to the tune of 1.055 OPS. Against right-handers, he loses 200 points of slugging percentage, with an .844 OPS. This is fairly consistent with the rest of his career.

 

It goes on. Seven of the nine regulars in the Yankees lineup will be batting from the right-handed side of the plate, with two left-handers. One is the previously mentioned Gregorius, who has killed Twins right-handed pitchers over his career. The other is center fielder Brett Gardner, who posts similar crazy splits, but the opposite way: right-handers must be very careful against him, while he’s posted just a .654 OPS against southpaws.

 

So expect to see a lot of right-handed relievers on the Twins roster on Friday. Before you get too giddy, limiting the best players to a mid .800s OPS doesn’t ensure victory. For comparison purposes, the Twins lineup as a whole posted a .832 OPS this year. But to take the heart of the Yankees lineup and downgrade it to “better than average” is a trade the Twins should gladly take.

 

 

Of course, they’ll still need to score some runs. We’ll take a look at how they might be able to do that in Part 2 tomorrow.

 

Again, for even more on the batters I mentioned above, check out Andrew Thares' breakdown of how the Twins will likely approach LeMahieu, Sanchez and Stanton.

 

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What are the chances Duffy or May close out some of these games over Rogers? I hope Baldelli will use Rogers where he's needed (runners on with Brett Gardner up in the 7th, for example) versus saving our lefty closer for a ninth inning where he may face three batters with OPS above 840 against lefties.

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SI has a front page story breaking down the Yankee/Astros ALCS series so  .... not everyone is as pumped for Twins/Yankees as you.  :)

For years, over and over, I have seen the "Sports Illustrated Curse"  cause "favorites" to get overconfident.   If I were a Twin player, coach or manager, that SI story would be on the clubhouse bulletin board. Great motivational tool.  

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What are people’s thoughts on the implications for the use of Taylor Rogers in this series?

I think the Yankee hitters will do what Aaron Hicks did to him - crush him. I'm not really thrilled about sending any lefties at that lineup.

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What are people’s thoughts on the implications for the use of Taylor Rogers in this series?

 

He's our best pitcher. 

 

I wouldn't save him for the closing of games exclusively. He goes into the game whenever you need your best. I'm using him for as long and often as needed. He can rest in the off season. 

 

You don't hold anyone back now. 

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He's our best pitcher. 

 

I wouldn't save him for the closing of games exclusively. He goes into the game whenever you need your best. I'm using him for as long and often as needed. He can rest in the off season. 

 

You don't hold anyone back now. 

I disagree. Against the Yankees, I believe Tyler Duffey is the Twins' best pitcher.

 

I'd still lean on Rogers - probably pretty hard - but I'd lean on Duffey even harder.

 

Duffey's second half OPS against is .468.

 

Think about that for a second. 

 

.468. And he's right-handed.

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I disagree. Against the Yankees, I believe Tyler Duffey is the Twins' best pitcher.

 

I'd still lean on Rogers - probably pretty hard - but I'd lean on Duffey even harder.

 

Duffey's second half OPS against is .468.

 

Think about that for a second. 

 

.468. And he's right-handed.

 

If Baldelli feels that way... I wouldn't argue with him. Duffey has been good. I think of Rogers because he has been good for longer. 

 

Bottom Line: The Bullpen is going to be needed to cover some innings... This won't be like a game in July. We will need Rogers, Duffey, May, Romo... all of them for more innings than we are accustomed. 

 

 

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If Baldelli feels that way... I wouldn't argue with him. Duffey has been good. I think of Rogers because he has been good for longer. 

 

Bottom Line: The Bullpen is going to be needed to cover some innings... This won't be like a game in July. We will need Rogers, Duffey, May, Romo... all of them for more innings than we are accustomed. 

Really, I think we're talking a bit at odds here.

 

I'd put Duffey/Rogers to close this series. The rest would be pushed back but those two would be featured the most prominently.

 

If there's a situation where there are two men on in the seventh and Gardner is coming to the plate, I *absolutely* burn Rogers in that situation and let him pitch 4-5 outs. Then I'd bring in Duffey.

 

But I wouldn't hesitate to use Rogers earlier given the Yankees' lineup and how devastating Duffey has been in the second half.

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So will the Yankees be using THEIR Umps again like they brought with to Target field last series?? I believe they are on their secret payroll 1000% and yet they can't stop us entirely....and the article PREVIEWING the NY vs You series is funny. Like someone said, copy that and give it to each Twin!

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Really, I think we're talking a bit at odds here.

 

I'd put Duffey/Rogers to close this series. The rest would be pushed back but those two would be featured the most prominently.

 

If there's a situation where there are two men on in the seventh and Gardner is coming to the plate, I *absolutely* burn Rogers in that situation and let him pitch 4-5 outs. Then I'd bring in Duffey.

 

But I wouldn't hesitate to use Rogers earlier given the Yankees' lineup and how devastating Duffey has been in the second half.

 

Maybe we are... Maybe we aren't. 

 

WIth the Yankees... What you want to avoid is the Yankees grabbing the lead in the middle innings. They have the pen to make coming from behind no fun at all. ,

 

So, in my opinion... we need to use our pen (our best pitchers) earlier and longer. I don't want to save either Duffey or Rogers for 9th inning closing duties in case we happen to have a lead worth closing in the ninth. By saving a closer, you limit that guy to maybe 3 innings in a 5 game series. That would severely limit their use. I'd rather see Duffey and Rogers get us through those middle innings... or when needed to hang zeroes instead of hoping that Berrios and Odorizzi don't float hangers for a 3 run Yankee bomb in the 6th after the lineup has turned over a couple of times just because that is what is typically done with a starting pitcher in July. 

 

I don't believe this series with be won with either starting rotations winning it. The bullpens are where both teams best pitchers reside. 

 

It'll be what team coughs up the early lead and what bullpen can hold it in the face of a couple of clubs that hit 307 and 306 home runs respectively. . 

 

There is the Astro's model... 3 Hall fo Fame starters with a little bullpen support. 

There is the Brewers model... Questionable starters with a ton of bullpen support to fill out the innings. 

 

Both the Yankees and Twins should be somewhere in between these. We certainly don't have the starters to do what the Astros will do and we shouldn't even try. 

 

I have no idea how Baldelli will manage it... but, I am excited to see whatever happens and can't wait for it to happen.  :)

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