Monday, August 10, 2009

Game 112: Don't Let It Bring You Down

The concept of a "letdown game" or a "trap game" is not specific to baseball. If you're skeptical of the conventional wisdom/pop psychology that is so wildly prevalent in sports, then you won't be surprised by the fact that research into this phenomenon has actually shown that in the past 10 years in the NFL at least, there is no such effect.

Anecdotally, you can point to the 2003 World Series and say the Yankees were burned out after going 7 games against the Red Sox, but you could just as easily have said that about the Sox in 2004 except they swept the Cardinals in the Fall Classic and made it look easy. The same was true in 2007 when the ALCS went 7 games and the World Series ended in a sweep as well. Looking back to the "Boston Massacre" of 2006, the Yanks went on to lose 4 of their next 5, so should we be concerned that the Yanks might hit a rough patch coming out of the Sox series this time around? Yes, but it has nothing to do with the concept of a "letdown game".

First and most importantly, the Yanks are trotting out Sergio Mitre to a team that saw him only 5 days ago. Luckily, the Yanks escaped with a victory, but Mitre was shaky at best, allowing 3 runs on 8 hits in 4 1/3 IP while throwing 92 pitches. That outing actually brought his ERA down to 7.50 and he still has yet to have a start this year where he contributed a positive WPA to the team's chances. With Chad Gaudin now waiting in the wings and likely to have a chance to audition in long relief today, Mitre may be on the verge of getting bounced out of the rotation if he can't come up with a decent performance.

The Yanks are going to get another crack at Marc Rzepczynski as well, but the lefty was significantly better against the Yanks than Mitre against the Jays, even if his final pitching line doesn't tell that story. rZep struck out 7 in six innings and allowed only 6 baserunners, although four of them came around to score and only 3 did when he was on the mound. The 23 year old has pitched 33 2/3 innings this year to a 3.74 ERA. He might be a rookie but he's not a pushover, and the Yanks are going to have to have a strong showing at the plate to get to him.

A-Rod is back at 3rd tonight, Posada will be DHing and Jerry Hairston will be spelling Johnny Damon in left, as Hairston has better numbers against lefties than Damon this year, to say nothing of the upgrade in the field. Defense will be a significant factor tonight as Mitre tends to allow a lot of balls to be put in play. The downside of this arrangement is that Nick Swisher moves in to the two hole and the bottom three in the order are Hairston, Melky and Molina.

Another game against the Blue Jays brings another tune by the best Canadian songwriter I can think of. The Yanks are 7-2 against the boys from Toronto this season, 31 of their last 41 overall, have won 7 in a row and are hopefully ready to weather a start by Sergio Mitre and run the winning streak up to 8.

Don't let it bring you down,
It's only castles burning,
Find someone who's turning,
And you will come around.

1 comment:

  1. Aw, come on guys...why do you have to go and ruin the good times with talk of a let down game? So what if Swisher is batting 2nd? Let the good times roll...for now. I must admit to being a little bit surprised about the cries and sighs from Red Sawks Nation...sure the weekend was embarassing and all, but really? Spare the hysterics. As we have seen, if there's a team out there that can pull off an unprecedented comeback...well, you get the idea.

    Magic Number: 46. What? Too soon?