Tuesday, October 6, 2015

2015 AL Wildcard Game Prediction

Tonight we get our first taste of the 2015 MLB playoffs.  Tonight is the AL Wildcard game, which pits the New York Yankees and their ace Masahiro Tanaka against the Houston Astros and their ace and AL Cy Young candidate Dallas Keuchel.  The game begins at 8 PM EST at Yankee Stadium.  The Yankees went 45-36 at home, while the Astros went 33-48 on the road in 2015.

So far today I have been hearing rumors that the Yankees will start Chris Young over either Gardner or Ellsbury and to be honest it would not surprise me.  Chris Young has excelled against lefties this season, especially at home, while Gardner has been pretty good and Ellsbury has been below average.  The MLB average batting average against lefties this season was .254 and in the American League it was .258, while the Yankees as a team hit .257 against lefties and Ellsbury was worse than that.  Ellsbury hit .253 against lefties this season and .250 at home against lefties so sitting him for Young who has hit .327 against them this season and .329 against them at home, would honestly be a good move.  Young also had a OBP of .397 and a SLG of .575 against lefties this season so to say he has been an extraordinary option for the Yankees would be an understatement.  Gardner has a slash line of .276/.361/.400 this season against lefties so while no where near Young’s numbers much better than Ellsbury.  Bottom line if I had to pick three Yankees outfielders to start tonight I would go with: Beltran, Gardner and Young.

The other rumor I have been hearing is that John Ryan Murphy might start over Brian McCann and this argument is just laughable to me.  This argument is being made because of the supposed difference in defensive ability.  But the numbers actually favor McCann, but I will note neither of them is a very good defensive catcher.  McCann caught 1042.1 innings behind the plate in 2015 compared to Murphy’s 415.1 innings.  And despite catching 627 less innings Murphy actually had a DRS (Defensive Runs Saved) of -4 compared to McCann’s 0.  But that isn’t all if you looking at rSB (Stolen Base Runs Saved) McCann sits at +2 while Murphy finished the regular season at -2.  So what these numbers tell me is that not only is there not a significant difference in defensive ability but McCann is actually the better option, even if you forget about the 26 home runs he hit this year and the .437 he slugged this year.  Some of you might looking at the difference in batting average but that is easily quieted by looking at BABIP.  Murphy finished with a BABIP of .357 which tells me that his batting average of .277 is very inflated considering he lacks the speed to maintain that, while McCann has been very unlucky with a BABIP of .235 meaning his average of .232 does not truly show how he has hit.

My Yankees lineup for tonight:
  1. Gardner – CF
  2. Beltran – RF
  3. Chris Young – LF
  4. Alex Rodriguez – DH
  5. Brian McCann – C
  6. Greg Bird – 1st
  7. Chase Headley – 3rd
  8. Rob Refsnyder – 2nd
  9. Didi Gregorius - SS
Dallas Keuchel has thrown 16 innings against the Yankees this season and they are yet to score a run off him.  But my prediction for tonight is that throwing on only 3 days rest, something he has only done one time in his career (started on 2 days rest in 2013), the Yankees finally get to him.  While Tanaka throws the Yankees 7 innings of shutout baseball before the combination of Betances and Miller close out a 2-0 Yankees victory.

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