Monday, October 08, 2007

Byrd On A Wire

All of the options for Game 4 being apparently weighed by the Tribe and Yankee deep thinkers have netted the match-up of Paul Byrd facing Long Duck Dong…er, Chien-Ming Wang going on 3 days rest. There has been much hand-wringing over the Indians’ decision to go with the veteran RH over C.C. on 3 days rest (allowing the Tribe to throw Fausto on normal 5 days rest if he would be needed for Game 5) or having the LH Laffey go against a Yankee lineup with a lower OPS vs. LHP (.789) than against RHP (.844).

The idea to throw C.C. sounds great in theory, and I’m sure that it was not something that was simply dismissed out of hand by the Indians. The concern is that C.C. has thrown on 3 days rest only once in his career and keeping him ready for a Game 5 in Cleveland (likely against Pettitte, if it gets to that) in an elimination game would be right in the aCCe’s wheelhouse.

The last time the Indians tried to throw their top starter to save a Divisional Series on the road…um, it did not go well. Obviously, C.C. is not Bartolo and no situation is identical, but if “what’s past is prologue”, then it is important to know how pitchers (Colon was 18-5 that year with a 3.95 and a 1.27 WHIP) have reacted in similar situations.

While throwing C.C. would keep the bottle of TUMS in the bathroom and not on the table next to my couch tonight, saving him for a potential Game 5 (with Fausto ready at a moment’s notice) on a full rest looks more prudent in the long run.

The other option, though, to throw Laffey instead of Byrd is infinitely more interesting as it becomes a question of the known (Byrd v. Yanks) versus the unknown (Laffey v. Yanks). Generally, you take the known, right? Not when the known quantity (Byrd) is the type of pitchers that Yankee hitters feast on – a nibbler who tends to get the ball up in the zone and pitches on guts and guile – while the unknown (Laffey) presents an option that the Yankees have never seen and a young guy just out there playing catch with Victor.

Consider Byrd’s start against the Yankees on August 12th:
2 IP, 7 H, 7 ER, 1 BB, 1 K, 1 HR
Once the Yankees got into a groove against Byrd in the 2nd inning, the feathers really started flying:
Matsui singled to center.
Cano doubled to right, Matsui to third.
Cabrera hits SF to left, Matsui scored.
Phillips walked.
Molina singled to center, Cano to third, Phillips to second.
Damon doubled to right, Cano and Phillips scored, Molina to third.
Jeter struck out swinging.
Abreu singled to left, Molina and Damon scored, Abreu to second advancing on throw.
Rodriguez homered to center, Abreu scored.
Matsui grounded out to second.

Unfortunately, it’s not like the Yankees just got a few clutch hits or were able to take advantage of Indian mistakes. That is a comprehensive dissection of Paul Byrd in one inning, as they batted around and forced Wedge to blow his bullpen apart to salvage the final 7 innings. The Yankees were patient, waiting for their pitch to hit, systematically working the body until A-Rod delivered the knockout punch.

Anyone else getting nervous and seeing a repeat of the above sequence happening in Game 4? I don’t know how the young Tribe would react to something like that happening again in the 2nd inning in the Bronx as the Yankees’ confidence swelled and the TBS announcers started making out with each other.

So let’s not get it to that point.
If Byrd is getting the start (and he is, so there’s no use debating it…just accept it), Aaron Laffey should be warming up in the bullpen next to him as he gets ready for the game. At the very first sign of trouble, The Atomic Wedgie should get out there and do to the Yankees with Laffey what the removal of Clemens and insertion of Hughes did to the Indians in Game 3. If the Yankees come out ready for Byrd and are suddenly inundated with Laffey’s extreme groundball-producing pitching from the left side of the rubber, it may buy the Tribe offense enough time to get to Wang the way that they did in Game 1.

Clemens and Hughes are similar pitchers and the Tribe offense was thrown into an adjustment mode that did them in. Imagine what Byrd to Laffey could do. Laffey has never faced the Yankees and, more importantly, the Yankees have never seen Laffey. By the time the Bombers figure out Laffey’s arm angle and tendencies, one could think that the sequence of Lewis, Perez, Betancourt, and JoeBo could take the ball and put the Yanks away.

Of course, Byrd could come out with the proper mix of Vaseline, guts, Crisco, guile, and “veteran experience” and battle his way through the game to get the ball to the aforementioned bullpen. That possibility isn’t going to help the lining of my stomach much though, as Byrd “battling” through innings means tightropes and the feeling of jumping out of an airplane unsure if your parachute will open.
Byrd shouldn’t be on a short leash tonight…he should be held by the collar.


Les Savy Ferd said...

hell, i was on tenterhooks LAST night and that was 'only' westbrook. I succumbed to all the usual superstitious nonsense... sitting in one location of my living room while the Tribe were at bat and moving to an opposite location whilst the Yanks were up. Of only drinking my beer while the Tribe bat and so forth. Of course all that went flying out the window in the 5th.

My hollering and claps after each successive double-play sent my dog running for cover and I'm pretty sure my resounding monosyllabic expletive i shouted after Damon's drive just kept going could have been heard in the Bronx (I live in Chicago).

But i have faith in the Byrd. Faith that he can muster a win. Of course this doesn't mean I also don't have a boat-load of anxiety, or, say, sweaty hands 7 hours before the game even begins.

t-bone said...

I just sent this in and had it read on the Really Big Show.

Date: Mon, 8 Oct 2007 08:33:12 -0700 (PDT)
Subject: game 4

Rizz and Hammer,
Two reasons this needs to end tonight with Byrd.

1. Having CC and Fausto for the first two ALCS games would be huge.

2. Barring the game being simulcast on "Q vision" inside Quicken Loans Arena Wednesday night, my $77 Van Halen ticket will sit empty as I'll be watching the game somewhere else.

Tim in Westlake

WCT said...

PT I totally disagree with you. Make the Yankees beat Sabathia and Carmona in succession to win this series. The Yanks can't touch Carmona, you can't have the series end with him only pitching once

Pat Tabler said...

My problem with throwing Sabathia is that his Game 1 start was 114 pitches, most in "high stress" situations that are often thought to be more strenuous on the arm.

If we can buy him two more days to rest up for Game 5 (again, IF IT'S NECESSARY - WE ARE NOT THE ONE IN AN ELIMINATION GAME), why wouldn't we do it?

Some combination of Byrd, Laffey, Lewis, Perez, Betancourt, and Borowski should be able to keep the Yankees at bay long enough for the Tribe to reach the Yankee staff.

Speaking of the NY staff, who's coming in if Wang blows up (on the 1st time he's EVER pitched on 3 days rest)?
Mussina, the guy they didn't trust to start tonight?

The Yankee staff is running on fumes with Hughes and Chamberlain not available and Pettitte having gone in Game 2.

Bottom line - if Byrd goes 2 or 3, Laffey goes the other 3 or 2 to get it to the 6th, we can throw the succession of Jenny and the two Raffies to get to JoeBo and drop to our knees and pray.

Cy Slapnicka said...

Jenny and the Raffies sounds like a good band name.

Voltaire said...

I like the idea of

Byrd (x2)
Laffey (x2)
Lewis (1)
Perez (x2)
Betancourt (x2)

That will make me breathe easy.

How likely is it that Wedge will actually yank Byrd at the first sign of trouble and stick in Laffey? Would he use Carmona in relief? Will he think that Byrd can "tough it out," or some other veteran junk?

Still, we're up 2-1. I'm not going to let myself get pessimistic.

rodells said...

Lots of Yank fans pissed Torre pitched Joba for two innings last night in what some would say a meaningless situation. He was gassed in the end and if they stick to Joba Rules, he'll be avaiable in game 5, if there is one. Most seem to think he's good for an inning, or part of an inning w/ Pettitte of all people. The Yanks are known for throwing a starter in relief to get their off day work in.

The CC/Byrd debate is more about Carmona full rest in game 5 at home. Let's face it, Carmona's been the best pitcher in baseball for over a month.

And if we threw CC tonight and won, CC would be on normal rest for Game 2 of the ALCS in Boston, with Carmona in Game 1 Friday. I'm not a fan of alot of extra rest, which is what CC and Carmona would get if Byrd wins tonight.

Pat Tabler said...

I REALLY hope that Wedge won't pull the "I trust my veterans" garbage to keep Byrd in the game if he's getting blown up.

Rodells, great question as I agree about the Fausto "best pitcher in baseball" comment:
Would you start Fausto over C.C. for Game 5 with both having their full rest?
Not as easy to answer as you would think.

elkins48 said...

Am I the only person who saw the Indians score runs off Joba Chamberlain in consecutive games? Yankee fans can take the excuse given with the presence of the bugs in Game 2, but lets remember that they also scored off him in Game 3, at Yankee Stadium, with no insects around. Keep in mind that had Game 3 been close, the Indians would have tied or came within striking distance of the Yanks, even with their supersetup man on the mound. Thus far, with the exception of Hughes, the Tribe has hit pretty much everyone in the Yankee pen. With Wang on short rest, the Yankee bullpen stretched thin, and Hughes and Joba having pitched yesterday, I say advantage Cleveland, even with the Byrd on a wire. Final thought: Chamberlain's Postseason ERA: 4.91.

Caderick said...

As an added comment, I must say that while my allegiance is first and foremost to the Cleveland Indians, I also am a fan of Joe Torre. It has nothing to do with him being the Yankee skipper, and has everything to do with him being a classy guy who commands respect from everyone, even rabid opposing fans. Therefore, I must make a plea to the Indians: Win this one for Torre. If for nothing else, the Indians winning this series will win something other than a berth to the ALCS: it will win the freedom of a good man from the masticating maw that is the Yankee ballclub. Free Torre!

rodells said...

lol at the free Torre post.

PC, I could definitely see both sides to the CC/Carmona "who to start on full rest game 5" arguement, if that's even an arguement. Personally, I think you have to go with CC, and the main reason is not even evident between the lines. How would CC react to Fausto getting the call in Game 5, possibly getting hit around and a Tribe loss, in regards to the contract situation? CC is our "ace" and we have to treat him that way, as weird as that might sound. Plus, he pitched well in Game 1 during innings 2-4, especially when the slide piece was workin'. I'll chalk up the 1st inning to nerves and overthrowing, and he got out of a tough jam in the 5th without letting the flood gates open. So let's just say CC is gonna have something to prove if there is a Game 5 and we could expect a great dual between him and Pettitte.

But I think you avoid that question by starting CC tonight and go for the jugular now, risky as it is.

I'm just worried about the strike zone tonight. I think it's been tight all series for both teams(although Hughes seemed to be getting some wide calls last night), and that doesn't bode well for Byrd.

Pat Tabler said...

Completely agree on the C.C. "ace" thing. As great as Fausto is, you just can't say to C.C., "Thanks for everything you've done for the team...but you're not pitching in Game 5."

Of course, Byrd could make all of this moot and just guide the Tribe into the ALCS.

My hands haven't stopped sweating all day.
Go Tribe!

rodells said...

Hearing that Garko is out, Shoppach is in. Frankie in RF.

Let's hope Garko is playing come game time....

t-bone said...

I thought about that earlier today, will Shoppach be catching...

Bart Swain called the starting lineup into WTAM and he's in it, batting 9th. Wedgie staying true to what got us here. Hopefully both ends of the battery come up big.

Voltaire said...

Garko won't be starting, no way. It's Shoppach at C and Martinez at 1B, like usual for a Byrd start.

jswede said...

LOL - where do I get my "FREE JOE TORRE" t-shirt!?!?!

rodells said...

I get Wakefield and a few others having personal catchers, but I've never really understood this one, especially at a time like this. Anyone? Maybe it's just a good way to get Kelly ABs during the year and they clicked?

rodells said...

I mean, I get why he's sticking with it...just not sure how it ever evolved.

Cy Slapnicka said...

b/c vic needed a day off every once in a while so he didn't die.

clemens off the roster today. it makes me so happy to see his career end (hopefully) like it did. cheater. $5 says pettitte hangs his flannel jersey over roger's in his locker.

rick grayshock said...

"If we can buy him two more days to rest up for Game 5 (again, IF IT'S NECESSARY - WE ARE NOT THE ONE IN AN ELIMINATION GAME), why wouldn't we do it?"

Here, here! Exactly. Let's not blow up our roster because the Yanks are panicking. Wang may pitch better at home, but he's never pitched on three days rest. We got to him before, we can do it again. Remember, the Indians hitters have been rising to the occasion when Byrd starts. He has the best run support of all our starters. No reason to hit the panic button now.

If we are forced to a game 5 then we have Sabathia and Fausto ready to go for that game. Now that's an adjustment to make huh?

rodells said...

Cy, but why not rotate Shoppach among pitchers throughout the year? Why develop this peronal catcher situation that is probably not in our best interest now?

VMart clearly doesn't need a day off in October with all these days in between games.

R.M. Jennings said...


Cy Slapnicka said...

rodells, i cannot answer your question right now. its too hard to think with this champagne in my eyes!

rodells said...

Who cares? Kelly rules!