A-Rod has struggled in the postseason
When a high profile team like the Yankees loses a postseason game, something is going to get magnified. Through two games, much like most of his postseasons in pinstripes, Alex Rodriguez is the early scapegoat.
A-Rod has struggled.
The former superstar is 1 for 9 with five strikeouts and a double play. His lone hit was a single. He has stranded seven runners on base in two games. To make matters worse, Rodriguez is hitting in front of Robinson Cano, the hottest hitter into the postseason and behind Ichiro Suzuki, arguably the hottest Yankee in the postseason.
It is legitimate to point to the third baseman’s spot in the lineup as a reason the Yankees have scored just four runs combined in 17 of its 18 postseason innings. Rodriguez quite simply no longer has power, is struggling to make contact and is stranding runners on base left and right, even when a simple out could score them.
So what would be the best solution? It’s obvious Rodriguez can no longer hit in the most coveted spot in the lineup for the rest of this postseason, no matter how long it stretches. Joe Girardi has even hinted that move can happen as early as Game Three. What’s not so obvious is who would replace him.
The Orioles have two lefty starters and lefty options out of the bullpen, so stacking lefties is something Girardi is inevitably going to want to avoid. Nick Swisher has a long history of postseason failure and his 1 for 6 is not forcing confidence.
If Girardi wants to maximize his lineup with the players currently performing how they are, he should do this:
1. Derek Jeter
The captain is possibly the greatest division series hitter of all-time and has hit leadoff all season. He’s also been the team’s most consistent hitter. Case closed.
Suzuki has been red hot for close to a month, has speed, rarely hits into double plays and most important, he’s 3 for 10 with a pair of runs and RBIs in two games.
This is going to be the only example of stacking lefties in the lineup but it is necessary and productive. Cano is the most dangerous hitter on the team and needs to bat in the first inning. Batting him cleanup would be fine if there was a suitable three hitter, but there’s not. Ichiro and Cano have both been hitting lefties and righties alike, so they shouldn’t be a black hole against a lefty reliever.
Teixeira is a switch-hitter and has been hitting well with a 4 for 8 line so far. Tex has some pop and has been making contact, which makes him ideal protection for Cano.
5. Nick Swisher
He has never been good in the playoffs but at least he doesn’t look hopeless at the plate. Swisher hasn’t looked panicked as he has in the past in the playoffs and right now is a better bet against a lefty or righty than Curtis Granderson or A-Rod.
6. Alex Rodriguez
Against a lefty, this means three consecutive righties in the lineup since Tex and Swisher are switch-hitters. Perhaps lower in the lineup, A-Rod’s occasional single or walk can help set the table for the bottom of the lineup instead of ending dinner for the top of it.
7. Curtis Granderson
Granderson is just 1 for 7 and has struck out three times (predictably) so far. He’s looked lost for over a month and has seemed downright terrible so far in October. Still, batting after Rodriguez and being a pure lefty, this is a good spot for a hitter who finished with 43 home runs in the regular season. A short porch at Yankee Stadium could provide some major pop from the bottom third of the order.
8. Russell Martin.
The Yankees’ catcher hasn’t lit anybody up with his bat this season but he did have a massively clutch long ball in Game One. Martin batting eighth is fine and will sandwich Granderson with two pure righties.
It seems like these are Girardi’s DH choices depending on who is pitching. Ibanez caught a little fire down the stretch this season so he may be an option to hit higher in the lineup against a righty, (perhaps even fifth over Swisher) but for now it’s a safe bet to have him or Nunez hit ninth. With Nunez hitting last, it’s speed and contact at the bottom of the order to set the table for Jeter and Ichiro.