Yankees hitters looked helpless against Astros pitchers Charlie Morton and Lance McCullers in Game 7 of the American League Championship Series on Saturday, and part of the credit for that goes to Houston’s reliance on analytics, Ken Rosenthal of The Athletic explains (subscription required and recommended). New York’s fastball-hitting offense had its way at times during a three-game home romp over Houston in the middle of the series, prompting the Astros’ analytics department to suggest the team’s pitchers throw more breaking balls. Morton and McCullers did just that in a 4-0 victory on Saturday, combining for 62 curveballs on 108 pitches. Incredibly, McCullers finished the game with 24 curves in a row to cap off four dominant innings. Afterward, pitching coach Brent Strom told Rosenthal: “I’ve got to hand this to our analytics people. “They said, ’Listen, this is where we’re making our mistakes. We need to throw as many curveballs as possible. This is a good fastball-hitting team.'”
Left-hander CC Sabathia, the losing pitcher in Game 7 of the ALCS, made it clear to reporters on Saturday that his preference is to continue with the Yankees – not depart in free agency – per Brendan Kuty of NJ.com. “This is where I want to play,” said the 37-year-old Sabathia, who has revived his career over the past couple seasons and is fresh off a four-start playoff run in which he pitched to a 2.37 ERA across 19 innings. The 2017 season was the ninth with the Yankees for Sabathia, who just wrapped up the five-year, $142MM extension he signed in 2011.
- The Rays should be open to trading right-hander Jake Odorizzi, closer Alex Colome, outfielder/designated hitter Corey Dickerson and second baseman Brad Miller during the offseason, Marc Topkin of the Tampa Bay Times opines. All four players will go through arbitration in the winter, with Odorizzi projected to end up with the highest salary ($6.5MM). He’s also the player the Rays are most likely to trade, according to Topkin. Odorizzi, 27, is coming off a down season, but his impressive track record and two remaining years of affordable team control could lead to plenty of interest from starter-needy clubs.
- Adding more left-handed hitters to balance out a righty-heavy lineup will be one of the Orioles’ most important offseason challenges, Eduardo A. Encina of the Baltimore Sun writes. The O’s projected lineup for 2018 includes just two lefty-swingers, first baseman Chris Davis and catcher Chance Sisco. Another could come in the form of an outfielder, suggests Encina, who names Carlos Gonzalez, Jay Bruce and Curtis Granderson as a few of several potential targets in free agency.