Best second-half MLB teams of wild-card era

Whether it comes as a strong finish to an already dominant season or an amazing comeback, or it’s a newly emerged contender coming out of nowhere, there have been some remarkable finishes in the recent history of Major League Baseball. The wild-card era has ushered in far more opportunity for the postseason than ever before but also has raised the stakes within the pursuit.

With 2019’s pennant chase preparing to take shape, let’s take a look back some of the great finishes of baseball’s modern postseason era. 1 of 20

Seattle Mariners, 1995

After owning a 34-35 record at the All-Star break, the ’95 Mariners went from last to first place in the season’s second half. Ken Griffey Jr returned from a two-month absence to hit 10 home runs over the final two months, Edgar Martinez won the AL batting title and Randy Johnson won his first Cy Young Award. The Mariners bested the California Angels in a tie-breaker game to claim their first division title in franchise history. They reached the AL Championship Series, led by a legendary performance by Martinez against the Yankees in the ALDS. Seattle lost to Cleveland in the ALCS. 2 of 20

Chicago Cubs, 1998

While the summer of ’98 is best known for the home run race between Sammy Sosa and Mark McGwire, it also is known for a tight NL playoff race. Sosa’s Cubs were one of the hottest teams in the game in the middle of the year before cooling off late. Meanwhile, Barry Bonds and the San Francisco Giants won nine of their last 12 games to catch the Cubs. The teams squared off in one-game playoff in which Bonds nearly hit a ninth-inning grand slam amid a Giants rally that fell short. The Cubs hung on to win, and they reached the playoffs for the first time in nine years. 3 of 20

New York Yankees, 1998

Not all memorable second-half performances included airtight races to the finish. Take the case of one of the greatest teams of all time, the ’98 Yankees. They were dominant from start to finish, winning 20 games in three separate months en route to a record 114-win season. They won the AL East by 22 games, with a breakout season for a young Derek Jeter, who hit .324 with 203 hits. They finished the season 66 games over .500 and set a record for most wins in a season, 125, after sweeping the San Diego Padres in the World Series. 4 of 20

Cleveland Indians, 2001

Aided by Minnesota’s huge collapse, the 2001 Indians staged an incredible comeback to claim an AL Central title. After reaching the All-Star break 23 games over .500, the Twins dropped 15 of their first 20 second-half contests, losing their grip on the division in the process. Meanwhile, behind a 49-homer season from Jim Thome, after being five games back at the All-Star break, the Indians finished six games ahead to win a sixth AL Central title since 1995, going 9-3 against Minnesota in the second half. 5 of 20

Oakland Athletics, 2001

In the wild-card era, no team has had more second-half success than the 2001 A’s. They set a 162-game schedule record by going 63-18 over their final 81 games, which included an incredible 29-4 record over the season’s final month. Led by their hallowed three-ace rotation of Barry Zito, Mark Mulder and Tim Hudson, along with a string of incredible starts from Cory Lidle, who went 11-2 after the break, the A’s set a record for most wins by a wild-card team with 102. It also was the most wins by a second-place club, but they still finished 14 games behind the record-setting 2001 Seattle Mariners.

6 of 20

Seattle Mariners, 2001

Led by an incredible jolt of energy from MVP/Rookie of the Year Ichiro Suzuki, the 2001 Seattle Mariners tied the 1906 Chicago Cubs for the most regular-season wins in history with 116. The team never posted a double-digit loss total in any month and saved the best for last. From Sept. 1 through Oct. 7, they went 20-7, with a 4-3 loss on the season’s final day, costing them a chance to set the outright record for most wins in a season. 7 of 20

Oakland Athletics, 2002

For a second consecutive season, in 2002 Oakland channeled second-half magic, going 24-4 in August, a run that included the bulk of one of the greatest winning streaks in MLB history. Oakland went undefeated from Aug.13 to Sept. 4, embarking on an AL-record 20-game winning streak — which included walk-off wins during the final three victories of the streak. However, taking over the division outright required a second, shorter winning spree, when Oakland won nine of its final 11 games over divisional foes to win the AL West. It was a season that changed the way the sport is perceived and inspired the book and movie”‘Moneyball.” 8 of 20

Florida Marlins, 2003

The 2003 Marlins are the definition of a team that got hot at just the right time. After losing eight of their final nine games in August, Florida entered the final month 13 games back in the NL East and barely in control of a wild-card spot. However, its “team of destiny” run — which included an NLCS victory aided by the “Bartman Game” vs. the Cubs and a stunning upset of the New York Yankees in the World Series — got underway quickly in September. Jack McKeon’s club went 10-2 to start the month and won seven of its last nine to claim the NL wild-card spot. 9 of 20

Minnesota Twins, 2006

In 2006, the Twins pulled off the biggest second-half comeback of the last quarter century, erasing an 11-game deficit in the process. With Johan Santana embarking on a 13-0 second half en route to claiming AL Cy Young Award honors, Justin Morneau capturing AL MVP and Joe Mauer being crowned as AL batting champion, the Twins went 49-27 in the second half. This allowed them to track down the Detroit Tigers, who had posted the game’s top record in the first half but stumbled south of .500 following the All-Star break. Ultimately the Twins won the AL Central on the final day of the season. 10 of 20

Colorado Rockies, 2007

On Sept. 15, Colorado was barely above .500 and 6.5 games back of the San Diego Padres. However, the Rockies soon turned the booster jets on, winning 13 of their final 14 games to incredibly reach 90 wins and force a one-game playoff for the NL wild-card spot. The game featured another incredible comeback, as the Rockies rallied from a two-run deficit in the bottom of the 13th inning, capped by Matt Holliday scoring a still-disputed run on a Jamey Carroll sacrifice fly to send the Rockies back to the postseason for the first time in six seasons.

By: Matt Whitener

https://www.yardbarker.com/mlb/articles/best_second_half_mlb_teams_of_wild_card_era/s1__29700269#slide_1

Yankees ace Luis Severino will start season on injured list

When the regular season begins, the New York Yankees will be without their best starting pitcher, Luis Severino.

Per Pete Caldera of the Bergen Record, Severino will be shut down for two weeks with rotator-cuff inflammation.

While manager Aaron Boone generally liked what the MRI revealed, Severino will begin the year on the Injured List.

Had he been healthy, Severino likely would have been New York’s Opening Day starter. In 2018, Severino posted a 3.39 ERA, 1.14 WHIP and struck out 220 batters in 191.1 innings over 32 starts.
Missing Severino at the beginning of the year will definitely hurt the Yankees, but only to a degree. Expect them to be rather cautious in bringing him along once he does return.

Original Article

By: Michael Dixon

 

Report: Manny Machado expected to sign with Yankees

The New York Yankees came into the offseason wanting to land one of the game’s best players, and they will reportedly do it. After careful consideration, Manny Machado is reportedly going to sign with the Yankees.

According to Dan Clark, Machado received final offers from the Yankees, Philadelphia Phillies and Chicago White Sox recently. As expected, the official announcement isn’t slated until early January, but the All-Star shortstop is reportedly going to sign with New York.

If Machado indeed signs with New York, it marks a major haul for the Yankees as they try to compete for their 28th World Series title and make it back to the World Series for the first time since 2009.

While it isn’t known which position Machado would play in New York, his flexibility would give the team plenty of options.

In addition to being an outstanding hitter coming off a 2018 season with a .297/.367/.538 slash line with 37 home runs, Machado is also one of the game’s best defenders at third base.

If Machado signs with New York and moves back to his original position at third base, it could open the door for the Yankees to trade rookie Miguel Andujar and add a high-end starting pitcher.

By: Matt Johnson

Original Article

Report: Yankees among the teams interested in J.T. Realmuto

Can we name one high-profile player available in free agency or the trade market that has not been linked to the New York Yankees?

Having already acquired ace pitcher James Paxton from the Seattle Mariners, New York apparently has a few different fires burning around the hot stove.

We can now add Miami Marlins All-Star catcher J.T. Realmuto to the mix of players the team has been linked to. According to Jon Heyman of Fancred Sports, New York has indeed shown interest in Realmuto.

This pretty much tells us what we need to know about New York’s stance regarding Gary Sanchez’s defense behind home plate. Any move to acquire Realmuto would either include Sanchez transitioning to first place or being traded.

Realmuto, 27, has been among the hottest names on the trade market over the past calendar year. And it now looks like the Marlins are looking to move the disgruntled backstop.

The veteran hit .277 with 21 homers, 74 RBI and an .827 OPS last season. He’d be a major upgrade over Sanchez from a defensive standpoint.

Though, interest in a player of Realmuto’s ilk and age is going to continue being strong. This means New York would have to offer a whole heck of a lot in return to add one of the game’s best catchers.

Original Post

By: Vincent Frank

Andujar hit, Gray aid raise Yankees over White Sox in 13

CHICAGO (AP) – A few expensive errors at third base over the weekend contributed to Miguel Andujar being the designated hitter the final two video games.

There’s no situation with the 23-year-old’s bat, although.

Andujar homered and singled within the go-ahead run within the 13th inning, Sonny Gray gained in his first aid outing since 2013 and the New York Yankees beat the Chicago White Sox 4-Three on Tuesday evening.

Andujar had three hits, and Giancarlo Stanton added a two-run shot as New York gained its second straight following a five-game skid that included 4 losses at AL East-leading Boston.

Whether it’s third base or DH, Andujar stated it doesn’t matter so long as he’s within the lineup.

“I’m going to play whatever position the manager decides to put me in,” he stated via a translator.

Gray (9-8) pitched three scoreless innings in his first look since shedding his spot within the beginning rotation. He allowed a success and a stroll whereas putting out 4. Gray hadn’t come out of the bullpen since his rookie season with Oakland.

“It’s been a tough couple of days for me, but everyone in this clubhouse has had my back,” he stated. “It was nice to come in in a situation and pitch well enough to get a win there.”

After Stanton’s homer made it 3-1 within the 10th, Jose Abreu hit a two-run homer towards Zach Britton within the backside of the inning.

Didi Gregorius began the 13th-inning rally with a one-out stroll towards Luis Avilan (2-1). After Gleyber Torres struck out, Luke Voit singled to place runners on first and second. Andujar then singled to left, scoring Gregorius.

Abreu’s homer was his 20th this season, making him the 18th participant with least 20 homers in every of his first 5 seasons.

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Derek Jeter Makes First Trade With Yankees For Marlins

Written by R.J. Anderson at CBS Sports.com

There have been two near-constants during Derek Jeter’s brief time a owner of the Miami Marlins: 1. Giancarlo Stanton trade rumors; and 2. Miami adding former New York Yankees. The second point there has usually meant on the front office side of things. That changed on Monday, as the Marlins and Yankees agreed to a trade.

The Marlins added first baseman Garrett Cooper and left-handed pitcher Caleb Smith in exchange for right-handed pitcher Michael King and international signing bonus pool money, the teams announced:

Cooper, who made his big-league debut in 2017, had only joined the Yankees back in July — when he was traded from the Milwaukee Brewers for Tyler Webb. He hit .326/.333/.488 in 13 games, and had a 1.057 OPS in the minors. But there’s a reason Cooper has been dealt twice in half a year, and it has to do with scouts’ dim view of his upside. Expect him to see some action in the majors in 2018 — likely in a platoon role with incumbent first baseman Justin Bour.

Smith also debuted in 2017, posting a 7.71 ERA over 18 2/3 innings. His fastball averages 94 mph and he throws a pair of secondary offerings. He could serve either in the bullpen or as rotation depth in the minors, depending on what the Marlins deem necessary at the end of the winter.

 The Yankees get King, a former 12th-round pick who managed a 3.14 ERA and 5.05 strikeout-to-walk ratio last season in Class A. The real draw could be the international bonus money, however, since it should aid the Yankees in their pursuit of Shohei Ohtani
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Hot Stove Rumors and Updates

Written by Scooby Axson at SI.com

It’s that time of year again where major league baseball’s free agency will spark a lot of rumors and a lot of deals in teams hopes that a player will bring them one step closer to a championship.

Nine players have received $17.4 million qualifying offers from their teams, and a total of 166 players have filed for free agency.

The majority of deals are expected to take place during next month’s in Orlando, Florida. As the league’s general manager meetings have come and gone, teams are trying to scramble in identifying players that will help their teams in the future.

Here is the latest news and rumors from around the league.

RUMORS AND NEWS

• The Cubs and pitcher Alex Cobb have mutual interest. Cobb has already received a one-year, $17.4 million qualifying offer from the Tampa Bay Rays. (Chicago Sun-Times)

• The Houston Astros have expressed interest in veteran catcher Jonathan Lucroy. (FanRag Sports)

• Marlins CEO Derek Jeter said that he had not yet spoken with Giancarlo Stanton about a possible trade. (MLB.com)

• The Yankees are among teams to talk Stanton with the Marlins (FanRag Sports)

• Baseball’s union challenged the $20 million posting system for Japanese two-way player Shohei Ohtani. Ohtani’s status is currently on hold. (FanRag Sports)

• The Braves will lose prospects for violating international market rules. (The Athletic)

• Th Rays are showing interest in Joey Bautista. (MLB.com)

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Joe Girardi Out As Yankees Manager

Written By Dan Martin and Kevin Kernan at New York Post.com

On the day Joe Girardi was dismissed by the Yankees, some of his players offered praise, like David Robertson and even Gary Sanchez, who had been benched during the season by the manager.

But Mark Teixeira, who played for Girardi from 2009 to 2016, criticized his former manager for being too tense and not connecting enough with his players.

“We all know why Joe Girardi is not coming back,” Teixeira told The Post on Thursday at Minute Maid Park. “We all know it’s because of the communication and the intensity was a little bit too much. [General manager Brian Cashman] did an amazing job rebuilding this roster. He just wanted a different voice.’’

A voice that is heard more frequently in the clubhouse.

“Everyone loves Joe, everyone respects Joe, he is a good manager, he is a good man,” said Teixeira, who now works for ESPN. “But with baseball the way it is played today and the need for a manager to be a better communicator and communicate with the front office the reasoning for doing things and to be a little bit more relaxed — especially in a place like New York, where the pressure is everywhere. He just wasn’t the best man for the job anymore.”

Apparently, the Yankees felt the same way.

“The communication and the highs and lows of the season weren’t Joe’s best assets and he will probably tell you that. He manages every game like it’s Game 7.”

Teixeira believes that caught up to his former manager.

Derek Jeter, who played for and with Girardi, called the news of his departure “unfortunate.”

“He’s probably one of the nicest people you’ll ever meet and it’s unfortunate, but this is a business,” said Jeter, who recently became part-owner of the Marlins. “You learn that,’’ Jeter said at the Fast Company Innovation Festival at the 92nd Street Y. “I think when you first come up as an athlete, as a professional athlete, when you’re younger, you’re just playing the game. The longer you play, you realize this is starting to become a business. So there’s some things at times are unpopular or not popular, but it’s part of the business.’’

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Astros Advance To Face Dodgers In World Series

Written by Adam Wells at Bleacher Report.com

The Houston Astros held serve at home in the American League Championship Series, defeating the New York Yankees 4-0 in Game 7 on Saturday to clinch the franchise’s second-ever trip to the World Series.

After losing three straight games at Yankee Stadium and facing elimination coming back to Minute Maid Park, the Astros returned home to defeat the Yankees in the last two games to win the AL pennant for the first time.

Jose Altuve and Evan Gattis both hit solo home runs. Brian McCann chipped in with a two-run double in the fifth inning to cap off Houston’s offensive output.

After winning 101 games during the regular season, the Astros will be in search of their first victory in a World Series game when they take on the Los Angeles Dodgers beginning Tuesday at Dodger Stadium.

Houston’s only previous trip to the Fall Classic came in 2005, when it was swept by the Chicago White Sox in four games.

Per ESPN Stats & Info, based on the records of Houston and Los Angeles, this kind of championship matchup hasn’t happened in 47 years:

The game began as a pitching duel between CC Sabathia and Charlie Morton. Both starters held the opposition scoreless through the first three innings.

The Astros were making Sabathia work hard, especially after the former AL Cy Young winner needed just seven pitches in the first inning. He gave up at least one hit and one walk in the next three innings.

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Yankees Take One Game Lead Against Astros As Series Heads Back To Houston

Written by Joel Sherman at NY Post.com

All hail and all that. Aaron Judge certainly has earned your attention with force-of-nature play and humble attitude.

All praise to the Yankees bullpen, one high-octane flamethrower after another.

The power portion of the Yankees roster — biceps and arms — garners the majority of focus, elicits most of the fear, has been central to games still being on the schedule here in the third week of October.

But in these playoffs in general and, especially, in this ALCS, the Yankees rotation has unplugged the Astros. Turned them off. Put one of the best offenses of the past quarter century on mute. Their offense is so quiet you can hear their bats drop in frustration.

This would be like holding the Warriors to 80 points per game in a playoff series or restricting a Tom Brady offense to a few field goals.
The Astros were a relentless wrecking ball during the season. They scored 38 more runs than any team this year (the Yankees were second), hit the second-most homers (the Yankees were first) and in the Division Series all but had the Red Sox hoping Jim Lonborg or Luis Tiant would show up for support.

In the ALCS, however, Houston has just nine runs in five games, just five of them against starters after another master class Wednesday by Masahiro Tanaka, who was supposed to be the other starter in Game 5 to Dallas Keuchel. Instead, Tanaka was the best supporting actor who stole every scene.

The Yankees hit Keuchel in a way they never had in eight previous starts, amassing four runs and knocking the lefty out in the fifth inning.

Meanwhile, Tanaka pitched the Yankees to the brink of the World Series, using his arsenal of fastball, slider and split to bedevil Houston’s lineup. His six shutout innings provided the backbone of a 5-0 triumph that gave the Yankees a three-games-to-two lead.

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