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Players' Weekend

Takeaways from the West Coast trip

The Yankees just wrapped up their second and last West Coast swing yesterday. Here are some of the key takeaways:

Oakland swoon, Seattle dominance

You can say that this Yankees era started in 2017. Since then, they are a putrid 1-9 in Oakland. That’s not very good.

tOPS+ measures OPS+ relative to the team’s overall OPS. This year it was actually at 111. However, the last two years it was at 74 and 92. This year, they were outscored overall 17-9 in the three games.

The RingCentral Coliseum (unfortunate name) is perennially jockeying with Tropicana Field for the worst stadium in the league. Last year in a poll done by the Athletic (ironic, I know), Oakland was voted as the worst city/ballpark to visit with 36.2 percent of the vote. Tampa Bay was second but nowhere close at 15 percent. This year, Oakland was second in the voting for the city players least enjoy visiting on road trips behind Cincinnati. All of this is getting at the fact that it is not fun to play in Oakland. And that trend continued this year.

Conversely, it has been a lot of fun to play in Seattle. With their latest sweep, the Yankees are 24-6 (.800) in the last 30 games played at T-Mobile Park (formerly Safeco Field). They’ve won nine straight series in Seattle.

World Series preview?

The Yankees took two of three from the Dodgers last weekend and did so against two of their best pitchers. And had it not been for a controversial play in the ninth inning on Saturday (MLB has since told the Yankees that time should not have been called), it could have been a clean sweep.

The team slugged three homers off of both Hyun-Jin Ryu and Clayton Kershaw . And should these two teams face off in October, the Bombers shouldn’t be afraid to face the aforementioned pitchers again. They feast off of left-handed pitching – they rank fourth in the majors in OPS and third in wRC+ against them.

To be honest, I think the 2019 champion will come down to who wins between the Astros and the Yankees. But the Dodgers are the top candidate to emerge out of the NL, and the Yankees showed they are not going to be intimidated by the leader of the senior circuit, even on the road.

Starting pitching answers

We had some more clarity about recent starting pitching. James Paxton was great in Los Angeles. The left-hander carved up the Dodgers elite offense and rang up 11 in the process. He was good, not great in Seattle, walking five but only allowing two runs over five innings of work (86 pitches). Paxton has been much more consistent over the past month or so, and that’s all he needs to be. Give me five innings, two runs in the playoffs and I think everyone would sign up to hand that over to the bullpen.

J.A. Happ was mediocre once again. Sure, five innings and three earned runs is not too bad, but he gave up a three-run home run right after the team had spotted him a four-run lead. Happ leads the league in HR/9 with 2.15. That’s not going to fly in October. A home run with two or three runners on base is going to completely suck the momentum away. He should not be starting in a month’s time, especially with Luis Severino on the mend.

Masahiro Tanaka went from a bad start in Oakland to dominant in Seattle. Tanaka-san loves the Pacific Northwest: he is now 5-0 with a 1.43 ERA across 44.0 innings there. Overall against Seattle, he is 8-0 with a 1.89 ERA in 71.1 innings. Not too shabby.

Domingo German also bounced back from a rough outing in Oakland and back-to-back extra base-hits in L.A. to subdue the Dodgers to the tune of a six solid innings.

Judge heating up

Is Aaron Judge back? The 6’7” slugger hit six home runs out west, including one in each game of the Dodgers series. Is he finally fully over the oblique injury? Hopefully. Judge has had some unfortunate injuries with the oblique and his wrist last year – both parts that are integral to a power guy like Judge. When the big fella is clicking, everyone’s happy.

A 5-4 road trip is not too bad considering they started off 0-3. Now we get to go back home, and most importantly – no more 10pm starts.