As the Yankees prepare for a pivotal Game 3 tonight against the Baltimore Orioles, all the talk has focused onto what manager Joe Girardi should do about the lineup. The talk has also centered on what part of the order Alex Rodriguez should be hitting in. A-Rod’s postseason struggles have been reported numerous times and this is not the article where we are going to focus on those numbers. I want to focus on a different Yankee player who over the past few seasons has had his struggles go under the radar because of Alex’s inefficient at-bats.
That man is right fielder Nick Swisher. Over his Yankee career, Swisher has been a fan favorite for Yankee nation with his personality and the loose energy he brings to the table. You can argue that looseness was one of the small reasons why New York won it all in 2009. However, when the bright lights come on in October, every Yankee gets or is supposed to be put under the playoff microscope. Even a good 2009 postseason has A-Rod under the microscope this year, so why isn’t that the same for Swisher? In the Yankees’ last three postseason series (including the first two games vs. BAL), Swisher has seven hits in 47 at-bats with two homers and three runs batted in. This problem goes back to 2009. Prior to Game 2 of the World Series, Nick was 4-35 with 1 RBI. This caused Girardi to bench him against Pedro Martinez of the Phillies for… wait for it… Jerry Hairston Jr.! That has always stood out to me in my mind.
In Game 2, Brian Matusz pitched around Robinson Cano in the 7th inning to face Swisher with two outs and it worked in the Orioles’ favor. The stat that always gets shown on TBS is the runners in scoring position stat: (1 for 33)! One of the ways that Swish brings value to the team is through his solid on-base percentage (.364) and his high walk total (77). In the postseason, however, does the anxiety get to him to the point where he is solely looking for a walk and not looking to get a hit in the big moment? Maybe, his name should be lower than A-Rod’s in the order if Girardi goes with a new lineup on Wednesday.
Looking ahead to the offseason, general manager Brian Cashman will have some major decisions to make. He has to decide whether to pick up options and/or discuss extensions for Cano and Curtis Granderson. Swisher is going to be a free agent at the end of the postseason. If he is looking to get a big pay day and continues to struggle in October, do the Yankees still bring him back with their budget plans? Probably not. To sum this up, a good laugh is great for the clubhouse and Swisher brings that. However, in October, when the spotlight is bright on the Yankees, do the jokes stop being funny when the results aren’t produced? We are about to find out soon enough!