Through two games of the American League Division Series between the New York Yankees and Detroit Tigers Alex Rodriguez is 0-for-8 with two strikeouts and one RBI. In a critical Game 3 with probably Cy Young Award winner Justin Verlander on the mound the Yankees need some sort of offense from A-Rod.
True, the Yankees lineup is no longer built around Rodriguez. He hit .276 this season, with career lows in home runs (16) and RBI (62) in just 99 games as he battled knee and thumb injuries. The lineup is built around Robinson Cano (118 RBI), Curtis Granderson (41 homers, 119 RB) and Mark Teixeira (39 homers, 11 RBI). A-Rod, though, still hits fourth in the Yankee lineup, in-between all of those aforementioned players.
He had knee surgery rather than play through pain this season so he would be ready for October. The Yankees nursed him carefully through a thumb injury sustained when he returned from the knee surgery -- again purely so he would be ready for October.
Now, October is here and A-Rod is once again looking lost. Like he has so many postseasons in New York. He was a major factor in the 2009 World Series run but has gone just 7-for-40 (.175, with no home runs and four RBI) since.
The Yankees aren't playing A-Rod because of his strong arm at third base. Eduardo Nunez has one of those, and Eric Chavez is a better defender, anyway. They are playing him because of his bat, because of the 629 career home runs, because he is Alex Rodriguez.
Monday night, and for the rest of the series, the Yankees need A-Rod to deliver.