The 162-game regular season is over, and now we’re just waiting for playoff baseball to start. I don’t know why baseball feels like it needs two off days between Game 162 and Game One, but whatever. Before the postseason can start, the Yanks much first decide on a 25-man playoff roster, not always the easiest task. Brian Cashman has already hinted that the team will use a 10-man pitching staff for at least the Division Series, which means we’re looking at a six man bench.
This morning we looked at the position players, so let’s check out the hurlers now. With ten spots available, six are filled by these shoo-ins:
Just as those six are locks for the postseason roster, these seven are locks to be left off:
The remaining four spots will be occupied by some combination of Brian Bruney, Joba Chamberlain, Phil Coke, Chad Gaudin, Damaso Marte, and David Robertson. Let’s break down the matchups one by one.
Phil Coke vs. Damaso Marte
This one might depend on who the Yanks play in the ALDS. The Tigers have lefties Curtis Granderson (.897 OPS vs. RHP, .478 vs. LHP) and Aubrey Huff (.714 vs. .650) in their lineup, while the Twins pack Joe Mauer (1.099 vs. .910, haha) and Jason Kubel (1.011 vs. .648) into the 3-4 spots of their batting order. Coke held lefties to a .195-.218-.366 line this year, Marte .120-.214-.280. I’m not worried about Granderson or Huff beating me, good righties can get them out. Mauer and Kubel … well that’s a different story.
Given Mauer and Kubel’s dominance of righthanders, I’d like to have that extra southpaw in the bullpen if the Yanks have to face the Minny. Surely those two will come up in a big spot twice in one game at some point in the series, and you’d like to be able to combat that somewhat. As for Detroit, I don’t see why you’d need more than one LOOGY. If the Twins win Tuesday, I’d take both Coke and Marte, no question. If the Tigers win, well then we have a decision to make.
Obviously, Marte is the more accomplished of the two and has previous playoff experience. Coke’s been there all year, which should count for something, but his tendency to serve up homers scares the crap out of me. A healthy Marte – which is what he’s been since coming off the DL – is better than a healthy Phil Coke, so I’m going to take him.
Joba Chamberlain vs. Chad Gaudin
The Yanks aren’t going to need a fourth starter in the ALDS, so whichever guy comes along would be used strictly in relief. I watched Joba’s relief outing yesterday, but that one inning does nothing for me. As good as he looked during all seven of those pitches, it’s not enough to discount the last two months. Gaudin, at the very least, has been serviceable since joining the Yanks, and he straight up murders righthanders (.224-.293-.380), something we haven’t seen Joba do lately.
Believe me, I’m well aware of what Joba did out of the bullpen in 2007. But why should we expect him to repeat that kind of performance two years later? A shift to the bullpen isn’t going to magically fix his command. He hasn’t been reliable for two months now, and frankly he’s not one of the ten best pitchers in the organization at the moment. Don’t get me wrong, I’m all for showing patience and letting kids take their lumps as part of the learning experience, just not in the playoffs. This is crunch time, and the Yanks can’t afford to bring a lesser pitcher to the ALDS. Gaudin serves as a capable long man and perhaps even a ROOGY in the middle innings. I’m taking him for the Division Series.
David Robertson vs. Brian Bruney
Much to my surprise and probably just in the nick of time for him, Brian Bruney has been pretty decent in the last week or so. He’s retired 11 of the 13 batters he’s faced (spread over three appearances), four via the strikeout. Is that enough to negate the .942 OPS against and 19-20 K/BB ratio he put up in the previous 26 IP since coming off the DL? No, of course not. We can’t be fooled by a recent small sample size, no matter how good it looks.
David Robertson, on the other hand, is just coming off some elbow stiffness which creates some questions. Despite the injury, Robertson leads all AL pitchers – all of ’em – with 12.98 K/9. And it’s not particularly close either; Joakim Soria is second at 11.72, so we’re looking at a difference of about one strikeout every seven innings pitched. He walks fewer batters than Bruney (4.74 BB/9 to 5.31) and is much stinger with the longball (0.82 HR/9 vs 1.38). If the elbow is sound, this isn’t much of a debate for me: Robertson over Bruney.
So after all that, my ten-man pitching staff for the ALDS is:
LHRP: Coke vs. Twins
If the Tigers manage to win tomorrow, I still need one more arm because I’d only be bringing one LOOGY. Of the three guys who got snubbed – Coke, Joba, and Bruney – I’d have to go with … Coke. He’s been more effective than either of the other two of late, so he gets the nod. Sorry Joba, sorry Brian, but your craptacular pitching in the second half cost you a spot on my Division Series roster.
Given the ridiculous game, off day, game, off day, game, game, off day setup of the ALDS, Hughes and Mo should get the lion’s share of the work out of the bullpen. There’s no reason that duo can’t combine for nine outs in games one through three, and in an elimination game they could be pushed to 12 outs. You really can’t ask for a better third option than Aceves, so that’s like six innings of top notch relief the Yanks have available to them in the first three games of the Division Series.
So what do you guys think, would you take Joba over Gaudin, Bruney over K-Rob™? Any wildcard guys you’d rather include?