As the Yanks prepare for a three-game set against the Tampa Bay Rays to close out the season, the playoffs are looming large in the minds of the Bombers and their fans. With the pitching match-ups set for this weekend, we know a firm sense of the Yanks’ plans and can debate the merits of the Andy-and-A.J. decision.
Earlier this week, the Yankees announced that CC Sabathia would start on Friday night in search of his 20th win. Most of the Yanks’ A team will back him up. On Saturday, Andy Pettitte will take the ball in a final regular-season tune-up, and on Sunday, A.J. Burnett and the ALDS Game 1 lineup will earn themselves at least a few innings of time on the field. And so, as I’ve done once a week or so for the last few weeks, we extrapolate.
It’s safe to assume that the Yankees are going to take the longer ALDS series to avoid the Joba/Chad Gaudin decision that looms not as large as we might think (but more on that when and if the time comes). The pitching rotation, then, looks a little something like this:
We know that Chip Caray and Ron Darling will be manning the broadcast booth for the Yankees vs. Tigers/Twins. Now we have a pretty good idea who will be pitching.
On Wednesday, Joe tackled the Andy-and-A.J. debate and came to the conclusion I would have drawn. “I like A.J. as much as the next guy, he wrote, “but with the season on the line, I’d rather have Pettitte on the mound.”
Personally, we’d all rather have CC Sabathia on the mound in the a do-or-die Game 5, but Game 4 could be just as important. Either the Yanks will try to close the door on the Tigers or Twins or the Bombers will have to win Game 4 to force Game 5. CC fights the bill for that match-up.
There is an interesting twist to the post-season pitching previews as well that I didn’t include in the chart. Right now, the Tigers hold a two-game lead over the Twins. In an ideal world, these two teams will tie so that they have to play a game on Tuesday. In an also-ideal world, the Twins will be a game behind the Tigers come Sunday. That day, you see, is Justin Verlander’s next start. If the Tigers face a must-win situation, they will start Verlander on Sunday, and he won’t be available to pitch on regular rest until Game 2. Although that would line him up to pitch Game 5, I’d take my chances with the rest of the Tigers’ rotation.
If the Tigers win a pair this weekend or if the Twins drop two to the Royals, the point will be moot. Verlander can rest until Game 1, and we’d have ourselves a good old fashioned pitcher’s battle to start the playoffs. I’m ready. Are you?