All Hands On Deck

Open Thread: Phillies trying to stay alive
A Zack attack
(AP Photo/Tony Gutierrez)

On the brink of elimination, the Yankees and Joe Girardi had to pull out all the stops to secure a win in Wednesday’s Game Five. Thankfully the offense woke up a bit, so they didn’t have to resort anything too extreme, but Mariano Rivera was available for up to seven outs if needed. He’s done that just once in the last 53 months. It’s a win or go home situation, and that tells you just how desperate the Yanks were.

Unfortunately, things don’t get any easier from here. The Yanks are still facing elimination in Game Six later tonight, and once again they’ll have to pull out all the stops to save their season. That includes using Mo for multiple innings on back-to-back days, using other relievers in roles they might not be used too, and sometimes even bringing a starter out of the bullpen.

Game Five starter CC Sabathia told reporters during Thursday’s workout that he’ll be available to pitch in relief in Game Six. “I can probably throw 45 pitches, 50,” said the Yanks ace, definitely not an insignificant number of pitches. Perpetually confident, Sabathia declared that he would then throw another side session when (not if) the Yanks win in preparation for the World Series. We’ve known that CC is a team first guy for two years now, but this pretty much seals it.

Of course, going with your ace out of the bullpen is hardly a guarantee of success. The Phillies dropped Game Four of the NLCS two days ago when Roy Oswalt retired just one batter before allowing the Giants to score the winning run in the bottom of the ninth. Charles Nagy took the loss in Game Seven of the 1997 World Series, though that’s a special case since the game was in extra innings. One the other hand, the Yanks have first-hand knowledge of how devastating it can be to bring a starter out of the bullpen. Mike Mussina cleaned up Roger Clemens’ mess and then some in Game Seven of the 2003 ALCS, and I don’t think we need to re-live Randy Johnson’s heroics in both 1995 and 2001.

It’s the kind of move that’s ripe for second guessing. If the starter doesn’t get the job done in relief, everyone questions why he was brought in in the first place. If the regular relievers blow the game, everyone wants to know why the starter wasn’t in there. Managers get paid the big bucks to make that call, and Girardi will presumably have to decide between his setup crew (David Robertson, Boone Logan, and Joba Chamberlain) or his ace on two days rest after throwing 112 high-stress pitches in Game Five. I’m not Girardi, but for me the choice is clear: give me Sabathia eight days a week and twice on Sundays.

Given what he said, Sabathia probably available for two innings or so. Fifty pitches is a lot and should be more than enough for three innings, but I bet they’ll be just a little on the cautious side given their long-term commitment to him. That said, whatever needs to be done will be done, especially with Hughes on what we assume will be a short leash. Unlike Joba and D-Rob, CC has proven capable of retiring the Texas batters on a consistent basis (SSS), and he’s big and strong enough that the short rest isn’t much of a concern. It is his normal throw day, after all. If there’s a chance for Sabathia to take the ball from Hughes and hand it right off to Mo with the season on the line, I think that’s the route Girardi has to go. If CC isn’t needed in Game Six, then he’ll be available in Gave Seven. If you’re going to lose, lose with our best on the mound.

I hope Hughes renders this moot with a dominant and lengthy outing later tonight, something akin to what he did against the Twins in the ALDS. But anything short of that, Sabathia should be the first one out of the bullpen in any situation short of a Yankee blowout. There’s zero margin for error in Yankeeland right now, and the ball needs to be in the hands of the team’s best pitchers, period.

Open Thread: Phillies trying to stay alive
A Zack attack
  • Benjamin Kabak

    I’d take this one step further and say that, unless the Yanks are involved in a blowout, the only pitchers that should get the ball over the next two games are Hughes, Pettitte, Sabathia, Wood and Rivera. Maybe I’d include Boone Logan in the right situation, and maybe David Robertson. But in an ideal world, those five and only those five would pitch the final 18 innings of the ALCS, provided it goes that long.

    And Wood in particular should be pushed to the brink. He ain’t coming back next season. Ride ’em as long as you’ve got ’em.

    • seimiya

      But you know if Girardi uses Wood in Game 6 and the hypothetical Game 7 and something terrible happens in 7, people will be wondering where Robertson was.

    • mrgfeeny

      How about AJ?

      Now that I think about it, it’s a good question. Where does AJ rank in the pack of guys used? Is he a level below the 5 guys you mentioned? Or is he lower than the jobas, d-robs, and logans?

      • mleetch352

        D-Rob is the only guy I would add to Ben’s list.

      • mustang

        I say AJ should be right behind the Hughes, Pettitte, Sabathia, Wood and Rivera group. He has been effective against Texas most of the season.

        • Tom Zig

          I disagree. I love AJ Burnett and he is one my of favorite players. But there is no possible way he even warms up unless this game goes 15 innings. God damn, can you even imagine the outrage if AJ came in?

          • Dirty Pena

            Assuming it’s close enough for extras, meaning the starter wasn’t a disaster and Girardi has presumably gone to matchups at some point, I don’t think it would be crazy so see AJ as soon as the 11th. He’s gotta be ahead of Mitre and Moseley.

            • Dirty Pena

              so to see AJ

            • Dirty Pena

              I’d say the Game 6/7 bullpen hierarchy is:

              1) Rivera- closer
              2) Wood- setup
              3) Sabathia- LOOGY/setup
              4) Robertson- for the 6th or earlier
              5) Logan- 2nd LOOGY (only in case of emergency)
              6) Joba- for the 5th or earlier
              7) AJ- before or after all of 1-6 (not before if K-Rob needs to get out of a jam
              8) Mitre- uh, if the game goes 15+
              9) Moseley- most likely way of getting in is an injury to a position player when we only have 9 left

              • Ray the Anti-Handle

                After watching Mitre pitch the last few games, I think I’d take Moseley over him.

                Not that it matters all that much at that point anyways. Our hearts are going to go through a roller coaster ride with each batter representing potential elimination in extra innings.

                • Tim

                  You could argue that this series would be over right now if it weren’t for Moseley. I think it is clear that Moseley is ahead of Mitre in the pecking order as a long man, and would be used if necessary early in the game first (of those two).

          • mustang

            Look at AJ’s numbers vs. Texas this year.

        • Dirty Pena

          AJ is the guy on the staff most prone to a big inning. I don’t think it’s a good idea to have him in short relief.

    • Dirty Pena

      If the starters make it through 5, I can’t see any reason to use Boone. Since I’m assuming Wood and Mariano have the last 3-4 innings, and CC can be the LOOGY, I don’t really see any opportunity for Logan (again, assuming the SP doesn’t bomb.)

    • Dream of Electric Sheep/ still haven’t register /too lazy

      And Wood in particular should be pushed to the brink. He ain’t coming back next season. Ride ‘em as long as you’ve got ‘em.
      Heartless,Cruel and yet,very logical.

  • Mark

    CC is not even human, just straight up beast!!!

    • RKelly39

      Dude, the best

  • Dirty Pena

    From LoHud:

    If Rivera gets six outs tomorrow, though, it’s unlikely he’d be available for six outs in Game 7. “I doubt it,” Girardi said.

    If what’s being talked about here comes to fruition, I may have to murder a pack of innocent puppies.

    • RSA

      fwiw, i’m ok with it. game 6 is a must-win; without it there’s (obviously) no game 7. something about crossing bridges when you get to them comes to mind…

      • Ty

        I’m not sure that holds true if it’s 3-2 bot 8 of game 7…easier said than done by Girardi

        • Ty

          Not to mention that all 2ip performances are alike…he could throw 2ip in 19 pitches with some luck or throw 44 I think it will be more dependent on how his 2ip go tonight (assuming he throws 2)

          • James

            I think Rivera could throw 40 pitches on back to back nights and still be effective. He pitched three innings in game 7 of 2003 (seven years ago or not) against the Sox and no one admitted it but we all knew he was coming out for a 4th. The dude ain’t Joe Nathan, he’s the most dominant closer of all time and throws one pitch. His velocity has dipped by 4 or 5 mph since his “prime” and he’s still just as effective. In fact I’d bet he could throw 85mph and still get guys out.

  • mleetch352

    i expected CC to be available for an inning or two out of the pen but not tomorrow on 1 day rest, rather in Game 7 when we get there, wow.

  • All Star Carl

    What happened to Dustin?

    • Tom Zig

      Moseley? He’ll be sitting in the bullpen ready to NOT be used.

      This is an elimination game, anyone short of your best players physically capable of playing is unacceptable.

      • CP

        If the Yankees are up in a huge blowout tonight, then you bring in the crappy relievers to save your best for game 7 or if the game gets within 4 runs.

  • RKelly39

    Hopefully, Hughes will make some adjustments. He’s still given us our best start of the postseason in Game 3 of the ALDS.

    Also, it’s not like Colby Lewis is a young Pedro Martinez. He’s not even a young Ramón Jaime Martínez. Give Hughes an early lead and I bet he can hold it down.

  • Al Yankee

    CC is the man. Doc was asked tonight if he could start on short rest, he said with a smirk “whatever they need me to do”. CC is ready to fire at the Rangers right now. Phil>CC>MO is the shizznet. Phil is capable, however, to take care of 5 innings (Dont leave him in there, Joe!). 2 for CC and 2 for MO. Do you throw Wood in the 8th? Maybe Joe will if the lead is there. My fear, is that Joe doesn’t have the urgency to bring in the trusted crew if the team is down a few runs. the “Yankee killer” Colby L is throwing to the champs, so its going to be stingy.
    I believe, though, I believe

    • Ray the Anti-Handle

      Oh, Girardi will have an urgency. There’s no point saving bullets now, unless they’re saving them for the golf course. They don’t win Game 6, there will be no Game 7 to plan for.

  • RSA

    has anyone checked the forecast for friday? i live in dallas and i’ve been hearing there’s a 50% chance of rain tomorrow/tomorrow pm. any idea, in an ALCS, what the odds are of it being rained out? would it be moved to sat/sun instead of fri/sat? and if so, would girardi go to pettite game 6 and cc game 7, or stay with the plan as scheduled?

    • Benjamin Kabak

      I have to believe that if the Yanks somehow managed to enjoy a rainout, they’d go with Pettitte in Game 6 and CC in Game 7. Would the Rangers though counter with Lee in Game 6 in an effort to end the series before it goes to 7?

      • RSA

        i haven’t heard any talk about that possibility, but i’d have to think absolutely not… i doubt there’s any way that they wouldn’t want to save him for the most important game – a deciding game 7. but then that’s just me, and i don’t have a history of cocaine use.

        • mleetch352

          when you only need 1 win every game can be a deciding game. no reason to risk game 7 where anything can happen if you dont have to.

          • RSA

            true, but it’s kinda like having an insurance policy or last line of defense. much better to save your best guy for when you’re actually in danger of being eliminated, instead of when you’re just hoping to clinch in a non do-or-die situation.

        • Ellis

          Seriously, stop making fun of Ron Washington’s past drug use. Stop it. It’s juvenile, personal, and straight-up mean.

          • CS Yankee

            Yah, Hamilton’s the one that has been doing the damage.


          • I am not the droids you’re looking for

            For me its not so much the *past* drug use…


      • Tom Zig

        It would be the logical move. But Ron Washington doesn’t strike me as a logical guy.

  • ecks

    More than the willingness to pitch, you gotta love the big guy’s mentality. That’s downright beastly of CC.

  • FIPster Doofus

    “I’ll throw a side (session) again when we win.”

    I got chills from reading this quote.

    • ecks

      An I as well.

      • ecks


  • BigBlueAL

    I say lets get a blowout win in Game 6 and not use CC, Wood and Mo so all 3 will be available for 2 innings and then some each in Game 7 w/o any problems. lol

  • TLVP

    I’d only bring in CC in game 6 as a situational lefty to face one or two batters. Winning game 6 on its own doesn’t make a difference we must win game 6 AND 7.Girardi’s game plan can therefore not focus only on game 6.

    If you use CC in game 6 on 1 days rest his availability will be impaired for game 7. Of all the pitchers he is the one you would assume will beenfit the most from an additional days rest.

    I’d much rather see Mo and Wood used in game 6 to the extent that they aren’t available for game 7 and then trust CC to handle the bull penn duties in game 7.

    Listen – CC is a horse but even he has limits (or else he’d start 162 games a year)

    • CP

      I disagree. You do everything you can to win game 6. Worry about game 7 when (if) it comes.

  • Sean C

    CC’s build is unlike most mortal pitchers. The dude could easily be a lineman in the NFL. Time will tell WHEN all the miles he’s logged on that arm over the last few years will take its toll (he’s a pitcher, and it will), but right now, I have more faith in him than anyone else in the bullpen/rotation not named Wood or Rivera. It stands to reason that an Ace level starter should be great out of the bullpen (we’ve been through this argument with Joba and others before, but then again, Joba is Joba…) no matter what his rest is. Starters have their routines, and we’ve seen what extended rest has done for CC. It feels like the man just needs to pitch. Like the post says, all hands on deck. Leave everything on the field, because it’s a couple more games of the 2010 season and a shot at the title versus “golf”…

  • Ellis

    Here’s why I love RAB: you talk about CC being a team-first player, which I think is true. But you also rely on reason and advanced & old-school statistics to back up arguments. The MSM is too much about narratives, and sites like FanGraphs are often snide and would never say something Iike “team-first player.” RAB has the perfect blend of reason and a kind of romantic love of the game, and that’s why I’m here every day.

    Thanks, RABbis, your work means a lot to us.

    • CS Yankee

      true that…

      In life or sports (or the life of sports), combine logic with passion and your limitless.

  • dan

    would yanks be able to trade ivan nova for homer bailey

  • Andrew

    Haven’t heard many people talking about it, but the forecast tonight in Texas is Isolated Thunderstorms with a 30% chance for rain. If the game gets rained out, do we hold with our current rotation? I’d feel more confident having Andy then pitch game 6, and CC go game 7 with Hughes ready in the bullpen.

    • Ty

      Especially in a game 7 with all hands on deck I think you’d have to go Pettitte game 6 and let CC max it out game 7. Would the Rangers throw Lee game 6 as well???

      • mustang

        I say they leave him for game 7 they still have a game to play with.

        • Andrew

          If I were the Rangers I’d pitch him game 6. Then if they lose game 6, and a rain out pushes game 7 back any, he’d be available to pitch relief in the rubber match.

          • mustang

            Nope. You want to use your best pitcher when its due or die.

            • Andrew

              Why do tomorrow what you can do today? In a possible playoff series clincher you don’t go into the game holding back anything.

              • mustang

                Because they don’t have to Lewis held the Yankees to 2 runs and won. why mess with the rotation when your up a game and there is no need.

      • Andrew

        We’re facing Lee one way or the other, so game 6 vs. game 7 doesn’t matter too much. The Rangers aren’t expecting to see much more of CC. A rain out would be so huge for us!

    • mustang

      I say YESSSSS!!!!

  • mustang

    A rain out would be a blessing Andy in 6 and if they make it CC in 7 with Hughes in the pen to back up both.

  • Yank the Frank

    As of 9AM today, tonights forcast is 30% chance of rain. Isolated thunderstorms. Lets play ball.

  • MattG

    I don’t care what CC says–he is not available today. He can through his 50 pitches on two days rest tomorrow. Tomorrow would be his usual side day, right? Has he thrown even a side session on one day’s rest this year?

    Don’t ask him to do something he hasn’t done with the season on the line. His side day is tomorrow, he is available tomorrow, not today.

    That said, in a game in which the Yankees trail or lead by two runs or less, Hughes should hand the ball to Rivera, regardless of the inning, because you can have CC for the 7th, 8th and 9th tomorrow.

    • hotspur40

      “Hughes should hand the ball to Rivera”

      Well, or Hughes>Wood>Rivera

      Obviously, I’d love to see Hughes pitch a full 7 innings, but he will be on a very short leash (I hope) and if there is any sign of trouble or the Rangers starting to mount a rally, we need Wood in there ASAP. He can pitch 2-3 innings no problem and that should get you to Rivera as long as Hughes can pitch at least 4-5 solid innings.

      Mind you, I’d love it if the score were such that we could have Wood pitch the 8th and maybe only use Mo for the 9th. That would leave him stronger for a longer stint tomorrow if need be.

      Don’t get me wrong. I’d love to have CC avail tonight as the “bridge” esp as he’s a lefty. But I agree 100% with you. I don’t know why everyone seems keen on using CC tonight. He should be considered our secret weapon in Game 7. If we need him in Game 6, then…..

      I don’t even want to think about it…

  • Big Bertha

    There will be no rainout. Hughes will have to do what he’s never done before, win a big playoff game with the season on the line. I think he can do it and force the game 7. The pitching should be there for us the next two games, we just need the bats to come alive like they did in Game 5.

  • Andrew

    I would be incredibly surprised to see CC today. If Hughes gets knocked out early there may be a slight slight chance but even then its doubtful – Girardi is more inclined to exhaust the relievers tonight and (potentially) rely on CC in a game 7. With Wood and Mo for two a piece you really need Hughes to get threw five innings. Even if he doesn’t, I think Girardi mixes and matches Robertson, Logan, Joba to get you to the sixth, when you put Wood in.

    • Ty

      I really hope Girardi just lets Hughes get through the lineup 2 times and takes what he gets (like I felt he should of done with AJ) and max out the pen tonight.

      • Andrew

        Agreed. Need a quick hook tonight.

  • UncleArgyle

    If ever a game called out for a 5 run top of the first, this is it. Yanks need to jump on Lewis like he’s some kind of hasbeen who couldn’t cut it in Japan. The sooner the Rangers players let the thought creep in there head of “at least Cliff Lee is pitching tomorrow” the better.

  • Tank Foster

    What I would REALLY like to see in a game like this is for the manager to have the courage to think outside of the “closer” mentality and really use the bullpen to its fullest.

    Given a close game, 7th inning or later, high leverage situation, the FIRST reliever coming into the game should be Mariano Rivera. Undoubtedly. You ride him for an inning or two, then you go to the next most effective guy, which would be Wood.

    Now if there’s trouble earlier in the game than the 7th, and you need someone, I don’t know who I’d choose. If they are down by 3 runs in the fifth? I don’t know.

    All I know is that if it’s tied and the Rangers have a man on second and none out in the 7th, Rivera should be the one pitching. Rivera is their best chance of avoiding a run there. Waiting to bring Mo in to start the 8th or 9th would be less effective use of him.

  • SodaPopinski

    Cant wait to watch this game!

  • CBean

    It’s Robbie’s birthday. Elimination from the playoffs would be a terrible gift.

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