Poll: The Game Two Starter

Yankees drop Nunez from ALCS roster, add Eppley
ALCS Pitching Preview: Doug Fister
(Alex Trautwig/Getty)

The new playoff schedule has the Yankees playing five games in five days — spanning the final three games of the ALDS and the first two of the ALCS — which means they’ll have to do something creative for their Game Two starter tomorrow night. It’s not ideal but it is what it is, nothing anyone can do. Thankfully the Bombers have a number of viable options to start that game, some better and more practical than others. Joe Girardi indicated that he will announce his Game Two starter during his pre-Game One press conference this afternoon, but first let’s run through the candidates…

Hiroki Kuroda on three days’ rest
Kuroda started Game Three of the ALDS, the first of this five games in five days stretch. He threw 105 pitches across 8.1 innings on Wednesday and would have to start Game Two tomorrow on short rest, something he has never done in his MLB career. Considering his age (37) and how his career-high workload (219.1 IP) seemed to be catching up to him in September, starting Kuroda on three days’ rest seems like a risky proposition.

It’s worth noting that if the Yankees bring CC Sabathia back on short rest of Game Three (which I am absolutely in favor of doing) and do not pitch Kuroda in Game Two, he would get pushed back to Game Four and therefore only make one start in the series even if it goes the full seven games. That is not ideal at all. Kuroda is too good to limit like that.

(Al Bello/Getty)

David Phelps
Although he threw 27 pitches out of the bullpen on Thursday, it shouldn’t be a problem to bring Phelps back tomorrow. He started and threw 86 pitches last Tuesday, so giving the team 80 pitches if needed in the spot start doesn’t feel like too much to ask. Phelps shouldn’t worry anyone considering how well he closed out the season, with just six runs allowed in his final 21 innings. The problem here is that if the Yankees use him for the start, he won’t be available out of the bullpen until at least Game Four and maybe even Game Five. That could be problematic, especially if Joba Chamberlain‘s bruised elbow keeps him out of action for even just the first few games of the series.

Ivan Nova or Freddy Garcia
No offense to these two, but I don’t think I can make a decent case that either should start. Both pitched so poorly down the stretch that they lost their rotation spots late in the season, and it would be wishcasting to run either of them out there expecting a full 100-ish pitch start that gives the Yankees a chance to win. They are options because they’re stretched out and have experience in the postseason, but they’re more “break glass in case of emergency” options that anything else.

* * *

The Yankees announced earlier this morning that Cody Eppley took Eduardo Nunez‘s spot on the ALCS roster, giving the team a full 12-man pitching staff. That may be an indication that they’re leaning towards Phelps for the Game Two start but it’s not a guarantee; they could have easily added the extra reliever knowing both Kuroda and Sabathia will start on short rest and might not throw as many pitches as usual.

It’s worth noting that since Monday is a travel day, running through the entire bullpen in Game Two won’t be a concern since everyone is guaranteed rest the following day. It should also be a throw day for Phil Hughes, who could pitch in relief if needed. Bringing Sabathia back for Game Three means Phil would not start until Game Four on Wednesday at the earliest. Using him for an inning or two on Sunday has to be on the table.

Who should start Game Two?
Total Votes: 1469 Started: October 13, 2012 Back to Vote Screen
Yankees drop Nunez from ALCS roster, add Eppley
ALCS Pitching Preview: Doug Fister
  • Mickey Mantle’s Outstanding Experience

    I voted for F the 2nd wild card.

  • ThatstheMelkyMesaWaysa

    No surprise that Garcia has no votes as of yet. Has he even pitched since the A’s Melky Mesa Ibanez A-Rod game?

    • Ed

      Garcia pitched the last inning of the regular season.

      • ThatstheMelkyMesaWaysa

        Oh yeah.

  • Eddard

    I’d go Phelps, of course that will be a lot easier to do if the Yanks win today. If the Yanks lose today then there will be more of a push to go Kuroda in Game 2 with Verlander looming in Game 3. I think Kuroda on short rest would be a disaster. We know CC can handle it but Kuroda has shown signs of wearing down. Phelps and Lowe should be able to give you 6 decent innings against the Tigers worst starter.

  • Countryclub

    Why are nova and Garcia even options in this poll if they’re not on the roster?

    • http://www.riveraveblues.com Mike Axisa

      Just because they’re not on the roster doesn’t mean you can’t think they should get the start.

      • CountryClub

        I guess I misunderstood the poll.

      • Sweet Dick Willie

        I find it nonsensical to have a poll with fantasy starters (since Nova & Garcia aren’t on the ALCS play-off roster, they’re just a fantasy) and leave off the one pitcher who actually has a chance to get the ball (Derek Lowe).

        • http://www.riveraveblues.com Mike Axisa

          Lowe hasn’t thrown more than 45 pitches in an outing since July. I don’t see how he’s a viable starting option at all.

          • Sweet Dick Willie

            That may be true, but since he’s actually on the roster, he could start, whereas Nova & Garcia can’t start, as they’re not on the roster.

  • thurdonpaul

    I wanted to write in Mike Mussina :)

    • ThatstheMelkyMesaWaysa

      I’m in favor. Can somebody explain to me that bend at the waist thing he would do before pitching out of the stretch? Mo occasionally does it too.. I have no idea.

      • ROBTEN

        To check the runner at first.

        • Marcy

          Mo does it a lot and he suggested it to Soriano as well.

  • Kiko Jones

    Honestly, under these circumstances, who should pitch Game 2 depends on whether the Yankees win Game 1. If they win tonight, I say Nova or Gracia; if they lose, then Kuroda or Phelps.

    • CountryClub

      If the yanks chose Phelps to pitch a must win gm 2 weeks ago, why would they pick anybody else to start in the playoffs?

    • Steve (different one)

      I don’t like this method at all. I think you have to make your choice now, and tell everyone what they are doing so they can prepare. These guys are human beings, and most athletes are very habitual. I don’t like the idea of having the rotatio depend on what happens. This isn’t last year when you only had 1.5 decent starters. They actually have 3 excellent starters and 2 good ones. If they hit at all, they can win this series no matter what order they go with.

  • TopChuckie

    If they go Phelps in Game 2, when does Kuroda pitch? CC in 3, Phil in 4, Pettitte on normal rest in 5. Kuroda not until a possible Game 6? Or Kuroda in Phil’s Game 4 spot then Phil in 6?

    • Sweet Dick Willie

      Why in the world would you skip Kuroda in game 4 in favor of Hughes?

      • Jay

        I think you want the fly ball pitcher in Hughes pitching in Detroit. Also, Kuroda is better at home. That’s the only reasoning I can think of to start Hughes in game 4 and have Kuroda pitch game 6. With Pettitte pitching game 5 of course.

    • Ted Nelson

      Most like Kuroda in Game 3, CC in Game 4.

  • 28 this year

    I think the Yankees will overcome this but it is kinda bullshit to be in this type of position as the number 1 seed. Like really, MLB? This is the effing scheduling you go with?

    • CountryClub

      It’ll make winning the WS that much sweeter.

    • Laz

      It is terrible. There was 3 days off between regular season and ALDS, but the #1 seed doesn’t get any days off between ALDS AND ALCS. In this case it is better to be the #2 seed and start DS a day earlier, so you pitchers set up easier for CS.

      • Sweet Dick Willie

        Or better yet, the #3 seed so that you get the 1st 2 games at home.

        Bad job by Selig & Co.

  • Jose M. Vazquez

    If Phelps threw 80 plus pitches 3 days ago, could he be effective? I’m inclined to agree with Eddard above and start Lowe and if he slips, bring in Phelps or have the bullpen throw two innings each.

    • Jose M. Vazquez

      Am I contradicting myself? If I bring in Phelps it would be for one or two innings in relief.

  • jjyank (The Stare Is Dandy)

    I say Phelps. I want Nova and Garcia nowhere near a postseason start right now. I still think Nova will be a good piece for the team moving forward, but I’m not taking that gamble now. I love me some HIROK, but the combination of age, workload, and lack of three days rest experience makes me too nervous.

    Go with Phelps, work out a game plan to minimize the damage of Miggy/Fielder and hope for the best.

  • Hoss

    Can we add another option: Unexpected power failure in the South Bronx on Sunday afternoon forcing postponement of the game until Monday? I’ve got a pack of squirrels ready to roam Metro North tracks and switching stations if called upon. They’re all huge Yankee fans.

    • Betty Lizard

      I like it. I’m ready to chip in for premium unsalted peanuts as a reward,

  • nsalem

    With Phelps as a potential Game 2 starter , I would not consider short resting CC or Hiroki. If are choices were Nova or Freddy I would be of a different mindset. Phelps performance up to now has indicated that he can give us a representative quality start and history has given us many examples of young pitchers coming up huge in big games. Short rest is a sign of panic and there is no need to. As great as Verlander is and as much respect I have for him we have performed better against than any other AL team. If are pitching holds up the way it has he will be hard pressed to beat us twice. He has never been a sure thing against the Yankees.

  • CUYanks

    One of the underrated impacts of Kuroda being used on short rest is that it would allow him to pitch a second time in the series in game 6. If he doesn’t pitch until game 4 (or even game 3), it’s likely he only makes 1 start in the ALCS. (If it goes game 7 and they had Kuroda/CC go games 3 and 4, they almost certainly bring back CC on short rest for game 7). So essentially, the tradeoff is a Kuroda start (on 3 days rest) for a Phelps start. Let’s not forget Phelps also pitched Thursday (albeit briefly), so he’ll only have 2 full days of rest between outings as well.

  • Get Phelps Up (wins needed: 8)

    I would do: Pettitte, Phelps, CC, Kuroda, Pettitte, Hughes, CC in that order although I wonder if there is any merit to flopping Kuroda and Hughes so Kuroda can pitch at YS and Hughes can pitch in spacious Comerica park.

  • CUYanks

    Is it just me, or does it seem obvious that if the MLB Divisional Round playoffs are to be staggered for ratings, the schedules that are matched up should be NL-NL and AL-AL (not NL-AL and NL-AL as it is)? It makes little sense for the AL game 5’s to end on separate days, when it would be perfectly fair for both NL game 5’s to end on the later day, because the NLCS starts a day later than the ALCS.

    • CUYanks

      I guess this all comes back to the WC play-in games, where there is 1 in each league. It still feels so ludicrous to have one NL series have a guaranteed 2 days off between a game 5 and game 1 of the LCS, with an AL series with a guaranteed 0 days off between game 5 LDS and and game 1 LCS.

  • Kevin

    I don’t like going with guys on short rest but I think thats the best option. If we go to Phelps then Im guessing the rotation would be


    Which only gives Kuroda one start and still gives CC a start on short rest no matter what if it goes to 7 games.

    I’d go


  • Marcy

    I was really ready to say Phelps for sure but he did throw 27 pitches on Wed. I’m not sure what that means as far how long he could go and he always has 1st inning woes. So – I’m changing it up a little after looking at the stats – I’m going w/Derek Lowe.
    Kuroda can’t go on short rest. Actually, I don’t think anyone should go on short rest if they can avoid it. Both Hughes and Kuroda are over their previous pitch counts for the year so they need Andy and CC to get them deep into games. It’s a challenge with this schedule – and remember it was Phelps who lost the game the last time he pitched although you could blame it more on no offense he’s a rookie and this is an awfully big spot for him.
    I’m concerned about Russell Martin having to catch all these days in a row and we know that Chavez can’t play too many days in a row either so I think A-Rod is back tonight.

  • Laz

    I’m really leaning toward Hiroki. I know it is short rest, but you really need to do everything you can to get your best 3 starters in twice each. I was advocating more time for Phelps in the regular season, but I think that Kuroda is too good, Phelps would be my 2nd choice if Kuroda can’t go. It is not like it is something crazy, it is one less off day for one time. Not over a whole season.

    If you put Phelps in game 2 it means that Kuroda doesn’t start until game 4 after CC probably. Also it is bad to say if they win Game 1 that Phelps should get it, then they are tied with 3 games in detroit.

  • Dan

    I choose E – pray game 2 is rained out

  • jim p

    Kuroda for Game 2, planning for 5 innings, with Phelps as the finisher. Then Hiroki is on schedule for game 6 with normal rest.

  • smurfy

    The Yanks should start Ivan Nova. Love Phelps, my plan B, but his mettle has not been fully hardened. Ivan is my bulldog, and his first start back from his sore shoulder, he was masterful in 6 innings vs. the stronger (Longoriad) Rays, giving up 2 on 6 baserunners and a homer, striking out 8.

    First start after a rest, his shoulder can take more, and he can give more.

    • Knoxvillain

      It’s not his shoulder. It’s his location. Nova isn’t going to throw a pitch at all this postseason. He would get hammered in Yankee Stadium facing Cabrera and Fielder.

    • Steve (different one)

      I don’t get the relevance of Nova’s “first start back”. He followed that up with 2 stinkers.

    • Sweet Dick Willie

      It’s not his shoulder or his location, it’s the fact that he’s not on the play-off roster.

      May as well wish for Ford or Guidry.

  • Jose M. Vazquez

    We are getting a Hammel clone in six foot eight inch Doug Fister. So we must get a well pitched game from whoever is elected. Cardinal right handed pitchers are clones of each other. If you erase their name and number, from the back they all look the same. This is the influence of Dave Duncan. They all throw with no windup. Maybe Nova can try that.

  • Matt

    It should be Kuroda. Even on short rest, he probably gives you a better chance to win, and can throw more innings than Phelps.

    If you don’t throw Kuroda on short rest in Game 2, then you have to bring him back on short rest to pitch Game 6 if you want him to pitch more than once in the series. If you do bring him back on short rest, then he actually is lined up for Game 6 on 5 days of rest instead of 4, which would help to offset pitching on short rest.

    Otherwise, you have to use Phelps in Game 2, and probably skip Hughes entirely in the series. So you are trading a Hughes start for a Phelps start, or a Kuroda start for a Phelps start, if you don’t bring Kuroda back on short rest at least once in the series. I find it hard to believe that this increases their chances of winning.

    Besides, Phelps is so valuable out of the bullpen that it would be a waste to lose him for most of the series by starting him. He can give you 2 or 3 innings of set up type relief, much like Aceves.

  • Joe F (Oppan Gangnam Style Kuroda)

    HIROKI on short rest.

  • Mike

    I’d go with Phelps in Game 2

    Which makes me wonder if the Yankees, and of course this is going to be hard to do, go up 2-0 after 2, do you still really want to short CC on short rest for Game 3? Even if it’s 1-1 after 2, starting CC could be a little bit of a risk.

    • Mike

      I think I’d start CC in Game 3 if it’s 1-1 or down 0-2. Won’t call it a must start if the Yankees go up 2-0

    • Laz

      Starting CC on short rest means he can pitch twice in the series. Tigers are starting verlander twice so you pretty much have to.

    • mitch

      Agreed. Unless it’s 0-2, i’d wait until game 4 to start CC. To make two starts, he’ll have to pitch on 3 days rest once…might as well make it the non-guaranteed game 7.

      However, i would start kuroda G2 knowing that phelps will be available for long relief.

  • Ted Nelson

    Would be tough to start Phelps on two days rest and expect much. 4 IP might be the best case, more likely 2 or 3 IP. 4+ IP is pretty likely for Hiroki.

    • Ted Nelson

      One day’s rest, actually.

  • JobaWockeeZ

    I’m proud that only 3 of you chose Freddy.

  • bkight13

    I would def roll with Phelps and all hands on deck for Game 2. Sets up Kuroda and CC for 3 and 4.


    Pettitte and Kuroda could use the rest and Hughes should start in DET. MLB absolutely killed us with this schedule(though ARod making contact Thurs night would have been huge).

    • Laz

      anybody making contact thursday would have been huge. Everyone keeps blaming arod, but the way I saw it everyone but Tex has been flubbing it.

  • Deep Thoughts

    Wow. Crapping on A-Rod has come back with a vengeance.

  • YankeeJosh

    It should be Kuroda. Then he is set to pitch game 6 with an extra day’s rest. You need to try to get more than one start from him. Phelps and Lowe can be in the pen if he doesn’t have it.

    If you don’t start Kuroda then you aren’t maximizing the asset and you have one fewer pitching option for the game. Just because Phelps doesn’t start game 2 doesn’t mean he can’t have an impact on the game. Keep him in the pen if possible.

    • Laz

      yep. I wanted phelps to start during the season, but in the playoffs you need to get your 3 best starters into all the games they can, and start your 4th best (hughes) in any filler games.

  • Andrew 518

    I know it is what it is and nothing is going to change it but damn it I’m going to complain anyway…

    This schedule sucks!

    This is supposed to determine the best team, but no more, that takes a back seat to tv ratings and revenue, seriously, you have to wait for the late game to be over before you even know what time you are playing the next game…

    Two 80 win teams are rewarded with an extra day off…

    Baseball is a long season…some say too long, I love it so it can just keep it going for me, but you aren’t going to solve the problem of a long season by trying to condense the season in the final weeks of the most important games. Is one more day really going to kill anyone? If November baseball is that offensive then start the season a day earlier. (or play manditory true double headers July 4th and Labor day)

    I will raise a toast the day Selig and his Montgomery Ward suits take a hike.

    • Laz

      I think they could have done it better having 1 day off at end season for all division leaders. Wildcard figures it out on that day off and are “punished” by not having a day of rest. Yankees got 3 days off, but detroit’s rotation gets set up better for ALCS by being 3rd seed.

  • Mike

    Kuroda is starting game 2

  • JR

    I could definately be missing something, but if CC started game 4 couldn’t he come back on 3 days rest for game 7? Might be preferable to having him starting on 3 days rest for game 3 since its possible (optimism optimism optimism) that we could finish off Detroit in 6 and have CC on full rest for game 1 of the series while still having him for insurance if game 7 is necessary? I don’t know if you’d want to risk it unless we went up 2-0 to start the series, but this would be an option, right?