Oct
04

The pitching staff and the ALDS roster

By

(Al Bello/Getty)

Earlier today we looked at the position player decisions the Yankees will have to make for their ALDS roster (meaning the last two bench spots), so now let’s take some time now to look at the guys on the mound. The Bombers have carried eleven pitchers in pretty much every postseason series under Joe Girardi and I see no reason to believe they’ll do something different now. Of those eleven spots, only two are really up for grabs. Here are the nine locks…

LHP CC Sabathia
RHP Hiroki Kuroda
LHP Andy Pettitte
RHP Phil Hughes

RHP Rafael Soriano
RHP David Robertson
LHP Boone Logan
RHP Joba Chamberlain
LHP Clay Rapada

It doesn’t matter who the Yankees play in the ALDS, both the Orioles (Jim Thome, Chris Davis, Nate McLouth) and Rangers (Josh Hamilton, David Murphy, Mitch Moreland) have a number of quality left-handed batters. Carrying both Logan and Rapada is a given.

One of the last two spots should quite obviously go to David Phelps for two reasons. One, he’s simply performed the best out of everyone else in consideration for a postseason roster spot and deserves it based on merit. Crazy idea, rewarding the guy who’s earned the spot with his performance. Two, he’s stretched out all the way to 80+ pitches and can be a true long-man out of the bullpen. I hope the Yankees won’t need to use him in a long relief situation in a playoff series, but it’s good to have that guy available anyway.

The candidates for the final spot are Ivan Nova, Derek Lowe, and Cody Eppley. I can’t see Cory Wade or Freddy Garcia getting serious consideration given how they faded and performed poorly enough to lose their respective jobs during the regular season. Nova is the same boat, pitching so poorly in the second half that he lost his rotation spot to Phelps this past week. Considering that he has basically zero bullpen experience and didn’t even make a tune-up relief appearance — remember A.J. Burnett made a relief appearance in Game 162 last season in advance of his playoff bullpen role — before the season let up, I can’t see Nova making it. He strikes me as a guy the Yankees send to Tampa to workout and remain stretched out in case he’s needed at a later point.

That leaves us with the veteran, playoff-tested Lowe and the rookie right-handed specialist Eppley. I think we can all see where this is going. Joe wrote about Lowe pitching his way onto the playoff roster yesterday, and given how Girardi has used him the last few weeks — for multiple innings in the important situations — he appears to have a big leg up on that final pitching staff spot. I don’t even think this is a situation in which he would just make the roster and only pitch in emergencies/blowouts (think Chad Gaudin in 2009) either, I think Girardi trusts Lowe and will use him in relatively important situations. The Yankees know he can handle big situations from first hand experience, and again, there is some value in that.

Moreso than the last two bench spots, the final two bullpen spots seem to be open only in theory. Lowe and especially Phelps have outperformed the other pitching candidates and the way they’ve been used in recent weeks suggests that they’ve climbed in the pecking order. Those two simply deserve to be the on the roster over guys like Nova, Garcia, and Eppley. It’s seems pretty clear to me that they simply deserve it over the other guys, and looking at those eleven names makes me feel pretty good about the staff the Yankees will carry into the postseason. That’s a very strong rotation and a deep bullpen, certainly better than what they took in the ALDS a year ago.

44 Comments»

  1. Joe F says:

    Phelps and Lowe wouldn’t be bad. They’re probably the best options.

  2. WhittakerWalt says:

    LOL at Mike Francesa complaining about the 14 runs last night.

    Quote: “That doesn’t impress me.”

  3. Cris Pengiucci says:

    I think it’s pretty clear that Nova and Garcia have pitched themselves out of contention for the post season roster, at least in the ALDS and with the other choices available. Epply is simply too inflexible. Makes the choices seem pretty easy. Now let’s watch as Joe G. surprises us all. :-)

    It was nice to see Sweaty Freddy strike out the side last night

  4. Cris Pengiucci says:

    I think it’s pretty clear that Nova and Garcia have pitched themselves out of contention for the post season roster, at least in the ALDS and with the other choices available. Epply is simply too inflexible. Makes the choices seem pretty easy. Now let’s watch as Joe G. surprises us all. :-)

    It was nice to see Sweaty Freddy strike out the side last night. Probably his swansong in a Yankees uniform.

  5. Mike HC says:

    I have no problem with Lowe making the roster, but I would have a problem with him getting high leverage innings over any of the guys above him in the pen.

  6. toad says:

    I agree that Phelps and Lowe are the best choices. It’s really important to have guys who can come in early and give you several good innings. The starter should probably be on a shorter leash in the playoffs than in the regular season.

  7. Chesser says:

    I’m not so sure about Lowe. If a long-man is needed in the middle or extra innings, they’ll almost certainly go to Phelps. That makes Lowe a one-inning guy or, I suppose, the emergency long-man. He’s been good since the beginning of September, but he’s been terrible for much longer. I like the idea of having Eppley come in to get groundballs from right-handed batters with men on base. He strikes out more guys, walks about the same, and doesn’t have a signature facial expression as annoying as “Derek Lowe Face”.

    • Need Pitching & Hitting says:

      Eppley vs. RHB: 221/276/319 16.9% K’s, 6.2% BB, 3.68 FIP
      Lowe vs. RHB (as Yankee): 241/290/328, 17.7% K’s, 6.5% BB, 3.29 FIP

      The performance vs. RHB seems similar enough for Lowe’s added value of being able to go multiple innings to give him the edge.

  8. Darren says:

    Only semi-joking here, but what’s the latest with Mariano? The last we heard, Cashman said he wasn’t coming back this year but have there been ANY updates as to how his rehab is progressing? A little more exciting to me than whether Eppley or Nova makes the roster.

  9. fin says:

    I feel Phelps is a lock and will get some 7th inning work in the playoffs. I trust him more than Logan or Joba at this point. Its really only a choice between Lowe and Epply and it would be pretty shocking if Epply got the nod over Lowe that faces both righties and lefties and goes 2 innings.

  10. Eddard reboot v.1.0 says:

    Phelps and Lowe have proven that they can pitch well in big ballgames. Eppley, Nova, and Garcia should not throw a single postseason inning. I don’t know why Wade is brought up. These guys like Wade and McGhee are outcasts. They weren’t trusted in the regular season and they won’t be in the postseason.

  11. Luisergi says:

    Gimme some Lowe.

  12. Barbara Booey says:

    “Don’t get me wrong, it’s obviously important, but pitching is less than half the game (half is run creation, half is run prevention, and the latter is broken into pitching and defense)”

    The above is among the dumber interpretations / statements I’ve read in a while. Sheer nonsense, clearly put into Axisa’s head by something he read elsewhere. If it’s an original thought, then that is even more frightening.

  13. mick taylor says:

    i would carry 12 pitchers cc andy kuroda hughes phelps lowe rapada logan robertson joba soriano and nova. nova in case a starter is injured or we have an extra inning game. carrying anduw jones instead of another pitcher is insane . he is not only not an asset, but a huge detriment.e

  14. fin says:

    Off topic a bit, but Mathews is setting Cano up to be the goat. He’s comparing him not only to Arod in 09 but Barry freaking Bonds. As good of a hitter as Cano is, certainly a top 10 in baseball, hes not historically great like those guys were. Not to mention Cano is bound to cool off. The odds are overwhelmingly against him continuing to hit .600 for the next month in the playoffs. Hopefully, when he cools off it will be to normal Cano levels not a slump..

    • Mike HC says:

      I remember Cano basically going homer for homer with Hamilton in the ALCS a couple years ago. Not saying Cano is a better hitter than Hamilton (and surely far worse than Barry Bonds) but that performance will always stay with me. I trust Cano to come through in the post season.

  15. Brett says:

    I think Garcia would be very useful in a 1-2 inning role. If you look at his last few starts, he would throw 3+ solid innings and then get hammered during the 2nd/3rd time through the order. I’d prefer to see him on the roster used for shorter outings in the mid-innings

  16. tom morea says:

    Excellent analysis, Mike. However, keep in mind that Eppley is Girardi’s personal favorite.

  17. tom morea says:

    Excellent analysis, Mike. However, keep in mind that Eppley is Girardi’s personal favorite.

  18. tom morea says:

    Excellent analysis, Mike. However, keep in mind that Eppley is Girardi’s personal favorite.

  19. tom morea says:

    Excellent analysis, Mike. However, keep in mind that Eppley is Girardi’s personal favorite.

  20. tom morea says:

    Excellent analysis, Mike. However, keep in mind that Eppley is Girardi’s personal favorite.

  21. tom morea says:

    Excellent analysis, Mike. However, keep in mind that Eppley is Girardi’s personal favorite.

  22. Get Phelps Up says:

    My roster would be:

    CC
    Pettitte
    Kuroda
    Hughes
    Soriano
    D Rob
    Joba
    Logan
    Phelps
    Rapada
    Lowe

    Jeter
    Swisher
    Cano
    Tex
    ARod
    Granderson
    Ichiro
    Martin
    Stewart
    Ibanez
    Chavez
    Nunez
    Gardner
    McGhee

  23. Graig not Craig says:

    Lowe is the guy to bring in when you need a ground ball. Recently his sinker has some bite to it. I didn’t trust him earlier in the season, but lately he has shown the ability to get some important ground ball outs.

  24. Peter North says:

    Hey guys, there’s no chance of Game 3 being a day game, right? I can’t remember a day game during the playoffs in my lifetime but a friend getting tickets seems to think it might be. Please someone reassure me that it will be an 8pm game, please!

  25. UncleArgyle says:

    Call me crazy but I would be very tempted to put Hughes in the bullpen and give the 4th start spot to Phelps. Here’s why:
    1) Hughes has had success out of the pen and his fastball gains a few upticks in velocity
    2)I don’t trust Boone Logan or Joba in big spots. At least, not as much as I would trust Hughes
    3)The forth starter will only get 2-3 starts, most likely against the other teams forth starter, and I think Phelps is decent enough that we could keep the team in the game for 5 innings, before turning it over to the pen.
    Anyway, just a thought

    • A-Rod Apologist says:

      And Phelps has success in the bullpen. Knock it off. The only way Phelps starts in the postseason is if one of the starters get injured. Besides, Hughes at least has playoff experience compared to the rookie Phelps.

    • Fin says:

      Phelps has been pretty darn good out of the pen this year. No reason in the world to give him the start over Hughes, unless you feel Phelps gives the Yankees the better chance to win than Hughes does.

Leave a Reply

You may use <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <strike> <strong> in your comment.

If this is your first time commenting on River Ave. Blues, please review the RAB Commenter Guidelines. Login for commenting features. Register for RAB.