Are the Yankees at home? Then there is roughly a 50 percent chance that it will rain, if we’re to use this season as a guide. It’s coming down consistently hard as I write this, and the forecast shows it continuing into the evening. Even if the rain stops, it could take hours to get the field back into playable condition. In other words, there is a good chance that tonight’s game gets rained out. Normally that would create an unfavorable situation, but since the Yankees have already clinched the division they have little left to play for. Of course, their opponents have plenty at stake in the final six games, and a rainout today could mangle their plans.
If all went according to plan, the Red Sox would throw Jon Lester, Tim Wakefield, and Erik Bedard against the Yankees this weekend, and then have Josh Beckett, John Lackey, an then Lester again to finish out the season against Baltimore. That last start from Lester could be of great importance, since this season could very well go down to the final day. To experience a rainout tonight would create an unfavorable situation for the Sox.
A doubleheader tomorrow is tricky, since Fox has the game at 4:10 p.m. Since the Yankees will not play a single-admission doubleheader, especially against the Sox, maneuvering for one might be tough. They might have to play two on Sunday, though that doesn’t really matter. It still means postponing tonight’s game and then using two pitchers on either Saturday or Sunday. Where it impacts the Sox, and to a lesser extent the Yankees, is in the final series of the season.
If Lester starts tomorrow instead of tonight, he no longer lines up to pitch the final game of the season. The Red Sox would have none of their main five starters ready to pitch that day, meaning they’d have to use Andrew Miller or Kyle Weiland, or else start Lester on three days’ rest. If they need a win to clinch a playoff berth on that final day, it’s fairly certain that they’ll start Lester then. If they play the doubleheader Saturday they could then throw Wakefield in a potential Game 163, but if they play the doubleheader Sunday they’d again have no starter on normal rest. Erik Bedard would be the likely candidate to take the ball in that case. And then comes Game 1 of the ALDS on Friday, in which they’d either have to pitch Beckett on three days’ rest, or else go with Wakefield. It’s a mess any way you work it out.
The Yankees, on the other hand, would only be slightly inconvenienced with a rainout tonight. They can simply move Garcia back to Saturday and then go with Burnett and Nova in the Sunday doubleheader. Noesi could then go Monday, and then the final two games can go pretty much any way. Maybe they throw Colon, or maybe they give him a nice long rest before his potential playoff start. Maybe they get Hughes in for a game. Ideally, Garcia would have lined up to pitch Wednesday as a tune-up for a potential Game 3 start, but that’s not a huge deal.
This isn’t to say that the Yankees should root for a rainout tonight. Obviously it’s best to get in the games one at a time, line up Freddy for Wednesday, and generally finish the season with as few kinks as possible. But if the game were to get rained out, it wouldn’t be any big deal. The Sox might find themselves reeling, though, as their rotation currently lines up about as well as they could ask, considering the situation they’re in. One little rainout could change that. It could add yet another dimension to a wildly interesting Wild Card race.