Thoughts on what was supposed to be an off-day

(Rob Carr/Getty)
(Rob Carr/Getty)

The Yankees and Orioles were rained out last night, so they will wrap up their three-game series this afternoon, on what was once a common off-day. The two teams have split the first two games of this series. The Yankees have not won a series in Camden Yards since September 2013, and it really would be nice to see them get that monkey off their backs. Anyway, I have some thoughts, so let’s get to ’em.

1. What is the best possible lineup the Yankees could put on the field right now? This is really a question about three positions: first base, third base, and designated hitter. The outfield is set while Aaron Hicks and Clint Frazier are hurt, the middle infield is set, and of course Gary Sanchez belongs behind the plate. The Yankees right now are rotating Todd Frazier and Chase Headley at third, Headley and Greg Bird at first base, and Matt Holliday and everyone else at DH. What’s the best alignment? Because at this point of the season, with the AL East title within reach and half the league chasing the Yankees for a wildcard spot with 20-something games to play, the goal should be putting the best team on the field as much as possible. Does the best lineup include Bird? He’s gone 8-for-34 (.235) with three walks (.289 OBP) and two homers in eleven games back from the disabled list, and to me he looks very much like a guy who missed all of last year with a shoulder injury and most of this year with an ankle injury. How much should Frazier play? He has a good game every now and then but will strike out and pop-up an awful lot. He does add value on defense though. Should Holliday play against righties? Maybe the best lineup includes Miguel Andujar at DH. This is probably worth a full post at some point and I don’t know the right answer. Headley’s been way too good the last two months or so to take out of the lineup. That’s the only thing I feel strongly about. I’m not sure if it’s best to stick with the rotation or settle in on a set first base/third base/DH alignment the rest of the way.

2. The bullpen, man. The bullpen. The Yankees keep trying to build a SuperBullpen and it’s not working out. It didn’t last year with Dellin Betances, Andrew Miller, and Aroldis Chapman because the parade of middle relievers were so unreliable. Chapman and Tyler Clippard imploded earlier this year and Betances couldn’t stop walking people, and Tommy Kahnle hasn’t been as good as hoped since the trade. The Yankees can never seem to get everyone going at the same time. There’s always one or two guys struggling that throw a wrench into things. That’s usually how it goes though, right? The reason you try to build a deep bullpen is so when one or two guys hit a rough patch, you have enough bodies to cover. That hasn’t really happened for the Yankees this year. And really, the bullpen is the reason the Yankees are not in first place. They’ve lost four games when leading in the ninth inning this year after losing four such games from 2014-16. They’ve lost five other games when leading in the eighth inning this season after losing six total from 2015-16. Twenty-nine blown leads is too many. Way, way too many considering the names in the bullpen. The Yankees should never stop trying to build a SuperBullpen or a SuperAnything. Right now though, the single biggest reason the Yankees are not in first place is all the leads their big name relievers have let slip away.

3. I’m pretty sure I’ve written this a few times, but over the last few years, I’ve felt the Yankees were a little too obsessed with size and velocity, and sacrificed pitchability for sheer stuff. I understand why they gravitated towards pitchers with big stuff — you can’t really teach high-end velocity and nasty breaking balls — though with guys like Michael Pineda and Nathan Eovaldi, and even A.J. Burnett back in the day, the lack of reliable command took away from their overall effectiveness. So, needless to say, I’m pretty happy with the current state of the rotation. The only “he’s a thrower not a pitcher” in the rotation is Luis Severino, and his command has improved considerably over the last year. Masahiro Tanaka has always been an artist on the mound, CC Sabathia made the transition from power pitcher to finesse pitcher, and Sonny Gray has like eight different pitches counting all the different variations of his fastball and breaking ball. Jordan Montgomery too. He’s a pitchability guy. The rotation has been excellent in the second half and I don’t think it’s a coincidence given the shift toward command and away from raw stuff and radar gun readings, even if it wasn’t necessarily by design. Stuff only goes so far. (And command only goes so far too.)

Torrens. (Denis Poroy/Getty)
Torrens. (Denis Poroy/Getty)

4. The Yankees have officially lost catcher Luis Torrens to the Padres as a Rule 5 Draft player — well, not officially yet, but rosters have expanded, so San Diego is going to keep him all year — and I wonder whether that will change how the Yankees approach the Rule 5 Draft going forward. The Cardinals have lost two Single-A kids to the Padres in the Rule 5 Draft in recent years (Luis Perdomo and Allen Cordoba) and president of baseball operations John Mozeliak recently told Derrick Goold the team will rethink their protection strategies going forward. The Padres, clearly, have no concern about being competitive. They’re going to take talented young players from Single-A rosters, live with the growing pains in the big leagues for a year — Torrens is hitting .168/.248/.212 (23 wRC+) in 128 plate appearances this season — then plug them back into the minors and try to develop them. I think it’s only a matter of time until other rebuilding teams (lookin’ at you, White Sox) do the same. In the past, a kid like Albert Abreu never would’ve been protected from the Rule 5 Draft. Not after throwing only 49 Single-A innings around injuries this year. But now, the Yankees probably have to add him to the 40-man roster to protect him because a team like the Padres will stash him in the bullpen all year. That’s just the reality of baseball now. Your talented players in A-ball are no longer safe, even if they’re not close to MLB ready.

5. MLB is no doubt going to discipline the Red Sox for the whole stealing signs thing, though I don’t think it’ll be particularly harsh. They’re definitely not taking wins away or anything like that — that is not a precedent MLB wants to set — and ultimately, I think they’re going to slap them with a fine. I doubt they’re even going to take a draft pick away. The Cardinals had to pay a $2M fine and send their top two draft picks to the Astros for the hacking scandal, and that was a far more serious infraction. That was literally corporate espionage. The Red Sox broke baseball’s rules, not the law. The Red Sox have been playing the “he did it too!” game the last few days, but the fact of the matter is they used an illegal electronic device (the Apple Watch) in the dugout and admitted it when approached by MLB’s investigators. The sign stealing is not really the focus here. It’s the illegal electronic device. Technology is a huge part of baseball and everyday life, and it’s not going away. I think MLB will levy enough of a punishment a) because they have to do something, and b) to let teams know hey, don’t do this. Anyone hoping MLB hammers the Red Sox is probably going to be disappointed.

6. It’s been a while since the last thoughts post, so I’m going to close with two outdated tepid takes. One, Betances should’ve been suspended for his role in the brawlgame with the Tigers. No, I don’t think Betances hit James McCann in the head on purpose. It takes a monster to do that and Dellin is no monster. (Also, if it was intentional, it was the first time Betances hit his spot all season.) The optics of it were just awful though. Multiple benches clearing brawls and then you bean someone in the head? And to make matters worse, Joe Torre is the guy in the commissioner’s office handing out discipline, and it looks like he played favorites. There comes a point where intent shouldn’t matter, and in a situation like this, I thought Betances deserved a suspension, maybe three or four games to ensure he’d miss at least one appearance. And two, why didn’t the Yankees wear their road gray pants with the Players Weekend jerseys? It would’ve looked so much better than the home pinstripes. Live and learn, I guess. Hopefully they come up with a better Players Weekend uniform next year.

DotF: Frazier begins rehab assignment in Double-A postseason

Triple-A Scranton‘s game was rained out. Their best-of-five first round postseason series with Lehigh Valley (Phillies) will simply be pushed back a day, so Game One is tomorrow.

Double-A Trenton (4-1 loss to Binghamton) they trail the best-of-five first round postseason series one game to none

  • CF Jeff Hendrix: 0-4, 2 K
  • SS Thairo Estrada: 1-4, 1 R, 1 K
  • LF Clint Frazier: 0-3, 3 K — played six innings in the field as scheduled in his first rehab game
  • DH Garrett Cooper: 1-3, 1 BB, 1 K — this is already his tenth day on the rehab assignment
  • 2B Nick Solak: 0-4, 2 K
  • 1B Ryan McBroom: 1-4, 1 K
  • RHP Dillon Tate: 3 IP, 5 H, 4 R, 4 ER, 4 BB, 6 K, 2/0 GB/FB — 40 of 73 pitches were strikes (55%) … rough start in the postseason opener
  • RHP Jose Mesa Jr.: 5 IP, 2 H, 0 R, 0 ER, 1 BB, 5 K, 5/4 GB/FB — 41 of 59 pitches were strikes (59%) … Jose Table II has been ridiculously good for weeks now

[Read more…]

Wednesday Night Open Thread

The Yankees and Orioles were rained out — they’re going to play the makeup game tomorrow — which means this is a makeshift off-day. With no Yankees baseball, I recommend checking out two recent FanGraphs articles: David Laurila’s Q&A with Chad Green and Jeff Sullivan on Green’s dominance. Long story short, Green is awesome and great and amazing. That’s turned out to be a nifty little trade, especially with Justin Wilson struggling to get outs these days.

Here is an open thread for this sudden Yankees-less night. The Mets are supposed to play tonight, but they might get rained out too. MLB Network will air a regional game later tonight. Talk about those games or anything else right here. Just not religion or politics. Thanks in advance.

Yankees and O’s rained out, will play makeup game tomorrow

(Rob Carr/Getty)
(Rob Carr/Getty)

As expected, tonight’s series finale between the Yankees and Orioles has been rained outs, the team announced. They’ll play the makeup game tomorrow at 1:35pm ET. Tomorrow was the only common off-day the two clubs had remaining, so it was pretty much the only choice for the makeup game.

The forecast in Baltimore calls for rain pretty much all night, though there appeared to be a window around 11pm ET or so, and I thought maybe they’d wait it out. Teams hate giving up an off-day. Then again, I guess playing super late tonight and flying to Texas after the game is no fun either. So no game tonight.

On the bright side, the impromptu off-day gives the bullpen a bit of a rest after some heavy work the last few days. Dellin Betances and David Robertson have both pitched four times in the last six days, so chances are neither would’ve been available tonight. This also allows Sonny Gray to make tomorrow’s start on extra rest.

I believe this is the fifth rainout of the season for the Yankees, which seems like an awful lot. They’ve played doubleheaders against the Astros, Red Sox, and Indians, will play a makeup game against the Orioles tomorrow, and a makeup game against the Royals later this month. Plus they’ve had a few long delays, like last night.  Tough weather year.

The Yankees lack a reliable lefty specialist, but they probably don’t need one either

(Hannah Foslien/Getty)
(Hannah Foslien/Getty)

Since the start of this past offseason, the Yankees have reportedly been looking for a reliable left-on-left reliever. They looked for one all winter and again before the trade deadline, but came up empty. Tommy Layne (remember him?) started the season in that role before pitching his way off the roster. The Yankees haven’t had a true lefty specialist since.

Chasen Shreve has spent the bulk of the summer on the big league roster and he’s not really a lefty specialist, and Joe Girardi doesn’t use him like one. Shreve has been throwing one or two innings in lopsided games for a few weeks now. He’s essentially a short relief mop-up man, not a matchup guy. This is why:

  • Righties against Shreve (career): .208/.301/.412 (.307 wOBA)
  • Lefties against Shreve (career): .248/.336/.428 (.329 wOBA)

Shreve is a fastball-splitter pitcher. He lacks that quality breaking ball he can sweep across the plate to get left-handed hitters to chase, hence his career-long reverse split. Shreve doesn’t have the tools to be a left-on-left matchup guy. Asking him to do that would be to ignore his skill set and focus only on handedness.

The Yankees have two other left-handed relievers on the roster right now: Aroldis Chapman and Caleb Smith. Smith is a long man who has the same problem as Shreve as a fastball-changeup pitcher. He doesn’t have that put-away breaking ball. Chapman has lost his closer’s job and would be the most overqualified lefty specialist in history based on his career accomplishments. The Yankees are trying to get him back on track so he can pitch full innings in close games, not match up in the middle innings.

I suppose the Yankees could always make a rare September trade for a lefty reliever — they did make a September trade for Brendan Ryan in 2013, after Derek Jeter got hurt — but I doubt that’ll happen. Besides, that player wouldn’t be eligible for the postseason roster anyway. He could help in September but not October. The Yankees do not have a reliable left-on-left reliever right now — even Chapman has had some issues with lefties lately — and, truth be told, they really don’t need one, because:

(vs. LHB) AVG/OBP/SLG wOBA K% BB% GB% HR/9
Dellin Betances .116/.269/.151 .216 46.2% 11.5% 55.3% 0.00
Chad Green .143/.200/.286 .211 50.7% 6.7% 18.8% 0.87
David Robertson .171/.240/.284 .228 37.5% 8.3% 52.9% 1.09
Adam Warren .211/.268/.293 .237 24.4% 7.3% 45.5% 0.47

Aside from Tommy Kahnle, who hasn’t had much success against lefties this year (.318 wOBA), the Yankees top right-handed relievers are all very effective against lefties. Betances and Robertson have been better against lefties than righties this year, at least in terms of wOBA, and both Green and Warren have been great against opposite hand batters too. I know Green’s shockingly low 18.8% ground ball rate against lefties is a little scary, but I’ll live with it when it comes with a 50.7% strikeout rate. He doesn’t get squared up often anyway.

The Yankees aren’t desperate for a left-on-left matchup reliever right now because they have four righties who can get out lefties. And here’s the important part: Girardi seems to understand that. Girardi leaves all those guys in to throw full innings, often more in the cases of Green and Warren. He doesn’t get cute trying to match up with a lefty. He didn’t do it when they had Layne and he’s not doing it now. That’s good. Stick with your best arms rather than try to force something for the sake of handedness.

Looking ahead to the postseason — the Yankees have to get there first, of course — potential opponents do have some quality left-handed hitters. The Indians have Jason Kipnis and Michael Brantley, at least when they’re healthy. The Astros have Brian McCann. The Red Sox have Andrew Benintendi, Jackie Bradley Jr., and Mitch Moreland. The Twins have Joe Mauer, Max Kepler, and Eddie Rosario. The Orioles have Chris Davis and Seth Smith. The Angels have Kole Calhoun. So on and so forth.

Potential postseason opponents have strong lefties in their lineup, so it would’ve been nice to add a quality left-handed specialist at some point. It’s a little too late though, and besides, in the late innings of a close game, who do you want facing Brantley or Benintendi or Davis, some lefty specialist or Robertson or Betances or Green? Exactly. Give me the high-end righties over the matchup lefties. That’s what we’re going to see down the stretch and that’s why I don’t think the lack of a reliable lefty specialist is that big a deal.

Now, here’s the x-factor: Jaime Garcia. Even though he had his last start skipped, he’s going to end up starting against at some point during the regular season. It’s hard to see how he fits into a potential postseason rotation barring injury though. He has that killer breaking ball to neutralize lefties and could be a potential left-on-left matchup option. The numbers:

  • Righties against Garcia (2017): .263/.347/.441 (.335 wOBA) with 16.0 K% and 11.3 BB%
  • Lefties against Garcia (2017): .242/.277/.379 (.282 wOBA) with 26.3 K% and 3.9 BB%

Jordan Montgomery‘s numbers against lefties aren’t so great (.319 wOBA), plus he’s never pitched out of the bullpen before, which is why I don’t think he’s much of a lefty reliever candidate. Garcia has some bullpen experience — he relieved a bunch as a rookie and made two bullpen appearances last season — and besides, unlike Montgomery, the Yankees presumably aren’t worried about his long-term development. Garcia very well might be the team’s best option for a left-on-left matchup reliever in the postseason, should they decide they absolutely need one.

At this point in time, the Yankees do not have an obvious lefty specialist in their bullpen, and it’s really no big deal considering how effective their top righties are against lefties. A lefty specialist is one of those things teams would like to have but don’t absolutely need. Neither the Cubs nor the Indians had a lefty specialist last year. They just had really good relievers. That’s where the Yankees are. Who needs a lefty specialist when Robertson, Betances, Green, or Warren (or Chapman) could be getting those outs instead?

Putting Miguel Andujar’s breakout season into context

(Presswire)
(Presswire)

The minor league regular season wrapped up Monday and boy, it was a successful season for the Yankees’ affiliates. The eight domestic affiliates went a combined 489-325 (.601), and seven of the eight qualified for the postseason. Two tied their franchise record in wins. It was a great season in the minor league standings and a great season for many individual prospects too.

One of those prospects, 22-year-old third baseman Miguel Andujar, had a breakout season in which he hit .315/.352/.498 (132 wRC+) with system leading 36 doubles and a career high 16 home runs in 125 games split almost evenly between Double-A Trenton and Triple-A Scranton. He struck out 71 times in 522 plate appearances, or 13.6% against the best pitching he’s ever faced. Heck, Andujar even went 3-for-4 with a double in his one-game MLB cameo in June.

Andujar is not new to the organization. The Yankees signed him as a 16-year-old out of the Dominican Republic for $750,000 back in July 2011, and he’s gradually worked his way up the minor league ladder since. For the first few seasons of his career Andujar would have a slow first half and a great second half. The last two years he’s been able to put together strong seasons from start to finish, and he’s continued to get better:

  • 2015: .243/.288/.363 (98 wRC+) at High-A
  • 2016: .273/.332/.410 (111 wRC+) at High-A and Double-A
  • 2017: .315/.352/.498 (132 wRC+) at Double-A and Triple-A

Andujar’s breakout season landed him in MLB.com’s top 100 prospects list recently — he slid in at No. 100 once Red Sox third baseman Rafael Devers graduated to the big leagues — and I’m hopeful he’ll pop up on a few more top 100 lists next spring. I’ve been an Andujar fan for a while now. I figured he’d be one of those “how was this guy never on a top 100 list?” players, except now he’s on a top 100 list.

Anyway, I like Andujar because he has power and because he doesn’t swing and miss often. He doesn’t walk much either (5.6% this year), so he is a free swinger, but he gets the bat on the ball consistently and makes it work. It’s a low walk/low strikeout profile rather than the always scary low walk/high strikeout profile. Martin Prado and Pablo Sandoval are good examples of low walk/low strikeout players, at least when they were in their primes.

To help put Andujar’s skill set — lots of contact and above-average power — into context, I decided to plot 2017 minor league K% and ISO rates. I set the minimum at 400 plate appearances to exclude the short season leagues, weeded out the stat-skewing Mexican League players, and wound up with 707 players. Their strikeout and isolated power rates:

2017-milb-k-vs-iso

There aren’t many dots around Andujar at all. The combination of contact and power is unusual. In fact, only two minors leaguers had a lower strikeout rate and a higher ISO than Andujar this year. One was Rangers prospect Willie Calhoun. He went from the Dodgers to the Rangers in the Yu Darvish trade and posted an 11.4% strikeout rate and a .272 ISO while spending the entire season in the hitter friendly Pacific Coast League.

The other prospect? Yankees first baseman Mike Ford. Ford had a 13.5% strikeout rate and a .201 ISO. Maybe we should talk about Mike Ford more? Then again, he’s three years older than Andujar and played most of the season in Double-A, and like Calhoun, he’s a bat-only guy. Ford and Calhoun are essentially positionless. Andujar has a rocket arm and the tools to be a good defensive third baseman, even if the Yankees don’t consider him one yet.

(A third prospect, Dodgers outfielder Matt Beaty, put up a .179 ISO with an 11.2% strikeout rate this year, so he came close to the Andujar benchmark. Beaty is also two years older and spent the entire season in Double-A, so yeah.)

Going back through previous years, the number of prospects who did what Andujar did this year (13.6 K% and .182 ISO) at the same age (22) and at the same levels (Double-A and above) is quite small. The previous five seasons:

  • 2016: Willie Calhoun (11.6 K% and .215 ISO at Double-A)
  • 2015: Max Kepler (13.1 K% and .209 ISO at Double-A)
  • 2014: Mookie Betts (10.8 K% and .183 ISO at Double-A and Triple-A) and Giovanny Urshela (12.7 K% and .210 ISO at Double-A and Triple-A)
  • 2013: Maikel Franco (10.6 K% and .224 ISO at Double-A)
  • 2012: Oscar Taveras (10.5 K% and .252 ISO at Double-A)

That is quite a list of names. Kepler, Betts, and Franco are all big leaguers who have, at one time or another, looked like absolute stars. Taveras was baseball’s top prospect and next superstar when he was tragically killed in a car accident. Calhoun has not yet played in the big leagues but should soon — I’m guessing he’ll get a September call-up any day now — and Urshela basically stopped hitting after that big 2014 season. He’s the cautionary tale.

This isn’t to say Andujar is the next Mookie Betts or the next Giovanny Urshela or the next anyone. He’s not. He’s the next Miguel Andujar. It’s just meant to show how difficult it is to do what Andujar did this year, to hit for that much power while making that much contact at that age at those levels. One or two guys a year do it, and the guys who have done this sorta thing before were all considered among the game’s best up-and-comers at one point.

Andujar is, of course, a flawed prospect. Most are. He is still an impatient hitter, and when you swing so freely, you’re inevitably going to chase out of the zone and hit into some weak outs. Andujar also has to improve his defense. It’s more about breaking bad habits than refining skills or even a lack of skills. And there’s time to do that. Andujar is only 22 and he has two minor league option years, if necessary. His offense has really come together. Now he needs to do the same defensively.

At some point the Yankees will give Andujar a September call-up — “I think at some point he will be (up). As of right now, we have not made that decision to bring him up,” said Joe Girardi to Brendan Kuty earlier this week — and I don’t expect him to play a whole lot down the stretch. The Yankees are in the postseason race and they’re going to lean on their regulars. Where Andujar fits in the long-term is another question. For now, he’s raised his prospect stock quite a bit the last two years, and this year he showed a rare combination of power and contact.

The pros and cons of the upcoming six-man rotation

(Rich Schultz/Getty)
(Rich Schultz/Getty)

At the moment the Yankees have six viable big league starting pitchers for five rotation spots, which is pretty amazing considering the state of the rotation coming into the season. Masahiro Tanaka, Michael Pineda, and CC Sabathia formed a solid yet fragile front three. The last two spots were very much up in the air. Luis Severino and Jordan Montgomery grabbed them and ran.

The Sonny Gray traded added another high-end arm and, if nothing else, the Jaime Garcia trade added depth. So, even after losing Pineda to Tommy John surgery, the Yankees are still six deep with starting pitchers in the season’s final month. And following tomorrow’s off-day, the Yankees plan to use all six starting pitchers. They’re going to a six-man rotation.

“You have a guy like (Severino) getting into an (innings total) he really hasn’t much passed. Sometimes it might help a Tanaka and it might help a CC so that is why we are doing it,” said Joe Girardi to George King and Pete Caldera last week. “… Some is the physical part of it, and we feel they might perform at a higher level on a sixth day.”

The Yankees will play 13 games in 13 days following tomorrow’s off-day, so they’ll be able to go two full turns through the six-man rotation. It’s September and rosters have expanded, so carrying six starting pitchers is no problem. Rolling with six starters and either a six-man bullpen (nope) or a three-man bench (yep) from April through August is where it gets tricky. That’s not the case now.

The six-man rotation comes with pros and cons like everything else. Or, really, it’s one big pro and one big con. The pro: giving pitchers rest late in the season. Severino’s and Montgomery’s workloads are an obvious concern — Severino (169.1 innings) and Montgomery (142.2 innings) have both already eclipsed their previous career high workloads — and something the Yankees need to monitor. They have to protect those young arms.

The four veteran guys could probably use the rest too. Tanaka just spent ten days on the disabled list with what was essentially a dead arm, plus there’s the whole partially torn elbow ligament thing. Sabathia had a knee flare-up recently. Gray has had some injury issues the last 18 months and Garcia’s injury history is as ugly as it gets. All four of those guys could benefit from a little extra rest now and then. Everyone could.

As for the downside of the six-man rotation, the Yankees would potentially be taking starts away from their best pitchers and giving them to their worst. The postseason races, both the AL East and wildcards, are awfully close. Taking even one start away from Tanaka or Severino and giving it to Montgomery or Garcia hurts the team’s postseason chances, at least in theory. (Montgomery or Severino could always come out and throw a gem, I suppose.)

Generally speaking, starters perform better with extra rest, which would maybe mitigate some of that “getting fewer starts from your best pitchers” thing. Here are the numbers quick:

  • MLB average on normal rest: 4.55 ERA (4.35 FIP)
  • MLB average with an extra day of rest: 4.38 ERA (4.32 FIP)

There is such a thing as too much rest — the MLB average with two or more extra days of rest is 4.51 ERA (4.48 FIP) — and that’s something Girardi acknowledged. “I don’t want guys having seven days (between starts),” he said. The numbers suggest an extra day of rest could improve performance, but those are league averages culled from thousands of innings and hundreds of pitchers. Anything could happen in one individual game, or a handful of individual games in this case.

For the Yankees, using a six-man rotation seems more about controlling Severino’s and Montgomery’s workloads, and giving the four veterans with injury histories a little breather late in the season. The Yankees could always call an audible depending on the postseason races. If things get too tight, they could scrap the six-man rotation and go with their five best. Here’s the possible rotation:

  • Wednesday, Sept. 6th at Orioles: Gray (on normal rest)
  • Thursday, Sept. 7th: off-day
  • Friday, Sept. 8th at Rangers: Tanaka (on one extra day of rest thanks to off-day)
  • Saturday, Sept. 9th at Rangers: Severino (on one extra day of rest thanks to off-day)
  • Sunday, Sept. 10th at Rangers: Garcia (on five extra days of rest)
  • Monday, Sept. 11th at Rays: Sabathia (on one extra day of rest thanks to off-day)
  • Tuesday, Sept. 12th at Rays: Gray (on one extra day of rest thanks to off-day)
  • Wednesday, Sept. 13th at Rays: Montgomery (on four extra days of rest)
  • Thursday, Sept. 14th to Sunday, Sept. 17th vs. Orioles: Tanaka, Severino, Garcia, Sabathia all with one extra day of rest
  • Monday, Sept. 18th to Wednesday, Sept. 20th vs. Twins: Gray, Montgomery, Tanaka all with one extra day of rest
  • Thursday, Sept. 21st: off-day

The Yankees have, essentially, skipped one Garcia start already when Montgomery got the ball Monday. That doesn’t mean he’ll sit around for nine days and do nothing between starts. He’s a veteran guy and knows what he needs to do to stay sharp. I’m sure he’ll throw extended bullpens and all that between starts.

Clearly, the Yankees are more concerned about Montgomery’s workload than the raw innings totals would lead you to believe. Only once in his last eight outings has he thrown more than 85 pitches. That was 92 pitches against the Indians last week. Five times in those eight outings he threw fewer than 80 pitches. The Yankees are trying to keep his workload down and that’s why I think they’ll essentially skip his next start.

A rainout tonight would throw a wrench into things, though the rotation outline above allows for some flexibility. That Twins series could end up being awfully important. If the wildcard race is tight, the Yankees could easily skip Montgomery entirely that series, and go with Tanaka and Severino on regular rest instead. We’ll see. Every so often I sketch out these possible rotation plans and they’re never right. Injuries and playoff races have a way of changing things.

For now, we know Girardi said the Yankees will use a six-man rotation following tomorrow’s off-day, which makes sense given the workload and injury concerns that exist. Extra rest this late in the season is good. But, at the same time, getting fewer starts from your top pitchers in the middle of a postseason race is not ideal. The Yankees very well might have to change their rotation plans if the race gets tighter in the coming days.