Lineup

LoHud had the lineup and it’s basically Game 1 without Matsui.  Swisher is back in right and hitting 7th.  In addition, the Yankees are giving CC the ball in Game 4. 

Can’t say the lineup is a shocker, but I wonder if Girardi would put Matsui in the outfield in a double-switch?  I can’t imagine it would be a good idea- who knows what Matsui’s defensive abilities are at this point.

As for CC, I say go for it.  He showed he can do it in the ALCS and he gives you a better chance to win that Gaudin.  However, if the Yankees head into Game 5 with a Series lead, I say you pitch Gaudin then. 

More on twitter during the game and more here afterwards.

A Gift?

According to multiple media outlets, the Phillies are starting Joe Blanton in Game 4.  I have two thoughts on this

1- No way they do this if they are down 2-1 and I wouldn’t do it up 2-1 either

2- If they still do it, thank you Charlie!

Very big game tomorrow, expect lots of posts along the way (and some tweets)

3-4-5

The Yankees head to Philly with the Series knotted up and some big challenges ahead.

Start with the bullpen.  Joe will have a tough choice to make in a close game.  Does he use Rivera for more than 3 outs knowing it will probably keep him out of the next game?  I would say yes because you never know what happens tomorrow. 

Deeper into the bullpen, who is going to get the big outs between the starter and Rivera?  If it is a lefty, I use Marte.  If it is a righty, things get interesting.  I think the Yankees will have to play mix and match.  One thing I hope is that if Joe Girardi brings a reliever in and he is effective in the 7th, he sticks with him for the 8th. 

What does he do with Matsui?  He hasn’t played in the field at all this year, but Matsu is one of the few Yankees who is currently hitting.  I would start Matsui in left for Game 3 and Swisher in right.  Here’s my reasoning.  You want his bat in the lineup and he destroyed lefty pitching with a .618 slugging percentage this year.  Furthermore, Damon hasn’t done much in the season and is much worse against LHP and away from Yankee Stadium.  (over .100-point difference in OPS in both cases)  Swisher, on the other hand, has almost the exact same OPS numbers against lefties or righties.  And finally, if Matsui’s knee does swell up, you have Games 4, 5 and an off-day to rest him (or use him for one pinch hit appearance) before he has to DH again.  The time for this move is Game 3 or don’t make it at all.  

And who will  going to start Games 4 and 5?   This one really comes down to if the Yankees believe AJ can go on three-days rest.  If they do, you put Sabathia in for Game 4, no matter what.  If they are unsure, you see what happens in Game 3 and if you win pitch Gaudin and if you lose, go to CC.  Something tells me the Yankees won’t give us an idea of this until they have to. 

One thing that is interesting is that Cliff Lee has never pitched on three-days rest.  Never, not once.  And, he threw 122 pitches on Thursday.  I didn’t understand why Manuel brought him back in the ninth, considering the lead the Phillies had, so I wonder if Manuel is planning on saving him for Game 5?  (And, Manuel’s managing has been interesting so far.  No idea why he kept Pedro in to start the 7th, but thanks)

So, get you best Halloween costume ready and prepare for a big Game 3. 

Exhale

Well AJ Burnett was brilliant, standing up and delivering in his biggest start as a Yankee.  Now things are tied up 1-1 and the Yankees can breathe again.  Some notes from the game

Derek Jeter bunting in the 7th was terrible.  Posada is so slow that unless you lay it down perfectly, it is probably 1st and 3rd with one out.  But, continuing to bunt with two strikes has to be the dumbest thing I have seen him do on the diamond.

Good to see Girardi go directly to Mo.  It was the right call, but one he will not have the luxury of making often with Games 3,4, and 5 on consecutive nights.  

A-Rod looks like bad A-Rod, not sure how the Yankees fix that, but ugh.  

The Yankees really aren’t hitting and going to Philly means you lose the DH.  Just spitballing, but what about putting Matsui in the OF one of those games?  

Still don’t understand Haiston getting the start in right, but letting him hit in the 7th was a no-brainer.  Pedro was at 99 pitches (I guess Manuel never talked to Grady Little) and if you pinch hit for him Pedro is coming out of the game.  I would rather have Hairston take a hack at tired Pedro than Swisher or Gardner facing someone fresh from the pen.  

Ultimately, the Yankees got a win they needed and have to feel pretty good heading into Saturday.  More tomorrow

The Wrong Panic Move

Well the lineup is in and Molina is catching AJ but we also have a change in right.  Swisher is on the bench and…HARISTON is in?

I looked it up and the reason has to be that Hairston has hit .333/.407/.500 against Pedro in his career.  Of course that is off of a whopping 24 AB’s.  

And to make matters worse, Hairston is batting 7th, in front of Melky.  

If you bench Swisher, you have to go to Hinske in my mind.  You also don’t go to Hairston with Molina already in the lineup.  This is panic, plain and simple and the wrong kind.

Tonight’s game is fascinating.  I expect the Yankees to pound Pedro and I would not be shocked if the Phillies returned the favor to AJ.  Then again, Pedro could author a gem.  Made me think of that great Vin Scully quote in "For the Love of the Game"

And you know Steve you get the feeling that Billy Chapel isn’t pitching against left handers, he isn’t pitching against pinch hitters, he isn’t pitching against the Yankees. He’s pitching against time. He’s pitching against the future, against age, and even when you think about his career, against ending. And tonight I think he might be able to use that aching old arm one more time to push the sun back up in the sky and give us one more day of summer. 

See yolu after the game.

Bad Beat

Not a lot of analysis needed when Cliff Lee pitches like he did tonight.  That was a pretty amazing game he pitched and the Yankees looked way too tight all night. 

For those of you looking for a reason for optimism, I give you the fact that the Phillies are starting Pedro and Hamels the next two games.

For those of you looking for a reason to despair, I give you the fact that the Yankees’ bullpen looks broken and AJ Burnett is pitching tomorrow.

Honestly, I have no idea what to feel.  

Game Two tomorrow night. 

Getting Ready

Predictions are mostly worthless, so I will save you mine.  But, I think the Yankees and Phillies have similar lineups and similar starting rotations.  The difference to me is the bullpen- Philly has more questions.  But, the Phillies have been here before, 20-of-25 Yankees have not.  In addition, I think Charlie Manuel is a better manager than Joe Girardi. 

Put it all together and you have the makings of a classic series.  I could see the Yankees winning it quickly.  I could see the Phillies taking it in 6 or 7.  I think the Yankees have a slight advantage, but Girardi could punt that away with bad decisions.  This is why you play the games and I can’t wait for tonight.

 

Roster Set?

Sounds like Hinske and Bruney are in and Guzman and Cervelli are out. 

The Hinske move was the obvious one and had to be done.  Normally, I wouldn’t want to add a 12th pitcher at the expense of a batter, but in this case I like it.  With Games 3-4-5 on consecutive days, Girardi will probably avoid using any of the relievers in all three contests.  Bruney gives you some choices and some other options in that case.  

And while Cervelli gave you the chance to do some other things with the catcher spot, remember these facts.  Girardi still used Matsui at DH when Molina caught AJ and in the NL parks, Matsui is the first option to pinch hit even if Posada is on the bench.  That makes the move a pretty safe one in my mind.

Final rosters are due at 10am.  We will see if this checks out officially then.

100% Chance Of Death?

So the idea was get up Sunday morning and head down the Turnpike.  Pull into the parking lot around 10am and tailgate before the Giants-Eagles game.  Go to the Giants-Eagles game at 1 and then comeback out and tailgate before heading into Game 4 of the Series. 

It was a neat idea my friend had, but the only problem is we would never live to see Monday.  12+ hours behind enemy lines while rooting for the Giants and Yankees?  I don’t think it’s possible, but there is a chance (if some tickets come together) that I will try and find out.  

So, make sure to come to this blog a lot over the next few days, after Sunday you may only have Andy writing it.  

Somewhat Shocking

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Jon Heyman reports that the Yankees are leaning towards using a rotation of CC-AJ-Andy-CC-AJ-Andy-CC in the World Seires meaning Sabathia would make 3 starts (two on three-days rest) and Andy and  Burnett would make two (the second on three-days rest)  

I find it interesting that the Yankees would be this aggressive.  Starting AJ in Game 5 and having Molina catch him would leave the Yankees with two holes in the lineup.  And you are also assuming that AJ could handle getting the ball on three-days rest.  (I am not worried about Pettitte in that regard)

Furthermore, this will put a lot of strain on the bullpen.  You would assume Girardi will keep the starters on tight pitch counts (well maybe not Sabathia) if he goes this route.  Couple that with his reluctance to use relievers three-straight days and you could have a very dicey pitching situation.  For example, if you assume you get six innings out of AJ and Andy and seven out of CC you would have eight innings to cover over Games 3,4 and 5 and Joe would be reluctant to use any of the pitchers all three days. 

But, the Yankees might also have to do this.  Chad Gaudin has pitched 2-1/3 innings in the past month.  I assume the Yankees have been keeping his arm strength up, but remember that Girardi said he could use him for "75 pitches" as one of the justifications for all of his bullpen moves in Game 2.  It makes me think that Gaudin is a limited starter at best at this point.  

If they go this route, I think the Yankees probably add Bruney to the roster for the pitching depth and drop Cervelli.  I think that puts Molina back on the bench, but after AJ’s first inning implosion Thursday, you can make the case that Molina doesn’t help him very much.

We know the Phillies plan on using Cliff Lee for Games 1,4 and 7 and they are leaning towards Pedro in Game 2.  It could be a fascinating week of pitching moves by both teams.

UPDATE (2pm) In a radio interview on WFAN, Joe Girardi said that "You should not assume the Yankees will use three starters"  It sounds like he is going to base it on how the games go.  He also sounded as if he would add Hinske for Guzman and could add Bruney to the roster, but the 11 pitchers currently on the roster are safe.  He said that he was likely to have Molina catch AJ, but it was not definite.  Even if they don’t carry Cervelli, they would still consider using Molina to catch AJ.