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.