17 Sep 2012
The Yankees are making a mistake with their rotation. As it stands right now, they will pitch Pettitte, Hughes and Sabathia this week against the Blue Jays. That means that Sabathia will pitch again on the 25th and then on the 30th, leaving him in line to start in the playoffs on October 5th. Assuming they stay in rotation and pitch Nova and Kuroda Friday and Saturday, that would line Hiroki up to pitch again the 27th and then the 2nd, putting him in line to start Sunday, October 7th. So, CC and Kuroda are in line to pitch either games 1 and 2 of the ALDS or a wild card game and the first game of the ALDS. The problem is, what if there is a tie?
Under the new rules for the MLB postseason, all ties are broken on the field. So, if the Orioles and Yankees end up tied for the division, they play a one-game playoff to determine the winner. That game would be on Thursday, October 4th. If the Orioles and Yankees are tied along with another team, there will be tiebreaker games on the 4th and 5th and then the wild card and ALDS rounds will start.
With the off day today the Yankees could pitch CC on Wednesday. That would line him up to pitch the 24th, 29th and October 4th, if necessary. They could move Kuroda to Friday which would line him up to pitch the 26th, 1st and be available Saturday, October 6th. So, worst case scenario is you have CC available for a possible tiebreaker game and if it doesn’t happen, he gets a bit more rest. You also have Kuroda available to start Game 1 of the ALDS if CC gets used in a tiebreaker. By not juggling the rotation, the Yankees put Phil Hughes in line for the start if a tiebreaker is needed.
Now, I like Hughes, but he is the thrid-best pitcher on the staff right now. (We can’t say what Pettitte is at this point.) Do you really want him pitching in a big game instead of CC or Kuroda? I don’t and that is why I am surprised that the Yankees didn’t juggle the rotation. They could simply flip CC and Hughes for this upcoming series. CC would go on regular rest and Hughes would six days off between starts. It preserves options down the road which could be important.