Saturday, October 1, 2011

A Quick Word On The CC/Rotation Situation

It's real simple.  CC Sabathia should absolutely be coming back to start Game 2 tomorrow night.  It shouldn't even be a debate.  He's the Yankees's ace and the highest paid pitcher in baseball.  Situations like this are exactly why the Yankees signed Sabathia in the first place, so why would they play it passive here and hold him out until Monday, moving Freddy's schedule up a day in the process?

Even if there is concern about bringing him back after just 1 day off (which there shouldn't be because he only threw 27 low-stress pitches last night), the more important thing to consider is that bringing CC back tomorrow sets him up to pitch Game 5 instead of Ivan Nova.  No offense to Ivan Nova, but I want CC on the mound in a potential elimination game on short rest more than I want Nova on regular rest.  Shit, I want CC on the mound on short rest for a Game 5 over anybody on the Yankee staff on regular rest.  I would want CC on the mound in Game 5 if he had thrown 150 pitches the night before and had his arm chopped off after he was taken out of the game.  And bringing him back to pitch Game 2 allows that to happen.

The weather screwed up the original rotation plans, I get that.  But that doesn't mean the Yankees have to screw up the rest of it by playing it safe.  The loss of the off day means they have to use a 4th starter in this series, likely A.J., and that makes it all the more important to have your best on the hill in a must-win game.  And let's also not forget that CC's got an opt out clause kicking in after this season and surely wants to get paid more on his next deal.  He's got plenty of incentive to go out on Sunday and pitch well and then come back for a potential Game 5 and do the same thing on short rest.  He wants the ball, he has all the motivation in the world to want the ball to help his team and help his bottom line; give him the ball.

In a 5-game series, your ace should never pitch less than 2 games.  CC is the Yankees' ace and is more than capable of coming back on short rest tomorrow and for a Game 5 if needed, especially after his shortened outing last night.  If the Yankees win Game 1 tonight, he can put them on the brink of a sweep.  If they lose, he's the guy they want out there to even things up.  It's a win-win situation either way.  Do the right thing, Joe.  Put the big fella on the hill tomorrow. 

ALDS Game 1 Preview: Take 2

Under the new MLB postseason rules, last night's game technically wasn't postponed, it was "suspended" and will resume today from the bottom of the 2nd when the suspension took place.  That sounds like toMAYto/toMAHto to me, but whatever.  The weather is supposed to be horseshit all day in the NY area, so who knows if we'll get Game 1 in today.  In hopes that we will, we'll try to preview the rest of Game 1.

Pitching Matchup: Ivan Nova (16-4) vs. Doug Fister (11-13)

Starting Lineups: Same as last night.  With the game starting from the 2nd inning, managers (mainly just Leyland) would be stupid to yank guys early in order to combat a righty pitcher and leave their bench short for the late innings.

3 Things to Watch For:

1) The Weather

It's already raining in the tri-state area and it's supposed to keep up all day and all night.  MLB botched reading the radar last night, thinking there would just be "intermittent showers," so I'm sure if they think they can sneak the game in between any breaks in the weather tonight they're going to take the chance.

2) How Quickly Ivan Nova Works

Nova's no different than any other pitcher in that when he's feeling good he likes to work quickly.  Pitch, get the ball, back on the rubber, pitch, repeat.  Where Nova differs from a lot of other pitchers is in the experience department.  He's been money for the Yankees this year, but this is his first postseason appearance and there could be butterflies in the stomach and a little extra adrenaline flowing through the body.  How quickly he works on the mound tonight should be an indicator of how he's managing that extra stress and also how he's managing his stuff and command.  The slower Nova works, the rougher his night could be.

3) Bullpen Management

Perhaps the biggest monkey wrench thrown into the series by last night's rainout is in the bullpens.  Neither manager will be able to lean on their respective Big 3s now since they'll have no off days to rest them between Games 1-2 and 3-4.  If the game stays close tonight into the late innings, watch for which manager caves first and goes with his big guns to hold a lead.  Once they do, they almost have to commit to the big guns for the rest of the game, and that will force them to play the balancing act through game 4.  Eventually, that will lead to a scenario where they will have to go with someone other than the regular setup men for a potentially high-leverage late inning later in the series, which might not work out.  Whichever manager navigates tonight's late innings the best can not only help get his team a 1-0 series lead, but also be in a much better bullpen usage position moving forward through the rest of the series.

Player To Watch: Ivan Nova

Rookie making his first Major League postseason start?  Yeah, that's a no-brainer that he's the guy to watch.  How Nova fares tonight could determine whether or not Joe brings CC back for Game 2 on Sunday (which he should anyway, but that's a different discussion).  Nova does have the fact that CC already finished 2 innings working for him, as he really only has to work through 4-5 tonight and then hand it over to the 'pen.  But if he bombs early, then Joe has to scramble with his middle relief to bridge the gap and keep the game close.

Start breaking out the anti-rain dances early, Yankee fans, because Mother Nature is still feeling cranky today.  Hopefully we can get this thing in.