With 5 games left in the season and a 5.5 game lead over the Red Sox in the Wild Card race (Sox have 6 remaining), the Yankees have a playoff spot all but locked up. The Red Sox have a less than 1% chance of making the postseason, as they would need to win all of their remaining games while the Rays or Yankees would have to lose all of theirs for the Sox to earn a spot in a 1 game playoff. While the 3 game set with the Yankees this weekend might make it seem like Boston has a real chance to make up their deficit, the odds are stacked heavily against them. Despite all this, after spending the better part of a month being smart about the health of their players and prioritizing the postseason, the Yankees will turn to CC Sabathia tonight and put aside setting up their playoff rotation in order to clinch now. This is a mistake born of anxiety to clinch, and presents an example of a team succumbing to pressure, both internal and external.
The initial plan had Sabathia pitching this Friday, to line him up perfectly for a start in Game 1 of the ALDS the following Wednesday. Of course, the plan also had the Yankees clinching by now, but a magic number of 1 should be close enough to allow Joe Girardi to stick to his initial decision to focus upon setting up the playoff rotation. Instead, CC will pitch tonight, and likely will not see any action for over a week prior to his Game 1 start. While CC had two periods of long rest prior to excellent playoff starts last postseason, he has performed a bit worse over his career with extended rest and has mentioned that he would prefer to be on schedule for the postseason.
Ultimately, this is not a huge deal, and I do not think it will have much impact on how CC pitches in the postseason. It just disturbs me that the organization is ignoring the overwhelming odds in their favor and is changing course after a month of preparing for October.
I think proponents of the Yankees going with a 3 man rotation in the ALDS should look at this move as a positive.
Had the Yankees rested CC now and let him go into the postseason on normal rest AND decided to go to CC in game 4 on 3 days rest, he would be looking at pitching 3 games in the span of 9 days.
Now if he starts tonight and you go to a 3 man rotation. You’ll start him tonight, give him rest before game 1 and go back to him for game 4 on 3 days rest. You’re looking at 3 games in the span of 13 days.
Looking at last postseason, CC had at least 8 days off prior to both sets of three day rest starts that he made, as this chart shows:
|ALDS g1||Oct 7||NYY||MIN||W,7-2||GS-7||W(1-0)||99||6.2||8||2||1||0||8||0||1||1.35|
|ALCS g1||Oct 16||NYY||LAA||W,4-1||GS-8||W(2-0)||8||8.0||4||1||1||1||7||0||0||1.23|
|ALCS g4||Oct 20||NYY||@||LAA||W,10-1||GS-8||W(3-0)||3||8.0||5||1||1||2||5||1||0||1.19|
|WS g1||Oct 28||NYY||PHI||L,1-6||GS-7||L(3-1)||7||7.0||4||2||2||3||6||2||0||1.52|
|WS g4||Nov 1||NYY||@||PHI||W,7-4||GS-7||3||6.2||7||3||3||3||6||1||0||1.98|
While I have no way of knowing whether this was a factor considered by the Yankee decision-makers, it does balance the scales a bit and suggest that starting CC tonight may not be quite as bad for the club as I made it out to be.
Where do you come out on this issue?