The Great AL Playoff Rotation Cluster F

For months now, the acrimony over the Yankees playoff rotation has been deafening. Despite the best effort of the sunshine fans, the doom and gloomers have been suspiciously eyeing the playoffs with growing trepidation and outright horror. As far as the rotation goes, I was formerly in the latter camp: I had frightening visions of Freddy Garcia and hanging splitters, Ivan Nova and whole games without strikeouts and Bartolo Colon throwing two seamers that hang over the plate. I was nonplussed, baffled, scared and depressed.

Not any longer though. Looking at the likely AL playoff teams, it’s pretty clear the Yankees are not the only team with serious rotation questions. After moving across the country and dealing with the obligatory internet and cable delays, I wound up missing about 3 weeks worth of baseball. As it so happens and has been covered elsewhere and more extensively, the playoff rotations in the AL are shaping up to be underwhelming all around.

The Red Sox with Jon Lester and Josh Beckett appeared to have the best 1/2 punch in the league. Then yesterday Beckett hurt his ankle. It’s still not certain how serious the injury is but it’s certainly alarming if you’re a Boston fan. Without Beckett, you may be adding Tim Wakefield or Andrew Miller on the back end of that rotation. On top of the Beckett injury, Erik Bedard, who has pitched well, is suffering some sort of knee ailment. It sounds like the Bedard injury is not expected to be serious. If the Red Sox rotation can get healthy over the next 3 weeks, they have the most solid front 3. If not, John Lackey had better figure it out, real fast.

We’ve poured over the Yankees rotation issues for weeks now. Everyone knows CC Sabathia is one of the best pitchers in the game and having a Cy Young type season, again. Behind him it gets a little sketchy. Despite his poor outing yesterday, Freddy Garcia has pitched very well for the Yankees, with a 3.84 FIP to this point in the year. He’s not missing many bats and his HR/FB ratio is the lowest of his career which indicates he’s probably been a bit luckier than expected so far. Still, he’s been very solid for the Yankees. The same goes for Bartolo Colon. Although he’s run into a rough patch for the past month or so, he’s been solid as well. Ivan Nova hasn’t missed many bats. Since the beginning of August however he’s had a FIP below 3 and has kept the ball on the ground all season.

The Tigers may have the best American League pitcher in Justin Verlander at the top of their rotation. Behind him, it’s a little more questionable. Max Scherzer has been inconsistent. With a 4.33 ERA (4.14 FIP) he’s prone to giving up the long ball but as the Yankees have witnessed, he can be overpowering at times too. Doug Fister has been a nice acquisition for the Tigers as well. His 13 K game last night certainly stands out but his overall body of work has been good. He’s posted a 2.68 FIP in his 7 starts with Detroit.

The Rangers have pretty good number 1 option in the rotation as well with CJ Wilson. He’s posted a 3.36 FIP with a K/9 rate above 8 so far this year. Derek Holland and Matt Harrison would likely be the 2nd and 3rd pitchers for the Rangers. They’ve battled some inconsistencies but have been solid all year (3.86 and 3.61 FIP respectively). It sounds like they’ll slide Ogando into the bullpen and go with Colby Lewis as their number 4 although that’s very much up in the air.

Each team has serious concerns about their rotation. The AL doesn’t have a single team that’s miles ahead of any other in terms of rotation depth. Right now I’ve assumed the Rangers will win the west but the Angels are only 2 games back and have Dan Haren and Jared Weaver, two guys with FIPs around 3. The rest of their rotation isn’t formidable, but facing Haren and Weaver in a 5 game set is certainly an unnerving prospect.

With 3 weeks still to go in the regular season, a lot can happen. The Red Sox might get completely healthy. The Yankees could see Phil Hughes or AJ Burnett significantly improve. The Tigers may find Scherzer has regained some consistency. The Rangers might pencil Scott Feldman into their post season plans. Who knows? That’s my new approach in terms of the post season pitching situation. Who the F knows? Considering the league wide issues and the general uncertainty of playoff baseball, it would be foolish to get too worked up over the Yankees rotation at this point. With the offense as good as it is, it may only take a few decent outings for the Yankees to advance in October. I have no idea. And I don’t think anyone else really does either at this point. So instead of worrying over each individual post season rotation slot, I’m just going to sit back try and relax while enjoying these last few weeks of the regular season.

12 thoughts on “The Great AL Playoff Rotation Cluster F

  1. Duh, Innings!

    It never ceases to amaze me what a moron Joe Girardi is and how the Yanks could get rid of him today/tomorrow, replace him with Tony Pena, and not miss a beat.

    Jesus Montero just hit a pair of homeruns yesterday and is 5 for 13 (.385) to start his MLB career, so what does Girardi do? He sits Montero tonight because you know, Tommy Hunter is sooooo much trouble for the Yanks and would be for Montero. Not to mention 21-year old Montero needs the rest PSSSHHHH!!! Let’s give at-bats to a guy who probably won’t and shouldn’t be on the postseason roster for the first round if not the entire postseason (Posada.) Let’s also stop a kid hitting .385 from hitting some more.

    This is Girardi clearly starting Posada at DH so Posada doesn’t look or feel like the done one he is. Don’t be surprised at another 0 for 4 or 5 with a GIDP or two stinker from Posada tonight.

    The Yanks are 2.5 games ahead of Boston and 5-0 in September / since Montero has joined the team, and Girardi basically wants to disrupt that rhythm (as well as a young kid’s mojo) to appease a self-centered brat which Posada has been all year. Self-centered in that he took himself out of a lineup one game, has told people he can still catch when Martin and Cervelli are the catchers now, and talked to someone from the NY Post about next year i.e. possibly being somewhere else next year when he should concentrate on having the best possible this year so the Yanks could consider bringing him back for another year cheap. I don’t wanna hear how the Yanks have treated him when they gave him two sizeable contracts totalling nine seasons including $13.1M per year 2008-11.

    If Montero went say 0 for 10 starting tonight, ok, then I’d say give Posada a start.

    .385, just starting his career, two homeruns yesterday.

    • Moshe Mandel

      Totally disagree. Yanks shouldn’t hand the job to Montero after 4 games. Jorge and Chavez need to get at bats against righties.

      • Duh, Innings!

        Where did I say hand the DH job to Montero and don’t give Chavez ABs? Nowhere, but thanks for putting words in my mouth.

        ‘Kid (Montero) just hit a pair of homeruns yesterday, is batting .385 albeit in only 13 AB. Give him the start tonight. Tonight. Not the DH job.

        Posada and Chavez need to get ABs against RHP? I am 100% down with giving Chavez a guy who can play 1B as well as 3B as many ABs as possible considering A-Rod’s current state which is not 100%. Chavez has been a great little sparkplug all year in the time he’s played. I am 100% against giving everyday player ABs to Posada, a guy who can’t hit, run, catch, play the field period, steal a base, go a month without one brainfart on the basepaths, keep his mouth shut to the press, or stop thinking about himself/his playing time over the team. He is a total I, Me, Mine player now. He had all year to show the Yanks what he has left, and he has shown he has nothing left.

        Btw this is September not extended spring training.

        Montero > Posada right now. Montero’s the hot hand and you always play the hot hand at this point with an uncertain slot in the order.

        • Moshe Mandel

          Posada has had a very solid season against RHP. I don’t think its clear that he shouldn’t be the DH against them in October.

          • Duh, Innings!

            Um, stop putting words in my mouth, cuz once again you’re doing that by replying to me as if I’m saying Posada should not be the DH or the DH vs.RHP for the postseason when I said no such thing. “Probably won’t be or shouldn’t be on the postseason roster” means that.

            Posada overall sucks although he did score a run and hit a homerun for his seventh RBI outside of 8/13 since 6/30 last night. Good night but can he drive in a run without a homerun? 13 RBI since 6/30 is pathetic when you’ve had the DH job most of that time.

            My point which you obviously missed because you once again want to be argumentative with me by putting words in my mouth was give the kid (Montero) another start the game after he smacked two homeruns. No harm no foul last night.

            Stop replying to me or ban me because I’m tired of your crap. I come on here and post what I think, and you feel the need to pick an argument with me every time. I’m not saying agree with me, I’m saying if you’re gonna reply to me, don’t put words in my mouth I never said.

          • Moshe Mandel

            You said you are against giving him everyday player at-bats. Pretty obvious implication of that.

  2. Duh, Innings!

    ‘Know how badly Posada sucks?

    He has a dozen RBI 6/30 on. Half of them were in one game (8/13.)

    So SIX RBI in 2+ months outside that 8/13 game.

    http://www.baseball-reference.com/players/gl.cgi?id=posadjo01&t=b&year=2011

  3. Moshe Mandel

    Good post Sean. Drives home how iffy most of the rotations are at the backends.

    • Yeah, that’s what really struck me looking into this. No AL team has a secure back end of the rotation. Wouldn’t want to face Angels bc of Haren and Weaver in a 5 game set but other than that, I dunno.

  4. Kevin Ocala, Fl

    “Despite his poor outing yesterday, Freddy Garcia has pitched very well for the Yankees, with a 3.84 FIP to this point in the year. He’s not missing many bats and his HR/FB ratio is the lowest of his career which indicates he’s probably been a bit luckier than expected so far”.

    I’m not sure that I agree with the logic on the HR/FB ratio statement. Garcia come to the Bronx, a great big-fly stadium and he’s “lucky” because of what he’s done in the past? Isn’t it more likely that he’s pitching to the stadium like smart pitchers have always done? IMHO, this is the type of statistical smugness that p/o’s the non-stat crowd (I’m not among them). It’s the same “type” of lazy analysis that galvanizes the saber crowd when a non statistical statement comes out of the mouth of, for example, Joe Morgan. Sometimes someone is playing above/below their ability, the numbers “predict” it to regress, but other times players develop new ways to compete as they age or are on a short leash because they haven’t proven themselves (sorry about the run-on). Just something to consider….

    • Well that would make sense except that Yankee stadium is a HR friendly park. So its really just lazy analysis on your part to have no idea what type of ballpark Yankee stadium is.

      • Kevin Ocala, Fl

        Sean, if you re-read what I wrote I specifically noted that Yankee Stadium is a park that is homer friendly. So what I wrote made sense and my analysis wasn’t lazy. You were just tired when you responded and didn’t catch it. Listen, your a good writer, and I didn’t mean to disparage you or your writing. I really was making a larger point that statistical oriented fans/writers over-use stats sometimes. Sometimes what you seem to see really is not a statistical anomaly…. So if Minka makes a play for you, maybe it’s because she digs you ;)

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