The New York Times’ Tyler Kepner has a new piece up in his BATS blog where Joe Girardi hints at what he’s thinking about how to use the always quiet and uncontroversial Mr Chamberlain this October. He writes:
The team with the best record in the American League decides which division series schedule it wants. One series includes a day off between Games 1 and 2, the other does not.
“There are two different division series,” Joe Girardi explained. “In one, you need three starters, and in one you need four. I’ll just leave it at that.”
Girardi was answering a question about the role his fourth starter, Joba Chamberlain, will play in the postseason. If Chamberlain continues to struggle, the Yankees could choose the division series with the extra day off, meaning they would use Chamberlain in relief.
A few things to unpack here. First, without knowing who you’re playing its impossible to answer that question directly at this point. The playoffs are all about game by game match ups, so you need to know who you opponent is. But he’s letting you know how he will approach the decision. He’s telling you is that as Yankee manager he will factor in both who his starting pitcher is in Game 4 and who the opponents starter will be. If Joba is throwing the ball reasonably well down the stretch and you’re playing the Tigers, who would be looking at Nate Robertson for Game 4, then I think it’s a safe bet you’ll see the 4 man format. If Joba is struggling, as Kepner said it’s possible Girardi opts for the 3 man schedule and you’ll see Joba used out of the bullpen for the ALDS. I don’t think that would preclude him from starting in the ALCS, where you need 4 starters. But over the next few weeks, Joba will be pitching for a Game 4 (if neccessary) start.
Another note, I don’t think the Tigers will shut down Porcello. He’s at 135 IP (125 last year) and could easily reach his limit of 160 by the end of September, but they could simply skip him one or twice later this month and be fine innings-wise. I expect Porcello to be available and be their 3rd starter for the playoffs.
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