Last night, I had an excellent time at the Wood-n-Tap with some of my favorite fellow Yankee fanatics. We ate, we drank, we laughed, we mocked the bunt (along with anything else worth mocking), and generally chatted about all things baseball. It was a great time, especially as I haven’t had a chance to really focus on a game for this past week or so (been very busy with wedding planning stuff!).
At one point during the middling innings of the game, Rebecca Glass of YDB and I mused over the rotation that the Yankees might deploy come the postseason. Granted, the discussion is a little premature as the Yankees haven’t technically clinched a playoff berth yet (I believe the magic number is around 27 or so), but it’s still a fun conversation to have nevertheless.
Let’s take a look at some of the potential options:
CC Sabathia — Although CC hasn’t looked as sharp during his past few starts (not to mention his performances against the Sox this season), there is absolutely no reason why he wouldn’t lead the charge into each round of the postseason. Overall, he’s posted excellent numbers all year; so much so, in fact, that he’s forced his name yet again into the Cy Young conversation. He is the Yankees ace and everybody knows it. The success of the team ultimately begins and ends with his outings.
From here, things get a little murky though…
Freddy Garcia — If the playoffs started today, incredibly I think Garcia would have a decent case for the second start. I’m not sure if that speaks more to the surprisingly successful results he’s managed to produce, or the tumultuous state of the rotation that has been one of the most bizarre storylines all year long. Curiously, despite Freddy’s continued success this season, I still have almost no confidence in him for whatever irrational reason come the postseason. Frankly, his off-speed stuff terrifies me against a patient, power hitting team such as the Rangers or Red Sox. On the plus side, Freddy does pretty well at keeping the ball in the park.
Ivan Nova — None of us seem to be able to agree on whether he is back-of-the-rotation trade fodder, a legitimate Rookie of the Year candidate, an up-and-coming prospect with a ceiling that might be a bit underrated, or something else entirely. Regardless of the label placed on Nova though, one thing is certain. He’s been pretty good this year. If his slider is working, he becomes substantially more dynamic as a pitcher. On the other hand, his control can be questionable at times and the lack of strike out potential isn’t ideal.
Bartolo Colon — No one could have possibly guessed how this story would play out prior to the season’s start. For a large chunk of the season, Colon was flat out excellent. Since his hamstring injury, he hasn’t been nearly as stellar. Joe, over at RAB, examined the disappearance of his two seam fastball and dimished pitch movement. Unfortunately, despite the magic of stem cell research, there’s a very real chance that the well of house money is starting to dry up. Of course, he was one inning away during his last start from exiting the game with six innings pitched and two earned runs.
Phil Hughes — After missing nearly all of the first half of baseball, Hughes has steadily improved since his return from shoulder fatigue. His velocity seems to have settled nicely into the low-to-mid 90′s range and his pitch selection has improved as well. For what it’s worth, Hughes managed to pitch into the eighth inning for the first time since last September in his prior start against a flailing Twins squad. Personally, I think the verdict is still out on Hughes’ role come October. I’d love to buy into what he’s done so far, but I think he’s going to have to prove consistancy a little bit further before the team can confidently lay their playoff aspirations on his young shoulders.
And of course…
A.J. Burnett — Just say “No.” I think unless something rather catastrophic happens, Burnett’s chances of pitching in the Yankees starting rotation during the postseason is about as slim as mine are. He’s been very inconsistent all year, and his “stuff” doesn’t appear to have the same effectiveness that it once had.
If the playoffs started today, I suppose my four man rotation would probably be Sabathia, Garcia, Nova, and Colon. However, if over the next few weeks Hughes continues to pitch well and Colon continues to falter, I’d have show no hesitation in slotting Hughes into the mix as a replacement. Depending on how things go, and as incredible as it may sound, Sabathia, Hughes, Nova, and Garcia may ultimately prove the best sequence.
What does your preferred rotation look like?
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