The Yankees have not committed to a playoff rotation, but they have a group in mind.
“I don’t think that’s hard to figure out,” pitching coach Dave Eiland said. “As long as we don’t make any late-season trade or anything, the four or five we have are the four or five we have.”
The smart money seems to be on CC Sabathia, Andy Pettitte, A.J. Burnett and Phil Hughes, and the Yankees have a week and a half to get those four lined up for the Division Series. Pushing Hughes to Wednesday, Girardi said, “has to do with innings,” but there will be more changes in the coming days. And those will be geared toward the playoffs.
Right now, Sabathia is on turn for Tuesday and Sunday, which would line him up for Game 3. Obviously that’s not going to happen.
“Something will be adjusted, yes,” Eiland said.
Basically, the Yankees have to hold Sabathia to one more regular season start. He could get extra rest now (and pitch on Friday), or he could get extra rest leading into the playoffs (and stick with Tuesday’s start), or the Yankees could split the difference and have him pitch on Thursday.
The rest of the rotation can more or less pitch whenever the Yankees need them to pitch. Neither Pettitte nor Burnett needs extra rest.
“Andy’s a guy that we feel doesn’t need the spacing because he hasn’t pitched a whole lot,” Girardi sad. “A.J. seems to get rain in the middle of every one of his starts, so we really haven’t spaced him a whole lot… We’re still thinking about the division in our sight, but you have to think about mapping it out as well.”
• Dave Robertson is probably available tonight. “We talked about him being available today,” Girardi said. “I have not seen him and seen what he’s been able to do, but he felt good playing catch yesterday so there’s a chance.”
• Both Girardi and Eiland said there are no plans of having Hughes pitch out of the bullpen between starts. Throwing one inning of relief seemed to help him the last time he was given extra time off, but Eiland credited that success to experience, not one inning out of the pen. “Who’s to say that’s what did it, and who’s to say the mental part is what did it?” Eiland said. “Maybe he got used to it and figured out how to approach it a little differently mentally.”
• Eiland on continuing to evaluate the postseason relievers: “You can’t discount what guys have done all year either.”
• Eiland on whether the postseason rotation will depend on who the Yankees face in the first round: “If you can pitch and get guys out, you can pitch and get guys out. It’s not like we’re going to play somebody we’ve never seen before and try to trick somebody.”
• Girardi said he does want to rest some position players, in the final week, but he didn’t feel he needed to today. “Obviously you have to clinch a playoff spot before you can do some of the things you want to do,” he said. “I checked with guys today. There was a possibility you might give a guy a day off, but everyone felt pretty good.”
• After a hot start and a terrible middle, Francisco Cervelli has been hitting again the past month or so. Since August 27 he’s hitting .400 with nine walks and four strikeouts in 30 at-bats. “As he’s gotten more experience and has seen the league more,” Girardi said. “He knows what to expect, how people are going to try to get him out. He’s seen pitchers more than once, and I think his at-bats are better because of that.”
• Amare Stoudemire threw out the first pitch last night. It’s a pretty light day for notes, so why not throw in a picture of a really tall NBA player?
UPDATE, 6:06 p.m.: I only saw CC Sabathia in the clubhouse for a couple of minutes this afternoon, but apparently Mark Feinsand talked to him and Sabathia confirmed that he’ll make his next start on Friday.
Also worth noting that Evan Longoria is out through the weekend with a strained left quad.
Marco Scutaro SS
J.D. Drew RF
Victor Martinez C
Adrian Beltre 3B
David Ortiz DH
Mike Lowell 1B
Jed Lowrie SS
Bill Hall LF
Darnell McDonald CF
Associated Press photos of Sabathia and Stoudemire with Joba Chamberlain