The ALDS kicks off a little less than a week from now. The big unanswered questions left are who will the Yankees play, which series will they take, and who will be on the playoff roster? Let me address those one-by-one:
1)Who will the Yankees play? The smart money is on Detroit as they're up 2 with 3 to play. I'd much rather see the Yankees play the Twins though, purely because in a short series, Justin Verlander, Edwin Jackson and Rick Porcello could easily beat you. I think they match up better against the Twins pitchers. The Tigers offense however isn't on par with the Twins. The Tigers OPS is about 19 points lower than that of the Twins. The Yankee pitchers would obviously fare better against a weaker lineup. I guess it doesn't really matter which team the face. I think there are pluses and minuses for both and the Yanks match up well either way. But if pitching wins championships, I guess I'll skip Verlander thank you very much. What would be ideal would be if the AL Central came down to the final day. Justin Verlander's turn is Sunday I think. If they're tied or if it's a 1-game playoff, the Yanks would see him later in the series or possibly on short rest.
2)Which series will the Yankees take? Since the Yankees have the best record, they get the choice of which ALDS schedule they want. They can take ALDS series A, which has games on 10/7, 10/9, 10/11, 10/12, and 10/14 or ALDS series B which has games on 10/8, 10/9, 10/11, 10/12, and 10/14. It's thought to be advantageous to take ALDS series A because of the added off-day. I agree with that. If the Yankees choose ALDS series A, they will be able to go with a 3-man rotation and still have guys pitch on regular rest. CC pitches tonight and would pitch again on 10/7, which gives him 5 days rest. He could come back and pitch game 4 on 5 days rest. If the Yankees played in ALDS series B, CC would start game 1 on 6 days rest and would pitch game 4 on 4 days rest. Andy Pettitte is slated to pitch game 2. He would be lined up to pitch game 5 in ALDS series A and would only pitch game 5 in ALDS series B if Sabathia pitched game 4 on short rest. It's advantageous to the Yankees to keep guys on regular rest. But if there is anyone who can pitch on 4 days rest, it's CC Sabathia. I don't think there's any advantage in taking ALDS series B. Series A keeps the rotation at 3 (no Joba or Gaudin) and everyone pitches on regular rest. It also frees up a roster spot since only 3 SPs are needed. An extra hitter could be key. Series A also means A-Rod can get some extra rest.
3)Who will be on the playoff roster? As I mentioned above, if the Yankees take ALDS series A they'll only need 3 SPs. That would allow them to carry an extra hitter on the roster. I think there are several players who are a given so let's just get them out of the way:
- Hitters: Jorge Posada, Mark Teixeira, Robinson Cano, Alex Rodriguez, Derek Jeter, Nick Swisher, Melky Cabrera, Johnny Damon, Hideki Matsui, Brett Gardner, Eric Hinske, Jose Molina and Jerry Hairston, Jr.
- Pitchers: CC Sabathia, Andy Pettitte, A.J. Burnett, Alfredo Aceves, Phil Hughes, Mariano Rivera
Those 19 guys are definitely a given. The breakdown right there is 13 hitters and 6 pitchers. I think the team would be best off if they carried 10 pitchers. The choices are Joba Chamberlain, Chad Gaudin, Phil Coke, David Robertson, Brian Bruney, Damaso Marte. You have to have a lefty and Phil Coke gets the nod over Damaso Marte. I don't see them carrying both Chad Gaudin and Joba Chamberlain. I'm not sure that either would make the ALDS roster. Both are candidates to start in the ALCS. I think if you put one in the pen, you're committing him to the pen for the duration of the playoffs. If the Yankees want Joba to start, I think Gaudin doesn't make the playoff roster for any series. Personally, I'd prefer to see Guadin get a start in the ALCS and Joba to join the pen for the playoffs. Joba was electrifying as a RP. I think the Yankees would have a lights-out back of the bullpen with Joba, Hughes, and Mariano. I leave Gaudin off for the ALDS and throw Joba in the pen (for the entire playoffs). Bruney and Robertson get the final 2 spots. So spots 7-10 go to Bruney, Coke, Robertson and Chamberlain,
13 hitters and 10 pitchers leaves 2 open spots. The choices to round out the offense for my money are Francisco Cervelli, Ramiro Pena, and Freddy Guzman. It makes sense to carry a 3rd catcher. If the team faces a lefty, they could sit Matsui and DH Posada. The 3rd catcher would allow them to make a defensive substitution late if need be. For that reason, I'd put Cervelli on the roster. Which brings me to Ramiro Pena and Freddy Guzman for the last spot. Whoever gets this spot is going to see little playing time. In my opinion, this guy's role would probably be as a pinch-runner. Guzman is definitely quicker than Pena. I've got to go with Freddy.
Here is my roster for the ALDS:
- Hitters: Jorge Posada, Mark Teixeira, Robinson Cano, Alex Rodriguez, Derek Jeter, Nick Swisher, Melky Cabrera, Johnny Damon, Hideki Matsui, Brett Gardner, Eric Hinske, Jose Molina, Jerry Hairston, Jr., Francisco Cervelli and Freddy Guzman
- Pitchers: CC Sabathia, Andy Pettitte, A.J. Burnett, Alfredo Aceves, Phil Coke, Brian Bruney, David Robertson, Joba Chamberlain, Phil Hughes, and Mariano Rivera
When the ALCS rolls around, I add Gaudin to the roster and take Guzman or Cervelli off. I'm not sure which I prefer. Guzman would be nice to have as a pinch runner against the weak-armed Red Sox. Yeah, I think I keep Guzman either way.
There you have it. What do you think? What changes would you make? I think no matter how it gets sliced the team is going to have a great shot to win it all. I'm liking their chances.
Peace, love and Pinstripes,