There's Three Guys Who Should Start The Wild Card Game. Or Is There?
Ground ball down the line, fielded by Andujar, the throw across the diamond to Bird, it's in the dirt and it pops out of his glove!
When The Boston Red Sox completed their 4 game sweep of The Yankees on August 5th it was the first time that Yankee fans had to fully swallow the pill; we are (99%) going to be playing in the wild-card game.
At first, it seemed a tough pill to swallow. A season with "World Series or Bust" mentality would come down to a one-game playoff? Potentially in Oakland(!) against the team with the lowest opening day payroll? David, meet Goliath.
When we zoom back in we see a team that has strictly had their sights set on the playoffs. A bullpen that has the talent to be special and make any lead insurmountable when right. A lineup that has been the second-best in baseball despite a plethora of injuries and never completely finding their rhythm.
There has been a hot debate about which of the three starting pitcher's should get the pill for the wild-card game. This reminds me of the overused college football saying "if you have two quarterbacks, you don't have any quarterbacks." Basically, an outdated saying that if you don't have 'your guy' then you are outmatched at the position. Others would say, that in today's baseball having different guys for different matchups provides you with better options.
Is your glass half full or half empty? Is there a secret fourth option? Pour your preferred drink and let's figure it out together.
Luis Severino, the Cy Young candidate through June, had one of the roughest stretches in baseball by any pitcher this season (Not so fast says AJ Cole of late). 11 games, 55.1IP, 42ER, 6.83ERA and allowing opposing hitters to have a .937 OPS. If you're new to OPS, that's the equivalent to making every batter look like MVP candidates Alex Bregman or Jose Ramirez (.930 and .952 OPS respectively). He has recovered well in his last 3 starts but still doesn't feel like the dominant Sevvy from earlier this year.
J.A. Happ, the hired gun from the trade deadline, has been the model of consistency. 6-0 with a 2.34 ERA since joining The Yankees, in a start where you can't risk a blow-up, is he not the safest option? The counter would be are you really going to let a guy who might only be a Yankee for 2 months decide the 2018 season? Also, with fantastic numbers against the Red Sox this year, you would love to have him in game 1 of the ALDS against them.
Then the porridge who's temperature is just right, Masahiro Tanaka. In his 10 starts from July 24th to September 14th Masa went 64.2IP with a 2.09ERA and displaying a calm on the mound with a devastating splitter that we've become accustomed to in The Bronx for the past 5 seasons. Tanaka brings inherited trust with recent results that leave you (arguably) the most comfortable.
Now, let's have fun. It's 2018, a year that will be remembered as "The Year of The Opener". Or the reliever starter. Or closer opener. Whatever you want to call it, a reliever kicks off the game by facing the first three batters of the game, usually the best three hitters on the team. It allows the pitching team to control the matchups better, save their "long relief" (starter) from facing the top of the lineup and my favorite advanced stat; it makes the game feel uncomfortable.
The Rays have the 2nd most quality starts (6+IP with 3 or less ER) as a *team* in the American League. Blake Snell is T-12 so he isn't skewing the number drastically either.
Enough! Just say it! Chad Green!
The Yankees break glass in case an emergency reliever has regained his form to the tune of a 2.57ERA with 91K's in 73.2IP. He had to rescue the team in last years wild card game (so did you Didi, not playing favorites) and you won't find a more level-headed demeanor on the mound. In back to back appearances in early August, Chad threw 31 and 44 pitches respectively in multi-inning, shut out performances.
I say why not? Because that's easy for a lot of us to say without our careers on the line. For Aaron Boone and Brian Cashman, they do not have the same liberties. If Chad went 1, or hell 2 innings, with a potential 6 innings from Holder, Robertson, Britton, Betances, and Chapman you have 8 of the 9 innings covered! If you have a lead you can throw any combo of Tanaka, Happ or Sevvy for 2-3 innings and have them rested for the upcoming ALDS.
The Yankees did their first bullpen day this season in a move to line up arms for the postseason. They won going Holder to Tarpley to Sonny Gray which I don't think will be enough of a sample size to push this forward in the wild-card game. I'll end with one tip of advice for Boone and Cashman;
Win the wild-card game. #LGY
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