The Yankees are expected to be one of the contenders during this year’s 2012 play-offs, and although so far it looks like the Yankees might lose first place to the Rays, I still predict that the Yankees will win the American League East by at least 3-4 games. With that being said, I do not feel like it is a bad idea to think about the starting rotation for the 2012 play-offs. For the Yankees, CC Sabathia goes first-but if the Yankees were to go all the way to the World Series (hypothetically), how would you shape up the rotation? After observing the Yankees starting rotation for quite some time, here is how I would compose the 2012 play-off rotation if the Yankees were to go all the way to the World Series.
American League Division Series
Reason: It is obvious that our ace, CC Sabathia would go first since he is the one that holds us into games and always gives us a chance to score and after CC, to me it seemed that this rotation makes sense. When the Yankees first signed Hiroki Kuroda, I thought it was going to be another signing gone wrong (like the signing of Carl Pavano & A.J Burnett), but Kuroda proved me wrong as well as Yankees fans when he came out of the dugout throwing gem after gem. Unfortunately, the Yankees seem to not score when Kuroda is on the mound, thus why his win/loss record is not spectacular. Kuroda however, proves that he is a liable part to the rotation and has earned the #2 spot with his 2.96 ERA and 1.120 WHIP so far this season. Now, we move onto Phil Hughes. I know, you’re asking why did I chose a guy whose 12-11 with a 4.15 ERA & a 1.269 WHIP as the third starter. It’s because when Hughes is right, his stuff is ‘Philthy’ (pun intended). Hughes proved it in his last outing when he only gave up two runs. Sure, his Achilles heel is giving up the long ball but all pitchers give up home runs. When Hughes is also right, he is able to keep the Yankees in the game. That is what makes Hughes so valuable (and he pitches better than what his outings says).
American League Championship Series / World Series
Reason: The ALCS and the World Series rotation are a little different due to one name-Andy Pettitte. The only reason I did not list Andy Pettitte in the rotation for the ALDS was because he is still recovering from that foot injury and of course, if I were the manager I would want to give Pettitte’s foot just a little more time to heal. Pettitte is competitive and has the most postseason wins on the Yankees. He is also a great addition to the rotation and gives it depth. Sure, he’s only gotten a couple of starts since returning in May, but if he could get 2-3 more starts before he’s plugged back into the rotation then he should be just fine.
What about David Phelps?
David Phelps has played a big part in the rotation with the injuries to CC Sabathia and now Ivan Nova, but I would not put Phelps in the rotation in case one of the pitchers in the rotation has an off night and the Yanks are in dire need of a long man. You cannot ask Derek Lowe to go out there since he might be needed later in the game and you definitely cannot ask David Robertson or Rafael Soriano to come in earlier than expected. Phelps belongs on the play-off roster and he belongs in the bullpen to help the Yankees out. If you need more convincing that he belongs on the playoff roster, he has a 2.69 ERA and a 1.147 WHIP.
What about Ivan Nova?
At the rate he is pitching, Ivan Nova would not get a playoff spot in the rotation. Yes, he is 11-7 but he has an ERA of almost five and a WHIP of 1.456. He also is right there with Phil Hughes in giving up a lot of HR’s. It also seems for the last 2 months or so, Ivan Nova looks lost on the mound. Maybe I might change my mind when he comes off the DL and if he pitches like ‘Super Nova’ but until then, there is no way that he’s getting a spot on the playoff roster.
What about Freddy Garcia?
Freddy Garcia has been a surprise for the Yankees since coming back into the rotation. On the season, he’s 7-5 with a 4.96 ERA. Trust me, the ERA of five is nothing to be happy about but it is a big improvement from when his ERA was over 12 in the beginning of the year. Garcia would be another pitcher that would go into the bullpen for the playoffs in case the starters do not perform up to par. When you think about it, Garcia has not been bad at all and he’s actually earning some trust back from Yankees fans. Remember earlier in the season when we wanted him gone and we wished for A.J Burnett to return? Well slowly, we all forgot A.J Burnett’s name and continued chanting ‘Sweaty Freddy’. Garcia could play a huge role in the playoffs like Phelps and right now, he might get a spot in the bullpen but all that could change now that we are in the final month of the regular season.
There is still a lot of baseball to be played and anything could happen, but if the season ended today, is this the top starting rotation that you would attempt to take above and beyond?