NY's Postseason Pitching Plan

jon abbey

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So Tom Verducci has an SI piece about this today, this is the crucial quote:

“We’re going to be a little untraditional,” manager Aaron Boone said. “The only one we might use as a traditional starter is [James] Paxton.”


Verducci goes on later in the article to try to predict what this specifically means, and I think his conclusions are pretty wrong. First of all, if they're doing this, they've made it really obvious all season long that Chad Green as an opener will be a big part of it. I'm not going to try to predict myself yet as I think NY needs to see what they have in Severino (starting his first game of the season tomorrow) and Betances (his first game of the season was yesterday, pitched to two batters and struck them out both), and it also probably depends somewhat on who the opposition is and how they matchup. I'm quite sure that it won't involve Happ pitching twice in four days, as Verducci suggests. This is his guess (maybe he just made a mistake by listing Happ twice?):

======================================

Game 1: Paxton. He’s won his past nine starts, primarily because he stopped throwing about 85 percent fastballs. Since his streak began, he virtually doubled his curveball use, from 14 percent to 27 percent.

But in this 9-0 run Paxton has faced 27 batters only once. A reminder: hitters post a .897 OPS when facing the lefty for a third time. There is no way Boone is losing a postseason game by leaving a starter in too long–including Paxton, his one “traditional” starter.

Game 2: Severino and Happ, not necessarily in that order. Severino makes his first start Tuesday. He’s not going to be stretched out enough to be treated as a traditional starter. When I asked Boone if he planned to use Severino first or second in a piggyback situation, he said, “I don’t know. We’ll see.”

Game 3: Sabathia and German. In a preview last week in Detroit, we saw these two pitchers cover 22 outs while allowing two runs. The Yankees like to trust Sabathia on the road. As with Severino and Happ, you flip the lineup with different-sided pitchers.

Game 4: Tanaka and Happ. Boone mentioned that even Tanaka’s role may be as a “floater.” Another right-left tandem.

Game 5: Paxton.
 

RedOctober3829

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It is certainly unconventional, but it can work. After seeing what Alex Cora did last year and what the Astros did the year before, the days of having 3-4 starting pitchers with traditional setup men in the playoffs will go by the wayside. The Astros this year are the outlier with Verlander/Cole/Greinke.
 

jon abbey

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I think that was his point...

When you have five or six relievers (still not quite including Betances until he shows a bit more) as good as NY does, it would be a waste to not use them quite a bit. My guess at a rotation as of this moment (OK, that didn't take me long) would be something like:

game 1: Paxton
game 2: Green for 1-2 innings, Severino or Tanaka
game 3: Sabathia for 2-3 innings, Tanaka or Severino
game 4: Green for 1 inning into Happ and/or German
game 5: Paxton

Not totally happy with that, but I think it is closer than Verducci's guess.
 

VORP Speed

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It’s pretty crazy how quickly the floodgates opened on rethinking how pitchers are deployed once somebody had the chutzpah to challenge the traditional way of doing things.
 

EvilEmpire

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JA, you may know right off the top of your head: what was the Yankees record with openers this year? I know it was good, but I'm not sure if it was "dominantly good", "pretty good" or "pretty, pretty good".

In any event, I like that plan better than riding traditional starters until they start to falter, even with short leashes. The idea of matching up lesser starters with three inning blocks best suited to home/road and the tendencies of the opposing team sounds good to me. Whatever they can do to maximize the effectiveness of what they have.
 

jon abbey

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I think they’re 11-3 when Green opens, the only real hiccup was that disaster against the Indians.
 

jon abbey

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Last year's Brewers did some funky stuff with their staff in the NLDS and totally shut down COL. They only allowed 2 total runs in a 3 game sweep, but still they used 17 pitchers in the 3 games, only one of the three SPs got past 70 pitches despite being dominant (of course that was new Sox legend Jhoulys Chacin). Then in the NLCS they had 41 pitchers over the 7 games and almost stole the series from the Dodgers.



This sounds potentially different as you say, but also let's see what NY actually does. Verducci seems to think they are going to try to get more innings from their SPs (including coming out of the pen) and I think they're going to try to maximize the back-end relievers, including Green and hopefully Betances.
 

Rough Carrigan

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I stand corrected. I thought it was more of a desperation move by Milwaukee. It would seem pretty extraordinary for a 104 win team or whatever the yankees end up as to immediately go into a full scramble on the pitching side.
 

crow216

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I'm having trouble figuring out how to respond to this. On the one hand, it seems like an obvious way to have your best pitchers pitch the most amount of innings and to maximize flexibility. On the other hand, it's so risky that if it backfires, Boone is going to be run out of town.

Here's the crux of my issue. Boone has been good to great this year but the one area he scares me with is having good judgment for when to switch pitchers. This type of strategy can expose those weaknesses very clearly. There's definitely going to be a start where it seems his hook is too quick and vice versa. CC and Happ always seem to stay in a few batters too long. If you're deploying this strategy and have a late hook, you'll look like a fool.

Sorry for that ramble but yea, not going to say this inspires confidence.
 

EvilEmpire

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The problem is, the Yankees starting rotation, outside of maybe Paxton, doesn't inspire a lot of confidence. Especially against top tier teams in the playoffs.
 

jon abbey

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I'm for it, I've been talking about it for months now actually. Among other things, it makes it harder for the other team's hitters to prepare, one reason that TB is effective doing it. Paxton's recent emergence has made him a clear #1, but I'd be fine with maximizing the impact of their deep deep back of pen in all of the other games, which I think is the goal here.
 

TheDivision

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I like it because it eliminates the SP biggest vulnerability which is facing a lineup a third time. And all the SP, with the exception of CC, have a sub 800 OPS the 1st and 2nd time through the order.
 

Rough Carrigan

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I like it because it eliminates the SP biggest vulnerability which is facing a lineup a third time. And all the SP, with the exception of CC, have a sub 800 OPS the 1st and 2nd time through the order.
I can see that but I think people ignore the fact that the more pitching changes you make the more chances you have to find a guy who just doesn't have it that day. It's not nothing.
 

jon abbey

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I can see that but I think people ignore the fact that the more pitching changes you make the more chances you have to find a guy who just doesn't have it that day. It's not nothing.
I don't think they're ignoring that, I don't think they'd do this if they were totally comfortable with their rotation.
 

Rough Carrigan

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I don't think they're ignoring that, I don't think they'd do this if they were totally comfortable with their rotation.
I agree. I don't think they are but I think fans do. Well, I think the Dodgers do, too. Last year in the world series they had one guy pitching freaking great and they just reflexively got into the platoon matchup thing, ended up with Madson pitching against a righty, not a huge advantage, and Madson didn't have it that day. Boom. World series loss for being too cute.
 

jon abbey

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Yeah, they're calling it a 'partial tear' and saying maybe no surgery, but clearly he is done for the year after his sole appearance. Now the question turns to his free agency...
 

crow216

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Well, guessing a lot of teams will be hoping for a bargain. How on earth did he tear his achilles?
 

crow216

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I don't think he tore it on the hop. It looks like he tore it during his follow through and jumped off of it because of the pain/pull.
 

jon abbey

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Dunno about that, he looked like he hopped after the call for strike 3, which he thought ended the inning, and he had a big smile on his face after.
 

jon abbey

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I feel worse for him going into his free agency than I do for how it should affect NY, they still have five stud relievers and Betances was a bit of a question mark still.
 

jon abbey

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I actually think this lost season for him makes it a lot more likely he will come back to NY for at least one more year, he grew up in Manhattan.
 

jon abbey

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Betances would have been great to have as an additional weapon, but I don't think his loss will impact NY's 12 man postseason staff too much. I think Cessa or Loaisiga will take that spot, both have shown lots of good signs lately.

Cessa in 6 outings since 8/22: 13.2 12 3 1 0 7
Loaisiga in 7 outings since 8/20: 11 7 2 2 7 12

Too many walks for Loaisiga, but 0 in his last 2 outings/4 innings at least.

So I have one of those two as pitcher #12, both will get more games to make their cases, and both can make it if NY only goes with 12 position players, some combo of Tarpley/Heller/Gearrin are next up after that (I think Montgomery is just getting his toes wet again for 2020). The first 11 are:

Paxton
Tanaka
Severino
Happ/Sabathia/German

Green
Kahnle
Ottavino
Britton
Chapman
 

TheDivision

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Loaisiga or Cessa can also be an option if one of the SP, for instance in CC and German combo, doesn’t have it, right? We’ll at least someone needs to be there as an option or BP might get worn out.
 

jon abbey

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Loaisiga or Cessa can also be an option if one of the SP, for instance in CC and German combo, doesn’t have it, right? We’ll at least someone needs to be there as an option or BP might get worn out.
Yes, but also keep in mind that the whole staff will have four days off between the regular season and ALDS game #1, and then there are two days off if the series goes five games, so guys should be able to pitch a lot if needed.
 

jon abbey

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Maybe it’s time for me to stop paying attention to sports, ugh.