November 24, 2020

Rainout Impacts Yankees, Tigers

The Yankees are quite accustomed to dealing with rain. They have dealt with the second most rain interrupted games this season. This time, the unpredictability of the weather has impacted the Yankees and Tigers in game one of the American League Division Series. Sabathia was able to get through two innings before the field became unplayable. He threw 27 pitches. Justin Verlander took the mound for one inning, throwing 25 pitches. The marquee matchup began with Sabathia giving up a solo homerun to Delmon Young in the first. That was after two dominant strikeouts and a quick groundout to end the inning. In all, Sabathia threw 20 of his 27 pitches for strikes and was off to a good start. Verlander didn’t have his trademark control, but didn’t allow hit. He did give up a run because of some bizarre defensive decisions. After an extended rain delay and multiple meetings, Major League Baseball announced the cancellation of the game. Game one will be Saturday night at 8:30 with game two moved to Sunday afternoon at 3:07. Although it was just nine outs, the cancellation of game one impacts both teams.

Because of a rules change, rule 4.12 C, the game will not start over. Instead, the game will resume in the bottom of the second inning with the score tied at one. The lineups will obviously be the same, but the pitching matchup is impacted. The announced game two starters, Doug Fister and Ivan Nova, will now become the relievers for game one with Fister taking over in the bottom of the second and the Nova beginning in the top of the third. In addition to the game rescheduling, both teams will have to shuffle their pitching staff.

“We’ve been dealing with this all year long. Both teams are going through the same thing,” said Yankees Manager Joe Girardi. Jim Leyland agreed, “This is not a big deal. Everyone is scurrying around to adjust things, but let’s not get too excited.”

Both Managers are saying the right things, but the fact is that they are losing their ace and will likely have them for just one start in this series. The Yankees planned on starting Sabathia on short rest for game four. Verlander was going to start game five. Now, both Managers will try to find a spot for their respective aces.

Leyland has already decided on his rotation. Tomorrow night, Doug Fister will start the bottom of the second inning for the Tigers. “We’ll line it up with Fister tomorrow, Scherzer on Sunday, and Verlander on Monday. Porcello will start too,” stated Leyland. Girardi wasn’t ready to announce his plans for Detroit. “Yeah, Nova will throw tomorrow and Garcia on Sunday. From there, I don’t know. We’ll have to see how C.C. feels,” said Girardi.

It is possible that Sabathia starts against Verlander in game four. Sabathia did hint that he may lobby to start on Sunday, which would give him a potential game five start. “I want the ball as much as possible,” said Sabathia. But, Girardi did rule out starting Sabathia on Sunday. He, of course, could change his mind depending on the health of his ace. Sabathia admitted that it would depend on how he feels. Everyone thinks of his outing as 27 pitches. But, a starting pitcher does much more than that. “I did throw 27 pitches, but I did a full warm up. On side days, I don’t do a full warm up,” said Sabathia. The Yankees will make a decision based on Sabathia’s health.

Aside from the two aces, the rainout does impact both teams. The Tigers have more immediate concerns with the resumption of game one. Leyland has set up platoons at multiple positions. He had the right handed lineup in against the southpaw Sabathia. Nova, a right hander, will be facing a different lineup than had it been game two. Leyland will have to decide when and where to deploy his bench. It obviously can’t be early on. “Good question. That’s the one little dilemma. It’ll work out. I’m gonna keep my lineup and see how the game plays out. I’m not going to pull my guys in the second inning. That’s the way it is,” said Leyland

For the Yankees, it is all about having Sabathia for two two starts. The Yankees’ weakness is their rotation. Now, with consecutive games, the Yankees may have to use a fourth starter. That would mean A.J. Burnett.

But, all of that is predicated on the weather. With the forecast for rain on Saturday as well, there is a very real possibility of another rainout. Baseball Vice President Joe Torre said every effort was made to avoid this. “We certainly would not start a game if we had a forecast for heavy rain whether it was a marquee matchup or not. The forecast changed,” stated Torre. The problem would be if Saturday is rained out as well. At this point, Major League Baseball doesn’t have a back up. One option could be a Sunday doubleheader. “We are going to have to come up with a plan if we get rained out tomorrow,” said Torre. When asked about a double header possibility, Torre responded with a smile, “We haven’t settled anything, but at the same time we have to play these games.”

Game one will resume Saturday  night at 8:30 with game two now on Sunday at 3:07 PM. If the weather holds, there won’t be any off days for the series. That impacts the Yankees more with their thin staff. Knowing the weather in New York, that won’t matter and Joe Torre will have to get the plan ready. Baseball could see the first playoff double header in its history.