Wednesday, September 12, 2018

Second Guessing My Hypothetical Wild Card Game Starter

The thing about predictions, hypotheticals, and fandom in general is that everything is subject to change. Remember when Giancarlo Stanton “sucked” and everyone (most “fans” anyway) wanted him traded after just a month? Where were those fans in August? Silent. Also, remember when everyone wanted Austin Romine to start every day over Gary Sanchez? Where were those fans on Monday night when he launched an 800 ft (exaggeration) home run against the Minnesota Twins in a victory? Also, silent. My point is that fans and opinions can change, and I have changed my mind concerning the Yankees potential and hypothetical Wild Card Playoff Game starter. 

In my initial post I listed JA Happ as my Wild Card Game starter followed by Luis Severino, Masahiro Tanaka, and CC Sabathia in that order, but on second thought I think I changed my mind just a bit. Looking ahead a bit, which I understand can be dangerous, I think if I were making the calls I would have Masahiro Tanaka start the AL Wild Card Game and not Happ. My reasoning? Well, that’s where it gets tricky. 

Masahiro Tanaka has playoff experience, specifically AL Wild Card Game experience, and has proven that he can pitch under the bright lights in the Bronx in October. Tanaka started the AL Wild Card Game for the Yankees in 2015 against the Houston Astros and Dallas Keuchel slinging five innings of work while allowing two runs, both solo home runs, with three strikeouts. Happ has playoff experience with the Philadelphia Phillies in 2008 in the NLCS, again in 2009 when the Phillies matched the New York Yankees in the World Series, and during the 2016 ALDS and ALCS with the Toronto Blue Jays, pitching to varying degrees of success. While Happ has pitched in the postseason and the World Series with Philadelphia he has done so as a relief pitcher with the exception of one start (that lasted just three innings) in the 2009 NLDS against the Colorado Rockies. Happ’s two starts for the Blue Jays both lasted five innings each and resulted in a combined 1.50 WHIP and over 11 hits per nine innings. In the immortal words of former Yankees manager Joe Girardi, that’s not what you want. 

The past is the past though and we cannot focus solely on the past when making this decision. Let’s look at the present. Who would you want starting two games and a decisive Game Five for the Yankees, assuming they make it that far? You have to think, especially against the Boston Red Sox,
that that’s Happ. I mean, sure, we would love to see Tanaka make two starts as well, but the team has to get their first and right now Severino just isn’t an arm that can be relied on in a one-game playoff scenario. Having Tanaka start the Wild Card Game, Happ starting Game One of the presumed ALDS, followed by Severino, Sabathia and Tanaka gives the Yankees at least a fighting chance. If the series goes five games I don’t think I’d want anyone else on the mound AS WE STAND TODAY in that decisive Game Five than JA Happ.

Happ has been the most consistent Yankees starter and has great numbers career against the Red Sox. It just makes logistical sense to me, even if it is looking ahead and subject to second guessing a bit. Having Tanaka start the AL Wild Card Game is not exactly throwing in the towel by any means, but if the Yankees can win that game with Masahiro on the mound the team would be ideally set up to take down the big, bad “best team to walk the planet” Boston Red Sox, in my opinion.

1 comment:

  1. J.A.Happ or Tanaka
    Won't matter if the offense doesn't wake up.
    This team needs to start going with the pitch with runners on base instead of swinging for the fence .
    Time to man up and quit the walks and hit singles and doubles instead of pop outs and strike outs


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