Yankees: Joe Girardi playing fast, loose, and smart with rotation

(Photo by Mike Stobe/Getty Images)
(Photo by Mike Stobe/Getty Images) /

The Yankees are leaving no stone unturned as they strategize for the upcoming playoffs and in particular, the one-game shootout on October 3rd. Headlights are aimed at the rotation, with a plan in the makings.

Yankees manager, Joe Girardi, is twisting the team’s rotation into a pretzel, but it’s all with a real purpose in mind. And his wheels are turning fast, loose, and smart as he lays a foundation for the rotation he will employ for the playoffs.

Most significant, it appears Girardi is setting up Luis Severino to pitch the one-game playoff that will decide who moves on to the ALDS. With dual purposes in mind, Girardi is skipping Severino’s regular turn in the rotation, moving him all the way to Friday, which follows a much-need day off for the team.

Cagey as ever, this means Girardi has the Twins if they can hold off the Angels, facing Severino never having seen him before in the do or die elimination game. Plus, as a by-product, the move enables Severino a chance to catch his breath for an extra day or two, with a mindful eye also on the number of innings he has pitched already this season (185).

Girardi may also have sacrificed Sonny Gray in constructing his plan by moving him up in the rotation on four days rest to pitch Sunday’s finale against the Orioles. Gray responded with a clunker that may or may not have been due to the shift. The move had to come sometime, though, and it would seem wise that Girardi decided to do it now and get it over with.

Not so fast, it could change

Again in a smart move, Girardi is making it clear he is hedging all bets and his plan is subject to change without notice. A good part of this hedging probably stems from the fact the Yankees are still not out of the race for the ultimate prize, the Division itself.

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It would appear, then, Girardi is settling on Masahiro Tanaka as his number three and CC Sabathia in the four hole, should he be needed in the abbreviated five-game ALDS.

If everything holds, Severino’s final start of the season will come on Thursday, September 28 against the Tampa Bay Rays, putting him in a direct line to pitch the following Tuesday in the shootout on full rest.

Gray’s final start is scheduled for Saturday, September 30 in Toronto against the Blue Jays. If necessary, he will be available to be used in relief in the shootout, and also in line to pitch the first game of the ALDS.

Yankees have the right man in the right place

Girardi continues to impress as a thinking man’s manager, always looking for an edge, always thinking two weeks ahead. And I’m compelled to repeat it. Regardless of what happens in the off-season with Girardi and his contract, by far, this is the best he’s ever managed the Yankees. And with that, he deserves serious consideration in the Manager of the Year voting.

Today in Yankees History (September 18, 2010)

Brought to you by National Pastime

"After finishing a victory short of the milestone twice during his distinguished career, CC Sabathia becomes a 20-game winner for the first time when the Yankees beat the Orioles 11-3. The left-hander, who leads both leagues in victories, is the fourth Bronx Bomber since 2000 to reach the plateau, a list that includes Roger Clemens (2001), Andy Pettitte (2003), and Mike Mussina (2008)."

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Tonight, Jaime Garcia gets the start in the first of three games with the Minnesota Twins at Yankee Stadium. Garcia will be followed by Tanaka and Sabathia.