Bad News: The New York Yankees and Cleveland Guardians might have to play four games in four days in two different cities (with three plane rides baked in) to determine which team will advance to the ALCS.
Good News: If the Yankees win Games 2 and 3, this will not happen. They will move on.
Thanks to Thursday’s frustrating rainout, following a beautiful scheduled off day on Wednesday where the sun was shining and the birds were chirping (oh, wait, that was just Myles Straw), the Yankees and Guardians will play Game 2 on a Friday afternoon in the Bronx at 1:07 PM.
At first blush, the feels like a situation that’ll hamper the New York crowd’s enthusiasm and cost the Yankees tremendously. And it’s fair to be afraid of rainouts, considering the way they’ve changed Yankees series in the past (2011, 2006…).
The Tigers aren’t here anymore, though. And momentum’s only as good as the next day’s starting pitcher anyway. Both the Yankees and the Guardians’ starting pitching will be crushed and condensed moving forward; the disadvantage isn’t only pawned off on one team. Both New York (Jameson Taillon) and Cleveland (Aaron Civale/Zach Plesac) will be forced to start someone they didn’t want to touch, and New York’s No. 4 is theoretically a better pitcher.
Plus, there’s the added Nestor Cortes Factor. While the Yankees’ No. 2 impressed wherever he was thrown in 2022, he was especially lethal in day games, an opportunity that just fell into New York’s lap.
Yankees’ Nestor Cortes will hopefully continue day game trends vs Guardians
From the All-Star Game to the Trop, Cortes’ brilliance knew no bounds during the 2022 regular season, even when some detractors believed he’d fall off.
The crafty left-hander was oddly at his best rocking in the daytime, though, which goes against expectations. Wouldn’t shadows and sunsets help him obscure his stranger offerings?
While the numbers buck logic, Cortes was remarkable in the light of day. In 12 starts and 74 innings, No. 65 went 6-0 with a 1.82 ERA, 42 hits allowed and 98 Ks. For those worried about the extra-long layoff (and Yankee fans are worried about everything for good reason), Cortes posted a 1.01 ERA in five starts on 6+ days rest this season, walking five and striking out 25 in 26.2 innings.
The playoffs aren’t the regular season, and 12 days’ rest isn’t six, and postseason games haven’t started this early in the Bronx since 2006’s nightmare … but still! Anything can happen, but the data indicates Cortes is on solid footing despite the scheduling mess.
The Yankees can no longer run Cortes out on short rest in Game 5, but maybe that wasn’t going to end up that enjoyable for them anyway. Cleveland can’t counter with Shane Bieber, and will now have to find a spot for their undesirable extra starter (Game 4? Hold them for Game 5 at Yankee Stadium?). Can super closer Emmanuel Clase really pitch four straight days with no rest? Effectively?
Both teams might have to make some unexpected rotation decisions, but all the shifting still seems to benefit the Yankees. Plus, Games 2 and 3 are right there for the taking, and two Yankee victories could render this fretting pointless.
New York’s victory in Game 1 ended up being twice as massive as everyone thought. Now, it’s time for Day Game Nestor to loom as large as he’s proven he can.