ALCS off days likely mean three-man rotation for Yankees

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One of the things that makes the playoffs so much different than the regular season is the drawn-out schedule allowing teams to shorten up both the rotation and bullpen.
There’s zero need for a five-man rotation during the playoffs and in some cases a four-man rotation isn’t even necessary. This year’s ALCS is example of that, because with a week of lead time before the series even begins and off days after Game 2, Game 4, and Game 5 the Yankees and Angels can lean exclusively on their best three starters.
Mike Scioscia and company may choose not to do that because rotation depth is one of the Angels’ biggest strengths, but being able to rely on CC Sabathia, A.J. Burnett, and Andy Pettitte to make every start in the series is a huge advantage for the Yankees.
Sabathia will almost surely start Game 1 on full rest, Game 4 on three days’ rest, and Game 7 on full rest, with Burnett and Pettitte starting twice each. John Lackey will face Sabathia in Game 1, but may draw just one other assignment in the series in part because of the Angels’ rotation depth and in part because he’s started on short rest just three times in his career.
The drawn-out schedule could also allow the Yankees to use the dominant relief trio of Mariano Rivera, Phil Hughes, and Joba Chamberlain for basically every game, which is obviously a big difference from having to rely upon a seven-man bullpen during the regular season. Shortening up the bullpen also helps the Angels given their shaky middle relief, but in general the ALCS schedule is very favorable for the Yankees.

Dodgers place Yu Darvish on 10-day disabled list with back tightness

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In a flurry of roster moves, the Dodgers placed Yu Darvish on the 10-day disabled list with back tightness, the team announced Saturday. Darvish was removed from his start on Wednesday after experiencing back pain and is expected to skip his scheduled start in Pittsburgh next Tuesday before returning to the roster. Left-hander Edward Paredes was recalled from Triple-A Oklahoma City in a corresponding move.

This is the first disabled list stint of the year for the 31-year-old right-hander, who exited Wednesday’s outing with a 3.83 ERA, 2.8 BB/9 and 9.9 SO/9 over 155 innings for the Dodgers and Rangers in 2017. Darvish told reporters that he felt comfortable continuing to pitch even after the diagnosis, but wanted to respect the team’s decision going forward.

The Dodgers have not officially announced Darvish’s replacement, but will likely turn to right-hander Brock Stewart for a spot start when they polish off their seven-game road trip next week. It’s been a rough weekend for the NL West leaders, who are still waiting on Clayton Kershaw‘s return and lost lefty reliever Grant Dayton to elbow discomfort on Friday.

Yankees oust Aroldis Chapman from the closer’s role

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The writing was on the wall, but the Yankees made it official on Saturday: Aroldis Chapman is no longer closing games for the Bronx Bombers. Comments from manager Joe Girardi suggested that the move is a temporary one, however, and he told reporters that Chapman will be utilized at “different points” in the game as the Yankees try to pinpoint the source of the left-hander’s struggles.

There’s no question that the flame-throwing southpaw has been off his game for a while, and his season 4.29 ERA, 4.3 BB/9 and 12.6 SO/9 hints at some of the issues he’s been facing. He imploded in each of his last three appearances, issuing a cumulative five hits, six runs and five strikeouts over just 3 1/3 innings. It seems plausible that the left rotator cuff inflammation that sidelined him several months ago has resurfaced, but the veteran lefty said Friday that he doesn’t believe any physical issues have caused his decline.

While Chapman works out the kinks in his mechanics, the Yankees will look to some combination of Dellin Betances and David Robertson to cover the ninth inning. Girardi wouldn’t commit to either reliever in the closer’s spot, however, and said he’d take it on a case-by-case basis depending on the match-ups in any given game. The long-term plan is still to reinstate Chapman, whenever that might make sense for the team.

“He’s been scuffling over the past 10 days, two weeks,” Girardi said. “I just thought for us to get him back on track, maybe the best way would be to move him around a little bit until he gets going. When we get him going like I believe he’ll get going, there’s a good chance I’ll put him right back in that closer’s role.”