Yankees buck trend with 3-man playoff rotation

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By relying exclusively on CC Sabathia, A.J. Burnett, and Andy Pettitte throughout the postseason the Yankees became the first team since the Twins in 1991 to win the World Series while using only three starting pitchers.
Minnesota won that year behind the trio of Jack Morris, Kevin Tapani, and 23-year-old 20-game winner Scott Erickson, and in a cruel twist of fate that happens to be the first postseason that I can remember watching.
I was eight years old, newly obsessed with the Twins, and living in St. Paul at the time, so naturally it seemed to me that they would be making it to the World Series just about every season for the rest of my life. They haven’t been back since. Anyway, enough about the unfortunate timing of my Twins fandom.
Minnesota only needed to use a three-man rotation for two rounds in 1991 and Elias Sports Bureau put together an interesting stat about the history of pitchers starting on short rest since the playoffs expanded to three rounds in 1995. Despite the Yankees’ recent success the numbers aren’t pretty. Short-rest starters have gone 22-35 with a 4.68 ERA in 480.2 innings during that 15-year span, including a 5.24 ERA in four starts this postseason.
Success tends to breed copycats and the Yankees riding three starters to the World Series this season will no doubt increase the likelihood of other teams giving it a try, but short rest simply hasn’t been very kind to pitchers in the playoffs. In fact, only once since 1995 have short-rest starters produced a winning record and an ERA under 4.00.

Report: Diamondbacks acquire Steven Souza from Rays; Yankees land Brandon Drury

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Update (6:35 PM ET): This is a three-team deal also involving the Diamondbacks, per Nick Piecoro of the Arizona Republic. The Diamondbacks will receive outfielder Steven Souza from the Rays and second baseman Brandon Drury will head to the Yankees. Lefty reliever Anthony Banda will go to the Rays, Piecoro adds. The Diamondbacks will also receive prospect Taylor Widener from the Yankees, per Joel Sherman of the New York Post. MLB.com’s Steve Gilbert adds that the Rays will get two players to be named later from the D-Backs.

Souza, 28, is earning $3.55 million in his first of three years of arbitration eligibility, so the Rays are presumably saving money in moving him. Last season, Souza hit a productive .239/.351/.459 with 30 home runs, 78 RBI, 78 runs scored, and 16 stolen bases in 617 plate appearances. Souza’s arrival almost certainly pushes Yasmany Tomas out of a starting gig.

Drury, 25, has played a handful of positions in his brief major league career. Last year, he played second base in Arizona, batting .267/.317/.447 with 13 home runs and 63 RBI in 480 PA.

Banda, 24, made his major league debut last season, posting an ugly 5.96 ERA with a 25/10 K/BB ratio in 25 2/3 innings. The peripherals suggest he pitched better than his ERA indicated.

Widener, 23, was selected by the Yankees in the 12th round of the 2016 draft. This past season with High-A Tampa, he pitched 119 1/3 innings and posted a 3.39 ERA with a 129/50 K/BB ratio. MLB Pipeline rated Widener as the 14th-best prospect in the Yankees’ system.

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Robert Murray of FanRag Sports reports that the Rays will acquire second base prospect Nick Solak from the Yankees. The Yankees’ return is presently not known.

Solak, 23, was selected by the Yankees in the second round of the 2016 draft. He spent last season between High-A Tampa and Double-A Trenton, hitting a combined .297/.384/.452 with 12 home runs, 53 RBI, 72 runs scored, and 14 stolen bases.

MLB Pipeline ranked Solak as the eighth-best prospect in the Yankees’ system and the fifth-best second base prospect in baseball, praising him for his ability to hit line drives as well as his speed.