Yankees buck trend with 3-man playoff rotation

Leave a comment

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.

Masahiro Tanaka throws a Maddux

Getty Images
Leave a comment

You do know what a Maddux is, right? In case you forgot, it’s a complete game shutout in which the starter throws fewer than 100 pitches. Friend of HBT Jason Lukehart invented that little metric and, because Greg Maddux is my favorite player ever, it’s pretty much my favorite stat ever.

In the Yankees-Red Sox game tonight it was Masahiro Tanaka doing the honors, tossing 97-pitch three-hitter in which he only allowed one runner to reach second base to beat Boston 3-0. He only struck out three but he didn’t walk anyone. He retired the last 14 batters he faced.

Chris Sale was no slouch himself, striking out ten in eight innings. He’s pitched great this year but he’s not getting any help. The Sox have only scored four runs in his five starts. Boston has scored only 13 runs in their last seven games. They’ve been shut out three times in the past seven. They scored more runs than anyone last year, by the way.

The game only took two hours and twenty-one minutes. Or, like, half the time of a Yankees-Red Sox game in the early 2000s. Progress, people. We’re making progress.

Shelby Miller has a tear in his UCL, considering Tommy John surgery

Christian Petersen/Getty Images
3 Comments

Nick Piecoro of the Arizona Republic reports that Diamondbacks pitcher Shelby Miller has a tear in his ulnar collateral ligament and is considering undergoing Tommy John surgery. Surgery would end Miller’s 2017 season and would cut into a significant portion — if not all — of his 2018 season as well.

Miller sent his MRI results to Dr. Neal ElAttrache and Dr. James Andrews for second and third opinions, respectively. He could choose to rehab his elbow rather than undergo surgery, but that comes with its own set of positives and negatives.

Miller lasted only four-plus innings in his most recent start on Sunday and carries a 4.09 ERA on the season, his second with the Diamondbacks. His time in Arizona has not gone well.