Chipper Jones is either feeling fantastic or has his priorities out of order

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If Chipper Jones’ swan song season has been characterized by any one thing, it’s been characterized by caution and pain.  He has felt a lot of pain — mostly in those nearly non-existent knees — so he and the Braves have exercised caution. He has sat out often, rarely playing a string of more than four days in a row without a break, and often not even that many.

It’s been a good plan, too. Jones has missed time, yes, but not extended time, and he has been outrageously productive for a man of his age and physical state. Far from playing out the string, he has been a key force in the Braves offense all year.

Which makes his tweet today somewhat curious:

 

This week — through the weekend — is his last regular season homestand with the Braves, so it makes sense that he wants to go out in style, on the field, saying goodbye to Braves fans.  But it’s also something that should give Braves fans pause.

Starting with tomorrow’s game, the Braves play six home games in a row without a day off. It would seem that he’s playing in all of them, as five of them are “this week” and it seems highly unlikely that he wouldn’t play next Sunday’s home finale  However, Chipper has played on six days in a row exactly once this season, from September 7th through the 12th. And actually in one of those games he did not start, coming in late to pinch hit on September ninth (though he did stay in for one more plate appearance as the game went into extra innings). Joes has played on five straight days three other times this season.

This last week seems to be the lowest leverage week of the year for Atlanta. They have all but clinched their post season birth. The playoffs are in the offing.  Maybe I’m fretting because of my Braves fandom, but it seems to me that, rather than play every single day this week, now would be an excellent time to get Jones some extra rest for that last push to the World Series.

Joe Girardi won’t use Masahiro Tanaka in Game 7

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The Yankees and Astros are set for Game 7 of the American League Championship Series on Saturday, and neither team will hold back as they seek a World Series berth. The Astros are prepared to back starter Charlie Morton with any able-bodied pitcher in their ranks — including Justin Verlander, though A.J. Hinch said it would be a “dream scenario” to get anything more from his ace — while the Yankees are prepared to utilize all but a few of their arms. One pitcher you won’t see? Right-hander Masahiro Tanaka, who last took the hill for the Yankees during their Game 5 shutout on Wednesday.

Tanaka expended 103 pitches over seven scoreless innings in his last start, fending off the Astros with three hits, a walk and eight strikeouts. He hasn’t pitched on fewer than three days of rest all year, and even with a do-or-die scenario facing the Yankees on Saturday night, manager Joe Girardi doesn’t want to compromise his starter’s ability to stay rested and ready for the World Series.

Girardi will also play it safe with fellow right-hander Sonny Gray, who dominated in a five-inning performance in Game 4. All other pitchers should be available and ready to go, though the club is hoping for a lengthy outing from veteran starter CC Sabathia. Sabathia is no stranger to the postseason: over eight separate playoff runs, he touts one championship title and a collective 4.24 ERA in 123 innings. He held the Astros scoreless in his Game 3 start, blanking them over six innings on three hits, four walks and five strikeouts for an eventual 8-1 win.

Even without Tanaka or Gray likely to take the mound for Game 7, the Yankees will enter the series finale with history on their side. Per MLB.com, they have a 4-3 road record in Game 7s and are 6-7 in all 13 Game 7 finales to date. The Astros, on the other hand, dropped their first and only Game 7 clincher back in 2004, when the Cardinals capped the NLCS with a 5-2 win in St. Louis. The teams are scheduled to face off for the first-ever Game 7 at Minute Maid Park on Saturday at 8:00 PM ET.