New York Yankees starting pitcher Sabathia and first baseman Teixeira celebrate in their clubhouse after defeating the Baltimore Orioles in Game 5 of their MLB ALDS baseball playoff series in New York

CC Sabathia unlikely to make next start until ALCS Game 4

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Because of the unusual playoff schedule this year, the only way the Yankees will be able to get two starts out of CC Sabathia in the ALCS is by using him on short rest once.

That’s because the Yankees won’t have a day off before the ALCS begins Saturday in New York. The Tigers get did that day off, so they’ll be able to schedule Justin Verlander for Games 3 and 7 with no problem. The Yankees will have to use Sabathia on three days’ rest in order to get two games out of him.

Of course, it makes no sense for the Yankees to do that initially, since there’s a good chance the series won’t go seven games anyway. So odds are that Sabathia will start Game 4. Here’s are the likely matchups:

Game 1 – Oct. 13 – Doug Fister vs. Andy Pettitte (in New York)
Game 2 – Oct. 14 – Anibal Sanchez vs. Hiroki Kuroda (in New York)
Game 3 – Oct. 16 – Verlander vs. Phil Hughes (in Detroit)
Game 4 – Oct. 17 – Max Scherzer vs. Sabathia (in Detroit)
Game 5 – Oct. 18 – Fister vs. Pettitte (in Detroit)
Game 6 – Oct. 20 – Sanchez vs. Kuroda (in New York)
Game 7 – Oct. 21 – Verlander vs. Sabathia (in New York)

Perhaps the Yankees would choose Hughes on normal rest over Sabathia on short rest in a Game 7, but it seems highly unlikely. Regardless, the Tigers would seem to have a nice advantage in that one. The series winner would certainly prefer ending it in Game 6, allowing the ace to be ready to go in Game 1 of the World Series.

Update – I hadn’t considered that Kuroda would also be on three days’ rest in Game 2. It still seems to be that that would be the way to do it. Using him in Game 3 instead would put a potentially rusty Hughes in line to start Game 6. If they’re not willing to start Kuroda in Game 2, then it’d probably be David Phelps, with Hughes maybe working in relief on two days’ rest.

Update 2 – The Tigers announced that it’d be Sanchez in Game 2, not Scherzer, suggesting that Scherzer is still dealing with some shoulder soreness. That’d seem to be good news for the Yankees.

Report: Blue Jays and Josh Donaldson agree to two-year, $29 million deal

Toronto Blue Jays' Josh Donaldson celebrates his two run home run against the Kansas City Royals during the third inning in Game 3 of baseball's American League Championship Series on Monday, Oct. 19, 2015, in Toronto. (AP Photo/Paul Sancya)
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The Blue Jays and 2015 American League Most Valuable Player Josh Donaldson have avoided arbitration by agreeing to a two-year, $29 million contract, reports Shi Davidi of Sportsnet.ca.

Donaldson was arbitration-eligible for the second time this winter. He filed for $11.8 million and was offered $11.35 million by the Blue Jays when figures were exchanged last month. It wasn’t a big gap, but since the Blue Jays are a “file and trial” team, they bring these cases to an arbitration hearing unless a multi-year deal can be worked out. They were able to get it done in this case. Donaldson was a Super Two player, so he’ll still have one year of arbitration-eligibility once this two-year deal is completed.

The 30-year-old Donaldson is coming off a monster first season in Toronto where he batted .297/.371/.568 with 41 homers while leading the American League with 123 RBI.

Giants and Brandon Belt have an arbitration hearing scheduled for Wednesday

San Francisco Giants'  Brandon Belt reacts after being called out on strikes by home plate umpire Jim Joyce to end the top of the first inning against the Colorado Rockies in a baseball game Friday, Sept.. 4, 2015, in Denver. (AP Photo/David Zalubowski)
AP Photo/David Zalubowski
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Brandon Belt filed for $7.5 million and was offered $5.3 million by the Giants when arbitration figures were exchanged last month. That’s a pretty sizable gap. While there’s still a chance that an agreement will be worked out at the last minute, Henry Schulman of the San Francisco Chronicle reports that an arbitration hearing is scheduled for Wednesday.

The Giants haven’t gone to an arbitration hearing since 2004, when they lost to catcher A.J. Pierzynski. Schulman hears from one person involved that because of the gap between Belt and the Giants, there’s a real chance this will break that string and require a hearing.

Belt batted .280/.356/.478 with 18 home runs and 68 RBI over 137 games in 2015, but he dealt with concussion symptoms for the second straight season. An arbitration hearing could bring some unpleasant conversation to the surface.

Padres sign veteran utility player Skip Schumaker

Cincinnati Reds' Skip Schumaker is tagged out at home plate by San Francisco Giants' Buster Posey during the seventh inning of a baseball game Tuesday, Sept. 15, 2015, in San Francisco. (AP Photo/Ben Margot)
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The Padres have inked veteran utility player Skip Schumaker to a minor league contract, per FOX Sports’ Ken Rosenthal.

Schumaker, who turned 36 last week, has spent the last two seasons with the Reds. He batted .242/.306/.336 with one home run and 21 RBI over 131 games last season while making starts between all three outfield spots and second base. Cincinnati cut ties with him in November after declining a $2.5 million club option for 2016.

While Schumaker had to settle for a non-guaranteed deal here, it would be no surprise to see him land a bench job with the Padres come Opening Day.

Report: MLB, union making progress on new slide rule at second base

New York Mets shortstop Ruben Tejada falls after a slide by Los Angeles Dodgers' Chase Utley during the seventh inning of an NL Division Series baseball game Saturday, Oct. 10, 2015, in Los Angeles. (John McCoy/Los Angeles Daily News via AP)
John McCoy/Los Angeles Daily News via AP
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After Ruben Tejada suffered a fractured right fibula on a takeout slide from Chase Utley during the playoffs, there was momentum for a new rule about slides at second base. We haven’t heard much about it since the Owners’ Meetings in November, but ESPN’s Buster Olney reports that talks between MLB and the players’ union are making progress and a change is expected for the 2016 season.

The exact wording of the new rule is still unclear, but Olney hears that there’s a focus toward “ensuring that sliding runners either touch the base or make an effort to touch the base.” Below are some more details:

Sources said that in the union’s internal discussions, players made it clear they had been taught since they first began playing baseball to go into second base with the intent of breaking up double-play attempts. Although the union wants to improve safety for middle infielders, it does not want to eliminate players’ aggressiveness on slides or the ability to break up a double play.

However, there is a desire on both sides to eliminate slides on which a baserunner goes beyond the effort to reach second to make contact with middle infielders.

There’s already a rule in place for a situation like we saw with Utley, but it’s rarely, if ever, enforced. It’s unfortunate that Tejada’s fractured fibula had to be the catalyst for change or clarification with the rules, but hopefully this will result in fewer injuries in the future. Similar to the “Buster Posey Rule” for plays at home plate, get ready for life with the “Chase Utley Rule.”

Here’s the video of the Tejada/Utley play:

And here’s the video of another high-profile play from 2015 which resulted in a torn lateral meniscus and a fractured tibia for Pirates infielder Jung Ho Kang: