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.

The Twins didn’t listen to CC Sabathia’s wishes concerning bunting

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Earlier this month, Yankees starter CC Sabathia jawed at the Red Sox after Eduardo Nunez laid down a bunt. Sabathia fielded it fine, but threw the ball away for an error. After the game, he called Nunez’s bunt “weak” and said the Red Sox should “swing the bat.” Sabathia, of course, is not that limber these days. Along with being 37 years old, the lefty has also battled knee and hamstring issues this season.

The Twins apparently didn’t hear what Sabathia had to say about bunting. After Brian Dozier singled off of Sabathia to lead off the top of the first inning on Tuesday, Joe Mauer laid down a bunt on the third base side and reached safely. Jorge Polanco then laid down a bunt of his own, also on the third base side, and was initially ruled out, but after replay review was ruled safe to load the bases with no outs.

Fortunately for Sabathia, he was able to limit the damage, getting Eduardo Escobar to ground into a run-scoring 6-4-3 double play and inducing an inning-ending ground out from Byron Buxton. It’ll be interesting, though, to see if the Twins continue to bunt against Sabathia throughout the night.

Jake Arrieta to return to Cubs’ rotation on Thursday

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Cubs starter Jake Arrieta has been out over two weeks with a strained right hamstring, but he’s ready to return to action. The right-hander threw a bullpen on Tuesday and it went well, so he will start in Thursday’s series opener against the Brewers in Milwaukee, MLB.com’s Carrie Muskat reports.

Arrieta, 31, returns with a 14-9 record, a 3.48 ERA, and a 157/53 K/BB ratio in 160 1/3 innings. If he stays on schedule, he’ll make three starts through the end of the regular season, including the regular season finale on October 1 against the Reds.

Arrieta is expected to max out at 75-80 pitches on Thursday and will ramp up through the end of the month.