Tigers manager Jim Leyland announced his ALCS rotation with Doug Fister and Anibal Sanchez getting the ball in the first two games in New York this weekend.
Justin Verlander is scheduled to pitch Game 3 and a potential Game 7. Max Scherzer will be held back until Game 4, meaning he’ll get just one start against the Yankees.
A healthy Scherzer would have almost certainly been the Tigers’ No. 2 starter in the postseason after he went 8-2 with a 2.69 ERA and a 110/27 K/BB ratio in 90 1/3 innings after the All-Star break, but he missed a start in the next-to-last week of the regular season with a sore shoulder and also hurt his ankle. As a result, he was held back until Game 4 of the ALDS. He allowed just an unearned run over 5 1/3 innings and struck out eight in the contest, which the Tigers lost in the bottom of the ninth.
The Tigers aren’t in bad shape with Sanchez going in Game 2 instead. He had a 2.43 ERA in six starts in September, and while he lost his ALDS start, he gave up only two runs in 6 1/3 innings versus the A’s. It is worth noting that he was lit up by the Yankees in his one start against them this season, surrendering seven runs in three innings.
Plus, the Tigers are in much better position for the series thanks to their day off Friday, allowing them to use all four of their starters on regular rest. The Yankees are faced with potentially going with Hiroki Kuroda on short rest or pitching David Phelps in Game 2. Also, they’ll have to use CC Sabathia on three days’ rest at some point in order to get two starts out of him.
MLB.com’s Jenifer Langosch reports that Cardinals’ shortstop Aledmys Diaz has been sporting a new look around Busch Stadium with a pair of “strobe glasses,” technology-enhanced specs designed to help athletes focus on the ball. Like a strobe light, the lenses of these glasses affect a player’s vision by rapidly changing opacity, giving its wearers the illusion that the objects they see are moving more slowly than normal. Once a player adjusts to the new speed of play, they gain a greater sense of control and are able to time their actions with more precision.
Diaz isn’t the first MLB player to utilize the technology, just the first Cardinals’ player to do so. It’s been tested by Bryce Harper, Corey Brown, Tommy Joseph, Austin Hedges and Joe Mauer, among others around the league, and has been used for everything from refining a catcher’s reflexes behind the plate to tweaking a hitter’s ability to track a pitch. Per Langosch, Diaz has been using the glasses to hone in on the ball during pregame drills, increasing both his confidence and response time on the field and improving his defense at short.
The shortstop has been the focus of some concern this season after seeing a sizable dip in his production at the plate, and his five fielding errors, 0.6 UZR and 0.6 fWAR haven’t helped matters, either. He sustained a minor thumb injury during an at-bat on Friday night, and was left off of the Cardinals’ starting lineup on Saturday, though manager Mike Matheny didn’t rule out his ability to pinch-hit during the series. While the strobe glasses are a good start, Diaz will need more than a pair of specs to match the spotlight-worthy performance he turned out during his rookie season in 2016.
Red Sox’ left-hander Eduardo Rodriguez may finally get a chance at cracking the rotation again, assuming all goes well in Double-A Portland first. Rodriguez took the field prior to the club’s afternoon session with the Angels, firing 68 pitches in a simulated game as he prepared for an upcoming rehab assignment in Portland on Thursday.
The 24-year-old southpaw suffered a right knee subluxation during pregame warmups on June 1, and it’s been a slow path to recovery ever since. It’s not the first time Rodriguez has had issues with his right knee — he sustained a similar injury during spring training last year — and this time around, the Red Sox weren’t about to gamble with their starter’s health. Ian Browne of MLB.com reports that Rodriguez was put in a knee brace and underwent exercises designed to help him regain some mobility and stability while he worked back up to full strength on the mound.
He’ll still need to prove he can throw a 75- to 80-pitch outing in Double-A, and barring any significant setbacks, will likely rejoin the Red Sox’ pitching staff when they visit the Rangers next month. In the meantime, the club will continue to cycle starters through the No. 5 spot, which has seen no fewer than three different pitchers since Rodriguez hit the disabled list. The lefty is 4-2 in 10 starts this season after logging a 3.54 ERA, 3.1 BB/9 and career-high 9.6 SO/9 through his first 61 innings.