Hiroki Kuroda to start Game 2 of ALCS against Tigers

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When the Yankees announced earlier today that they added Cody Eppley to their bullpen for the ALCS, the speculation was that David Phelps would start Game 2 tomorrow. That’s not the case.

According to Joel Sherman of the New York Post, Hiroki Kuroda will make the start in Game 2 on three days’ rest. Kuroda, who has never started a game on short rest in the majors, allowed two runs over 8 1/3 innings while throwing 105 pitches in Game 3 of the ALDS against the Orioles on Wednesday.

There’s some concern that Kuroda was tiring down the stretch, as he threw a career-high 219 2/3 innings during the regular season and stopped throwing bullpen sessions between starts, but this is a gamble the Yankees had to take. If the Yankees go up 2-0 in the series, they could possibly push CC Sabathia back to Game 4 rather than have him go on three days’ rest in Game 3 on Tuesday. Kuroda is also lined up to start Game 6 or 7 on regular rest.

Phelps and Derek Lowe are both available as piggyback options if Kuroda struggles or runs out of steam early tomorrow.

Will Middlebrooks carted off field with injury

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Phillies third baseman Will Middlebrooks suffered a serious injury during Saturday’s Grapefruit League contest against the Orioles. The infielder was chasing down a pop fly in the eighth inning when he ran into left fielder Andrew Pullin, who inadvertently trapped Middlebrooks’ ankle under his leg. Middlebrooks was unable to put weight on his leg following the collision and was carted off the field and taken to a local hospital for X-rays.

Per MLB.com’s Todd Zolecki, not much is known yet about the severity of the ankle injury or the recovery time it will require, though it appears serious enough to set Middlebrooks back considerably as he seeks a backup/bench role with the team this spring.

The 29-year-old is currently seeking another opportunity to extend his six-year major-league career in 2018. He’s coming off of two down years with the Brewers and Rangers, during which he slashed a cumulative .169/.229/.262 with four extra bases through 70 plate appearances.