Clay Buchholz may have a “physical issue”

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This is more of a “keep it in the back of your mind” thing, as the Red Sox say that their plans with respect to Clay Buchholz have not changed for the World Series. But Rob Bradford of WEEI reports that there is at least some question about Buchholz’s health at the moment:

While a source suggested there are some physical issues Buchholz is dealing with, there is presently nothing that the Red Sox anticipate will force an alteration to the team’s postseason rotation. Manager John Farrell, in outlining the rotation for the World Series, said that John Lackey will start Game 2 with Buchholz and Jake Peavy expected to pitch Games 3 and 4, with the order yet to be announced.

Obviously if he was suffering from some injury things would be different. As it is now, we can only note that Buchholz’s velocity has been down of late and that he has not been as dominant in the postseason as he was in the regular season. He’s allowed ten earned runs in 16.2 postseason innings so far, while striking out 15.

I sort of like the matchups for St. Louis at the moment, with Adam Wainwright and Michael Wacha going 1-2 against Jon Lester and John Lackey. If Buchholz is at his best, the advantage swings back to Boston. If not, hmmmm.

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.