After getting a solid start from the much-maligned A.J. Burnett last night the Yankees have to be feeling pretty good about their chances of winning Game 5, as they’ll turn to rookie Ivan Nova against Doug Fister and the Tigers.
Nova was technically a reliever in Game 1, “starting” the suspended game and pitching 6.1 innings of two-run ball for the victory.
He came on in relief of CC Sabathia then, but now Sabathia is the one who’ll be an option out of the bullpen in Game 5, telling Andrew Marchand of ESPN New York that “I’m definitely available.”
Whether he’ll actually be needed is unclear, because having today off allows the Yankees’ bullpen to rest up and the Mariano Rivera, David Robertson, Rafael Soriano trio should be ready to go for an inning or two each. If the Yankees turn to Sabathia it probably means Nova had a short start or the game is in extra innings, as Detroit’s lack of dangerous left-handed hitters makes using him as a specialist unlikely.
Plus, with a rough outing in Game 3 and a 4.78 ERA in 15 career postseason starts Sabathia hasn’t exactly made a strong case for being trusted out of the bullpen.
Dodgers southpaw Clayton Kershaw is nearing his return to the mound, according to club manager Dave Roberts. Both Kershaw (left biceps tendinitis) and fellow lefty Rich Hill (left middle finger blister) are scheduled to toss simulated games on Saturday; depending on the outcome, Roberts says Kershaw could forgo a minor league assignment and slot back into the rotation by Thursday.
Kershaw, 30, was diagnosed with biceps tendinitis as the team closed out their Mexico Series at the start of the month. He has not made a start in several weeks, but was finally able to resume throwing on Sunday and managed to get through two successful bullpen sessions. Though Dodgers’ ace hasn’t been completely injury-free over his 11-year career in the majors, this is the first significant issue he’s had with his pitching arm so far. The team is expected to take every precaution with the lefty, and will likely limit him to just four innings during Saturday’s simulated game.
Prior to his injury, Kershaw was working on another dominant run with the club, sporting a 2.86 ERA, 2.0 BB/9 and 9.8 SO/9 through his first 44 innings of the season. While Kershaw, Hill and left-handed starter Hyun-Jin Ryu served their respective terms on the disabled list this month, the Dodgers utilized a combination of relievers Ross Stripling and Brock Stewart, both of whom impressed during their limited time in the rotation.