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 Giants are considering Pablo Sandoval at second base

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Pablo Sandoval could be tabbed to play second base in the near future, per a report from John Shea of the San Francisco Chronicle. According to Shea, Sandoval has been spotted taking grounders at second during pre-game warm-ups and may be considering switching to the keystone on a part-time basis.

It wouldn’t be the weirdest thing the 31-year-old corner infielder has done this year — that distinction goes to the flawless inning of relief he pitched in a blowout loss against the Dodgers last month. But it would represent a pretty notable departure from his comfort zone even so; Sandoval has primarily manned first and third base throughout his 11-year career in the majors and has also taken a few reps at DH during his resurgence with the Giants in 2018.

Of course, this wouldn’t necessarily be a permanent switch for Sandoval. As Shea points out, the Giants are thin on middle infielders after losing Joe Panik to a torn UCL in his left thumb and backup Alen Hanson to a left hamstring strain. Provided he can get up to speed quickly (no easy feat, according to infield coach Ron Wotus), he’d give the club some added depth behind Kelby Tomlinson and Miguel Gomez until Panik is ready to take the field again. Sandoval has impressed at the plate this spring, batting a healthy .270/.329/.429 with six extra-base hits and a .757 through 70 plate appearances.