Yanks face decisions as they watch play-in
Choices on when to play, pitching staff will follow tiebreaker
The Yankees were expecting to have company in the Bronx on Tuesday, but instead they will have their stadium all to themselves. The Tigers and Twins will be otherwise engaged, facing off some 1,200 miles away for the American League Central title at 5:07 p.m. ET on TBS.
With the regular season complete and the AL Division Series still only halfway set, the Yankees will keep a curious eye on the proceedings at the Metrodome, perhaps utilizing their massive Yankee Stadium video screen to scout their yet-to-be determined opponent.
The Yankees face a series of decisions, many of which they will not make or reveal until after the tiebreaker game is finished, and some of them will hinge on who wins that game.
The Yankees have not announced if they will be selecting the seven-day or eight-day ALDS schedule, a decision that is due one hour after their playoff opponent is certain.
Yankees manager Joe Girardi said that he was planning to meet with general manager Brian Cashman in New York on Monday.
Girardi said the Yankees have a good idea of which way they are leaning, and it has been widely speculated that they will take the longer schedule in order to use only three starting pitchers and be able to pitch both closer Mariano Rivera and setup man Phil Hughes in each game of the ALDS.
The eight-day series is scheduled to begin on Wednesday at 6:07 p.m. ET, the seven-game series on Thursday. Should they choose to play on Wednesday, they would also force Tuesday's winner to jump right into the Division Series without rest.
More than 25 players made the flight back from Florida on Sunday evening, so Girardi and Cashman still have work to do in paring down their postseason roster, particularly the bullpen. This week's meetings would have ideally been used to go over scouting reports, but that task may now have to wait.
"We have some decisions to make," Girardi said. "It looks like we'll talk about this on Tuesday. We've got some time."
Girardi will not announce the playoff rotation any further than to say that left-hander CC Sabathia is starting Game 1. That leaves A.J. Burnett and Andy Pettitte in the dark as to whether they will draw Game 2 in New York or Game 3 on the road.
"I'm anxious," Burnett said. "I wish they'd tell us when we're pitching, but we've got to wait. I'm looking forward to it. I'm going to go home [Sunday] and enjoy the family, and come back Tuesday for the postseason."
New York appears to be primed to bring 10 pitchers along for the ALDS, leaving seven options out of the bullpen. Rivera, Hughes, Phil Coke and Alfredo Aceves should be locks, and the Yankees have been pleased to see that Dave Robertson came through two weekend appearances healthy.
If the Twins win, Damaso Marte's chances would seem to improve, as he would give the Yankees a second left-handed option who would be more useful against Minnesota than he would against Detroit. Girardi said that the opponent could factor into which players make the team, but it shouldn't necessarily hold everything up.
|"It's really good for baseball, but does it affect what we do? Maybe a little bit depending on who the team is. We'll go ahead and make those decisions anyway."|
|-- Yankees manager Joe Girardi, on Tuesday's play-in|
Should Marte make the cut, there would be one bullpen spot remaining, and Joba Chamberlain's nine-pitch scoreless inning in a relief audition during Sunday's 10-2 win over the Rays might just have shown enough to overtake Chad Gaudin's bid to be a first-round long man.
"Of course you want to help this team in any way," Chamberlain said. "Whatever they see fit during the Division Series is what I want to do. I'm excited that I got the opportunity to throw out of the bullpen to see what it would have been, and we'll go from there."
Girardi said that he believed the 24-year-old Chamberlain appeared a little different in relief after making 31 starts of mixed effectiveness this season. Chamberlain did not dispute that assessment, saying he felt right at home getting back into a relief groove.
"It's two different situations," Chamberlain said. "You can't let it fly as a starter every time because you'd be out of gas in the second or third inning. It's a different feeling. Everyone notices a difference, but it's just two different mentalities."
Yankees first baseman Mark Teixeira is well-known for his preparation, but even he can't begin preparing for the pitchers he'll face until the outcome of Tuesday's tiebreaker game is decided. He plans to watch the game, but it isn't like he will be charting pitches.
"It doesn't really matter to us, but at the same time, it will be fun baseball to watch," Teixeira said. "I can't really worry about that, because then you're worrying about 24 [pitchers]. Once we figure out who we're going to play, then we'll start going to work."
Rodriguez said there is no reason to root for Detroit or Minnesota, one way or the other. The Yankees have taken care of their end of business in securing home-field advantage, and whichever team they draw for their eventual date, they will have plenty of time to be prepared.
"We'll be watching after practice," Rodriguez said. "It should be interesting. Like I've said, be careful what you ask for. I think we're going to be ready to play no matter who it is."
Bryan Hoch is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.