Danny Abriano, SNY.tv | Twitter |
As things currently stand, the Yankees and Astros are both planning to have bullpen games on Wednesday in Game 4 of the ALCS. It looks like that game is in serious jeopardy of getting postponed, though, potentially opening the door for big rotation changes for both teams.
According to Accuweather, the forecast in the Bronx -- when the Yanks and Astros are set for first pitch at 8:08 p.m. on Wednesday -- calls for pretty steady rain between 4 p.m. Wednesday and 1 a.m. Thursday.
If Game 4 is postponed, it will be pushed to Thursday at Yankee Stadium, followed by Game 5 on Friday (also at Yankee Stadium) and Game 6 (if necessary) on Saturday in Houston. Game 7 would take place on Sunday in Houston.
Basically, a rainout would mean an extra day between Games 3 and 4 and the elimination of what was to be a travel day on Friday.
Here's how things could shake out rotation-wise for both teams if the Game 4 rainout happens on Wednesday...
The current plan is for the Yanks to go with a bullpen game for Game 4 on Wednesday, but if it gets rained out they will have the option of turning to Masahiro Tanaka (currently on schedule to pitch Game 5) on regular rest.
If the Wednesday rainout happens and the Yanks turn to Tanaka to start on Thursday in Game 4, it would also allow them to pitch James Paxton on regular rest on Friday in Game 5.
In Game 6, though, things would get interesting. If the Yanks go with the above scenario, they would have the option of using Luis Severino on short rest in Game 6 (a big risk since he only recently returned from injury) or having a bullpen game. If the Yanks do a bullpen game in Game 6, they would have Severino on regular rest in Game 7.
Basically, if there is a rainout on Wednesday, the Yankees need to decide whether they want to have a bullpen game in Game 4 or alter the rotation to push Tanaka and Paxton up, which would likely mean a bullpen game in Game 6.
The Yankees have five lockdown relievers, though, so the prospect of sticking with their plan of a bullpen game in Game 4 and having their best starters lined up for Games 5 through 7 should be welcomed. The Astros are a different story...
Like the Yankees, the current plan for the Astros is to go with a bullpen game for Game 4. But because their bullpen isn't nearly as reliable as the Yankees' 'pen, a rainout on Wednesday could be far more advantageous for them.
If Game 4 is rained out on Wednesday, the Astros would have the option of turning to Zack Greinke (currently on track for Game 5) on regular rest on Thursday in Game 4 and Justin Verlander (currently on track for Game 6) on regular rest in Game 5 on Friday.
It's almost impossible to imagine a situation where the Astros wouldn't use Verlander on regular rest in Game 5 should a rainout occur on Wednesday. Maybe that changes if they're up three games to one, but it's a tantalizing option to use one of their aces a game early instead of holding him back.
Another advantage to using Verlander in Game 5 is that it would result in Game 7 falling on his throw-day -- and he would almost certainly be available out of the bullpen.
As is the case with the Yankees, though, if the Astros slide up Greinke and Verlander, they will also face the prospect of a bullpen game or a short-rest game on Saturday in Game 6. For the Astros, though, their short-rest option would be Gerrit Cole -- seemingly a more plausible option than the Yanks turning to Severino on short rest.
For the Astros, the choice could come down to this: Would they rather take their shot with Greinke and Verlander in Games 4 and 5 and have a potential bullpen game in Game 6 or 7 (with Game 7 likely including Verlander)? Or would they rather keep things as-is for Game 4 with a suspect bullpen and have their big guns lined up to start Games 5, 6, and 7?
If the forecast stays the same, things are about to get very interesting.