The Yankees’ beat reporters met with Joe Girardi earlier this afternoon in his Yankee Stadium office. Here’s a rundown of what was covered:
Ellsbury on the bench: “It was something that I mulled over for a couple of days. I think when it came down to it in the end, it was Gardy’s numbers against left-handers this year compared to Jacoby’s.” Girardi said he didn’t make the final call until about 3 pm today.
Chris Young’s in the lineup: Girardi said he needed this to happen for a trio of factors – Young’s success vs. Houston, against Dallas Keuchel (6-for-20) and all left-handers (.327/.397/.595 this season).
How did Ellsbury handle it?: “As I told him today, you’re going to be in this game. So I need you ready. He said, ‘I’ll be ready, don’t worry.'”
Brian McCann catching over John Ryan Murphy: “McCann’s numbers off of left-handers, when you look at Murph’s numbers off left-handers, they’re pretty close. When you start talking about damage, this ballpark is suited for Mac. We usually win games by hitting home runs.”
Bullpen blueprint: Like all season, Girardi’s plan 1A is to get the ball from Justin Wilson to Dellin Betances to Andrew Miller. He suggested that he could ask “maybe more” than four innings from that trio. Luis Severino would be a one-inning reliever tonight. Ivan Nova, probably the same thing. The Yankees could get distance from Bryan Mitchell or Adam Warren. Severino would come into this game late – like, after the three relievers at the end and Warren, so probably in extra innings. They’d love to keep him fresh in case they’re heading to Kansas City.
If Tanaka struggles early: “It really depends on how early. You might feel that you might need to go to (Justin) Wilson early to have him get out of an inning and then go another inning. I think all semblance and order of a bullpen is kind of off in a one-game playoff.”
CC Sabathia: Would have been on the roster tonight if he had not checked him into rehab. James Pazos took Sabathia’s place on the roster.
Why is Gary Sanchez on the roster?: In short, just in case the Yankees have to run for McCann early in the game.
“Let’s just say it’s 3-2 in the bottom of the sixth and you’re losing and he’s on second with nobody out or he’s on third with one out,” Girardi said. “I think you’re probably going to – at least I’m going to really think about – I probably need to pinch run here because I have to make sure we score this run. It could be your last opportunity. When you’re only carrying two catchers, you have to think a little bit different. But it gives me more options.”
If the Yankees win, in light of the Sabathia news, would they celebrate with alcohol?: “I’ve talked about it, thought about it. I’m sure they’ve talked about it and thought about it. We’ll just do what we feel is appropriate.”
# PITCHERS (9)
68 Betances, Dellin
48 Miller, Andrew
55 Mitchell, Bryan
47 Nova, Ivan
67 Pazos, James
40 Severino, Luis
19 Tanaka, Masahiro
43 Warren, Adam
41 Wilson, Justin
# CATCHERS (3)
34 McCann, Brian
66 Murphy, John Ryan
73 Sanchez, Gary
# INFIELDERS (7)
29 Ackley, Dustin
31 Bird, Greg
18 Gregorius, Didi
12 Headley, Chase
64 Refsnyder, Rob
13 Rodriguez, Alex
17 Ryan, Brendan
# OUTFIELDERS (6)
36 Beltran, Carlos
22 Ellsbury, Jacoby
11 Gardner, Brett
72 Heathcott, Slade
70 Noel, Rico
24 Young, Chris
This just landed from the Yankees:
STATEMENT FROM CC SABATHIA:
“Today I am checking myself into an alcohol rehabilitation center to receive the professional care and assistance needed to treat my disease.
“I love baseball and I love my teammates like brothers, and I am also fully aware that I am leaving at a time when we should all be coming together for one last push toward the World Series. It hurts me deeply to do this now, but I owe it to myself and to my family to get myself right. I want to take control of my disease, and I want to be a better man, father and player.
“I want to thank the New York Yankees organization for their encouragement and understanding. Their support gives me great strength and has allowed me to move forward with this decision with a clear mind.
“As difficult as this decision is to share publicly, I don’t want to run and hide. But for now please respect my family’s need for privacy as we work through this challenge together.
“Being an adult means being accountable. Being a baseball player means that others look up to you. I want my kids — and others who may have become fans of mine over the years — to know that I am not too big of a man to ask for help. I want to hold my head up high, have a full heart and be the type of person again that I can be proud of. And that’s exactly what I am going to do.
“I am looking forward to being out on the field with my team next season playing the game that brings me so much happiness.”
If at first (and second) you don’t succeed…
In order to clinch a postseason berth tonight, the Yankees need a win and two of the following three events to occur:
– A Minnesota loss (doubleheader at Cleveland, 4:10 p.m. ET),
– A Houston loss (at Seattle, 10:10 p.m. ET),
– Either a Texas loss (vs. Detroit, 8:05 p.m. ET) OR Los Angeles-AL loss (vs. Oakland, 7:05 p.m. ET).
Regardless of what any other teams do the rest of the season, if the Yankees win two more games, they are guaranteed at least a Wild Card spot.
It could be a night for the Yankees to celebrate, though they probably won’t be hanging around to spray any bubbly in the event that they score their first postseason berth since 2012. Why? It’s complicated, but here’s the deal — the Yankees must win while the Twins, Rangers and Angels all lose. If so, the Yanks would clinch a Wild Card berth.
(A previous rundown published here and on MLB.com did not include the Twins as part of the formula. Whoops.)
“A lot of things have to happen, and there’s a chance some of us will be in bed by the time those West Coast games are over,” Yankees manager Joe Girardi said. “We have to take care of business first. We have to win.”
So while they wait that out, the Yankees can still reach a milestone. Their next victory will be No. 10,000 in franchise history, which dates to the beginning of their life as the Highlanders of 1903 (their years as the Baltimore Orioles do not count).
The Yanks’ all-time regular season record is 9,999-7,564 (.569). According to the Elias Sports Bureau, the Yanks will have the highest win percentage of any team at the time of their 10,000th win. The Giants held the previous mark, at .540.
Playoff picture: The Yankees (86-69) trail the Blue Jays (90-65) by four games in the American League East. New York leads the Astros (82-74) by 4 1/2 games for the first Wild Card spot.
Odds are: Baseball Prospectus has the Yankees with a 100 percent chance of making the postseason, and a 2.1 percent chance of winning the division. FULL STANDINGS
— Boston Red Sox (@RedSox) September 28, 2015
— New York Yankees (@Yankees) September 28, 2015
— Masahiro Tanaka will return to the mound on Wednesday for one final regular season start, taking on the Red Sox at Yankee Stadium in a start that should line him up to pitch the potential American League Wild Card game on additional rest.
“I’m not looking at this as a tune-up,” Tanaka said through an interpreter. “You know, as I’ve done for each and every one of my starts, I’m going to go out there and give the best I have.”
— Chris Young is on the bench against left-hander Eduardo Rodriguez. Girardi said it was a “tough decision,” but he went with Brett Gardner because he has been swinging the bat better of late. Gardner will probably sit one day in this series, as will Jacoby Ellsbury, as the Red Sox are pitching left-handers Wade Miley and Rich Hill on Wednesday and Thursday.
— The Yankees are waiting on the results of concussion tests on Stephen Drew, which they believe could explain his recent bouts of dizziness.
— Nathan Eovaldi had his third day of playing catch; his previous sessions were at distances of 60 and 90 feet. Girardi said that he would not be ready to be on the roster for the Wild Card game, but could appear as a reliever in a subsequent round.
MLB Network’s three to watch
Alex Rodriguez is 4-9 AB (.444) with a home run in his career against Eduardo Rodriguez, while Jacoby Ellsbury is also 4-9 AB with two home runs vs. Rodriguez.
David Ortiz is batting .400 (10-25 AB) with two home runs lifetime against Nova.
Right-handed batters are hitting only .224 against Ivan Nova this season but lefties are batting .301 with an .853 OPS.
The Bombers are hitting only .221 with two home runs and a .565 OPS against lefties over their last 18 games (and might be looking at lefty Dallas Keuchel in the Wild Card game next week).
On this date
2008: Mike Mussina records his 20th win on the final day of the season at Fenway Park, becoming the oldest pitcher in history to win 20 games for the first time.