Chances are, even if tonight’s game occurred in the middle of July, bullpen performance on both sides would factor heavily into the game’s results. Yankees starter Jordan Montgomery went fewer than 5 innings in 5 of his 10 starts this season (and threw 6 innings only once), while the Rays, as of 10:00 PM EDT last night, have not even announced a starter! In October, with elimination on the table, that tendency will be even stronger.
In a way, in fact, tonight’s game is pretty much a must-win for both squads, as the Rays do not want to roll the dice against Gerrit Cole in a potential Game 5, and the Yankees desperately want to get Cole a second start in this series.
So how do the two squads stand when it comes to available relievers? Let’s start with the Yankees:
Yankees Reliever Pitch Count
The Yankees will certainly have their top two relievers available tomorrow, as Zack Britton has not pitched since Monday, and Aroldis Chapman has not appeared in a game since throwing 2 innings in the 5-hour long marathon that started on September 30. Of course, in an elimination game, pretty much everybody is on the table. Aaron Boone will certainly not shy away from Chad Green, who pitched on back-to-back days four times during the regular season (including three days in a row from September 2-4), and it’s not out of the question that we see Deivi García as well. Ultimately, there’s no reason for the Yankees to not have their bullpen at full strength tomorrow.
Unfortunately for the Yankees, the Rays find themselves in a similar boat:
Rays Reliever Pitch Count
Ryan Yarbrough — who has primarily operated as a starter this year, but has plenty of experience as a “bulk guy” behind an opener — is expected to be the Rays’ primary pitcher tomorrow, and Kevin Cash has a wide variety of well-rested relievers at his disposable. If there’s anybody I would consider to be “unavailable,” it would be John Curtiss, who had at least 3 days rest after games in which he threw 40+ pitches during the regular season, and Diego Castillo, who has not gone three straight games all season. That still, however, leaves the Rays with Nick Anderson, Peter Fairbanks, and Aaron Loup as rested relievers who finished the season with an ERA under 2.70.
Overall, in a game that will almost certainly be turned over to the bullpen for a large portion of it, both the Yankees and the Rays will have almost complete access to their arsenal of weapons. Which squad that ultimately favors remains to be seen.