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Yankees Mailbag: Playoff rotations, ALDS concerns and Estevan Florial

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The mailbag is here, and your answers await.

New York Yankees v Toronto Blue Jays Photo by Timothy T Ludwig/Getty Images

Good morning everyone, your answers to this week’s mailbag are right here. Remember to send in your questions for our weekly call by e-mail to pinstripealleyblog [at] gmail [dot] com.

The idiot that said, “Harper is coming” asks: Could there be good reasoning to hold Tanaka out until Game Three of the playoffs? This question only applies if the Yankees win Game One with Cole, but couldn’t it make sense to pitch Happ in Game Two, with Deivi backing him up if needed and save Tanaka for a possible must-win Game Three?

Several of us in the Pinstripe Alley Slack debated this topic a couple of nights ago, and I think Josh summed it up quickly with this statement: “go for the throat and get an off day in between series.”

Assuming Gerrit Cole pitches and wins the Yankees Game One, they should absolutely still go to Tanaka for Game Two. If they believe Tanaka is the second-best pitcher on the team, and undoubtedly he will be considering his record of postseason success, the Yankees will want to go to him and try to quickly wrap up the Wild Card Series. The day off they’d earn if they win their series 2-0 and the opposing series goes to three will be invaluable to preserving the bullpen.

More to the point, the team should simply play the best pitcher available each day. While it’s true that holding Tanaka to Game Three “saves” him for an elimination game, it also holds him back from a potential clinching game. Especially considering the lack of rest that’s going to effect all teams in this postseason, holding back a starter in this scenario doesn’t make sense. If the Yankees lose a three-game series having pitched Cole-Tanaka-Happ, they’ll have to just live with it. They’ll have put themselves in the best odds possible to advance, and simply fell to a system designed for chaos.

The idiot that said, “Harper is coming” also asks: Given the Yankees’ rotation issues, wouldn’t they be better prepared for the three game Wild Card Series than a potential five-game ALDS?

It’s definitely fair to say the Yankees will have their work cut out for them if they make it to the ALDS, regardless of which opponent they wind up facing. The lack of days off in this schedule is going to be brutal, both for the Yankees and for MLB rotations at large. They’re setting themselves up now to line up with their top guns in the Wild Card Series, which they need to do since a three-game series can really go to either team, but after that there’s a lot of question marks.

Whether or not they can pitch Cole on short rest will decide whether this format works out favorably or not. The question doesn’t actually revolve around Cole — there’s no question that he will want the ball as much as possible — but whether the rest of the staff can fill out around him. The Yankees would struggle to fill out a five-man rotation on normal rest as is, but a condensed staff on even less rest could wind up doing more harm than good.

Larry S asks: Why wouldn’t the Yankees bring up Estevan Florial, to give him some experience?

Had the Yankees never experienced their midseason slump, it’s possible Florial might have gotten another look. For a team fighting to hold onto its playoff positioning, however, the team couldn’t waste the roster spot to play a prospect that clearly isn’t close to the majors yet. Florial had yet to get above Single-A before he made his MLB debut this year, but he was only a stand-in for a doubleheader when the team was at its lowest depth-wise.