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The rainout’s effect on Game 5 pitching availability

After a long, drawn-out postponement, what will the Yankees and Guardians’ pitching staffs look like today?

MLB: Cleveland Guardians at New York Yankees Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports

After an inexplicably long delay on Monday night, Game 5 of the ALDS between the Yankees and Guardians was postponed until Tuesday afternoon. Aside from the implications that the postponed game had for all of the people who waited until past 9:30pm ET to learn of the rainout, there was also a huge pitching impact on both teams.

Although neither team was in back-breaking trouble in regard to availability, the situation was at least getting a little hairy for both New York and Cleveland. The scheduling for this series was already wonky, with a scheduled offday between Games 1 and 2 and another rainout in Game 2. So both teams were already forced to play three games in as many days, and were prepared to play a fourth. The Yankees and Guardians had both reached the limits of their postseason starting rotations, lining up Jameson Taillon and Aaron Civale in the eventually-postponed Game 5. Not only will those starters likely be different on Tuesday, but everyone’s availability to pitch will be too.

It was quickly announced after the rescheduling that the Yankees would opt for Nestor Cortes with the extra day of rest. The Guardians are a decent bet to make a switch as well to Shane Bieber, although nothing is official yet and Terry Francona had previously said he would go with Civale. Nonetheless, the 2020 Cy Young Award winner pitched well over 5.2 innings and 101 pitches in Game 2 on Friday, and Civale has yet to appear in this series.

Again, nothing is official as of the time of writing, but Bieber would be operating on three days’ rest, which isn’t standard but could be enough to tempt Cleveland. Even if he was limited in his pitch count, he would be a significant upgrade over Civale in a do-or-die game. With the Yankees making an upgrade of their own with Cortes (even with a possible limited pitch count), the Guardians will more than likely match it.

As far as the bullpens go, both teams obviously benefit for Game 5, even though losing the extra day off hurts the team that advances. For the Yankees, the ‘pen will likely be at full strength. Even Monday, their only reliever who had pitched in three consecutive days was Wandy Peralta. The lefty has been maybe the most dependable bullpen arm, and likely having him at full strength is huge. There is also Clay Holmes, who has been dealing with some shoulder issues, and since manager Aaron Boone has been hesitant to use him on back-to-back days, Holmes will benefit greatly from an off-night after throwing 17 pitches on Sunday.

Ace Gerrit Cole showed up the the Stadium on Monday telling Aaron Boone he was available after throwing 110 pitches just one day prior. That would have been incredibly unlikely, but the window could now be open for a brief Randy Johnson-esque appearance from Cole with a day of rest under his belt as well.

On the away side, the story is much of the same. Cleveland’s bullpen situation was already in better shape than New York’s, with the rainout only adding to that. The Guardians had already done a good job preserving the best of the best. Only Eli Morgan, Cody Morris, and Zach Plesac came in relief on Sunday. Their top arms — Emmanuel Clase, James Karinchak, and Trevor Stephan — all had fairly heavy workloads in Game 2 Friday, but now have three days of rest behind them and should be completely available Tuesday for Game 5. The biggest change for Cleveland is the aforementioned sudden availability of Bieber, whether he starts or is available elsewhere.

The rainout on Monday night was inconvenient in a number of ways for just about everyone, and it seemed like both teams wanted to get the the game in. Regardless, it does shore up pitching availability for both sides. The Yankees already dubbed a different starting pitcher with the Guardians likely to follow, and both bullpens will go into the winner-take-all matchup with full strength bullpens. Who knows how much this scheduling mess will affect the winning team going into the ALCS, but in the (very) short-term, both squads will go into Game 5 at just about full strength.

Update

Civale will still get the start after all for Cleveland. So it will be Cortes vs. Civale with the season on the line and bullpens raring to go.