J.A. Happ, no buildup needed. Since being acquired in a trade on July 26th, the veteran southpaw had compiled a 2.39 ERA and a strikeout-to-walk ratio of 4.08 to one in nine starts.
Masahiro Tanaka has had a sensational second half, but his numbers at Yankee Stadium this year (.769 OPS against, 1.308 WHIP and 4.09 ERA) prove that he should not be counted on in the do-or-die Wild Card game.
We are all aware of Luis Severino’s second-half stumble. His start against Boston on Wednesday night was easily his best in two months, and that observation alone means that he is better off not starting on October 3rd.
Lance Lynn has a 5.70 ERA in his last three starts (14.2 innings) and has lasted six innings or longer only twice in nine starts in pinstripes.
For all of the people campaigning for the Yankees to use an “opener” like the Rays and wage a battle of bullpens for the entire game, consider that the ALDS begins just two nights later on October 5th, meaning that key relievers like Robertson, Betances and others would get just one day of rest. It’s also important to consider that Yankees relievers have been mediocre this month, registering an ERA of 4.40, good for 19th overall, and their FIP is 3.27, which, while respectable, still ranks seventh, a far cry from what the vaunted Bombers’ bullpen usually is.
Simple things like this are prone to paralysis by analysis by fans and pundits alike, but there is no grey area for a winner-take-all game. J.A. Happ has been the best pitcher in the rotation for the Yankees for two months now, and if his last three starts (0.50 ERA in 18 innings) are any indication, he’s the main man on the mound on October 3rd. Notably, the first of those three starts was against ostensible Wild Card foe Oakland, during which Happ tossed six innings and allowed the only earned run he’s given up in those three starts.