Freddy Garcia gets the ball for the Yankees on Sunday as they try for their first series win against the Red Sox this season. He'll face Boston's Josh Beckett (9-4, 2.20), who is 3-0 with a 0.86 ERA against the Yankees this season.
Discussion of the Day: If the best-of-five ALDS was to start tomorrow, how would you structure the Yankees' rotation? What about the best-of-seven ALCS? Share your thoughts in the comments.
1) Andrew Marchand writes that Garcia must prove himself ready for October.
There is no question the Yankees would not be where they are this season without Garcia's contributions, but, perhaps predictably, his numbers are much worse against teams that are .500 or better. Against the Red Sox this season, Garcia has an ERA over 10.00 and struggled in his start against the Tigers. Of the Yankees' other two possible playoff opponents at this point, he fared well against the Rangers, and he has yet to face the Angels. Barring injury, it's almost impossible to see a situation in which Garcia doesn't make an ALCS rotation, but Yankees fans would probably feel more comfortable if Garcia had at least one good start against a very possible ALCS opponent before the end of the season.
Sabathia has a reputation as a workhorse, and the statistics agree: he hasn't pitched fewer than 230 innings in a season after 2006 and except for minor knee surgery has remained healthy. How the cumulative effect of these innings will effect Sabathia's health long term remains unknown, and a scary prospect if more serious injuries start to occur. Saturday's loss aside, Sabathia has been every bit the ace for the Yankees over the first three years of his contract, and ensuring his long term health has to be a top priority for the team.
3) Bob Klapisch takes a look at questions facing the Yankees as they head down the home stretch of their season. Two of the questions that stand out are whether or not the Yankees' offense can make up the slack if the pitching falters, and whether the return of Rafael Soriano to the bullpen will booster the relief corps.
The Yankees have one of the best offenses in baseball, trailing only the Red Sox in runs scored, but three of their normal starting lineup have an OPS+ under 100, and there's a valid argument that the current lineup is not the best lineup the Yankees could have. The Yankees' bullpen heading into Saturday's game had an ERA of 3.44, and despite it's unconventional assemblage, has been better than expected, and if Soriano's pitching since returning from the disabled list continues, will only be better.
Triple-A Scranton was rained out.
Double-A Trenton beat Altoona, 5-3.
High-A Tampa beat Dunedin, 8-4, while Low-A Charleston beat Savannah, 6-5.
In Charleston, Gary Sanchez had two hits, including a home run, in three at bats. He's hit six home runs in his last eight games.
Short Season Staten Island beat Brooklyn, 6-4, while the Rookie GCL Yankees beat the GCL Braves, 14-6.
Tim Bontemps writes about the success Dante Bichette, Jr. is having in the GCL.