After a day off, the Yankees and Tigers will play the winner-takes-all Game 5 of the ALDS on Thursday evening, where Ivan Nova and Doug Fister will square off in a Game 1 rematch (only, this time, will actually get credit for starting the game). Nova, Steve Politi writes, has been more than just a rookie for the Yankees in 2011, and there isn't the alarm that having a rookie start Game 5 in the LDS might otherwise invite.
Discussion of the Day: Which teams do you expect to win the LDS Game 5s? Besides Yankees-Tigers, consider the Phillies-Cardinals and Brewers-Diamondbacks series. Share your thoughts in the comments.
Behind Enemy Lines: Ted Leclair wonders if the Tigers were too good for Justin Verlander to win the MVP. Verlander is a shoo-in for the AL Cy Young, but whether or not a pitcher can win the MVP is a topic that will continue to be hotly debated, regardless of the outcome of the race.
1) Rob Parker writes that for the Yankees, Game 5 is there for the taking.
The Yankees’ are, perhaps, in their ideal position given the circumstances affecting game one: Nova pitched well in his previous postseason start, the Yankees are home, and Jim Leyland has indicated that Verlander will not be available for the Tigers. On the other hand, as with Game 4 and A.J. Burnett’s impressive start, nothing is guaranteed until the game itself is played. The Tigers are certainly a good baseball team, and any team who can make it to the final game of a series obviously has the potential to win that game.
Burnett pitched in Game 4 only because of Game 1’s suspension due to rain; had Friday’s game gone as scheduled, CC Sabathia would have pitched Game 4, and Nova still been in line for the Game 5 start. While the 5.2 innings Burnett pitched falls short of the the quality start definition (six innings, three earned runs or less), when one measures it against Burnett's other starts earlier this summer, it becomes a best-case scenario for the Yankees. Should the Yankees win on Thursday, Burnett would be in line to start Game 4 in the ALCS, and, ALDS success now behind him, the Yankees and their fans would have to be that much more confident in their pitcher.
3) Daniel Barbarisi considers the other guys in the Yankees' bullpen.
Mariano Rivera, David Robertson and Rafael Soriano get much of the attention when the bullpen is mentioned, and indeed, given Rivera's historical records, Robertson's strikeouts and Soriano's contract, it would seem that the attention is deserved, but as Barbarisi notes, the bullpen has gotten huge contributions throughout the season from Luis Ayala, Boone Logan and Cory Wade. Logan came to the Yankees in the second ill-fated trade for Javier Vazquez, and has been more effective against righties, while Wade and Ayala both had ERAs just over 2.00. Although the latter two didn't usually see high leverage innings, it's unlikely the Yankees' bullpen would have been nearly as effective without their contributions.