On one hand, surely the Yankees should have spent another $200 million or whatever it would have cost to throw a retractable roof on their Stadium.
On the other? Weather often becomes a fun part of postseason lore.
Maybe the 2004 Red Sox don’t make history by overcoming an 0-3 American League Championship Series deficit against the Yankees without pushing their rivals’ pitching staff for five straight days following a rainout of Game 3. And would the Cubs be at 110 years without a title if a rain delay in 2016 World Series Game 7 hadn’t given Aroldis Chapman’s teammates a chance to recover from Rajai Davis’ contest-tying, two-run homer?
Which brings us to Wednesday’s downpour that delayed Game 4 of the current ALCS to Thursday night, setting in motion a potential four-day, four-game festival between the Yankees and the Astros, the first two in The Bronx and the last two (if needed) at Minute Maid Park, with the Yankees trailing by a 2-1 count.
Whom does this unscheduled break help more? Let’s lay out the prominent ripple effects and rank them by importance.
1. The Yankees benefit by getting to start their most trusted arm, Masahiro Tanaka, on normal rest for Game 4, rather than Game 5. Maybe Thursday marks Tanaka’s first postseason start of eight in which he allows more than two runs. Do you want to bet against him, though? Didn’t think so.
2. The Astros benefit because they rely far less on their relievers than do the Yankees, who now face the prospect of calling upon certain arms for four consecutive days.
“I’m certainly open to them running out there every day,” Aaron Boone said Wednesday in a conference call. “But it’s something that’s kind of always fluid with the different individual pitchers and how they’re able to bounce back.”
Maybe they’d get away with it, yet as Boone’s predecessor Joe Girardi would say, it’s not what you want. And don’t forget, if the Yankees somehow defeat the Astros, they’d still have to take on the Nationals in the World Series and ask even more from their late-inning guys.
3. The Yankees benefit by moving up the Game 6 pitching matchup to Game 5. Justin Verlander far outpitched James Paxton in Game 2 down South, and now that rematch will take place at the Stadium rather than Minute Maid. Paxton pitched better at home (3.35 ERA) than on the road (4.33) during the regular season and looked quite shaky in Game 2, prompting a quick hook from Boone. Verlander tallied a 2.82 ERA away and 2.34 at home, and his opponents’ OPS were better at home (.597) than away (.561).
4. The Astros benefit by kicking the can on the bullpenning game, which they planned for Game 4. So did the Yankees, yet they possess far more experience in the format and generally do well at it. Now Game 6 on Saturday, if necessary, becomes the opener’s delight.
5. The Yankees benefit from the simple notion of getting a group breather after a rough couple of outcomes. This would rank higher if they hadn’t just enjoyed Monday off, after Sunday’s extra-inning loss in Game 2, and looked none the wiser in Game 3.
6. The Astros benefit from certain individuals receiving another day off. Which group of slumping hitters is more likely to wake up after the baseball equivalent of a snow day? The Astros’ Yordan Alvarez, Yuli Gurriel and George Springer, or the Yankees’ Brett Gardner, Didi Gregorius and Gary Sanchez? I’d wager on the Houston guys, with Springer already producing arguably the biggest hit of the series when he stroked a solo homer off Adam Ottavino to tie Game 2.
7. The Yankees benefit from taking another day to assess the ailing Giancarlo Stanton. If he’s still iffy, then the Yankees should dillydally no more. Stanton should be sidelined, which would shut him down for the rest of the postseason, and the rehabilitated Mike Tauchman should be activated and sent to battle against the Astros’ tough righty pitchers. Clearly, the Yankees require all the help they can get, even from Mother Nature, to conquer these ultra-impressive Astros.
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