Yankees-Guardians: How a possible Game 2 rainout would change each team’s ALDS plan

new York — On Thursday night, the New York Yankees and Cleveland Guardians are scheduled to continue their best ALDS matchup with Game 2 at Yankee Stadium. The Yankees won Game 1 behind Gerrit Cole’s dominance and Anthony Rizzo’s two-run homer. They will look to take a commanding 2-0 series lead in Game 2. Here’s how you can watch.

Now, like we said, Game 2 might have to wait until Friday. The weather forecast calls for rain most of the day Thursday and into the early hours of Friday, with the heaviest stuff arriving during game time. The Atlanta Braves and Philadelphia Phillies expected a three-hour rain delay Wednesday, though a playable window may not be available to the Guardians and Yankees.

“It’s still baseball. It’s still baseball. We’ll be fine,” Guardians manager Terry Francona said when asked about a potential rainout in Game 2. “Our game is a game of adjustments. If we can’t hold on — we’ll be all right.”

The ALDS schedule is unusual this year. Instead of the standard format with an off period between Games 2 and 3, and then Games 4 and 5, this year’s ALDS has an off period between Games 1 and 2 and Games 2 and 3. So, if Game 2 is indeed postponed due to rain, the Guardians and Yankees would simply play on Friday, during a scheduled day off.

Rescheduling game 3 would be easy. For the Guardians and Yankees, the downside of a rainout on Thursday is that Games 2-5 will then be played over four consecutive days. The trip from New York to Cleveland (and back to New York) is easy enough, although four games in four days would force both clubs to change their plans.

Here’s what a Game 2 rainout could mean for the ALDS moving forward.

No. 4 starters become essential

The Yankees entered the ALDS intending to use a three-man rotation, according to the New York Post. The Guardians haven’t announced their rotation plans beyond Game 3, though I believe using a three-man rotation has crossed their minds. Here’s the initial ALDS schedule and rotation prospects:

The off days between Games 1 and 2, and then Games 2 and 3, allow each team to bring their Game 1 starter back to Game 4 with regular rest. The Game 2 starter could then pitch Game 5 on three days’ rest. That’s not ideal — short-rest starts are becoming scarce — but if it gives the team the best chance to win a decisive Game 5, he’ll do it.

By postponing Game 2, the Game 1 starter could return to regular rest in Game 4, but the Game 2 starter would instead two days’ rest in Game 5. There is recent precedent for starting the postseason on two days’ rest. In the 2020 ALDS, the Tampa Bay Rays used Tyler Glasnow on two days’ rest against the Yankees in Game 5, although he only made it through the lineup once and threw 37 pitches. It was an intentionally short start as part of what amounted to a bullpen game.

The Yankees and Guardians could get their Game 2 starter back on two days’ rest in Game 5, though it’s unlikely, and even if they did, it wouldn’t be a complete start. Maybe they could get an entry or two from Cortes and Bieber, respectively. So either the Yankees and Guardians will use their No. 4 starter in Game 5 (Jameson Taillon? Domingo Germán? Zach Plesac? Aaron Civale?), or they’ll mix it up with a hands-on-deck bullpen game. .

“I would consider him an option in that scenario,” Yankees manager Aaron Boone said Wednesday of Cortes being available for Game 5 after starting a possible Game 2 on Friday. “… Hopefully we’re not in a Game 5 situation, but if we are, we’ll see. I mean, maybe he would be in the game, but not necessarily as a traditional starter.”

Bullpen workload


Postponing Game 2 to Friday, and thus forcing Games 2-5 over four consecutive days, will affect bullpens more than rotations. All the built-in off-days in the postseason allow teams to field their best relievers. The Yankees used lefty Wandy Peralta to get four outs in Game 1 on Tuesday, knowing Wednesday was an off day. Then they could use him to get another 4-5 outs in Game 2 on Thursday, knowing Friday is an off day. A postponement of Game 2 would change that.

The Guardians and Yankees were in the middle of the pack in relievers on zero days of rest during the regular season, although the Yankees never used a reliever for three consecutive days. Emmanuel Clase has pitched three consecutive days on six occasions this year, although directors James Karinchak and Trevor Stephan have never done so. Pitching for four days in a row never happens anymore, in part because of the three-batter minimum. A lefty can’t deal with 1-2 hits four or five days in a row anymore, you know?

The original 2022 format would allow each team to use their top relievers in Games 3 and 4, and if push came to shove in Game 5, you could use them for a third straight day. A postponement of Game 2 would force Games 2-5 to be played on four consecutive days, and there is little chance either team would use a reliever(s) all four games. And, even if they did, you have to think that said relievers would be tired and possibly compromised in Game 5.

Of course, there has to be a Game 5 for any of this to matter. Each team is in good shape to rotate through Game 4, regardless of whether Game 2 is postponed. The bullpen situation is a little bleaker with Game 2 being postponed, though you have to win the game in front of you. In Game 4, you’re either playing for your season or you have a chance to advance. You do what you have to do to win and then figure out the rest. The two teams will figure out their Game 5 status when there is a Game 5, and not a moment before.

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