Yes, hopefully the Yankees clinch the ALDS in a 3-game sweep. But if that’s not the case, the Yankees have a dominant arm in their bullpen, Chad Green, that they’d be remiss to not use to start Game 4 of the ALDS. There a number of reasons why this makes sense.
Chad Green has been performing admirably as an opener this season. As a starter this season, he has a 3.93 ERA and 1.309 WHIP, though those stats are somewhat skewed from one poor appearance against Cleveland. His K/9 rate as an opener sit at an other-worldly 14.7. And he’s been even better in the second half with a 3.34 ERA and 1.021 WHIP. He’s made 24 appearances since the start of July, giving up more than one run just twice. Those appearances have been a mix of opener and relief roles, and he’s dominated his opener opportunities. Aside from his Cleveland blowup, Green has opened six other games since July and hasn’t given up an earned run. Green absolutely deserves to open Game 4 in the playoffs.
Aside from his impressive stats, the most obvious reason to use him is that the alternative pitching options aren’t all that great. James Paxton, Masahiro Tanaka, and Luis Severino will each probably start a game in the postseason. Domingo German, in all likelihood, will follow Severino based on both of their pitch limits. That leaves you with J.A. Happ or CC Sabathia as your Game 4 options, and frankly, neither of them has earned much faith from the team. I love CC as much as the next guy, but he should not be starting a playoff game for this team.
The Yankees have Green and a slew of other great bullpen arms to pitch a Game 4. Or, in a perfect scenario, Severino manages to get through 5 or 6 innings, and German follows Green in Game 4. That sets the team up for the best chance to win that game.
Another reason it makes sense is because of the way the ALDS schedule is currently laid out. A big concern of using an opener is the worry that a number of relievers will get burned in the game. That problem is alleviated by German pitching in Game 4, but even if true, the schedule alleviates that. Game 4 is set for Tuesday, October 8th and a built-in off-day means Game 5 isn’t until Thursday, October 10th. That gives your relievers a full day of rest in between games if a Game 5 is needed. Or if Game 4 is a clinching game, you might as well throw all your relievers out there to win because Game 1 of the ALCS isn’t until Saturday, October 12th. There’s no point in saving your arms in that situation.
The Yankees have a potent weapon in Chad Green, and the bullpen arms to easily follow-up. They’d be missing an opportunity not to use him as an opener in the playoffs. His recent performance, a lack of alternatives, and favorably scheduled games all point to why the Yankees should give him the start in Game 4.