In an attempt to jumpstart a surprisingly inefficient offense, New York Yankees’ manager Joe Girardi has decided to bench third baseman Alex Rodriguez and left fielder Nick Swisher for Game Three of the MLB American League Championship Series against the Detroit Tigers.
This is a move that has to be damaging to the egos of Rodriguez and Swisher, considering they have been productive power hitters throughout their careers, used to being in the starting lineup. Unfortunately for them, the American League playoffs has been a showcase of “what have you done for me lately?” With New York trailing the best of seven series 2-0, Yankees fans don’t care about damaged egos. Neither does Girardi.
The fact is, Rodriguez and Swisher have been horrible offensively for the Yankees. Rodriguez batted .125 in the American League Divisional Series against the Baltimore Orioles. In comparison, Swisher batted .111 against the Orioles. Although the Yankees defeated the Orioles in five games, Swisher and Rodriguez combined for one RBI and struck out a combined fourteen times in the series.
Outfielder Brett Gardner will replace Swisher in the lineup and bat leadoff. Third baseman Eric Chavez will replace Rodriguez and bat seventh. The Yankees will need all the help they can get against Detroit pitching ace Justin Verlander. Verlander won the American League Cy Young Award in 2011, as well as the league’s Most Valuable Player. Verlander’s fastball is consistently clocked at 95 MPH or higher. It would be asking a lot for Gardner and Chavez to make significant contributions to a stagnant New York offense with Verlander at his best.
Nevertheless, the Yankees must rally in Detroit to get back in this series. While it’s not impossible to come back from a 3-0 deficit to win the series (Rodriguez can attest to this as a member of the 2004 Yankee team on the losing end of that feat), New York must find the offensive firepower to win Game Three. If they cannot solve Verlander, New York Yankees’ fans will have to face a third consecutive winter without a World Series title.