The fact that game four of the ALCS between the Detroit Tigers and the New York Yankees was postponed looks like a good thing for New York. Indeed, it may have even been a stay of execution depending on how the game would have gone. But looking at it a bit closer, the benefits to the Yankees are all in the very short term. The Tigers should be quite pleased.
One reason it is not as good for the Yankees as it might appear is that the simple fact of a day off is not as beneficial as would seem. The Yankees are under the strain of a 0-3 deficit, they are on the road and they are in a bit of disarray. Their bats have been anemic and manager Joe Girardi has been putting his big name players on the bench in a desperate attempt to jump start the offense.
Their struggles are in the public eye as well. They might say they are putting it out of their minds, but I think that is much easier said than done. Now they have had to wait another day; they have had another day in which to think about their plight. I very strongly suspect that they would rather just get out and play. Certainly it would be easier for their peace of mind to just get off the mark. Turning the 0-3 into a 1-3 would have been a nice morale booster. Instead they have to wait. I don’t think they will ‘regroup’; they had a chance to do that after going 0-2 down. Instead they came out and played Game Three just as they had played the first two.
But what another off day will help is the Tigers’ rotation. Max Scherzer was the scheduled starter for game four. Scherzer is certainly talented, but is their fourth-choice this postseason and has only pitched one game. Up against the Yankees’ best pitcher this postseason, CC Sabathia, the Yankees were possibly favorites to force a game five. But the Tigers now have the option of instead sending Doug Fister, who would have likely pitched game five, out on normal rest in game four.
Fister would certainly be the more appealing option having had two very solid starts already this postseason. Even if he lost, the Tigers would then have Anibal Sanchez on normal rest to pitch Game Five. the Yankees could juggle their rotation as well, but will still want Sabathia for Game Four and would then have the option of Andy Pettite on an extra day’s rest for Game Five or Hiroki Kuroda (assuming they won Game Four). Neither are terrible options, but neither have been as reliable as Sabathia and neither look like strong favourites.
The day off also gives the Tigers an opportunity to reassess their bullpen situation. That has been their Achilles heel in the postseason so far and any extra rest for them is definitely a boost. The Yankees won’t mind resting their heavily worked bullpen either, but they do not have the same issues to sort and so the break does not help them as much.
Although the Yankees will be playing baseball on Thursday when they may not have otherwise been, the overall impact of the rain is to give the Tigers yet another advantage. With Detroit already having the better hitting, better pitching and a 3-0 series lead it is the last thing the Yankees need.