Sale is the starter for the first game as long as he stays healthy. There is no question about that, but after game 1, my confidence drops significant. It is likely set that Sale will by followed by Price, Porcello, then ERod, even if it is not necessarily in that order, and it seems like almost everyone agrees on this. Now I'm fine with this if this if we end up playing the A's during the ALDS because throughout the entire year those have been our best pitchers, but if the ALDS is a short series against the Yankees, I am definitely worried.
For the purpose of this argument I will assume that the Yankees beat the A's in a Wild Card match up and we now play them in the ALDS. Beginning with Price, do we really want him to start Game 2? He has been fantastic in the second half and don't get me wrong, I am actually a fan of him and what he's done this year, but we can't forget about how bad he has been in the past starting in the playoffs and how bad he has been against the Yankees. He had one good game against the Yankees in Fenway so there is reason to be hopeful, but at the same time he still owns a 10.34 ERA against them in 4 games this year. Yikes.
Porcello has 3 games against the Yankees, 2 fantastic starts in Boston, and 1 bad start in NY where he gave up 5 ER in 5.1 IP. Still, Porcello owns a 2.53 ERA out of those starts against the Yankees this year. As for Rodriguez, it does not look nearly as good. He has started 3 games, all in the Bronx and holds a 6.14 ERA out of these games. The first game he let up 0 runs over 5 IP but the next 2 games he gave up 5 runs each. After looking all of this up, I've realized 2 things. First is that I spend too much time looking this shit up and not enough time studying. Second, is that these 3 pitchers all have their faults against the Yankees.
Enter Nathan Eovaldi and Steven Wright. Eovaldi has had his ups and downs playing with the Sox, but both times he's played the Yankees while wearing a Boston uniform he has shut them out. Steven Wright meanwhile has only pitched 10 innings since returning from injury but it has been 10 shutout innings. A knuckleball brings concerns for sure but the results in the small sample size do show. These guys show more success against they Yankees than any of the other 3 starters (given that we are working with small sample sizes for everyone).
I guess my only point by this post is that the order of the rotation seems like it is set in stone, but maybe it shouldn't be. What if Eovaldi took over for Porcello in Game 3 or Wright took ERods place as a Game 4 starter. Maybe we should consider starting Sale, Porcello, ERod, then Eovaldi. Porcello would play in Fenway where he pitched well earlier in the year against the Yankees, and Price could be in the bullpen where he found success in the playoffs last year. This helps our bullpen significantly by adding a lefty that can go for multiple innings in multiple games and this could put Eovaldi in as the Game 3/4 starter in NY where he has also had success. Wright shouldn't start but I sure do hope they use him as the go to guy early on if anybody starts faltering because he has had success with his knuckleball this year and can eat up inning when pitching well. Keep an open mind, just because a pitcher is pegged for a certain spot, doesn't mean that we will have the most success strictly following that plan.
Personally, I would go Sale, Price, Porcello, Eovaldi, putting Rodriguez as the lefty in the bullpen but it's a tougher decision than it seems.