FanPost Friday: Rotational Shenanigans

Paul Rutherford-USA TODAY Sports

To my mind, the most important series remaining is the series against the MFY on Sep 24-26, since they're the only team we face down the stretch that also have a chance at the playoffs. My main desire would be to arrange it so that Sale is pitching in that series, along with Eovaldi and probably E-Rod. We can't throw away any games no matter the opponent, of course, but a loss to any of the other teams is only half as damaging as one to the MFY.

So, the normal rotation for the next five games would be Pivetta today and either E-Rod on 6 days rest or Eovaldi on 5 days for the next two games against Baltimore (it looks like Eovaldi is currently the expected starter tomorrow). Then we have an off day before the 2-game series against the Mets, and as the second game is on the 22nd Sale is the anticipated starter (according to 538 anyway) on 5 days rest. I would instead go ahead and pitch E-Rod (or Eovaldi if E-Rod starts tomorrow) for the first game and then let Houck have the ball on the 22nd. I would also consider starting Pivetta on 4 days rest and maybe letting him go 4 innings and then try to get 4 more out of Houck. We then have another off day before starting the MFY series. I would like to see Sale take the ball on the 24th, giving him two extra days rest, followed by Eovaldi on 6 days and E-Rod on the normal 5 days. If Pivetta did not pitch on the 22nd, I would have him prepared to come in as a piggy-back starter if any of the main three are having difficulties against the MFY. Since we then have another off day before coming back to face the Orioles on the 28th, either Houck or Pivetta would get the ball that day depending on how the previous series went, and I'd consider piggybacking them in some order for that game as well. I'd want Sale to start on the 29th and Eovaldi on the 30th so that either would be available for the wildcard game on the 5th, or even relief on Oct 3 if the season comes down to the last day. That would leave E-Rod, Pivetta, and Houck as the presumed starters for the last three games against WAS, if any or all of those games have a meaningful impact on the standings at that point.

A sweep either way in the MFY series wouldn't necessarily end the season for either team, but whoever wins that series probably winds up with the edge for the top wildcard spot. Our last six games against BAL and WAS are eminently winnable and on paper should be a softer schedule than the MFY last six against TOR and TB, or Toronto's last six against MFY and BAL. But as I've said in several other places, if Tampa has already clinched the division before the last three games, which is pretty likely, there's a good chance they will not be exerting maximum effort to win those last three games. Our schedule would still be theoretically more favorable than either of MFY or TOR, but 3 games against a TB that doesn't care what happens is probably about the same challenge as 3 games against Baltimore. Since we can't really affect what happens to those teams it's not worth worrying too much about. If we take care of business and win each of these last series we might not make the playoffs, but that's the way the cookie crumbles sometimes. At least we got cookies this season, even if they do dissolve early in October.