Red Sox: Where starting rotation ranks among AL playoff teams

BOSTON, MA - AUGUST 1: Chris Sale
BOSTON, MA - AUGUST 1: Chris Sale /
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New York Yankees

Playoff Rotation: Luis Severino, Sonny Gray, Masahiro Tanaka, C.C. Sabathia

New York’s rotation ranked second in the league with a 3.98 ERA, 2.42 batting average against and tied for third with a 15.2 fWAR.

Severino has developed into a true ace, ranking third in the league with a 2.98 ERA and 1.04 WHIP, fourth with a 10.71 K/9 and fifth with a 4.51 K/BB ratio. He gives the Yankees a huge advantage in the Wild Card game against the Twins. However, taking the mound on Tuesday means that even if the Yankees advance, Severino will likely to limited to one start in the ALDS. This limits his value as an ace in a short series compared to the top starters on the division-winning teams.

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The mid-season addition of Gray gave the Yankees a solid No. 2 starter, even if he predictably declined a bit with the move from Oakland to the Bronx. Gray also stumbled down the stretch, going 2-4 in September and getting torched in two of his final three starts.

Which version of Tanaka will the Yankees get in the postseason? He allowed three runs or less in 19 of his 30 starts this season but was lit up for 7+ runs five times – including twice in September. Tanaka’s 3.44 xFIP is significantly better than his 4.74 ERA and he’s still striking out over a batter per inning. He also tied for the third most home runs allowed with 35 and is prone to meltdowns.

Sabathia is no longer a guy who can blow hitters away with his fastball. He’s had to learn how to pitch and after a prolonged adjustment period, it seems he’s accomplished that. His strikeout rate has dipped to his lowest point since 2003 and he’s allowing more walks and home runs than he did at his peak but somehow the 37-year old is still getting it done. He’s not the imposing ace he once was but he’s an effective back of the rotation starter.