Designated hitter the only uncertainty for Yankees heading into ALDS Game 5
CC Sabathia is the starting pitcher, and Girardi first said there was "a pretty good chance" before making a "guarantee" that the eight men in the field behind CC will be the same eight who were behind him the last time he battled Cleveland's Corey Kluber, last Friday night in Game 2 at Progressive Field.
The tenth man, though, is the designated hitter, and Girardi said the only certainty with that spot is nothing will be certain until he has to fill out his lineup card Wednesday afternoon.
"I can guarantee you that eight of the nine guys that we had in there are going to be in there, but as far as the DH, there's just some things I'm going to continue to look at as I make a decision," Girardi said. "You kind of look at the quality of at-bats that guys have had during the course of a season, a couple seasons off of Kluber, how they're swinging now."
The one who saw Kluber in Game 2 was Jacoby Ellsbury, but he only got one plate appearance (and struck out) against Kluber before the righty was removed in the third, so there's really no "new" evidence Girardi can use to influence his decision.
"Our DH got one at-bat off him, which makes it interesting, so you look at some of the at-bats during the course of this year and last year and I'll make a decision," Girardi said. "It's just kind of trying to measure and trying to predict what type of stuff Kluber is going to have tomorrow, which isn't easy to do."
Whoever does end up in that spot can't, in reality, hurt the offense any more than the designated hitter already has this postseason; Ellsbury and Chase Headley have split DH duties so far in October, but after Monday's 0-for-4 for Headley, the duo is 0-for-18 with two walks in five games.
The skipper said "they're due, that's the bottom line," following that game, and really, despite a .000/.100/.000 slash line in October, he likely has to trust in one of those two, as there are only three other choices on the roster: backup catcher Austin Romine; Ronald Torreyes, who may be too valuable as a utility man or pinch-runner if needed; and Matt Holliday, who has all of five plate appearances in the last two weeks (none since October 1) and hit just .179 in the second half.
Hopefully, though, the rest of the offense will pick each other up, and the Yankees can get to Kluber the same way they did in Game 2.
"We've seen him extremely sharp and I think we caught him on a night that he wasn't sharp, so you hope you catch him on another night that he's not sharp," Girardi said. "We didn't do a whole lot against him the first two starts that we faced him. I thought we did a little more the second start and, obviously, more the third start, so hopefully, the trend continues."
But, no matter who is the DH, or who is anywhere in the lineup, that won't be an easy task.
"I'm sure that during the course of his career, he's had some rocky starts, but obviously, he's adjusted pretty quickly, because when you look at his record and ERA every year, they're pretty darn good," Girardi said. "He's extremely talented - there's a good chance that he's going to be Cy Young this year - and it doesn't seem like it's something that usually has a whole lot of carryover, so we'll see."