MooseHaas has been doing a great job keeping us updated on the pitching matchups for the remainder of the season, especially since they've been changing almost every day.
Even now, things are up in the air. The only certainty seems to be that Suppan will start today. Yes, the same Jeff Suppan whose ERA has gone up a half-run in the space of four starts and who coughed up 11 runs (only eight earned, though!) last time he faced the Cubs.
I guess all we can hope for is that Dale really keeps on managing like it's game seven, holds Suppan on a very short leash, and Seth McClung is on the other side of that leash. (Yes, I know, I might've pushed that metaphor a bit too far.) I certainly hope that either Suppan or McClung brings their A game tonight, because everybody else worked last night.
An even bigger concern is tomorrow's matchup. There are three possibilities:
- Sheets is 100% healthy (or close enough) and he pitches.
- Sheets is not 100% healthy, and he pitches anyway.
- Sheets is not healthy enough to go, so Dave Bush pitches on three days rest.
It's pretty obvious which outcome is best, but it's equally obvious which one is least likely. This is the game I'm most worried about. As much as I like Bush, I don't trust him on three days, and I'm not sure I want the ball in his hand against the Cubs under normal circumstances. And Sheets...well, he might go out there, and a semi-healthy Sheets seems to me just as likely to give up a first-inning five-spot as Bush.
In a perfect world, we'll win two, the Mets will lose two, and we'll have clinched the postseason spot before Sunday's game. Then, for all I care, Counsell can start.
Much more likely, though, is that we'll have a one-game lead at best; at worst, it could be a must-win. If it's a must-win, Sabathia gets the ball, no questions asked.
If, however, we're up by one game, it's a tough call. The worst that could happen is being forced into a one-game playoff, probably with the Mets. The best is that a Villanueva/Parra/whoever bullpen start gets us the W anyway.
At that point, it'll be a matter of choosing to throw Sabathia to try to lock down the WC spot, or saving Sabathia for the one-game playoff. It's an impossible decision to predict right now, since so much of it (including the alternatives, which depend on Sheets's health) rests on the events of the next 24 hours.
One Thing Is Certain
Whoever pitches Sunday, his batterymate will not be Mike Rivera.