Pinch Hit- Rotate this

Monday, April 17 2006 @ 07:41 AM EDT

Contributed by: Mike Green

Juggling a pitching rotation and constructing lineups are, some might say, the key managerial decisions. Newcomer Bruce Wrigley puts the pencil in your hand with this pinch-hit. Thanks, Bruce, and take it away.

After a two-game sweep of the Yankees, 4-2 and 10-2, before happy crowds on the 18th and 19th of April, the Jays' record stands at 8-6. They are second in the AL East, one game behind the Red Sox. It is April 20th and the Blue Jays have an off day before hosting the Red Sox for three weekend games (Friday and Saturday nights and a Sunday afternoon contest).
AJ Burnett is back in the rotation (delete Brian Tallet) and the Jays have a mostly healthy 25 man. Zaun started the second game of the Yankees series yesterday to give Molina the day off and otherwise the Jays had their standard lineup against righties in for both games, with Hinske and Cat in the outfield for both games. The only injury concerns are :
* Cat, who ran into the outfield wall making a play in the 8th yesterday. He finished the game but has a sore heel where he landed awkwardly. He says he could play today if there was a game.
* Adams had the 'flu earlier in the week and John McDonald had played in his spot on Sunday. Adams played both Yankees games and went 0-5 and 0-4 but he seems fine today.
* AJ Burnett was supposed to come back for the Chicago series but had a very minor setback in his rehab. He pitched on the 18th instead.

The Red Sox had taken two of three when the Jays visited Fenway last week. Josh Towers won the first game with an eight-inning four-hitter over Josh Beckett (Glaus hit a game-winning home run in the seventh and the Jays won 2-0). Gustavo Chacin lost game two 13-8 against David Wells and had a bad game; Gus's line was 2.1 8 8 8 3 1 and 51 pitches thrown). Finally, Scott Downs made an emergency start in relief of Ted Lilly in game three exactly a week ago (Lilly had suffered a broken nail in the warmup), and pitched brilliantly for six innings but was outdueled by Matt Clement 2-1. Since then, the Jays' rotation has been as follows:
11th vs Boston - Towers
12th vs Boston - Chacin
13th vs Boston - Downs
14th at Chicago - Halladay (5-4 win in 10 innings; Halladay went 8)
15th at Chicago - Towers (8-6 win; Towers went 6 strong)
16th at Chicago - Chacin (7-0 loss; Chacin's line was 3.1 8 6 2 1 2)
17th off day
18th vs New York - Burnett
19th vs New York - Halladay

Towers had pitched well on three days' rest, necessitated by Lilly and Burnett's incapacity, but Chacin struggled. Ted came to you on the 17th and said he was fine to pitch; his last start was on the 8th, but you wanted to get Burnett in and have Doc pitch on his regular day. He's itching to get back into the rotation and he is throwing very well, as is Downs.
Today (the 20th) is an off day; the 24th will be an off day followed by three at home with the Orioles who have now lost eight of their last nine. You had previously announced that Lilly, Towers and Chacin would pitch in this series but that you would reconsider today. AJ Burnett pitched on the 18th and threw five innings allowing one run on two hits and two walks, striking out seven and throwing 78 pitches. Brad Arnsberg figures that AJ can give you 90-100 pitches in his next start. Doc went yesterday and went six innings and left with a 10-1 lead, allowing one run on five hits with two walks and four strikeouts, throwing 85 pitches.

1. What is your pitching rotation for this weekend's series?
Now the Red Sox have already announced that their starting pitchers for this series will be Wakefield, Wells, and Schilling.
2. What will your starting lineups and batting orders be against these pitchers, assuming everyone stays in the same health? (Feel free to depart from the usual batting order - this is your team!)
Assume now that both Lilly and Downs are hurt. Ted can go on the DL if he misses this series, and it looks as though he will, and still be back for the Baltimore series. Downs isn't likely to miss enough time to be worth putting on the DL. J.P. comes to you and says that he's happy to call up a pitcher from Syracuse to start in this series of that's what you want, otherwise he'll bring back Dustin McGowan to bolster the pen (Tallet can't be brought back until the 27th).

3. What would your pitching rotation be in this case? Do you call up a starter, and if so who do you want?

Thanks again, Bruce.