From the S.I. Advance -
His back “locked up,” Randy Johnson will skip his final regular-season start for the Yankees and be pushed back to Game 3 of the AL Division Series.
Johnson had allowed five runs in each of his past three starts, with a 7.64 ERA over that time. He had been scheduled to pitch Thursday and then in Game 1 or 2 of the Division Series. Now, he will have 12 days between starts.
Manager Joe Torre revealed the Johnson issue after last night’s 16-1 pounding of the Tampa Bay Devil Rays at Tropicana Field.
“It’s a crapshoot,” Torre said of scratching Johnson. “But we feel that the rest probably is going to do more for him than just the fact that he can stay on schedule and pitch regularly. We’ll take a chance not pitching him in hopes that he’ll feel good. I’d rather have him when he feels at his best.”
Johnson, who turned 43 earlier this month, said he has been suffering back spasms, getting progressively worse since the start of the month. He also has been dealing with “upslip,” in which his right (landing) leg gets pushed into his hip, causing the pelvic bone to tilt and affecting his back.
“It’s a little tighter,” he said. “I’ll get it taken care of.
I think Yankees fans all over the place are having flashbacks to David Wells and the 2003 World Series this morning. And, it’s not pretty.
I’m going to the game on the 28th (at the Stadium). So, it would have been fun to see Johnson pitch. But, given this news, I’ll be happy to see someone else – and give Unit the rest.
But, more importantly, I think this situation brings cause for having someone like Darrell Rasner on the post-season roster now. If Johnson does pull a “Wells” and has to exit a game early, you need someone who can come in from the pen and offer you some length – and still be a quality pitcher.
Since there’s no news at all on Cory Lidle, I have to assume that he’s out of the picture these days. This leaves Darrell Rasner and Jeff Karstens as people who can pitch 5+ innings out of the pen in a game. Rasner seems to be more seasoned at this point. So, I would give the nod to him.
And, the Yankees should look for another SP for next year.
Wang can take one slot in 2007. And, hopefully Mussina can come back for another year too. Either Rasner or Karstens can be a third starter. Ideally, the Yankees can pick-up another quality starter next season to allow them to count on Johnson or Pavano for the 5th slot. If the Yankees assume that they can could on Johnson to be one of their “Big Three” starters next year, that’s a mistake.
Yes, right now, given his overall performance this season, his age, and his recent history of injuries, Randy Johnson is in the “Carl Pavano” class of reliability. That may be cruel – but, it’s the truth. It’s time to stop counting on him. You wouldn’t want to have to count on a Mark Redman or Casey Fossum in the Yankees rotation next year – and that’s the level that Johnson is pitching to now – and he’s a lot older than those guys.
Back to this post-season, it now looks like the Yankees are back to:
“Wang and Mussina and a precipitation novena.”
How those two go, so will the Yankees this October.