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Friday, May 7, 2021

Four potential playoff starters for Yankees, Dodgers and Red Sox

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So far, three pitchers have been named to start for each series in the upcoming American League Division Series. Will there be a fourth?

The early favorites to start for the Yankees in the ALDS? Zack Britton and CC Sabathia. The reliable left-hander is set to return for the first time since July, and the former starter came back from a pair of injuries to post an 11-0 record and 2.21 ERA in 36 appearances. And while the Yankees have never swept the Indians in a playoff series, Madison Bumgarner in 2014 ranks as the closest in recent history. He’s pitching at Dodger Stadium, where a broken clavicle kept him out until September and the season was finished.

The Dodgers currently have four postseason starters (vs. one survivor), but as the postseason continues and a fifth potential pitcher is named for each series, that number could go up before long.

The Tigers? Ryan Merritt, Blaine Hardy, Daniel Norris and Francisco Liriano are the potential starters. If the Tigers advance, it would be Liriano’s second tour of duty in the postseason. The right-hander led the NL in strikeouts and strikes for a third time in his career, but his control was an issue this season. But the young pitchers have all impressed Detroit management throughout the year. The Tigers have never won a playoff series without a postseason starter named.

The Red Sox’s rotation all but has been set heading into the playoffs with Chris Sale, Rick Porcello, David Price and Nathan Eovaldi as the potential starters. The Red Sox haven’t had a winning postseason record since 2007, and last time they held home field advantage they dropped their first-round series in four games to the Astros.

In the Wild Card, both the Rangers and the Mariners feature four postseason starters (both haven’t won a postseason series without a pitcher named) if all goes according to plan.

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