Cliff Lee was supposed to start for the Mariners tonight. Then he was supposed to sit in the Yankee dugout. Now he’s on a plane for Arlington Texas, where he’ll become the new ace of the Rangers. Keep an eye on SI.com tonight for my trade analysis.
As for tonight’s ballgame, the Yankees do benefit from the downgrade from Lee to David Pauley, who will be the Mariners’ spot-starter, but last year the Yankees faced a similar situation and lost. Clayton Richard was scheduled to start against the Yankees on the day that he was traded to the Padres in the package for Jake Peavy. The Yankees instead faced spot-starter D.J. Carrasco and got whupped. What’s more, the Yankees still have five games left against the Rangers and thus could face Lee twice more during the regular season and potentially in the postseason as well. Not that I feel bad for them. I’m beginning to think they’ll be the frontrunners for the free-agent Lee this winter.
As for Pauley, he’s a 27-year-old righty on his fourth organization making his fifth big-league start and first since 2008, when he was with the Red Sox. That also came against the Yankees and saw Pauley surrender seven runs in 2 2/3 innings. The Yankees hope for more of the same tonight as well as for a strong outing from Phil Hughes, who has allowed five or more runs in three of his last four outings and has a 5.56 ERA over his last nine starts, only four of which were quality starts.
Nick Swisher is the DH tonight. Colin Curtis plays right field and bats eighth.
Luke French is up to take Lee’s spot on the roster and Pauley’s spot in the bullpen.
Oh, and the Yankees still have the best record in baseball and a five-deep rotation.
Update: here’s my Lee analysis