WASHINGTON — Zack Britton understands that change is not a bad thing, he just wishes there had been more time to think through baseball’s expanded playoff format for this season. The Yankees union rep reiterated the same concerns that ace Gerrit Cole had Thursday night, that the division winners are not given any reward.
“I definitely think it’s good for the game to create more high-leverage games if that’s what you want to call it, more excitement. But I wasn’t a big fan of the division winners not being rewarded in some form or fashion,” said the Yankees’ interim closer before Saturday night’s game. “So I wasn’t really for this, but I do see the benefit of increasing playoffs and adding that to our sport. I think it’s good in the future. I just felt like it was kind of rushed.
“The only thing that I would have liked to see is the division winners — and whether that’s us or another team — I feel like if you win your division, you either be given a bye or something to show that you won your division.”
Under the agreement that was reach just hours before the Yankees and Nationals kicked off the pandemic delayed and shortened MLB 2020 season, the new format will include a record 16 teams and all postseason clubs will participate in a best-of-three first-round series. The team with the higher-seed will host the entire series.
Obviously this gives teams who are favored in the playoffs like the Dodgers and Yankees another hurdle to get over to reach the goals.
The union agreed to the larger field after owners offered a $50 million pool for players to be distributed after each playoff round, and the money could increase if fans attend postseason games. Players’ shares from the playoffs in normal years come from the gate.
Despite the downside for the division winners, for the sport overall it could create more excitement with more teams in the running and possible upsets.
“For me, personally a little less than ideal that there’s not more weight given to the division winners, but on behalf of the players, solid deal on behalf of the fans, more baseball,” Cole said. “So two thumbs up for me. "
GOING GREEN ON SUNDAY?
Almost everyone expects Chad Green to be the “starter” for the Yankees in Sunday’s series finale against the Nationals, except Green. Before Saturday night’s game, Green said he never expects much notice when the Yankees will use him as an opener.
“That’s how it kind of worked last year. That would normally be the night before, or sometimes even as late as the day of,” Green said. “It’s just depending on how the bullpen is set up and how our starting pitching looks coming up. I would assume we’ll have that conversation after the game.”
For Green, who was successful as an opener last season, it doesn’t affect his preparations.
“That’s something I did enough last year where I kind of got into a routine where I knew what I needed to do to get ready and to stay ready for the game tonight and if I don’t pitch tonight, I can still be ready to open the game tomorrow,” Green said.
NOT ABAD IDEA
With Aroldis Chapman out indefinitely, the Yankees added some lefty relief. They signed reliever Fernando Abad and assigned him to the Scranton taxi squad.
In 2019, Abad made 21 relief appearances with the Giants going 0-2 with a 4.15 ERA. He began the season in the minors. He has pitched in parts of nine big league seasons with the Astros (2010-12), Nationals (2013), A’s (2014-15), Twins (2016), Red Sox (2016-17) and San Francisco (2019).
Abad was released from a minor league contract with the Nationals last week.
Chapman is on the COVID-19 injured list. As of Wednesday, Yankees GM Brian Cashman said the lefty closer was still testing positive for the coronavirus and there was no timeline for his return to the team. In his absence, Zack Britton is taking over the closing duties.
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