Last night Jeff Weaver replaced David Wells, who was scratched due to a stomach ailment, probably due to ingesting too many hot dogs, a la his hero Babe Ruth, and pitched 7-2/3 strong innings against Tampa Bay. I'm surprised that the lanky Weaver did not cause himself an injury with the food that he reportedly consumed prior to the game: "Finally, he ate more than he usually does before a game, scarfing broccoli and cheese soup, a few peanut butter and jelly sandwiches and several bananas."[from the NY Post]
This is his third strong outing in a row, each one against a different member of the AL East also-ran club. He also pitched two strong outings against Oakland and Anaheim in early August (his last two starts prior to the three mentioned) and has had a strong August and September. He has a 2.20 ERA in 45 innings over that span and if you take out a 4-run relief appearance on August 21, he has had a 1.47 ERA in 43 innings.
Now, there are suggestions that Weaver may replace El Duque Hernandez or Mike Mussina in the playoff rotation. The chances are nil. Hernandez has not pitched well in a month and is said to be in the dog house for brawling with his catcher, Jorge Posada. Mussina had been growing less effective as the season wore on but has just reeled a few effective, if losing, efforts. Everything points to a rotation of Clemens, Wells, Pettite, and Mussina in the playoffs with Hernandez, Weaver, and possibly Hitchcock used as spot starters and emergency long-relievers. Hernandez may re-ingratiate himself to Torre or Mussina may return to his abysmal ways flip-flopping them in the above scheme, but the Yankees will be content with Weaver if he remains a useful part of their staff through the playoffs after his horrendous July.
One further note, the Yankees are now a half-game up for home-field throughout the playoffs. With series agianst the D-Rays, Tigers, and Orioles remaining, they should be able to maintain their lead while the A's and Angels battle. Should they have the league-best record at the end of the year, they will play host to the AL West loser whereas if they fall behind the West winner, they would host the suddenly so-so Twins. Kind of ironic, don't you think?