The New York Yankees enter their final regular-season series of 2011 with only one real goal. That would be to get rested and ready for the 2011 MLB playoffs, which begin on Friday. The Yankees clinched the American League East title several days ago, but will still have an impact on the AL wild-card race.
Having just taken three of four from Boston the Yankees now face the Tampa Bay Rays, who enter the season's final three games just one behind Boston. Early in September the Rays trailed the Red Sox by a seemingly insurmountable nine games.
The Yankees will likely be less concerned about the outcome of these three games than they will be about getting their pitching aligned for the American League Division Series and settling any remaining postseason roster questions.
Yankee manager Joe Girardi settled one question already, announcing that Phil Hughes will pitch out of the bullpen in the playoffs.
The pitching rotation for the Rays series may also offer a hint as to Girardi's postseason plans. Rookie Hector Noesi pitches Monday, Bartolo Colon Tuesday and Girardi has not made a decision for Wednesday. You might glean from that alignment that Colon does not seem likely to be in the postseason rotation -- leaving CC Sabathia, Ivan Nova, Freddy Garcia and A.J. Burnett.