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Mussina leads playoff rotation
10/02/2004 8:51 PM ET
TORONTO -- Mel Stottlemyre revealed some of the Yankees' postseason pitching plans on Saturday afternoon, but Kevin Brown's performance and the health of Orlando Hernandez are clouding up the middle of the team's playoff rotation.

Mike Mussina and Jon Lieber will start the first two games of the American League Division Series at Yankee Stadium, which will be played on Tuesday and Wednesday.

Stottlemyre had Hernandez penciled in for Game 3 and Javier Vazquez set for Game 4, but Hernandez's tired right shoulder may prevent him from making a postseason start.

"We're pretty well locked in there with the first two," Stottlemyre said. "I have Vazquez penciled in for a start. The question is El Duque, even though my gut feeling is that he'll be all right. He'll have enough time to rest."

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If he doesn't, that would move Brown into the rotation, coming off of his five-inning, one-run outing against the Blue Jays on Saturday. Brown could also be used out of the bullpen as insurance for Hernandez, in case El Duque wasn't able to pitch deep into his start.

"We have a little uncertainty as to who will be ready for when, but we have some options now," Stottlemyre said. "The fact that he pitched as well as he did today, it gives us an option to use him in some capacity."

Stottlemyre said that Hernandez would throw on flat ground on Monday and throw a bullpen session on Tuesday. His start wouldn't come until Friday -- or Saturday, if he was moved to Game 4 -- so the Yankees would likely include him on the roster if they felt he would rebound in time.

Should New York take both Brown and Hernandez on its roster, the Yanks will likely carry 11 pitchers, adding Esteban Loaiza to the mix as protection for the two fragile right-handers.

"If they're two of the 10, we'll very likely have 11," Stottlemyre said. "Once you get locked in the playoffs with 10, if one goes down, you could be in trouble."

Brown, who was rocked for four runs in just two-thirds of an inning last Sunday at Fenway Park, showed a biting splitter and good movement on his fastball on Saturday, giving Stottlemyre the confidence in his ability to contribute in the postseason.

"I don't think there's any doubt that I can start," Brown said. "My mind right now feels better, because I feel I have a better idea of what I need to do to put myself in a position to give us a chance."

"With his experience and his ability, you'd like to see him be a factor in some way," Stottlemyre said. "We'll have to give it some thought. The fact that he went five innings and his pitch count was just 73, that might make us consider it. We'll have to wait and see what Joe thinks, but it gives us an option."

This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

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