New York Yankees relief pitcher Mariano Rivera walks off the mound against the Chicago White Sox

Tom Fratamico, of El Guapo’s Ghost, joins Fire Brand…

With Opening Night tomorrow pitting arguably Major League Baseball’s most heated rivalry and two best teams, the seemingly around-the-clock sports media coverage has dissected the match up from nearly all angles.  One that has not gotten as much coverage as Joba Chamberlain or Phil Hughes in the rotation or the Red Sox run prevention, but could be the deciding factor after 162, is which team can keep their stars on the field and out of the trainer room.

Will Carroll of Baseball Prospectus has a system that measures a player’s probability of spending time on the disabled list.  It is color-coded — red, yellow, or green — with red being highest risk of injury.  As Carroll states: “I don’t try to predict the location of the injury or the severity. Instead, it’s binary: either a player hits the DL at some point during the year, or he doesn’t.”

Of course, a season ending injury to Derek Jeter or Dustin Pedroia would be tough for any team to overcome.  But in most cases, a short DL stint would not necessarily be a factor in either club staying home in October.  Nick Johnson (a red) being out less than a month, due to straining his wrist tying his shoes, would not sink the Yankees’ ship as Randy Winn or Marcus Thames is capable of backing up the DH.  Along the same lines, Bill Hall and Jeremy Hermida are adequate replacements for J.D. Drew’s eventual trip to the D.L.  Clay Buchholz, the Olde Towne Team’s other red, is backed up by Tim Wakefield or Daisuke Matsuzaka.  The Red Sox appear to have their biggest injury risks covered.

Aside from the aforementioned Johnson, Jorge Posada, Mariano Rivera and Chamberlain are reds too.  Rivera is always red; he is a freak.  The Yankees are likely not concerned about the best reliever ever.  To a lesser extent, the same can be said about Posada who came back in fine form from his shoulder problem.  Chamberlain is somewhat an unknown in the pen and the club from the Bronx has options.  But the Yankees’ front office should be concerned about the rotation as 60 percent of it is fire-engine red.

A.J. Burnett, Andy Pettitte, and Phil Hughes are all reds.  Without any in-house adequate replacements, it is reasonable to project the Yankees having a replacement level starter go five to ten times.  Playing behind the eight ball in five to ten games could slide the Yankees into third place and out of the playoff picture.