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Friday, October 30, 2009

The Yankees, Unobstructed - Oct. 30, 2009

Forget About Having a Fourth Starter

This World Series, more than any in recent memory, looks like it could be shaped by pregame managerial decisions. Last night, the Yankees scored a key run following a rally that was started by Jerry Hairston, Jr. — who Joe Girardi inserted into the lineup in place of the slumping Nick Swisher.

Now Girardi has bigger decisions to make. While the Phillies look prepared to start a scrub in Game 5 (either Joe Blanton or J.A. Happ), Girardi has been wrestling with whether or not to pitch Chad Gaudin (who has thrown one inning since October 3rd).

But there is another option, which I think Girardi might resort to — a three man rotation.

While it has become a forgone conclusion that the Yankees will pitch C.C. Sabathia in games four and seven, the silencing of Yankees bats over the last two games makes a strong case for using the best pitchers available at all times. We don't know what to expect from Gaudin, because baseball-reference.com does not keep records for "starting on 30 days rest." It does, however, keep track of starts on three days rest....

A.J. Burnett has made four such starts, including three in 2008. In all four he has pitched very well. In fact, in his three short-rest starts in 2008, Burnett gave up only four earned runs in 19.1 innings. His 18/10 K/BB ratio in those starts is not incredible, but is on par with his usual numbers.

Andy Pettitte is 37 years old, but he also has the most postseason wins of any pitcher ever. Pettitte's numbers are less impressive on short rest than Burnett's, but also more extensive. In 86.2 innings pitched, Pettitte has surrendered 40 earned runs. Not great, but certainly good enough to keep the Yankees in the game.

In other tough choices for Girardi has to make...

Hideki Matsui: Godzilla has been one of the Yankees better hitters this postseason, but he is too slow to track down fly balls. While playing in a National League park, make him your #1 pinch hitter.

Nick Swisher: Although his replacement, Jerry Hairston, Jr., came up big last night, Swisher's defense and arm have helped limit scoring opportunities for opponents all postseason. Swisher plays.

Phil Hughes: No more set-up work. Relief pitching is all about having the hot hand, and Hughes' couldn't be colder. Instead go with...

David Robertson: Seriously, I'm not kidding. Robertson has been lights out — downright unflappable — in some of the most pressure-filled moments of the past month. The kid is catching batters off-guard. He's like a vision of rookie K-ROD.

In case you have not been following. Here's a few details you need to know in order to get by in a conversation about the World Series:

After two games in the Bronx, the series is tied 1-1. The next game is tomorrow night at 7:57pm in Philadelphia. The starters will be Andy Pettitte for the Yankees, and Cole Hamels for the Phillies.


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