Commentary

Pinstripe problems

As it turns out, A.J. Burnett is probably the right choice for the Yankees in Game 4

Updated: October 19, 2010, 12:57 PM ET
By Dan Szymborski | Baseball Think Factory
CC SabathiaMatthew Emmons/US PresswireYankees fans are clamoring for CC Sabathia, but he's not the solution tonight.

The question of whether to start a pitcher on three days' rest 40 years ago was a rather non-controversial subject. With a four-man rotation being de rigueur, Bob Gibson and Sandy Koufax were expected to be able to pitch after three days off. After the 1971 season, the Dodgers acquired Tommy John from the White Sox for Dick Allen, leaving Dodgers manager Walter Alston with an extra starting pitcher. Rather than demote Bill Singer, Alston went with a five-man rotation for 1972, and the Dodgers led the league in ERA for the first time in the post-Koufax era. Within a decade, five-man rotations became the standard and pitchers became accustomed to pitching with four days of rest.

The questions of whether to start CC Sabathia on short rest in the playoffs wasn't a question that Yankees manager Joe Girardi was expecting to have to answer in 2010 -- with a rotation of Sabathia, A.J. Burnett, Andy Pettitte, Phil Hughes and Javier Vazquez, surely they could give all their pitchers full rest come playoff time. It didn't work out, however, as Burnett and Vazquez both had the worst years of their careers, with ERAs over 5, and for the second year in a row, Girardi has to decide whether to use a three-man pitching rotation in the ALCS (and possibly the World Series). It worked last time and thanks to Sabathia's pitching and the offense, the Yankees won the World Series. However, MLB eliminated the non-travel off day in the LCS this year, which makes it that much harder to get by with just three starters.

Girardi has been adamant that Burnett will start Game 4, but that shouldn't stop us from doing some second-guessing (or in this case, first-guessing), should it?


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