Thursday, September 24, 2009

Considering the Playoff Rotation

Obviously the Yankee playoff rotation begins and ends with CC Sabathia. He will need to be an ace if the Yankees expect to go anywhere beyond the first round. But Sabathia has been remarkably consistent in the second half so really the question marks begin with spot number two. Right now the debate rages over whether A.J. or Andy deserves that honor.

The Yankees must be hoping that A.J. Burnett has pretty much gotten out of his funk with two start solid starts. I honestly don't understand why people were freaking out about him. Burnett is a Jekyll and Hyde pitcher. Everyone who knows anything about baseball knows that he has the stuff to be amazing, but his inconsistency has always kept him from being one of the better pitchers in baseball. I guess it just makes good copy to worry about something when the team has every conceivable objective virtually locked up.

Burnett was slow out of the gate in April and passable in May. In June and July he was the best pitcher on the team and we all know about his August trials and tribulations. Now it seems that he has found his stride again in September, which of course makes the Yankees feel better about their October rotation.

Burnett really should be the number two starter no matter how he was pitching during this stretch run. He is a far better pitcher at home where he seems to be more comfortable and Andy Pettitte also seems to be a better pitcher on the road. It also splits up the two lefties and your two power pitchers. The question also arises of who you would rather have pitching in certain situations.

If Sabathia and Pettitte were your first two starters and both falter at home, leaving you in an 0-2 hole, do you really want someone as volatile as Burnett making his first playoff start on the road? Conversely if Sabathia and Burnett both go down you have your playoff hardened veteran lefty to face a hostile road crowd in a situation where he tends to thrive.

Thankfully Burnett is starting to make the decision easy for Joe Girardi. With those three at the top the Yankees will have the ability to match up with any front three in the league.

Now any four in the league is an entirely different question. The Yankees have huge questions about who would start game four. It is possible that they could avoid such a dilemma during the first round but if they were to make it to the ALCS then a fourth starter is a must. So far it can't be Joba Chamberlain. While the ability is there the execution is nowhere to be found. After getting bombed by the Mariners on Sunday it would seem that unless Joba shuts down the Sox and the Royals/Rays he may be watching the first round from the pen.

If that is the case then clearly Chad Gaudin is the number four for the Yankees. Though he leaves much to be desired in terms of pitching deep into games, he has been very effective of late and right now the Yankees have to have far more confidence in his ability to keep them in a game than Joba's.

The Yanks will begin the playoffs at home. The rotation should stack up as Sabathia in Game 1, Burnett in Game 2 and Pettitte in Game 3. Then repeat. At least that's the way it should be.


Joey said...

I was looking back at your rotation preview you wrote back in March. Maybe you should do a new one for the playoffs? Obviously, the landscape has changed.

Peter said...

Not a bad idea. I might even do a look back at the preview to see how well i did.

Joey said...

absolutely. It would be great to see how wrong you were. (along with all of ESPN of course)

Dan said...

I think with playoff pitching rotations speculation is kind of futile. If a team hopes to make a WS run, somebody you never thought of is going to have to win a game. At some point, somebody else, who you thought was money in the bank, is going to pitch like crap. Over the past five years, it's the team whose entire staff got hot that gets to the WS.