Ken Rosenthal of Fox Sports has a new piece up, looking at all the playoff teams and what their rotations may be. The good news is that all of the AL playoff teams have pitching issues, the bad news is that includes the Yankees. Here’s what he said about the Yanks:
Believe it or not, they have issues.
The Yankees will face two major decisions — whether to start left-hander Andy Pettitte or righty A.J. Burnett in Game 2, and whether to opt for the series with the extra off day. The AL team with the best overall record is the only qualifier that gets such a choice.
The advantage to the longer series for the Yankees is that it would enable them to skip righty Joba Chamberlain, going with lefty CC Sabathia on normal rest in Game 4 and Pettitte or Burnett on rest in Game 5.
The disadvantage for the Yankees is that it would enable the Tigers to start righties Justin Verlander and Edwin Jackson in four of the five games.
First, lets look at this from the Yankee pitching perspective. While lefties have traditionally held an advantage in the old Yankee Stadium, Andy Pettitte has not fared as well in the new ballpark. His ERA is over a full run higher in the new facility than it is on the road, and opponents are batting 58 points higher against him. Much of that is due to the fact he’s had trouble with the long ball at home, allowing 14 at home while just 5 on the road.
There’s also a dearth of recent head to head match ups for Andy facing the Detroit Tigers. He’s only had one career start in Comerica Park in the past 3 years, where he allowed 13 baserunners in 6 1/3 innings and 5 Runs, but only 2 of them Earned. It’s only one outing, but it wasn’t pretty.
Now, on to Allan James Burnett. He has fared much better at the new Yankee Stadium than he has on the road, pitching to an ERA that is almost a full 1 1/2 runs lower at home than it is on the road.
However, in his head to head matchups against the Tigers, the numbers get very ugly. Here’s his 3 year splits against the Tigers:
It doesn’t get any better in Comerica Park:
Now, when a good pitcher like AJ Burnett has numbers that bad against a certain team in a limited number of starts (6), my first thought is that there may have been 1-2 clunkers that are skewing the numbers, and that’s the case with AJ. He pitched a game on April 4th of 2007 where he allowed 6 Runs and was knocked out in the 2nd inning (sound familiar?). But even if you want to ignore that start as an anomaly, in his other starts against the Tigers he allowed 19 Runs (all of them earned) in 28 2/3 IP, so in those other starts he pitched to a 5.96 ERA. The only outing that would be considered a ‘quality start’ was the one he had on July 17th of this year at Yankee Stadium.
So the Yanks vs Tigers has 3 potential rotations for the playoffs, which are as follows:
#1) CC Sabathia (vs Verlander)-AJ Burnett (vs Jackson)-Andy Pettitte (vs Porcello)-CC Sabathia (vs Verlander)-AJ Burnett (vs Jackson)
#2) CC Sabathia (vs Verlander)-Andy Pettitte (vs Jackson)-AJ Burnett (vs Porcello)-CC Sabathia (vs Verlander)-Andy Pettitte (vs Jackson)
#3) CC Sabathia (vs Verlander)-AJ Burnett (vs Jackson)-Andy Pettitte (vs Porcello)-Joba Chamberlain (vs Washburn)-CC Sabathia (vs Verlander)
I’ll assume Porcello is their 3rd starter since Washburn has been bad for them. But even if Leyland goes with Washburn, it doesn’t change anything for me. In looking at the Yankee pitching situation, I would opt for #3 and the short schedule. That avoids having to face Edwin Jackson twice, plus has AJ pitching at home and Andy on the road. It also splits up your lefties, which is preferable. If I am Joe Girardi, I’m trying to get Joba Chamberlain on track and will roll the dice with him (facing Washburn/Porcello) before I go CC-AJ twice or CC-Pettitte (at home) twice. I’d prefer to throw AJ at home and Pettitte on the road, and the last thing I want is to pitch AJ Burnett twice in this series or have him on the mound for a crucial Game 5, even with it being a home game. I trust Andy more than AJ for the often pivotal Game #3 and I want my ace on the mound in Game 5, and that’s CC.