As always, in the days leading up to the announcement of the rotation for a given playoff series, the topic du jour on every Yankee blog is the desired order of said rotation. While the Yankees haven’t made an official announcement about anything other than that A.J. Burnett is expected to be a part of a four-man ALCS rotation, we can pretty much surmise what the Yankees will likely do based on what we know they’ve done in the past.
My expected ALCS rotation hasn’t changed since I speculated on it two weeks ago:
Friday, October 15, ALCS Game 1: CC Sabathia
Saturday, October 16, ALCS Game 2: Andy Pettitte/Phil Hughes
Monday, October 18, ALCS Game 3: Pettitte/Hughes
Tuesday, October 19, ALCS Game 4: Sabathia (on three days’ rest)
Wednesday, October 20, ALCS Game 5: A.J. Burnett
Friday, October 22, ALCS Game 6: Game 2 starter (on five days’ rest)
Saturday, October 23, ALCS Game 7: Sabathia (on three days’ rest)
One thing I didn’t touch on last time was that the Game 6 starter could potentially be the Game 3 starter going on three days’ rest, although given the option between a slightly over-rested or under-rested pitcher I’d imagine the Yankees would go with the former. The only way I see this scenario going down is if the Yankees surprise us and go with Hughes in the Game 2 start at The Trop/Ballpark, once again due to his superior road numbers. After his brilliant Game 3 start on Saturday this argument may be somewhat weakened, but one start doesn’t change an entire season’s body of work. Of course, considering that this would line Pettitte up for Game 3 and presumably Game 6 on short rest (I’m not sure I see Hughes being handed the ball for Game 6 if the season were potentially on the line) it’s probably not very likely.
Although another hypothetical scenario could have Pettitte pitching on short rest anyway in Game 5 if the team were down 3-1 — it’s difficult to see the team turning to Burnett with the season on the line. Were that the case, then Hughes could indeed end up getting the call for Game 6. But I’m getting ahead of myself. With the way the Yankees look, albeit in the smallest of small samples, I’d be pretty surprised if they weren’t UP 3-1 after four games.
One other thing to note, and I did make mention of it in the aforementioned previous speculation post, is that assuming CC is tabbed for Games 1, 4 and 7 (which he most definitely should be — what’s the point of having your best pitcher if you don’t maximize his usage?), if the ALCS did in fact go the distance, CC would then be starting Games 1 and 4 of the World Series on short rest (and Game 7, if the WS also went the distance). Fortunately it seems pretty unlikely that both the ALCS and WS would go seven games, though CC potentially having to make six straight starts on short rest could be an awful lot to ask for, as beast as he is. Of course, there’s really no alternative, and as long as the big man is up to the task you have to go for the kill.
Edited, 1:13pm: Please be sure to also check out Stephen’s take on the rotation over at TYU.
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