Over the past couple of weeks while AJ Burnett has fallen short of expectations Andy Pettitte has surpassed them and it has lead many people to point out that they would feel more comfortable with Pettitte and not Burnett as the team’s no. 2 starter in the playoffs.
I don’t blame them, I’ve felt the same way. After all, we all have visions of Pettitte’s past post-season dominance in our heads. Him staring down John Smoltz and winning a tough game in the World Series. With Burnett, some of our strongest memories are him getting knocked around in Fenway Park (14.21 ERA in three starts there this season).
Taking a look at each pitchers home and away splits has me on a different thought path heading to the playoffs. With the Yankees a near lock to get home field advantage during the first round, games one and two will be at Yankee Stadium with games three and four on the road. Now look at these numbers:
AJ Burnett at home: 15 games, 5-3 record, 98.2 innings, 96 strikeouts, 3.65 ERA, 1.36 WHIP, .235 BAA.
AJ Burnett on the road: 14 games, 6-6 record, 84.1 innings, 71 strikeouts, 5.12 ERA, 1.45 WHIP, .258 BAA.
15 games isn’t a huge sample size, but it is half a season and the difference is about one and a half runs per game. If given the choice, looking at those numbers, I would strongly prefer Burnett to start at home during the first round.
I know what you might be thinking, Pettitte the lefty, should get the start in Yankee Stadium as he would have an advantage staying away from the short-porch in right. The problem is that his season has been much the opposite of Burnett’s. Pettitte doesn’t seem to like the new stadium:
Andy Pettitte at home: 15 games, 5-4 record, 94 innings, 4.69 ERA, 1.48 WHIP, .283 BAA.
Andy Pettitte on the road: 14 games, 8-2 record, 84.1 innings, 3.52 ERA, 1.22 WHIP, .225 BAA.
Essentially, while Pettitte has been slightly more reliable over the course of the season, especially lately, that should be thrown out the playoffs in the offseason. Go with the numbers and let Burnett start game two and Pettitte game three. That’s where they’ve been the most comfortable during the season so that’s where they should fall in the playoffs.