Dandy Andy: If Pettitte Is Healthy Yankees Should Stick With Three Man Rotation

CC Sabathia, Andy Pettitte, and Phil Hughes make up the Yankees starting rotation for the ALDS, and should for the rest of the postseason as well.

Sabathia came to New York as a playoff flop, struggling with both the Indians and Brewers in their recent postseason appearances, but has turned his October career around with the Yankees and has established himself as a big game pitcher.

His gritty game one performance was a little scary at times, but he was able to escape several jams and hold down the Twins offense while Curtis Granderson and Mark Teixeira rallied the Yankees offense for the come from behind win 6-4.

Sabathia is the unquestioned ace of the staff and will get the ball on three day’s rest if need be at some point, just like he did during last year’s World Series run, and he may be called upon to do the same this year.

Pettitte’s postseason career speaks for itself, 19 wins and five World Series rings. However, his health was a big question mark for the Yankees as they began their 28th title quest this October.

Well, once again ageless Andy answered the call and fired seven innings of two run ball on Thursday, good enough for the Yankees potent offense and emerging postseason hero Granderson along with Lance Berkman. The Bombers went on to win 5-2, thus taking a commanding two game lead in this best of five series against the Twins.

The third leg of the tripod rotation is 18 game winner Hughes, who will get the ball on Saturday night at Yankee Stadium, trying to punch his team’s ticket to the ALCS and move them one step closer to a World Series repeat.

Although we will have to wait and see how Hughes does, it is safe to say that Joe Girardi is seriously considering whether or not to go with a three man rotation throughout the entire postseason, and I believe the answer is yes.

A.J. Burnett doesn’t know where he is right now both physically and mentally, and after a season riddled with inconsistency (along with cut hands and a mysterious black eye) the best place for him is on the bench right now.

Javier Vazquez has also been inconsistent and far too prone to the homerun ball to pitch at Yankee Stadium, or anywhere else for that matter, plus he has lost the “zip” on his fastball, so I don’t think he is a viable option for starting.

You could make cases for others, but would any other pitcher be better starting than Sabathia, Pettitte, or Hughes? Even if they are on three day’s rest, they give the Yankees the best chance to win every night.

With Pettitte seemingly healthy and in his classic postseason form and Sabathia earning every penny of his contract, along with a young arm in Hughes, the Yankees have to go with a three man playoff rotation once again this year.

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4 Responses to Dandy Andy: If Pettitte Is Healthy Yankees Should Stick With Three Man Rotation

  1. smurfy says:

    There may be two flies in the ointment:

    first, would the two 7 game series require Andy or Phil to pitch on short rest? Don't think that would be wise.

    second, this preordained approach to Phil's innings limit, that the postseason is irrelevant seems like baloney to me.

    Porcello, Verlander, Hamels are three recent examples of the efficacy of Verducci's Rule. Don't want Phil crapped out for a year or two. A single start in each series would seem more wise. Certainly not short rest.

  2. Lucas Weick says:

    Andy pitched on short rest last year and the Yankees are most likely going to need him to do the same this year, which I think would be fine considering all the time he had off in the second half due to his groin, which seems heatlthy. Now if he is not fully physically able then he shoudln't be pitching on short rest if at all, but I think his performance on Thursday quieted a lot of those concerns and I have no problem seeing him on short rest over Burnett or Vazquez.

    As far as Hughes goes, I think the Yankees are going to let him go as far as he can in the postseason without restricting his innings. I mean if the Yanks are up 9-2 in the fifth inning they might pull him, but he won 18 games this year and had some very strong starts in big games down the stretch. Maybe the Yankees were resricting his regular season innings so that he could pitch all out in October, who knows?

    And the three pitchers you mentioned are very different cases than Hughes. Verlander, for one throws in the high 90s on a consistant basis and Hughes is usually in the low 90s with his fastball and cutter, so they aren't really the same pitcher at all.

    Porcello was rushed to the big leagues and thrust into the starting rotation at age 20, while Hughes has slowly been moved into the rotation now at age 24. There is a big difference between a 20 year old rookie and a 24 year old who has worked his way up through the minors for several years, since he was drafted in 2004 to be exact.

    Cole Hamels had a slump year 2009, but he pitched a massive total of 262 innings in the regular and postseason combined in 2008. Hughes pitched 176 innings this year in the regular season, so there is no chance his total for 2010 would come even near the 262 innings Hamels had to labor through in 2008.

    So I think Hughes will be fine if he pitches, even on short rest, but of course only time will tell.

  3. smurfy says:

    Okay, okay, go for it! Good arguments, Lucas, and I know Phil is up for it. Betcha AJ will do some spectacular relief.

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