Why I'd pitch CC in Game 4

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Going into the top of the ninth inning, it was 2-0 Rangers, and Cliff Lee was dominating. I was prepared to just be "Lee pitched a helluva game, nothing you can do about that." But then that monstrosity of a 9th inning happened and really pissed me off. You can't let a team score tack-on runs, especially 6 of them, in the playoffs. We all know that the Yankees can score in bunches to win games in the late innings (see: Game 1) but not when they're down 8. If it's a 2-0 loss, you just tip your hat and come back the next day, but 8-0 leaves a bad taste in your mouth.

Then there's the AJ Burnett situation. Joe Girardi immediately told the media Burnett is starting tomorrow. I disagree with this decision 100%. The Rangers are throwing Tommy Hunter, who gave up 3 runs in 6 innings against the Rays in the ALDS, but isn't in the same ballpark, zipcode, state, country, or even continent of Cliff Lee. The Yankees should (if they wake up) hit him well. But do you really want to have to try to win a 10-9 game with Burnett pitching? I say they throw CC to shut down the Rangers and tie this thing up 2-2.

John disagrees with me (which, believe it or not, actually happens from time to time.) His concern (and I have to admit, it is a valid one) is that if CC loses, do you really want AJ pitching Game 5 down 3-1? The answer to that is obviously no. But, to me, it's like when a pitcher's pitching in a tough spot; when they have the option between their best pitch and their fourth-best pitch, they pick their best pitch every time (or at least they're supposed to). If you are going to get beat, you have to lose with your best. If the Yanks go down 3-1 with CC on the mound, at least you know they weren't screwing around went all in and they play "all hands on deck" the rest of the way. If AJ loses, sure you have CC to pitch Game 5, but you still have to win 3 games in a row, 2 of them on the road.

The reason CC isn't starting this game outright is Girardi and the Yankees don't want to use Hughes and Pettitte (who also pitched a helluva game tonight) on 3 day's rest. Hughes because he's already thrown a lot more innings than he ever has and Pettitte because he was injured most of the second half. Here's my solution to that: CC pitches Game 4 and wins. AJ starts Game 5 with Hughes ready to come out of the bullpen for 2, maybe 3 innings (it would be his throw day), you go Pettitte Game 6, and CC Game 7, if necessary. I would still throw Pettitte on 3 days rest for a few reasons: 1) I think his performances so far in the postseason prove he's healthy, 2) the Yankees have no long-term investment in him. I know it's not a nice thing to think about, but Pettitte's contract is up after the season, and he's been hinting at retirement for about 5 years now. If something happens to Pettitte, he just goes off quietly into the sunset waiting for his number to be retired and possibly be inducted into the Hall of Fame. Chances are that's what is going to happen anyway.

Now, this is baseball, so AJ could channel his inner Sandy Koufax tomorrow and pitch a gem and make me come back tomorrow night and eat my words. I hope to the Great Yankee Fan in the Sky that happens, but I'm not going to hold my breath.



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