Monday, October 19, 2009

It's Official: CC To Start Game Four

Good morning Fackers. Well, that was one helluva weekend. Outside of the Giants getting blown out in Nawlins yesterday I don't know that we could have asked for anything more.

In the least surprising news of the weekend, Joe Girardi made it official last night: CC Sabathia will start Tuesday's Game Four of the ALCS on three days rest. This, and the improbable holding out of the storm system on Friday and Saturday, will allow the Yankees to use only three starters over the course of the series, with Sabathia's Game Four start being the only made on short rest.

A talking point entering the post-season was Sabathia's poor post-season track record with Cleveland in 2007 and Milwaukee in 2008. Last season, Sabathia made just a single start in the NLDS, lasting only 3.2 innings allowing ten baserunners and five earned runs.

Sabathia's outstanding performance in two starts this post-season has done much to alleviate those concerns. Last season's poor performance could be chalked up to being just one poor start, or it could have been because Milwaukee whipped Sabathia like the rented mule he was down the stretch. He made his final four starts, including his NLDS disaster, on three days rest. While the final one didn't work out too well, Sabathia was excellent in the previous three: 2-1 with a 0.83 ERA, a 0.88 WHIP, and 21:4 K:BB in 21.2 IP. In 2001, the rookie Sabathia made the only other start of his career on three days rest, giving up just one run, one hit, two walks, and fanning five in five innings work.

While Sabathia pitched 230 innings this year, sixth most in baseball, the Yankees handled him pretty well. Thirteen of his thirty-four starts came with at least one extra day of rest, including his final four regular season outings. Thanks to the sweep of the Twins in the ALDS, by the time Sabathia takes the mound Tuesday he'll have thrown just 226 pitches over the previous seventeen days. Asking him to make one start on short rest should not be taxing in any way.

Anything can happen in a given start. But if CC lays an egg Tuesday it won't because he's pitching on short rest and it won't be because Joe Girardi chose to run him out for the eighth inning Friday night. Pitching Sabathia in Game Four is the right decision.

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