Monday, November 2, 2009

To A.J. Or Not to A.J.

Here's the million dollar question: Do you want A.J. Burnett starting game 5 over Chad Gaudin? I'm not sure myself. There are pros and cons to both and I'm not sure which side has better arguments. This decision could end up proving to be a colossal mistake. It could definitely end up biting the Yankees right in the rear.

The lineup is likely going to be very weak tonight. The 5-9 spots are likely going to consist of Swisher, Cano, Molina, Gardner, and Burnett. Cliff Lee is the Phillies best pitcher and should do very well against a weakened Yankee lineup. A.J. may have to be near-perfect tonight just to keep the team in the game. If Chad Gaudin starts, Jorge Posada would get the start behind the plate and that would make the lineup somewhat formidable. But is a Posada/Gaudin pairing better than a Molina/Burnett pairing when you consider what happens on both sides of the plate? Hard to say. I'm not sure which way I go.

Burnett is also pitching on short rest. He's done that before and he's done it well. If the Yankees fail to close it out tonight, then Andy Pettitte will start game 6 on short rest. Andy hasn't done that in a while and who knows how he'll fare. Are the Yankees better off with Burnett/Pettitte, each on short rest, in games 5 or 6 as opposed to Gaudin/Burnett, both on full rest, in games 5 and 6? Is it better to have Burnett with a weakened lineup start against Cliff Lee as opposed to have Burnett start with a powerful lineup against Pedro Martinez in game 6? Again, hard to say. Again, not sure which way I go. Decisions, decisions, decisions.

I usually have an opinion one way or another on pretty much everything. I'm torn when it comes to this. I am just getting the feeling that using Burnett tonight could be a wasted start. A great pitcher is facing a weak lineup. As I wrote above, A.J. may need to be near perfect just to keep the team in the game. A.J. has to know this. Talk about pressure.

Before the series started though, I was all about the Yankees using a 3-man rotation. But, i didn't really expect them to be up 3-1 when game 5 rolled around. The only way I would ever consider giving Gaudin the ball would be with a 3-1 lead. And here we are. Decisions, decisions, decisions.

There is one solution that would make me feel much better. Start Posada over Molina. That would make the lineup much better and might just give A.J. the ability to recover from a mistake or two. I really think he needs to be near perfect tonight and I'm not sure he will be. I'd hate to see this be a wasted start because the Yankee offense doesn't score. I think that's what I'm more worried about.

What say you? If you're Joe Girardi, who do you start and why? Not sure how much of a response I'll get as 1st pitch is bout 3 hours away, but if you feel so inclined to leave a comment, please do.

This decision could prove to be a colossal mistake. It could blow up in the Yankees face. It could work out. Who knows? If the games were played on paper, it's a no-brainer. Philly is winning game 5. A.J. gives the team it's best chance to win so I'm OK with him getting the start. You never know what'll happen. As John Sterling likes to say, you just can't predict baseball.

Peace, love and Pinstripes,