Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Why A.J. Burnett Should Start Game 4 Of The ALCS

There's a lot of discussion going back and forth about who should start game 4 for the Yankees: A.J. Burnett or CC Sabathia on short rest? I personally think it's a no-brainer. They have to go with Burnett. Follow me if you will.

To win the ALCS the Yankees need to win 3 of the next 4 games. Here's a question for you: Do you think the Yankees better off trying to win those 3 by starting Burnett in game 4 and then CC, Phil Hughes and Andy Pettitte on regular rest, or, are they better off trying to go after those 3 wins by pitching just CC, Hughes and Pettitte, with each pitching on short rest? CC I'm sure could handle it, but I'm not so sure that Hughes and Pettitte could.

A.J.'s start is being viewed in the same manner as Cliff Lee's start. Everyone was assuming Lee's start was a slam dunk win for the Rangers, and it was. Everyone is assuming that Burnett's start is going to be a slam dunk loss for the Yankees. Now if that's the case, the Yankees still need those 3 wins to come from the other 3. I think their chances to win those 3 are higher with Hughes and Pettitte pitching on regular rest, than with all of them pitching on short rest with CC getting 2 starts, the last being against a freshly-rested Cliff Lee.

Here's another question for you: Are you confident that CC, Phil and Andy could rattle off 3 straight wins on regular rest with the Yankees being down 3 games to 1? I sure as hell am. I feel so much better about that then having them all go on short rest. Am I alone on this? Maybe not alone but I feel in the minority.

Now, what if Burnett happens to steal game 4? It's certainly possible. He has the stuff to win games. It's by no means a slam dunk that the Yankees will lose game 4 if Burnett starts. I'm totally on board with them using A.J. to win this game and then using CC, Phil and Andy on regular rest to take 2 out of 3. I'll take that over the other option.

Also, just think, if CC pitched and happened to lose tonight, we'd be faced with having a fully-rested A.J., or Phil Hughes on short rest, pitching to keep the season going. No thanks. Now on the flip CC could of course win tonight. Then what? Burnett vs C.J. Wilson or Hughes (short-rest) vs C.J. Wilson? If you say Burnett then you're still probably thinking the Yankees leave NY down 3-2, same as you're thinking with Burnett starting game 4 and CC starting game 5. I wouldn't like the Hughes/Wilson match-up either if they skipped A.J. altogether.

Bottom line, the Yankees need to pitch Burnett this series. It provides them with their best chances to win the series to do it in game 4 than it is to pitch everyone on short rest. As nice as it would be to have another option, they don't. Again, A.J. could surprise and steal this game. The series would be knotted at 2 with a fully-rested Sabathia starting to send it back to Texas. If the Yankees win tonight, they have the momentum back.

that all said, I hope A.J. gets the job done tonight. And if he doesn't I'm still not sweating it. CC, Andy and Phil are very capable of pitching this team to 3 straight victories. I'm confident that whether they're tied at 2 or down 3-1 after tonight they still get it done.

Please let it be 2-2 though.

Peace, love and Pinstripes,