Whether you subscribe to the Rust or Rest factor, the New York Yankees seem set up perfectly to start the ALCS on Friday night whether it’s against the Texas Rangers or Tampa Bay Rays they will visit for Game 1.
That’s because New York is now assured to not have to face either Rangers ace Cliff Lee or Rays No. 1 starter David Price in Game 1 or probably even Game 2. Of course those two are facing off in Game 5 in St. Pete on Tuesday night. It’s quite a drop off to Texas No. 2 C.J. Wilson or Rays No. 2 James Shields or Matt Garza.
One thing will change for New York in the ALCS – it will go to a four-man rotation, which means $82 million man A.J. Burnett will start Game 4. Burnett started this season on fire but finished the last four months of the season with a 4-13 record and ERA over 6.00. He was 1-7 from August on. Last postseason Burnett was 1-1 with 5.27 ERA in five starts, but did win Game 2 of the World Series against the Phillies. Burnett last appeared in a game Oct. 2, when he limited the Red Sox to two runs in six innings at Fenway Park.
CC Sabathia would start Game 1 of the ALCS, followed either by Andy Petttitte or Phil Hughes – manager Joe Girardi might want to go lefty-righty-lefty and thus start Hughes over Pettitte after Sabathia. Against either Texas or Tampa Bay, the Yankees would have to throw Sabathia, Pettitte and Hughes all on short rest in Games 4, 5 and 6 if they chose not to use Burnett (still don’t rule out Sabathia in Game 4 if New York is down in the series). Now they can also possibly bring back Sabathia on three days’ rest for a possible Game 7.
Adding Burnett could subtract an important bat. Jorge Posada usually doesn’t catch Burnett, with Francisco Cervelli catching nearly 70 percent of Burnett’s innings this season, but the 24-year-old catcher said he was unaware whether he would be on the receiving end of Burnett’s pitches in the ALCS. Last season, Girardi chose to have backup catcher Jose Molina catch Burnett in the playoffs. Girardi could choose to use Cervelli at catcher and put Posada at DH.
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