October 27, 2009, 5:04 pm

Yankees May Use a Three-Man Rotation

The New York Yankees
Phillies - Bats Blog

The matchups for the first three games of the World Series are set. C.C. Sabathia will face Cliff Lee in Game 1, A.J. Burnett will oppose Pedro Martinez in Game 2, and Andy Pettitte will draw Cole Hamels in Game 3. The Yankees’ plans for Game 4 are less clear.

The Yankees seem likely to go back to the same three starters for Games 4, 5 and 6, with Sabathia ready for a potential seventh game.

“We feel good about all of them going on short rest,” said the pitching coach Dave Eiland. “If we see something that we don’t feel comfortable with, we won’t do it. It’s an option, but I’m not saying that’s what we’re going to do. We haven’t ruled it out, but we haven’t set it in stone.”

Teams rarely use only three starters in the World Series anymore. The San Diego Padres were the last to do it, in 1998, when Kevin Brown started twice in a four-game sweep by the Yankees.

But the Yankees’ options are limited. The only other pitcher who could start would be Chad Gaudin, who has worked one inning in the postseason and threw a simulated game Tuesday. Joba Chamberlain made 29 starts in the regular season but has shifted to short relief.

Sabathia started on three days’ rest in the American League Championship Series and threw eight strong innings to beat the Angels. Burnett and Pettitte have not pitched on short rest all season, but they seem strong.

“We had the luxury of having several off days in September, and then we clinched relatively early as well, so we were able to get guys out earlier in games because we’d already clinched,” Eiland said. “Most of our starters got an extra day all of September, so they were very well rested.”


  1. 1. October 27, 2009 5:13 pm Link

    Wrong decision. I would start Gaudin for game 5. There is no need to start anyone except CC on short rest. Gauding has proved to be more than equal to handle the task. Whats more, he would not be required to throw a shutout but just to keep the game close until we get to the battle of bullpens. He is definitely capable of doing that. I have more trust in Gaudin than I have in Joba.

    — NS
  2. 2. October 27, 2009 5:14 pm Link

    Welcome back, Pedro.

    — Dad
  3. 3. October 27, 2009 5:46 pm Link

    This will probably work for the WS – there’s plenty of time for CC and AJ to rest afterwards – they don’t have to report to Spring training until February!

    And since this is likely Andy’s Last Hurrah – so he can certainly pitch his arm off if need be.

    Whatever happens in the WS – I think Brian Cashman has his marching orders for the off season. Find another couple of starters! One to replace Andy and another to be “the fourth” in case Wang is washed up altogether.

    Oh, and don’t even get me started about Joba – a life sentence in the ‘pen would be best for him and the Yankees!

    — George
  4. 4. October 27, 2009 6:01 pm Link

    Signs of panic and desperation before the first pitch. Nice!

    — kevin h
  5. 5. October 27, 2009 6:02 pm Link

    In 2001 Curt Schilling started games 1, 4 and 7; Randy Johnson started 2 and 6 (not 5), then came in as a reliever to get the last four outs and win at the end of game 7.

    — Tom T.
  6. 6. October 27, 2009 7:25 pm Link

    luv to see them go to a 2 man rotation!! many years ago (the phillies) had SPAHN AND SAIN;then prayed for RAIN. sure hope they keep the roof;open

    NYT editor: Those were the Braves.

    — franklin
  7. 7. October 27, 2009 7:36 pm Link

    Really kevin h? Contemplation of options = panic/desperation? Geeze.

    Get me off your ship quick, where all is good & nothing need be considered, because I’m either in heaven (where I don’t belong) or sailing with a lunatic.

    Oh wait, maybe you’re a Phils fan reading tea leaves, trying to do some voodoo. Is that how your team wins? Cool.

    — Carlos
  8. 8. October 27, 2009 7:38 pm Link

    It makes tremendous sense for New York to go with a three-man rotation for the World Series.The Yankees have won seven of nine playoff games with a rotation of C.C. Sabathia, A.J. Burnett, and Andy Pettitte.The starters do not have to throw complete games for New York to win.The Yanks have the deepest and best relief corps in baseball.The team’s 110 wins in the regular season and postseason manifest this.New York has its best chance winning the World Series utilizing its three-man starting rotation.

    — Shawn Hussey
  9. 9. October 27, 2009 7:44 pm Link

    Re: 2001 that’s still 4 pitchers, not 3. The game 3 and 5 starters were different guys. Tyler said nobody has gone with 3 pitchers since 1998, and he’s right.

    — harvey walton
  10. 10. October 27, 2009 8:02 pm Link

    If I recall correctly, during the 60’s, the Phillies had their version of Spahn and Sain and that was Bunning and Short.

    — JimK
  11. 11. October 27, 2009 8:21 pm Link

    There was something close to a two-man rotation in 1903, generally thought of as the first World Series.

    It was a best 5 of 9 format. Boston Americans defeated Pittsburgh Pirates, getting 5th win in 8th game.

    For Boston, Cy Young and Bill Dinneen each pitched four games, except that Tom Hughes pitched the first couple of innings of game 3 before being pulled for Cy Young. So Cy Young pitched game 1, most of game 3, game 5 and game 7; Bill Dinneen pitched 2, 4, 6 and 8. This is all without relief except for game 3.

    The Pittsburgh side was a little more complicated, but Deacon Phillippe pitched 5 of the 8 games without relief: games 1, 3, 4, 7 and 8. He won the first three, but lost the last two.

    It’s a good story, with Baseball Almanac quoting Cy Young as saying, “I thought I had to show all my stuff and I almost tore the boards off the grandstand with my fastball.” – – but I am sure Tyler and Elias have even better ones.

    Cy Young’s quote makes me think of Sandy Koufax.

    — Tom T.
  12. 12. October 27, 2009 8:54 pm Link

    George, I agree that the Yankees will (sadly) need to look for replacements for Pettitte and Wang. I don’t expect Andy to pitch for us next year–especially if we win the World Series.

    The situation with Wang is incredibly sad and I can’t see the Yankees keeping him when his physical condition is so uncertain.

    — Liz I.
  13. 13. October 27, 2009 8:58 pm Link

    I don’t understand why they are saying this is a sign of panic. The Yankees have 3 great starters, not 4. It’s not that big a deal for them to get one start on short rest. It really doesn’t make sense to go with 4 starters in this case. It’s not panic it’s just common sense.

    — Rob A from BBD
  14. 14. October 27, 2009 8:59 pm Link

    I don’t understand why Girardi hasn’t used Gaudin more. And why he keeps Robertson quiet unless he’s hurt.

    — David
  15. 15. October 27, 2009 9:22 pm Link

    We all know CC’s record on three days’ rest. What about AJ and Andy? I would not go this route unless we are really comfortable that they can handle such an assignment. I assume that we are talking about, e.g., a combined AJ-Gaudin start in game 5; ask AJ to pitch 4-5 innings maximum, and then hand it over the Gaudin. He seems capable of handling this, but Joe knows best.

    Of course “pray for rain” is not such a low probability approach either at this time of year. Let’s see what the weather is like and whether we don’t get an extra day’s rest for our starters during the course of the series!

    GO YANKS!!!!!!

    — bill in beijing
  16. 16. October 27, 2009 10:16 pm Link

    Before reading this, I would’ve thought they would use 3 pitchers instead of 4 anyway. Gaudin??? Please. His name hasn’t come up twice in the postseason.

    Joba obviously can’t pull it off with where his head’s at. I think limiting him to 4 or 5 innings during the second half of the season was a joke anyway. “Ok Joba, you can’t win it for us, but you CAN! lose it for us. Go get ‘em kid.”

    The team would be beyond lucky to have a replacement for Rivera two years down the line, and since most people thought they would be grooming Joba for the role this season, they might as well do it next.

    The reason nobody uses 3 pitchers anymore is because only the Yankees can afford 3 of “this” “caliber.” Pettitte for $5 million?!?! Deal of the decade. Burnett? um….no. He can’t be counted on to dominate Game 2 which is why C.C. best win game one.

    — worst_1_yet
  17. 17. October 27, 2009 11:51 pm Link

    Hey Bill in Beijing. Where you going to be watching the games? I’ll be at Frank’s Place wearing my Jimmy Rollins jersey. Should be a great series. Go Phils!

    — David Cantalupo
  18. 18. October 28, 2009 9:29 am Link

    I think they should be fine going one start on 3 days rest. Pettitte and Burnett are both veterans, and they will have all winter to recover. I’m still hoping Andy comes back in 2010. Go Yankees!!!

    — Kevin
  19. 19. October 28, 2009 4:01 pm Link

    No need to decide now who the game 4 and 5 starters will be. I wonder if whether you’re up 3-0, going with Gaudin in game 4 is better, because you know the next time you roll out CC in a potential clincher, he’s really going to be ready. You could argue it both ways I’m sure.

    Joba clearly has to stay in the bullpen. David (no. 14 above) has got it right regarding Robertson — not sure why he isn’t used more. If a starter needs to come out in the fourth, fifth, or sixth, he is definitely the guy I would go to.

    Like others above I have the same feeling we could be watching Andy Pettitte’s final run. As he is my favorite player, I’d love it if he came back, but for whatever reason I get the sense he won’t if they win it. He’s had a great year, and nothing would please me more than his making an essential contribution to a Yankees title. in fact I might even prefer a little extra stress and tension and a Yankee loss or two if that makes the games he starts that much more important.

    — Sean Burke

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Tyler Kepner

Tyler KepnerKepner, who had covered the Yankees for The Times since 2002, is in his first year as the national baseball reporter. He joined The Times in 2000 as the Mets beat writer. A native of Philadelphia and a graduate of Vanderbilt University, Kepner has also covered the Angels for the Riverside Press-Enterprise in California and the Mariners for the Seattle Post-Intelligencer. He lives in Connecticut with his wife and their four children. Follow Kepner on Twitter.

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Ben ShpigelBen Shpigel is in his first year as the Yankees beat writer. He had covered the Mets for The Times since 2005. Before then, he was a staff writer for the Dallas Morning News for two years. He also worked at The News Journal in Wilmington, Del., and for the Atlanta Journal-Constitution. Shpigel received a bachelor's degree in English and journalism from Emory University and a master's degree in journalism from Columbia University. He and his wife, Rebecca, live in New Jersey. Follow Shpigel on Twitter.

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Waldstein is in his first season as the Mets beat writer. He came to The Times after nine years at The Star-Ledger of Newark, where he covered the Mets under Bobby Valentine and Art Howe. He was born and grew up in Boston and is married with three children.

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Ken BelsonBelson covers the business of sports after many years of writing about the business of practically everything else for the Times, Business Week, Reuters and Bloomberg. During his 12 years living in Tokyo, he wrote about baseball, kick boxing, marathon running and football in Japan. Since returning to the United States, he managed to persuade his wife, who grew up near the Yomiuri Giants' old stadium, to find it in herself to root for the Mets.

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Justin SablichSablich has produced news and multimedia for The New York Times since July 2006 after earning a master’s degree in new media from the S.I. Newhouse School of Public Communications at Syracuse University. He was born in Binghamton, N.Y. and resides in Queens. Sablich is still traumatized from his first trip to Yankee Stadium as a child when the Yankees starter Tim Leary was torched by the White Sox for 7 runs in one and two-thirds innings on Old-Timers' Day, July 15, 1990.

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