I’ve just received word that with the upcoming day off on Monday, the Yankees have elected to switch around their starting rotation – no doubt to impact who will pitch against the Red Sox in the all-important 4-game series in the Bronx that starts Thursday August 6.
Joba Chamberlain had been scheduled to open the first of a two game series in Toronto on Tuesday, but instead will enjoy an extra two days off before pitching the opener of the Red Sox series on Thursday. This also gives Joba an extra two days off to rest his arm – something the Yankees have been very concerned about – making sure Joba can pitch for a long time and does not fade out early like former young phenoms Kerry Wodd and Mark Prior of the Chicago Cubs.
So instead of Joba and Andy Pettite pitching against Toronto and Sergio Mitre, AJ Burnett, CC Sabathia and Joba pitching against the Red Sox in that order, the new rotation will keep the inexperienced Mitre from facing the powerful Boston lineup.
Instead, the Yankees will pitch Joba in the opener, followed by Burnett, Sabathia and Pettitte. Furthermore, I love what this does for the Red Sox-Yankee pitching matchups. It puts Joba (7-2) against veteran John Smoltz (2-4), who has struggled since coming back from an injury last month and Burnett (10-5) against former Marlins teammate Josh Beckett (13-4).
Bottom line, the Yankees have lost three in a row due to bad pitching. Bad starting pitching, bad relief pitching. In fact, despite the horrid 14-4 loss Saturday, the offense seemed poised for a comeback – but seemed to lose steam after the bullpen couldn’t keep the White Sox lineup in check.
Fortunately, I think things can turn around to the Yankees favor. CC Sabathia is on the mound as I write this and barring an injury, he will eat up at least 6 innings, most likely 7-8 – allowing the bullpen a chance to rest after the last two days of heavy work. Then, the Yankees enjoy a day off on Monday before making the rather easy trip from Chicago to Toronto for an easy two-game set.
Joe Girardi needs to make sure that his bulpen is not overworked going into the Red Sox series. Because I will say that this four game series is going to be an important one for the AL East. The Yankees are 0-8 against the Sox this season and need to take at least 3 of the 4 games to maintain a good lead in the division. Either way, whoever wins this series will most likely be at the top of the division on Monday August 10.