Despite the Yankee loss Monday night in Philly and the atrocious 2 innings pitched by AJ Burnett, I feel Yankees manager Joe Girardi is making the right decisions. Burnett had been 3-0 with a wonderful ERA under 2.00 in his previous starts on three days rest and had been steady this entire postseason.
Burnett struggled for the same reason he has struggled this entire season – control issues. For some reason the strikeout pitcher has thrown a ridiculous amount of wild pitches in 2009, but that did not cost the Yankees the game.
Neither did Burnett’s inability to get almost anyone on the Phillies roster out.
No, the Yankees lost because of Chase Utley. Take away Utley’s 2 home runs and subsequent 4 RBI – and the Yankees win the game 6-4, not lose 8-6.
I write this because I am shocked by the amount of “hate” being thrown at Girardi for his pitching choices. The Yankees took the same risk for Game 5 that they took for Game 2 – because one never knows which AJ Burnett is going to show up on the mound – the one who pitches a 3-hit gem, or the one who allows 5 earned runs in 3 innings.
Again, this was the right call. Girardi said in September that he planned to use a three-man rotation in the post-season. He spent the last two weeks of the season making sure the starters had enough rest to get them through some potential 3-day rests instead of the usual 4-day rests.
Fortunately, this worked out well. The Yankees were able to start CC Sabathia twice in the ALCS – leading to a 4-2 win over the Angels in the best of 7 series. It also set up the prime pitching matchups for the World Series. Sabathia in games 1 and 4, Burnett in games 2 and 5, and Andy Pettitte in games 3 and 6. This puts the very dominating and consistent Sabathia in for Game 7 – who is exactly the guy you want in there if the series goes that far.
I say question Girardi if the Yankees were losing the series. Not if they are up 3-2 with the series shifting back to the Bronx.