HAS JOE GIRARDI PUT THE YANKEES ON THE BRINK OF … DEFEAT?

                                                                                    Kallas Remarks by Steve Kallas

For those (including this writer) who wanted Chad Gaudin to start Game 5 of the World Series for the Yankees, it really wasn’t about starting Chad Gaudin. It was about NOT starting A.J. Burnett on short rest. That was because, if Burnett started Game 5 on short rest, that would then make Andy Pettitte start on short rest in Game 6 and, if the Yankees lost both games, that would have CC Sabathia start Game 7 on short rest (although he’s probably the most capable of doing it and that was the plan all along).

WHY NOT GAUDIN?

Well, Joe Girardi said that he “didn’t want to put Gaudin in that spot,” that he hadn’t pitched in a long time and that he thought his pitchers could go on short rest.

Yankee fans are now praying that he’s right.

Chad Gaudin had last pitched against the Angels on October 20 (13 days before Game 5) and threw a 1-2-3 inning against the Angels at the end of that Game 4, 10-1 C.C. Sabathia win. Prior to that, Gaudin had pitched a scoreless inning-and-a-third in relief against Tampa Bay on October 3. His last start had been a win against Kansas City on September 28, where he gave up two earned runs and four hits in six-and-two-thirds innings to raise his starting record to 2-0 as a Yankee.

With Cliff Lee pitching on full rest, this was enough of a resume to give Gaudin a start. Again, not cause he “deserved” it, but because it would set up the Yankee rotation for the last two games if they lost Game 5.

WHAT WOULD BE THE YANKEE PROBLEM IF GAUDIN HAD STARTED?

Maybe this factored into the decision: If Gaudin starts Game 5, then A.J. Burnett starts Game 6 on full rest. But, then, assuming the Yankees lost both of those games, Joe Girardi would have another difficult decision to make: start all-time post-season wins leader Pettitte on full rest or stud, number one pitcher C.C. Sabathia on short rest. You have to wonder as to whether or not the Yankees would be reluctant to skip Pettitte to start Sabathia (which would be the logical choice) in the deciding Game 7.

Interesting question, no?

BACK TO GAME 5

So Burnett gets hammered, lasts two innings and, despite a late Yankee comeback, the Phillies hold on for an 8-6 win and send the Series back to New York. Joe Girardi’s quote after the game? “If we could have pitched today, we probably could have one.” Well, that’s a stretch because Cliff Lee wasn’t the same pitcher with an 8-2 lead as when he was in a close game. We’ll never know what would have happened if anybody else had started but it was a longshot to believe the Yankees would win Game 5.

Did A.J. Burnett pitch poorly because he pitched on short rest? Again, we’ll never know. Sometimes you get the good A.J., sometimes you get the bad A.J. But know this: it didn’t help him.

YANKEES STILL THE FAVORITES

You still have to like the Yankees chances to win this series. The Phillies have their own pitching problems. While Pedro was excellent against the Yankees in Game 2, he should have a tougher time in Game 6. The Yankees should be looking more for off-speed stuff and have a better chance to do some damage after seeing Pedro in Game 2. Plus, the Phillies late bullpen is now a mystery: Brad Lidge imploded in Game 4 and, at the end of Game 5, Lidge wasn’t called upon because Charlie Manuel “wanted to give Lidge a break tonight.” Even that quote was bizarre because, when reliever Ryan Madson came into the game in the ninth and got into trouble, Brad Lidge was out in the bullpen warming up. Frankly, the Philies don’t know what to do (fortunately for the Phillies, they didn’t listen to Fox commentator Ozzie Guillen who said that he would close with Lidge “because he’s pitched well all year.” Nobody told American League manager Guillen that Lidge led the majors with 11 blown saves in 2009. Good grief).

Also, who’s going to start Game 7 for the Phillies? Has Cole Hamels gone home mentally? Is there anyone in Philadelphia who can go deep into the game? Will Cliff Lee start on two days rest (where have you gone, Sandy Koufax)? Or will he just be available for late in the game (shades of Randy Johnson or, for you historians, Grover Cleveland Alexander)?

In addition, the Yankees line-up will be much stronger with the return of Hideki Matsui (a home run and a huge single in three pinch-hitting appearances in Philadelphia) and Jorge Posada for the whole game.

It says here that the Yankees will win it, probably in seven games. But don’t forget, C.C. Sabathia was eventually no good last year after pitching the Brewers to the playoffs with a number of starts on three days rest. If this goes seven games, Sabathia will be going on three days rest for the third time. Not as bad as last year, but you never know.

Much like Bob Brenley extended the 2001 World Series with some questionable decisions and gave the Yankees a good chance to win a Series they should have lost in six games, Joe Girardi may have given the Phillies an opportunity to win the 2009 World Series in seven games.

We’ll see what happens.

© Copyright 2009 by Steve Kallas. All rights reserved.

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One response to “HAS JOE GIRARDI PUT THE YANKEES ON THE BRINK OF … DEFEAT?

  1. Steve-would love to have you as a call-in guest soon..Email me when you get a chance..
    ~Bob

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