Looking at the rotation with veterans Freddie Garcia and Bartolo Colon, an unstable AJ Burnett and Phil Hughes and the young phenom Ivan Nova, the added day-off made sense considering each start was a performance crapshoot.
Garcia and Colon were stumbling a bit, but Burnett was once again a mental case. So, instead of removing AJ from the regular rotation, Girardi added the extra day off hoping to right Burnett for the playoffs.
Problem is that somewhere keeping ace CC Sabathia comfortable get lost in the shuffle? He is easily one of the top 10 pitchers in baseball, and his performance needs got tossed aside so easily.
Sabathia is an unswerving, dependable workhorse who gets better as the season gets deeper. Watching Sabathia over the last three years, I have learned it takes him a few starts in April to get his arm going; and about one start after the All-Star Break to get himself back into his pitching routine.
Basically, Sabathia relies heavily on consistency of schedule and over the last 11 seasons that has been used to pitching every fifth-day.
Since August 1st, Sabathia has made 10 starts and there is no denying that something is not right; as over that time the Yankees finished 5-5, while CC has racked up three losses, four wins and three no-decisions. Sabathia has given up 11 home-runs, compared to six total in the first four months of the season.
Looking at just the month of August, CC made just six starts. He gave up 56 hits, 22 earned runs, posting a 4.68 ERA and batters were hitting .331 against the big lefty. Without question one of the worst months in his career.
Whether you can dock a few of the added days in-between CC’s starts to erratic weather; or just a decision made by Girardi and pitching coach Larry Rothschild is now irrelevant, as it is a fact that CC Sabathia clearly excels from a typical routine.
So my question for the Yankees is why didn’t they work the schedule to make sure Sabathia pitches every fifth day…. no matter what? Call me crazy, but that seemed to be the impression that I got at the beginning of the season.
Bottom line…. Sabathia is this team’s rock, and keeping him sharp on the hill would presumably be a huge priority for the Yankees heading into the postseason.
Unless Girardi and Co. is betting on Burnett righting himself, which would be great but unrealistic. Isn’t a dominant Sabathia better than maybe getting four innings out of Burnett?
What blows my mind is that the Yankee brass had ample time to pull the plug on this six-man rotation test and get Sabathia back on track before the playoffs.
ESPN’s Wallace Matthews reported that Girardi gave this reason about why he never changed CC’s schedule back to normal, “Well, we have to get into the playoffs before I can adjust anyone’s schedule. I’m not making assumptions because we all know what happens when you make assumptions.”
So instead Sabathia is in the middle of a nine days vacation between his last start and this Friday’s Game One of the ALDS; that is unless a simulated game is a solid substitute.
Mike Vorkunov of the Star-Ledger reported that Sabathia did throw a 65 pitch, four-inning simulated game this past Sunday morning. And that CC had this to say about how he went about the ‘fake’ outing:
“Just the normal way I would go about facing righties and lefties,” Sabathia said. “Trying to pitch like I would pitch in a game.”
Well, Girardi and Cashman better hope that their latest rule changing doesn’t throw Sabathia off enough to assume that the team has to put one on the right-side; if you know what I mean.
- Yanks ace Sabathia won’t start ’til ALDS Game 1 (espn.go.com)
- CC Sabathia done for regular season, Phil Hughes a maybe (hardballtalk.nbcsports.com)
- You: AL Manager of the Year: Yankees Manager Joe Girardi Doesn’t Deserve the Award (bleacherreport.com)
- Yanks put ailing Hughes in ‘pen for Rays series (espn.go.com)
- Yankees move ailing Hughes to bullpen (aol.sportingnews.com)
- 10 key issues facing Yankees entering playoffs (nypost.com)
- Mariano recognized for record before Game 1 (mlb.mlb.com)
- Back in ‘pen, Hughes motivated to impress (mlb.mlb.com)