Setting up the playoff rotation


With the Rangers’ loss to the Mariners last night, the Yanks’ magic number to clinch a playoff spot dropped to nine and their Magic Percentage hit 23.7. No longer are we worried that the Yanks won’t make the playoffs.

To that end, the Yankees can begin to set their postseason rotation. While their top three pitchers all have the ability to throw gems, the Yankees have to ensure that their pitchers are both ready for the postseason and well-rested for the postseason. We’ve seen A.J. Burnett struggle lately, and while Andy Pettitte and CC Sabathia are rolling, keeping these two horses fresh and feeling good are of utmost importance right now.

If we take a look at the Yanks’ final 18 games and the way the pitching rotation shapes down, it appears as though the Yanks won’t have to juggle the starts. Take a look:

Date Game Pitcher
Sept. 11 vs. Bal Pettitte
Sept. 12 vs. Bal Burnett
Sept. 13 vs. Bal Sabathia
Sept. 14 vs. LAA Chamberlain
Sept. 15 vs. Tor Gaudin
Sept. 16 vs. Tor Pettitte
Sept. 17 Off Day  
Sept. 18 @Sea Burnett
Sept. 19 @Sea Sabathia
Sept. 20 @Sea Chamberlain
Sept. 21 @LAA Gaudin
Sept. 22 @LAA Pettitte
Sept. 23 @LAA Burnett
Sept. 24 Off Day  
Sept. 25 vs. Bos Sabathia
Sept. 26 vs. Bos Chamberlain
Sept. 27 vs. Bos Gaudin
Sept. 28 vs. KC Pettitte
Sept. 29 vs. KC Burnett
Sept. 30 vs. KC Sabathia
Oct. 1 Off Day  
Oct. 2 vs. TB Chamberlain
Oct. 3 vs. TB Gaudin
Oct. 4 vs. TB Pettitte
Oct. 5 Off Day  
Oct. 6 Off Day  
Oct. 7 ALDS (A) 1 Sabathia
Oct. 8 ALDS (B) 1 Sabathia
Oct. 9 LDS 2 Pettitte/Burnett
Oct. 10 Off Day  
Oct. 11 ALDS 3 Burnett/Pettitte

What jumps out at me is the number of off-days the Yanks have until the playoffs begin. This is, in reality, one of their hidden advantages right now. While the Yankees have 18 games left until the ALDS, the Red Sox, Angels and Tigers all have 20 each to play. A well-rested pitching staff can be a big weapon in the postseason, and by taking advantage of the days off and a comfortable lead, the Yanks stand to have just that.

So if the Yankees keep their pitchers on the current rotation, the team doesn’t have to change a thing to line everyone up for the postseason. Should we be worried, though, about pitchers getting too much rest? While last year, CC Sabathia threw three straight starts, including his NLDS Game 1 start, on three days of rest, this year, CC could be starting game 1 on six or even seven day’s rest. If Pettitte gets the Game 2 ball, he’ll have a full four days and Burnett will have 11 days off. If Burnett gets the Game 2 ball, he’ll have eight days off and Pettitte six.

The Yankees will probably want to go with Pettitte in Game 2 if the game is at Yankee Stadium because lefties enjoy a bit of advantage at the new park as they did the old. With that in mind, the team could juggle the rotation later in the season. Sergio Mitre or even Alfredo Aceves could take a spot start to make sure Burnett and Sabathia aren’t throwing in the playoffs after an extended layoff.

I, though, would rather see the team gives these guys some rest. With three starts left, Sabathia won’t approach his 250 innings he threw last year, but he should reach 230 IP. Burnett will probably top 200 innings for the second year in a row, and it will be the first time in his career he has reached the double century mark in back-to-back season. Rest at the end of the year can only help them.

Of course, if these are the Yanks’ most pressing concerns, they’re in good shape for the stretch drive. They will live and die by their pitching in October, and keeping everyone feeling good now will pay off next month.

Categories : Playoffs


  1. A.D. says:

    Excellent seeing things fall into place.

  2. OmgZombies! says:

    When Jobbers bad is he AJ Burnett bad? Depending on how the next couple starts go I will be inclined to go


    For the playoff rotation.

    • AndrewYF says:

      AJ as the fourth starter? Stop.


        • OmgZombies! says:

          Wtf does this even mean? Seriously? It would be better if you said oven or something.

            • OmgZombies! says:

              Usually with a microwave you set the time so why would anyone scream at the microwave that its taking too long?

              Its not a joke its a bad attempt a new meme

              • Chris says:

                It’s an old meme… I think it started during the Santana trade discussions

              • It’s like you get the joke and don’t get the joke at the same time, and you don’t get that you kinda get the joke. It’s really quite interesting and awesome.

                (And you’re just new to the meme, that meme is much older in RAB-years than you are.)

                • Mattingly's Love Child says:

                  Where did this meme come from? I’ve obviously seen it here since I start showing up last winter, and I have what I think it means, but where the hell did it come from?

                • I don’t know when he originally said it, but maybe TSJC does. It’s funny for someone to accuse him of trying to start a new meme with that one, it’s probably one of the most popular/enduring memes around here.

                • Mattingly's Love Child says:

                  Well I remember when I 1st started hanging around these parts, I was like WTF. But the memes definitely make this blog much more fun than most that I look at.

                • It came merely from the inner workings of my twisted and addled brain. It references no work of art, television, or cinema. Just my own pointed non-sequitur.

                  I have had numerous non-baseball and non-RAB related discussions with people, lamenting the current microwave culture of American life. We often want all our problems solved immediately and want to be entertained endlessly; soon is not soon enough. As it relates to RAB, it’s just me lampooning the habit of Yankee fans demanding instant and total perfection, especially with young players. I began using it in reference to the prospect watching where, if, for example, Joba and Phil aren’t Cy Young contenders from the moment they throw their first ML pitch, or Brackman struggles to get his command while relearning how to pitch, something is somehow horribly and fatally wrong.

                  Things take time, and yet there are people (and not just young people; see below) impatient with even the most rapid progression of events, such as the interminably, insufferably long wait necessary to microwave a burrito for 2 minutes at a 7-11.

                  A mildly-humorous side-story: Several years ago I was at a conference of college students at a high-rise hotel in Chicago. When the sessions let out at 5 pm, invariably the thousands of collegians would then mob the elevator lobbies, waiting to get up to their rooms to change to go out and hit the city, causing a huge backup. One night, we’re sitting there in that elevator lobby when an older couple (in their 50′s) is waiting with us, and the gentleman is obviously annoyed that he’s being forced to wait several minutes for the backlog to clear at the elevators. He loudly says, “What the F#$% is taking so long!?!” A moment passes, and I deadpan to my buddy, loud enough for the whole area to hear, “You know, in Russia, people wait in line for bread… for DAYS.” Everyone starts snickering at him under our breath. Saw that guy two or three more times during the weekend, and he always got red in the face.

                  So, it short, I’m an asshole.

                • Mattingly's Love Child says:

                  So, it short, I’m an asshole.

                  IETC because I’m also an admitted asshole. Probably part of the reason I enjoy this blog so much.

                  But thank you for the background/story/etc.

                  That was my own thought, everyone wants something, and they want it 10 minutes ago. Glad I haven’t been completely off-base.

                • You figured out the burrito meme. Congrats, you’re a fucking genius.

                  (Also an asshole.)

                • Mattingly's Love Child says:


      • OmgZombies! says:

        When AJ has a bad game hes downright terrible. He taken his team out of the game offensively a good number of times throughout the season. Imagine in the playoffs he has one of his bad games and the Yanks are down 6-0 in the second. Jobas has had a lot of bad outings but AJ has alot of horrible games.

    • Unless A.J. turns 2006 Josh Towers bad, he should be no lower than the third starter.

      • Chris says:

        Eh… he’s got a point. Joba has allowed more than 5 runs in 2 games this year. AJ has allowed more than 5 runs in 5 games. This isn’t a matter of AJ pitching deeper in games either – his longest outing of more than 5 runs was 5.1 innings. AJ has also allowed 5 runs 3 times to Joba’s 2.

        Maybe Girardi will have a quicker hook in the post season, but as they’ve been used in the regular season Joba is more likely to keep us in the game than AJ.

  3. 4 more starts for Joba. He’s currently at roughly 3 IP/60 pitches now…

    Sept. 14 vs. LAA – 4/5 IP, 80 pitches
    Sept. 20 @Sea – 4/6 IP, 100 pitches
    Sept. 26 vs. Bos – no cap, just refine and prep
    Oct. 2 vs. TB – no cap, just refine and prep

    Too aggressive? Sound right? I’d like to give Joba the two home starts against two AL East opponents to let it all hang out and just go be a normal starter without worrying about anything, just prove your worthiness for the Game 4 start that will never happen since we’re sweeping the Tigers (or Rangers) in 3.

    • the artist formerly known as (sic) says:

      sheesh, he’s getting close to the innings limit. at 139.1 right now.

      • So, 4 more starts, at let’s say 4 IP, 5 IP, 6 IP, 7 IP… That’s 22 more innings.

        That takes him to 161.1 for the regular season. 170-175 including the playoffs, maybe.

        More than I’d like, but we’re locked into our present course of action at this point.

        All the more reason to sweep all three postseason series: So that Joba only pitches the clinching Game 4′s of the ALCS and WS, and has only 12 postseason IP and no more.

    • Makavelli says:

      Do you think all of this flipping and flopping is going to effect Joba for the playoffs?

      Joba was fine when he was on regular rest and he’ll presumably be “let loose” in the playoffs during his starts…but do you think the regular rest with decent pitch count to sporadic rest with somewhat limited pitch count to only 3 innings and 60 pitches is going to ultimately effect his ability to feel comfortable out there?

    • Makavelli says:

      My previous post wasn’t necessarily in response to you’re post…but a question as to if your post DIDN’T happen…what do you think about Joba…

    • Makavelli says:

      But I love those “No Cap. Just refine and prep” starts before the playoffs. I think that is going to be key for his potential playoff starts. Only I think not playing in the ALDS and having all that rest until his first start of the post season might hurt him…

  4. alex gonzalez says:

    i am all for any of those rotation setups. as long as i never have to see mitre start another game this year.

  5. Makavelli says:

    Pettitte has a 3.52 ERA on the Road and a 4.69 ERA at Home. While AJ Burnett has a 3.65 ERA at Home and a 5.12 ERA on the Road.

    So it wouldn’t make much sense to pitch Pettitte at Home where he’s much worse…and pitch AJ on the Road…where he’s much worse. Regardless of how bad AJ is right now…why make Pettitte worse too?? And if AJ were to come back to form…wouldn’t he have a better chance at Home where he was seemingly more comfortable all year??

  6. “What jumps out at me are the number of off-days the Yanks have until the playoffs begin.”

    I thought for a split second that Steve Lombardi wrote a guest post for RAB.

  7. Kiersten says:

    If the Yankees take the B series, Pettitte should be the 3rd starter because Game 3 is more important than Game 2. But if they take the A series, then I would rather see Pettitte than Burnett in Game 5.

  8. Raf says:

    of course I’d like to see the top of the rotation resting up before the playoffs but hopefully it’s not too much. seems like the wild card teams would have a bit of an advantage due to playing hard through the end of the season compared to a team that takes the final two weeks easy. wouldn’t want to see the Yankees go into the playoffs flat.

  9. Tom Zig says:

    One would have thought that AJ Burnett pitching on extended rest would be a bad idea…the stats say otherwise;t=p#dr

  10. The whole point of September baseball is redundancy.

    Redundancy is good. Redundantly good. In other words, it’s good to have redundancy, and we have redundancy here. Which is good.

  11. Charlie says:

    wow, both my comments are all gone

  12. [...] while ten days ago, I set up the playoff rotation, let’s reset [...]

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