The Second Guess: CC in the 8th

CC stellar as Yanks grab Game 1
If Theo's so smart, why did he break up the 2004 Sox?

When the 8th inning rolled around last night, the Yanks held a close but comfortable 4-1 lead over the Angels. CC Sabathia had thrown his 98th pitch to strike out Mike Napoli in the 7th, and he left with a fist pump and roar. Would be the Big Man come for an encore?

Indeed, as the Yanks hit in the 7th, no one was warming in their bullpen, and Sabathia came out for a 15-pitch 8th inning. He turned the ball over to Mo and eventually recorded the win. At the time, I thought nothing of it. CC, after all, routinely throws 110+ pitches, and he was rolling. There was just no reason to take him out.

Others covering the team thought otherwise. Let’s take Pete Caldera who was “just wondering” the following:

The Yankees seem to have this game well in hand, have the bullpen rested and ready and for some reason have decided to ride CC Sabathia through eight innings and 113 pitches. While that may not be that odd – it is just a 4-1 game right now – the Yankees have openly spoken of using him three times in this series. Seven innings wasn’t enough?

That’s right; even in a game in which the Yanks silenced the Angels and beat them by a sound three-run margin, Joe Girardi will be second-guessed. I can see why. When managing a playoff series, it’s important to strategize for the entire series as well the game currently being played. The Yankees need to look ahead to wait awaits them down the road while, at the same time, they have to take care of their current business. To start the 8th, the team had a 92.6 percent win probability, and the Yanks’ bullpen — especially in the 8th and 9th innings — is a strength.

I, however, do not believe that leaving Sabathia in was the wrong decision. Erick Aybar, Chone Figgins and Bobby Abreu were 0 for 8 against the lefty so far, and they hadn’t come close to touching him. The Yankees also had to win Game 1, and Sabathia was the known quantity. The Yanks knew how he was throwing, and if he showed signs of trouble in the 8th, they could have warmed up Phil Hughes or even Mariano Rivera in a jiffy.

Girardi does need to look forward to Game 4 and Game 7, but at the same time, he can’t risk turning over Game 1 to a different — and potentially lesser — pitcher than Sabathia because a potential Game 7 looms. Maybe the Yanks make it to Tuesday’s Game 4 up 3-0, and the Yanks don’t need to use Sabathia on short rest. Maybe they do. But last night, they had to win Game 1, and CC Sabathia pitching the 8th gave them their best shot at getting the ball to Mo in the 9th. 113 pitches? That’s nothing for CC.

CC stellar as Yanks grab Game 1
If Theo's so smart, why did he break up the 2004 Sox?
  • Justin R.

    Great post, Ben. I agree totally. Win the game at hand. CC was rolling and the pen was there if he had any trouble in the 8th. Another 10-15 pitches doesn’t ruin him for Game 4.

  • The Lodge

    Agreed. By all accounts CC is feeling fresh as a daisy this october and, although the plan is send him out on short rest, who knows how the weather is going to affect the schedule. Go for the win.

    • ClayBuchholzLovesLaptops


      During the game, I would have taken him out, but Giradi made the right call. Get the first win and care about the other games later. By keeping CC in for the 8th, Hughes should be available for multiple innings today, which is also a plus.

      Regarding game 4, I guess if they lead 3-0, they would ride him hard to secure the sweep. There should be enough rest till the start of the WS. If it’s 2-1 or 1-2, they would probably play it little more safely to keep him somewhat fresh for a potential game 7.

  • Mike HC

    Yea. I agree here as well. I was not sure what Girardi was going to do at the time, but I really thought he could not go wrong either way. An extra 15 or 20 pitches is probably not going to be the difference between a good CC start and a bad one for Game 4.

  • Pickett

    I agree. Now if Burnett can go out in that cold, bat-breaking weather and pitch the game of his life (which is exactly what the moment requires) we’ll have the Angels by the shorthairs. We can’t let this team up off the mat. Burnett needs to put a stake in its heart.

    • Zack

      Why does the moment ask for the game of his life? They’re facing Joe Saunders and they’re up 1-0; AJ just needs to pitch good enough to win.

    • tommiesmithjohncarlos a/k/a Ridiculous Upside

      We can’t let this team up off the mat.

      That team is dead already. This series is already won. We will not be stopped.

      • pete

        no jinx could ever be strong enough

        • tommiesmithjohncarlos a/k/a Ridiculous Upside

          Jinxes are false. They don’t exist.

          Boston just sucked for 86 years.

  • whitey

    With a bullpen this good, would have been nice to keep him under 100 pitches.

    • ClayBuchholzLovesLaptops

      I don’t think CC would have come out with under 100 pitches unless he was giving the ball directly to Mo or finish the game. Had he finished the 7th with about 105, I guess Joe would have gone with Phil to start the 8th.

  • marc resnick

    I completely agree. We all remember what happened when Brenly took out schilling early in the 01 WS to save him for his starts on 3 days rest

  • donttradecano

    Agreed Ben. Win today, worry about tomorrow when it comes.

  • dudes

    Figgins vs LHB: .246/.325/.305
    Figgins vs RHP: .323/.427/.437

    Abreu vs. LHP: .267/.348/.386
    Abreu vs. RHP: .305/.408/.457

    Simple decision really. Don’t know why people are fussing about CC in the 8th.

    • Zack

      Because there’s nothing to complain about last night, so people have to come up with stuff to fill time and room in their column.
      If Joe took him out then he would have a quick trigger, be micromanaging, treating his 290lb 160m pitcher like a baby, etc

  • tommiesmithjohncarlos a/k/a Ridiculous Upside

    This bickering is pointless. Lord Vader will provide us with
    the location of the Rebel fortress by the time this station is
    operational. We will then crush the Rebellion with one swift stroke.

    • Andy in Sunny Daytona

      psst…Look on Hoth….just a hunch.

      • tommiesmithjohncarlos a/k/a Ridiculous Upside

        Let’s not get ahead of ourselves here… They’re on one of the moons of Yavin. The homing device I put on the Aluminum Falcon will lead us right to them.

        • Andy in Sunny Daytona

          Vader! How’s my favorite Sith?… Whoa whoa whoa… whoa, whoa. Just – slow down. Huh? What do you mean they blew up the Death Star? F***! Oh, f***! F***! F***!… Who’s “they”?… What the hell is an Aluminum Falcon?

          • Greg G.


            “You must smell like feet wrapped in leathery burnt bacon.”

          • tommiesmithjohncarlos a/k/a Ridiculous Upside


            • Greg G.

              You got an ATM in that torso Lite Brite of yours???

          • pollo

            Thanks asshole, now im going to have to plod through just to re-watch this. ugh.

  • Ed

    Plus with the undertain weather tonight why waste the bullpen when there might be few delays causing the game to start and stop. With rain and cold a lot of pitchers can’t pitch sit for a and hour or so and throw again. Tonight everyone is rested.

  • Jake H

    I thought they would take CC out but thinking about it now I don’t mind the decision. Remember he hadn’t pitched since Thursday. He was on extra days rest so he should be fresher and the pitches might not have been as tiring on his arm because of the extra rest. Also C.C wasn’t throwing at his hardest for most of the game either.

    I also thought that Figgins and Aybar were also worst right handed hitters so turning them around helped. Also Bobby was lefty.

    While you have to plan for game 4 you have to win the games that you can. Also CC didn’t throw 130 innings. 113 isn’t a huge # for him. Remember this guy is a big strong guy.

  • JobaJr

    I thought it was a bad idea at first, but now it makes sense. Good post.

    Also just a thought, do you think he also left CC in to help build his confidence due to postseason issues in the past?

    • tommiesmithjohncarlos a/k/a Ridiculous Upside

      Also just a thought, do you think he also left CC in to help build his confidence due to postseason issues in the past?

      No. I think CC’s already over any “confidence” issues that he probably never even had in the first place.

      The only confidence in play in that gambit was Girardi’s decision to crush the confidence of the Angels by stepping on their throats in the 8th inning.

    • Mike Axisa

      I’ve never gotten the impression that CC lacked confidence. We was just gassed the last two years.

      Even with the two postseason starts, CC’s still thrown 8.1 fewer innings than he did during the 2008 regular season.

  • DaveinMD

    Girardi made the right call. You play to win the game today. With the weather, its no guarantee we’ll see CC on 3 days anyhow.

    • monkeypants

      “With the weather, its no guarantee we’ll see CC on 3 days anyhow.”

      Huh? Even if today’s game is postponed, they would play it on Sunday and thus it would (probably) not affect when game 4 is played.

      • DaveinMD

        If today’s game is moved, you’d have to move AJ to three days rest to pitch game 5 or use Gaudin somewhere along the way. Therefore, there would be little point in pitching CC on three days.

        • Joseph Pawlikowski

          What? Yes, there would be a point to starting him on three days’ rest. If you do that, you can start him Games 1, 4, and 7. If you put him on normal rest, he pitches Games 1 and 5. So yes, they’re now going to start him in Game 4 no matter what happens today.

        • Joseph Pawlikowski

          And even if you do lose tonight’s game, you get:

          Game 2 10/18: AJ
          Game 3 10/19: Pettitte
          Game 4 10/20: CC on 3 days’ rest
          Game 5 10/22: AJ on 3 days’ rest
          Game 6 10/24: Pettitte on normal rest
          Game 7 10/25: CC on normal rest

    • Joseph Pawlikowski

      • Andy in Sunny Daytona

        Isn’t this a Coors Light commercial?

      • Klemy

        Excellent choice.

  • yankeegirl49

    I was standing by the 1st base side with a bunch of people, none of us expected to see him for the 8th. When we saw no one warming, we were quite surprised, but not one of us had an issue with him coming out there. He might have thrown over 100 pitches, but he never labored and made it look very easy.

  • Andy in Sunny Daytona

    CC never had a 20 pitch inning, so the tells you how easy a night it was for him.

    • leokitty

      Girardi in his post game press conference said that with CC he’s looking at both his total pitch count and stressful innings. CC didn’t have any stressful innings last night so he had him go the max he feels comfortable with (115-120).

      Think about it–there was no point CC had more than one runner on base. That’s amazing.

  • toad

    Agree completely. Writers have to write about something. If there are no issues they make some up.

  • AMS223

    If the Yanks are up 3-0 I 100% would still use CC on 3 days rest…Close out the series and rest for a full week

  • http://Wenevertradeagoodstarter TLVP

    Only after game 4 will we really know if it was the right decision or not, but what we do know is that its worked so far – we won last night.

    One thing to remember is that Girardi, like ourselves, doesn’t know if good AJ or bad AJ will show up tonight – if bad AJ shows up having a fully rested penn is worth gold in game 2 – if Hughes had pitched one inning yesterday he wouldn’t have been available for two tonight. Aceves for 3 innings, Joba for 1, Hughes for 2 and Mo for 1 if AJ is gone after the second…

    Right now what i really want is the weather to clear so we don’t have to think about AJ on three days rest in game 5. Although deep inside I know there will be no game 5!

    • Lanny

      You really think 15 more pitches is going to have an effect on him in Game 4?

      • http://Wenevertradeagoodstarter TLVP

        who knows? i think its clear that for many pitchers there is a big difference between 100 and 115 pitches so obviously at one point in time 15 pitches has an impact

        its a bit like the old joke about the man who ate 20 apples and got a stomach ache and then complained that there must have been something wrong with the last apple – it all adds up

  • Mike Nitabach

    I agree. CC’s pitch count for the season up to now has been carefully managed to ensure that he can be used in exactly that situation last night, yet still pitch on three days’ rest.

  • Ivan

    Fans sure complain for everything. Like Seriously, 113 pitches for CC is that much, plus, you can’t worry for a game thats next week for CC. Gotta worry at the task at hand.

  • Kiersten

    I really don’t think an extra 15 pitches on Friday is going to make a big difference in CC’s effectiveness on Tuesday. If he had gone up to 140, maybe, but I don’t think throwing 113 is much different from throwing 98.

  • mustang

    Totally agree with the thread.
    No one knows what today’s game is going to bring i.e. rain delays now they have their bullpen rested for anything.

  • misterd

    This is was CCs third game in 20 days, at the end of a season in which he pitched 11 fewer innings than 2007, and 23 than 2008 (not counting the extra post-season burden). If there is anything he doesn’t need, its extra rest.

  • Nickel

    “Maybe the Yanks make it to Tuesday’s Game 4 up 3-0, and the Yanks don’t need to use Sabathia on short rest.”

    I think they should use CC regardless. If the Yankees are up 3-0, I don’t want them doing anything that could potentially breathe life back into the Angels. Up 3-0…go for the jugular.

    • mustang

      So agree.

      I don’t know about anyone else, but i still have scars from the 2004 ALCS. Although I don’t think it’s a must a say go for the kill.

      • mustang

        I say..

      • misterd

        Agreed. CC has plenty of experience pitching on short rest, and as I mentioned above, has been rested plenty this month. CC on 3 days has to be better than Gaudin on all but maybe his best days. Maybe. And unless I’m mistaken Gaudin hasn’t pitched since the season ended, so how sharp could he be?

  • Rod

    There is absolutely no reason whatsoever to deviate from the plan for CC. If it goes 7 he is on full rest, if they close it out in less than 7 then he will be on full rest + for the WS. Make the other team beat your best pitcher as often as possible especially when your best pitcher is a workhorse like CC.

  • Lanny

    It’s the playoffs. This is why they signed him. To go 8 strong.

  • wanger

    The CC chants were going during game 1 of the ALDS. It was awesome.

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