Yanks turning to Sabathia for Game 1


Had the Twins won last night to force a Game 4 in the ALDS, CC Sabathia would have been on the mound this evening in an effort to bring the Yanks to the League Championship Series. Instead, Andy Pettitte and the Yanks’ bats wrapped up the series in Minnesota, and the Yankees have a week off in which they can set their rotation.

Although the Yanks have not made an announcement yet, it is all but official that CC Sabathia will start Game 1 of the ALCS. The big lefty will take the ball against the Angels on Friday, nine days after facing the Twins in Game 1 of the division series. The long layoff may mean that Sabathia is too fresh, but that’s a risk I’m happy to take.

Last week, Sabathia had a pretty good ALDS start. His final line — 6.2 IP, 8 H, 1 ER, 0 BB, 8 K — earned him a postseason win, but it doesn’t tell the whole story. For the first three innings, Sabathia labored. He needed a Jobaian 64 pitches to record nine outs and did not have his best fastball. Rather, he and Jorge Posada came up with a game plan that relied on change-ups and sliders instead. It worked as he needed just 49 pitches to record the last 12 outs.

In a sense, Sabathia is the perfect pitcher to face the Angels. Most important for a series against the Angels is the fact that Sabathia simply doesn’t issue many walks. To win against the Angels, it is important to avoid giving them free bases. As the team demonstrated against the Red Sox this week, they will capitalize against pitchers who give them walks. Although the Twins did not score much against A.J. Burnett and the Yanks during a Game 2 that featured no 1-2-3 innings, the Angels will not let the Yanks off the hook that easily.

Furthermore, as a lefty, Sabathia can cut down on the Angels’ running game. Not as sneaky with the pick-off move as Andy Pettitte is, Sabathia can try to keep Bobby Abreu and Chone Figgins, Anaheim’s two biggest base-stealing threats, closer to first.

With the advantages, Sabathia is primed to face the Angels at least twice and maybe three times. If the Yankees opt to take advantage of the extra day off during the season to go with three starters, Sabathia could pitch Game 1 on Friday, Game 4 on three days’ rest and Game 7 on full rest. Who needs a fourth starter?

Yet, despite this profile, the Angels, a right-hand hitting team, have given Sabathia trouble this year. He allowed four earned runs in 6.2 innings on May 2nd and five earned runs in 6.2 innings on July 12. In fact, the Angels were one of only two teams to beat CC twice this season. Still, there is no one I would rather see on the mound come Friday. With the K pitch working, Sabathia can neutralize the Angels. As Joe wrote earlier today, the Yanks’ good pitching will determine the extent of their October success. In the ALCS, as CC goes, so go the Yankees.

Categories : Pitching, Playoffs


  1. thurdonpaul says:

    anybody have any idea when game times will be known ?

  2. Rocky Road Redemption (formerly RAB poster) says:

    The Yankees biggest advantage is bullpen…if CC and the other starters can match 0′s and make it a battle of the bullpens, it’s huge advanatge Yanks.

    Yankees really should win. We have better starting pitching, a better lineup, and better relief pitching. Only thing the Angels might have on us is defense, and I’m not so sure they have that on us anyway. We’re clearly better.

    I’d take CC over Lackey any day.

  3. theyankeewarrior says:

    If CC pitches games 1 and 4, he will be pitching on 4 days rest correct? Why do people keep saying 3? There is an off-day in there.

    • CountryClub says:

      Game 1 is on Friday. Game 4 is on Tuesday. There’s only 3 days in between.

    • swo says:

      Game 1 – pitching
      Game 2 – rest
      Game 3 – rest
      off-day – rest
      Game 4 – pitching

      It’s three days of rest, friend.

      • theyankeewarrior says:

        I guess I have always counted the day a pitcher starts as another “day of rest” since they usually take the ball at 7pm. “so every 5th day” means 4 days rest. I always assumed, if you go hour by hour, that number was closer to 5 days rest. Thank you for enlightening me, friend.

  4. RCK says:

    I think if the Yankees are 3-0 going into game 4, they should go with a 4th starter. Anything other than that, including 2-1, and it should be CC.

    • MattG says:

      No, they should go with CC regardless. Because of the off-day in between games 4 and 5, CC would be able to pitch game 7 (Mo forbid if they’re up 3-0) with a full compliment of rest. The reason for skipping him game 5 would be because he would be short rest both days, and one day of full rest CC > 2 days of short rest when you need just one win.

  5. A.D. says:

    Rather, he and Jorge Posada came up with a game plan that relied on change-ups and sliders instead.

    But he cannot call a good game!!!

  6. MattG says:

    What an awesome break that the Yankees can pitch CC on 3 days rest once, and not need a fourth starter. Considering CC is very familiar with pitching on 3 days rest, and considering the Yankees’ only weakness is there fourth starter, it is most serendipitous.

  7. Mike Pop says:

    Agreed with how you have to keep them off the bases via the walk. That’s the only reason I’m a little worried about A.J. Hopefully he limits those walks on route to a 4-0 victory.

    • Rocky Road Redemption (formerly RAB poster) says:

      Maybe that’s one of the reasons Joe will use Molina (I’m going to assume he stays on the roster) to catch A.J., as much as to help A.J. pitch well as to control the running game.

    • MattG says:

      Don’t walk’em is too simplistic for my taste. It would seem the key would be to challenge them early in the count with fastballs. The Angels’ improvement in OBP is attributable to just two players: Figgins and Abreu. Everyone else wants to hack at the fastball, and chase junk behind in the count.

      The problem is that every time the Yankees face them, the spray singles at will off of off-speed stuff. This time around, challenge them early, particularly with the bases empty. Get ahead, show them a pitch-out or two in the early innings, and make them chase. They’re not supposed to be good against plus fastballs, so let’s see if that’s true.

  8. You could only use 3 starters for this series if CC goes on 3 days for game 4. This would also allow everyone else to pitch on normal rest for games 5,6, and 7.

  9. JM says:

    So much for the Twins winning like 17 of 21.

  10. swo says:

    This may be looking too far ahead, but we’re going to need a fourth starter in the World Series, aren’t we? Is it really fair to just throw Gaudin out there and say “Yeah, we know you haven’t pitched in weeks, but go win for us, ok?” Shouldn’t he at least get to pitch in the playoffs ONCE before being on the biggest stage in the baseball world?

    Or am I mistaken? Does the home team get to decide between a regular schedule and an extra off-day in the World Series too? Because, if so, then I suppose my point is moot.

  11. Bo says:

    Maybe Girardi will figure out that leaving his starters in isn’t a bad thing this time of yr. His obsession with match ups is almost LaRussa-esque. There was no reason to take out Andy last night with 81 pitches and the bottom part of the order heading up. Why burn out Joba for 2 hitters?

  12. CountryClub says:

    Mother Nature could make this a moot point. If it rains on Friday they’ll have to use a 4th starter for game 4.

    • Rocky Road Redemption (formerly RAB poster) says:

      I checked weather.com, and they’re playing that game. “Showers are expected around game time, and anyway it says that at around the time the game starts there’s only a 30% chance of rain. Even if one of those “showers” is hitting, they’ll wait for it to stop.

  13. Jobamania says:

    Game 1: Sabathia
    Game 2: Burnett
    Game 3: Pettitte
    Game 4: Sabathia(3 days rest)
    Game 5: Burnett(full rest)
    Game 6: Pettitte(full rest)
    Game 7: Sabathia(full rest)

    Perfect rotation. CC will pitch Game 1 on 9 days rest.

  14. crapulent aka I said good day sir says:

    It’s weird that the Yankees are setting up a new model of baseball. NO ONE IS A STARTING PITCHA11!!!

  15. EB says:

    just as an aside, im sick of hearing how rejuvinated Abreu is. 825 OPS, bad D, right fielders dont deserve this much press. Heres to our man the Swish, better than Bobby.

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