When the decision came down to postpone last night’s game, the Yankees caught something of a break. The extra day off not only gave the bullpen a night off, but also afforded the Yankees the opportunity to play with the rotation and line it up in an optimal manner. They wasted little time in announcing plans, which involve skipping Freddy Garcia a couple of times and keeping everyone else on turn. I’ve come to generally trust the Yankees’ decisions in such matters, but that doesn’t rule out an examination of the alternatives. Was this the best possible move?
The Yankees had two immediate options. They could have kept Garcia on turn, pitching him tomorrow afternoon, or they could have skipped him and let A.J. Burnett take his regular turn. It might seem obvious to do the latter, but the former has its advantages. Specifically, it lines up Burnett, Phil Hughes, and CC Sabathia to face the Red Sox this weekend. The Sox are reeling now, and it would be in the Yankees’ interests to hit them with everything they’ve got. The idea of completely removing Garcia from the equation, though, prevailed.
(I wonder how greatly Burnett’s poor performances in Fenway as a Yankee factored into the decision.)
Once they decided to skip Garcia this time, another opportunity arose. They could skip him again, thanks to an off-day on Monday. The Yankees opted to do this as well, scheduling him for the start next Friday against Texas. This actually strikes me as an odd decision. If they kept on turn — Burnett, Hughes, Nova, Sabathia — Sabathia would pitch on Friday night’s opener against the Rangers, leaving Garcia to pitch on Saturday the 16th. I do wonder if things will break that way, or if Sabathia will just get an extra day’s breather. Girardi does seem pretty set in going with CC every five days, so we’ll see if things change between now and then.
The only question, then, is of whether it’s better to use Garcia against the Orioles early in the week. They might be off to a hot start, but so are the Rangers, and it’s pretty clear that the Rangers are the better overall team. If they already have plans to use Sabathia that Saturday on five days’ rest, they could go Garcia in the opener against the Orioles, followed by Burnett, Hughes, and Nova. The only snag, I guess, is that they’d all be on extra rest, though I’m not sure if that even factors into the decision.
What might have made the decision between Baltimore and Texas easy was the idea of using Garcia out of the bullpen this weekend. The off-day gives everyone a break, which hopefully means everyone stays fresh for the next four games. But having that extra pitcher out there, just in case, can come in handy. Garcia might not be very effective. He hasn’t, after all, pitched since March 29. But it’s another option in case things get messy. In games between the Yanks and Red Sox, that can happen at any time.
Given the slew of options presented to the Yankees, this is the the best overall. First, it means not using their worst starter until the latest possible date. (Or, as it were, near the latest possible date.) It gives the Yankees an extra option out of the pen this weekend, and it keeps the main four starters — i.e., the guys who will most likely be around most of the season — on turn. It might make for an ugly Freddy Garcia outing against Texas next weekend. But then again, weren’t we all preparing for an ugly Freddy Garcia outing anyway?