As you may have heard, the team with the American League’s best record at season end has the privilege of choosing the format of their ALDS series, a 7 day series or an 8 day series.
In an 8 day series, we would only have to start 3 pitchers (assuming we played all 5 games). Those pitchers would presumably be CC Sabathia, Andy Pettitte, and AJ Burnett. CC would get the ball in game one, Andy in game two (AJ hasn’t earned that spot), then AJ would get the ball in game three. CC and Andy would pitch in the next two games. Now, you might say that that would be the best situation. A second start by Andy is better than having a Joba start judging by their recent performance. The problem with the 8 day series is that while we only have to start 3 pitchers, our opponent also only needs three pitchers.
Our opponent right now looks like it will be Detroit, unless Texas overtakes Boston for the wildcard, in which case we’d face the Rangers. The Tigers would presumably send Justin Verlander to the mound in game 1, followed by Edwin Jackson, and then Jarrod Washburn in an 8 day series. If it was a 7 day series though, the Tigers would throw in Rick Porcello while we’d send out our Lord the Savior, Joba Chamberlain.
Verlander has been dominant this year with a 3.34 ERA, and in September his ERA is a mere 3.00. In either format we’d have to face him, so his stats aren’t extremely relevant to the choice. The main key is whether the Yanks would like a Edwin Jackson v. Andy Pettitte matchup in game 5, or a Joba Chamberlain v. Rick Porcello matchup.
Jackson has been phenomenal this year with a 3.22 ERA and a 1.24 WHIP. However, in September his ERA is 5.40. He’s already pitched 7 innings more than he did all of last year, and perhaps he’ll experience fatigue as the postseason rolls around. Right now, he’s not the dominating force he was on the mound most of the year, but he’s definitely got the ability to get opposing hitters out. Andy Pettitte has pitched well this year, but in his last two starts he’s allowed seven earned runs over eleven innings. Andy’s got postseason experience though, which could give the team a sense of courage and stability in a crucial game.
Joba has been limited by the new Joba Rules recently, not having a gone 6 innings since August 11th. Porcello, Detroit’s star rookie, meanwhile has been dominant of late with a 3.79 ERA in the past 30 days. I love Joba, but the last thing we want is a starter who could blow up early on in a big game. Joba is either great or he’s bad, and we can’t take that risk in a big playoff game.
Start Andy. He’ll be his typical self, allowing 3 runs over 6 or 7 innings. That’s nearly a guarantee. If he goes seven innings then Hughsie, Mo, series over. We can’t take the risk of throwing out Joba, as big of a savior as he is. In the playoffs, consistency is more valuable than a chance at dominance. Plus, I’d rather face Jackson right now than Porcello, although that could certainly change. If the Rangers win the Wildcard, I’ll put up a new analysis, but for right now, expect Joe Girardi to plan on giving Dandy Andy the ball if a game 5 comes up. To do that, he’d have to pick the 8 game series, which I’m sure he will.
*This post was written by Kevin Seefried of 6Pound8OunceBabyJoba*