No rest for the not-so weary
PHILADELPHIA - It appears the Yankees are going to try to win the World Series with only three starting pitchers.
CC Sabathia will start Game 4 tonight, manager Joe Girardi deciding he would use his ace on three days’ rest rather than taking a risk with Chad Gaudin. There also is every indication that Girardi will come back to Game 2 starter A.J. Burnett for Game 5 tomorrow.
Girardi and pitching coach Dave Eiland arranged a September schedule that gave Sabathia, Burnett, and Andy Pettitte extra days off with the idea of leaning heavily on them come the postseason.
“This is the World Series,’’ Girardi said. “There is no baseball after the World Series for four or five months, so there will be plenty of time to rest.’’
Sabathia has been close to brilliant in the postseason, going 3-1 with a 1.52 ERA in four starts. He has surrendered only 21 hits and struck out 26 over 29 2/3 innings. The big lefthander started Game 4 of the American League Championship Series against the Los Angeles Angels on three days’ rest and gave up one run over eight innings.
“I’ve said it all postseason, I’ve had enough rest the past two months to be able to feel comfortable enough to go out there and pitch on three days’ rest,’’ Sabathia said. “I told Joe that at the beginning of the playoffs.’’
The only concession Sabathia made was skipping his usual bullpen session between starts.
“I kind of like it because I hate to throw bullpens,’’ he said.
Sabathia said his command tends to be sharper with less rest because he focuses on his mechanics to compensate for any loss of velocity.
Sabathia lost Game 1 to the Phillies, giving up two runs over seven innings, both on solo home runs by Chase Utley. He threw 101 pitches. Girardi said he waited to see how Sabathia felt yesterday before making his decision final.
“CC has pitched extremely well for us this year, and when we went into this, we didn’t know exactly where we were going to be at,’’ Girardi said. “Physically he feels good.
“I think the important thing on short rest is you have to know how your pitcher physically is feeling. He went through all his work [Friday], and we talked to him [yesterday], and he threw a pretty good game after short rest last time, and he had some extra days off.’’
The alternative was not appetizing, as Gaudin has pitched only 2 1/3 innings since Sept. 29. His last appearance came in Game 4 of the Division Series against the Los Angeles Angels Oct. 20, when he pitched the ninth inning with the Yankees leading by nine runs.
Gaudin, who was obtained from the Padres in August, was 6-10 overall this season with a 4.64 ERA. Girardi held out the possibility that Gaudin would start Game 5 tomorrow. But Burnett has been told to prepare for the start.
Burnett is 4-0 with a 2.33 ERA pitching on three days’ rest during his career. Three of those starts came while he was with Toronto during the 2008 season, including a dominant performance against the Yankees July 13. Burnett gave up one run on six hits over 8 1/3 innings and struck out eight with one walk in that game.
“I love it,’’ Burnett said. “I’ve told Joe and Dave that I want to go on three days. I’ve been waiting my whole life to get to the World Series and I want to pitch as often as I can.’’
Blanton is 0-3 with an 8.18 ERA in four career starts against the Yankees, all in the regular season. Alex Rodriguez has two career homers against him and Mark Teixeira is 9 for 27 with three homers. Blanton’s last appearance against the Yankees came June 12, 2008, when he was with Oakland.
“You could probably take a little bit from it, but at the same time that was last year,’’ Blanton said. “Even if it was early this year, you may or may not be able to draw something from it. It’s really about kind of knowing the hitters, I guess. I just go off feel a lot.’’