Ranking postseason rotations

Jayson Stark (ESPN) tried his hand at ranking postseason rotations and placed the Yankees at number 4 on his list. The (1) Red Sox, (2) Cardinals, and (3) Phillies are the three teams that sit above the Yankees in Stark’s piece. Here’s what he had to say about the New York rotation.

Prospective rotation: 1) CC Sabathia, 2) Andy Pettitte, 3) A.J. Burnett, 4) Joba Chamberlain or Chad Gaudin.

This team might have been our toughest call. We polled folks who rated them as the very best rotation out there. We also polled folks who ranked them as the fifth-best rotation out there. But we think, in truth, they’re somewhere in between.

“I like the Yankees because of depth,” said one executive. “Someone in that foursome could very well disappoint, but anyone in that foursome has a decent chance of pitching a dominant game.”

True. And that starts with Sabathia, whose 8.53 ERA over the past two postseasons is a stat most people in the game don’t take real seriously. “The last two years, he was worn completely down by the time he got there [by the Indians in ’07 and the Brewers in ’08],” said one NL executive. “That’s not who he is.”

But after CC, roll those dice. It’s amazing how little faith Burnett (2-5 since Aug. 1) inspires for a guy with spectacular stuff. (“I’d be very surprised,” said one scout, “if Burnett comes up big.”) The Yankees think Pettitte’s shoulder is OK, but who knows? And then there’s Joba, who has the Yankees so exasperated that they’ve told him he’ll have to outpitch Gaudin down the stretch if he even wants to get a postseason start.

So this is a very iffy group — but one with gigantic win-the-World-Series upside.

For once, I actually agree with what Stark and co. have to say (amazingly).

The rotation is a bit “iffy” given Pettitte’s shoulder and the inconsistencies we’ve seen from Burnett and Joba/Gaudin this season. However, the ability to dominate is definitely there. In fact, I would argue that the Yankees have the best rotation in terms of inherent talent, which certainly goes a long way in the playoffs.

What do you think about Stark’s list? Should the Yankees be higher (or lower, even)? What about the Sox, should they be lower?

5 thoughts on “Ranking postseason rotations

  1. George

    No wayyy are the Sox #1………I think the rotation to beat would be between the cards and phillies, i rate it
    (1)phillies (2) cards (3) yanks (4) red sox

  2. Lou

    Not to be a nit picker, as I thoroughly enjoy the commentary on this blog, but Stark writes for ESPN, not SI. That said, I again think that ESPN is over-rating the Sox. First, Beckett jsut hasn’t been that good in the second half. He has been better than AJ, but he has a 4.38 and a WHIP of 1.2 with 15 HRs since the All Star Break. That is a lot of Home Runs. Lester has been an ace to the tune of a 2.57 ERA a 1.1 WHIP and just 6 HRs. Dice – K is still terrible, regardless of his last 2 starts. A patient team will crush him in the playoffs as he cannot throw strikes. Furthermore, while Clay has been hot of late he still allows too many base-runners to be considered any kind of a dominate starter.

    I would put the Yankees up in 2 of the 4 match-ups in a 4 game set:

    CC/ Lester – Yanks
    Becket/ AJ – Sox
    Pettite/Dice K – Yanks
    Clay/Joba – Sox

    How he left off the Angels who have 5 picthers performing well (Lackey, Kazmir, Weaver, Santana, and Saunders) baffles me. Of Course, the playoffs do not call for a 5th starter so their sizeable edge in that category goes for naught.

    I guess I am not a big fan of the NL either as I think having the Phils and Cards towards the top of the list is a little over the top.

    I would probably line htem up as follows:

    1) Angels – The only team that can throw 4 dominant starts in a row
    2a) Sox As I commented above I thik this is a draw, I will put the sox at 2a due to the previous playoff successes of Lester/Beckett
    2b) Yanks
    4) Phils – Pedro is there 3rd starter.The clock is ticking on Cinderella
    5) Cardinals – Carpenter/Wainright are a good 1, 2, but do you really trust Pinero?
    6) Dodgers – though I think they are right with the other NL teams -Billingsley and Kershaw are studs if healthy.
    7) Tigers – Verlander is good at pitching
    8) Rockies – Is there a pitcher on the staff you would consider good other than Jimenez?

    • The other Chris H

      I like the top of your list but I think for me I would go with the following.

      1A. Sox
      1B. Yanks
      3. Angels
      4. Phils
      5. Cards
      6. Tigers
      7. Dodgers
      8. Rockies

      not a huge difference between us but I give the Sox and Yanks a slight advantage over the Angels and I value the Tigers more.

    • Oops, I fixed that SI bit. For whatever reason I often mix up Stark and Heyman. Thanks, Lou.

      I think the Sox are overrated because you really have no idea what to expect from Dice-K and Clay B. Dice-K has been great since returning from the DL but he was on there for most of the season. He has to make it to the playoffs before you can even trust him there. In addition, Clay B. is simply an unknown quantity. Sure, he’s been good this month, but will he be good in the postseason? Who knows.

      I would actually say:

      1. Cardinals
      2. Yankees
      3. Red Sox
      3. Phillies
      4. Angels
      5. Tigers
      6. Dodgers
      7. Rockies
      8. Twins

      • The other Chris H

        Yeah I agree the Sox have question marks but they seem to be the same ones we have don’t they? A 4th starter they don’t know what to expect from and a 3rd starter who could be great or could be wabbly, both teams just happened to be ankered by a great one two punch.

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