Brace yourselves, folks–we’re in for a marquee pitching matchup beginning on Wednesday.
With the midseason acquisition of staff ace Cliff Lee, the Phillies added to an already significant pitching rotation that included reigning World Series MVP Cole Hamels, 2009 ROY candidate J.A. Happ, solid-but-unspectacular Joe Blanton, and old Yankees’ nemesis Pedro Martinez. Mirroring that, the Yankees plucked the top two pitching free agents this past offseason in C.C. Sabathia and A.J. Burnett (and possibly the third in Andy Pettitte). Anyone remember when the Yankees were counting on 15+ wins from Chien-Ming Wang this offseason?
It seems almost inevitable at this point that the Yankees’ will run out a three-man rotation this postseason, going to C.C. for three games, and Burnett and Pettitte two games each. That comes along with its own pitfalls–Pettitte hasn’t pitched on three days rest since September of 2006 (when he threw an absolute gem against the Braves), and many moons have passed since then. Burnett has done the deed 4 times in his career, and as Philly.com points out, went 4-0 with a 2.33 ERA, allowing 19 hits and two home runs while striking out 24 and walking 10 in 27 innings. Sabathia has a well-detailed history of pitching on short rest (notably last season, as he put the Brewers on his not-insignificant shoulders enroute to the playoffs), and including his last playoff start in which he dominated the Angels. Of course, that the Yankee starters have managed such crazy numbers in short rest starts in the past is overshadowed by the miniscule sample size of such data points. Burnett and Sabathia are frightfully good pitchers when on, and you could find any number of 4-5 game sets in which they put up 2002 Pedro numbers. It doesn’t mean they will continue to outperform their career numbers in such starts.
Without much further ado, let’s look at how the starters in question have performed this season:
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