Wednesday, September 30, 2009

So Who Starts Game Two?

The biggest question the Yankees have going into the postseason not named Joba Chamberlain is who will pitch game two?

The way the current rotation slots out, either AJ Burnett or Andy Pettitte could pitch game two of a postseason series.

The most cogent argument I've seen as to who the game 2 starter should be hinges on the fact that Burnett has clearly been a better pitcher at home and Pettitte better on the road. This argument also includes the notion that Pettitte, and not Burnett, has significant postseason experience, so in a must-win game on the road, Pettitte is probably the guy you want on the mound.

The argument to reverse the two is that Pettitte has been the better pitcher--more consistent--over the course of the entire season, but even so, I would rather Pettitte pitch where he has clearly performed better this year.

Take a look at these splits: Pettitte's home ERA is exactly an entire run higher than his road ERA, an OPS against that's over 100 points lower on the road and fourteen home runs surrendered at home against only five on the road.

Burnett's splits are similar to Pettitte's in terms of home-road difference, just reversed. It should, however, be noted that Burnett's road stats are likely inflated from his poor performances at Fenway Park (if the Yankees and Sox play each other in the LCS and it is possible to arrange it so, I can almost guarantee Burnett will be your game 2 starter...).

The Burnett should start game 2 argument has convinced me.

There are those that argue that Jose Molina should not have two postseason starts, but the likelihood of Molina starting just to soothe Burnett even though his bat is a serious liability--one that makes Francisco Cervelli look like a more reasonable choice--is extremely slim. I know Girardi has made some "buh" decisions, but he doesn't get to the best record in baseball by being bad at his job. Just sayin'.