Written for Baseball Digest Online.
Anyone watching last night’s World Series Game 5, must have thought they were watching a replay of the fifth game of the American League Championship Series. A.J. Burnett on the mound, no command, flat fastballs, opponent taking a quick lead. And like that 5th game, the New York Yankees came out on the wrong end of an 8-6 score to the Philadelphia Phillies last night. The series returns to New York for Wednesday night’s Game 6.
Second guessers came out of everywhere as soon as Burnett started giving up hit/walk/hit batter, one after another. Had a fully rested Andy Pettitte or CC Sabathia been waiting in the wings it would have been one thing. But the second guessing in this case centered on whether or not Chad Gaudin should have started Game 4.
To put it simply, Chad Gaudin has no business having an impact on a World Series game. unless it game goes 12 innings or more. He certainly does not have any career portfolio to warrant getting a World Series start.
But because of a good four innings here or there, members of the media and Yankees fans spent a good part of last night (and I’m sure today) grousing about Gaudin not getting the start. Heck no one can even agree how to pronounce his name and you want him to start a possible World Series clinching game for you? And you know that if Gaudin had started and was bombed, the second guessers would be going in the opposite direction.
A.J. Burnett has driven all Yankees fans, and probably his teammates, crazy with inconsistancy. It’s not just from game to game, but inning to inning as was the case in the ALCS Game 5, when he pitched well after the 1st frame.
Be that as it may, Burnett was 3-0, 1.86 ERA in his prior starts on three days rest and was dominant in his Game 2 start. The decision to start him on three days rest was a no-brainer for Joe Girardi. And while I’ve questioned many of Girardi’s strategies, particularly involving the bullpen, he was on the money in deciding to go with just three starters in both the ALCS and World Series.