Here were some strong reasons to start Chad Gaudin yesterday:
1) It would set up AJ Burnett to pitch game 6 on full rest.
2) It would set up AJ to pitch at home, where he's much more effective.
3) It would allow Posada to start game 5 in the NL park, where the pitcher has to bat and Molina catching would put a serious dent in the bottom half of our lineup.
4) It would remove the potential of AJ having a very, very good game that came up just short against another Cliff Lee shut-out.
5) It would give us a very favorable match-up (AJ against Pedro) in game 6.
Here were some strong reasons to start AJ:
1) His record on 3-days' rest is pretty great. 4-0, 2.33 ERA.
2) If you start Gaudin, you basically sacrifice game 5 and a chance to win the World Series.
3) If you start Gaudin, you lose Pettitte in the rotation (AJ for game 6, CC for game 7).
To be honest, I wavered on which move was correct. The 'go for the jugular' part of me hated the idea of starting Gaudin and letting the Phils gain some momentum with what might be an easy game 5 win. However, the absolute biggest factor, of the 7 listed above, was AJ's home vs. away splits. On the road, his inconsistent tendencies are magnified. The crowd sometimes seems to get to him, and he's subject to bad beginnings. The 4-run first inning against the Angels in game 5 was a classic example.
I don't think the 3 days rest mattered. These guys were used very lightly in September to prepare for this eventuality, and I don't think losing one day is a big deal. Also, AJ is an inconsistent pitcher. As he proved against LA, he's capable of unleashing a stink bomb like last night on any amount of rest. So at the end of the day, I didn't hate Girardi's decision.
But AJ would have had the best chance to win at home. Game 7 was always going to be CC on short rest, so the game 6 options were either Andy on short rest, or AJ on full rest. Obviously, now that we've blown game 5 anyway, hindsight dictates that Girardi should have opted for the latter.
So be it. I don't care. We're not losing two at home. My money's on this baby ending in game 6. Pedro got by (barely) on craftiness and luck last time, but everybody's seen him now, and we will score more runs this time around. Look what we did to Lee last night, compared to Game 1. It's hard to imagine Andy not giving us a warrior's effort, and CC vs. Hamels or CC vs. Happ in game 7 is a gigantic advantage, should we need it. Also, we're 6-1 at home in the playoffs, and had the best regular season home record in baseball; the Yanks aren't losing a pair in the Bronx. It's just not happening.
I AM NOT WORRIED.
Yankee Universe lets out a great sigh. The expiration releases the demons of memory. Breath is held. The inhale brings number 27.