Yankees in the ALCS: The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly
So you've just stamped your one-way ticket to the American League Championship Series by defeating the mighty Minnesota Twins. What do you do next? Go to Disneyland? Shop til you drop?
How about have your General Manager announce that A.J. Burnett, 10-15 in the regular season with a 5.26 ERA, will be one of the four starters in the ALCS.
Now wait, wasn't this expected? According to broadcaster Michael Kay, there is nobody else who you could bring in as the fourth starter. Not Ivan Nova. Not Dustin Mosley. Not Javier Vazquez.
Besides Vazquez--and I'm speaking as open-mindedly as possible--I would definitely trust Mosley or Nova as a postseason starter over Burnett. How could you possibly not? I would take Nova's four innings and three runs over Burnett's two innings and 6 runs any day of the week.
Even if Burnett does pitch Game 4 of the ALCS, and does a masterful job by going 8 innings of one-run ball and striking out 12, I will still believe this is the wrong choice.
Does he get the start because he is a big game pitcher? Because he pitched so well in Game 2 of the 2009 World Series?
Well, if memory serves me correct, he was taken out without even getting an out in the third inning of Game 5 after giving up 5 runs to the Phillies. Definitely a clutch performance there.
If anything, the only thing he has going for him is the two weeks he will have off by the time his start comes around. There is no doubt he will have the adrenaline pumping once he picks up the rosin bag in front of 50,000 Yankee fans, and that will definitely work to his advantage. His stuff is so nasty, that the extra emotion he will throw into every pitch will make him dirty enough not to miss over the plate as much.
At least I hope so.
Some of the positives coming from the Yankees sweeping so early is the rest of the pitching situation. The Yankees will be throwing out their ace for Game 1, while whichever team clinches the other spot, whether it be Tampa Bay or Texas, will not, due to the Game 5 battle on Tuesday.
This is certainly advantageous for the Yankees, especially if Texas does indeed clinch. Cliff Lee, as unpredictable baseball is, may be the most predictable victory the Yankees will face this entire series. I will be going into this game preparing for a loss if Texas does advance.
However, since Lee will be unable to pitch until either Game 2 or 3 (unless they pitch Lee on three days' rest), this turns the tide to the Yankees, who can now look for CC to get the Game 1 victory.
In my opinion, having a CC and Lee face-off is almost like having a Lee and Burnett face-off. As shown in Game 1 of the World Series last year, CC can pitch as good as he wants, but he won't win if the Yankees can't score off Lee. So now you have a chance with CC.
In Game 2, you will have a chance with either Pettitte or Hughes. The Yankees can take a 2-0 lead early, and soften the blow for Lee in Game 3. If the Yankees pull off the win, they will be in a tremendous position to clinch right there without having to go through Lee again, unless a Game 7 rolls around.
If Lee did pitch Game 1, you would see him again in Game 5.
I guess I have to finish the quote, right? The ugliest thing I see right now is the way the New Jersey Devils have started their season off. They have lost their first two games, even with the soon-to-be-infamous ZIP Line (Parise, Kovi, Zajac) showing early promise.
Oh wait, we were talking Yankees.
Overall, I like everything else about the team. The relief has been very relieving, and the offense has been offending to the other teams' fans.
Even though it is a hot topic now, I predict that when the ALCS comes to a conclusion, Burnett's performance (or lack thereof) will be the last of New York's concerns.
The biggest concern in New York will be whether to price the Yankees vs. Phillies "Turnpike Series" shirts at $25 or $35.