With the possible exception of who A.J. Burnett should be pitching to, the only real questions the Yankees have faced since mid-summer have stemmed from Joba Chamberlain, and whether he should start on extra rest, start but pitch fewer innings, go to the bullpen then return to the rotation, or go the bullpen and stay there and be replaced in the rotation by someone else. It’s the logistics of this last option that the Yankees are now dealing with.
Because there are days off before and after game five, the Yankees could pitch CC Sabathia in game four on short rest, then stay in order (on sufficient rest) for the remainder of the series. Joba Chamberlain was once destined to be the fourth starter in any playoff series that required one, but he’s pretty much pitched himself out of a starting job in ‘09, meaning the alternative would be Chad Gaudin, who was serviceable in six starts in New York, but hasn’t worked in a game since October 3.
Sabathia pitched poorly on three days’ rest in the playoffs last year, so trying it here could be risky. On the other hand, we’d be comfortable classifying a Chad Gaudin start in a pivotal game four as risky, too. The series situation could dictate their decision: If, hypothetically, the Yankees are up 3-0, you might be more willing to take your chances with Gaudin, because, of course, once you go up 3-0 in the ALCS, you never, ever lose. Or there could be another freak SoCal rainstorm on October 20, rendering all of this moot. So there’s always that, too.