Girardi may go with three-man rotation

Updated: November 1, 2009, 2:38 AM ET
Associated Press

PHILADELPHIA -- CC Sabathia actually likes starting on three days' rest.

Sabathia
Sabathia

"I hate to throw bullpens," the New York Yankees big man said. "I don't have to throw a bullpen when I pitch on three days' rest."

Sabathia will throw on short rest for the second time this postseason when he starts Game 4 of the World Series on Sunday night against Philadelphia's Joe Blanton.

Yankees manager Joe Girardi said before Game 3 on Saturday night that it's possible A.J. Burnett and Andy Pettitte could also come back on short rest, leaving New York with a three-man rotation. Sabathia would pitch a possible Game 7.

"It feels good for them to have confidence in you, especially in these situations," Sabathia said. "It gives you confidence when your team has confidence and the guys want you out there and everybody is asking: 'Are you pitching today?' and 'Are you pitching tomorrow?'"

Sabathia lost to Cliff Lee in the opener and is 3-1 with a 1.52 ERA in four postseason starts for the Yankees. Last year, he lost Game 3 of the division series for Milwaukee at Citizens Bank Park, allowing five runs and six hits in 3 2/3 innings. It was his fourth straight start on short rest.

"CC has pitched extremely well for us this year," Girardi said before Game 3. "We wanted to see how he came out today, how physically he came out today, and he physically feels good."

Sabathia gave up two runs over seven innings in Wednesday's opener -- two homers by Chase Utley -- struggling with his control far more than he did in his previous postseason appearances. He pitched once on three days' rest in the league championship series, beating the Los Angeles Angels 10-1 in Game 4, allowing five hits over eight innings with five strikeouts and two walks.

Burnett is 4-0 with a 2.33 ERA in four career starts on short rest, including three with Toronto in 2008. Pettitte is 8-7 with a 3.68 ERA in 21 starts on short rest, last doing it in April 2007 following a one-inning relief appearance. He hasn't gone on short rest coming off a start since September 2006, while with Houston.

"There is no baseball after the World Series for four or five months, so there will be plenty of time to rest," Girardi said. "A.J. was pretty good on short rest last year, if you look up his numbers. He actually shut us down on short rest last year. And they physically feel good."

Girardi did not completely commit to Burnett for Game 5 on Monday, when Lee will start for the Phillies. While Girardi said Chad Gaudin was still an option, he appeared to lean toward Burnett, who gave up one run and four hits over seven innings and struck out nine in the Yankees' 3-1 win in Game 2 on Thursday.

Gaudin was 1-0 with a 3.19 ERA as a starter after the Yankees acquired him from San Diego on Aug. 6, making five of 11 appearances in relief. New York won all six starts by the 26-year-old right-hander.

"That's one thing that we like about him," Girardi said. "But he knows how to mix his pitches."

Blanton will be starting Game 4 for the second straight year. He combined with four relievers on a five-hitter in a 10-2 win over Tampa Bay last October that gave the Phillies a 3-1 Series lead. He also hit the first Series home run by a pitcher since Oakland's Ken Holtzman in 1974.

"It's a big game, but it's another game," Blanton said Saturday. "And I think just the experience you draw from last year, just the fact that you've been there before, you've been in that environment, you've been in that atmosphere, you've kind of been in that big game situation -- and you can just kind of draw back and kind of keep your emotions in check."


Copyright 2009 by The Associated Press

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