OK, maybe doomed is too strong. But, once again, I don’t think Brian Cashman has built a team made for the playoffs. Mainly, the problem is pitching. Starting pitching. As the Atlanta Braves showed us throughout the 1990s, having a load of B+ starting pitchers is fantastic for 90-plus regular season wins … but doesn’t really work so well in the post-season. Generally speaking, the teams in the best shape have two ass-kicking starters with rubber arms and angry demeanors (think Johnson-Schilling, ’01)
Here’s what the Yankees have:
C.C. Sabathia: Great starter. Elite starter. Worth the big bucks thus farâ€”but in five postseason games with Cleveland and Milwaukee, the man has a 7.92 ERA over five starts. Please, read that againâ€”seven point nine two. Last year, as the Brewers’ ace/supposed savior, Sabathia allowed six hits and five runs in 3 2/3 innings of his long divisional series start. Can he be masterful? Of course. Will he be? Seems sort of unlikely.
A.J. Burnett: I’d argue (as would many) that, come playoff time, Burnett has the chance to be New York’s stud. He still throws extremely hard, still possesses lightning stuffâ€”plus, he’s already won a World Series with the 2003 Marlins. But has anyone watched the guy this year? In a word: Meh. He’s no Ed Whitson, but Burnett (11-9) has been incredibly inconsistent. One good start, three bad ones, two great starts, four mediocre ones. Would you trust him toÂ pitch a huge game?
Neither would I.
Andy Pettitte: Just when it looked like Pettitte’s career might be coming to an end, he rebounds with a surprisingly good seasonâ€”13-6, 4.14 ERA. But the Braves analogy works well hereâ€”though Pettitte isn’t what Greg Maddux or Tom Glavine were back in their primes, he got mediocre velocity, relying mainly on hitting spots. That can work in the playoffs. In fact, it can work well. But, again, is Pettitte a guy you want on the mound with a huge game in the balance?
Joba Chamberlain: Over the past 13 years, no team has handled most baseball-related matters better than the Yanks. But their dealings with Chamberlain have been, well, pathetic. They took a stellar young arm, screwed and screwed and screwed with his headsâ€”and now? Mush. I mean, seriously, what they’ve done to this kid is, in a baseball sense, criminal. If I’m a Yankees fan, and it’s Game 7, do I want Jona or Phil Hughes starting?
Me, I take Hughes.