Before Friday’s opener of the American League Championship Series, the Yankees have four significant decisions to make.
1. Should the Yankees change their roster?
The Angels have six switch hitters, but only one lefty. Bobby Abreu. It might make sense to dump the extra left-handed reliever — and frankly, Damaso Marte didn’t do much to earn innings in his one ALDS appearance — replacing him with either an extra right-hander (Brian Bruney) or a second pinch runner (Freddy Guzman). Having Francisco Cervelli has already paid dividends, so I would expect him to stick around.
2. How many starting pitchers do they need?
Because there is an offday between Games 2 and 3, and another between Games 4 and 5, the Yankees could keep a three-game rotation and use a pitcher on short rest only once. That would be C.C. Sabathia in Game 4. Sabathia has pitched, and pitched well, on short rest in the past. He basically made a living doing that with Milwaukee last year. Keeping a three-man rotation would leave Joba Chamberlain at the back of the bullpen and Chad Gaudin in a long relief role.
3. If there is a fourth starter, who should it be?
Chad Gaudin was the better starter down the stretch. Joba Chamberlain is the guy with the bigger, more overpowering stuff. Either would bring some concerns as a Game 4 starter and neither choice would be particularly shocking. Joe Girardi did seem to like Chamberlain in the seventh inning during the ALDS.
4. Will Jose Molina once again catch A.J. Burnett?
Aside from Alex Rodriguez, only two Yankees hit better than .222 in the ALDS. One was Derek Jeter, the other was Jorge Posada. That said, it’s hard to argue with the results of Burnett’s start in Game 2. He worked well with Molina, and Posada’s extra-inning base hit proved he could have an offensive impact in a game he doesn’t start.