As of Saturday night, while he was gathering his things in the visiting clubhouse at Rangers Ballpark, CC Sabathia said he was still expecting to pitch Game 5, not Game 4. He said the Yankees opened the ALCS with a four-man rotation, and as far as he knew, they still had a four-man rotation.
That being said…
“Whenever they need me to take it, I’ll take it,” Sabathia said. “No problem.”
Considering Sabathia on short rest is either an act of premature panic or a bit of logical preparation. In no way is Game 3 a lost cause — “Let’s not forget that we have a pretty good guy on the mound, too,” Joe Girardi said — but in no way is it a sure win, either. It’s worth considering right now because, if the Yankees want Sabathia on short rest on Tuesday, he would prefer not to throw his bullpen this afternoon.
“Right now, we are on rotation,” Girardi said. “I haven’t discussed that with anyone.”
It’s all hypothetical at this point. Even assuming a loss on Monday, it’s still not clear the Yankees would actually prefer short-rest Sabathia ahead of extra-rest A.J. Burnett. It would not be, after all, a must-win game. Maybe they’d rather take their chances with Burnett and save Sabathia for what might actually be a must win.
Whatever the decision, it would be best to make it today rather than tomorrow. Sabathia is scheduled to throw his regular bullpen session this afternoon. If he’s going to start on short rest, he’d rather skip that bullpen and throw a light side instead.
But that’s not a necessity. The first time Sabathia pitched on short rest for Milwaukee — part of his incredible second half of 2008 — he did it two days after throwing his regular bullpen.
“(Ben) Sheets went down and they wanted me,” Sabathia said. “I told them I would pitch. I had thrown a bullpen just like normal. I don’t think it affected me.”
Associated Press photo