Balancing Act: Yanks try to preserve momentum and health in last week of season


Just to be clear, AJ Burnett has never started in a postseason game. Much has been made of his subpar performances in the last month–last 2 starts notwithstanding–but little has been made of the fact our #2 starter has yet to experience a playoff atmosphere, let alone one in the Bronx.

And that’s the official party line of people who want to convince themselves the Yankees are doomed.

AJ (12-9, 4.19) once again needs a good start, to make it 3 in a row. Which I believe is the unspoken number of requisite sold outings in consecutive appearances that trumps prior struggles. One good start could be luck. Two could be more luck. But three means “pattern.”

AJ’s start was pushed to today on account of his father having triple bypass surgery. I don’t know how these athletes do it, summon their physical strength to compensate for a compromised emotional strength, to just play the game. I can’t focus at work if my pen runs out of ink.

Our pillar will face righty rookie Anthony Lerew (0-1, 3.86), who didn’t get a decision in his last start against Boston. This guy’s got Tyler Clippard written all over him–signs of life and an occasionally flummoxing curve, but a flat fastball and hit or miss changeup. He’s a decent righty but “decent” isn’t what you want to send up against the NYY 0-9-Line. His pitches don’t break late enough, and the Yanks will simply tee off on him.

(And this authoritative assessment is based on me seeing him pitch one game ever, by the way.)

The Yanks are favored at over 70% odds to win tonight. I really wish they had gotten a chance to face Cy Young deserving candidate Zack Greinke. And not in any kind of “we eat pitchers like that for BREAKFAST” kind of way. But in a morbid curiosity kind of way. Like taking the MCATs just for fun, just to see how well you’d do.

Greinke, to put things in perspective has an ERA of 0.26 in his past 5 starts. But you know a player’s deserving of an award when Ortiz chips in his 2 cents of reluctant endorsement. I don’t think Ortiz understands that not everyone is a one-trick pony. It’s almost as if Big Mammi cruised through his playing career with heaps of doting praise cast on him on account of his one asset…and then when he sees players who are actually well-rounded players, he gets a little jealous and threatened.

[On giving Greinke the Cy Young]

“Why not,” Ortiz said. “He’s got good numbers for it. If I could vote for the Cy Young Award, I might give one vote to him.”

(Rolling my eyes…)

So no such “luck” in getting a taste of Greinke’s lethal slider. Our bats tonight will work on a far inferior starter, and New York is likely to start weaving their power back into the fray. I’m a big advocate of the “too much sleep isn’t a good thing” theory. I mean, I’m the most groggy when I’ve gotten too much rest, as opposed to 2 hours, but then again, I’m not a professional athlete and require only a Snickers bar to combat sluggishness.

I’m also not looking at it as a way to bank some Zzz’s so much as I’m seeing this benching-the-starters plan as a way to quarantine them. Francona’s master strategy was to not burn out his top talent for the sake of an allegedly “meaningless” series against the Yanks, but one line drive to the leg shot that plan to hell. Josh Beckett didn’t even play this weekend, and he still suffered some malaise from the plane ride. I’m surprised Girardi even lets his supernovas even leave their room.

I think ARod, Tex, CC, Hughes, Mo, Jeter, et al should just be sequestered in a padded room with no sharp objects and equipped with 300 gallons of Airbourne.

Now I know how mothers feel when they watch their children leave the house, I guess.