Oct 13, 2009, 2:30 PM EDT
One of the things that makes the playoffs so much different than the regular season is the drawn-out schedule allowing teams to shorten up both the rotation and bullpen.
There’s zero need for a five-man rotation during the playoffs and in some cases a four-man rotation isn’t even necessary. This year’s ALCS is example of that, because with a week of lead time before the series even begins and off days after Game 2, Game 4, and Game 5 the Yankees and Angels can lean exclusively on their best three starters.
Mike Scioscia and company may choose not to do that because rotation depth is one of the Angels’ biggest strengths, but being able to rely on CC Sabathia, A.J. Burnett, and Andy Pettitte to make every start in the series is a huge advantage for the Yankees.
Sabathia will almost surely start Game 1 on full rest, Game 4 on three days’ rest, and Game 7 on full rest, with Burnett and Pettitte starting twice each. John Lackey will face Sabathia in Game 1, but may draw just one other assignment in the series in part because of the Angels’ rotation depth and in part because he’s started on short rest just three times in his career.
The drawn-out schedule could also allow the Yankees to use the dominant relief trio of Mariano Rivera, Phil Hughes, and Joba Chamberlain for basically every game, which is obviously a big difference from having to rely upon a seven-man bullpen during the regular season. Shortening up the bullpen also helps the Angels given their shaky middle relief, but in general the ALCS schedule is very favorable for the Yankees.
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