Nov 6, 2009, 3:35 PM EDT
By relying exclusively on CC Sabathia, A.J. Burnett, and Andy Pettitte throughout the postseason the Yankees became the first team since the Twins in 1991 to win the World Series while using only three starting pitchers.
Minnesota won that year behind the trio of Jack Morris, Kevin Tapani, and 23-year-old 20-game winner Scott Erickson, and in a cruel twist of fate that happens to be the first postseason that I can remember watching.
I was eight years old, newly obsessed with the Twins, and living in St. Paul at the time, so naturally it seemed to me that they would be making it to the World Series just about every season for the rest of my life. They haven’t been back since. Anyway, enough about the unfortunate timing of my Twins fandom.
Minnesota only needed to use a three-man rotation for two rounds in 1991 and Elias Sports Bureau put together an interesting stat about the history of pitchers starting on short rest since the playoffs expanded to three rounds in 1995. Despite the Yankees’ recent success the numbers aren’t pretty. Short-rest starters have gone 22-35 with a 4.68 ERA in 480.2 innings during that 15-year span, including a 5.24 ERA in four starts this postseason.
Success tends to breed copycats and the Yankees riding three starters to the World Series this season will no doubt increase the likelihood of other teams giving it a try, but short rest simply hasn’t been very kind to pitchers in the playoffs. In fact, only once since 1995 have short-rest starters produced a winning record and an ERA under 4.00.
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