Yanks rotation far from set in stone

Yanks rotation far from set in stone

NEW YORK -- Ideally, the Yankees would like to hand the ball off to ace CC Sabathia for Games 1, 4 and 7. But manager Joe Girardi reiterated following Wednesday's team workout that nothing is set in stone concerning the back-half of the Yankees' American League Championship Series rotation.

"There's still some things that we want to discuss," Girardi said. "We don't expect a lot of changes, but we talked about a bunch of different scenarios [Wednesday morning]. We will sleep on that, and then move forward as we talk again [on Thursday]."

One of those scenarios includes the possibility of a rainout, which would threaten to take away an off-day from the series. As of Wednesday afternoon, the forecast in New York calls for heavy rain starting on Thursday and continuing through the weekend, with an 80 percent chance of showers for Friday night's opener.

What is definite is Sabathia, who, on eight days' rest, will get the ball for Friday's Game 1 against the Angels at the New Yankee Stadium, with A.J. Burnett and Andy Pettitte both near certainties to follow.

While making a start in Tuesday's Game 4 would be on shortened rest, it's nothing Sabathia hasn't done before. His past three regular-season starts with Milwaukee last season all came on short rest, and he is 3-1 with a 1.01 ERA in four career regular-season starts on three days' rest, averaging nearly a strikeout an inning.

However, Sabathia's start in Game 2 of the National League Division Series on three days' rest didn't go nearly as well. The big lefty allowed five runs and couldn't get out of the fourth inning in the Brewers' eventual loss.

"[Postseason starts] are grueling, " Girardi said. "We expect that our pitchers can handle it. CC has pitched in the postseason a couple of times and we think that the extra rest here -- the extra rest that we gave him in September -- gives us the ability to possibly make that decision [of starting him three times.]"

AL Championship Series
Gm. 1 NYY 4, LAA 1 Wrap Video
Gm. 2 NYY 4, LAA 3 Wrap Video
Gm. 3 LAA 5, NYY 4 Wrap Video
Gm. 4 NY 10, LAA 1 Wrap Video
Gm. 5 LAA 7, NYY 6 Wrap Video
Gm. 6 NYY 5, LAA 2 Wrap Video

The biggest question -- and perhaps the only question for the Yankees entering the best-of-seven set -- is who would get the ball in a four-man rotation: Joba Chamberlain or Chad Gaudin?

If for any reason, such as the weather or Sabathia being overused in Game 1, the Yankees must go with a fourth starter it will be either Chamberlain or Gaudin getting the ball in Anaheim. Otherwise, the pair will be relegated to bullpen roles, much in the same way they were used in the Yankees' three-game AL Division Series sweep over the Twins.

Girardi said he is comfortable using the pair of pitchers either way, and that the final decision regarding Game 4 will not be based on the results of the series' first three games.

"This is something we've been discussing," Girardi said. "It's not iron-clad right now, exactly what we are going to do, but we've definitely had a discussion about it."

The uncertainty of Tuesday's game in Anaheim leaves both Chamberlain and Gaudin on notice. And if either of them knew their fate on Wednesday afternoon, they weren't willing to share it.

"You can't look ahead or figure out what's going to happen," said Chamberlain, who is preparing to be used out of the bullpen until he is told otherwise.

"If they say, 'This is what you are going to do,' this is what you are going to do."

Gaudin was equally even-keeled about the situation.

"I know it's in the air, I know it's an option," he said of the need for a fourth starter. "I don't know what's going to happen, four starters [or] three starters. All I know is on Friday, I will be ready [out of the bullpen]."

Given Chamberlain's struggles under the "Joba Rules" -- which includes an ERA of 5.40 in the season's second half -- Gaudin might be the more likely of the two to start, should the weather foil the Yankees' plans. In 11 appearances with New York (six starts), Gaudin went 2-0 with a 3.43 ERA.

In 19 career games (including nine starts) against the Angels, Gaudin is 3-3 with a 5.40 ERA. Another factor in play might be Gaudin's ability to transition his success from the bullpen to a starting role, as he was used in a plethora of roles in his limited time in pinstripes.

"The situation I've been in since I've been here has been I don't know when I'm going to pitch, I don't know where I'm going to pitch, I don't know what it's going to be," Gaudin said. "So, I have to essentially be ready at all times. And be ready to face each team. So having said that and having done that, then the changes, weather, the climate, time zone, whatever. It doesn't play in this situation, it can't play in this situation, it has no room. "

"The biggest thing is when you are called up on to pitch, you execute."

Brittany Ghiroli is a contributor to MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.