It’s a busy week this week, so you’ll have to do without a fancy intro…
Alex Pedicini: For the Phillies I would roll out Cole Hamels, J.A. Happ, Pedro Martinez, and Joe Blanton. The Yankees rotation might look something like A.J. Burnett, Andy Pettitte, Joba Chamberlain and Chad Gaudin.
Jeremy Greenhouse: Well the Yankees have been rolling with Pettitte and Burnett, while the Phillies have used Hamels, Happ, Pedro, and Blanton. So that leaves two spots to fill in for the Yanks and none for the Phils. The obvious choices for the Yanks are Joba Chamberlain and Chad Gaudin. Those are also really the only choices. I have to think this trade-off would favor the Phillies.
Pat Andriola: Yankees: Burnett, Andy Pettite, Chad Gaudin, Phil Hughes
Phillies: Hamels, Martinez, Blanton, Happ
Dan Novick: Phil Hughes isn’t stretched out enough to be a starter, he’d only be able to go around three innings or ~50 pitches before tiring out. The Yankees would have to fill that empty spot with Gaudin for as many innings as he can, with Aceves as his caddy. They did this at the end of the season and it worked out. If I were making the Phillies rotation, it would include Hamels, Blanton, Happ, and Pedro. Though with the way Pedro’s been pitching, I might just have to start him game one.
Question #2: So far, Joe Girardi has been heavily playing the matchups with his bullpen. It worked well until he replaced David Robertson with Alfredo Aceves with two outs in the 11th inning of game 3. Will over-managing the bullpen come back to bite the Yankees again in the future?
Alex Pedicini: I don’t think over-managing will come back to haunt Girardi and the Yankees. While it certainly hurt in the game three loss, I think the bullpen is deep enough that Girardi should not have any problems managing them down the stretch.
Jeremy Greenhouse: I strongly disagree with the premise that Girardi has been over-managing the bullpen. In 22 innings, the Yankee bullpen has 21 strikeouts to six unintentional walks and has allowed four runs. Pretty good numbers. In fact, I think he’s been too slow to pull the trigger a couple times. The Robertson/Ace move was questionable, but to be fair, Ace induced a grounder that would’ve been an out if it had been redirected a foot in any direction. Anyway, the Yankees have quite easily the best team in baseball, so I don’t think anything is going to stop them from winning the World Series.
Pat Andriola: I’ll skip the premises and go straight to answering the question: no, it won’t bite the Yankees, because I think Girardi has used the bullpen pretty damn well so far, and to appease Jeremy, I’ll go ahead and admit that I think the Yankees are going to steamroll the World Series and take it home (lord help me).
Question #3: We have already seen several questionable decisions by managers this post-season. Do managers tend to over-manage in the playoffs or are their mistakes just magnified in the post-season?
Alex Pedicini: The easy answer is to say that the mistakes are simply magnified by the large stage of the playoffs. However, I do think that some managers may over-think themselves and the results can be disastrous. I immediately turn to Terry Francona‘s decision to walk Torii Hunter and face Vlad Guerrero. Now in the regular season Boston was 25th in the league in intentional walks issued with 24. Clearly they don’t use this strategy often yet Francona went ahead with it and wound up being a terrible decision in hind sight.
Jeremy Greenhouse: The latter. Same with umpire blown calls and closer blow-ups. Managing is different in the post-season since there are so many days off, managers have every right to mix and match with their bullpen, so some see it as over-managing. Sorry to be blunt, but it isn’t. And it’s not even their mistakes that are magnified. It’s just the results of their decisions. Few out there actually analyze the process of managers.
Pat Andriola: I know that it’s a little bit of both. Managers know that everything they do is being watched all the more intently, so they are prone to possibly be “into” the game even more. And in the course of 162 games, blunders can be covered. But if you pull a Grady Little, all hell breaks loose.
Dan Novick: I think they do tend to manage the game more than they do in the regular season, but I don’t know if that means they’re over-managing the game. The days off in the post-season allow for a manager to burn through his entire bullpen almost every game, for example, which the Yankees have taken full advantage of. This has obviously worked well so far, and Girardi has gotten some praise for it. People don’t often praise the manager in the regular season, but in the playoffs so far, every other word has been about how good a manager Mike Scioscia is. So it works both ways.
Question #4:Should the leverage index of games determine how a manager sets up his rotation in a playoff series, or should it just be best available starter each time out?
Alex Pedicini: Each game is so crucial in a playoff series which would lead me to think that the best pitchers should start games one and two so they would then be available to pitch again later in the series. The leverage index could be used to decide which pitchers throw games three or four as that would seem to make the most sense in determining which games your three and four starters should go.
Jeremy Greenhouse: I think you have to set up your rotation so that you have your best pitcher going game 1 and your 2nd-best in game 2, to maximize the chance that they pitch multiple times in a 7-game series. I haven’t seen anyone define which games are likely to be more crucial in a 7-game series, though, but I think if it is the case that game 4 tends to have a higher leverage than game 3, then yes, you should flip those starters. Someone needs to do the work on that if it hasn’t already been done.
Pat Andriola: I think it should be your best pitchers in a row, unless there is overwhelming evidence that suggests a switch. I think an example of this would be if your second best starter was a fly-ball pitcher, and your third best was a ground-ball pitcher, and Game 2 was at a bandbox, whereas Game 3 was at a neutral/pitcher-friendly park.
Dan Novick: This might sound overly simplistic, but you just decide on the pitcher based on which one will gave you the best chance of winning the series. Before the series starts, that usually means having your ace and #2 pitching the first two games so they can pitch again later in the series. Things can change on the fly, though, depending on the state of the series, the opposition, and health. Had the Angels started Lackey in game four, he would have surely given them a better opportunity to win than Kazmir did. But knowing that Sabathia was starting game four, Scioscia might have conceded the advantage in that game to the Yankees in his mind. Long story short, it’s not necessarily about maximizing the chance of winning the next game, it is be about maximizing your chances for the whole series. The two can be somewhat independent.