- Wallace Matthews, ESPNNewYork.com
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The only thing we know for sure about Game 1 of the ALDS is that CC Sabathia will start it for the Yankees.
We don't know who the opponent wil be, and probably won't until about midnight Friday, when the Texas Rangers and Baltimore Orioles settle the AL wild-card argument, and obviously we can't know who the opposing starter will be.
But we do know there will be Division Series games at the home of the wild-card winner Sunday and Monday, and then three at Yankee Stadium next Wednesday, Thursday and Friday. And we know CC is going on Sunday.
The question is, who should start Game 2? According to the rotation, it should be Hiroki Kuroda, who worked in Wednesday night's regular-season finale against the Red Sox and would be scheduled to pitch next on Monday.
But what about Andy Pettitte? The Yankees had Pettitte ready to go to pitch in a potential tiebreaker game against the Orioles on Thursday, which turned out not to be necessary. Now, by the time the 40-year-old lefty's turn comes up again, he will have been inactive for nine days if he goes Monday, and a whopping 11 days if Joe Girardi decides to use him in Game 3.
The answer seems pretty simple to me. Both pitchers appear to be equally unaffected by extra rest -- and in fact, Pettitte pitched one of his best games of the year in his first start back after being sidelined for 11 weeks with a broken left ankle -- but Kuroda is a much different pitcher on the road than he is at home.
This year, Kuroda was 11-6 with a 2.72 ERA at Yankee Stadium, but only 5-5 with a 4.23 on the road, and one of those losses came at The Ballpark in Arlington.
That should be enough to persuade Girardi to throw Pettitte at whoever the opponent is in Game 2, and save Kuroda for Game 3 at Yankee Stadium.
As for Game 4, that's a whole nother issue. If the Yankees are trailing 1-2 and facing elimination, do you send Phil Hughes out to save the season? Or do you pitch CC on short rest and then have Pettitte, the winningest pitcher in postseason baseball history, go short in Game 5? Or ask Hughes to pitch you into the ALCS?
Thankfully, there are Girardi's problems, not ours, and he'll cross that bridge when and if he gets to it. Right now, all we know is there will be a Game 1 and Sabathia will pitch it, and there will be a Game 2, and Pettitte should pitch it.