Postseason Q&A: Yanks' No. 3 starter?

September, 21, 2011
9/21/11
1:54
PM ET
Today's postseason question: Who should be the New York Yankees' No. 3 starter?

For the first round of the playoffs, the Yankees will need only three starters, assuming they pitch CC Sabathia on three days' rest in Game 4. If the series goes five games, Ivan Nova would start Game 5 on four days' rest.

But who will get the call for the third slot? Phil Hughes appeared the favorite, but he was pulled from his start today due to back spasms. Let's run down the candidates and how they've done down the stretch.

Phil Hughes: His overall numbers remain poor (5-5, 6.00 ERA, 1.49 WHIP), but he's allowed three runs in 12 innings in his two September starts. Those two starts, however, came against the Orioles and the Mariners (worst offense in the majors). In his starts prior to that, Hughes was pounded by the Red Sox and A's. In those four starts, he's recorded 23 groundball outs against 46 flyball outs, so home runs could be a concern with that flyball rate. Bottom line: He'll get at least one start to prove he's healthy, but what if he pitches poorly in that game?

A.J. Burnett: Did you realize Burnett has 25 wild pitches? That's the third-most since 1920, trailing only Tony Cloninger's 27 in 1966 and Juan Guzman's 26 in 1993. Would Joe Girardi really have the intestinal fortitude to start Burnett? He has a 8.59 ERA over his past nine starts, allowing 69 hits in 44 innings. But he does have 47 strikeouts and only 18 walks. He struck out 11 two starts ago ... but that came against the Mariners, who are striking out a dozen times every game this month. In his last start, Burnett got pounded by the Triple-A Twins. Do you like playing with fire?

Bartolo Colon: So good the first two months, he's been shaky of late, allowing nine home runs over his past eight starts. The Blue Jays roughed him up in his last start but in the game before that he allowed just an unearned against the Angels in seven innings. He's also throwing strikes: 24-to-3 strikeout/walk ratio over his past five starts. Colon won't go deep into the game, but he may be your best bet for five or six decent innings.

Freddy Garcia: The Chief is 11-9 with a 3.77 ERA overall, but in four starts since a short DL stint in August he owns a 7.85 ERA and has allowed seven home runs in 18.1 innings. That gopherball rate would be a risky matchup against the Tigers or Rangers.

So, who do you go with? Place your vote.

David Schoenfield | email

SweetSpot blogger

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