Tuesday, October 13, 2009 Updated: October 15, 2:08 AM ET
Girardi might go with 3-man rotation
ESPN.com news services
NEW YORK -- Barring a change of heart, the Yankees are expected to go with a three-man rotation against the Los Angeles Angels in the AL Championship Series.
CC Sabathia is scheduled to start Friday night's opener, with A.J. Burnett and Andy Pettitte as New York's other two primary starters. The shortened rotation would allow manager Joe Girardi to keep Joba Chamberlain and Chad Gaudin in the bullpen.
"It looks like we have some rain in the forecast, so that can change things," Girardi said Tuesday during a conference call. "We are definitely considering possibly going to a three-man rotation in this round, but we'll have to take a look at it and see how it goes."
New York swept Minnesota in the opening round and used Chamberlain as a setup man in all three games. He pitched 1 2/3 scoreless innings, allowing two hits, and combined with Phil Hughes and the rest of the bullpen to bolster the link between starters and closer Mariano Rivera.
"That was pretty good with us in the first round," Girardi said. "If you go to a three-man rotation, obviously he stays in the bullpen. But if you go to a four-man rotation, then we have to weigh the benefits of either putting Joba in the bullpen or putting Chad in the bullpen."
Sabathia made his final three regular-season starts for Milwaukee on three days' rest in 2008, then started again on short rest in the playoffs against Philadelphia. He lasted just 3 2/3 innings and lost to the Phillies.
New York limited him to 230 innings during the regular season -- down from 253 the previous year. He will start the opener against the Angels on eight days' rest, another factor the Yankees think will enable him to be effective in Game 4.
"Not getting him to 250 innings during the regular season allows us to consider that," Girardi said. "We've told him, though, to concentrate on Game 1. That's the most important game, and we'll go from there."
While Sabathia was 19-8 overall, he went 0-2 with a 6.08 ERA in two starts against the Angels. He threw a bullpen session Tuesday, and several Yankees relievers also pitched in an attempt to stay sharp: Alfredo Aceves, Phil Coke, Gaudin, Damaso Marte and David Robertson.
Because the Angels have far more switch-hitters (Erick Aybar, Chone Figgins, Maicer Izturis, Gary Matthews Jr., Kendry Morales and Reggie Willits) than left-handed hitters (Bobby Abreu), the Yankees might drop the left-handed Marte in favor of right-hander Brian Bruney, who has been working out at the team's complex in Tampa, Fla.
"We'll talk about if guys are stronger from the right side or left side," Girardi said. "Bruney is a guy we sent down there because we believe that he's still in the mix."
Girardi hasn't decided whether to again have Jose Molina catch Burnett instead of Jorge Posada. To do that, Girardi said he probably would have to again carry Francisco Cervelli as a third catcher, allowing the team to take out Posada for a pinch runner late in a game.
Catchers could be a key in the series. The Angels were perfect in nine stolen base attempts against the Yankees as the teams split 10 games during the regular season.
"I think the focus when you play the Angels is not to get wrapped up in their running game, because they're going to run," Girardi said. "And the bottom line is you've got to keep making pitches. And when you get your focus so much on the running game, you don't make the pitches that you need to make."
Johnny Damon, 1 for 12 with no RBIs against in the first round, took batting practice against the pitchers Tuesday along with backups Cervelli, Brett Gardner, Jerry Hairston Jr. and Eric Hinske. "I don't make too much of 10, 12 at-bats," Girardi said. "We know that Johnny can get real hot, real fast." ... Nick Swisher took BP in a cage.
Information from The Associated Press was used in this report.