Mike Scioscia has been trying to play coy with his rotation plans, but the official Angel website went and spoiled his secrecy by posting his list of probable pitchers for the American League Championship Series. The planned rotation and TV schedule for the ALCS is as such, but look closely because you might see something very curious:
Game 1: LAA – John Lackey @ NYY – CC Sabathia (10/16, FOX, 4:57 PM PT)
Game 2: LAA – Joe Saunders @ NYY – AJ Burnett (10/17, FOX, 4:57 PM PT)
Game 3: NYY – Andy Pettitte @ LAA – Jered Weaver (10/19, FOX, 1:13 PM PT)
Game 4: NYY – TBD @ LAA – Scott Kazmir (10/20, FOX, 4:57 PM PT)
Game 5: LAA – TBD @ LAA – TBD (10/22, FOX, TBD)
Game 6: LAA – TBD @ NYY – TBD (10/24, FOX, TBD)
Game 7: LAA – TBD @ NYY – TBD (10/25, FOX, TBD)
Yes, it is strange that Game 3 is on a Monday and starting at 1:13 in the afternoon when the whole West Coast will still be at work. That is an entirely different problem but I will save that for another day. I want you to look a little bit before that, just one game up. Is Joe Saunders starting Game 2?
Yep it sure looks that way, I’m not totally sure why, but that seems to be the decision the wise old Sosh has made which means he may have already made his first managerial blunder of the ALCS before it has even started. Perhaps he is more scared though that holding Saunders off until Game 4 means that he won’t have appeared in a game in almost three weeks by that point and will be in peril of getting rusty. By the same token, I don’t see extra time off as a negative for a pitcher with an achy shoulder, no matter how long the hiatus is.
Joe, do you have any idea why you are getting such an important start? Me neither.
Clearly, Mike Scioscia think it is best to start a southpaw at Yankee Stadium in order to neutralize their lefty power bats and the short right field porch. It is a great idea and I have no problem with it, what I have a problem with is the execution. In five career starts against the Bronx Bombers Saunders has a bloated 6.28 ERA and has coughed up six dingers in 28.2 inning pitched. To be fair, Saundo shut down the Yanks almost a month ago, allowing just two runs in 8.1 innings. But one good start does not a sound decision make, not when you could easily start another left-hander instead that has a MUCH better track record against the Yankees.
I know Scott Kazmir is new to the Angels, but has Scioscia forgot about him already just because of his subpar performance against Boston? Is he unaware that Kaz has pitched 87.2 career innings against the New York and has a 2.67 ERA, 1.29 WHIP and 86 Ks in that time? Did nobody inform him that Scott has made three starts against the Yanks this year and all three were quality starts? Is this not one of the primary reasons that the Angels targeted Kazmir via trade to begin with? Can I possibly ask more rhetorical questions?
I see what Scioscia is trying to do, but this smells to me like a very bad case of over-thinking the situation. With the funky off-day schedule in the series, the starter of Game 4, in this case Kazmir, could be slated to start Game 7 on normal four days rest if the respective manager chooses to skip what would normally be the Game 3 starter’s turn. That is most likely what Sosh wants since Jered Weaver has been battered around by the Yankees in his career, making it far more preferable to have Kaz take his turn in the rotation. But it is also a dangerous gamble, because there is a very good chance that the series won’t go seven games, meaning the team would use their best Yankee killer only once while giving two starts to a guy in Joe Saunders who spent most of the season getting beaten around like a pinata due to a balky shoulder.
We’ve seen far too much of this in 2009 for Saundo to be given such a hefty assignment.
Now Scioscia wants to gamble that the Joe Saunders that pitched fairly well after a stint on the DL to rest up that shoulder is going to be able to handle the powerful Yankee line-up better than Scott Kazmir has his entire career. Considering the stakes, I’m not so sure that is a gamble he should be making. Saunders might work out just fine, but one good recent start shouldn’t trump a career of domination.
Mike Scioscia has yet to officially announce the rotation, so there is still time to remedy this perceived bad decision. Maybe the Angels’ website leaked the probable pitchers based on bad information or a bad assumption or maybe Sosh is just trying to mess with Joe Girardi’s head. I don’t know. I just hope Sosh recognizes what a mistake this would be and fixes it before it is too late.
UPDATE: The rotation has been made official, Saundo will go in Game 2… oh, well.