New York Yankees

Brian Cashman: Yankees Playoff Rotation Based on Merit, Not Money

NEW YORK - AUGUST 02:  A.J. Burnett #34 of the New York Yankees leaves the game against the Toronto Blue Jays in the fifth inning on August 2, 2010 at Yankee Stadium in the Bronx borough of New York City.  (Photo by Jim McIsaac/Getty Images)
Jim McIsaac/Getty Images
Bronx Baseball DailySenior Analyst ISeptember 10, 2010

Via ESPN:

General manager Brian Cashman said every Yankees pitcher not named CC Sabathia or Mariano Rivera is “auditioning for a role” in the postseason.

The size of a player’s paycheck, he said, will have no bearing on how or if he is used in October.

That means rookie right-hander Ivan Nova, with all of 24 innings pitched in the major leagues, has as much of a chance of starting a playoff game as A.J. Burnett, who is in the second year of a five-year deal that pays him $16.5 million a season.

“Everything will be decided in these last three weeks,” Cashman said Wednesday night. “The guys who we think give us the best chance to win are the guys who are going to pitch.”

[snip]

The GM refused to speak about individual pitchers and their status for the postseason. He did say if Nova pitches well over the final 22 games of the season, in which he is likely to make four starts, Cashman would be inclined to trust him with a postseason start.

“Aside from CC, nothing is guaranteed for anyone,” Cashman said. “Some guys who are starters now may wind up pitching out of the bullpen. We’ll make that determination based on how well they perform down the stretch for us.”

This is exactly as it should be. Burnett and Javier Vazquez make about $27 million combined, and Nova isn’t even earning half a million, but if Nova is the better pitcher, he should start in the playoffs. Period.

This is great to hear because it wasn’t long ago that the Yankees former manager, Joe Torre, would use inferior players based almost soley on their salary and cite experience as the reason for playing them. Experience is good and can make the difference, especially in the playoffs. But you have to back that experience up with results.

Both Burnett and Vazquez have had stretches of strong performances this season, but neither pitcher has even come close to anything that resembles consistency. For that reason, they shouldn’t just be handed roster spots.

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