Joe Girardi never gives in, which might mean that Joe Girardi is either a slow learner, a non-learner or has succumbed to front office pressure.
Last night, CC Sabathia, who averaged 7.1 innings in his first 28 starts, failed to get to the seventh inning for the third time in his last four games.
Sabathia is a workhorse. Last season he started 34 times, working 237.2 innings. This season, he has made 32 starts and pitched 230 innings. He thrives on work and can handle it.
Like most pitchers, Sabathia is a creature of habit. He has always preferred having four days off between starts, but the New York Yankees have a pitcher that they feel they must start because they gave him a contract that they regret.
Joe Girardi has continually refused to drop A.J. Burnett from the starting rotation. Burnett is 10-11 with an obscene 5.20 ERA and a minuscule 84 ERA+.
It doesn’t matter whether Girardi has decided on his own to keep Burnett in the rotation or if the front office has pressured him to do so. The manager must stand up to ownership because any manager worth his salt makes his own decisions.
Girardi is either not his own man or he has made a terrible decision.
But Burnett alone would not have forced Sabathia out of his routine.
The Yankees have mishandled Phil Hughes from the time he first joined the club, just as they probably have destroyed Joba Chamberlain’s career. Hughes’ return earlier this season resulted in Girardi using a six-man rotation.
We all remember 2001, when Sterling Hitchcock was re-acquired. Joe Torre refused to stick with a six-man rotation. He sent Hitchcock to the bullpen.
Since the beginning of August, Sabathia has worked on four days’ rest only twice. He has had an extra day of rest eight times in his last 10 starts, which coincides with the decline in his effectiveness.
Girardi admits as much. When asked if the extra rest were the cause of Sabathia’s recent struggles, he responded, “It could...That's just been the way it's been for us."
Way to go, Joe.
Ralph Houk, who managed the Yankees to consecutive World Championships in 1961-62, started Whitey Ford every fourth day. It didn’t matter if an off day resulted in Ford starting in place of Ralph Terry or Bill Stafford. Ford was the ace. Ford made the start.
The 2011 Yankees don’t have a Terry or Stafford to follow Sabathia.
Gil Hodges, who managed the New York Mets to the greatest surprise championship in history, upset some of the other pitchers by starting Tom Seaver every fifth day.
Joe Girardi will have much of October free to do as he pleases if Sabathia continues to pitch ineffectively.
You don’t mess with the ace of the pitching staff.