Should The Yankees Start CC Sabathia Or Pettitte in Game 6 of The ALCS?

GregCorrespondent IOctober 25, 2009

ANAHEIM, CA - OCTOBER 20:  C.C. Sabathia #52 of the New York Yankees reacts during the sixth inning in Game Four of the ALCS against the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim during the 2009 MLB Playoffs at Angel Stadium on October 20, 2009 in Anaheim, California.  (Photo by Jeff Gross/Getty Images)

Yesterday, I was debating with some people about who should be starting game 6: Sabathia or Pettitte. My thinking was, since CC is on regular rest, you have to pitch him. You can't worry about who will be available for the World Series until you actually get there.

Their argument was, if it goes to a Game 7, you want CC pitching, and if it doesn't, you have him for Game 1 of the World Series. I definitely could see this line of reasoning, I just preferred to see the Yanks close it out tonight.

Anyway, I knew this was something that could be calculated, so I got around to running the numbers today. I used the Bill James Handbook 2010 projections for the starting pitchers, since those are the only ones I have that are applicable right now.

So I calculated the log5 odds, adjusting for starting pitchers, and came out with the following: If CC starts in game 6, the Yankees have close to an 88 percent chance at winning the ALCS. If Pettitte starts in game 6, the Yanks have right around an 84 percent chance at advancing to the World Series.

Four percent isn't a huge difference, but it is significant. SG over at Replacement Level ran the numbers and came up with a much smaller difference. I am not sure what method he used, but I'm sure his methods were fine, too.

If the difference was four percent, I think I'd go ahead and start CC Sabathia in game six of the ALCS. If it's as minuscule as what SG finds, it's worth keeping CC for game seven because of the possible advantage of having CC start game one of the World Series.

This isn't up for debate right now, as Pettitte is the starter tonight. It's hard to argue against this decision because the difference was so small, but if it were my job, I'd be handing the ball to CC and putting game six in his hands.


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