Setting the Rotation

With the Diamondbacks clinching the National League Pennant so early, manager Bob Brenly has the advantage of setting his pitching rotation to how it will best fit the opposition. I am sure that Bob took a lot of time and effort in coming up with this rotation after carefully weighing all the options with Bob Welch the Diamondbacks pitching coach.

Having watched the Diamondbacks all season, I too had some ideas when it came to who would be pitching and when. Unfortunately, Brenly didn’t call me for my advice and because of this I wonder whether he made the right decisions. That of course is the beauty of being a Major League Baseball fan. I get to second-guess every call the manager or the umpires make. It is almost a requirement if you are to be included as a serious baseball fan. Given this scenario, let’s look at the pitching rotation and analyze it further. Where my opinion differs, I will note what I would have done.

Game 1 – Curt Schilling. This is pretty much a no-brainer. Schilling has been nearly impossible to hit. You have to start Curt in game 1 if for no other reason than to prove that you got the horses and you are going to use them. There would be no better way to prove you belong in the World Series than to roll Schilling out to the mound and let him pitch another gem like he did in the first two rounds of the play-offs. Curt has shown that he is a big-game pitcher who is not afraid of pressure. This makes him the man for the Diamondbacks.

Game 2 – Randy Johnson. I am not sure I agree with this choice. It is not that I don’t think the Big Unit deserves to be the game 2 starter. On the contrary, he has earned the distinction to be the ace. It is just that I would like to have seen Brenly save Johnson for game 3 in New York. Having a dominating lefty start the first game at Yankee Stadium could really have taken the crowd out of the game in a hurry. I would have placed Miguel Batista on the mound for game 2. The home crowd will really be into the game and that would have been a boost to Miguel. I understand Brenly’s thinking; he wants to leave Arizona with a 2-0 lead in order to force a game 6 as a worst-case scenario.

Game 3 – Brian Anderson. This one really threw a lot of people for a loop. BA has really struggled this season but the past two outings he has had have been very encouraging. Again, I would have thrown Johnson at this spot. Sure both BA and the Big Unit are both left-handed but they are on opposite ends of the intimidation spectrum. It is questionable how well Anderson will be able to deal with the crowd in the Bronx so this game could be the key to the series.

Game 4 – Miguel Batista. Miguel has been the most valuable pitcher on the Diamondbacks staff this season. Sure Johnson and Schilling have the numbers to prove how dominating they are but Miguel has done the most for this ball club. He has started, closed, and mopped up innings. He is also not afraid of anything proving his muster by throwing inside to several dangerous hitters. He also possesses a rubber arm, which allows him to throw in consecutive days. That is one of the big reasons I would have used him in game 2. In this spot, I would have thrown Brian Anderson so that the Yankees have to face 2 lefties back-to-back.

Game 5 – Curt Schilling. Schilling will once again prove his worth by pitching the last game at Yankee Stadium on 4 days rest. This will give his arm plenty of time to be ready with another dominating effort. Since Curt tends to pitch deep into the game, he will be less apt to require a lot of help from the bullpen. This will be advantageous since many of the relief pitchers for the Diamondbacks have never been to Yankee Stadium and might get flustered.

Game 6 – Randy Johnson. Brenly is thinking of course that by having Curt and Randy pitching consecutively that he has a chance to finish the series in 6 games. This will mean Johnson would be on the mound for the deciding game, exactly how he would like to see this play out. I would have gone again with Miguel Batista. Since Schilling pitched the previous game and also having a travel day on Friday, the bullpen would have been rested that you could have brought in Albie Lopez, Bobby Witt or Mike Morgan to eat innings if there was a problem.

Game 7 – Brian Anderson? This is the biggest question Brenly has to answer. If this series ends up going 7 games, who will pitch the final and deciding game at home? Anderson is up in the rotation but I would almost guarantee that if it gets to this point Curt Schilling comes back on 3 days rest to start this game. Under my scenario, it would have been Randy Johnson pitching in game 7 at home with Curt Schilling available out of the bullpen. This would have been a devastating combination that could be the one that topples the Yankees.

It will be interesting to see how this plays out. I know I will be at the edge of my seat watching every pitch.

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