Who will be the DH in Game 5?
From Marc Carig (Star-Ledger):
In the postseason, with Jose Molina behind the plate for A.J. Burnett’s starts, Yankees manager Joe Girardi has kept Hideki Matsui over starting catcher Jorge Posada. The decision, Girardi said, has hinged on Matsui’s experience as a designated hitter.But with Burnett on the hill for Thursday’s Game 5 of the American League Championship Series, Girardi might have a tough call.
“That’s something we’ll talk about,” said Girardi, who on Wednesday declined to share his lineup.
Posada has hammered Angels starter John Lackey in the past. In 32 lifetime plate appearances against the Angels right-hander, Posada is 12-for-29 (.414) with three walks, a homer, and three RBI.
“I don’t know yet,” Posada said, when asked if he knows how he will be used in Game 5. “They haven’t said anything yet.”
Matsui hasn’t been bad against Lackey either. Though his .286 average in 32 plate appearance against Lackey pales in comparison, Matsui has two doubles, a homer and seven RBI against Lackey.
Molina, meanwhile, said he has yet to be told if he will catch Burnett.
“I don’t know,” he said. “You’ll have to ask Joe.”
Ideally, you would like to have both Posada and Matsui in the lineup, however, Molina will ultimately catch Burnett, which rules out that possibility. Based on their most recent performances, Posada would appear to have the edge over Matsui as he is hitting .308/.471/.615 during the the ALCS (the days off seem to be helping him), whereas Hideki Matsui is hitting .286/.412/.357. Therefore, while Matsui is having an extremely respectable series, Posada is clearly locked in at the plate, which could force Girardi to bench Matsui, at least for one game. If Matsui’s line against starter John Lackey was better than Posada’s, I imagine the decision would be a lot easier to make.
The likelier scenario, it seems, would be for Girardi to start Matsui as the team’s DH and then use Posada in the later innings. That idea has worked, thus far, and it would allow for both players to be in the lineup, at some point in the game. This is probably the best solution depth-wise, as well. For instance, imagine if Posada was given the start at DH and Burnett bombed early. Molina’s presence would no longer be needed yet Matsui would not be able to enter the lineup for more than an a pinch-hit at-bat. Thus, the strongest configuration would be to start Matsui and, upon Burnett’s exit, bring in Posada. I think Girardi fully intends on doing this, however, since he has not yet announced that Jose Molina will be the starting catcher for Game 5, perhaps his vague responses regarding the use of Jorge Posada (e.g., “That’s something we’ll talk about”) have inadvertently created a DH debate.
Photo by Jim McIsaac/Getty Images