Jack McKeon was out walking his dog at his home in North Carolina when I phoned him this morning, asking him what he thought about the Yankees sending C.C. Sabathia to the mound on three days rest in Tuesday's Game 4 of the ALCS.
Know what McKeon did? He laughed.
"There ain't nothing wrong with that, shoot," McKeon said. "I think nothing of it."
Six years ago McKeon raised eyebrows when he announced that Josh Beckett would start Game 6 of the World Series for the Marlins on short rest, against the very same Yankees. Some media pundits felt that McKeon was off his rocker and took him to task.
So, of course, Beckett delivers a Series clinching gem, going nine and prompting McKeon to draw laughter by opening his post-game press conference by asking reporters, "Who's going to ask me about three days rest?"
McKeon said a lot of people forgot that the Yankees' Andy Pettitte was starting on three days' rest when he faced the Marlins in Game 2 of the '03 Series. Pettitte went 8 2/3 innings and got the win..
McKeon sees nothing wrong with the strategy even though, statistically, starters going on short rest in the playoffs have only won about 20 percent of the time. Sabathia made three starts on short rest for the Brewers last September in the pennant race, and those turned out successfully. However, he was hit hard in his lone playoff outing, also on short rest, for Milwaukee last October. Yankees manager Joe Girardi, who had a hand in his team's Game 3 loss last night by reaching into the bullpen once too often, is using Sabathia on short rest in order to make him available for a potential Game 7.
McKeon says he's all for it.
"Yeah, I took heat for it," McKeon said of his Beckett decision in 2003. "But I enjoyed it, and I loved the results."