The decision that New York Yankees manager Joe Girardi preferred not to make is staring him in the face.
With the Yankees missing out on their chance to put the Phillies away, losing 8-6 last night in Game 5 at Citizens Bank Park to send the World Series back to the Bronx, Girardi needs a starter for tomorrow night's sixth game.
All signs point to it being 37-year-old lefthander Andy Pettitte, arguably the most successful starting pitcher in postseason history. But Pettitte will be working on three days rest, the same as Game 5 starter A.J. Burnett, who got lit up for six earned runs in two-plus innings last night.
Girardi did not commit to Pettitte during his postgame interview with reporters, although he said his veteran starter "felt good" after throwing a light bullpen session.
"We're going to check with Andy when we work out at 4 o'clock [today] and I'll announce it then," he said. "Physically, I've got to see how he is."
Girardi, who said the decision would be discussed internally before being made public, said the fact that Burnett was pounded last night would not have any effect on his decision to use Pettitte.
"If Andy physically feels good, he's going to go on Wednesday," Girardi said. "This is something that we talked about all throughout. We check with our guys. If he feels good, he's going."
Although he got the win in Game 3, Pettitte struggled Saturday night. He allowed five hits, three walks and four earned runs in six innings and gave up a pair of home runs to Jayson Werth during his 104-pitch outing.
"I can't remember winning a game where I've struggled like I did tonight," Pettitte said after that game. "It's very gratifying to be able to go out there and just battle through it."
The Yankees have been trying to get through the postseason with a three-man rotation of Pettitte, Burnett, and CC Sabathia, the first time that's been attempted since the Atlanta Braves' trio of John Smoltz, Tom Glavine and Steve Avery in 1992.
Four other pitchers on New York's World Series roster started games during the regular season, headed by Joba Chamberlain with 31. But Girardi has used Chamberlain exclusively out of the bullpen in the postseason and has not even as much as hinted that will change.
Chad Gaudin started six games for the Yankees after being acquired Aug. 6 from the San Diego Padres. However, since his last start Sept. 28, he has been used only once - a one-inning mop-up assignment Oct. 20 in Game 4 of the American League Championship Series, which New York won, 10-1.
"We talked about it a little bit," Girardi said about using Gaudin. "The interesting thing is Chad hasn't thrown much in the last month, and that's a difficult spot to put him in."
In his 15-year career, Pettitte is 4-6 with a 4.15 ERA in 14 regular-season starts on three days' rest, and is 3-1 with a 2.88 ERA in five postseason starts.
Pettitte last pitched on three days' rest in a World Series in 1996. He worked 81/3 innings of shutout ball in Game 5, which enabled to the Yankees to take a 3-2 lead over the Atlanta Braves. But he was 24 at the time.
And, since 1999, pitchers working on three days' rest against a fully rested starter are 12-36 in the postseason.