Joe Girardi, if you’re listening, at all… do not, DO NOT start A.J. Burnett in game 4 of the ALCS. PLEASE!!!
Learn from the mistake that Joe Maddon made in game 2 of the ALDS when he started James Shields against Texas. He knew that Shields wasn’t pitching well all year. He knew that Shields couldn’t shake his struggles and control problems. He knew that Shields wasn’t the right man to pitch in that situation, but still did. Why? Because he’s “Big Game” James. He was the guy that led Tampa’s charge to the World Series in 2008. Because he was hoping that James would find his motor once again in another big time series. He was wrong.
This is the exact same scenario with A.J. Burnett. He’s 10-15 with a 5+ ERA, this is after a 6-1 start. He lost control of his stuff and never regained it. He struggled mightily against everyone. He had a 7.80 ERA in August and a 6.14 ERA in September. All of these numbers should tell any sensible manager that starting Burnett is a no-no even in the Arizona Fall League playoffs.
Yet here is Joe Girardi revealing his 4 man rotation for the playoffs and after Andy Pettite in game 3, there it is Allan John Burnett set to go in game 4. Why? Because last year when the Yankees only went with a three man rotation in their World Series run it was Burnett who set the tone in game 2 of the ALCS and virtually saved the Yankees season with a gem of a game 2 against Philadelphia in the World Series. Despite his 5.27 ERA Burnett put the Yankees in position to win each of their series after following C.C. Sabathia in the rotation.
This is why Girardi is putting him in the rotation. He didn’t pitch Burnett in the ALDS because of his struggles, but is hoping that A.J. can regain his form of last year and help pitch the Yankees into the World Series once again.
The problem is that no, and I mean no one believes that A.J. is fit to pitch on this team this year. Just look at his last simulated start a few days ago. he was wild, viciously wild, he hit two batters and threw a wild pitch, yet the Yankees brass are saying that A.J. took big steps forward in his location and delivery. Do I believe that? Of course not.
However when you look at the Yankees other options you could understand why they need to talk themselves into thinking that A.J. is ready to go. You can’t do the three man rotation again with a young Phil Hughes and Andy Pettite off of an injury. You can’t throw Ivan Nova out there because of his inexperience. As for Javier Vazquez… id rather Hideki Irabu pitch for the Yankees that Vazquez. It honestly looks like it could be A.J. or bust. What else could the Yankees do, pull Joba Chamberlain from the bullpen and start him?
It’s the lesser of two evils for the Yankees right now, A.J. Burnett or a question mark filled field of pitchers. Honestly? I would take my chances with throwing Nova out there before I let Burnett go near the field. As clutch as he was last year Burnett is not the same guy this year. Throwing him out there is a huge mistake and would kill the Yankees shot at making it to the World Series. Unfortunately, Joe Girardi thinks differently. I really wish he would’ve talked to Joe Maddon first before making his decision.