This is not rocket science. This should not be a hard decision.
If Joe Girardi is smart then here is what he should do about his current pitching problem… pencil Ivan Nova in and take A.J. Burnett out.
It’s simple mathematics really, Nova has been stellar since being called back up from AAA Wilkes-Barre and he was on his way to stellar even before then.
Nova has won 6 consecutive starts dating back to June. He hasn’t allowed more than four earned runs in any of those starts. What’s even more impressive is that with each start Nova is getting better and better.
Since his return Nova has allowed 3 earned runs in 14 2/3 innings of work. He has turned into the Yankees second best pitcher and despite his youth he has looked like a ten-year vereran on the mound with his poise and unshakeable attitude.
The same can not be said for Burnett.
As much as I love Burnett and his pie antics and loveable locker room personality he is not fit for this team as a starter right now.
With Burnett it’s all mental. When he’s throwing strikes and his pitches have movement Burnett could be a top 2 pitcher in any rotation. However, he can’t get there because he is too inconsistent.
Burnett looked like a gem in April going 4-1 and not allowing more than 4 earned runs in any outing. Since then? He’s 4-8 and has had more than a few moments where fans have been screaming bloody murder for Girardi to remove him.
Take for instance Wednesday night; the Yankees are up 13-1… 13-1 with Burnett on the hill in the fourth inning. With that type of lead you should be fine as a pitcher, no big deal. Fast forward to the bottom of the fifth and it’s 13-7 with one out and two in scoring position. I was actually concerned that Burnett was going to blow it because he looked like a batting practice pitcher by leaving all of his pitches high and flat.
Girardi mercifully removed him and Cory Wade got out of the jam. Now the Yankees did win 18-7, but the story was still Burnett couldn’t even pitch well enough to earn a Win with a 12 run lead.
Funny thing is that this isn’t unusual, this is just how unreliable Burnett truly is.
(Side note: I can’t watch Burnett pitch anymore it’s too scary. Even when I see him penciled in I get the shakes. Watching Burnett is slow torture because, he reels you in with his fastball and makes you put your guard down. Then over the next few batters and innings he leaves balls up, gets out of jams that he causes, allows hit after hit, then there’s a shot of Girardi trying to let him work through it and encourage him while internally he’s probably going “you’re giving me hemeroids A.J.,” then either A.J. completely implodes or Girardi pulls him out just in the nick of time.
I swear Hostel 2 or any of the Saw movies are easier to watch than Burnett at this point.)
Coming down the stretch the Yankees need consistency in the rotation and Girardi needs to go with the hot hand and keep Nova in the rotation as well as Phil Hughes who has looked sharp in his return from arm troubles.
Nova is the Yankees second best pitcher behind C.C. Sabathia. As long as they don’t screw with his arm like they’ve done with their other young and talented pitchers Joba Chamberlain and to an extent Hughes (or trade him like Ian Kennedy… Excuse me while i vomit) then Nova should finish the year getting stronger with each start.
The Yankees can depend on Nova, they can’t depend on Burnett. Which is why by this time next week Joe Girardi’s rotation should be Sabathia, Colon, Nova, Garcia and Hughes and A.J. Burnett should be on the bench.
It’s the best move for the Yankees, and it makes everyone involved less stressed not knowing what to expect from one of it’s starters.