The main question mark is his contract situation. Burnett is in the middle of a 5 year, $82.5MM deal he signed after the 2008 season. However, according to Brian Cashman, his $16.5MM per year salary will not decide if he has a rotation spot throughout the rest of 2011.
Per Cashman: "No, money will never be a factor."
So where does that leave Burnett?
A.J Burnett is having his typical terrible August. For whatever reason, he can't pitch in August, I don't know why. It is what it is. August is obviously not an effective month for him.
From the looks of it, Burnett is about to lose his spot. His performance has made him the most obvious choice to be removed from the rotation.
It also seems like Burnett is not in the Yankees' postseason rotation plans at this point. When asked if Nova could be the No. 2 starter come playoff time, Cashman left Burnett's name off the list entirely, while mentioning Garcia, Bartolo Colon, and Hughes as candidates, along with Nova:
We are going to have some interesting choices to make. Past CC, you have some guys with experience and ability. Freddy Garcia knows how to pitch. Bartolo Colon has obviously had a tremendous year. Those guys are very experienced. You've got Phil Hughes, who was an 18-game winner, who was hurt, but now seems to be back to his first-half form of last year. You've got Nova, who is inexperienced, but obviously can't be beaten at this stage.
I've been on the fence about Burnett for a while now. At this point, in the middle of a pennant race, with September a little more than a week away, I don't trust Burnett. Removing him from the rotation is the right decision. There are five other starters throwing the ball better than Burnett, and if they don't want a six man rotation, he's the one that needs to be taken out.
And if Cashman is being honest about money not being a factor, all the better. Let their on-field performance decide who stays.