If Bob Klapisch of the Bergen Record is correct, A.J. Burnett will not start any games in the best-of-five American League Division Series.
I think many of you will join me in saying 'hooray for that.'
Here's Klapisch discussing the situation.
Joe Girardi, who’s been the right-hander’s strongest advocate within the organization, has concluded Burnett poses too great a risk in a best-of-five series. Although the manager hasn’t yet officially named his Games 3-4-5 starters after CC Sabathia and Andy Pettitte, the Bombers have internally decided to put Burnett in the bullpen – at least in the first round.
This is no small threshold for Girardi or the Yankees themselves, who invested $82.5 million in a pitcher they once likened to Kevin Brown in his prime.
But Burnett has won just one of his last 11 starts and all but sabotaged the Yankees’ chances of winning the AL East this week. After allowing the Blue Jays seven runs in 2 1/3 innings on Monday, Burnett was un-officially demoted.
Within 24 hours, the Yankee hierarchy had moved on to Plan B for the postseason. Sabathia and Pettitte would both pitch twice if the division series goes the limit, eliminating the need for a fourth starter. Phil Hughes will get the ball in Game 3.
One talent evaluator considered it a "no brainer" for the Yankees to skip Burnett, even if it means having to use Sabathia on short rest in a potential Game 4. This alignment would allow Girardi to maximize his most prominent assets – Sabathia’s durability and Pettitte’s winning pedigree in the postseason – while allowing Hughes to pitch in front of a home crowd in the event the Yankees are the wild card.
I am all for minimizing Burnett's opportunities in the playoffs.
Here's a question for you. Do you have the guys to bypass him entirely and start Ivan Nova if you get to the League Championship Series? I see almost no chance Girardi would do that, but still. It's worth discussing.