Manager Joe Girardi has reaffirmed his commitment to AJ Burnett many times in the past few days, and now yesterday and Brian Cashman shot down any notion that the Yanks might reconfigure their rotation should they lose tonight’s game to Cliff Lee and go down 2-1 in the series. The NY Post has the details:
“I believe in A.J.,” Cashman said during the team’s workout yesterday at Yankee Stadium.
When it was pointed out that not too many other people do, Cashman explained himself.
“We’ve seen it before,” Cashman said. “We know he’s capable.”
Not so much lately, though. Burnett has been awful for most of the season and hasn’t won since Sept. 1 or pitched since Oct. 2.
But Cashman said there was “no wiggle room” in regards to pitching CC Sabathia on three days’ rest.
“The way the schedule is set up, we’re gonna need four starters,” Cashman said. “He’s capable of doing a good job and we believe he’s gonna do a good job.”
And then he pointed to Saturday’s NLCS Game 1, when Roy Halladay struggled and lost to the Giants.
“It’s a crazy game,” Cashman said. “It’s an unpredictable sport. A.J. has a ton of talent. He is a competitor. He had a bad second half, but he’s capable of doing extremely well and giving us a great start. I’m hoping for it.”
I think the key is Phil Hughes. As I detailed yesterday, Andy Pettitte is pretty much the same on short rest. We all know CCs numbers on short rest have been better in a small sample and how good he was last year in the playoffs. Hughes is the big wild card. I’d love to post his numbers on short rest, but there’s a problem. They don’t exist. He’s never pitched on short rest.
As a young, talented hurler the Yanks have taken great care not to abuse his arm, and one of the unintended consequences of that is we now have no data whatsoever for the series at hand. No numbers to pore over, no observational analysis, no feedback from Phil, nothing. The playoffs are not the time to be experimenting, and with Phil already at a career innings high it would be even worse of an idea. The Yanks have no choice but to start Burnett and cross their fingers.