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Make no mistake: A.J. Burnett is starting Game 4 no matter what

Oct 18, 2010, 8:25 AM EDT

A.J. Burnett wipes face

A lot of nervous Yankees fans have been assuming — or hoping, maybe — that if the Yankees find themselves down 2-1 to the Rangers after tonight that Joe Girardi would pitch CC Sabathia on short rest for Game 4. Not so, says Joe:

Joe Girardi made it clear yesterday that A.J. Burnett would get the ball tomorrow night, regardless of what happens in tonight’s ALCS Game 3. And while the erratic righty has done nothing to instill confidence during his miserable second half, both Girardi and GM Brian Cashman said they think he will come through.

“I believe in A.J.,” Cashman said during the team’s workout yesterday at Yankee Stadium.

The issue, Dan Martin of the Post reports, is Phil Hughes who, if Burnett is to be avoided in this series, would have to go on short rest too and that’s just not in the cards.

And it’s probably smart to go with Burnett anyway, because even if CC Sabathia has done well on short rest in the past, on the whole, using starters like that generally leads to worse production from said starters. Maybe Sabathia was just born to be a 1970s starter and could keep it up forever, but it’s hard to ask the Yankees to bet on that, isn’t it? Even if betting on Burnett feels less safe at the moment?

We know this much at least: Cliff Lee stands a chance to earn more money while he’s sitting on the bench for Game 4 than he does on the mound in Game 3. Because if Burnett crashes and burns the Yankees are going to feel that much more pressure to go out and get another pitcher for next season.

  1. BC - Oct 18, 2010 at 9:24 AM

    Why not pitch CC in Game 4, and AJ in Game 5?

    • Jonny 5 - Oct 18, 2010 at 9:31 AM

      Did you SEE his last outing? I wouldn’t run him on short rest right now. I think using AJ for #4 is the only thing to do.

    • Kevin S. - Oct 18, 2010 at 10:00 AM

      What does flipping the two of them gain you? Games Four and Five are happening no matter what.

      • Jonny 5 - Oct 18, 2010 at 10:21 AM

        It “gets” a better shot at 2 more losses for the Yanks. BC is a Mets fan if I’m not mistaken. Meaning he prays every night for a Yankee collapse.

      • BC - Oct 18, 2010 at 10:59 AM

        I think if you’re down 2-1, you have to pitch CC in Game 4. You can’t go down 3-1. If you’re up 2-1, pitch AJ. Then you have your three best pitchers on normal rest.

    • ribender - Oct 18, 2010 at 10:26 AM

      The real reason he is going to pitch A.J. in game four and not try and bump C.C. up is because if the Yankees lose game three and four and were down 3-1, you sure as hell wouldn’t want you season to come down to an A.J. Burnett start. If Lee wins tonight, then A.J. were to lose game four, at least you still have your top three starters to try and make a comeback from a 3-1 deficit.

  2. proudlycanadian - Oct 18, 2010 at 10:46 AM

    Drat! I want to see A. J. start game 7.

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