A.J. Burnett had never pitched a postseason game before last year. He will surely be remembered at least partially for his ugly, two-inning start in Game 5 of the World Series, but he actually seemed to show the Yankees quite a bit last October.
His only win came in the most important game of the playoffs: Game 2 of the World Series when the Yankees had lost the opener at home and needed some sort of momentum heading into Philadelphia. Burnett went seven innings, one run and out pitched Pedro Martinez, who was sharp.
In his first two starts he allowed three runs and six hits through 12.1 innings. His third start began with a four-run first inning, but he settled in to roll through the next five and give the Yankees a shot. He was good, and Joe Girardi doesn’t seem to forgot things like that.
“Joe’s going to make a decision on his own,” Burnett said. “I don’t have anything to prove. He saw what I did last year in the postseason. Everybody always says that the season doesn’t matter here and the postseason does. He makes the decisions and I want the ball whenever he gives it to me.”
As inconsistent as Burnett’s been, the Yankees don’t exactly have an obvious alternative to round out a postseason rotation. Ivan Nova has also been a bit erratic, and both Dustin Moseley and Javier Vazquez have been shuttled back and forth from bullpen to rotation and back again.
To me, the question of who starts in October is a viable one, but the Yankees best answer might be to stick with Burnett — warts and all — and hope he gives them something similar to what he gave last year.
Here’s Burnett from last night.
Associated Press photo