Last season the New York Yankees were able to ride through the playoffs with a three man rotation. This years staff is not built for that. The Yankees will likely need a regular four starter rotation when the playoffs begin.
This causes a dilemna for manager Joe Girardi. Who is going to be the fourth starter? CC Sabathia is the clear ace and will get the ball in a Game 1 and pitch as often as possible. Following Sabathia will likely be Phil Hughes and Andy Pettitte, in that order to split up the left handed pitchers.
After those three however, the choices are unflattering. A.J. Burnett stands in that spot at the moment but does anyone really trust him?
Burnett is just 10-15 with a 5.33 ERA this season. His latest outing, last night against the Toronto Blue Jays could have been a confidnce boost for both Burnett and the Yankees. The righty took the mound with the chance to help his team clinch a playoff birth.
Instead, Burnett could not get out of the third inning after giving up seven runs, all earned, in 2.1 innings of work. The Blue Jays pounded Burnett, giving the Yankees yet another disappointing start from their high paid starter.
A 7-7 record and 4.75 ERA before the All-Star break has gotten worse. Burnett is 3-8 with a 6.19 ERA since the break.
As the regular season gets closer and closer to ending, the Yankees had hoped Burnett could turn his season around. Instead, he has pitched to a 6.14 ERA in the month of September.
While not his worst month of the season, it’s not been one to give much hope to Yankees fans. Kate Conroy of Lady Loves Pinstripes thinks Burnett’s problems may be stemming from an off the field issue. Not sure I totally believe that but if it is, maybe there is still some slight hope that A.J. can turn his season around with a big playoff run.
Normally you could say just take Burnett out of the rotation when the playoffs begin. The problem however is that the Yankees really do not have any options better than Burnett.
Ivan Nova, the young right handed has had his moments since being called up but he has also been inconsistent. Nova has also been unable to go throw most lineups three times. After two times through, the opposition seems to figure him out.
Nova has started seven games for the Yankees and sports a 1-1 record and 4.54 ERA. He is giving up just about a hit an inning but does have 25 strikeouts in his 36.2 innings pitched. In the month of September however, Nova’s ERA is approaching 6.00.
The only other option the Yankees seem to have is moving Javier Vazquez back into the rotation. This does not seem like a viable option as the season is coming to an end. Vazquez would not have enough starts to get his arm back to starting ability. If he was given a start in the playoffs, it would likely be a short one before giving way to the bullpen.
Like Burnett, Vazquez has had an up and down season. Overall he is 10-9 with a 5.07 ERA. All of those numbers are better than Burnett’s.
The right hander has pitched better in relief. Vazquez has started 25 games this season. In those games, he has given up 137 hits in 139.1 innings. He has a 5.30 ERA as a starter this year.
Coming out of the bullpen Vazquez has given up just eight hits in 13.1 innings and allowed just four runs, good for a 2.70 ERA.
So, my question to all you Yankees fans is, do you just suck it up and deal with A.J. Burnett as your fourth starter or give Nova or Vazquez the opportunity? Sounds like a loss, loss situation.
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