Yankees Likely Stuck With A.J. Burnett in Playoff Rotation

Double G Sports@DoubleGSportsCorrespondent ISeptember 28, 2010

NEW YORK - SEPTEMBER 22: Francisco Cervelli #29 of the New York Yankees talks with team mate A.J Burnett #34 in the third inning against the Tampa Bay Rays during their game on September 22, 2010 at Yankee Stadium in the Bronx borough of New York City.  (Photo by Chris McGrath/Getty Images)
Chris McGrath/Getty Images

Last season, the New York Yankees were able to ride through the playoffs with a three-man rotation. This year's staff is not built for that. The Yankees will likely need a regular four-starter rotation when the playoffs begin.

This causes a dilemma 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 confidence 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.

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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.

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