Burnett (12-9, 4.19 ERA) was originally scheduled to pitch Monday’s series opener, but had his start pushed back. He spent the day with his father, who had triple-bypass surgery.
The right-hander has endured an up-and-down season after signing an $82.5 million, five-year contract with New York (101-56) in the offseason.
Burnett, though, has alleviated some concerns with strong outings in his last two starts after going 1-3 with a 7.67 ERA in his previous five. He yielded one run over seven innings Sept. 18 and did not get a decision in a 3-2 loss at Seattle before striking out 11 and giving up two runs over 5 2-3 innings to earn a 3-2 victory over the Angels last Wednesday.
This is Burnett’s first start this year against the Royals as he seeks his 100th victory. He’s 2-2 with a 3.67 ERA against them in five career outings.
The Yankees rested many of their regulars for Monday’s 8-2 win after clinching the AL East and home-field advantage throughout the playoffs the day before by finishing a sweep of arch-rival Boston. Robinson Cano(notes) was one of the few mainstays to see action and hit a grand slam to key the win over the Royals (64-93).
“I think it’s important for them to relax their minds for a day or two before we turn it up again,” Girardi said.
Jorge Posada(notes) was the designated hitter and went 2 for 2 in New York’s sixth straight win. The Yankees improved to 6-0 in games started by Chad Gaudin(notes), who allowed both runs in 6 2-3 innings.
When asked about being beaten by the Yankees secondary players, Royals manager Trey Hillman said, “Yes. Yes, they did.”
Lerew came back from Tommy John surgery to make his first major league appearance since May 19, 2007. He had an 0-2 record and 8.31 ERA in 11 appearances - three starts - with Atlanta from 2005-07.
The right-hander has never faced the Yankees.