Burnett (3-0, 4.67 ERA) is having another strong April, and this one has been due in part to newfound confidence in his changeup. The right-hander threw it regularly against Baltimore on Wednesday, when he allowed four runs in 6 1-3 innings of a 7-4 victory.
“The way he’s throwing the ball, he’s going to win games if he can consistently locate his fastball and mix those other two pitches in,” manager Joe Girardi told the Yankees’ official website.
Although Burnett is having some success for New York (9-5), it remains to be seen whether he can maintain it throughout the season. Since joining the Yankees in 2009, he has gone 8-0 with a 4.04 ERA in 13 April starts, while posting an 18-24 mark and 4.76 ERA in other games. He was 4-0 with a 1.99 ERA through six starts last season before fading to a 10-15 record and 5.26 ERA.
Burnett tossed 6 2-3 scoreless innings in a 6-1 win over the Blue Jays on July 2, but posted a 14.54 ERA in losing his other three outings against them. He has posted a 10.13 ERA in dropping his last three starts in Toronto with New York.
The Yankees, opening a two-game set at Rogers Centre, went 8-10 against the Blue Jays last year - the first time they lost the season series since 2000 - and dropped six of nine in Toronto.
Rodriguez sat out a 6-5 win over Texas on Sunday because of stiffness in his lower back and is listed as day-to-day.
“We’ll shoot for Tuesday and if he can’t go Tuesday, we’ll shoot for Wednesday,” Girardi said.
Eric Chavez(notes) replaced Rodriguez on Sunday and singled home the tiebreaking run in the eighth inning, while Cano, Russell Martin(notes) and Curtis Granderson(notes) homered. New York has 27 home runs, a club record through 14 games.
Toronto hasn’t been nearly as productive offensively.
The Blue Jays (7-9), who led the majors with 257 homers last season, have hit three in going 2-7 in their last nine. They have scored one run in each of their last three contests - losing all of them - and had a season-low two hits in falling 9-1 to Boston on Monday.
“I think it’s best for all of us in a Toronto uniform to put this one behind us and get ready for the Yankees,” manager John Farrell said.
The Blue Jays hope to turn things around at home, where they’ve hit nine home runs and are 4-2.
Drabek allowed two runs, six hits and four walks in 5 2-3 innings of an 8-3 win over Seattle on Wednesday, though he didn’t get the decision.
The right-hander gave up three runs in six innings of a 6-1 loss to the Yankees on Sept. 28.