Him? Burnett probably a part of Yankees 4-man rotation in ALCS

Attention, New York Yankees fans: Get ready to break out the Maalox, Pepto or generic acid reducer of your choosing.

The Yankees announced on Monday they are switching to a four-man starting pitching rotation for the upcoming ALCS.

That also means, probably, the return of right-hander A.J. Burnett(notes) to relevance.

To paraphrase what they used to say on the "Arrested Development" TV show:


Unless the Yankees get all creative and use rookie righty Ivan Nova(notes), or the frequently adventurous former Cubs pitcher Sergio Mitre(notes) — hey, does Sterling Hitchcock have anything left in the tank? — the starting pitcher for Game 4 a week from Tuesday against the Rays or Rangers will be Burnett.

Yankees general manager Brian Cashman said as much in a conference call.

Here's what Cashman said (via @pcaldera):

"I know he'd like to eradicate everything that happened to him in the second half," [Cashman said.]

I also know of an organization that might like to eradicate Burnett's contract, one which still has $49.5 million and three years remaining on it. Regardless, the Yanks apparently are going to give Burnett another shot after bypassing him in the first round.

One reason the Yankees might go back to Burnett was his reaction to being left in the bullpen in the ALDS. Great attitude and all anyone could ask for. One of his finest non-pitching moments, really.

But there's still the matter of performance. Burnett had a 5.26 ERA — along with his lowest strikeout rate since 2001 — during the regular season. A pitcher's won-loss record is misleading to say the least, but Burnett managed to be saddled with 15 losses with the Yankees.

Yeah. He didn't pitch too well.

Conversely, Burnett had a huge postseason moment in 2009, when he shut down the Philadelphia Phillies in Game 2 of the World Series. So, he's done it before. The Yankees just need him to do it again.

More Cashman, via the New York Times:

"A.J. Burnett was a big part of why we were successful last year, and he can be a big part of why we're successful this year, too. I do have confidence and understand that he's struggled. That was before October. October can bring out the most competitive side of people."

Him? Has it been a lack of competitiveness that has burned Burnett? Or confidence and competence?

The Yankees, did you know, employed a three-man rotation in each of their past four postseason series? They've spent the money, obviously, but now they're testing their depth with Burnett.

Well, if the Yankees somehow find themselves down 2-1 or — heaven forbid! — 0-3 in the next round, I'm sure manager Joe Girardi reserves the right to use CC Sabathia(notes) on short rest.

Burnett's personal redemption can wait, in that case.

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