Apparently, there was some drama involving A.J. Burnett and Joe Girardi during Saturday night’s game. I didn’t see any of it happen because of a family gathering. If you were following Twitter at all this weekend, you know that Moshe has been all over this issue. What I want to talk about is what we’re (kind of) forgetting: A.J. Burnett is just…bad right now. There’s literally no way around it.
Though I didn’t see the game, I know that 1.2 innings of 7 run ball is not good. In any way. Three walks and just one strike out to go along with a home run…that just won’t get it done. He hasn’t had a quality start since June 29th against the Brewers. Since then, he’s given up a batting line of .308/.390/.525/.916. Including hit by pitches, Burnett’s allowing 1.81 runners per inning. The only positive is that he’s struck out 47 batters in that time frame. Everything else–including a 6.93 ERA and a 5.20 FIP–has just been horrid.
With an injured Freddy Garcia, it doesn’t seem like the Yankees can do very much with Burnett. I suggested a move to the bullpen, but I don’t think that’ll happen. We know the Yankees are looking at Rich Harden for possible help, but I don’t think we’ll see anything materialize there. If the Sox didn’t like his medicals, why would the Yankees?
As Eric pointed out in the article, though, the Yankees could probably make it through the rest of the season without using a guy like Harden. In fact, we could argue that the Yankees could probably make it through the rest of the season with A.J. Burnett in the rotation. Hell, they’ve made it this far and it hasn’t sunk them. But, at this point the Yankees have an injured Garcia and a slightly-less-effective Bartolo Colon. Ivan Nova and CC Sabathia are pitching well, and Phil Hughes has improved a bit. That is likely enough to carry the Bombers into the playoffs. Once they get there, though, A.J. Burnett cannot start a game for the New York Yankees.
That’s hard for me to type because I think A.J.’s true talent level is just so far above what he is right now, but he has shown very little of it since a hot start to the year. His only plus in 2011 has been health. There is some value in that, but there have been almost no encouraging signs in terms of performance. If the Yankees think that his two-pitch combination can play up in the bullpen, then they should try, by all means. If they don’t think that can happen, there is no way he can be trusted to pitch playoff innings.
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