A.J. Burnett will get a chance to pitch for the New York Yankees during the American League Championship Series after being left out of the team’s starting rotation in the opening round of the playoffs.
Yankees General Manager Brian Cashman said the team plans to use four starting pitchers in the best-of-seven ALCS against the Texas Rangers or Tampa Bay Rays.
Burnett, 33, had a career-high 15 losses in his second season of a five-year, $82.5 million contract with the Yankees. Over 12 starts in August, September and October, Burnett had a 1-7 record with a 6.61 earned run average.
“October can bring out a competitive side in people, and I know A.J.’s got a lot of competition in him,” Cashman said, according to MLB.com. “I know he’d like to eradicate everything that’s occurred here in the second half. A terrific start would go a long way toward doing that.”
Burnett didn’t pitch in the best-of-five AL Division Series, when the Yankees used three starting pitchers -- CC Sabathia, Andy Pettitte and Phil Hughes -- in a three-game sweep of the Minnesota Twins. Sabathia would have pitched a Game 4 on short rest instead of Burnett.
Burnett, Sabathia and Pettitte were the only pitchers to start in the 2009 postseason for the Yankees, who became the first Major League Baseball team since 1991 to win the World Series using just three starters throughout the playoffs.
While the ALCS was scheduled to be played over 10 days last season, there would be seven games in nine days this year. The series begins Oct. 15.
“You prepare to go with a four-man and see where that takes us,” Cashman said, adding that the Yankees have to “prove that we’re not just built for a division series with off days that are beneficial to us. In this round and the next round, we’re going to have to prove that we’re deeper than that.”
Burnett was 10-15 this season with a 5.26 ERA, the highest in team history for a pitcher who threw at least 180 innings.
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