Cashman: Burnett likely to get start in ALCS

AJ Burnett. (Oct. 2, 2010) AJ Burnett. (Oct. 2, 2010) Photo Credit: AP

advertisement | advertise on newsday

A.J. Burnett, whom the Yankees didn't trust to start in the Division Series, is all but certain to get a start in the upcoming American League Championship Series.

In a conference call with reporters Monday, general manager Brian Cashman said he'll meet with Joe Girardi and his staff Tuesday to discuss the roster composition and rotation strategy, and that four starters are likely this round.

"We feel comfortable that's the best route for us to go is a four-man rotation," Cashman said.

Cashman acknowledged the failures of Burnett, who was 10-15 with a 5.26 ERA in the regular season. He went 6-2 with a 3.28 ERA in April and May and 4-13 with a 6.48 ERA after that, with the Yankees going 5-17 in his final 22 starts.

"I understand he struggled," Cashman said.

advertisement | advertise on newsday

But Cashman hopes Burnett, who won the critical second game of the 2009 World Series after CC Sabathia lost to the Phillies' Cliff Lee in Game 1, is jolted by October.

"He 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," Cashman said. "I do have confidence in him. I understand that he's struggled, but that was before October. October can bring out the most competitive side of people . . . He'd like to eradicate everything that happened in the second half of the season, and a terrific start will go a long way toward doing that."

The game that Burnett starts and the order of pitchers preceding him haven't been determined, Cashman said. Other than Sabathia starting Game 1 Friday, of course. "All those things will be discussed when we get together as a staff," he said.

Going with a three-man ALCS rotation, as the Yankees did all of last postseason, isn't feasible, Cashman said, because of the schedule. Sabathia, probably twice, and either Andy Pettitte or Phil Hughes would have to pitch on three days' rest for the Yankees to employ only three starting pitchers this round.

"Are they capable?" Cashman said. "I think they're capable of doing anything. Is it the best way to go? I don't think so. I think we need to prepare to go with a four-man and see where that takes us and prove that we're not just built for a Division Series with off days that are beneficial to us. We're going to have to prove that we're deeper than that."

Asked if, given Burnett's inconsistency, he'd have to hold his breath during the righthander's start, Cashman said that is the case in each postseason game.

"I think every game we play is a hold-your-breath thing," Cashman said, mentioning being down 3-0 to the Twins in Game 1 with Sabathia on the mound, Game 2 with the questions surrounding Pettitte's health and Hughes' first postseason start in Game 3.

"It's a valid question, but that involves everyone in the process," Cashman said. "I've seen A.J. Burnett have success, I've seen him struggle. I know what he's capable of. It's just another question yet to be answered. We'll see."

Notes & quotes: Cashman said it is "possible" that the 25-man roster will be tweaked, but that won't be determined until after tonight's deciding game between the Rays and Rangers. "A lot of that will depend on the opponent," he said . . . The Yankees will have a simulated game before their afternoon workout Tuesday featuring Joba Chamberlain, Boone Logan, Sergio Mitre, Dustin Moseley, David Robertson and Kerry Wood pitching against Francisco Cervelli, Greg Golson, Austin Kearns and Ramiro Peña. "We need to get some guys' arms going," Cashman said.

$relatedItem.caption

Subscribe to Newsday’s sports newsletter for stories, photos and videos about your favorite New York teams plus national sports news and events.

Comments

Newsday.com now uses Facebook for our comment boards. Please read our guidelines and connect your Facebook account to comment.

You also may be interested in: