Might as well say this now, before the game goes one way or another, and it would have been worth saying even if A.J. Burnett had not been perfect through the first two innings: Joe Girari had no choice but to pitch A.J. Burnett in Game 4.
First of all, just because he finished the season poorly didn't mean he was automatically going to get tagged, More pertinent is what it would have done to everyone else.
CC Sabathia was mediocre on long rest. Was there any good reason to believe he would have been good on short rest? Maybe it would have happened, maybe it wouldn't have. He wasn't the issue anyway. If they made him work on short rest, Girardi would have either had to pitch Burnett in Game 5 or 6--and what would have been the point of that--or he would have had to start the other guys on short rest.
Phil Hughes never has pitched on short rest, so asking him to do that would have been tough, especially given the way he pitched on Saturday. And Andy Pettitte said last night that he got tired in Game 3, a start that came on 10 days rest. How could you have asked him to come back on three days of rest?
Burnett really was the ony option.