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A.J. to start Game 4?

A.J. Burnett

A.J. Burnett

#34 SP
New York Yankees

2011 STATS

  • GM33
  • W11

  • L11

  • BB83

  • K173

  • ERA5.15

The rain Friday night ruined more than CC Sabathia's start.

It also may have ruined the Yankees' plans to banish A.J. Burnett to the ALDS bullpen.

Thanks to Friday's rainout, Burnett has now emerged as a strong candidate to start Game 4 on Tuesday in Detroit.

The Yankees had originally hoped to get through the series with just three starters. Now, unless there is a sweep, the Yankees will need a fourth starter.

"A.J. is obviously the most stretched out in that situation," Joe Girardi said.

Ivan Nova, originally the Game 2 starter, will start the resumption of Game 1 on Saturday night. Freddy Garcia will start Game 2 on Sunday afternoon. Sabathia, who tossed just two innings on Friday, will lobby to pitch Sunday but is more likely to pitch Monday's Game 3. That leaves Burnett as the most logical candidate to start Game 4 on Tuesday.

Burnett, who finished with an 11-11 record and a 5.15 ERA, originally made the postseason roster as a reliever after struggling mightily in the regular season.

He had a strong finish, however, allowing two runs in 7 2/3 innings against the Red Sox on Sept. 25.

Still, Yankees hierarchy chose to go with Garcia in the playoff rotation.

Girardi said earlier Friday that his decision to go with Garcia over Burnett in the rotation did not indicate a lack of confidence in Burnett. Burnett is under contract for two more years at $16.5 million per season.

"It was a tough decision between him and Freddy but we decided to go with Freddy because of his ability to pitch in tough situations and his experience," Girardi said. "But if I didn't have confidence in (A.J.), he wouldn't be on our roster."

For most of the regular season, Burnett looked far from a pitcher capable of taking the mound in October. The enigmatic righty had won just two of 14 starts between July 4 and Sept. 13.

Despite that extended rough stretch, catcher Russell Martin said he had confidence in Burnett making -- and winning -- a postseason start.

"I think his last couple of starts have been great. The two starts against Boston, those are the ones that come to mind," Martin said. "And I think when he just goes out there and doesn't think too much, and just lets his ability take over, that's when he's great…. I have all the confidence in the world in A.J. He's had some good postseasons, so I think in his mind he's ready to go."