The New York Yankees’ starting rotation will be without A.J. Burnett in the 2010 MLB Playoffs. Burnett was benched by the Yankees for the Minnesota Twins series, as he has continued to be a disappointment for the franchise. The possibility still exists that Burnett could pitch out of the bullpen, especially if the Yankees get far ahead or behind in any of their games against the Minnesota Twins. This has to be a blow to the ego of Burnett, who was paid millions of dollars to come in and be one of the best pitchers on the Yankees’ pitching staff.
According to ESPN, the Yankees will go with a rotation of CC Sabathia, Andy Pettitte, and Phil Hughes against the Twins. All three pitchers have had a lot of success in the 2010 season, with Sabathia one of the clear candidates to win the 2010 American league Cy Young Award. Sabathia will get to start for the Yankees in Game 1 of the Yankees vs. Twins series, as he will face off against Francisco Liriano on Wednesday night. If the Yankees vs. Twins playoff schedule advances to a Game 4, Sabathia will return, and Pettitte would be tapped for a Game 5 start.
During the 2010 regular season, Burnett started 33 games and finished with a record of 10-15. He had 145 strikeouts, but also 78 walks and a WHIP of 1.51. To make matters worse, the batting average against him was .285, which is not nearly good enough to be a starting pitcher in the playoffs. He posted these stats while getting paid $16.5 million during the season, keeping him as one of the highest-paid pitchers in baseball. Now the 33-year-old will be riding the bench because the Yankees don’t feel that he can pitch reliably against the Minnesota Twins.
It’s entirely possible that Burnett could find his way back into the postseason rotation if the Yankees suffer an injury or if the rest of the rotation gets tired in either the American League Championship Series or World Series. Until that point, though, Burnett should only be expected as an option to eat up innings in a game that has already been settled. It’s a long way to fall for Burnett, but maybe it will give him added incentive to be game-ready for the 2011 regular season. There won’t be much sympathy for him around the world of baseball, though, especially with the take-home pay he is getting for playing a game badly.