For what seems like the hundredth time in the last week, Yankees manager Joe Girardi fielded a question about A.J. Burnett making a start in the AL Championship Series.
For Girardi, the answer was short and direct.
“We are on rotation,” Girardi said before last night’s Game 3. “It’s about the easiest way to put it.”
It’s been anything but easy for Burnett, who sat out the AL Division Series and hasn’t won in six weeks. Tonight’s Game 4 start against Texas will be his first home postseason appearance since throwing seven dominating innings in Game 2 of last year’s World Series.
“I’m going to feed off what I did last year,” Burnett said. “The only difference is that I have three or four good games toward the end last year where everybody is more confident.
“But I feel great. I feel like I’m where I need to be. It’s been a long time since I’ve been on the mound, but I’m sharp and I expect things to go as normal.”
Nothing has been normal this year for Burnett, who’s been up and down from start to finish of the regular season.
The righty, who went 10-15 with a 5.26 ERA, last pitched Oct. 2 at Boston. He threw a simulated game last week and said he “felt good” after throwing about 80 pitches.
“We all know what A.J. can dial up and we believe in him,” Girardi said.
Burnett’s go-to curveball can either be one of the best in the game or a hanging pitch that makes for an early exit. His curve’s inconsistency is what ultimately demoted him to the bullpen for the ALDS.
“When his curveball has depth more than across, that means his breaking ball, and usually his mechanics, are right,” Girardi said. “That’s one of the things that you look for.”
Yankees fans are just looking for a dependable start from a former ace.