Joel Sherman had some ugly stats in his column this morning. If you look at the highest ERA’s in Yankees’ history for a season, AJ Burnett ranks third for all pitchers who made 25 or more starts. Only David Cone’s 2000 campaign and Andy Hawkins 1990 season are “ahead” of him. Also of note, Javy Vazquez is 7th on that list.
He goes further than that, looking for the last Yankee pitcher to lose 15 games….Melido Perez in 1992. But as Sherman points out, Perez pitched for a lousy team and actually compiled a 2.87 ERA in 1992. And, Catfish Hunter was the last Yankee pitcher to lose 15 games for a good team, going 17-15 for the 1976 Yankees. He did that while throwing almost 300 innings, so it isn’t a fair comparison. (Tim Leary lost 19 games for the 1990 Yankees, but only had a 4.11 ERA)
Of course AJ doesn’t see any problem at all. After last night’s start he was quoted as saying, ” I expect to start in the postseason” and added this gem, “I don’t need to prove (anything) he (Girardi) saw what I did in last year in the postseason.” It’s funny AJ brought that up as a case for getting a start. Last year AJ made 5 postseason starts and racked up a 5.27 ERA. He got amazingly lucky in Game 2 of the ALDS, pitched well in Game 2 of the ALCS, blew up in Game 5 of the ALCS, pitched a gem in Game 2 of the World Series and blew up in Game 5 of the World Series. As I said at the time, he is the Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde of baseball, you never know what you are going to get.
Mitchell said it in the comments this morning and I have to agree, I think you have to give the ball to Nova over AJ at this point. Actually, I would go with a three-man rotation in the ALDS, you would only need to have one starter (Sabathia) go on short rest. Make Hughes the #3 guy and leave it at that. Let’s face it, the only reason AJ is even in the conversation for a playoff start is because the Yankees have him signed for three more years. Javier Vazquez has arguably had a “better” season, but he has effectively been banished since he is a free agent next year.
Speaking of Jekyll and Hyde, Joe Girardi is going a pretty good imitation these days. Some days he wants to win the division, some days he doesn’t. Tonight he is going to start CC Sabathia, which will prevent CC from entering the playoffs on rotation. It’s absolutely the right decision because the Yankees haven’t wrapped anything up yet, but it’s an odd choice considering the way he managed games against Tampa. But I guess we shouldn’t be picky, at least he is managing to win again.