During Saturday evening’s game at Target Field against the Minnesota Twins A.J. Burnett had yet another disappointing pitching performance during the 9-4 loss. His line of 1.2 innings, five hits, seven earned runs, three walks and one home run allowed was even filled with controversy this time.
Burnett’s inexcusable behavior entailed going on an expletive laced rampage after being taken out of the game by Joe Girardi with the bases loaded. Girardi impressively denied that there was any major issue between him and Burnett when questioned about why he stormed into the locker-room after taking him out. He claimed it was because he was trying to look at a pitch that was questionably called a ball but the real reason should materialize soon.
Burnett repeatedly says that he has to do better and he will figure things out soon but that excuse is getting old. His ineffectiveness will only hurt the Yankees going down the stretch. His performance included allowing three consecutive walks before being pulled from the game, two doubles, a wild pitch and 28 pitches in the first inning.
Burnett appeared to have his spot safe in the rotation since Freddy Garcia went on the disabled list earlier in the day on Saturday, but as of now he should miss at least one start. Right now, before Sunday’s game, they are tied for first place with the Red Sox, so they team needs somebody who can be relied upon to give quality starts.
Some candidates from AAA Scranton/Wilkes-Barre include Adam Warren who has a 3.33 ERA in 137 innings, D.J Mitchell who has a 3.49 ERA in 141 innings and Dellin Betances or Manny Banuelos who have only made four and one starts, respectively, but are highly rated prospects. The two top choices should be Warren who has had spent the whole year at AAA, or Banuelos because he has made three more starts at AAA than Betances.
Either way, any of those four offers more potential than Burnett, who usually fades even if he pitches four solid innings. However, replacing Burnett with one of those four in the minors does not seem very likely because Girardi and GM Brian Cashman seem to have so much confidence in him partly because they don’t want to give up on the huge investment.
On the offensive side, the Yankees managed to score four runs, but only two players really stood out against Francisco Liriano who didn’t allow any earned runs in seven innings. Eduardo Nunez picked up two hits for his third multi hit game in his last four, and Andruw Jones hit a home run during his second consecutive game.
The Yankees only scored one earned run during the first seven innings off of Liriano, which is not all that surprising because even though he has a high 4.85 ERA right now he was an All-Star in 2006 and last season he finished with a 3.62 ERA (finishing 11th in the CY Young). He has a lot of potential when not injured so if Burnett would not have exploded, both mentally and in the pitching department, they would have had a chance.
Ivan Nova is pitching on Sunday while Nick Blackburn is the starter for the Twins. Blackburn is not nearly the pitcher that Liriano is, so the offense should not struggle like it did on Saturday during Alex Rodriguez’s return from surgery. With a victory the Bronx Bombers will have won five out of seven during their Midwest road-trip through Kansas City and Minneapolis.
If Nova is able to get the victory he will become the first rookie starter for the Yankees to win eight or more in a row since Whitey Ford achieved the feat in 1950. He will also be continuing his bid for the Rookie of the Year.