In various conversations I've had with fellow Yankee fans during the last few months about the team's playoff prospects, one pitcher has come up possibly even more often than Joba Chamberlain: A.J. Burnett.
We all know the Burnett story. Lights-out stuff, but seemingly at any time can succumb to One Bad Inning Syndrome and end up punting a game out of reach. While I've been a fairly strong supporter of A.J., and was one of the few who applauded his signing, I do feel a bit of trepidation as we near the playoffs and A.J. appears to be lined up to start game 2.
I believe that A.J. has earned Game 2 -- as great as Andy Pettitte has been, Burnett has strung together stretches of total domination, and as much as you can never be entirely sure which Burnett will show up at any given outing, I think the possibility of shutting the opponent down in Game 2 is too intriguing not to give Burnett the ball.
Additionally, if the Yankees do end up losing Game 2, I like the idea of Pettitte toeing the rubber for Game 3 -- let's face it, if the Yankees wind up 0-2, would you rather have Burnett or Pettitte on the mound with the season on the line?
And if Good Burnett does show up, the Yankees have an excellent chance of making quick work of their postseason opponents. I don't care what CC Sabathia's postseason stats are, it's a small sample size and he didn't have the 2009 Yankees behind him in years past. Sabathia has given no indication that he's just going to up and stop pitching well, and I have full confidence in the big man to continue his excellent work into October. With a seemingly rejuvenated Andy Pettitte, the Yankees have the potential to have a very effective trio of starting pitching that should enable the team to get deep into the postseason.