A.J. Burnett thinks it could be 2009 all over again for him.
After effectively pitching as the team’s No. 2 starter that season and playing an instrumental role in the team’s 27th World Series, the righty doesn’t see why similar events can’t take place over the course of the remainder of the season.
“There’s no doubt in my mind (I can be the No. 2 pitcher), but I also understand that I haven’t pitched up to my capabilities either, I’ve had some good games and some bad games,” Burnett said at a HOPE Week event Thursday in Staten Island. “I do know I’m a big reason that we can win this too.”
In 2009, Burnett had his best season to date in pinstripes, going 13-9 in his first year of his five-year deal. In the World Series that year, with the Yankees down 1-0, Burnett pitched perhaps the finest game of this Yankees career, stifling the Phillies and helping the Yankees get even in a series they went on to win in six games.
This season, as Burnett is 8-8 with a 4.21 ERA, has been a bounce back from last year’s disastrous results as he went 10-15, but Burnett still has struggled with some inconsistency. In his last 15 starts, he has won just four times and has not won since June 29.
While others might not be as quick to label Burnett as the Yankees No. 2 starter right now to complement ace CC Sabathia, Burnett think he’s just been the victim recently of making one bad pitch and it costing him his starts.
“I’ve been doing really well, it’s just one bad pitch here or there and that’s easy to correct, as opposed to having struggles where you can’t get people out and stuff,” Burnett said. “I’m looking forward to getting on a little run and helping us out.”
Burnett added that he pays attention to the rumors involving the Yankees staff, as the team is reported to be inquiring on Rockies’ righty Ubaldo Jimenez and Dodgers’ lefty Hiroki Kuroda, and said that he’s all for whatever moves the team feels it needs to make to contend. He also has faith in the current staff.
“The guys we have are battlers and gamers,” Burnett said. “With the exception of (Ivan) Nova, and we do miss Nova, but that situation is out of his control. Let’s see what happens.”