Monday, October 11, 2010 Updated: October 12, 4:59 PM ET
A.J. Burnett will likely get a start in ALCS
By Wallace Matthews ESPNNewYork.com
The New York Yankees are likely to go with a four-man pitching rotation for the American League Championship Series -- and that fourth man will probably be A.J. Burnett.
General manager Brian Cashman stressed on a conference call Monday afternoon that no official decision has yet been made, but that preliminary discussions between himself, manager Joe Girardi and the coaching staff have determined a four-man rotation "is probably the best route for us to go."
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"What I'm communicating to our fans is they need to be prepared for a four-man rotation and that probably includes A.J. Burnett," Cashman said. "He was a big part of why we were successful last year and he can be a big part of why we are successful this year, too. I do have confidence in him. I understand that he struggled, but that was before October. October can bring out the most competitive side of people and I know that A.J.'s got a lot of competition in him."
Burnett struggled through a 10-15 season (5.26 ERA) and was yanked from the rotation for the best-of-five dvision series. But with the best-of-seven ALCS looming, against an as yet undetermined opponent -- Texas and Tampa Bay will play a decisive Game 5 Tuesday night -- the Yankees will need four starters.
Cashman would not reveal the Yankees' ALCS rotation, but it is assumed that CC Sabathia will pitch Game 1 on the road Friday night, followed by Andy Pettitte in Game 2 on Saturday and Phil Hughes in Game 3 on Monday, Oct. 18, when the series comes to Yankee Stadium. Burnett's 2010 postseason debut would likely come in Game 4 on Tuesday, Oct. 19.
"We will be confident when he takes that mound with our team, if that's the case," Cashman said.
If the Yankees use Burnett in Game 4, and maintain the same rotation, fans might see 24-year-old Hughes on the mound to pitch in a decisive Game 7. Hughes' first career postseason start came Oct. 9 against the Minnesota Twins.
Hughes dominated the Twins, throwing seven scoreless innings, allowing just four hits, striking out six and walking only one.
"I kind of had my lumps as a young guy coming up in this organization," he said after winning his first postseason start. "I knew this was something I could do."