Burnett is not alone


(Leon Halip/Getty Images)

The season is on the line tonight, and A.J. Burnett is the one charged with saving it. That sounds like pretty scary, and it is, but baseball isn’t an individual sport. There are 24 other guys on the roster and they’re just as responsible for making sure the Yankees live to play another day.

More than football, hockey, or basketball, baseball is an individual game. It’s a collection of individual at-bats chained together, and although there is some overlap, one man generally can not carry a team. Burnett at his best isn’t enough to win tonight’s game, it’s up to the offense and the bullpen to back him up. Now, the offense did a fine job against Justin Verlander last night, scoring four more runs than anyone expected them too, but they need to do better in Game Four. I’m talking constant pressure on Rick Porcello & Co., especially early in the game.

The bullpen needs to really step up as well tonight, probably even moreso than the offense. Rafael Soriano and (especially) David Robertson will have a lot of heavy lifting to do tonight, as will 42-year-old Mariano Rivera. If Burnett exits before the fifth, something he did three times in his final ten starts of the season, then Phil Hughes and Cory Wade start to become important. Boone Logan might show up to face Alex Avila at some point, but in the name of all that is holy, Luis Ayala must be used in emergencies only. I’d rather see Ivan Nova out of the bullpen in extra innings before Ayala, to be honest.

I’m not sure where I’m really going with this, but the point I want to make is that this game is not on Burnett alone. His teammates can make his life a little easier, and frankly they have too. They did a real nice job taking the lead early in last night’s game, and I’d love to see another quick strike like that again tonight (Yanks were up 1-0 five pitches into last night’s game). Burnett will play a major role in Game Four, but at the end of the day, he’s just one of 25 players on the roster. The Yankees will win as a team or they will lose as a team.

Categories : Playoffs
  • BJ

    If Nova makes an appearance tonight, who starts Game 5?

    • MattG


    • CUYanks

      Maybe Garcia on short rest? If pitching Nova gets us to a Game 5, we have to do it.

      • UncleArgyle

        Ivan Nova is probably back in New York so he can be rested for game 5. So I doubt he’s an option tonite.

    • Rich in NJ

      If somehow Nova pitches tonight, even if you have to invent an injury to a pitcher, you DL someone and start Colon in Game 5, if they win.

  • http://bleedingyankeeblue.com Jesse

    I know Ayala sucks, but c’mon, you can’t have Nova pitch tonight, no way.

    • krazziness

      You can – you have to make it to game five before you worry about who is starting…

      • http://bleedingyankeeblue.com Jesse

        No. I’d rather have Garcia pitch if the game goes way deep before Nova.

        • Brian S.

          Phil Hughes?

          • http://bleedingyankeeblue.com Jesse

            He’ll go before both of those guys. We’re talking DEEP into extra innings.

  • Pants Lendelton

    You have no choice.

  • BJ

    Here’s my real question: why did we go with Dickerson on the roster instead of a 12th pitcher? Dickerson has done just about nothing in this series. I’d be much more comfortable if we had Colon, Noesi, or even Valdes on the roster ready to go tonight if needed.

    • CUYanks

      Anticipated protecting more than zero close leads late.

  • CUYanks

    Question, if you could trade Nova in the series for making it to a Game 5 right now, would you?

    • krazziness

      YES – Piece something together from the bull pen against Fister in game 5 vs no game 5 any day

      • CUYanks

        Yeah I agree, but I mean make the trade even before you play the 4th game, not assuming you’ll lose it.

        • krazziness

          Still Yes – I would trade Nova for the rest of this series for an automatic W in game 4.

          • CUYanks

            Ok how about Nova for the whole postseason?

  • Adam B

    You are absolutely right, Girardi will not allow this to become 8-0 in the 2nd inning. He will take him out with no hesitation at the 1st sign of trouble. The rest of the team needs to step up and beat a pitcher who’s simply not that good

  • Rich in NJ

    I think the game is on the offense. It’s long past time for the “heart” of the order to step up. Score early and often to take a little pressure off of AJ.

  • Adam B

    Also I looked at Porcello’s game logs, he hasn’t faced a playoff lineup since JUNE

    • Sarah

      That’s vaguely encouraging. But look what happened with Scherzer (who, I think, got lit up by the San Francisco Giants of all teams during interleague).

      The offense has to do it’s part.

      • Adam B

        yea but Scherzer was hitting 97 and getting the outside corner all night… he had a good game, its been known to happen, nothing we can do about it.

        • Sarah

          True. But Porcello could do the same thing. Pray that he doesn’t.

          And pray that the bats show up.

          • Adam B

            Porcello does not throw 98

      • Jorge (needs a new name)

        Scherzer > Porcello

  • DERP

    I feel like Garcia would be more of an option than Nova. I thought the rule was you send everyone to the bullpen except the next days pitcher. I guess that shouldn’t really apply to elimination games though.

  • CMP

    I love AJs quote where he said he’s been proving people wrong his whole career. I guess he meant the coaches and GMs who thought he’d be a front of the rotation starter.

    He’s been putrid for 2 years now and what’s worse is he’s shown a complete lack of accountability by showing up his manager and complaining to the press when he’s been taken out of games early.

    That being said, this is his big opportunity to have a lot of that forgotten if he can somehow pitch a good game.

    • BJ

      “I love AJs quote where he said he’s been proving people wrong his whole career. I guess he meant the coaches and GMs who thought he’d be a front of the rotation starter.”

      Haha, good one.

      • Oscar Gamble’s Fro

        Agreed. That’s outstanding.

  • jon

    cant wait for AJ to have a better game than CC but still lose and everyone will blame AJ for the season

  • NC Saint

    Fair enough that this isn’t on Burnett alone, but this is absurd hyperbole:

    There are 24 other guys on the roster and they’re just as responsible for making sure the Yankees live to play another day.

    Not all 24 other players will even get into the game today. And not one of them is as likely to have the largest impact on the outcome. That’s just the nature of starting pitching.

    • Sarah

      The other guys in the lineup need to do their part, and anyone summoned from the bench/bullpen.

      If AJ goes 7 and gives up 1 run, and we lose 1-0, is that AJ’s fault?

      • NC Saint

        Err, no. In that case he would surely have added more than anyone else to the Yankees shot at winning. The lineup as a whole is certainly more important than him, but he is far, far more important than any one other player.

      • UncleArgyle

        lol that made me laugh. 1 run! Thats classic!

    • Graig not Craig

      Agreed. The guy on the mound bears much more responsibility than the pinch runner or third catcher. But hyperbole aside – baseball is a team sport – and AJ will be relying on Martin to block his in-the-dirt-balls, the infield to display some leather, and the others to patrol the prairie that is Comerica’s outfield. And runs would also be nice.

  • Jamey

    Unfortunately no one counters the “not an individual effort” theory quite like AJ Burnett.

  • Tiny Tim

    Burnett needs to win the ballgame tonight. He shouldn’t have been put into this situation but Girardi, Sabathia, and the inept MLB front office have done it to him. Burnett’s been awful all year but all that matters is how you perform in the postseason.

    • Graig not Craig

      “He shouldn’t have been put into this situation”

      Why the heck not? He’s a major league pitcher who makes 16.5 million dollars a season to throw a baseball. This is exactly the type of situation he should be in. If he is a true ballplayer – he is chomping at the bit to get into this game and mow down some Tigers. These are the games where you make history. As strange a duck as AJ is, I am on his side tonight.

      • CS Yankee

        We all are on side tonight. I believe in Santa Claus, but don’t believe in AJ being our best bet.

        That said, it is what it is, hopefully he can use some “Boston type grit” (since they are golfing) and grind one out…

        or Arod, Teix and Martin get all Rambo for the reminder of the series to overcome this mess.

  • FIPster Doofus

    I’m pinning it on the offense if the Yanks lose tonight. Burnett won’t be in long enough to do an irreparable amount of damage. I’m expecting a five-inning, three-run type of game from him.

  • Jesus Freak

    Girardi is not a good playoff manager.

    He is a good season manager.

    He deserves a lot of credit for cranking out 97 wins in the toughest division, given all the injuries, all the head cases (AJ/Soriano), various slumps (the leadoff hitter), and weather issues.

    But he doesn’t change his approach to reflect the immediacy of a best of 5 series.

    • Brian S.

      LOL! Headcases? Pitchers can suck without being “headcases”.

      • Jesus Freak

        By all accounts, AJ and Soriano are headcases.

        • Bill

          AJ is definitely a headcase. I’m not so sure about Soriano. He’s had some injuries this year. I’m not completely ready to call him a head case just yet.

    • tom

      Yet somehow he’s managed to win four of the five post-season series in which he’s managed.

      • Jesus Freak

        oh please.

        The 2009 team was so strong they would have won it all even with Torre sleeping in the dugout.

        • FIPster Doofus

          So he gets zero credit for wins but all the blame for losses. How fair and reasonable.

          • Jesus Freak

            I began by giving him credit for the 97 wins.

    • Rainbow Connection

      “He deserves a lot of credit for cranking out 97 wins in the toughest division”

      But he doesn’t have to face the Yankees.

      • Jesus Freak

        Sure he does, he faces them everyday in the locker room.

    • http://fendersonandhampton.com Cuso

      i think a more accurate reflection of this sentiment is exactly what the prevailing sentiment was in March:

      This roster is good enough to weave through a 162-game season and make the playoffs. But it is looking like (as suspected in the winter) it is incapable of winning a playoff series because of suspect starting pitching and older players. The age comes into play when you consider the injuries.

      While technically healthy, the required rest for the A-Rods, Jeters, Swishers & Martins of this roster guaranteed it wouldn’t be a smooth transition from the last 15 games of the season to the postseason.

      Can’t blame Girardi. Can blame the players if noone hits Porcello tonight, though.

      • Bill

        I agree with you about the age factor. I think one of the two things the Yankees need to do in the offseason (regardless of the outcome of the postseason), besides addressing the starting pitching, is to try to get younger. Montero will be a huge part of this.

        • LiterallyFigurative

          Get younger where?

          Posada is almost certainly a goner.

          Cashman cutting ARod and Jeter in the offseason? It was sacrilege getting rid of Jeter off of a .270 year.

          Mo’s old as hell, but I don’t hear anyone wanting to get rid of him. (nor should anyone)

          Who are the other old guys who are main parts of the team? And don’t say Garcia or Colon.

          • LiterallyFigurative

            You could get rid of Swisher, but it will be more of a speed/defensive standpoint than an age issue.

            • http://www.riveraveblues.com Mike Axisa

              Right, free agents don’t really come any younger than him, and there’s no one in the system to step in.

              The Yankees are younger than they get credit for. A-Rod and Tex are their only regular position players over 31. Garcia and Colon are old as dirt, but they’re stopgaps, not long-term fixtures.

              • jerrynyg

                A-Rod, Tex, and Jeter all over 31.

    • Jorge (needs a new name)

      Armchair management at its finest here.

      I’d like to see you do better. Too bad you’ll never get the chance.

  • CS Yankee

    AJ needs to deliver 6IP of 3 runs or less tonight.

    I would throw Nova if needed for a couple of innings, Hughes, SoRoMo should be good for about five innings. Don’t leave any bullets in the chamber, we can have Wade close it down if necessary. Don’t want to end the season having Mo throw 3 pitches total.

    If you run a marathon it is noble to fail at the end, what you don’t want is to pass runners in the chute…spend all the best energy and then hang on for the W. Use Drob in the high leverage situation, be it in the fourth or the eight…if AJ loads them in the fifth with no outs, get Drob in there ASAP.

    I would not use Ayala at all though because it seems like he sat too close to Proctor and caught a case of the suck.

    • Graig not Craig

      I’d like to see the Yankees drop a run or two in each of the first three innings and then a nice crooked number in the fourth. Take the pressure off AJ. Let him enjoy himself out there.

      • CS Yankee

        I agree, but didn’t we do that a few weeks ago against the Twins and their AA squad and he pissed that away?

        • Graig not Craig

          Yup – pulled after 4 innings and 4 runs. Does send a shiver through your spine, doesn’t it?

        • LiterallyFigurative

          Yes, but Girardi would get him out of THIS game.

        • Graig not Craig

          I would rather remember his last start vs the Choke Sox. 7.2 innings of 5 hit ball.

    • CS Yankee

      …also, I would PH Montero for Martin in the 8th (or later) if we are down.

      Let’s hope Teix, Arod, and Martin get beastly tonight. They are all due big-time.

      • MattG

        I would PH Montero for Posada (or Chavez) against a lefty, and possibly Gardner in the right situation, but I would take his cold fanny off the bench for Martin. While Montero is the better hitter, there is a real penalty to pinch-hitting, and Martin is no slouch.

        • MattG

          would NOT take his cold fanny…

        • CS Yankee

          Martin is a real solid catcher and should be playing.

          The exception to this is he is in a rut with the stick and grounds into too many DP’s. If late and were down, I would take the gamble with Montero’s bat and let him finish the game behind the dish.

          Posada has been the best batter this series (less maybe Cano), if they bring the LOOGY in against him, go Jones or Montero.

    • MattG

      Hear Hear.

      But our manager is Joe Girardi, thus Robertson will not extinguish any rallies advance the seventh, hence the city burns heretofore.

      • LiterallyFigurative

        On this subject, I think it speaks to a bigger issue in baseball: The predetermined inning designation in the bullpen.

        Outside of closer, I don’t beleive in “inning guys”. Sometimes you need your best releiver in the 6th inning, or 7th inning, to escape the big jam. Robertson to me shouldn’t be the 8th inning guy, but the “I need to get the 3 and 4 hitters out in the 7th inning of a crucial game” guy. Often time you lose the game going with the lesser pitchers, just because it’s not the best guy’s designated inning to pitch that day.

  • LiterallyFigurative

    All season, I’ve felt that the Yanks, even for their offense statistics, have more issues on Offense than pitching.

    They tend to struggle in close and late situations.

    They get so many guys on base, but find struggle to score even 1 run in those spots where they could extend a lead, or come back.

    Tex stopped hitting the ball to left center from the left side, something he did extensively as a Ranger, Angel, and Brave. It’s frustrating watching the pitchers throw the ball on the outside corner and seeing Mark try and pull the ball. He might lose a few homers, but he’d gain 10 RBI’s and 50 points in BA and OBP.

    I do think that Jeter, even though he’s getting hits, isn’t driving the ball. A-Rod either. Their bats look slow.

    • TomH

      Their bats look slow and are slow because they’re old-timers now, and it’s late in a long season. It’s time for them now to show whether the color of their money is still green, although I’m afraid that in ARod’s case we’ll have to wait until next season, and after rest-and-recovery, to see about his.

    • Bill

      I remember hearing at one point fairly late in the season that they were one of the worst offenses in the AL in high leverage situations. But I already knew that from watching the games. Part of this is due to bad at bats and trying to hit the ball out every time (especially in extra inning games) but this can also be attributed to bad luck. I can remember several instances this season (including last night) where a rally was ended or slowed by balls that died on the warning track or by great defensive plays by the other team. There are two instances from the regular season that come to mind. One was that game against the White Sox where Lillibridge made back to back diving catches in the 9th inning to rob sure doubles from A-Rod and Cano and save the game. The other was the game where Swisher was THIS CLOSE to hitting a walk off grand slam but the ball died on the centerfield warning track. I know there were others but they escape my mind right now. So the Yankees have struggled mightily in high leverage situations, but this can be attributed to bad luck as well as bad hitting.

      • Bill

        Just to clarify, this was backed up by a stat that someone posted awhile ago but I don’t remember what it was or where I could find it to show you guys.

      • LiterallyFigurative

        I agree that there are many instances of bad luck. But how is that different than the teams facing the Yankees?

        To me, I just see too many bad AB’s late in games. There are games where it looks like they can’t get a decent AB for innings at a time, especially against mediocre to bad bullpens. It’s one thing to struggle against good releivers, but this team has trouble against soft underbellies.

  • TomH

    FIPster Doofus said: “I’m pinning it on the offense if the Yanks lose tonight. Burnett won’t be in long enough to do an irreparable amount of damage. I’m expecting a five-inning, three-run type of game from him.”

    This seems to be the correct attitude to take, especially the point about the burden being on the offense. These guys really MUST come through tonight, come through EARLY and OFTEN.

  • Rainbow Connection

    I’m praying that adrenaline will be AJ’s best friend tonight.
    Breathe deep and slow to control it, dude. Perfect balance.

    • Yank The Frank

      Be the ball

  • Darren

    Nova is not pitching tonight unless it goes to extra innings, so don’t eve bother thinking about that. You’ll see Ayala before Nova. (But you’ll see everyone else – everyone – before Ayala).

    Too bad Montero’s frigid as ice right now – would like to have seen him take some hacks. Feel like he would have been one of the few guys to catch up to Verlander’s filthy stuff. But then again, I wanted to pinch hit for Gardner, so what do I know. BTW, no one is even talking about how Garnder has two of the biggest hits of the series. Damn is he gritty.

    • MattG

      You wanted to pinch hit for Gardner? I was going to put my ’77 Reggie-autographed ball through the flat screen if Chavez so much as appeared on it.

      • Darren

        Yeah, but not Chavez! Montero. I know I know, righty for lefty, but everyone was looking feeble against Verlander, including lefties, so it was more about getting a young bat in there who might be able to catch up to the heat or adjust to a curve. Montero’s shown pretty amazing ability to adjust, so yeah, I kind of wanted to see him in there instead of Gardner. I mean, I would rather have seen him in for Tex or Swish but let’s try and remain somewhat realistic about things that Girardi might conceiveably do.

  • Jimmy McNulty

    If AJ gets the W he gets a pass from me all next year.

    • JD

      agreed(except the playoffs next year)

  • Monteroisdinero

    AJ must throw the curve for strikes or he is doomed.

    • thenamestsam

      Agree with this. Watching the video of him earlier today from the 2009 Series I remembered that he used to be able to throw some strikes with that thing. A lot of them didn’t have the insane break, but throwing them in the zone makes it a lot tougher on the hitter.

    • Zooboy

      What is this “strike zone” you speak of?

  • Buck Foston

    For tonight, I’m an A.J. Burnett fan, baby!

  • Al

    Not even a 1% chance of rain tonight, darn it…

    • LiterallyFigurative

      What’s the chance of snow?


  • Tim

    Hey – here’s something nice to think about: Tigers players likely to play tonight lifetime vs. Burnett are 28-118 (.237). This is mostly a right-handed line-up, so his fastball breaking ball combo could play well if he has decent command.

    Yankees hit about .265 vs. Porcello for his career.

  • virginia yankee

    IF AJ isn’t TORONTO vs THE YANKEES brilliant there is no chance — all your options require GIRARDI to make sound tactical decisions — go look it up – his record is dismal – he does not understand what is necessary to control a game or seize the moment

    - his BEST BP guy waits for what – he PICNH HITS for who, when, based on what,

    – ARod should not be playing – August and September demonstrates he is not healed and Nunyez has the more productive bat — but no one could sit ARod now –

    – his series was winnable – Garcia 2 batters too long, Soriano instead of Robertson – why no lead to protect

    – ph chavez — why

    so tonight COFFEE JOE will be tested – the outcome is foreordained

  • You Know, Suzyn…

    Looking for one of you guys to make some sort of a Faustian deal that guarantees A.J. brilliance tonight. Who’s going to step up?

    • LiterallyFigurative

      My soul in exchange for a WS every odd year, and an LCS every even year?

      Where do I sign?

  • jason

    Is Ayala the new Mitre?

  • dalelama

    If we could get AJ to go a full six while giving up 3 would we take that and consider it a success?

    • Tyler

      Oh yeah

    • Tyler

      Oh yeah. I think 5ip 2er is my ideal outing as I doubt they’d toss him out for the 6th unless they have a large lead but yeah 6ip 3er I’ll take that. If the offense can’t match that off Porcello they probably shouldn’t win tonight.

  • Andrew j.

    I be

  • Andrew j.

    I become a met fan

  • http://johnsterling.blogspot.com/ Xstar7

    5 2/3 IP, 1 ER

    UUUUUUUUUUGE start by Allan James