The Yankees foolishly sent Ivan Nova down to the minors in July only to recall him a few weeks later when they realized that he needed to be in their starting rotation.
Since the end of July when he was recalled the Yankees have mostly gone with a 6-man rotation. They don’t want to stick with that long-term however and just before making a decision between A.J. Burnett and Phil Hughes, chance made the decision for them in the form of a cut on Freddy Garcia‘s hand.
Garcia is coming back this week though and they will be back to six starters. Not a problem for the short-term considering they have a double header coming up this weekend, but after that they are going to need to go back down to a 5-man rotation which means somebody is going to be cut.
Once again it seems that Burnett is one of the likely starters to be pulled from the rotation. Despite the fact that GM Brian Cashman seems to be firmly in Burnett’s corner there is no denying that he has easily been the worst of the group.
Consider that over the past 30 days, the Yankees have four starters who have been worth at least a 0.5 WAR (Nova, CC Sabathia, Garcia, and Hughes), and two other pitchers Bartolo Colon (0.3 WAR) and of course Burnett (0.1 WAR) who have not.
Considering the fact that Colon has pulled his (hefty) weight all year it really seems unlikely that they would cut him from the rotation now that he is struggling for the first time all year. Hughes is the opposite, he has been doing well, but only after a long season of struggles. Still, Burnett has been consistently bad.
After a strong first month and a half to the season Burnett has a 5.72 ERA with 93 K’s and 52 BB’s over 18 games and 105.1 innings pitched. From June 8 on he has a 5.98 ERA over 14 starts, and over his last nine starts he has really fallen off the deep-end with a 6.93 ERA over 49.1 innings.
At this point it seems like an obvious choice. The Yankees need to remove Burnett from the rotation. Over the next five or six weeks they can maybe find a role for him out of the bullpen because it is getting to the point where the playoffs are coming up soon, he is not an option for the rotation. They should try to find some role that they can use him in or at least a place where they can keep him from continuing to hurt the team.