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Pressure is on Girardi to pull plug on Burnett before Game 4

by | CBSSports.com National Columnist
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NEW YORK – The moment the Yankees ended their neck-high trip into a boiling pit of festering ineptitude against Cliff Lee, the pressure on Joe Girardi escalated to high DefCon status. It will only get worse for him over the next 24 hours.

It is officially time to panic for New York, because the clock has struck A.J.

The Yankees are down 2-1, and if Girardi sticks with his decision to pitch A.J. Burnett in Game 4 on Tuesday, they will be down 3-1.

The future of this ALCS series for the Yankees rests in the deft managerial hands of Girardi. If he is smart and makes a change in the rotation, the Yankees can still win.

If he stays stuck in stubborn the Yankees might easily falter in the series. Burnett is as much a lock to lose Game 4 as Lee was a guarantee to win Game 3.

When asked before the 8-0 blowout if he would consider changing the rotation, Girardi said: "We are on rotation, is probably the easiest way for me to put it."

After the game, when asked if Burnett was still starting, Girardi answered, quickly, "Yes."

Girardi will regret this. He would have more success if A.J. Foyt pitched against the Rangers. Hell, throw A.J. Feeley out there, Joe.

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Do you know what the A.J. stands for in A.J. Burnett? Ask Jesus -- because every time Burnett pitches, the Yankees start praying.

In his last nine regular-season starts, Burnett was 1-5 with a 7.09 ERA. Opponents are batting .322 against him. Burnett had 10 starts this year where he failed to make it through the fifth inning, and not shockingly, the Yankees lost all 10. New York has lost 10 of his past 12 starts.

One of Burnett's victory came against Baltimore when he showed up with an unexplained black eye. So in addition to being a poor pitcher, he apparently can't fight, either.

CC Sabathia can pitch on short rest. In fact, he likes pitching on short rest. Sabathia triples the chances of the Yankees winning. If Andy Pettitte must subsequently pitch on short rest as a result of Sabathia doing the same so be it. Anything is better than Burnett.

In sticking with Burnett the Yankee manager is demonstrating loyalty to his players. But the players will understand if Girardi goes with Sabathia instead. That clubhouse knows Burnett is a bipedal dumpster fire just like everyone else does.

If Girardi looks panicked in making a move away from Ask Jesus, again, so what? Who cares about saving face at this point? The World Series is at stake.

The Yankees will be flirting with elimination if they start slumping A.J. Burnett in Game 4. (Getty Images)  
The Yankees will be flirting with elimination if they start slumping A.J. Burnett in Game 4. (Getty Images)  
The Rangers got to Hall of Fame talent Pettitte early. What do you think they'll do to Burnett?

The doubt about Burnett has become so loud and vocal among some fans and media around New York even Burnett has heard it.

"To be honest with you, I hear it everywhere, but I'm not really paying attention to it," he said. "I was told when I was pitching, and I was preparing myself to pitch until told otherwise. I know a lot of things have been written. I don't read a lot. I don't dig into it too much, but I do [talk] with everyday people that I meet at breakfast and lunch and stuff and it's been nothing but positive towards me. I'm just going at it as it's my turn to pitch in Game 4 of the AL Championship."

"It was an up-and-down year," Girardi said when asked about Burnett. "And I was just discussing about, as players, we always believe in each other because we have all been through ups and downs. You might go through an 0-for-20 and then the next time a week later you go 13 for 20, and it happens, because players belong here, and they are talented. And we all know what A.J. can dial up, and we believe in him."

There is belief and there is delusion.

Girardi is apparently mixing up the two.

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