Joe Girardi has tapped AJ Burnett has the Yankees number 2 starter and based it on his spring. You can also read about it HERE. I'm happy with this decision. Why? I'll tell you.
First, let's talk about confidence. You know I preach it and AJ has it despite his last outing where he got jacked in the buttocks on a line drive and didn't pitch that well. The bottom line with that performance is he stayed in the game and didn't get down on himself. Everyone has 1 bad game from time to time, even CC. Chalk that up as a bad game, nothing else. He didn't bitch about it, he just moved on. That's confidence and that's good.
This spring, overall, AJ has been pitching pretty well. You can thank Larry Rothschild on the mechanics end and AJ himself on his free mind. With mechanic analysis comes confidence, when the confidence comes, any doubt leaves and focus takes over. He knows what the Pyramid of Pitching Dominance is all about, he reads BYB. Once he finishes the full pyramid, look for a good season from AJ Burnett. It's coming.
I like AJ following CC always. Like 2009, AJ will find that form again, he will demonstrate a focus like 2009. Obviously in 2010, he clearly lacked focus and confidence and it was apparent. You could see it in his body language. It was obvious. He had things on his mind. So it really didn't matter if he was number 2 or number 5 last year, he was just horrible.
2011 will be a great year for AJ and keeping him at number 2 spot will be better for the man's psyche. Besides, I love Phil Hughes at number 3. First of all, Hughes is a learner and he can learn from 2 veterans before him. Hughes asks questions, Hughes analyzes pitches. Hughes is still a kid. Having him at #3 in the rotation will hopefully again give him a repeat performance like last year with 18 wins. Now normally, a kid that pitches that well the year before with innings limits doesn't repeat, but there's only way to find out, right? You throw him out there and let him chuck it.
Right now we look like this:
1. CC Sabathia
2. AJ Burnett
3. Phil Hughes
And if I had to predict:
4. Ivan Nova
5. Freddy Garcia
At this very moment, I love what I see. Which brings me to my next point.
Greg Cohen at Sliding into Home is the man. His Yankee blog is great, check it out. Anyway, the reason why I bring him up is because he put together a piece called A Tale of Two Teams- 2009 and 2011.
In it, he looks at 2009's rotation. It's nothing that I remember it as, it was:
1. CC Sabathia
2. AJ Burnett
3. Andy Pettitte
4. Joba Chamberlain
5. Sergio Mitre
Don't forget, we won the 2009 Championship with that rotation AND an amazing lineup. Not to mention a lot of pie. Looking at these 2 rotations makes me smile, because I know we have a good chance this season. Personally, I think 2011 looks better on paper than 2009. To me, it's clear... We can do this.
Quest for 28 is 10 days away, get ready.
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