A couple of months ago, A.J. Burnett sat back on his couch, put one of his favorite games on the TV and looked for a little inspiration in a maddeningly inconsistent season.
The tattooed righthander is ready to pull out that tape again. He’s got a postseason start to make for the New York Yankees.
Bumped to the bullpen in the first round against Minnesota after going 10-15 in the regular season, Burnett was told by manager Joe Girardi that he’ll get the ball for Game 4 of the American League Championship Series.
“The one thing we’ve seen from A.J. is we’ve seen him pitch extremely well in the playoffs, we have,’’ Girardi said yesterday. “I mean last year look what he did. He threw the ball well . . . I do have confidence in A.J.’’
Burnett was 1-1 with a 5.27 ERA in five postseason starts last year, including a dominant outing in his go-to video, Game 2 of the World Series: 1 run and 4 hits with 9 strikeouts over 7 innings.
There were too few starts like that this season for Burnett, who is in the second year of a five-year, $82.5 million contract. After posting a 5.26 ERA — the worst of his 12-year career — and only winning once since Aug. 1, Burnett is working hard to get in the right frame of mind for his expected start Oct. 19 — 17 days since his last outing.
Cox, 69, retired Monday after the Braves were eliminated from the postseason by the Giants.
Gonzalez, 46, lasted 3 1/2 years as the Marlins manager, compiling a 276-279 record. He clashed with star shortstop Hanley Ramirez, whom he benched for a game in May for not hustling.
Gonzalez worked in the Braves organization as a minor league manager and was the Braves third base coach from 2003-06. He will be announced as manager tomorrow, according to the newspaper.
These teams have perhaps the two best starting rotations in the majors. For the Phillies, it’s Roy Halladay, Roy Oswalt, and Cole Hamels. For the Giants, it’s Tim Lincecum, Matt Cain, and Jonathan Sanchez.
The Phillies feature three aces who have 11 All-Star Games, one Cy Young Award, one NLCS MVP, one World Series MVP, one perfect game and one no-hitter on their impressive resumes.
The Giants’ Big Three have combined for four All-Star Games and two Cy Young Awards.
Game 1 is Saturday night at Citizens Bank Park. Get set for The Freak vs. Doc.
Lincecum, the two-time reigning NL Cy Young winner, is expected to start for the Giants. Halladay, the leading candidate to win his second Cy this year, should get the ball for the Phillies, even though manager Charlie Manuel wouldn’t commit to announcing his starter.
“They’re different sizes, different pitchers, really,’’ Manuel said. “They call [Lincecum] a freak. I don’t know if he’s a freak or not, but his style is different. I hear people talk about his mechanics, but he does everything the pitcher is supposed to do. He’s got a tremendous changeup, fastball, breaking ball. And when he’s real good his command is good.
“Halladay, on the other hand, is bigger, stronger. He’s got more pitches, and I would say Halladay definitely has more command of the strike zone than Lincecum has. But on any given day he can be powerful, too,’’ Manuel said.