After Mariano Rivera, proven New York Yankees pitcher, was unable to bring his team a win in their last three games, many have questioned his stand-in A.J. Burnett’s efforts to save the day.
In his latest effort on Tuesday, Burnett filled in for Rivera unsuccessfully. Although the pitcher appeared with a new platinum-blond hairstyle, he did not appear to aid the team on the mound.
Burnett pitched carefully during his first five innings, but seemed to lose his edge during the sixth. He allowed the Angels’ Jeff Mathis three walks, one of which was intentional.
However, Burnett insisted that he played his best game.
"I wouldn't change a lot that I did," said Burnett, according to MLB Advanced Media. "Pretty much, I pitched with conviction all night."
The starting pitcher has not led his team to a win since June 29, causing some to question his role on the team.
“Burnett once again confirmed that we should finally, once and for all, forget mentioning him as a possible No. 2 starter and ask if he is even a No. 5,” ESPN columnist Andrew Marchand wrote after the pitcher’s performance on Tuesday.
The right-handed pitcher admitted that harsh criticism concerning his game can be hard to take in. However, Burnett maintained that his performance will improve.
"You can't help not to listen to it," Burnett said, according to ESPN reports. "But, like I said, if you pitch better, that noise on the outside goes away. I seem to get close and close and close every time out there and then it is just one little thing. I'm not far away. I believe that."
After 17-year Yankee veteran Rivera failed to deliver on Sunday and Tuesday night, where he allowed two runs in the ninth inning, questions have arisen about the best possible number two pitcher for the postseason. Burnett’s 0-8 with a 7.18 ERA average every month of August since 2009 have caused analysts to question the plans of Joe Girardi, team manager.
However, Girardi said he is not yet ready to think about postseason plans.
"We're so far away from that, I'm not concerned about that right now," Girardi said, according to MLB Advanced Media. "Our concern is winning ballgames and trying to win our division."
The Yankees will host the Angels on Wednesday evening.