2013 NLDS: AJ Burnett Should Not Start A Possible Game 5 For Pittsburgh Pirates

By Zach Morrison
AJ Burnett
Daniel Shirey-USA Today Sports

At what point should a manager go against what his normal tendencies are? I’ll tell you when: A manager should go against his normal tendencies when the statistics show strong evidence that what he is doing isn’t working. In this instance, Pittsburgh Pirates manager Clint Hurdle should use a rookie in a potential Game 5 scenario instead of his veteran with postseason experience.

A.J. Burnett has made five starts in his career at Busch Stadium. In those five starts, including his terrible Game 1 start on Thursday night, Burnett has a 13.50 ERA. Game 5 is going to be at Busch Stadium, and based on his past performances in St. Louis, there is zero chance I would give Burnett the nod for Game 5. So, who should start Game 5?

Gerrit Cole has been the Pirates’ best starter recently; he has been flat-out dominant. In September and October combined, Cole was 4-0 with a 1.69 ERA. His K/9 has been rising all season, his June K/9 was just 4.1, and his K/9 in September and October was 11.00. Cole was given the start in Game 2 against the St. Louis Cardinals, and had an outstanding performance.

In six innings against the Cards, Cole gave up two hits and allowed one walk. He struck out five hitters and allowed one earned run — a home run to Cardinals catcher Yadier Molina. Even though it was his first postseason start, Cole looked extremely compose, as nothing fazed him. Even after giving up the home run to Molina, Cole was able to come back and strike out the next batter.

There is no good reason to choose Burnett over Cole for Game 5. If Hurdle does choose Burnett, he’s going to have some serious explaining to do.

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