It was a rational decision in both scenarios for the Pittsburgh Pirates.
If the Pirates won today, A.J. Burnett would most likely pitch Game 1 of the NLCS.
If they lost, Burnett might pitch Game 1 of the NLCS if they make it.
They lost, so A.J. is your probable pitcher for Game 1 of the National League Championship Series if the Pirates win in St. Louis Thursday evening with rookie Gerrit Cole on the mound.
Pittsburgh loves Burnett. Burnett loves pitching in Pittsburgh. He doesn't pitch well at Busch Stadium, though.
The numbers don't lie in that statement. Game 1's disaster of a start for A.J. has convinced most fans that him taking the mound in St. Louis might be a risk skipper Clint Hurdle was not willing to take.
Burnett has a "tough guy" persona that people love and has the arm to back it up. A determined veteran, who is never happy to hand the ball over to Hurdle, and has jawed with the man in charge a few times this season. They both respect one another, but in this case, Hurdle is putting the best interest of the team forward going into Wednesday's do or die game.
Not that anyone can determine who Hurdle would start in Game 1 of the NLCS, but if the Pirates were to advance, you would have to believe that he would go with Burnett. Nobody has lost confidence in him, and with seven days rest, he's the best candidate for Friday's probable first game. Unless the Pirates pull a move like the Dodgers and pitch a guy like Morton on three days rest, (which won't happen), A.J.'s the guy.
Burnett might be discouraged by getting passed over for the rookie Cole, but you hope he understands why they won't put the ball in his hand in St. Louis Wednesday. It was probably tough for Hurdle and Searage to tell him they were going with Cole.
Hopefully, we see Burnett getting a fresh start on the mound in Game 1 of the NLCS against the Braves or Dodgers. But his teammate has to pitch the game of his very young career against Wainwright and the Cardinals.