After AJ Burnett imploded in the 2nd inning of yesterday’s game, Peter Abraham made the following remarks on his blog:
I’m sure that Girardi will start Burnett in Game 2 of the playoffs because that’s what the rotation is supposed to be and he will not want to pitch the lefties back to back.
But this guy is untrustworthy. It should be CC and Pettitte. The idea of Burnett starting his first-ever playoff game should scare the heck out of Yankees fans. Sure, he’s capable of throwing a three-hitter and fanning 10. But he’s way more likely to do what we’re seeing now.
I’m going to have to quibble with the bolded text. Burnett’s ERA looks poor because he has had a rough 6 weeks, and due to the fact that his poor starts have tended to be awful. That being said, a closer look at his game log suggests that he has not been all that bad for most of the season.
AJ has made 29 starts, and has allowed more than 3 runs in just 8 of them. He has made 19 quality starts, in which he went at least 6 innings and allowed not more than 3 runs. By comparison, Justin Verlander has 21 QS in 30 starts, and CC Sabathia has notched 18 QS in 30 starts. AJ’s inconsistent stretches are not marked by many consecutive poor outings. Rather, he tends to have some decent outings mixed in with 3 or four awful ones. Even during this recent rough stretch of 9 starts, he has been solid in 5 of them while throwing 4 stinkers up there. To me, this suggests that he is not far from putting it together, and getting back to where he was for most of the season.
Right now, it is difficult to have a ton of confidence in AJ Burnett. However, the idea that he is more likely to pitch an awful game in the postseason than throw a good game or quality start is clearly not based upon his previous performance. He has been erratic, but the good has, for the most part, outweighed the bad.
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