General Yankees

AJ Burnett is Horrible

Despite the fact that the Yankees' pen turned in 5.2 scoreless innings and the offense churned out 5 runs, the Yankees lost.  Why?  Re-read the title of this post.

The Yankees are now 5-16 in the last 21 games that AJ has started dating all the way back to June 4.  Given that wins and losses can be misleading when judging a pitcher's performance, I dug a little below the surface.  In his last 21 starts – including tonight - AJ has compiled a 6.67 ERA; a 1.659 WHIP; and averaged just under 5.1 IP/game.  Opponents are hitting .301 off him, slugging .505, and getting on base at a disastrous .390 rate.  A .390 OBP across the board over 21 games!

Going into tonight's game even the most pessimistic Yanks fan would not have predicted that AJ would throw his worst game of the season if only because he has had such horrible games that it would be near inconceivable for him to do even worse than, say, 8 earned runs in 3.1 innings (August 27 vs. CWS).  This is a guy who had given up 7 or more earned runs in less than 5 innings on 4 separate occassions this year coming into tonight.  Well, congratulations AJ, you've now done it 5 times and tonight's clunker – 7 earned runs in 2.1 IP – is the worst yet.  I do have faith however: AJ has one more regular season start, in Fenway no less.  Do I hear double digit runs in less than 2 innings?  Anyone? Anyone?

Of the 67 starting pitchers in the majors who have started at least 30 games this year, AJ has the worst ERA (5.33) and the worst opponents' OBP (.362) and is in the bottom 5 of virtually every other important pitching category.  As Michael Kay said during tonight's broadcast, it is hard to believe that the Yankees maintained the best record in baseball for virtually all of the three and a half months that their supposed #2 starter was arguably the worst starter in baseball.

If momentum is only as good as your next starting pitcher then following last night's nail-biting win vs. the Sox, the Yankees have really put the pedal to the metal.  In reverse.  Thanks AJ.

8 replies on “AJ Burnett is Horrible”

From the previous thread:
“Yikes on AJ’s night. Is anyone else thinking the safest thing the Yanks can do in the playoffs is to go with CC, Phil, and Andy as the starters? Phil hasn’t been great lately, but he keeps the team in the game. There is just no way we can try to rely on AJ, Nova, Vazquez or Moseley. I’m even wondering if AJ and Vazquez deserve a spot on the postseason roster.”
Posted by: DustyDrB – YF
AJ has one more start in the regular season. I can’t honestly see how you throw him in the #3 spot over Hughes come October. He has to go #4 – I’d frankly like to jettison him for the playoffs and try to piece together a game with Nova going 3-4 innings and 2-3 innings of long relief, but that’s my anger talking. Because of his ceiling, which continues to be miles higher than any of their very weak alternatives once you get past Hughes, there is no way they leave him off the roster. But yeah, tonight was unbelievably bad. Unbelievably bad.

I was looking at the stats some more. I think we can rationalize Vazquez making the postseason roster due to his success in (albeit only 13.1 innings) relief. Plus, you need that guy who can come in early in the game if things go wrong quickly. Of course, this is a role that a number of guys can fill (Nova, Moseley, even Gaudin or Mitre).
However, loyalty is the only reason AJ would make the postseason roster. Girardi has stuck with him all season, but what choice did he have? Given the success of our relievers, (Especially in the second half. Wood, Chamberlain, Robertson, Logan, and Rivera have been great since the break. Gaudin and Mitre have been adequate but both can handle long relief) it would actually anger me to see AJ make the roster. I’m not saying this because I’m angry about tonight’s start. He just honestly has no place.

Yeah Dusty – for some reason Vazquez completely slipped my mind. He doesn’t inspire tremendous confidence in high-pressure situations, but you’re right – next to the AJ Burnett who is pitching right now it is very hard to justify opting for AJ over Javy for the # 4 spot in the rotation. Assuming the Yankees have actually wrapped up the wild card by this Sunday (an increasingly bold assumption these days), it will be interesting to see if Girardi tells Javy to prepare to start that game to see what he has got.
As for AJ, the following quotes from yesterday’s post-game do not help:
“I don’t have anything to prove…Everybody says the season doesn’t matter here, the postseason does. So, there you go.”
Since joining the Yankees last season he has compiled a 23-23 record pitching in front of the most productive offense in the league and compiled a 4.51 ERA. He had three good post-season starts in 2009 but also two horrible outings, yielding a post-season record with the Yankees of 1-1 with a 5.27 ERA. Nothing to prove? In what universe could that be an accurate statement?
And then there was this:
“I’ve been through way worse nights than tonight, and I’m going to have way worse nights than tonight.”
He gave up 7 runs in 2.1 innings. How could a starter possibly have a “way worse” outing than that? It’s practically impossible. When you give up one run per out recorded you have pretty much hit the bottom of the barrel and are unlikely to last more than 2.1 innings. Yes, I guess he could give up 6 runs or so in the 1st inning. Thanks for preparing us for that eventuality AJ.
I’m sorry – I know I am beating a dead horse, but honestly AJ is going places in my fandom that I did not expect anyone to reach – dropping below the likes of Kevin Brown and Carl Pavano for most hated pitcher in the last decade. It’s nothing that a few strong post-season starts wouldn’t cure, but like you, I’m not sure he should even get them at this rate.

it just makes me even more sad Paps blew it Sunday night, because how much fun would it be today with the Sox in control of their playoff destiny (albeit at insanely long odds)?

I was thinking the same thing last night ponch – although “fun” wasn’t the word that jumped to mind. If Papelbon had sealed the deal Sunday night (or Bard had been given a shot at it), and last night’s games played out as they did, the Yankees would be staring at the very real possibility of having to win one in Fenway while they are playing their worst ball of the season and Boston is playing some of their best. Of course, with each passing day that this eventuality does not get ruled out, it continues to draw nearer and nearer. If the Yankees lose and the Sox win again tonight, the Yankees will only have one more chance in Toronto before Boston can firmly grasp control of their own destiny as you say.

I’m calling it–Sabathia is going to own the Blue Jays tonight. (And Boston winning is not exactly a lock with John “Motherf***ing” Lackey on the mound.)
This really isn’t a jinx attempt, though some are going to see it that way. It’s just me trying to prepare for the inevitable. Tonight seems like a really likely night for Yankees and Rays to celebrate and the Red Sox to bow.
Honestly, I just hope Boston has a shot at playing spoiler this weekend.

Obviously I am hopeful that your prediction for tonight pans out Devine. If it doesn’t I’m going to be in the fetal position by first pitch tomorrrow night.
As for tonight, even CC has had his worst stretch of starts in 2010 over the past month so all eyes are on his performance. And Mariano of all people is pitching to the tune of a more than 9.00 ERA since Sept 10. It seriously feels like everybody-suck time in the Bronx, with the notable exception of A-Rod and a few others.
No matter what happens, the Sox deserve a lot of credit for making the Yankees sweat and they certainly can take some responsibility for the Yankees being out of the driver’s seat for home-field advantage in the playoffs. If the Yankees had just won the home series vs. Boston last weekend they’d be in the playoffs and still own the best record in the AL. If, if, if.

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