Remember that game AJ Burnett pitched against Boston in the beginning of August? The one at Yankee Stadium where he carried a one-hitter into the 8th inning matching Josh Beckett pitch for pitch.
Maybe he burnt himself out during that 118 pitch performance because since then he has been downright terrible.
In five starts since that time he is 0-3 with a 7.12 ERA allowing seven home runs and 11 walks in 30.1 innings. Going back to his last seven starts, includes his strong performance against Boston and also includes his stinker against Chicago before it, his line is even worse. 0-4 with a 6.54 ERA and opponents are hitting a heafty .817 OPS.
The problem seems to be his inability to locate his fastball as he has in the past. His wFB this season is -11.7. That means that his fastball is 11.7 runs below the average fastball. This is bad for two reasons, first, he is a pure fastball/curveball guy only occasionally throwing changeups. If his fastball isn’t working then he’s going to be in trouble.
It’s also bad because this is the least effective his primary pitch has been at any point in his entire career. He had posted a wFB as high as 32.5 in 2002 and was strong in 2007 with a fastball 8.2 runs above average. At least his curveball has been strong sitting 14.2 runs above average, but without a strong fastball to play off it he’s not as strong.
Another problem he’s often run into this season has been wildness. He has already walked 82 batters which is just eight short of his career high of 90 that he set back in 2002. His 17 wild pitches also lead the league.
Seven bad starts isn’t everything, he still has time to turn it around, but that is a fifth of the season. If he doesn’t turn it around soon he should be bumped back to third starter when the playoffs come around.