2009: AJ Burnett was brought in during the 2009 offseason in order to help CC Sabathia shoulder the load. While Burnett did not live up to the high expectations, he did pitch well enough to get the job done and was crucial in helping out the bullpen. Known as an inconsistent and injury prone pitcher, the former Toronto Blue Jay pitched 6.1 innings per start and only 9 of his 33 starts lasted less than 6 innings.
He was one of the more consistent pitchers along with Sabathia for the Yankees but still had his patented streaks. In July he went 4-0 with 1 no decision (which the Yankees won) and pitched 33.1 innings while only giving up 27 hits and 9 earned runs. August, however, was the exact opposite of his stellar July. Burnett went 0-4 with two losses against the Red Sox while pitching 37.1 innings but giving up 38 hits and 25 earned runs. But the righty settled down and pitched well in the playoffs where he threw 27.1 innings giving up 22 hits and 16 earned runs while striking out 24 and ended up with a record of 1-1 and 3 no decisions (two of which the Yankees won).
- 2009 Stats:13 Wins 9 Losses 4.04 ERA 207 Innings 193 Hits 97 Walks 195 Strikeouts
2010: This should be a big year for Burnett. With Andy Pettitte and Javier Vazquez shoring up the rotation behind him, Burnett should be gearing up for a big season. Much like Sabathia, I believe that winning a ring in his first year in pinstripes will do wonders for Burnett’s confidence. As such he will be able to reduce the number of outings where he pitches less than 6 innings and keep the number of walks he issues to a reasonable level. Knowing that he has two solid pitchers behind him in the rotation instead of just one will boost his confidence. So when his curveball is not working he can go to a different pitch instead of trying to force it like he did in 2009.
Burnett is the linchpin to the Yankees’ 2010 campaign. If he is able to post another solid year and Vazquez throws over 190 innings, the Yankees will have one of the best rotations in baseball. If Burnett ends up on the DL (knock on wood) then the Yankees rotation will once again be thrown into flux. But, if he can stay healthy and minimize his mistakes, the Yankees will have to be one of the favorites to win the World Series.
- 2010 Prediction: 31 games 17 Wins 7 Losses 3.85 ERA 196 Innings 188 Hits 72 Walks 192 Strikeouts