I love to root against A.J. Burnett. There's just something about the looks of him that turn me off. It's the body language, the same thing that I don't like about Farnsworth--though Burnett is a far superior pitcher. He's the guy with the million dollar arm, ten cent head, the guy with great stuff who is only a great pitcher sometimes. He is able to get by with his natural gifts because he's been blessed.
Burnett will dominate a game for six innings and then not be able to finish. Or he'll go on a run for half a season where he's overpowering from start-to-start, and then he gets hurt or fades somehow. And always with the great stuff. But there's always something. And you don't know what that something is only that it is there. He's elite talent but not an elite pitcher, not with a career record of 67-65 over 9 seasons. Burnett has never won more than 12 games in a season. I know you can be unlucky and injured but you can't be that unlucky and injured.
He's a maddening pitcher because he isn't as good as he should be. Plus, just look at him, snarling, throwing that nasty stuff, always with some kind of stupid facial hair, man, it's just easy to think the dude is a dick. His 2007 season sums Burnett up pretty well. Guy starts the season and pitches from April through the middle of June injury-free. Then he gets hurt. What's new? After his start on June 12th, he pitches again on the 28th and then not again until early August. From April through June, Burnett was a disappointing 5-6 with an ERA of 4.31 ERA in 94 innings. Though he struck out 106 batters, he also walked 40 and gave up 15 dingers.
Yet since returning from injury on August 12th, Burnett is 3-1 with a 1.94 ERA in three starts, just over 42 innings. He's k'd just 38, and allowed 16 walks, but just 2 in his previous two starts. He pretty much gives up a homer a game--5 in 6. But he's gone at least 6 1/3 in each start and looked great. His last start, against the Devil Rays, was his best: 8 innings, 3 hits, a walk and a run, with 8 Ks.
So which Burnett are the Yankees going to see tonight? A closer, a legit wingman for Doc Halladay, or the latest incarnation of Nuke Laloosh? Which one is it, chief? Regardless, the Yanks are likely to hit at least one dinger and I wouldn't be entirely shocked if Alex Rodriguez is the guy to do it. Like to see him leave Toronto with at least one bomb, right? Leave them with something to remember him by. It'd also be cool to see Matsui get off the schnied.
Third big league start for Ian Kennedy tonight. He's been appealing so far. The Yankees have already won the series but since when isn't a sweep even nicer? It'd make the trip down to Boston a whole lot more comfortable for the team and also make it easier for me get a good night's sleep.