If it seems like every five or six days that A.J. Burnett is pitching in front of an angry mob hidden behind computer or mobile screens - that is because he is.
His inconsistency of maddening degrees often makes like it seems there is a referendum on the ballot in the voting booth and if the fans had their say the measure of keeping him in the rotation would be voted down.
Burnett finally won a game in August. That is a confounding stat if there ever was one, especially pitching on a team that wins as much as the Yankees and this was his first August win since beating the Yankees on August 19, 2008 as a member of the Toronto Blue Jays.
That night he faced a Yankee lineup that included Johnny Damon, Bobby Abreu, Xavier Nady, Ivan Rodriguez and Hideki Matsui. That night also showed another example of his frustrating inconsistency since he pitched eight innings, struck out 13, walked one, allowed a run and five hits while improving to then a respectable 24-13 in August.
It also was one of six double-digit strikeout games authored by Burnett during his 18-win season. Since signing the contract based on performances such as that night, Burnett has four double-digit strikeout games in 91 starts - three in 2009.
And the night of last August win, here is what some of the Yankees had to say about Burnett, their future confounding number two starter.
"He’s a real good pitcher. I hope he opts out of his deal." - Johnny Damon
"Give him credit, he was 0-2 on everybody throwing in the high- to mid-90s and he had a snake for a breaking ball." Alex Rodriguez
And this is what Burnett said after pitching that game for manager Cito Gaston.
"It was just on tonight. "I told Cito, I'd like to have that hook every night. It would be nice."
"I was just really focused on executing my pitches after that first inning," he said. "I wasn't going to allow another one to leave the strike zone and have them capitalize on it."
Last night's line of three runs, 10 hits (all singles) in 5 2/3 innings against a team such as the Royals isn’t going to wow anyone. It won't impress and nor should it simply because many think against a superior team in the playoffs that runs would be more.
It was the 19th such occasion of allowing 10 hits and sixth instance with the Yankees. So if you go on the fact that he has made 302 starts, that means every 16th start will be one that he allows 10 hits in.
Of course, there’s nowhere to turn with Burnett even if you smoke some of Brian Cashman’s objective pipe. He’s there in the rotation for better or worse and there will be occasional really good, but that doesn’t mask the angry mob effect towards him.
At this point, you just have to hope for the best from the Yankee bats, especially against a sub-par opponent and maybe if the Yankees luck out against a good team, Burnett will have that flash of outstanding stuff that he has shown some of the time (see August 2009 vs. Red Sox, Game Two of 2009 World Series).
But since those nights have rarely shown up, log on to twitter on a night like last night. When you do so, search A.J. Burnett and see what comes up.
Here’s a sampling of what you might find:
1 – I hate A.J. Burnett more than anybody in sports smh (shaking my head)
2 – AJ Burnett getting a winning only underscores the overvalue of wins. He did not win this ballgame.
3 – AJ Burnett won in August, next up debt crisis
4 – About time AJ Burnett won a game, especially an August game
5 – It’s like watching four to six innings of Kyle Farnsworth in a row – with worse hair.
6 – AJ Burnett almost made six innings tonight, what a trooper
7 – AJ Burnett coughs up the lead, but he will keep the paycheck
8 – AJ Burnett better not see the bottom of the sixth inning or my TV won’t be seeing it either.
9 – I’m not a Yankee fan and I can’t stand watching AJ Burnett pitch
10 – Enough with AJ Burnett, Yankees would be better off releasing him and eating his contract.
11 – Kei Igawa > AJ Burnett