Just when you think AJ Burnett is beginning to earn his 5 year 82.5 million dollar contract, he screws it all up. Burnett continues to prove why he is overpaid and unreliable. He has to be the most frustrating pitcher to watch in all of baseball as he continues to tease Yankee fans into thinking he can be a consistent top of the rotation pitcher.
I cannot think of another pitcher who can look so good, but then lose it so quickly. He has all the talent in the world, but his ability to toughen out games is lacking and has always held him back from being one of the elite pitchers in the game.
Monday night’s game against the Indians was a prime example of this. Burnett was phenomenal for the first 6 innings, allowing only 4 base runners and pitching a shut out. The bad AJ then came out in the 7th as he screwed himself like usual by walking two and then giving up an RBI single to former Yankees Shelly Duncan and a 3 run homer to another former Yankee Austin Kearns. For Kearns, he is batting .192 and it was his first home run since August 22 of last season. I know he would have been out of the inning if a pop up was caught, but those things happen and he needs to get past it. A big time pitcher figures out a way to get out of the inning with the lead and Burnett does not fit that description. There are no excuses for not being able to get two scrub hitters like Shelly Duncan or Austin Kearns out.
If the Yankees do not go far in the post season, Burnett will be the reason for it. He will most likely get a start and probably look pretty good for most of the game and then eventually blow it. He did that last year against Texas.
For some reason Joe Girardi continues to show so much faith in him when everyone else is just waiting for the other shoe to drop. Burnett is the type of guy that needs to be taken out of the game once he walks that second batter in the 7th. You just knew the inning would blow up on him.
Burnett is great when everything goes his way, but the minute he encounters some type of adversity, he ultimately folds. He is not mentally tough and in order to pitch for the Yankees, that has to be something you have. We have seen numerous games where CC Sabathia does not have his best stuff, but still has the ability to toughen out the game and lead the Yankees to victory. He is a true ace while Burnett is not and needs to stop being looked at as a top of the rotation guy. I would have more faith in Bartolo Colon or Freddy Garcia pitching in a post season game. At least I know they will not blow up and melt down in the same manner as Burnett.