When Burnett first came to New York in 2009 from the Toronto Blue Jays he delivered, posting a 4.04 ERA, eating 207 innings and 195 strikeouts in the regular season. He followed by making 5 postseason starts, where he went 6+ innings in four starts.
The Yankees won three critical playoff games with Burnett on the mound, which eventually led to the franchise’s 27th World Series title.
Burnett showed no signs of slowing down when 2010 season began. He didn’t lose a game in March/April finishing the month with a 3-0 record over five starts and a 2.34 ERA.
By the All-Star break Burnett started to slip. Still, he left no time for the Yankees to worry, as in July Burnett posted a 3-1 record over five starts, an ERA of 2.0 and threw one complete game.
It is easy to forget, or it was hard to remember how well Burnett was pitching last season before the real damage came in August.
Burnett literally was Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde in pinstripes, finishing 0-4 with a 7.80 ERA in five starts.
Whether it was pitching coach Dave Eiland going AWOL for weeks, or something personal like his mystery black eye, really didn’t matter because the discontent was all over his face. Something was clearly off.
Always known to be a fierce competitor, Burnett career is branded as wild hitting 89 batters in 12 seasons, 19 of which were from 2010.
In all fairness, no pitcher has ever been perfect all season long but no one expected Burnett too be either.
Burnett performances deemed ‘bad days’ are a whole new level of mess. Usually it happens in the third or fourth inning, after Burnett flashes though the two or three prior. Than he just implodes, sometimes allowing seven or more runs to score with only one out achieved.
If Burnett is not pulled and comes in following the hell he just allowed, he has a tendency to go right back to pitching like a stud again. Burnett defines frustration; you can see it in his face and on every fan at the game when this happens.
See all pitchers are expected to have tough games, but Burnett would have four or five solid outings maximum knowing inevitable struggles were on the horizon. This was part of having Burnett on your staff, and trust me any MLB team would be happy to have AJ as their solid number two. His stuff is electric and he so much natural talent.
The last two months of 2010, Burnett seemed to be stuck in that one bad inning, but it was no longer sandwiched in between accomplishments. It was painful for everyone to witness.
Now, with 2011 Spring Training in full swing fans have seen Burnett in a few outings and he looks phenomenal. He built a pitching facility on his property in the off-season and all his hard work is headin in the right direction.