On Tuesday night, following an off day, game two between the Boston Red Sox and New York Yankees will take charge at Fenway Park.
Jon Lester, the Red Sox young lefty, takes the mound against Yankees right-handed AJ Burnett.
Burnett is just seven years and four days older than Lester, but this is no age before beauty contest. Both are solid, and it will be a battle on the mound at Fenway Park.
Getting a closer look at Burnett and Lester doesn’t persuade me to favor one, as this is a great pairing.
Though Burnett and Lester through from different sides, their form is very correlative as well.
Take a look for yourself:
Comparing both these Capricorns in regards to pitching stats of the last two seasons, this looks to be an even duel. Burnett gives himself away by dominating the wild pitches category, but otherwise pretty hard to tell them apart from their charts.
Lester major league debut was in 2006. By 26 years old already an ace and the prominent future of the Red Sox pitching staff. In his first post-season start, Lester won Game four of the World Series, the third in Boston Nation.
Lester became the 18th Red Sox in history to throw a no-hitter in 2008 against the Royals. Just weeks later, Lester through a shut-out against in his first start at Yankee Stadium, allowing the ball only to meet five Bomber bats before completing the game in the Bronx.
Lester has an arsenal of pitches, a change-up, three types of fast-balls lead by a commanding 94+ mph cutter, and has worked to make a substantial curveball. The way he delivers the ball is deceiving because of how he drops his arm when he winds about two-thirds down.
Lester’s story is inspiring after winning five games in a row by July 2007, suddenly he was diagnosed with anaplastic large cell lymphoma cancer. Immediately Lester went into to chemo heavy treatments, losing his hair and not knowing if baseball was gone for good.
By December of 2007, Lester beat the cancer, and one year after the worst news he was back in Fenway. Lester has not turned back and has been dominating in the American League ever since
AJ Burnett was one of the hottest free agents in 2009 that the Yankees pursued from the Toronto Blue Jays. The Yankees had their eye on Burnett for some time, having experience on the other side of his pitching arm several times in the AL East.
The results for his first season in pinstripes ended with Burnett winning his first World Series, a perfect combination via GM Brian Cashman.
Like Lester, at 25 years of age Burnett seemed to be unstoppable; he finished the season with five shut-outs and seven complete games. In the same 2002 time he also had 203 strikeouts.
Unfortunately, in 2003 Burnett missed the entire season due to Tommy John Surgery. The year long rehab that accompanies Tommy John did not burn Burnett’s pace at all, but in 2005, his elbow could not get all the passion and Burnett was out for an extended period again.
It took the full season for Burnett to get totally going again. By 2008 he was back in deadly form, winning 18 games in his final season on the Blue Jays.
Burnett, like Lester, has an arsenal of fastballs. Burnett clocks in the 90’s consistently, but reaches 100 mph frequently and has one of the strongest arms in the game today. Burnett’s weapon is his knuckle-curve ball. It is one of the best ever seen and when it’s on, it can be un-hittable.
Now, entering his 12th season, Burnett is not showing signs of wearing down at all. Burnett struggles are mental, because his expertise is obvious.
You never know which Burnett is on the mound, it’s not that he is ever a total disaster. The pattern is every few starts, and it usually is a failure inning where Burnett allows multiple runs to score, but it never goes any further.
Burnett can control his way out of a distressing spot better than most pitchers. If there was some way Burnett could foresee that half-a-bad inning, or get control of it from the get-go, he would dominate the majors.
Overall, AJ Burnett still gets the job done and the Yankees are delighted to have him.