Earlier in the podcast Matt and I briefly talked about who was going to ultimately win the Yankees No. 5 starter job. We both pretty much agreed that A.J. Burnett would win by default, but a deeper look shows that Burnett is actually poised for a nice bounce back year.
I mentioned that Burnett’s 17% HR/FB rate last year looked extremely fluky and was way off his career average. A deeper look shows that was the highest home run rate in Major League Baseball since 2007 when who else, but A.J. Burnett posted a 17.7% HR/FB. Burnett followed that year up by going 18-10 with a 4.07 ERA over 221.1 innings. The year was fueled by a much, much better 9.6% HR/9.
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The reason I actually see him having the bounce back is because his peripherals where no different last year than normal. His 8.18 K/P and 3.92 BB/9 were a little worse than his average, but not by much. The hits allowed were also no different; the only major change was the home runs. A inch here or an inch there and things could look very different.
I am not trying to say Burnett will be a miracle and carry the Yankees, but there is every chance he performs like a No. 3 starter in the No. 5 slot. That is something that cannot be taken lightly. His FIP last year was 4.77 and his xFIP was even better at 3.86. Assuming he is healthy I don’t see why he can’t win 10+ games and throw a 190+ innings with an ERA in the low-to-mid 4’s.