A.J. Burnett (10-2, 3.68) is having a bit of a career renaissance with the Pirates this year. After two straight 5.00+ ERA seasons with the New York Yankees, Burnett has a 3.68 ERA, a 3.63 FIP, and a 3.60 xFIP. He's been even better when you look at his game-by-game stats. He's had two bad outings--one where he allowed 12 runs to the Cardinals in 2.2 innings and one where he allowed six runs to the Astros in five innings. In his other 16 starts, Burnett has a 2.11 ERA. Every start except the two have been quality starts, with 11 of those two earned runs or less.
Burnett's strikeout numbers are down to his second lowest number since 2001, but his 7.65 K/9 is still close to his 8.20 career average. His walk rate has gone down slightly, too, with his 3.19 being his lowest since 2006. He has struggled with home runs the past few sesasons, but his HR/9 is down to 0.77.
Burnett throws three pitches, primarily: A 92 MPH four-seamer (47%), an 81 MPH knuckle-curve (35%) and a 92 MPH sinker (13%).
Burnett has faced five Brewers hitters at least ten times. Here is how they have fared (hint: badly):
For the Brewers, Yovani Gallardo (7-6, 3.74) gets the call. Like Burnett, this season could have been more special for Gallardo were it not for a couple of really bad starts. Fifteen of Gallardo's 18 starts have been quality starts, with just two bad starts against the Cardinals and one against the Cubs dragging his ERA down.
Looking at the statistics as a whole, however, this might be Gallardo's worst season of his career. His 4.04 FIP and 3.91 xFIP are both easily career highs while he's only had a higher ERA once. Gallardo's 8.89 K/9 is his lowest since his rookie season while his 4.15 BB/9 is the second highest number of his career. Either way, for the most part Gallardo has been getting excellent results.
Gallardo has faced three Pirates hitters at least ten times. Here is how they've fared:
In the bullpen:
Manny Parra pitched one inning (23 pitches) Friday and 0.2 innings (2 pitches) yesterday.
Kameron Loe pitched 0.2 innings (19 pitches) yesterday.
Tyler Thornburg pitched 2 innings (
Jose Veras pitched one inning (15 pitches) Friday.
Francisco Rodriguez pitched one inning (18 pitches) Friday.
John Axford pitched one inning (25 pitches) Friday.
Livan Hernandez has not pitched since the All-Star break.