A.J. Burnett (15-5, 3.67) is probably glad to be away from the Yankees. Prior to signing a five year, $85 million contract with New York, Burnett had a 4.07 ERA following four straight years of sub-4.00 ERAs with the Toronto Blue Jays. In his three years with the Yankees, Burnett posted a 4.79 ERA and 1.447 WHIP over 98 starts.
This year has been a resurgence for Burnett. It's not that he has been in the upper echelon of NL pitching, but he has shown that he still a very useful starter despite being 35 years old and being owed $16.5 million next season (the same amount as he made this year). Over his first 24 starts with Pittsburgh, he has a 3.67 ERA and 3.83 FIP. Though his 7.80 K/9 is his second lowest since 2001, he is aided by the fact that his 2.81 BB/9 is his lowest since 2006 and second lowest of his career.
The Pirates didn't have to give up much for the rights to Burnett after wearing out his welcome in New York. They gave up Diego Moreno, a minor league reliever who has a 2.41 career MILB ERA. Still, he is already 24 years old and has not pitched past Double-A ball. OF Exicardo Cayones is 20 and has not played beyond low-A. He has put up good on base percentages, but has struggled with power and doesn't give much faith that he can succeed at higher levels. Meanwhile, the Pirates only needed to pay $5 million of the $16.5 million Burnett was owed this year and $8 million of $16.5 million in 2013. So far that's looking like a pretty good deal for Pittsburgh.
Burnett throws three pitches primarily: A 92 MPH four seamer (45%), an 82 MPH knuckle curve (33%), and a 93 MPH sinker (15%). Despite pitching in the American League since 2006, Burnett has faced five current Brewers at least ten times. Here is how they have fared:
For the Brewers, it's Marco Estrada's (2-5, 4.02) turn to take the mound. His last outing, against the Cubs, he struck out eight batters while allowing three unearned runs in five innings. He has not given up an earned run in his last two starts. Estrada has had home run issues this season with a 1.47 HR/9, but has successfully quelched those habits recently and has not allowed a long ball since July. That has resulted in a 3.12 ERA in the month of August. Estrada's other peripherals have been great this season as he has a 9.30 K/9 and 2.06 BB/9. If he continues to pitch this well, he will certainly be on the short list for a starting role in 2013.
Estrada has faced three Pirates hitters at least ten times. Here is how they have fared:
Nyjer Morgan RF
Rickie Weeks 2B
Ryan Braun LF
Aramis Ramirez 3B
Corey Hart 1B
Jonathan Lucroy C
Carlos Gomez CF
Jean Segura SS
Marco Estrada P
In the bullpen:
Jim Henderson pitched one inning (21 pitches) Thursday and 1 inning (15 pitches) yesterday.
Jose Veras pitched 1.1 innings (18 pitches) Thursday and 1 inning (28 pitches) yesterday.
Manny Parra pitched .1 innings (14 pitches) Thursday, and also pitched on Wednesday.
Livan Hernandez pitched 1.1 innings (40 pitches) Thursday.
Francisco Rodriguez pitched .1 innings (27 pitches) Thursday.
John Axford pitched one inning (14 pitches) Wednesday.