A.J. Burnett a.k.a "Burn-out" lost his arbitration case with the Marlins, and it got me to thinking. That's got to be trouble.
Burnett threw 133.1 innings before the All-Star break last year. He threw only 71 after the break. Here are his stats:
ERA W L G GS CG IP H R ER HR BB SO AVG WHIP K/9IP K/BB IP/GS
First Half 3.31 8 6 19 19 4 133.1 103 55 49 9 59 129 .210 1.22 8.71 2.19 7.02
Second Half 3.30 4 3 12 10 3 71 50 29 26 3 31 74 .200 1.14 9.38 2.39 6.83
Burnett was 12-9 after a 3-0 a complete-game, 3-hit shutout of the Giants on August 18. He wouldn't pitch again because of a bruised right (throwing) elbow for almost a month and would only start two more games. He had a complete game in three of his last four starts before the injury. Burnett tied for the major-league lead in complete games even with the missed time. Burnett just turned 26 last month.
A new level in Heck shold be added for Jeff Torborg. Maybe if Dante were around, I would ask him to rewrite his little trilogy to include it. Torborg has seen the error of his ways and will use pitch counts (Eureka!) for Burnett this year. With the fragility of his arm after returning last year, it may already be to late.
Aside from the implications of overusing young arms on a team going nowhere, there is the residual affect of Burnett's losing his arbitration case. The famous though perhaps apocryphal 1919 Eddie Cicotte story, in which he is kept from pitching to keep him fresh for the Series causing Cicotte to miss the incentive bonus of $10,000 for 30 wins. I find this even more egregious since at least there was a reason to keep Cicotte out and a big one, the World Series. There was no reason to keep A.J. Burnett on the mound until his arm fell last year, except for Jeff Torborg's inability to manage. Besides it cost him $575K. I'm not sure if that's more than $10K in 1919, but you get the point.