Doc vs. AJ: Things To Watch

Roy Halladay AJ Burnett

I am as amped up as anyone to see my favourite pitcher this side of Dave Stieb (Roy Halladay) pitch against the prodigal son with the electric arm tonight.  Last year I penned an article discussing how AJ lives and dies by his deuce.

Everyone knows that Burnett’s fastball is electric, and I have seen him live pumping it up to 96-97 in the 8th inning of a game. At the MLB level, however, big league hitters can catch up to that smoke. When AJ is dominating them, it is with his hook and when he is getting dominated himself, it is because his curve is very hittable:

If Burnett is not able to locate his curve for strikes, look for the struggling Alex Rios to step up.  One thing Rios has been able to do this season is hit fastballs. He’s batting .304 against heat compared with .170 against off-speed pitches. Watch to see whether that translates into success against A.J. Burnett’s heater, as Rios is batting .299 against fastballs 94 mph or higher since 2007. Opponents have batted .360 against Burnett’s fastball so far this season.

I also anticipate the Arnsberg influence to be in full effect tonight.  If anyone has any insight into the deranged mind of Burnett, it is Arnsberg.  I expect the Jays to take more pitches than usual tonight in the hopes that AJ gets squeezed on a few borderline calls.  Once that happens, the walks mount, AJ implodes and leaves hanging curveballs to be crushed into the upper levels of the Rogers Centre.  Unfortunately for AJ, Arnsberg won’t be there to save him this time.

AJ Burnett
AJ Burnett

 

BallHype – AJ vs. Doc: Thins To Watch//

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has written for Mopupduty.com since 2006. Follow Callum on Twitter, LinkedIn and Instagram (@callumhughson)

  • Early

    This is a very succinct analysis of AJ. He can bring the heat still but for some reason it has been getting crushed this year. Perhaps because his bender hasn’t been finding the zone. He is 2-0 but has had some very rocky outings and his ERA over 5 will show this.

    Last year he had a rough spring ending with his “implosion” against Baltimore on a Saturday in June when he was booed off the field to the tip of his hat.

    I am curious as to how the Rogers Mahal crowd will greet AJ. He did not live up to his contract but during the second half of last year when he won 10 straight decision or something like that he had all of Toronto excited. He was only here 3 years and left no indellible mark on the franchise that gave him a chance.

    As for Doc, he usually gets up for the big game, look for him to shut down the Yanks. He too, has had some unlike Doc outing this spring. Stay away from following his one or two walks per 9 with a tater and he should be ok.

  • I don’t mean to be that guy, but the Rios double was a first pitch fast ball.

  • Ian

    I noticed that the Jays hitters were very aggresive last night, swinging at the first or second pitches in the count. Despite all that, A.J. was chased from the game in the 8th anyway.

  • I think teams are trying to do. Eliminate the deeper count curve ball opportunities and jump all over fastballs early in the count.

    Burnett throws 77% fastballs on the first pitch (and only 16% curve). When AJ’s ahead or has two strikes his curveball ratio jumps up to 35%. I’d certainly take my chances with a fastball early in the count.

  • The 4th and 8th innings, where the Jays scored their runs, was due to being patient in counts. All it takes is one curve that AJ thinks is a strike to be called a ball for the next hitter to be walked on 4 straight pitches. The most notorious first pitch swingers, Wells and Rios, even worked walks. Lindy was good for 2, which is no surprise since he is walking more this season as Kman pointed out earlier. Because of Lind’s walks, AJ was forced to throw strikes which paid off in a 3/4 night for Rolen.

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