If AJ wants to get these fans out of their seats tonight vs. Oakland, he is going to have to have that dirty deuce working.
Our boy AJ leads the AL with 153 strikeouts, but also has a pretty sorry 4.57 ERA. The reason for this is that when he is on, he is ON… but when he sucks he sucks soooo bad. In half of his starts this season, Burnett has either completely dominated the opposition or been roughed up:
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:
As a two-pitch pitcher, it’s also important for Burnett to be able to get his curveball over for strikes, so hitters can’t just sit on his fastball. In starts when Burnett has thrown his curveball for strikes at a higher rate than the league average (59.2 percent), he has an ERA of 3.15. In games when his curveball strike rate is lower than average, his ERA soars to 5.23.
Burnett is on a good run, with a 2.18 ERA over his past five starts, which may or may not be due to his opt out clause. Facing the A’s tonight, he should be able to dominate Jack Cust, who is batting just .171 against curveballs and leads the league with a 61 percent strikeout rate on at-bats ending on hooks. Not surprisingly, Cust is 1-for-10 lifetime against Burnett, with four strikeouts.