Now call me old fashioned but I’m pretty sure an injury, especially a groin injury, is supposed to slow you down. A.J. Burnett was pretty solid before leaving his April 11th start against the Miami Marlins, but nothing too spectacular.
When he left that start against the Marlins in the 5th inning, he had already issued 14 walks in just 16 innings. He was so great at not giving free passes in his 2 seasons with the Pittsburgh Pirates, so this was a huge concern for the team.
So with a walk-to-strikeout of 14 to only 10 strikeouts, no wins, but a pretty solid ERA of 3.94, it wasn’t looking all that great for a guy who signed a one-year $16 million contract, who now had groin issues to worry about.
Everyone assumed he would miss some time with this injury, maybe not a whole month or anything, but at least a start or two. Not only did he not miss a start, but he has pitched extremely well, like the guy they signed when they heard about the Cole Hamels injury.
In three starts against the Atlanta Braves, Los Angeles Dodgers, and the Arizona Diamondbacks, he has pitched 21 2/3 innings, giving up only 2 ER and issuing only 3 walks, while lowering his ERA from 3.94 to 2.15.
Who knows why he’s pitching much better. Even he said it is a “blessing in disguise” because it forces him to focus more and pay attention to detail.
Hopefully this doesn’t mean that when he is finally healthy, he will resort back to walking batters again, but it is a nice, but at the same time pretty strange thing to see.
Pair a dominant Burnett with a healthy Hamels and a very reliable Cliff Lee, and this Philadelphia Phillies team has one of the best 1-2-3 punches at the top of the rotation in the National League, if not the entire MLB.
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