Burnett's Bounce BackFriday, June 29, 2012
One of baseball's most interesting redemption stories continued on Thursday afternoon, as A.J. Burnett limited the Phillies to three runs over 6 2/3 innings as part of a 5-4 victory. The veteran right-hander improved to 9-2 with the win and now owns a surprising 3.31 ERA over his first 13 starts this season.
Gee, the Yankees could really use a starting pitcher like Burnett while CC Sabathia (groin) and Andy Pettitte (ankle) are sidelined. I kid, I kid.
Many thought Burnett would see better results with the change of scenery and by virtue of pitching in the easier league, but few saw this level of success coming, especially after he got a late start on the season after suffering a fractured right orbital bone during spring training. I realize you can't do this, but if you take out his 12-run disaster against the Cardinals on May 2, he has a microscopic 2.05 ERA in his other 12 starts. That's pretty incredible.
Similar to what I wrote about Burnett's rotation mate James McDonald a week ago, I really don't see this as a sell-high situation. Fair or unfair, there's still somewhat of a stigma attached to Burnett from his final two seasons in the Bronx, so most fantasy owners will probably be unhappy with the return offers. I think Burnett's ERA will end up a lot closer to 4.00 than 3.00 before the season is through, but he should remain a useful starter in all formats the rest of the way.
Bauer Has Uneven Debut
After dominating his way through Double-A and Triple-A this season, 2011 No. 3 overall pick Trevor Bauer made his major league debut Thursday night against the Braves. The 21-year-old right-hander was a little shaky, allowing two runs over four innings while striking out three, walking three and hitting a batter.
Things could have been much worse, but Bauer was able to wiggle out of trouble on a couple of occasions, including a bases-loaded jam in a 30-pitch third inning. The inning also included a mound visit from a team trainer, which Bauer later downplayed as a minor groin cramp which he has battled on and off this season.
Bauer threw a total of 74 pitches before Diamondbacks manager Kirk Gibson pulled him for a pinch-hitter in the top of the fifth. While that seems like a quick hook for the rookie, remember that he threw 50 pitches Sunday in his final tuneup start with Triple-A Reno.
We saw some of Bauer's flaws on display, as he struggled with his control and his pitch count built quickly, but there was also a lot to like here. He was sitting in the 93-95 mph range with his fastball for most of the night and his varied arsenal kept hitters off balance at times, even though he didn't have his best curveball. There will surely be more bumps in the road in the short-term, but Bauer should be owned in most fantasy leagues on pure potential alone.
Cashner Returns in Style
Andrew Cashner's return to the majors was overshadowed by Bauer's major league debut, but he ended up stealing the show on Thursday night.
Fresh off posting a dominant 1.88 ERA and 22/3 K/BB ratio over 14 1/3 innings while being stretched out as a starter with Double-A San Antonio, Cashner carried a no-hitter into the seventh inning against the Astros. The 25-year-old right-hander gave up his first hit on a one-out single by Carlos Lee and was then chased from the game after serving up a two-run homer to Brian Bogusevic. Still, this was a very impressive outing.
Cashner struck out nine and walked one in the no-decision. He threw 60 out of 101 pitches for strikes and reached 99 mph on his 99th pitch of the ballgame. That's Verlander-like. His command has been an issue at times in the majors and there are questions about whether he'll hold up as a starter after his shoulder scare last year, but Thursday's outing serves as a good example why he's worth stashing in most mixed leagues.
Waiting on Victor
Some forward-thinking fantasy owners in AL-only leagues have stashed Victor Martinez in hopes that he'll be ready to help down the stretch. He may still make it back this season, but he'll likely only have a small window to make an impact.
Tigers athletic trainer Kevin Rand said Thursday that the best-case scenario is that V-Mart will return in mid-to-late September. The timetable was determined after the 33-year-old underwent a follow-up MRI on his surgically-repaired left knee. Martinez is going to focus on strengthening the leg for now before beginning a running progression in August.
The Tigers still owe Martinez $13 million next season and $12 million in 2014, so they aren't going to rush him back if his progress slows. Anything they get from him this year should be considered a bonus and fantasy owners should think the same.
NL Quick Hits: The Dodgers broke the bank Thursday by reportedly agreeing to sign Cuban outfielder Yasel Puig to a seven-year, $42 million contract … Andre Ethier (oblique) is currently considered day-to-day and will avoid the disabled list for now … Brandon Phillips was scratched from Thursday's lineup due to lingering effects from taking a forearm to the head during a play at second base on Wednesday … Ryan Howard went 2-for-4 with two singles, a sacrifice fly and three RBI on Thursday in his first rehab game with Class A Lakewood … Madison Bumgarner allowed just one hit in his first career shutout Thursday against the Reds … Jose Altuve (hamstring) isn't expected to return until Sunday at the earliest … Bobby Parnell notched a save in Thursday's win over the Dodgers … Jason Bay (concussion) rode a stationary bike Wednesday for 20 minutes, but is not expected to return until after the All-Star break … Citing concerns over his effort level, Pirates manager Clint Hurdle indicated Thursday that the struggling Jose Tabata could soon face a demotion … Tyler Colvin homered and drove in five runs in Thursday's win over the Nationals … The Phillies have made Jim Thome available for American League teams who are in need of a DH … Jorge De La Rosa (elbow) will be shut down until September and is unlikely to pitch in the majors this year … Ramon Hernandez (hand) is expected to begin a minor league rehab assignment next week … Rockies general manager Dan O'Dowd indicated that prospect third baseman Nolan Arenado will likely finish the season in the minors …
AL Quick Hits: Jose Bautista slugged his 26th home run of the season (and his 14th this month) in Thursday's loss to the Angels … Felix Hernandez tied his career-high with 13 strikeouts while tossing a complete game shutout in a 1-0 win over the Red Sox on Thursday night … Jacoby Ellsbury (shoulder) is scheduled to begin a minor league rehab assignment Friday with the Gulf Coast League Red Sox … Rays manager Joe Maddon indicated Thursday that there will be no update on a possible timetable for Evan Longoria (hamstring) for at least the next several days … The Yankees placed Andy Pettitte on the 60-day disabled list on Thursday, which rules him out until the end of August … Carl Crawford (elbow) went 1-for-3 with a walk while playing left field Thursday in his third rehab game with the GCL Red Sox … Dayan Viciedo hit a go-ahead three-run homer in the ninth inning to lead the White Sox past the Yankees on Thursday night … Franklin Gutierrez is likely headed to the 7-day disabled list after suffering a mild concussion when he was hit in the side of the face by an errant pickoff throw Thursday … Mike Trout and Mark Trumbo homered in Thursday's win over the Blue Jays … Rays manager Joe Maddon confirmed Thursday that Fernando Rodney will continue to serve as the team's closer when Kyle Farnsworth (elbow) is activated from the disabled list … Brandon McCarthy (shoulder) said Thursday that he expects to be sidelined through the All-Star break … Travis Hafner (knee) could be activated from the disabled list Monday …