A.J. Burnett
A.J. Burnett
43-Year-Old PitcherRP
 Free Agent  
Free Agent
2020 Fantasy Outlook
There was no outlook written for A.J. Burnett in 2020. Check out the latest news below for more on his current fantasy value.
$Agreed to one-year $8.5 million deal with Pirates in November 2014.
PPittsburgh Pirates  
October 3, 2015
Burnett (9-7) surrendered five hits, three earned runs and four walks in 6.2 innings in Saturday's 3-1 loss to the Reds. He struck out nine.
Burnett's final regular-season start was disappointing, although the 17-year veteran turned back the clock by recording nine whiffs, his second-highest total in a game in 2015. His spotty control Saturday led to four free passes and 107 pitches, his highest total in that category since a July 11 outing against the Cardinals. Burnett also uncharacteristically surrendered a home run for the third straight start, his longest streak by far in a campaign during which he has only given up 11 gopher balls. Although he was unable to help the Pirates clinch home-field advantage for their upcoming showdown with the Cubs, Burnett would still figure to be a vital component of the Pirates' postseason pitching staff if they reach the Division Series.
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Past Fantasy Outlooks
Burnett signed with the Phillies just prior to the start of spring training last season as the team made a last ditch attempt at competing for a playoff spot before beginning a rebuilding process. He pitched decently at times, but his overall stats were a disappointment compared to his more recent work with the Pirates. Burnett lost a little velocity on his fastball, but maintained a solid strikeout rate. His biggest problem was an increase in his walk rate - from 3.2 BB/9 in 2013 to 4.0 BB/9 in 2014. Those walks led to a lot of runs scored for opponents and also shot Burnett's ERA up to its highest level since he was a Yankee. Burnett pitched through a hernia for the vast majority of last season, but has said the injury was not the cause of his struggles. He underwent surgery during the offseason and will be ready for spring training. Burnett declined a $12.75 million player option to return to the Phillies, and opted to sign a one-year, $8.5 million deal with the Pirates soon after becoming a free agent in November.
A calf injury sidelined Burnett for a month in 2013, but that didn't stop the veteran righty from putting together a virtuoso performance at age 36. He led the NL with a 9.8 K/9 mark, recording 209 strikeouts in 191 innings. A 3.30 ERA matched his career best, while a 1.21 WHIP was his lowest since 2007. Burnett did walk 67 batters, but his cut fastball induced groundballs at an NL-leading rate of 56.5 percent. Even though he showed few signs of slowing down last year -- aside from his disastrous starts in St. Louis -- it might not be wise to pay full cost for Burnett, at least based on his 2013 production. He'll be 37 years of age and has spoken of retirement often over the last two years, while that talk has increased during the past winter.
Despite a historically bad 12-run, 2.2-inning outing against the Cardinals, Burnett compiled a 3.51 ERA and struck out 180 batters in 202.1 innings. Without the St. Louis debacle, his earned-run average would have dropped further to 3.03. A 2.90 K/BB ratio -- his best since 2006 -- made up for his inability to hold baserunners. Burnett allowed 38 stolen bases, six more than any other pitcher, in 40 attempts. His personal backstop, Rod Barajas, won't be back with the Bucs. How much that affects his pitching remains to be seen. The 36-year-old righty registered a 4.13 ERA in his last 11 starts and will likely to put up similar numbers in 2013 as he pitches for his last major league contract.
The man Yankee fans love to hate was incredibly inconsistent for most of 2011, but closed the season fairly strong, going 3-0 with a 3.42 ERA in his last five starts. Burnett's stuff remains good as ever (173 strikeouts in 190.1 innings), but he gets himself into trouble with walks and finished second in the American League with 83 free passes in 2011. He comes with plenty of risk given the aforementioned control woes and that his home-run rate has increased in each of the last three seasons. Fortunately, Burnett was traded to Pittsburgh in February and now has an opportunity to pitch half of his games with more pitcher-friendly home park while moving to the weaker league.
To call Burnett's 2010 season anything less than a disaster would be an understatement. Across the board, his numbers were among the worst of his career: ERA (5.26), WHIP (1.511), K/9IP (7.0) and K:BB ratio (1.86). It's impossible to point at one factor as the primary cause for his struggles, but decreased fastball velocity, an inability to generate strikeouts and a bit of bad luck (.323 BABIP) all deserve part of the blame. If his strikeout numbers realign with his career averages this season, a bounce-back campaign could be in store, and his price will likely be devalued enough in drafts that he could become a bargain.
As one of two big-contract pitchers brought in by the Yankees to end their championship drought, Burnett got a full dose of the New York fishbowl, but handled the added pressure well, becoming a fan and clubhouse favorite with his whipped-cream pie antics. He stayed healthy throughout the season, allowing him to rack up 195 strikeouts in 207 innings with a reasonable 2.01 K/BB ratio. The law of averages indicates that his disappointing total of 13 wins could spike this year considering the level of run support he’s expected to get.
Burnett set career highs in wins (18) and strikeouts (231) last year and exercised an out clause in his contract, making him a free agent. The Jays wanted to re-sign him, but ultimately the Yankees' five-year, $82.5 million offer was enough to lure him to the Bronx. His abilities have never been in question but staying healthy has been a big issue throughout his career. The Yankees were willing to take on the risk, although he has made at least 21 starts in each of the last four years now. With improved run support on his new club, Burnett should put up similar numbers with a potential for spike in wins.
Burnett was once again sidelined for a good chunk of the season due to an injury (this time a shoulder), making just 25 starts. He was dominant upon his return, posting a nice 1.088 WHIP and 70 strikeouts in 71.2 innings after the All-Star break. There's value here given his strikeouts even when he's limited to 25 starts, but expecting a full season of health is unwise.
Burnett was limited to just 21 starts due to an elbow injury, but still managed respectable totals. He was particularly good once healthy in September, allowing just 34 hits and 13 walks in 44.1 innings while striking out 45. He'll be a nice sleeper candidate due to his injury in 2006, though be aware that he's made 30 starts just once in his career.
Burnett stayed mostly healthy and posted his best numbers since 2002, setting a career high for innings pitched and just missing 200 K's. The Marlins all but ran him out of town on a rail, though, as management laid the groundwork early on for their eventual decision not to even try to re-sign him. Now in Toronto, he's reunited with former pitching coach Brad Arnsberg -- whether that makes up for the change in leagues and home ballparks remains to be seen.
Burnett's return from Tommy John surgery was mostly successful, but he was shut down at the end of the year with further elbow soreness. Assuming he's healthy enough to make 30 starts he should be one of the NL's top starters … but you know what can happen when you assume.
After a chilly April start at Shea in which he couldn't get loose, Burnett came down with elbow soreness, which turned into Tommy John surgery -- costing him the rest of 2003, and probably costing Jeff Torborg his job. The Marlins have talked of using Burnett in the bullpen when he comes off the DL sometime around the All-Star break, a la John Smoltz, but we don't expect nearly the same results. By 2005 he should be back at full strength, however.
Burnett's staggeringly impressive breakout year included more than 200 Ks, a .209 opponent's BA and five shutouts, which is why it was so heart-breaking to see Jeff Torborg work him like a government mule. After numerous meaningless starts with indefensibly high pitch counts early on, he unsurprisingly had elbow trouble later in the year before returning from the DL for one more meaningless start in September. If any young pitcher is a mutant capable of shrugging off that kind of usage it's A.J., but if Torborg doesn't change his ways surgery seems more likely down the road than does a Cy Young.
More Fantasy News
PPittsburgh Pirates  
September 28, 2015
Burnett (9-6) lost a pitching duel Sunday, giving up two runs on seven hits and two walks while striking out five batters in a 4-0 loss to the Cubs.
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PPittsburgh Pirates  
September 21, 2015
Burnett improved to 9-5 as he allowed three runs (two earned) on six hits and four walks over 5.2 innings Monday against Colorado. He struck out five.
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PPittsburgh Pirates  
September 16, 2015
Burnett pitched well on Wednesday, as he allowed two runs on eight hits over 5.1 innings while striking out seven in a no-decision against the Cubs.
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PPittsburgh Pirates  
September 11, 2015
Burnett recorded a no-decision in his return from the DL on Thursday, as he allowed three runs on three hits and two walks over five innings in a loss to the Brewers. He threw 64 pitches and struck out three.
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A.J. Burnett: Activated For Thursday's Start
PPittsburgh Pirates  
September 10, 2015
Burnett (elbow) has been activated from the disabled list to start Thursday's game against the Brewers.
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