The Mythical #2 Starter

Cervelli, a pattern emerging?
Sunday Linkage: Bat Boy, Waivers, A-Rod
I don't think CC could beat the chilies. But Burnett was a Cy Young winner back in Toronto, so.... (photo by Stefano A, used under a Creative Commons license)

A few days ago, Mike made some great points about A.J. Burnett’s performance up until now. Even including his total meltdown on Wednesday, he argues that Burnett been a decent back-end option for the strange and wonderful lineup that is the pitching rotation of 2011, and I agree. Yet, it seems there’s no end to the masses of people who have a serious bone to pick with him. Because I’m a really nice person, I will gladly stand up in his defense. And hey, everyone hates me anyway, so why not?

Observe, this frequent complaint which I see posted over comments, threads, chats, tweets, and so forth. I would like to say I hear this in the streets, but I live in the bay, and their failed pitcher, Barry Zito, is making way more than ours. At least A.J.’s not Zito!

Anyway, figure A: A.J. Burnett does not perform up to the standards of a number two starter.

Can I just ask what the hell a number two starter is?

If all you have to do is pitch after CC, then these are the people who have been number two starters this year: A.J. Burnett, Freddy Garcia, Bartolo Colon, Phil Hughes and Ivan Nova. If all that it takes to be “a number two starter” is that you start after the number one starter, then everyone is a number two starter. Burnett is perfectly capable of starting the day after CC. And I’m sure if you asked Hector Noesi, Brian Gordon (when he was in the States) or Manny Banuelos to start after CC, they would have the stuff to be a number two starter as well. If all you have to do to be a number two starter is start the second game of the season, here are some other number twos: Daniel Hudson, Edwin Jackson, Brad Penny, and Paul Maholm. Being or not being a number two starter is a stupid insult. You might as well say A.J. Burnett has bad shirts (which, but he way, he does).

The other option for qualifying as a “number two starter” is that you have to keep certain numbers and Burnett hasn’t done it. Keep in mind other number two starters, such as Jeff Francis and Chris Tillman, would also have to stick to these numbers. If that’s the case, he’s just not a number two starter anymore. That’s okay! Closers get demoted when they struggle, and it can happen to starters too. It’s okay to think that Burnett isn’t as good as we thought he’d be (were you expecting he’d keep the career high in strikeouts?), and it’s okay to demote him mentally based on that. But it seems like there’s a whole lot of extra angst over this fact.

Basically, “a number two starter” means absolutely nothing. The baseball schedule gets crazy enough that starting after CC Sabathia, while it’s cool because the bullpen is usually rested, is something that will happen to everyone. There are pitchers better than Burnett on this staff, I know. If you want to call Colon or Garcia or even Ivan Nova the number two starter, fine, whatever. But it’s a stupid role to assign to anyone. There’s aces like CC, Verlander, Weaver, and so on – and then there’s everyone else. If you’re pitching every five (or six?) days, it shouldn’t matter when. Is Burnett second best? Obviously not. Is he better than last year and a dependable back-of-the-rotation arm? Absolutely. Burnett isn’t going to be winning any Cy Young Awards out there, but he keeps the Yankees in the game most of the time, and that’s what’s important.

Personally, I don’t think he needs anymore hate. Suggesting Burnett is in the same category as Pavano, calling him a total waste, or saying that he should be released immediately seems a bit extreme to me.

Feel free to get on him for terrible outfits though.

Cervelli, a pattern emerging?
Sunday Linkage: Bat Boy, Waivers, A-Rod
  • SodaPopinski

    You make a good point. The Yankees need 4 good starters in the post season. They could be five “equals” for all I care, as long as they collectively pitch well.

  • Squishy Jello Person

    I just consider a #2 starter to be the guy you want to talk the ball in game 2 of a playoff series and I am not sure I am comfortable with Burnett in that role right now.

    • Jimmy McNulty

      Yeah, when people bitch about the two starter on the Yankees they’re not complaining about who takes the ball after Sabathia, they’re worried about who the second best pitcher on the staff is…or as you’ve put it: who is starting Game 2 of a playoff series? They’re absolutely right to have those concerns.

      • Rip

        The guy who starts the third game in the playoffs is typically much more important than the number 2 guy. Ala Pettitte. I’d much rather have that in my back pocket, because especially in the five game series you’re potentially fighting for the series edge or against elimination.

  • billysbartender

    A number two starter on a team such as the Yanks is defined as the pitcher who will start game 2 of a playoff series. I see nothing at this time which says AJ will be that guy. Not sure who is. We won’t know until Joe announces his playoff rotation (assuming the season does not implode on the Yankees, which I don’t believe will happen).

  • Sarah

    Oh Zeets. The situation is so much worse in San Francisco.

    And yeah, your point is well taken re: AJ. If AJ can stay healthy and reasonably dependable, then he’s going to be a back of the rotation starter until his contract expires. Nobody is going to take him off the Yanks hands, just like no one is taking Zito off the Giants’ hands, so may as well make peace with it.

    Unless of course you think you’d prefer a swap: AJ for Zito.

  • Malcard89

    Hannah, I think what most people mean by #2 starter is that he’s supposed to be consistently the 2nd best starter on the team (and most other teams for that matter). They didn’t pay him $16M/year to be a back-end rotation option, which is where most of the disappointment in his Yankees tenure comes from.

  • bonestock94

    I’m not sure AJ Burnett is defensible. His K-rate is about the only above average thing about him. I guess I wouldn’t mind him being the #5 if he was getting paid 6 figures.

    • JobaWockeeZ

      He has a solid SIERA but that’s the only metric telling us he’s a decent starter. Eveyr toher metric hates him save for xFIP. But as the makers of xFIP says if a starter is consistent with their HR rate it’s not entirely accurate to substitute it for league average. AJ has like 2 years of his entire career where he’s been below league average and even then it’s pretty close.

      But if you want to solely rely on SIERA then Garcia pretty much sucks.

      • JobaWockeeZ

        Which by the way I’m not solely relying SIERA btw. Just saying.

        • nsalem

          Maybe it’s SIERA that sucks. btw just saying.

  • Charles

    Burnett is our 5th guy honestly, maybe even 6th if Hughes is as good as he was in his last start against Chicago. Here’s my rotation in order of most to least trusted:
    1. Sabathia
    2. Garcia
    3. Colon
    4. Nova
    5. Hughes
    6. Burnett

    • Corey

      garcia over colon?

      • Avi Atkin

        Yeah, that’s my beef too. Nova might even surpass Freddy by October.

        • piratechef

          I would put Garcia higher up in the pecking order if/when we face a team that sits on fastballs all night; just as I would have rather had a guy like Moseley pitching against the Rangers last year instead of Burnett.

          • Charles

            Well the thing for me is, Garcia is a little more predictable, 6-7 innings 1-3 ERs 1 or 2 walks and 3-5 Ks. While Colon since his injury has been a little shaky, but they still are very close for me.

            Also like you said, against more aggressive teams like Texas/Anaheim I’d prefer Garcia and his junk over Colon’s 2 Seamers.

  • Stephen Rhoads

    Id define a number two starter not by where he actually is in the rotation or by comparing him to other guys around the league who happen to be in the 2 slot, but by talent. In my mind, they’re slightly less talented than frontline guys, but you’d feel comfortable with them taking the ball in Game 2 of a playoff series. AJ Burnett’s nowhere near that, he’s almost replacement level at this point.

    • FIPster Doofus


    • Bob Stone

      Unfortunateky that is very true.

  • Freddy Garcia’s 86 mph Heat

    For me, a number 2 starter is who should start game 2 of a playoff series. 2,3,4,5 starters don’t mean shit in the regular season. Whoever at the end of the year has been the most trustworthy throughout the whole year is the #2 in the playoffs. My money on the playoff rotation is:

    AJ (emergency starter/long man)

    and Hughes in the bullpen.

    • mbonzo

      The same people who are criticizing the Yankees for not having a #2 starter for the playoffs, are the same people who haven’t paid any attention to how Colon and Garcia are pitching. It would be nice to have 2 aces, or 4 aces, or like Boston has 5 aces, but its a ridiculous luxury with this offense. The team is not built around power pitching, its built around power hitting.

      Now if you ask me, an Ace can be defined by the top 10 pitchers in each league. Sabathia leads AL starters in FIP. A number 2 could be defined by the top pitchers ranking 10-20. Bartolo Colon ranks 17th in the AL in FIP and Freddy Garcia ranks 20th. If they stay healthy, that means the Yankees have the best Ace in the AL and two #2 starters. Obviously these samples are smaller than you’d want them to be, but the results have been there. Both guys have out FIP’d Lester and Scherzer and Danks, and as educated baseball fans, we should stop looking for the big names and instead look for the numbers. This team didn’t need Jimenez, in fact there could be 6 starters who out perform Jimenez this season on it already.

      • JobaWockeeZ

        That only works if FIP is end all in pitching stats… xFIP, tERA and SIERA have Garcia closer to league average than ace. He’s not a number two starter.

        • mbonzo

          I can agree with that for the rest of the season, but if this is where we’re at by the end of September, xFIP and SIERA are more long term projections of the future. If the world series started tomorrow, I’d rather trust FIP because Garcia is not gonna give up league average homeruns, and he’s a different pitcher than last year.

          • JobaWockeeZ

            His FIP is good due to his great walk rate and a lucky HR rate. He’s not striking anyone out with his 6.14 K/9, but he’s not even a groundball machine with a 34% GB rate. Now I trust Garcia if the playoff series was against the Giants, Tigers or like the Braves but he’ll get eaten alive by good offensive teams. Maybe we can thank the baseball gods for killing offense this year.

            He’s not really a number two starter but he’s still quality in the back end.

  • Laurie

    At least SF was willing to keep Zito off the roster for the play-offs. It still seems as if it’s about the money. He’s blown more play-off games than he has won.

  • Winston Smith

    Per Michael Kay it’s AJ Burnett and per Tim McCarver it’s Ivan Nova. I’d say the #2 is Bartolo. Kay and Hannah are both completely wrong, AJ Burnett will not throw a pitch in the playoffs as a starting pitcher unless 2 of our other starters go down with an injury. And defending AJ by saying, well he’s not as bad as last year, is just indefensible. He’s the worst pitcher on the staff. Worst of 6 and getting paid like a 2.

    • piratechef

      I think it’s pretty obvious here that Hannah doesn’t expect AJ to be starting game 2 of a playoff series. She states pretty clearly that he isn’t the 2nd best pitcher on the staff. The point of this article, i believe, is that as far as the regular season is concerned outside of the staff ace the “number” of a guy is completely arbitrary, and can change at any point throughout the season. Let’s look back at the Red Sox starting rotation before the season started when Beckett was being looked at as their #3 at best, and now he’s pitching like an ace.

      Fans get waaaay too caught up in what “number” a guy is and lose sight of the big picture: winning the freaking games. When we get down the final stretch it will become more clear who that guy is and will be cemented when/if Joe sets the rotation for the ALDS. Until then it’s just a silly number that means absolutely nothing save for something for the whiners to complain about.

  • JobaWockeeZ

    Regardless if the number two starter tag is arbitrary, it doesn’t change the fact that AJ sucks. The Yankees number two starter shockingly starts in the second game of a playoff series. I haven’t heard of a good argument of why AJ should be there.

    • piratechef

      I haven’t heard one reasonable person say that AJ should or will be taking the ball in game two. AJ is who he has been for almost his entire career; a 50/50 pitcher. Just because CC signed a huge deal days before he did and drove the market for AJ’s deal or that he had a career year the season before doesn’t mean the fans should try and make him out to be something he isn’t. Getting all up in a huff over the guy is silly and partially caused by inflated and unrealistic expectations, mainly due to salary.

      People who are pissed about AJ’s money should take solace in the fact that we have sensational players like Robertson and Gardner producing the way they are for peanuts.

      • JobaWockeeZ

        Just because CC signed a huge deal days before he did and drove the market for AJ’s deal or that he had a career year the season before doesn’t mean the fans should try and make him out to be something he isn’t.

        And what are the fans making him out to be that’s not true? Because accumulating 2.3 WAR over the past 2 seasons does indeed suck. If we include 2009 he’s 55th in WAR since then. That’s not good either.

        People who are pissed about AJ’s money should take solace in the fact that we have sensational players like Robertson and Gardner producing the way they are for peanuts.
        Too bad we already do…?

        • piratechef

          AJ was never really that good…. except for 2008 he’s been a 50/50 pitcher who can blow the doors off or stink the joint up. Not a model of consistency by any stretch. The fact that he was lucky to be a FA when he did and cash in on CC setting the market and the Yanks needing two starters doesn’t change the reality that AJ just isn’t that great. Never has been never will be. Unfortunately salaries dictate expectations, which is pretty dumb.

          • JobaWockeeZ

            Sure even though he’s being paid 17 million we shouldn’t expect him to be Jered Weaver or anything but it’s not that dumb to expect more than league average. I don’t think the hate is from expecting ace like production but more like sucking really bad.

  • Jesse

    Come October it will look like this:

    I’m really buying into Nova right now
    Hughes, i think his velocity will be back.
    I think Freddy Garcia can be a really good number four
    I think Colon will run out of gas. I’m sorry, but the innings will catch up with him eventually. He’ll be in the bullpen though
    Burnett just fails at life. Girardi will eventually give up on him and keep him off the postseason roster. It’s sorta like Barry Zito, he was left off the Giants postseason roster.

    • David, Jr.

      Based on the extensive quotes from Gordon Blakely, the number two could well be Nova.

      • David, Jr.

        In which he compared Nova’s pitches favorably to Ubaldo’s.

  • Corey

    I think no one would have an issue with A.J. if he was making say $8MM instead of $16.5MM.

  • Owen Two

    If Sabathia wasn’t available, who would you want to pitch?

    That’s the #2 starter.

    • Mykey

      Nice and simple, I like it.

    • Kiko Jones


  • Drew

    I have seen AJ drive into the stadium a couple of times. I happen to like his style, your move blogger lady.

  • stuart a

    of course burnett has been better in NY then pavano that is not saying much.

    burnett is a 5th starter a guy who does not win a lot of games, does not go that deep in the game, and a guy you never know from game to game or even inning to inning what he will do.

    if money was no issue and contract, right now burnett would be in the minors for the yanks waiting to see when a player got hurt or faltered. counting on aj for anything of significance is a fools folly.

    if yo utold me aj pitched a 8 inning 4 hitter or got lit up after 4 and 2/3 for 6 runs i would give the 4 2/3 result a much higher probability.. the only thing aj has done well in NY is stay healthy, beside that his results have been awful….

  • radnom

    Ok, wow.
    “Number two starter” is not an official role, like you’re agnst-ing over, but simply a loose classification for starting pitchers that aids in communication. Similar to terms like “ace” or back of the rotation guy”, it doesn’t need a formal definition nor are players promoted/demoted into such a role. Additionally, there is some room for interpretation over which guys fall into which categories.

    It basically refers to the range of starting pitchers who would probably be the second best starter on a team with a decent starting staff. Note that this does not mean an exceptional staff cannot have multiple aces or #2 guys, or that a poor one can’t be filled entirely with back of the rotation arms.

    Now that you understand what a #2 starter is, let me explain the AJ hate. His salary would be appropriate value if he were in the #2 starter talent range, yet he has been performing not much higher than replacement level. This hurts the Yankees roster construction, although less than it would other teams. Some fans are frustrated about this. Really not that hard to understand.

    Personally, I don’t think its productive to hate on individual players or voice negative comment like that on the internet. If anything, I’d be more pissed at the front office for signing him in the first place. That being said, this article is ridiculous in that it tries to debunk the notion that AJ not living up to “#2” starter status is a completely illogical reason to be upset about the situation as a fan. It’s not – its a valid frustration.

    • hogsmog

      Yeah there is a tangible difference between “pitching decently” and “pitching to one’s salary-based expectations”. AJ does the former and not the latter, and it’s reasonable to be annoyed by this.

  • hogsmog

    Yeah I mean I don’t think any reasonable person thinks a #2 has to pitch after a #1. That’s like saying “Arod isn’t our 2nd best hitter because he’s not hitting after Granderson” (and I’m not actually making this argument, I’m just using it as an illustration of silly logic).

    What I think people (or at least I) have a problem with is that since AJ is making a ton of money, he’s the only person other than Sabathia who’s regular season rotation spot is guaranteed. However, he is less consistent than everybody else in the rotation, and I think consistency might be more important than pure stuff- like we know that on days Garcia pitches, we should probably have a rested pen, and can prepare for that. You can’t play the same strategy with AJ. He’s a big question mark.

    And yeah, all I can really say is ‘less consistent’; you can point to a lot of numbers and say he’s a ‘solid’ starter. But you could say the same thing about almost every other starter besides I guess Hughes. I think basically my point is that it sucks that we have to play this dumb game with Hughes and Nova when everybody and their mother knows that AJ should at least be considered for losing his spot and going to the pen, but to say that is taboo.

    tl;dr: AJ is not the worst pitcher in the world, but is given special treatment more for his salary than his skill. I don’t like how a successful business is ignoring the principal of ‘sunk costs’.

  • Rich in NJ

    The key to using AJ in the postseason is to have a very, very short leash.

    • Kiko Jones


  • Skye

    The #2 starter should be the second most effective starter in the rotation. He should give you the second best chance to win a game after your ace. AJ Burnett was signed with the expectation (whether justified or not) that he’d be the second best pitcher in the rotation after CC. That’s why he gets paid a ton of money to be better than Hughes, Colon, Garcia, Nova, etc. He’s not getting paid $16 or $17 million (or whatever he makes) to be “a dependable back-of-the-rotation arm.” If people are upset with him, it’s because they still expect him to be the second most effective starter in the rotation — because of the contract, or because of his “electric stuff!!1!” I can’t manage to get that upset anymore when he implodes because I’ve stopped expecting him to pitch second most effectively after CC.

    I also echo what others are saying in that #2 starter becomes much more important in the playoffs. Hypothetically, our lack of a #2 starter behind CC is what’s going to get us booted from the playoffs earlier than we hope. And if we do make it to the World Series, our lack of a #2 starter will probably result in Cliff Lee (I’m assuming) rolling to an easy win in Game 2.

    I have to say, I’m not all about hating on AJ Burnett, but I’m surprised to see a post that lets him off the hook so completely. He doesn’t have to be a tiny bit less elite than CC — he just has to be better than the rest of the rotation. Do you think he’s satisfied being a “back-of-the-rotation” guy?

  • Nathan

    Well, when the Yankees signed Burnett, he was expected to be their #2 pitcher, behind CC and ahead of Andy. He is paid as a top rotation guy as well.

    That said, what can you do? We’re stuck with him for a little bit longer and we’ve got a #1 pitcher in CC. At this point, all I ask of AJ is to battle and provide 6 innings of decent pitching. For me, thats all I ask of any starting pitcher really, except the ace. AJ’s contract is a sunk cost so no use complaining about it.

    AJ is and will never be as useless as Pavano was. AJ helped the Yankees win a championship and I’ll always remember that.

  • Bronx Byte

    What Burnett did in 2009 is history. His regular season record is 31-33 which makes him a No. 5 starter.
    The continuously improving Nova and Hughes and the usually reliable Colon and Garcia are ahead of Burnett.

    • Troll Killer

      Will you stop with the win loss crap. That shit is useless.

  • CH

    I’m not sure why this post was even written. You have taken a very literal definition of #2 starter, instead of thinking about it. Clearly a #2 starter, in baseball, should not be defined literally, but should instead be considered in baseball terms–2nd best starting pitcher on the team, 2nd pitcher in the playoff rotation, 2nd highest-paid starting pitcher, etc. AJ was expected to be all of these things, and that is why he gets criticized.

  • Conor

    When we signed CC and AJ, we signed CC to be the #1, AJ to be the #2. Taking a completely literal stance of what a #2 is doesn’t help matters. We never expected AJ to put up CC like numbers, but to be a solid supporting pitcher. He hasn’t done that.

  • Conor

    I think the best word to describe a number two is “reliable”.

  • Billion$Bullpen

    I think AJ is in fact #2 and also looks like he may be the biological father of Bevis.

  • LarryM.,Fl.

    Hannah, you tried to defend AJ but I believe failed. To me a number two starter is clearly define by his salary. This is the expectation by which part of the definition is derived. Where he’ll fit in the playoff picture. Number 2 gets the ball on the second game to even the series or put us two up. AJ came to NY knowing what is expected of him. He doesn’t have the mettle to get it done. This is NY not the Bay area where the Yankees expect to make the playoffs and give more than a good account of themselves. AJ is our number 2 who is performing like our number 6. Fans want him in the bullpen not starting games.

    His record over 2+ years is sub .500. If I lend some credence to your definition of anyone after CC is number 2. As I said above he’s in the bullpen in a 5 man rotation. His salary keeps him in the rotation.

    On another note I don’t have a bone to pick with you.

  • toad

    I’m with the others here in saying that the order in which a guy starts has nothing to do with being #2, until it comes to the playoffs.

    Incidentally, if one benefit of a strong starting pitching performance is bullpen rest, why would you use your second-best starter the day after your best? Shouldn’t you space them a little, so as to spread the bullpen workload?

    • Owen Two

      I don’t think you would, because you want to win a series in as few games as possible.

      • toad

        In the post-season you’re right. I was referring to the regular-season rotation, where it might make sense to go 1-3-2 rather than 1-2-3.

  • The Lime

    No. 2 Starter (from Baseball America’s annual Prospect Handbook)

    -two plus pitches
    -average third pitch
    -average command
    -average makeup

    If you have the 2011 edition, it’s on page 8.

    Going by that definition, I would say that AJ meets 3 of the 4:
    FB and CB meet the plus requirement
    CH meets the average requirement
    This year and last, AJ does NOT meet the command requirement
    His makeup is fine

    During some starts, he certainly meets all of these requirements (and then some), but he tends to break in the opposite direction of these 4 traits. While BA’s definition is not authoritative, it is probably a better reflection of the industry’s definition of a No. 2 than “a guy who starts game 2 of a playoff series” or “a guy that is reliable.”On average over the past season and a half, he misses these 4 requirements more often than he meets them, so by BA’s definition, AJ has not been a No. 2 starter this year or the year prior. That said, Burnett does have value and I’m glad to have him on the team, just not at the price the Yankees pay him, which I suspect is the source of the majority of anti-AJ hate

  • Yanks27rings

    Hey, look at this, no hate comments for Hannah. :)

    If all goes well (meaning everyone stays healthy and the Yankees do make the postseason), my completely amateur playoff rotation would be:

    -5 game series
    1. Sabathia
    2. Colon
    3. Nova
    4. Garcia
    5. Sabathia (on short rest (pending off days))

    -7 game series
    1. Sabathia
    2. Colon
    3. Nova
    4. Garcia
    5. Burnett
    6. Sabathia
    7. Colon

    With Hughes in the pen. Unless something major happens, in which case he could make a spot start.

    • Yanks27rings

      By “my amateur rotation,” I meant “my completely amateur baseball analysis.”

    • Jesse

      first of all, if the ALDS rotation is like that, Sabathia wouldn’t pitch on short rest. becasue after game two and game four there are off days, so he’d get five days off in between starts.

      And fyi, in a seven game series, you dont use five starters, lol
      You use four, although the ’09 yankees used three but that won’t happen. So in this case your top four starters are CC,Colon, Nova, and Garcia, which means it’d look like this

      Nova. Yes Nova game seven

      • Yanks27rings

        1. You’re right. I wasn’t sure if the off days changed or anything.

        2. Again, you’re probably right. At that point, Burnett’s only value would really be as a starter, but seeing as you’d use a four-man, he wouldn’t have a spot. In that case, I’d rather have him off the postseason roster.

        My one thing with your ALCS rotation is Nova for Game 7. I’m not sure how he’d fare with that kind of pressure at a young age. Frankly, I might rather switch Colon and Nova’s spots just to have the veteran start Game 7. This all depends on what Nova shows us down the road, though. If he proves he can handle it, by all means, I’m for it.

        • Jesse

          Yeah, i’d prefer the veteran pitching in game 7 too. But, i have a gut feeling that Colon will fizzle out and end up in the bullpen. And i think It’ll be CC, Nova/Hughes, Hughes/Nova, and Garcia as the four man rotation. Colon will be in the pen and AJ off the postseason roster. AJ makes me sick. But I think Hughes’ velocity will be back to regularity. We’ll see.

  • Lluisergi

    You call C.C. Verlander and WEAVER Aces… well i think the guy who pitches behind Jered IS the definition of a #2 in a rotation of a CONTENDING/WORLD SERIES CHAMPION POTENTIAL team like the yankees, and that guy is Dan Haren…

    Cashman passed on that guy twice by the way, and i think he is as solid as it gets for a “number two”

    • Jesse

      Haren is, but he’s never been a great second half pitcher. So with that in mind, he could be out of gas come postseason.

      • CGRW

        What is a “second half pitcher?” Someone who’s pitched in the second half? If those are the qualifications, then Sidney Ponson is a second half pitcher. ‘

    • Urban

      Haren’s a solid pitcher. His BABIP this year suggests he’s not as good as he’s showing, but still quite good.

      Cashman didn’t pass on him. He didn’t make a deal for him, but it’s unkown what discussions took place and what was offered and what was asked. They liked the Angels’ offer better is all we know, which is not the same as passing.

  • Urban

    I haven’t viewed AJ as a #2 starter since early in 2010. He’s a starter, but not a #2. Media types talk about him as a potential #2 if he can harness his “electric” stuff; people outside of NY still talk about him as a #2; and confused Yankee fans talk about wanting him to be a #2 because of his contract. The rest recognize he’s lost velocity on his fastball and consistent depth on his curve, making him a lesser pitcher than he was even two years ago. He is what he is. A back-end pitcher. Contracts don’t take the mound, people do. Rate AJ accordingly.

  • Hmmm


  • Anthony Murillo

    I tend to agree with most of the points that have been made already. To me, a number two starter is a pitcher I feel damn confident in other than the “ace” of the staff. I recongize that while he may not be as good as the “ace” of the staff, he’s pretty damn close. He’s someone I can truly get behind and believe in.

    AJ Burnett is nowhere near a #2 pitcher and yet he’s being paid like one. You could make the case that Burnett should not be in the rotation come playoff time and that’s troubling. Did everyone think Burnett would always and forever be the starting pitcher he was in Toronto during the 2008 season? No. But I think we all expected more than what he has been.

    I think Burnett deserves most of the crticism he faces. He’s being paid like the second best pitcher on the staff and you could make the arguement that he doesn’t even belong in the rotation over Ivan Nova. That’s insane.

  • Jesse

    Lol Brian Gordon as a number two starter. I would just concede the defeat if that were to happen. The only thing the yankees need to worry about is Boston. In my opinion they can beat other playoff teams like Texas, LA, Cleveland, and Detroit. Boston is tough. The yankees have to hit Beckett, and CC has to pitch well against them. There are no two ways around it.

  • Jiffy

    What’s a number one starter? Just someone who pitches after the number 5 starter? But wouldn’t that make him a number 6 starter? Is it someone who pitches on opening day? But couldn’t anyone do that if you asked them? What’s a second baseman? Isn’t he really more of a 1.5 baseman? And what about when a shift is on? Is there such thing as a second baseman? Am I real?

  • Jif

    What’s a number one starter? Just someone who pitches after the number 5 starter? But wouldn’t that make him a number 6 starter? Is it someone who pitches on opening day? But couldn’t anyone do that if you asked them? What’s a second baseman? Isn’t he really more of a 1.5 baseman? And what about when a shift is on? Is there such thing as a second baseman? Am I real?

  • CMP

    For once I agree with Hannah. AJ really is a deuce.

  • Greg


    First, you are wrong in asking “what is a number 2 starter”. You and the other writers on this blog are the “experts” – and have talked about a “number 1”, “number 2”, etc. starter since I started reading this blog…

    For me – here is what a “Number 2” should be defined as – and there are plenty of teams that have this. For a good example, let’s consider the San Francisco Giants, and for argument sake – Tim Lincicum is there #1, and Matt Cain is there #2 starter.

    This year, Cain has 9 wins, 8 losses, and a 2.99 or 3.00 ERA – for a team that is worse than anemic in hitting and run support. Batting average (please, I am not going to start with that “the type of home park he pitches in nonsense…) against is .222 42 walks/130 strikeouts (nice ratio), and a 1.09 WHIP.

    Stats are nice, but the real story – Cain is a bulldog, and more often that NOT – can hold the opposing team to 2 runs or less – no matter the opposing pitcher (he recently lost a really close pitching duel to Cole Hamels – who would be a legitimate #2 on just about any team – except for the fact that he pitches on the same team with Halladay and Lee).

    A true # 2 is someone who the team can rely on at least 4 out of every 5 starts to give a yeoman performance, keep the other team’s run total down – and really give his team a chance to win even in those inevitable tight games which are what you WILL see come playoff time.

    Pitching inconsistently and say, every 3rd time out where you are “teetering” almost every inning and struggling – and eventually giving up 3, 4 or 5 runs – is NOT a #2 starter. That kind of overall season performance is AT BEST a #3 starter. And if we are really going to be truthful here – it’s what a team should look for/expect in it’s #4 starter…

    We already knew that A.J. Burnett “has #1 type stuff” – but would never be a #1 starter. Now, after watching him for several years with the Yankess – unless you are dizzy or on drugs – you know that he is NOT and never will be a #2. Again, especially considering his “mental makeup” – he is, at best, for the Yankees or another team – a #3 or #4 type starter.