Jan
23

A.J. Burnett’s Fifth Starter Case

By

(AP Photo/Ted S. Warren)

Assuming the first four spots in the rotation are going to CC Sabathia, Hiroki Kuroda, Ivan Nova, and Michael Pineda in some order, the Yankees have three legitimate candidates for their fifth starter’s job: A.J. Burnett, Freddy Garcia, and Phil Hughes. You can make a case that each of those three deserve it, and that’s exactly what we’re going to do over the next few days. Explain why each guy is the best man for the job, starting today with Burnett.

We all know what’s happened over the last two years, during which time Burnett has pitched to a 5.20 ERA (85th out of 86 qualifiers) and a 4.80 FIP (84th) in 377 IP. His strikeout (7.59 K/9) and homerun (1.34 HR/9) rates are well off his career averages (8.22 K/9 and 0.93 HR/9), and his fastball velocity continues to wane into his mid-30′s…

(click to embiggen)

It’s not very easy to make a compelling case that Burnett deserves a spot in the starting rotation given the guys ahead of him and who he’s competing with, but I’m going to give him it a shot anyway and try to be fair.

Durability

Considering his spotty (at best) track record of health prior to signing with the Yankees, Burnett has been a bonafide workhorse in pinstripes. He’s one of only 16 pitchers to make at least 32 starts in each of the last three seasons, and one of only 29 pitchers to throw at least 185 IP in each of the last three seasons. His 98 starts since the start of 2009 are the 11th most in baseball. Hughes spent a significant chunk of last season on the disabled list, and Garcia hasn’t topped 28 starts or 160 IP since 2006, before all his arm injuries set it. There’s value in taking the ball every five days.

Strong Starts To The Season

Although he finished the 2010 and 2011 seasons with an ERA north of 5.00, Burnett did manage to carry a sub-4.00 ERA through his first dozen starts in each season. He was terrible after that, pitching to a 6.00+ ERA the rest of the way in both years. Taking advantage of that early season success can have two benefits: one, it’ll help the team on the field, and two, it could boost A.J.’s trade value. We all know the team is trying to move him.

Some Bad Luck

There’s no excusing Burnett’s poor performance over the last two years, but he did suffer from some bad luck down the stretch in 2011. His second half BABIP was through the roof (.376), and his 17.0% HR/FB was crazy high (11.3% career). The last time he posted a homer rate that high (17.7% in 2007), it corrected to 9.6% the next year. Burnett turned into a pretty extreme ground ball pitcher during the final two-thirds of the 2011 season, which will help the long ball problem if he maintains a similar batted ball profile going forward…

(Green is grounders, blue is fly balls, red is line drives)

After posting a career-low strikeout rate (6.99 K/9 and 17.5 K%) in 2010, he rebounded to his career norms (8.18 K/9 and 20.7 BB%) last season. Burnett was undoubtedly bad in 2011, but he did have some things go against him as well. The astronomical homerun rate is unlikely to last just because no pitcher has ever given up one dinger for every six fly balls they’ve allowed for an extended period of time.

* * *

I want to say that Burnett’s salary won’t factor into the team’s fifth starter decision, but I’m not entirely convinced that will be the case. It’s not easy to toss aside the guy making $16.5M when his two primary competitors are making relative peanuts and aren’t guaranteed to perform any better. Burnett’s case is based primary on his durability an blind faith, faith that he will have his third consecutive strong start and faith that some statistical red flags will even themselves out.

At the same time, A.J. probably offers the most upside of the three fifth starter candidates even at age 35, meaning that every once in a while he’ll go out and throw an absolute gem, one of those eighth inning, one run, double-digit strikeout efforts. Neither Garcia or Hughes have completed eight innings in a start since 2009 while Burnett did it three times in 2010 and twice in 2011. He’s very hit-or-miss, and it comes down to a preference for consistent mediocrity or occasional brilliance mixed in with some serious duds.

Categories : Pitching

84 Comments»

  1. Mike Myers says:

    I would rather the AJ trade case. Or the AJ long man case.

    “He’s very hit-or-miss” this is why I have such a hard time watching him pitch. I seems like every game he is looking dominant, then someone hits a bloop, and he falls apart. Stats aside, I just cant watch the guy.

  2. Jon W. says:

    “At the same time, A.J. probably offers the most upside of the three fifth starter candidates even at age 35…”

    Maybe in a one game scenario that’s true, but over the course of a 162 game season I disagree. Garcia pitched to a 4.12 FIP last season, something Burnett hasn’t done in any of his three seasons with the Yanks. I doubt that Garcia can replicate his 2011 performance, but purely based on last season, Garica has a higher upside than Burnett over 162 games.

    I also tend to think that Hughes is capable of pitching to a sub 4.33 FIP, which is the best mark Burnett has put up in the last three seasons. Given his track record, the odds are against it, but I give Hughes a better chance of that than Burnett.

    • JAG says:

      Given their ages and histories, I don’t agree that Garcia has higher upside than Burnett. He has a higher likely average performance for sure, but I just don’t see him having higher upside. If things break right for Garcia, he’d basically be the same as he was last year, maybe a little bit better, but he’s really not capable of being more than that. Things breaking right for Burnett could be a 250K season with an ERA under 3.75. Unlikely? Sure, but we ARE talking about upside here.

      I do think if the Yankees are looking longterm, though, Hughes has greater upside as well. The possible upside of giving Hughes a longer look and having him excel for many years to come exceeds that of Burnett having one more great year.

      • Needed Pitching says:

        “Things breaking right for Burnett could be a 250K season with an ERA under 3.75. ”

        That may have been his upside a few years ago, but thinking he still has that upside is ignoring his advanced age and diminishing stuff (at least in terms of velocity) over the past few years. That kind of upside is a thing of the past.

        • Craig Maduro says:

          I agree that those numbers are out of reach for Burnett at this point, but I do think that Burnett’s upside is greater than Garcia’s. All of the stars aligning for Burnett could easily translate into a No. 3 type of performance – something that Garcia didn’t even deliver when all of the stars aligned for him this past season.

          • Needed Pitching says:

            Garcia last season 3.62 ERA, 4.12 FIP
            I’d bet on the earth being consumed by a black hole before AJ reaches that level of performance as a starter again

            Also, I would think a 3.62 ERA does qualify as #3 starter level performance in the AL East, even if it was achieved by outperforming his peripherals (and stars aligning)

      • Ted Nelson says:

        Garcia is three months older than Burnett…

        The ERA you assigned Burnett in his best case is worse than Garcia’s ERA from last season. Garcia’s best case is an ERA below 3.62. Burnett’s best case is an ERA of 3.75. Burnett has more upside? Not sure how that logic works.

    • Ted Nelson says:

      Yeah, I tend to agree. Hughes has solid upside as a younger guy coming off an injury and Garcia has been a better pitcher for two years in a row now.

      Mike loves velocity, though, so I’m not surprised to see the guy who throws the hardest is his pick for best upside.

      • Mike Axisa says:

        Mike loves velocity, though, so I’m not surprised to see the guy who throws the hardest is his pick for best upside.

        Not at all what I said.

        • Ted Nelson says:

          Read what I wrote instead of getting defensive. I did not say you said anything. I said that given your consistent overvaluing of velocity, it is not surprising for you to assign the highest upside to guy who throws the hardest.

          • Mike Axisa says:

            …it is not surprising for you to assign the highest upside to guy who throws the hardest.

            You’re still doing it.

            • Mister Delaware says:

              Eh, Mike, I think I have to go with Ted on this one. He’s consistently shown that he knows the underlying thoughts behind a post better than the poster of the post.

              • Dave says:

                lol^^ I agree Ted nailed that one. I’m surprised he graces with his presence. Without his astute baseball knowledge, none of us would be able to form our own opinions.

            • the Other Steve S. says:

              HOOKED, just reeling him in now.

            • Ted Nelson says:

              Who throws the hardest of the three? Who did you literally say has the highest upside of the three (whatever it’s in terms of)?

  3. Rich in NJ says:

    If AJ is in the rotation, unless Hughes begins the season at AAA, Hughes will likely never have a chance to become a starter for the Yankees. Given how much they have invested in him, that would be a very costly development.

    • Peter North says:

      You are exactly right and it’s ridiculous that they would just de-value Hughes career like that, just cuz they have to start Burnett since he makes 16.5mn for the next two years (yes, that is the ONLY reason he would start, barring injuries).

      Burnett should be traded. The Yanks don’t need his innings. There would be no hole in the rotation. He’s taking up a roster space that others should fight to take.

    • Ted Nelson says:

      That’s a sunk cost. You shouldn’t consider how much you’ve invested in him previously in making decisions concerning the future.

      You can definitely make a case for Hughes to go to AAA or the #5 spot… but it should be based on the future and not the past.

      • Rich in NJ says:

        Similarly, you can view AJ’s contract as a sunk cost.

      • Robertgbob says:

        It is a sunk cost and shouldn’t guide their decision-making. However, it almost certainly will guide management’s decision making because doing otherwise would be to acknowledge the contract was a mistake, which doesn’t seem to be within the abilities of most professional managers.

        • Rich in NJ says:

          The face saving way for them to look at it is that he helped win the WS in 2009, but if they don’t give up the ghost, each successive season with a historically bad ERA offsets that benefit.

          IOW, if they acquire the ability to view it as a sunk cost, they can more easily cut their losses and redirect the funds to a bigger need: a young, impact bat that can mash RHP.

      • CJ says:

        Hughes to AAA=The end of Hughes career as a Yankee

  4. Ted Nelson says:

    I have no idea, but I’m not sure his BABIP and HR-rate are “luck.” He throws an awful lot of lollipops. Even in pitchers counts he’ll hang one or throw a FB right down the middle.

    I think that there’s a chance AJ will be better than Garcia and Hughes this season, I just don’t think getting knocked around previously had as much to do with luck as performance.

    • CMP says:

      I agree. If the reason Burnett has sucked so bad over the past 2 years is because of luck, he must be the most unlucky guy who ever lived.

      Chances are even if Burnett is better than Hughes this season, it won’t be by a significant amount so I’d give the not to the young guy to see once and for all if he can be a viable major league starter.

  5. CJ says:

    AJ’s salary has to play a part in decision. Freddy should be easy to move for a non prospect but salary relief. Hughes is the biggest question in 5th starter situation. He is the cheapest, the most upside also the best relief pitcher and the most trade value. It seems that 5th starter decision will hinge on what they want to do with Hughes rather than AJ. AJ is easier to tolerate as a 5th starter than a 2.

  6. thenamestsam says:

    It’s always going to be difficult to make a case for AJ, but this was about as good a job as I could see anyone doing. A couple small things: 1. Should we really see A.J.’s durability as a positive at this point? You say “There’s value in taking the ball every five days”, but isn’t that only really true if you’re better than the guy who would be taking the ball in your stead? If you don’t buy that AJ should be the 5th starter based on talent, his ability to continue to occupy that spot isn’t much of a positive.

    2. While you seem to be addressing upside on a start to start basis when you say AJ has the most upside of any of the options (something I agree with) I still think Hughes offers the most upside overall, both in terms of having the potential to post the best season, and potentially offering you multiple seasons of quality.

    • Steve (different one) says:

      Well, put it this way, if the Sox had AJ instead of Lackey they would have cruised into the playoffs last year. So yes, I think there is some value in durable mediocrity. It’s not like AJ is incapable of holding a team like the Orioles to 3 runs in 6 innings. In september, the Sox were desperate for a guy who could do that.

    • John Ya Ya says:

      Basically his durability allows the team to save their relievers, at least somewhat.

  7. CMP says:

    Totally disagree with Burnett as 5th starter.

    He is what Bill Parcells calls a progress stopper. The Yankees should be trying to develop a young starter in the 5th spot and they have a number of options some of whom may actually have a future. Burnett is pretty much guaranteed to have a 5+ ERA and 1.5 WAR season.

    Give me Hughes, Warren and Phelps and later in the year maybe Banuelos or Betances for the 5th spot with Burnett traded and Freddy as long man/spot starter.

    • Mister Delaware says:

      So AJ prevents us from using five 5th starters?

      • CMP says:

        That’s not what I said. I said go with ONE of the young guys who might have a future instead of the old guy who you pretty much know is going to be a below league average starter.

        • Mister Delaware says:

          Well, it is what you said. “Hughes, Warren and Phelps” then you mentioned the two remaining Bs. And while I was making a literalist joke, I really don’t love it when people say Burnett is blocking V, W, X, Y and Z. In that group of six, whoever does get the spot is “blocking” the other five, rather than “A.J. versus all the kids”. Unless you’re reasonably sure the replacement will outperform Burnett, you probably stick with Burnett. If Warren looks awesome and you’re convinced he’s the better bet across all percentiles, by all means go with Warren.

          • CMP says:

            “Unless you’re reasonably sure the replacement will outperform Burnett, you probably stick with Burnett.”

            This makes absolutely no sense. If you’re reasonable sure the replacement will pitch AS WELL AS Burnett, you should go with the replacement. With Burnett, you know you’re going to get nothing more than mediocrity. Any one of those young pitchers could surprise like Nova and turn into more than a back of the rotation starter.

            • Mister Delaware says:

              This makes absolutely no sense. If you’re reasonable sure the replacement will pitch AS WELL AS Burnett, you should go with the replacement. With Burnett, you know you’re going to get nothing more than mediocrity.

              You got more than mediocrity out of Burnett in 2009 and the first three months of last season, so exactly half the time he’s been a Yankee. And the other guys you mention all have the option of working in SWB which means you have more assets at your disposal.

              Any one of those young pitchers could surprise like Nova and turn into more than a back of the rotation starter.

              And any one could bomb to the tune of lost development time and a 6.00 ERA. Which is why I think you need to be sure they’re a better bet across all percentiles, not just “they could do better”.

              • CMP says:

                I think Hughes should get the spot unless he proves he can’t handle it. Most reports I’ve read have Warren and Phelps ready for the bigs right now so if anything, you’d be enhancing their development, not hurting it by promoting them.

                Burnett has a grand total of 2.9 WAR over the last 2 years which makes him one of the worst starting pitchers in all of baseball. 2009 is ancient history at this point and expecting Burnett to pitch like that is a pipe dream considering he’s been losing velocity steadily since he left Toronto.
                Why run someone out there who you know sucks when you very well may have a better option if you just give them a chance?

    • Kosmo says:

      You beat me to it but I don´t see Garcia as a longman – spot starter.

  8. Robinson Tilapia says:

    I think the single most important point here in AJ’s favor is the durability factor. Even if AJ took a licking for an inning or two, he is just as likely to go through a calm stretch in the later innings and wind up saving the bullpen in games which might unravel further with someone else on the mound (DISCLAIMER: TOTALLY UNSCIENTIFIC OBSERVATION HERE.) An 8 IP, 6ER performance can have some value in the grand scheme of things if it saves the bullpen for when the other guy can only go 4 IP.

    That may be enough to win you a fifth starter’s spot in the big leagues.

    That being said, I’d still make it Phil Phuckin’ Hughes’s job to lose.

    • Ted Nelson says:

      I would say that it depends what kind of a bullpen you have.

      • Robinson Tilapia says:

        I’m just talking about wear and tear.

        • All Praise Be To Mo says:

          But wear and tear for the 5th starter doesn’t matter much in the big scheme when he’s followed the next day by CC who’s almost 100% guaranteed to throw 7+ innings.

          • Robinson Tilapia says:

            He may just as easily follow a question mark at #4 (we hope not, but I’m not expecting Pineda, Nova, or Kuroda to be sure things). He also may just as easily find himself pitching out of turn. Innings are also innings.

            I’m not defending AJ for fifth starter. I’m just saying this is the only justification that grabs at me.

            According to conventions/binders/etc., you have an innings-eater at the back of the rotation.

        • Ted Nelson says:

          If you’re 7th man is a long-man whose role is to soak up 3 innings at a time… you’re not wearing and tearing your BP if he comes in. That’s my point. Wear and tear generally doesn’t come from using your BP, but from overusing a few guys in your BP.

          • Plank says:

            If you’re 7th man is a long-man whose role is to soak up 3 innings at a time… you’re not wearing and tearing your BP if he comes in.

            But I’m not 7th. Man is a long-man…I agree.

            If you’re not wearing and tearing, can you at least admit that you may be either wearing or tearing? Or would you be adamant in your assertion that you are neither wearing nor tearing?

            That’s my point.

            I decided your posts work better as free form poetry. There is no way a single person makes that many usage errors on a regular basis unless they mean something. On that scale, I give your overall body of work a 7 out of 15.

  9. Scout says:

    Nice try, Mike, but no sale. “[E]very once in a while he’ll go out and throw an absolute gem” could be said for any of the three, albeit with variations in what “gem” means. With AJ’s declining stuff, which has been well-documented on this site and elsewhere, the case for best upside is poor. What remains is durability, but I’ll opt for the guy who throws 28 starts and gives the team a reasonable chance to win in more than half of them. There is enough replacement talent down on the farm to offset Burnett’s durability. I’ll take 28 starts from Garcia/Hughes and seven more from some combination of Phelps, Warren, and others over 35 from AJ.

  10. Dave says:

    The problem with Burnett is exactly that there is a barely tenable case for him being the fifth starter. Which is why I’d be much happier if he were traded before the season, since if he does win the job Giardi is going to stick with him way too long, and if he loses it, either in Spring Training or during the year, he’s going to pout. Besides, if the Yankees are suddenly so concerned with dollars, than a saving of 5 million or so over a couple of years isn’t meaningless, the way it was, or at least seemed, a few years back.

  11. Kosmo says:

    Yanks are probably doing everything humanly possible to unload AJ. I don´t see NY heading into ST with all 3 AJ,Hughes and Garcia. Garcia´s contract is the easiest to unload if he agrees to a trade at the end of ST. Hughes to the bullpen I don´t see. If necessary Warren and Phelps could hold their own as a 5th starter. If Banuelos or Betances progress they could also be counted in the mix by mid-season.

  12. Bob Hay says:

    Slightly OT, but can we really assume that Nova will be top 4 in the rotation? Not saying he shouldn’t be, but if he has options left (I think he does), I could see him starting the year in AAA or long relief. Is he that much of a better option than Hughes or Garcia?

    • Mister Delaware says:

      I didn’t want to be the one who posed this question.

    • Robinson Tilapia says:

      I think Ivan Nova won himself a job in the starting rotation, and then some, last season. Anyone not named “Sabathia” could pitch themselves out of the rotation, but he’s, at the very least, in your top four, if not your top two.

      • Mister Delaware says:

        Sure, I think that’s fair. But he’s being treated as a lock. If Sabathia has a 5.00 ERA through May, he’s still getting the ball every 5th. If Nova does, he’ll need to be pulled. So a lock to start the year but not a lock to remain. Not even an “A.J. in 2010″ level lock to remain.

        • Robinson Tilapia says:

          Same can be said for Pineda, or whoever the fifth starter is (maybe disagree on your marker, but let’s go with it.) I can see Kuroda even being given slightly more of a chance, but a one-year deal isn’t going to keep him in the rotation all year if he shits the bed.

          It would take quite a bit of bed-shitting during Spring Training to keep Nova (or Pineda as well) out of the rotation on Opening Day. Something would have to be wrong with him.

          • Mister Delaware says:

            See, I think that’s where we differ. He had the results last year, no doubt, but he basically did it on the Jason Marquis plan of lots of GBs with a below average SO rate / average BB rate. Regression, even to the extent that Burnett and Hughes come out of spring training looking like better options, wouldn’t shock me. Like I said, I imagine he’s a lock for a rotation spot, although I’m not sure he should be. A favorite for the 4th slot who needs to be unseated, sure.

  13. Thinking man says:

    Maybe the fact that the postseason is a small sample has something to do with him struggling. Allow me to explain. Let’s discuss Peyton Manning.

    Manning is a career 9-10 in the postseason. I’m making an educated guess that if Manning would have played these 19 teams in a regular season format, I doubt he would end the season 9-10.

    However, these 19 games were each played as a due or die game. Pressure intensifies, human emotion comes into effect. There is a different adrenaline, expectation, drive, unexplained reactions we have when faced with a do or die situation.

    As far as Swisher is concerned, if the playoffs were to be a 162 game affair, the human emotion of pressure and anxiety is removed. In the postseason every game matters, every swing, every catch. If you’re lucky you only play in 11 games. You need to produce in those games or you’re out. Literally and figuratively.

    In sports there is that unpredictability, that uncertainity, the understanding that at any moment our favorite team can win it all or lose it all. This is what I love and hate about sports.

    It is that unpredictability, and uncertainity that someone like Peyton Manning would win the Super Bowl in 2006 after being called a “choker”. Same reason why Alex Rodriguez carried the Yankees to a 2009 championship. The human mind is too complex to try and explain in a post on RAB, but it may be the answer to why we succeed and why we fail when it matters the most. Remember, 90% of the game is half mental.

    By the way, I have just recently begun to get involved in RAB discussions and I have to say it’s awesome. Kudos to everyone!

  14. Mike MzX says:

    There is no case for AJ as the 5th Starter, other than the money. I’d rather give Phil Hughes the chance to redeem his awful 2011 and find his previous form, than give this guy another start in pinstripes.

    And if Phil doesn’t cut it in Spring training, give it to Garcia. Eat his salary, give him away for free if you have to.

  15. RetroRob says:

    “Explain why each guy is the best man for the job, starting today with Burnett.”
    —-

    I see, Mike, so you led with the hardest case!

    My heart wants it should be Hughes, who is still young, relatively cheap, and offers upside if he regains his form.

    My fears tell me it will be Burnett, because he makes the most money, and the fifth spot is so fungible that the Yankees may convince themselves they can suffer with AJ there in the hopes he regains some value.

    My brain tells me that Garcia may be the most effective and consistent of the three over the course of the season, providing a different look to hitters compared to the power arms of CC and Pineda, and the groundballs of Nova.

    Overall, I don’t have a problem if the Yankees take a pragmatic approach here and start with AJ. He seems to pitch better early on, and if he can rebuild some value making it easier to trade him in season then I would understand the move. I’d rather, however, they move him now.

  16. Yazman says:

    “A.J. probably offers the most upside”

    Of course, that’s true only when “meaning that every once in a while he’ll go out and throw an absolute gem” (as you said).

    It’s Phil’s upside over the coming 5-10 years that I hope gives him the shot to start (assuming he comes out ready to play).

    • Steve (different one) says:

      Phil is a free agent after next season.

      • All Praise Be To Mo says:

        What does that have to do with anything?

        • Steve (different one) says:

          It has a lot to do with the last sentence of the previous post. We aren’t looking at Phil as if he is a pre-arb guy with 4-5 seasons of cheap production left. The Yankees own him for 2 more seasons, then they have to pay market rates for him. It is extremely unlikely IMO that Hughes is a Yankee 5-10 years from now.

          • Robinson Tilapia says:

            Exactly.

          • Steve (different one) says:

            Also, didn’t mean to sound snotty. I agree that Phil does have the most upside and I want him to WIN the job. But I’m not sure he deserves to have it by default even if he has the most potential. I don’t think you can say the Yankees haven’t given him chances.

        • Ace says:

          Ha. Nice.

  17. RobertGKramer@AOL.Com says:

    I like the idea of swapping AJ for Hafner…a lot!

  18. Slugger27 says:

    nova’s a lock for the rotation. clearly better than hughes or aj.

  19. CountryClub says:

    Normally, somoeone who gives you 30+ starts a yr is a positive. But I just can’t accept that to be the case when the pitcher in question is the 2nd (ERA) or 3rd (FIP) worst pitcher in baseball over the past 2 years. 2 years is not a small sample size. I still dont understand why they just dont eat 80% of his salary and trade him. They still have plenty of depth for that 5th spot (Garcia, Hughes, the AAA arms).

    Pay all of his contract while he stinks or rots in the pen? Or save a little bit of money and open up the 5th spot? Option 2, please.

  20. JobaWockeeZ says:

    AJ’s HR rates are a bit high but he’s never been better than league average in the AL save for one season. There’s no reason to expect it’ll get marginally better. HR rates are wacky but for AJ he’s been consistently sucky in the AL with HRs that I won’t call it a fluke. And his disappearing velocity isn’t helping out either.

    All three candidates suck but that’s why it’s the 5th starter competition. I’ll take Hughes though sicne he has a chance of being something better.

    • CMP says:

      I agree. If Hughes proves he can’t handle starting, move him to the pen and bring up whoever is pitching best in AAA assuming the front office feels they are ready for the promotion

  21. Niko says:

    What about just using AJ through July and then rotating him out for someone else? Since he’s been with the Yanks he has been at least functional for the first 3-4 months of each season. One bad June notwithstanding, he seems to be able to get into July before falling off a cliff. I know there is that whole idea of ‘you can’t just switch gears’, but nuts to that.

    Props for the use of “embiggen”.

    “A noble spirit embiggens the smallest man.”

  22. Jackson says:

    Yanks could bring up Banuelos throw Hughes in the bullpen and use Garcia as the long man. It would be good to have two lefty starters, and when you talk about upside, to me Hughes has none in the rotation. AJ is a similar head case to me, a very expensive wild card factor kind of guy. CC, Nova, Pineda, Kuroda, Banuelos. Awesome young rotation.

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