After a much-needed day of rest today, the Blue Jays host the Yankees in a three-game series 12-14 May that lets us get our first taste of action with a division rival with a more recent winning season than 1997. The series opens Tuesday night when A.J. Burnett takes the Rogers Centre mound as a Yankee for the first time against his old mentor, Roy Halladay. It continues on Wednesday night at 7 pm EDT when Andy Pettitte pitches for the Yankees and Scott Richmond goes for our Jays and concludes Thursday at the same time with CC Sabathia making the start against fellow southpaw Brian Tallet. All three of the opposition's starters inked contracts with the Yankees in the offseason and the three will be paid a total of $45M US for 2009's season alone. It would be really nice to see the Jays sweep this one. Since we all know about these guys already, I'll just quickly go through how they're doing thusfar this season.
Burnett (2-0, 5.26, 1.327 WHIP) is following up his "career year" last season (Burnett's 2008: 4.07 ERA, 1.342 WHIP; Burnett's Career: 3.85 ERA, 1.285 WHIP) in much the same way that he produced it, except that his strikeout-rate has declined from an AL-leading 9.4 K/9 to a still-good 7.9 K/9. His overall ERA looks a lot worse than it should, due to his being left in way too long against the Red Sox in a game at Fenway on 25 April. Similar to what we saw last year, Burnett just has not played up to his peripherals. In his previous starts this season, he has PQSed 3, 5, 2, 1, 4 and 5 for a mean PQS of 3 1/3, which puts him in the quality start range, and a Dominance-Rate of 50% and Disaster-Rate of 17%. There have been two games where he really has not had it (the start in Boston and his previous start against Cleveland), but when he has been on, he's been tough to hit (4 starts, 26 1/3 IP, 28 K, 5 BB, 24 H, 2 HR).
I have no real personal dislike of A.J., but I will be rooting against his uniform tomorrow night. I don't really see how anyone can blame Burnett for opting out of his contract last season. If it had been a team option and Burnett had been ineffective or hurt, the team wouldn't have picked it up, so I have no hard feelings for him, but I do wish that he had not ended up on the Yankees both because I don't like having to face him and it is incredibly annoying that the Jays get the Yankees third round pick when they would have had a first with almost any other team.
Pettitte (2-1, 4.38, 1.359 WHIP) is one of the few Yankees I never minded much until his response to the Mitchell Report, which I just did not think was an actual apology. No one says that he has to be sorry for what he's done, I just don't get why they release apologetic statements that aren't actually apologetic. I'm not forgiving you for something when you aren't sorry that you did it. So far this season, Pettitte's been giving the Yankees what they expected, pitching six innings each start but one (in which he went 5 2/3) and PQSing 5, 4, 3, 4, 1 and 3, the same mean PQS (3 1/3) as Burnett and the same Dominance- and Disaster-Rates, but Pettitte on his best day is a far cry from Burnett at the top of his game. Pettitte is coming off two mediocre starts in a row (total of 11 2/3 IP, 7 K, 5 BB, 18 H, 10 ER, 4 HR), so hopefully the Jays can tag him as well.
Sabathia (2-3, 3.94, 1.229 WHIP) did not get off to the greatest start in 2009. Prior to shutting out the Orioles last week, Sabathia was 1-3 with a 4.85 ERA and just 24 strikeouts over 39 innings. He has been coming on strongly of late, though -- in his last three starts he has struck out 20 and walked just two over 23 2/3 innings. Overall, he's PQSed 0, 5, 3, 3, 5, 4 and 5, a mean PQS of 3.57 and a Dominance-rate of 57% with a Disaster-rate of 14%. Hopefully things will begin to unravel for the pitcher with the prodigious waistline, the impetus of the post-title, on Thursday.