Saturday, October 3, 2015

AJ v Brandon Finnegan; Notes & AJ's Final Regular Season Start

Today's Game - AJ Burnett (9-6, 3.15) takes on lefty Brandon Finnegan (4-2, 3.86; 1-2, 5.09/Cincy) in the middle game of the set. This will be AJ's 430th regular season start during his 17 year career, and his last one. We're hoping it's a special moment in more ways than one. He's gone 1-1 with a 4.76 ERA in four starts v the Redlegs this season, but most of that bad mojo was brought on when he was thumped in July, just prior to going on the DL. AJ's usually pretty good versus Cincy, having won three of his last four decisions and allowing two earned runs or fewer in six of his last seven starts.

AJ will stroll off the hill for the last time in the regular season tonight (Dave Arrigo/Pirates)
Finnegan was the prize catch of the Johnny Cueto deal, with a 90s heater, slider that eats up lefties and a change to keep righties off pace. He's projected to eventually develop into a solid mid-rotation arm, altho KC used him out of the pen. The knock on him is a jerky, hard-to-repeat motion that caused control issues, but he seems to be dealing with that OK, as he averages three walks  and nine K's every nine innings. Finnegan is still adjusting to a starter's role, though, with an ERA of six in his three starts. The 22 year old has never faced the Pirates. The game starts at 7:05 and will be on Root Sports, and 93.7 The Fan.

We hope that AJ gets a rowdy sendoff despite the football weather. He brought a swagger and fire to the clubhouse that had been lacking for decades, and his STFD moment may be the most memorable & iconic event (along with "Qway-toe") of the Clint Hurdle era. It'd be nice to see AJ get a well-deserved postgame pie in the puss after this one.

  • 38 year old AJ will be going after win #165, and with 2,504 strikeouts, he's just four shy of passing Christy Mathewson for 31st place on the all-time list. It will be start #430 of his 17 year career.
  • Starling has 15 OF assists and El Coffee 13.
  • The Pirates will break their franchise attendance record for a second straight season today. Friday night's crowd of 31,442 pushed the 2015 total to 2,429,054, 13,511 shy of topping last season's record gate of 2,442,564.
  • The Bucs need a win or Chicago loss in the next two days to clinch the play-in home field for the third straight season.


WilliamJPellas said...

Burnett has had a respectable career, certainly, but I have always thought he was a guy who, in the long run and overall, was less than the sum of his parts. I mean, he's pushing 3,000 strikeouts but doesn't have even 200 wins? I'll bet you'd be hard pressed to find another pitcher with a least 2,500 strikeouts who didn't have more wins---a lot more---than Burnett does. And it's not like he spent most of his career pitching for bad teams. A few seasons, sure, but most of the time he was on .500 or better clubs, and at least a handful of those went to the playoffs. Not knocking him and he has probably done his best work in Pittsburgh---so his place in Pirates lore is secure---just saying he had the tools to be better than the pretty-good-but- shoulda-been-very-good pitcher that he was.

WilliamJPellas said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
WilliamJPellas said...

BTW, the Royals may live to regret the Cueto trade. Finnegan is not the only guy the Reds got in that deal who will probably have a productive major league career, though as a first rounder who quickly made The Show he is the biggest name. On the one hand, you gotta admire KayCee for going all in. On the other hand, particularly if there's something wrong with Cueto (as appears to be the case) and the Royals don't at least get to the Series again....

Ron Ieraci said...

Yah, Will, just a couple of guys ahead of him that didn't hit 200 that I saw - Javier Vazquez & David Cone. But point taken; AJ never was the staff ace. He said before that he didn't really learn how to pitch until his heater lost a couple of feet, and I think that's what made him a good fit here as a vet rather than acquiring him in his younger days. AJ's competitive, has a great work ethic, and is willing to mentor. He's a pretty solid mid-rotation guy who's unafraid to face other staffs' aces. There have been worse role models.

Cueto's P/L statement is in the future. KC did take a risk, and I think he's still damaged goods this season. He's just 29, and if his injury is one that just requires rest and rehab, it's a good deal. If he's got something that's chronic or major, different story.