Burnett didn't have it from the start and his own words were correct when he said he took his team out of the game early. Burnett is a frustrating guy because he has two really good pitches in his fastball and curve, but his command/location is not very good. I said this awhile ago and it is interesting , but Burnett would make a good end of the bullpen guy based on having 2 excellent pitches but not having a 3rd that a starter usually needs. We know he has worked on his change, but he doesn't have confidence in it. He may be a roller coaster ride as a closer because consistency may be an issue, but if he were to come in and fire some strikes at 97 (which he could probably get to only going an inning) and have that sharp curve, it could be a possibility. Just something to think about as his pitching repertoire that lends itself as a closer. I am sure we will hate whoever is our next closer anyway compared to the Genius Maker. One last note that may have relevance is that Burnett started pitching worse when Eiland left the team. It is reasonable to say that Eiland made good adjustments on the fly with AJ.
Brett Gardner continues to have a really good year and has an OPS of .832 and when you take SB's into account it adjusts to around .900! That is really fantastic. I said at the beginning of the year I would play him in CF and Granderson in left (I was not adamant about it) and my main reason was that he is faster than Granderson (understanding speed isn't everything for defense) and that he would be less likely to have to come out because of a lefty matchup. Gardner has been better against righties(.883-721), but Granderson is hitting only .574 against lefties. While I didn't expect Gardner to have an OPS before SB's of over .800, I expected him to be a mid .750's guy with upside based on the adjustments he has made at every level...the upside has come in early!
Boston and TB are each half a game behind us...Boston has been playing well.