NEW YORK -- Phillies manager Ryne Sandberg likes to look at the positive. In the past when asked about what he has liked about Kyle Kendrick, he has cited the righthander’s durability.
When asked after Sunday’s 6-5 loss to the New York Mets at Citi Field, what he felt about A.J. Burnett’s season, Sandberg said, “He’s shown durability. He’s kept his stuff throughout the season at this point. He makes his starts.
This is true, and it's laudable to be durable, but it's also not enough, especially during this Phillies season.
Burnett, who has been pitching most of the season with a hernia, has made a team-high 29 starts. The 37-year-old righthander leads the Phillies with 184 innings pitched.
Those are true signs of durability.
"He goes out there and he competes and he’s battled and when he goes out there, we feel like we have a chance to win,” Sandberg said. "So it’s good stuff, and like I said, he’s feeling strong and keeping his stuff.”
The problem with Burnett is that he hasn’t been able to show sustained control. Sunday he walked just one batter for the second straight game. That came after walking four in each of the two previous contests.
And he has shown an ability to be dominating and then for some reason, he digresses. An example was the hanging curveball he threw that Anthony Recker crushed for a three-run home run.
Burnett still has electric stuff, but the inability to be consistent with it has led to a disappointing season.
“You make pitches all game, even after the homer I made pitches,” Burnett said. “But that one didn't break at all and he put it in the seats.”
There were other pitches he didn’t make as well. Burnett allowed nine hits to a Mets squad that has a .234 team batting average and was missing all-star Daniel Murphy (strained right calf).
No it’s been Burnett’s inconsistency that did him in this day and many others. The fact that his best trait has been durability, tells one that there has been plenty lacking about his season.