For the past several months the assumption has been that A.J. Burnett would either retire or return to pitch for the Pirates, with calling it a career at age 37 seemingly being in the lead of late.
However, according to Travis Sawchik of the Pittsburgh Tribune Review the free agent right-hander “will return to pitch in 2014” and “will be open to pitching for a club other than the Pirates.”
As both Ervin Santana and Ubaldo Jimenez would attest to the free agent pitching market was already very well-stocked for this late in the offseason and Burnett was one of the best starters in the NL last season, throwing 191 innings with a 3.30 ERA and 209 strikeouts.
It’ll be interesting to see if teams are willing to make a multi-year commitment for big money and/or if Burnett is even looking for multiple years considering he apparently gave strong consideration to never pitching again. And because the Pirates didn’t make him a $14.1 million qualifying offer they won’t receive draft pick compensation if he signs elsewhere.
I hope you don’t have any plans tonight at around 10PM Eastern time, because that’s when we get a pitching matchup for the ages as Max Scherzer will take on Clayton Kershaw at Dodger Stadium. When they meet tonight it will be the first time two pitchers with three or more Cy Young Awards have matched up since 2006. That year, and in 2005 and 2000, Roger Clemens faced Greg Maddux. In 2001 Clemens faced Pedro Martinez.
Kershaw won his hardware in 2011, 2013 and 2014, with an MVP award in 2014 to boot. Scherzer collected trophies in 2013, 2016 and 2017. Each has started the 2018 season in Cy Young form. Kershaw is 1-2, but that record is due to poor run support. He has a 1.73 ERA and has struck out 31 batters and has walked only three in 26 innings. Scherzer is 3-1 with a 1.33 ERA and a whopping 38 strikeouts to only 4 walks in 27 innings.
This will be the third time that Kershaw and Scherzer faced each other if you include the playoffs. The first meeting was a decade ago when both were rookies. They most recently faced off in Game 1 of the 2016 NLDS, way back when Scherzer only had one Cy Young Award to his credit. Kershaw beat Scherzer in that playoff game and the Dodgers beat Scherzer’s teams in the two regular season matchups, with neither guy setting the world on fire. As so often happens in baseball, the hype hasn’t been matched by reality.
Still, there’s always a chance it will. And even if, in the end, this turns into a slugfest, the first couple of innings should at least give us some hope of something good. I’ll be watching.