A.J. Burnett in an elimination game is scary, but it could be worse

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The first thing you’ll read in any story about tonight’s Yankees-Tigers game is that the Yankees are throwing out A.J. Burnett in an elimination game.  And yes, that is far from ideal given how unreliable Burnett has been since arriving in New York. He wouldn’t have gotten a start absent last Friday night’s rain, and a couple of less-than-disastrous outings in September aren’t really enough to instill confidence. Yankees fans can say they are hoping for a nice showing, but they won’t bet too much on the proposition.

But at the same time, let us not overlook the fact that Burnett isn’t the only shaky guy in tonight’s game.  The Tigers are running out Rick Porcello who, in the past two seasons, has himself been pretty awful, posting an ERA+ of 85 in 2010 and 86 this year, which is pretty A.J. Burnettian himself.  While Burnett can often run hot-and-cold in a single game (usually early and later, respectively) Porcello runs hot and cold by month, it seems, with his lackluster ERA the result of a couple of disaster months (June and August).

I guess the point is that given the anxiety A.J. Burnett has instilled in the Yankee Universe these past couple of years, yes, the talk of impending doom for tonight’s game is justified.  But let’s not pretend that it’s just the Yankees relying on a wobbly starter in a big playoff game. Porcello is no one’s idea of an ace, and the Yankees’ slumbering bats could very well get to him.  As such, it’s about the best circumstances under which one can run old A.J. out there.

All of that said, if you rock a pic like this in your Facebook profile or whatever today, you had best not be complaining if Burnett lays an egg tonight, OK?

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(pic via reader Mike W. on Facebook, though I have no idea who created it)

Report: Yankees, Reds finalizing trade for Sonny Gray

Sonny Gray
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Barring physicals and roster reshuffling, the Yankees and Reds are all but ready to finalize a deal involving right-hander Sonny Gray, Fancred’s Jon Heyman reported Saturday. The exact return has not been confirmed, but Heyman hears that the Yankees will receive top infield prospect Shed Long and a draft pick in exchange for Gray, with an as-yet unnamed third player possibly involved as well.

According to several reports earlier in the day, negotiations came down to the wire as the Yankees first had their eye on the Reds’ no. 6 prospect, 22-year-old catcher Tyler Stephenson. The Reds ultimately elected to hang on to Stephenson and send Long to New York, as they currently have a greater need for catching depth and weren’t expected to be able to provide a full-time role for the infielder in 2019. Long, 23, is ranked seventh in the Reds’ system and appears to be nearing his MLB debut after batting .261/.353/.412 with 12 homers and a .765 OPS across 522 PA at Double-A Pensacola last year.

Gray figures to step into a prominent role within the Reds’ rotation, which is likely to be a mix of recently-acquired left-hander Alex Wood and right-handers Tanner Roark, Luis Castillo, Anthony DeSclafani, and Tyler Mahle, among several others. Despite Gray’s struggle to remain productive on the mound — he’s three years removed from his only All-Star campaign and turned in a disappointing 4.90 ERA and 2.16 SO/BB rate in 2018 — he might yet help stabilize a team that trotted out the fifth-worst rotation in the majors last season. If, on the other hand, the veteran righty finds the hitter-friendly confines of Great American Ball Park a little too unforgiving this year, the Reds can take some comfort in the fact that he’s due to enter free agency in 2020.