At the start of this year, A.J. Burnett declared to the New York media that he was ready to put his mediocre 2010 season in the past. So far he has mostly done that, with a respectable 5-3 record and 3.99 ERA through the first two months.
However, he's still got something to prove in June, because if you remember correctly, Burnett was also lights-out in April and May last season. He entered his June 4 start in Toronto with a 6-2 record and a shiny 3.28 ERA...and that’s exactly where things went really badly for Burnett.
That Friday night he posted sixes across the board –- as in six runs on six hits in six runs in six innings, including three home runs –- at the Rogers Centre in a 6-1 loss.
With that disastrous outing, Burnett began what was arguably the worst month for a starting pitcher in Yankees franchise history. He followed up that horrible start with consecutive losses to the Orioles, Phillies, Diamondbacks and Dodgers, allowing at least six runs in four of the five starts.
Worst ERA in Any Month
Burnett finished the month with an unsightly 11.35 ERA and five losses in five starts. According to the Elias Sports Bureau, it was by far the worst ERA for a starting pitcher in any month since earned runs became an official stat in the AL in 1913 (min. 5 starts).
Here was the damage for that forgettable month:
• Batters got a hit in more than 35 percent of their at-bats and reached base in almost 50 percent of their plate appearances against him.
• More than a quarter of the hits he allowed were homers and nearly half of them went for extra bases.
• Of his 22 complete innings, only four times did he face the minimum number of batters -- and three of those came in one start on June 10.
• And possibly the worst nugget of the month for Yankee fans -- the team obviously went 0-5 in his starts, which means it was 16-5 in all other games that month, including 5-2 with Javier Vazquez on the mound.
Today, as the calendar turns to June, Burnett takes the mound in Oakland to prove that his forgettable 2010 season really is in the past. Most Yankee fans are surely hoping that his June this year will be more like the 2009 version, when he posted a 2.10 ERA, allowing just seven earned runs over 30 innings in five starts.
Katie Sharp is a researcher with ESPN Stats & Information