eight innings, seven baserunners, one run, five strikeouts. Ho hum. Another day at the office for Seattle Mariners ace SP Felix Hernandez. The Mariners were fortunate to get such an elite performance from their ace, as Pittsburgh Pirates ace A.J. Burnett tried to match Hernandez’s performance. Burnett allowed just two hits over seven strong innings — a HR to Jesus Montero and a single to Endy Chavez. While the Pirates entire roster has been plagued by streakiness and inconsistency, Burnett’s ability to give a strong performance every fifth day has been invaluable to this team.
Burnett is a free agent this offseason, and it’s becoming increasingly imperative for the Pirates to retain him. James McDonald has been inconsistent, ineffective and recently injured. Francisco Liriano is recovering from injury and has yet to appear this season. Jeff Karstens is recovering from a shoulder injury. Wandy Rodriguez has been effective, but he is surely on the back half of his career. Besides prospects — notably Gerrit Cole — the Pirates have little certainty or room for optimism about their 2014 rotation.
At this point in his career, especially after making over $100 million, it is possible that Burnett signs for a discount to pitch for the team of his choice. This team, however, is likely not the Pirates. There has been speculation that Burnett, who currently has a home in the Baltimore area, would choose to take less money to sign with the Baltimore Orioles, rather than the Pirates. The Pirates need to make a competitive offer, however, because their 2014 rotation is less than stellar.
Gabe Isaacson is a writer for RantSports.com. Follow him on Twitter: @gabeisaacson.