August 1, 2002

A.J. Burnett and Jeff Torborg

I just finished watching Marlins' ace A.J. Burnett improve to 11-7 by shutting out the St. Louis Cardinals.

Burnett has been one of baseball's top pitchers throughout the season and he was awesome tonight, but the way his manager, Jeff Torborg, is using him has me worried about his future.

A.J. threw 128 pitches tonight in shutting out the Cards, which in itself is not really a bad thing.


Last Saturday he threw 132 pitches in 8 innings against Montreal.

And for the season, he is averaging over 112 pitches per start.

All that, and he is only 25 years old.

According to Baseball Prospectus' "Pitcher Abuse Points" Burnett has been the 2nd most "abused" pitcher in all of baseball this season, behind only Randy Johnson.

There is just no way that a 25 year old pitcher in his 2nd full season in the majors should be allowed to consistently throw that many pitches, start after start after start.

The only starts in which Burnett throws less than 100 pitches are ones where he gets shelled.

Torborg and the Marlins have had plenty of opportunities to take Burnett out of a game that is already pretty much decided and save him a little stress on his young arm, but they rarely (if ever) choose to do that.

Tonight was a perfect example of that:

Burnett finished off the Cards in the 8th inning with a 3-0 lead.

In the bottom of the inning the Marlins added another run to lead 4-0.

At that point, Burnett had allowed only 3 hits and had already thrown 112 pitches.

Instead of taking Burnett out of the game and letting the bullpen close out a 4 run lead, Burnett was left in and ended up throwing 16 more pitches, for a total of 128.

16 pitches may not seem like a whole lot, but consistently throwing 10 or 15 or 20 additional pitches in each start is a lot for a young pitcher.

Burnett has been great this year and he looks like he will be a stud for years to come. But the way he is being treated makes me think he is in line for some arm troubles.

I hope I am wrong.

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