Tuesday, July 2, 2013

The decline of Jared Burton

Jared Burton, Ron Gardenhire's first choice for eighth innings, had another poor performance Monday night.

He entered with a 4-3 lead, faced four batters, surrendered three hits and was charged with three runs and his sixth loss of the season.

He didn't walk anybody, but a quick look at his statistics suggests that control, or lack of same, is a significant part of his problem. Last year, in 62 innings, Burton walked 16 men; he's already walked that many this season, in 35.2 innings.

It should be noted that his walk rate this year (4 BB/9 innings) is about what he had for his career other than 2012, suggesting that last year was a bit of a fluke.

Burton was very good in April and May, but June was not kind to him (7.45 ERA) and obviously July is off to a bad start.

Which raises the question: If it's time to switch to somebody else for the main setup role, who would it be?

Burton himself has been worked at a harder pace this year than last, and he's not the only hard-used reliever in the Minnesota bullpen. Five Twins are among the top 40 in the league in relief innings, with Anthony Swarzak leading the list with 52.2 innings. Rookie Ryan Pressly, who I think will eventually take a significant late inning role, is perhaps showing some signs of wear; he's given up runs in each of his last four outings, and his ERA has more than doubled during that stretch.

Too many bad starts, too many bullpen innings. It's not a good recipe.

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