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Hughes and Burnett: Stock Way Down

With the Yankees trading for Michael Pineda and signing Hiroki Kuroda this past weekend, the fantasy values of both A.J. Burnett and Phil Hughes took huge nose dives. While both did not even have decent 2011 seasons, they were looking to rebound in 2012. With the additional pitchers added, Hughes and Burnett should have little fantasy value to start the season.

CC Sabathia is entrenched as the ace of the staff. Ivan Nova should have one of the other spots in the rotation locked down. Pineda and Kuroda will have the final 2 spots since the Yankees inclined to show off their shiny new toys. Only one more spot is left to be filled. Even when one of the two wins the job, it will be just the 5th spot and likely skipped over a few times throughout the season. The other pitcher will probably be regulated to long relief. While both struggled last season, there are some positive signs for them this up coming season.

Phil Hughes started the season off horribly. In his first 3 starts, he had a 13.94 ERA, 2.23 WHIP, 2.6 K/9 and 3.5 BB/9. His fastball had lost 3 PMH, 92 to 89, and he was sent to the DL with an arm injury. After returning from the DL with a 92 MPH fastball, he posted a 4.55 ERA, 1.35 WHIP and 6.4 K/9. These numbers were not as good as he had in 2010, but respectable. If he is able to keep his fastball around 92 MPH, he could have a decent 2012 season.

A.J. Burnett‘s woes in 2012 (5.15 ERA) came from a crazy high 17% HR/FB rate. He may have been the most unlucky starter in the league. By comparison, His xFIP (3.86) was similar to Matt Cain (3.78) and Jered Weaver (3.80). He has shown some signs of decline with his fastball getting slower each year since 2007 (95.1 MPH to 92.7 MPH). Even with the drop in velocity, he looks to be a decent #3 to #5 starter for most teams.

The Yankees are not taking any chances that the two will rebound. They don’t have to, they are the Yankees. There is some hope for the pair though. Historically, around 40% of all starting pitchers will end up on the DL at some point during the season. There is a decent chance that one or both could move into one of the top 4 rotation spots. Also, one of the other 4 pitchers could produce horribly and Hughes or Burnett could move higher into the rotation.

With the Yankees newest starting pitching additions, Phil Hughes and A.J. Burnett look to be the odd men out. They have a chance to move up in the rotation, but there are no guarantees. I would not spend more than a late round pick on them. Ignore the headache of missing starts or long reliever stats and get some pitchers that are making regular starts instead of this pair.