Speculation on the future of Philadelphia Phillies pitcher A.J. Burnett has been a one direction conversation. Retirement. Even Burnett himself said he would probably retire after the 2014 season. Queue screeching tires as the emergency brakes engage.
On Monday, Burnett was nearly flawless as the Phillies beat the National League East leading Washington Nationals. Burnett stayed alive for seven innings allowing one run and three hits with 12 strikeouts. The outing was enough to start the wheels turning in his head. Afterwards, Burnett commented on the retirement talk.
“I guess you could say I’ve still got it when I do have it,” Burnett said to CSN Philly. “My decision will come down to how I feel and what my family and I decide. It’s just one start, but to be able to go out and do that tonight makes you wonder.”
Good games tend to change a players mind. Burnett currently leads the league in walks with 76 but on Monday he only gave a free pass to one of the Nationals batters. On the season the 37 year old pitcher is 7-14 with his last win coming back on July 11th prior to Monday’s win. He had a 4.30 ERA with 157 strike outs. He has started 28 games this season and is four shy of a contract escalator.
The keys to Burnett’s future lies within his own head. He has a player option on his contract for 2015 and the escalator would push his 2015 salary of $10 million to $12.5 million if he starts four more games on the season.
It’s unknown what Burnett’s intentions are today as he is relishing in his best performance of the season but it will be a difficult decision for him to make once the season is over. The Philadelphia Phillies have already stated that their off-season focus will be starting pitchers. Regardless of what decision Burnett makes.