Deep Sleeper Pitcher: A.J. Burnett

Feb 19, 2015; Bradenton, FL, USA; Pittsburgh Pirates pitcher A.J. Burnett (34) pitches during Thursday afternoons workout at Pirate City. Mandatory Credit: Jonathan Dyer-USA TODAY Sports

After an unsuccessful season in Philadelphia, A.J. Burnett returns to the Pittsburgh Pirates. He was successful with the Pirates for two seasons and could finish his career on a high note. As a No. 6 starting pitcher in 14-16 team leagues, Burnett is a deep sleeper.

Burnett struggled with the Philadelphia Phillies. He posted a 8-18 record with a 4.59 ERA, 1.409 WHIP and 109 earned runs allowed, tied for most in 2010 and 2011 with the New York Yankees. Whether it was the park, the lineup or injury, Burnett was far from ownable in 2014. 

After 13 seasons in the league, Burnett’s best season came in 2012 with the Pirates. In his two seasons in Pittsburgh, he had a 3.41 ERA, 1.228 WHIP, 26-21 record (16-10 in 2012), 389 strikeouts in 61 starts. He had his best K/9 rate in 2013 at 9.8.

According to the Pirates’ page on MLB.com, Burnett will enter the 2015 season as the team’s No. 4 starter. He will have success as the backend starter. However, with the age and injury concerns, Burnett’s ADP is very low, but very valuable. Yahoo has him at 349 overall, ESPN ranks him 319 and National Fantasy Baseball Championship (NFBC) ranks him at 323.92.

Burnett is worth adding as a waiver-wire pick up as a deep-league sleeper. While there has been a decline in velocity in control over the last couple of years, Burnett could benefit with teaming back up with pitching coach Ray Searage. Entering the season at 38 years of age, Burnett should be able to reach 200 innings with 12 wins, a 3.70 ERA, 1.32 WHIP and 185 strikeouts.