Matt Gelb of the Philadelphia Inquirer reports that the Pittsburgh Pirates had a scout watching A.J. Burnett's last start on Friday. Gelb says that the scout wasn't on his normal coverage, which makes it sound like this was a trip specifically to see Burnett.
Burnett hasn't been the same pitcher this year that he was with the Pirates. He has a 4.08 ERA and a 3.93 xFIP. His strikeouts are down, with a 7.4 K/9, which is a rare that is almost two and a half strikeouts less per nine innings. His walks are up slightly, going from a 3.2 BB/9 ratio last year to a 3.8 BB/9 ratio this year. He's also not a ground ball machine this year, with a 49.6% ground ball rate, down from 56.5% last year. He's been pitching with a sports hernia, which will probably need surgery at the end of the year, and is most likely the case for his struggles this year.
Burnett's xFIP would rank him sixth among regular Pirates starters. The current order:
Tim is the owner and editor in chief of Pirates Prospects. He started the site in January 2009, and turned it into his full time job during the 2011 season. Prior to starting Pirates Prospects, Tim worked with AccuScore.com, providing MLB, NHL, and NFL coverage to various national media outlets, including ESPN Insider, USA Today, Yahoo Sports, and the Wall Street Journal. He also writes the annual Prospect Guide, which is sold through the site. Tim lives in Bradenton, where he provides live coverage all year of Spring Training, mini camp, instructs, the Bradenton Marauders, and the GCL Pirates.