Despite some offensive help from Ryan Howard, as is the story for most of the season, things did not go well for A.J. Burnett who made the final start of his season and possibly his career last night. It notched his 18th loss this season which is the worst season in the loss column for the Phillies since Steve Carlton went 13-20 in 1973. Burnett struck out seven over 6.2 innings and pitched pretty well until allowing two runs in the 7th which ultimately clinched the 4-2 loss to the Braves.
Now we await the news of if Burnett picks up his $12.75 million player option for next season. For what it's worth, while it was a miserable season results wise, Burnett was quite the work horse for the Phillies this season. He pitched 213.2 innings and made 34 starts which was his heaviest work load since his 2008 season with Toronto. He moved up to 43rd on the all time strike out list with 2370, which leaves him 26 shy of Sandy Koufax at 42nd.
Will he or should he come back could be two different things. Most of his pressers would lead you to believe he would rather not go through what he went through this season again. However, even ballplayers would have a hard time walking away from $12.75 million in what would likely be their final season. He's certainly proven himself to be still durable. With Kyle Kendrick a free agent as well as Jerome Williams and the uncertainty about Miguel Alfredo Gonzalez and Aron Nola, it could very well be in the Phillies' best interest to see Burnett exercise his option.
However the opposite could be true as well. Many of his starts this season felt like he was left in an inning too long. Despite his work load, he was clearly pitching hurt and he ran out of gas in a lot of outings. He walked a staggering 96 this season as well which is actually one shy of his career high in 2009 with the Yankees but was still far too many free passes.
There's a case for and against Burnett in 2015. As the Phillies fans fire up the hot stove early again this year, it's certainly one of the topics of debate and definitely something to keep an eye on as we see a winter that seems to promise a lot of change.