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Scott Pianowski

Closing Time: A.J. Burnett hits the skids

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It's time for our annual Shuffleboard and Tequila Olympics football planning summit down in Santa Monica, which means Roto Arcade's general schedule will be thrown into flux for the next 72 hours. Be sure to check TMZ hourly for the latest Brad Evans photographs.

A.J. Burnett(notes) hasn't been right since the second week of May and his slump continued in the Arizona desert on Monday; he basically threw batting practice against the Diamondbacks and the Snakes were rattling (nine hits, seven runs, three homers over four innings). Burnett's ERA swelled to 4.83 after the outing (the WHIP is 1.46), and things don't look any better with the secondary stats.

The Diamondbacks had a field day against Burnett's fastball, but for the most part it's been the curveball that's hampered the high-priced righty this season. His bender was a significant plus pitch for him from 2007-09 according to Fangraph's Pitch Values, but this year it's barely over the equator. Burnett's also getting the lowest swinging-strike rate of his career, and it's no shock that his whiff rate is down in 2010 and his walks are up. He can't really point to bad luck here – his BABIP and strand rates are normal and his HR/FB rate is around his career level.

Burnett's performance is screaming for a skipped turn, but the Yankees probably don't have that luxury right now. Phil Hughes(notes) is going to skip a start this week to keep his innings down, and New York is just a half-game ahead of the Rays and Red Sox entering Tuesday's play. Fantasy owners probably don't want to roll with Burnett at Chavez Ravine on the weekend, but the Bronx Bombers don't have much of a choice.

Justin Upton(notes) had the most fun in Arizona's 10-4 laugher, clubbing two homers and throwing in a stolen base for the heck of it. He scored four runs on the evening and also drove in four. Upton also took a pitch off the elbow in the middle of the game – it wasn't a retaliatory shot, it was just an offering that got away from Chad Gaudin(notes) – so it will be interesting to see how the elbow feels Tuesday and if this situation costs Upton any time throughout the week. Upton's batting average (.256) and strikeout numbers (92 whiffs) have frustrated a lot of people, but he's also on a pace to score 102 runs and drive in 87 while going 20-20 – he's been a mild disappointment this year, but this isn't the type of thing that should torpedo your club.

The Blue Jays raised some eyebrows when they demoted Edwin Encarnacion(notes) on the weekend, and the second cleat fell on Monday when the club designated Encarnacion for assignment, essentially ending his time in Toronto. Encarnacion teased us with a five-homer binge in Arizona back in the third week of May, but he's got just 10 hits since that power show. He's still just 27 and some organization will take a stab at him as a buy-low, but there's a lot to rebuild here; Encarnacion's defense has always been a problem, and there are holes in his swing that pitchers can exploit. The Reds have to be thrilled that they landed Scott Rolen(notes) for Encarnacion (and pitching prospects Zach Stewart(notes) and Josh Roenicke(notes)) in a swap at the deadline last summer.

The Livan Hernandez(notes) Hater Society had a field day when Hernandez collapsed in Detroit last week, but he rebounded nicely with Monday's victory over Kansas City (7 IP, 8 H, 1 R, 1 BB, 5 K). Hernandez collected 11 ground-ball outs in his stint and he's got streamable value at Baltimore on the weekend. Tyler Clippard(notes) retired three of four men in a scoreless eighth and Matt Capps(notes) closed up, using three strikeouts to work around two hits.

Gio Gonzalez(notes) and Mike Leake(notes) had a pretty good pitcher's duel going in Oakland but the bullpens made a mess of things. Francisco Cordero(notes) blew the lead in the bottom of the ninth (courtesy of a Kevin Kouzmanoff(notes) homer) and he couldn't get anyone out in the bottom of the tenth, either; eventually Jordan Smith(notes) entered for the rogue save. Cincinnati earned this victory because it pushed across five runs (and three homers) against the final three Oakland relievers: Andrew Bailey(notes), Michael Wuertz(notes) (so much for 2009) and Cedrick Bowers(notes).

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Injury Blog: Tim Lincecum(notes) had a pain-free bullpen session on Sunday and is good to go for his Tuesday start against Houston and Roy Oswalt(notes).Nelson Cruz(notes) (hamstring) will come off the DL on Tuesday. He's expected to bat sixth. … Brett Anderson(notes) did some long toss Monday but there's no timetable on a return yet. … Coco Crisp(notes) (ribs) might be able to return for the Athletics this weekend. … Everth Cabrera(notes) (hamstring) has begun his rehab work at Triple-A. … The Angels will make a call on Erick Aybar(notes) and his knee issue Tuesday; a DL stint has not been ruled out yet. … Orlando Cabrera(notes) has been playing through a tender ankle and he didn't start Monday. … Dustin McGowan(notes) will have a shoulder scope on Tuesday, if you wanted to know. He's not expected to pitch in the majors this year.

Speed Round: Michael Morse(notes) is on a 10-for-20 stretch with three homers over the last week-and-a-half. Don't you love random stretches like this? … Scott Podsednik(notes) posted the quirky 4-0-4-0 line in the Kansas City loss. He was also caught stealing. … Gary Matthews Jr.(notes) has agreed to a minor league deal with the Reds. Doesn't this organization have enough outfielders? … John Lannan(notes) received a vote of confidence on the weekend, but Monday he was given a ticket to Triple-A. … The Yankees will make day-to-day decisions with Alex Rodriguez(notes) (hip) and Jorge Posada(notes) (foot) this week. Both players were in the lineup Monday.

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