May 31, 2011, 10:21 PM EST
On a depth chart of pitchers the Nationals had reason to be worried about entering the season, Sean Burnett probably ranked dead-last. The left-hander was coming off a brilliant 2010, followed by a perfect spring training (zero earned runs allowed in 10 appearances).
Two months into the season, Burnett's struggles may not rank as the No. 1 concern on a Nationals roster full of concerns. But the reliever has been far from the sure thing that made him so valuable one year ago.
After losing Monday's game to the Phillies, Burnett is sporting a 5.59 ERA. He's allowing nearly one hit per inning pitched, his highest rate in three years. He's striking out only 4.7 batters per nine innings, nearly 50 percent fewer than he did in 2010. And right-handed batters are hitting .317 against him, a complete reversal of his fortunes last year.
All of this leaves Burnett baffled.
"I don't have the answer right now," he said after Monday's loss. "The thing is, I have good outings and I have bad outings, and there's just no consistency right now. You can't have that. You're letting good starts slip away, and it's unfortunate and unacceptable. I hold myself to a higher standard than that, and I'm the first one to take blame onRead more »
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As ESPN-980 AM's Nats Insider, Mark makes daily appearances on the station's various shows. Here's the 2014 schedule (subject to change)...
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