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Penultimate: Braves 4 Phillies 2

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The Phillies played their second-to-last game of the season Saturday night against Atlanta. It went like the majority of the previous 160.

Eric Hartline-USA TODAY Sports

Will A.J. Burnett be back in 2015?

Let me answer that question by asking another one. Would you turn down a guaranteed $12.75 million?

Yeah, even though A.J. Burnett has already made $135 million or so over the course of his career, there's not a lot of players who would turn down that kind of scratch. And that's how much Burnett would be paid next year if he decided to exercise his player option for 2015.

Whether that would be a beneficial move for the Phillies is debatable, especially after how this season went for the aging right-hander. Burnet lasted 6.2 innings against Atlanta on Saturday night, giving up four runs on five hits with three walks and seven strikeouts.

And with his 2014 season now officially in the books, Burnett's final stats went  like this...

Season IP W L ERA FIP K/9 BB/9 fWAR
2014 213.2 8 18 4.59 4.14 8 4.04 1.2

Before the game, manager Ryne Sandberg said he had no idea which way Burnett was leaning.

"I actually don't have a read one way or the other," Sandberg said. "I really don't. That's part of the roster going forward that has to be addressed."

Of course, Sandberg is also able to count to $12.75 million just as well as everybody else.

With his 18th loss this season, Burnett became the first Phils pitcher to lose 18 since Steve Carlton in 1973. The Braves handed him his 14th career loss against them, more than any other team in baseball. Here are some other A.J. Burnett Phun Phacts...

So I guess we could say Burnett's 2014 season was at least historic.

Of course, Burnett has pitched most of this season with a hernia, which can't be terribly pleasant. Still, he pitched every fifth day, with Sandberg riding him like a rented mule for much of the season. In fact, Burnett thew 119 pitches in what could be the final game of his career on Saturday night. In all, he threw 3472 pitches this season, second-most in the National League (only the Reds' Johnny Cueto threw more). A.J. threw at least 100 pitches in 22 of his 34 starts this season.

You could ask, why is the Phillies' manager allowing their 37-year-old pitcher throw so many pitches with a hernia? Especially in that pitcher's last game of the season?

You would be asking a very good question.

As for the game, it featured a bomb from Ryan Howard, which got the Phils on the board in the bottom of the second, tying the game 1-1.

It had been a little while since his last dinger.

That would be followed by a B.J. Upton homer in the third to give Atlanta the lead back, 2-1.

However, The Big Piece was not done, adding an RBI single in the bottom of the sixth to tie the score at two. It was his third hit of the night.

These kinds of things cannot be rushed, you know.

Eventually, the Braves would pull ahead 4-2 in the seventh on a two-run homer by the "good" Upton, brother Justin. The Phillies also didn't help themselves by having two runners thrown out at the plate in this game, which is rarely conducive to winning baseball contests.

But hey, it's the second-to-last game of the season, and at the very least, the fans behind home plate were having some fun as the Phils tried to rally in the bottom of the ninth.

Going to baseball games is supposed to be fun? I think I read that in a manual somewhere once.

In the end, Game 161 went much like the previous 160 games that came before it. But hey, there was some good news that came out of Saturday night's proceedings.

I'll take the little victories where I can find them, thank you.


Source: FanGraphs