Coordinating with the Louisville Bats catching fire in the month of July has been the stellar play of relief pitcher Jared Burton, who has become a force out of the team's bullpen as they move toward the final month of the season. Burton, who has spent most of the last three seasons playing at the major-league level with Cincinnati, has not allowed an earned run during the entire month of July, a span of eight appearances and over 11 innings of work.
Burton, a six-foot-five, 230-pound right-hander, spent the first month of the season on the disabled list for thyroid testing, putting him behind the curve and forcing him to start the year with Louisville. Although Burton has spent the entire season with the Bats after spending the majority of the last three years in Cincinnati, he hasn't let the reassignment affect his performance. In 25 games, Burton has posted a rock solid 2.48 ERA, holding opponents to a meager .189 batting average. During his outstanding July run, Burton has even played the role of closer on a few occasions, netting three saves, his first since the 2007 season.
Since coming off the DL in mid-May, Burton has slowly worked his way back up to being one of the team's top relievers. In each July appearance, Burton has thrown at least one inning, and has registered a strikeout in each game except one. For the year, Burton has put up 27 punch outs in 29 innings while walking 14.
In the last three years, the 29-year-old Burton has posted solid numbers with the Reds out of their bullpen, going 10-3 with a 3.47 ERA in 154 games. Last season, Burton appeared in 53 games for Cincinnati, going 1-0 with a 4.40 ERA. While he struggled early in the season, his game picked up steam after a stint on the disabled list. Once coming off the DL on August 10th, Burton finished off the season in impressive fashion, posting a 2.35 ERA over 22 appearances.
Prior to the 2010 campaign, fans in Louisville had only seen Burton in small doses. Last season, Burton was lights out in 10 appearances with the Bats, going 1-0 with a 0.82 ERA. Burton also had brief stints with Louisville in both 2007 and 2008.
Cincinnati plucked Burton from the Oakland organization in 2006 via the Rule Five Draft. The former Western Carolina Catamount was an eighth-round pick of the Athletics back in 2002.
With the Reds' bullpen situation still up in the air as the team nears the trade deadline, Burton could very much be a possibility for a big-league call up if he continues to put up impressive numbers. The righty has proven over the last three years, when healthy, that he can get people out at the major league level. While his innings may be a bit harder to come by now that veterans Russ Springer and Jason Isringhausen are also playing with the Bats, the Reds' brass will have to take a serious look at Burton if they feel the bullpen needs solidified from someone at the triple-A level.
This story was not subject to the approval of the National Association of Professional Baseball Leagues or its clubs.