Minnesota Twins relief pitcher Jared Burton has been fantastic through the first 15 games of the 2013 Major League Baseball season. In fact, he is one of the top relievers in the big leagues, with some making the case that he is the best so far this season.
Burton has given up only three hits and has yet to allow a run in eight appearances this year. He has also struck out 10 batters, walked two, recorded four holds and posted a .130 opponent batting average. The only other relief pitcher in all of baseball that could rival Burton is Philadelphia Phillies left-hander Antonio Bastardo.
Bastardo has very similar numbers as Burton except he has recorded one win, given up one less hit and his opponent batting average is .091. However, Bastardo has also surrendered an unearned run, has three less holds and has walked one more batter while striking out three less.
Anyone who follows the Twins should not be surprised by Burton’s performance. The 31-year-old posted solid numbers last season when he went 3-2 with a 2.18 ERA, 55 strikeouts, five saves and 18 holds in 64 appearances. However, there is no question he is currently off to the best start of his six-year career.
Minnesota has one of the best bullpens in the big leagues thanks in large part due to Burton’s success. With that being said, the right-hander cannot take all of the credit as several other relievers have done a terrific job. In fact, six of the nine relief pitchers are under a 3.00 ERA for the season. This is a big reason why the bullpen ranks second in the American League with a 2.15 combined ERA.
Once the weather begins to warm up, the Twins will consider using Burton in three consecutive games with no rest in between. This is something required of most setup men, but Minnesota will be extra cautious with their prime asset.