It has been a back-and-forth season for former Duke baseball player Greg Burke. Back-and-forth as in, making that long journey from the big leagues back to Triple-A Las Vegas.
The right-handed throwing Burke (who graduated a year behind me at New Jersey’s Gloucester Catholic) last reached the big leagues in 2009 when he was with the team that signed him out of Duke, the San Diego Padres. It has been a long, hard fought battle back.
In 2012, the Baltimore Orioles gave him a shot and he was one of their best relievers in their farm system after switching to a side-arm throwing motion. He carried a 1.53 ERA at both Double-A and Triple-A with the Orioles, but never received a callup to the Majors. Opponents hit just .193 against him.
Burke then moved on to the NY Mets for the 2013 season. He opened the season as one of their relievers in the big leagues and even got a chance to pitch against his hometown Philadelphia Phillies at Citizens Bank Park on April 9th.
However, things have not exactly gone as planned.
Burke has been shipped back to Las Vegas at least once a month, though his return trip to the big leagues in May was great (7.2IP, 5H, R, 0ER, BB, 6K). Since then, the big leagues have been a struggle.
After allowing four runs on two hits and three walks over 2.2 innings at Citi Field against the Phillies on July 19th, he was sent back to the minors. In that game, he also allowed his only homerun of the season at the big league level. He struggled in his first outing back with the 51s (three runs on two homeruns in two innings), but has pitched well over his last four.
The Mets are just 48-58 and 14.5 games back of Atlanta in the National League East. They are also 10.5 games back of a Wild Card spot. So it does not look like the Mets have a shot at the postseason. The 51s on the other hand, are two games up in the Pacific Coast League’s Pacific Southern Division. If the standings hold, Burke will be headed to the PCL playoffs and may not see a return to the big leagues until the middle of September (rather than Labor Day).
That is, unless the Mets need another arm in the pen.