A dependable if rarely dominant right-handed hurler, Dave Burba bounced from Seattle to San Francisco to Cincinnati before finding a home as a mainstay in Cleveland’s starting rotation. Burba joined the Indians AL Central dynasty when the Reds traded him for first baseman Sean Casey on March 30, 1998, the day before he was slated to be the club’s Opening Day starter.
After reaching the big leagues with the Mariners in 1990, Burba was sent to the Giants in December 1991 along with pitchers Bill Swift and Mike Jackson for slugger Kevin Mitchell and southpaw Mike Remlinger. He worked mostly from the bullpen in San Francisco, posting a 10-3 record for the 1993 NL West runners-up – a team which missed the playoffs despite winning 103 games. Not until the Giants dealt him to the Reds in July 1997 did he get a chance to start regularly.
But after totaling 22 wins for Cincinnati in 1996 and 1997, Burba unexpectedly found himself moving cross-state mere hours before his scheduled Opening Day start. Growing up a Reds fan in Springfield, Ohio, Burba was stung by his abrupt departure. “For me, it was a dream come true to be the Opening Day starter on a big-league team,” he said after the trade. “I can’t say I’m not excited to be here, because I am. But I dreamed my whole life of being an Opening Day starter, and they pulled the rug out from under me.”
On June 7th of that season Burba exacted a measure of revenge against his old team, pitching Cleveland to a 6-1 win at Cincinnati during an interleague series and also clubbing a two-run homer, becoming the first Tribe pitcher to go deep since the advent of the DH. He solidified the Indians often shaky rotation, topping 200 innings pitched for the first time, winning 15 games with a 4.11 ERA and adding victories vs. Boston in the ALDS and vs. New York in the Tribe’s six-game loss to the Yankees in the League Championship Series. He continued to be a solid innings eater for Cleveland in 1999 and 2000 while racking up 31 wins against 15 losses. Burba lost his touch in 2001 however, as his ERA soared above 6.00.