Funny, nobody told his stuff. The way Burnett is dealing at the moment, he hardly looks like a guy counting down the days to retirement.
Dazzling the New York Mets with impeccable command, Burnett won his fourth straight start in an 8-2 victory on Saturday, easily outdueling an uncharacteristically sloppy Matt Harvey to lower his ERA to 1.37, the best in the majors.
Heady stuff for a 38-year-old who led the National League in losses, walks and earned runs during a forgettable and injury-marred 2014 in Philadelphia.
"He's like a kid in the backyard out there that's having some fun that is being aggressive and very, very purposeful on the mound," Pittsburgh manager Clint Hurdle said. "He's pitching as well as I've ever seen him pitch. He's doing more. He's doing his job."
One that is helping the Pirates linger around .500 despite an uneven opening two months. Facing one of the game's brightest young talents in Harvey, Burnett (4-1) dominated, striking out 10 without walking a batter.
"I just look at leaving it all out on the field, knowing it's my last go around," Burnett said. "It's fun to pitch for (my teammates), to be around them. They bring so much out of me."
And for once Pittsburgh's offense gave Burnett plenty of wiggle room. Andrew McCutchen and Pedro Alvarez both homered and drove in two runs while Josh Harrison extended his hitting streak to 10 games by going 2 for 4 with two RBI.
"It shows what we can do when we're ready to hit," Harrison said. "We got some pitches today and we didn't miss them."
Harvey (5-2) lasted only four innings, the shortest outing of his career. He gave up a career-worst seven runs on six hits and also threw two wild pitches, matching the number he had all of the 2013 season.
"Everything was kind of all over the place," Harvey said. "I wasn't locating obviously. My arm feels fine, my body feels fine. It was one of those days where if I tried to spin it, it was over the middle. If I tried to throw a fastball in, it was away and vice versa. It's just a pretty terrible outing. "
The expected showdown between two players who came in ranked in the top 10 in ERA never materialized.
While Burnett's ERA ticked down after making a team-record ninth straight start allowing two runs or less, Harvey's shot up to 2.91 when McCutchen and Alvarez pounced on 96 mph fastballs and sent them to the deepest reaches of PNC Park.
McCutchen drilled his sixth homer of the season to the Pirates' bullpen beyond the wall in center to give Pittsburgh a 2-0 lead in the first. Alvarez -- who sent a home run onto a boat in the Allegheny River on Tuesday -- then led off the bottom of the second with a long drive to the last row of seats in right field to make it 3-0. The Mets and their ace never recovered in a rare misstep for the star in his return from elbow surgery that forced him to miss all of 2014.
"You still have to realize, he's (in his first year) back from the operation," Mets manager Terry Collins said. "He's looked so good and we just get so carried away that he's never going to have a bad day that when he does, it's shocking for us all."
Mets: 3B David Wright's return from hamstring and back injuries hit another road block on Saturday when the team said the seven-time All-Star has been diagnosed with stenosis, a narrowing of the spinal column. Wright took live batting practice on Friday before his back flared up again. Wright, who hasn't played since mid-April, will rest for at least a week before being reassessed.
"It's just something that seems to be taking longer than we initially thought," Mets assistant general manager John Ricco said. "The way it was progressing, (doctors) thought it would be gone by now."
Pirates: OF Andrew Lambo's progress while dealing with plantar fasciitis in his left foot has been slow. Manager Clint Hurdle said the foot "is not showing any signs of improvement to get him into a game."
The series concludes on Sunday when Pittsburgh's Francisco Liriano (1-4, 4.15 ERA) faces New York's Jonathon Niese (3-4, 3.72). Liriano gave up seven runs in two innings against Minnesota on Tuesday and the Pirates are just 1-7 in Liriano's eight starts. Niese had similar troubles his last time out, getting tagged for eight runs in five innings during a loss to St. Louis.
Untold tales of Cal Ripken Jr., the Iron Man who saved baseball
Cal Ripken Jr. brought baseball back after the strike with his record-breaking run in 1995. Here are some stories of the summer of 2,131 you might not have heard.
Viewers guide: The night Cal Ripken Jr. became baseball's Iron Man
The sport was still stinging from the 1994 strike, but all was forgotten when the Orioles shortstop broke Lou Gehrig's unthinkable record for consecutive games played.
Tim Kurkjian's baseball fix: Adrian Beltre was so confident, he didn't wear a cup
Playing third base in the majors and not wearing a cup seems like a bad idea. But Adrian Beltre, a future Hall of Famer, believed his defense was good enough to save him.
Second-Chance World Series, Round 2: Which clubs advance to our Elite 8?
Are the 1993 Phillies making the most of their second chance? Are the 2001 Mariners unstoppable? The field narrows in our runoff sim of MLB's best non-champs.
How should MLB players handle uncertainty surrounding season?
Alex Rodriguez shares his thoughts on how MLB players should prepare for a shortened season, whenever it might start.
Stories to remember Adrian Beltre by on his birthday
Tim Kurkjian celebrates Adrian Beltre's birthday by sharing some of his favorite stories about the third baseman.