Milwaukee Brewers prospect Corbin Burnes is off to a slow start in Triple-A. How will that impact his timeline to the Major League roster? The answer isn’t as clear as it was for Josh Hader last year.
Corbin Burnes was fantastic through his first three starts for the Colorado Springs Sky Sox. In his first three starts of the 2019 season, Burnes owned a 2.08 ERA with a 1.04 WHIP, 18 strikeouts, and three walks in 17 1/3 innings. Since then, he’s seen his ERA balloon to 5.47. Could his recent struggles delay his call up to the Milwaukee Brewers?
What happened in his last two starts in Triple-A?
Well, both of his last two starts were in Colorado Springs. He was tagged for eight runs, all earned, in 3 1/3 innings by the Kansas City Royals Triple-A affiliate on April 25th. In his next start on April 30th, Burnes gave up three runs in four innings to the Oakland A’s Triple-A affiliate. He walked seven and struck out only three over those two starts.
In his first three home starts, Burnes has a 10.22 ERA. He’s clearly having a hard time in Colorado Springs, but so did Josh Hader last year. Hader posted a 5.37 ERA in Colorado Springs last year with most of the damage coming at home.
Burnes isn’t hurt and he hasn’t seen a drop in velocity. He’s dealing with the same issues that a lot of top prospects deal with in the thin Colorado air.
Can Burnes come up as a reliever?
Can he? Yes, probably. Will he? Probably not. The Milwaukee Brewers bullpen wasn’t nearly as deep in 2017 as it is now. The 2018 bullpen goes seven deep with Corey Knebel and Boone Logan on the shelf. There simply isn’t the same need for Burnes to come up to the Major League roster as a reliever like there was last year.
Burnes also has a solid four-pitch mix that works much better in the rotation than in the bullpen. Hader has a fantastic fastball and an amazing slider. He lacks an effective third pitch that the majority of successful starting pitchers have. Burnes isn’t quite as dynamic, but his repertoire is a bit more developed than Hader was at the same point.
Can Burnes come up as a starter?
This is the more likely path for Burnes, but he’s still blocked. The Milwaukee Brewers have a rotation that goes seven deep with Jimmy Nelson and Zach Davies on the DL. Brent Suter was forced into the bullpen. If the Brewers can’t find innings in the rotation for Suter, it’s unlikely that there are innings at the Major League level for Burnes any time soon.
Barring injury, Burnes will reach the Major League level this year. The only issue is when. The Milwaukee Brewers have him blocked in the rotation and for a bullpen role. Right now, it looks like he’s a mortal lock for a September call-up unless there’s a crisis.