Brewers News

Milwaukee Brewers: Corbin Burnes moving to bullpen

MILWAUKEE, WI - MAY 23: Norichika Aoki's of the Milwaukee Brewers sunglasses, cap and glove sit on the steps on the Brewers dugout during during the sausage races in the game against the San Francisco Giants at Miller Park on May 23, 2012 in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. (Photo by Mike McGinnis/Getty Images)
MILWAUKEE, WI - MAY 23: Norichika Aoki's of the Milwaukee Brewers sunglasses, cap and glove sit on the steps on the Brewers dugout during during the sausage races in the game against the San Francisco Giants at Miller Park on May 23, 2012 in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. (Photo by Mike McGinnis/Getty Images) /
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One of the Milwaukee Brewers top pitching prospects, Corbin Burnes, has been moved to a relief role down in Triple-A Colorado Springs.

This truly is an interesting development. Corbin Burnes has the stuff and the command to end up being a frontline starter in the not-too-distant future. And the Milwaukee Brewers are now using him in a relief role in Triple-A.

He’s been a starter his entire minor league career, and he’s been phenomenal at it up until this season. In his first professional season in 2016, Burnes finished with a 2.02 ERA and he had a stellar 1.67 ERA last season. Burnes has been a quick riser but has scuffled a bit in 2018, posting an uncharacteristic 4.82 ERA.

Of course, playing in Colorado Springs has some effect on that. Burnes has 6.30 ERA in home games this season. That place has been extremely difficult on some the Brewers best pitching prospects. One might think that he might not be ready for the big leagues with that ERA, but the Milwaukee Brewers think otherwise.

The Josh Hader Path

It appears the Brewers are putting Corbin Burnes on the Josh Hader path to the big leagues. Hader was a starter all the way through Triple-A and was called up to pitch only out of the bullpen because the Crew needed him and that’s where he fit in best. Burnes is going to stay as a starter long term, but they also said the same thing about Hader.

But I think they’ll keep their word here on Burnes and stretch him out as a starter next year in spring training. Burnes has a solid four pitch mix that he commands well. Hader only had three pitches and his changeup wasn’t very effective and he didn’t throw it that often before. So Hader is better suited to bullpen work anyways. Of course, Hader’s outlook for the rotation is murky at best.

A Quicker Path To The Big Leagues

The Milwaukee Brewers want Burnes to help out right now. They know he’s healthy and struggling because of the environment in Colorado Springs. He’s their top pitching prospect and they want to lay claim to his future.

There really isn’t much room in the big league rotation right now. Freddy Peralta is working on claiming a spot, while Zach Davies and Jimmy Nelson are working their way back from injuries. With Davies, Nelson, Chase Anderson, Junior Guerra, and Jhoulys Chacin basically locked into this rotation with Peralta pushing his way into that group, there isn’t any room for Burnes this season.

But they want him to get involved, so why not put him in the bullpen. He can pitch multiple innings on the days that Josh Hader is resting, and he’ll help keep the rest of the bullpen fresh with this ability. Having two guys in Burnes and Hader in the big league bullpen that can go multiple innings and in big situations will save the rest of that group and prevent burnout amongst the members of one of the best bullpens in baseball.

Trade Season

As we head into July, trade rumors will become more and more prevalent. In any big name, blockbuster trade, Burnes’ name will likely appear as a coveted target in a return package. If the Crew wants to get someone like Jacob DeGrom or Chris Archer or Noah Syndergaard, those teams are likely going to ask for Burnes in return.

But if Burnes is put in the bullpen and then called up to the big leagues prior to that July deadline, it shows other teams that Burnes is pretty much untouchable. Few teams deal from their big league club when they buy in July, and by putting Burnes in the bullpen and in his own role the team created for him, they send the message that Burnes isn’t going anywhere.

This is good news for Milwaukee Brewers fans who are excited for Burnes’ arrival. They want to keep him around. If they were willing to trade him, they’d keep him in the starting rotation in Colorado Springs in order to get the maximum value from him. But by putting him in the bullpen, it lowers his trade value, signaling that the Brewers won’t trade him.

If Burnes finds success coming out of that bullpen in Triple-A, we could see him in Milwaukee in very short order. He might be up around the All-Star Break if everything goes well.

Next: Mets Pitching Available for Trade

Hader and Burnes both had starting potential, but Hader has found success in the bullpen and may end up staying there for his career. But Burnes’ stay in the bullpen will be a short one. I think they’ll make room for him in the rotation next spring.

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