Corbin Burnes has worked 24 games in relief for the Milwaukee Brewers. He has a 2.87 ERA, but is he really succeeding?
Prior to 2018, Corbin Burnes had worked exactly six games in relief as a professional. After pitching exclusively as a starter for all of 2017 and the majority of 2018, Burnes was asked to work out of the bullpen in June while at Triple-A to accelerate his path to the Majors. How has he really done in his first season in a Milwaukee Brewers uniform?
What do the numbers say?
Burnes has tossed 31 1/3 innings in the Majors this year. He has struck out 29 and walked 10, resulting in a 8.33 K/9 and a 2.87 BB/9. Both of those numbers are almost perfectly in-line with the results he’s posted in the Minors.
Burnes has also managed a .241 BABIP against, which is a little odd considering he doesn’t profile as a fly ball pitcher. He currently owns a 1.50 GB:FB ratio, with a 48.1% ground ball rate, and a 19.8% line drive rate. Fly ball pitchers normally carry a BABIP that’s lower than average because fly balls are typically either outs or homers. Outs lower BABIP, and homers are excluded because they’re not in the field of play.
However, 31 1/3 innings is a tiny sample size, and not necessarily indicative of a future trend. He’s been a little lucky on balls in play, but he’s also proven that he can pitch over base hits by striking batters out. This isn’t a concern, and it’s not necessarily how Burnes will produce in a starting role.
How about his usage patterns?
He’s typically been a single-inning guy, but he has worked more than one inning eight times. He’s only allowed runs twice in appearances in which he records more than three outs.
Does he have any weird platoon splits?
Not really? He doesn’t have anything that looks like a weakness right now.
Burnes has a .150/.195/.256 slash line against lefties, and a .229/.316/.362 slash line against righties. He doesn’t have a weakness against hitters from either side of the plate.
He’s also been better in Miller Park than on the road. Burnes owns a 1.69 ERA in Milwaukee and a 3.77 ERA on the road in a similar sample size. It would actually be nice to have a pitcher in the starting rotation that has a track record of success in Miller Park.
Burnes has been a solid addition to the Milwaukee Brewers bullpen. He doesn’t come with a platoon split, so he’s capable of working against batters from both sides. He can also rack up strikeouts in bunches. The Brewers will need him to toss key innings down the stretch of the 2018 season, but he could become even more valuable as a starter next year. Burnes is legit in every sense of the word, and his chances to prove that will only increase in 2019.