The season is winding down. To an extent, the Brewers get to choose their fate by competing against the Reds and Cardinals to finish the regular season.
The Brewers lost game one of the three game series vs Cincinnati on Monday night 6-3. With Brandon Woodruff on the mound it was a game you certainly felt the Crew needed to win, despite pitching against the recently hot Luis Castillo. Game two on Tuesday night is not any easier as it will feature Brett Anderson vs Sonny Gray.
Currently slated to start game three are pitchers Adrian Houser and Trevor Bauer. The Cincinnati Reds moved Bauer’s start up by one day and he will be pitching on shortened rest. The Brewers should look into doing the same with Corbin Burnes.
There are currently two options that make sense regarding Corbin Burnes’ usage coming up.
Option 1: Leave it as is and pitch Burnes on five days rest
This option would entail of Burnes pitching Thursday vs the Cardinals. In this scenario you get a fully ready Corbin Burnes against a team that the Brewers are competing against for a playoff spot.
The negative aspect of this option, is that the regular season ends on Sunday. There is a very slim chance that Corbin Burnes would pitch later in the Cardinals series, even on Sunday on three days rest, in what could be a win or go home game.
The positive is that Burnes would be fully ready to pitch for the postseason. With the NL Wild Card round slated to start Wednesday September 30th, Burnes would have a full 6 days of recovery if he were to pitch in Game 1 of that first round matchup.
It does seem likely that Burnes could pitch first in the postseason given that Brandon Woodruff is the probable pitcher on Saturday night vs the Cardinals. If Woodruff does indeed start that game, he would be ready to operate on full rest on Thursday October 1st, which would be Game 2 of the Wild Card round.
Option 2: Bump up Burnes’ start by one day and pitch on four days rest
This option would entail of pitching Burnes Wednesday vs the Reds. Adrian Houser is the current probable pitcher for Wednesday and has been pitching very poorly as of late.
In this scenario you get to see Burnes vs Bauer. You also keep the option available for Burnes to pitch again on the final game of the regular season, again on 4 days rest. To date, we have not seen Corbin Burnes operate on short rest and with how well he is currently pitching, is it worth the risk?
As for potential postseason implications, if Burnes was needed in Sunday’s regular season finale, he could pitch in either Game 2 of the Wild Card round on four days rest or Game 3 on five days of rest. If the Brewers make the postseason, the outcome of a potential game 1 would certainly shape the decision there.
Lastly, the biggest caveat to this situation is that if Sunday’s regular season finale is not a win or go home game, the Brewers don’t have to pitch Corbin Burnes. This would be the best scenario heading into the postseason, but at least having Burnes as an option would be nice for we do not know how all these games prior will play out.
While pitching Corbin Burnes on 4 days rest may be scary to some, I pose the question of is it scarier to think that if the Brewers elect to wait and pitch Burnes on 5 days rest, he will not have the opportunity to make another regular season start? I say yes, that is much scarier.
Corbin Burnes certainly has been the Brewers ace this season and he is even in consideration for Cy Young, and a head to head matchup with Bauer, a chief competitor for the Cy Young could push things in Burnes’ favor if he wins the duel.
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Making the postseason is what is important for the Brewers, and the Brewers should lean on their best pitcher this season to help lead them there.