In the world of Milwaukee Brewers baseball, one thing you can always count on is solid starting pitching. As we reflect on another season, it's time to dive into the performances of each regular starting pitcher.
While there were a few players who made spot starts, our focus here is solely on the consistent contributors who held down the fort throughout the season. Join me as we assess and grade the efforts of these key players who played a crucial role in the Brewers' success on the field.
Before we jump into the grading process, let me take a moment to outline my approach. I evaluate players based on a combination of their performance and the expectations set for them. This dual perspective is crucial to avoid unfair comparisons, such as grading an ace and a backend starter on the same scale.
It wouldn't be equitable to give a lower grade to a fifth starter simply because they didn't meet the standards of an ace. Therefore, considering our expectations for each player is a key factor in the grading criteria. It ensures a fair and contextual assessment that takes into account the unique roles and responsibilities of each player on the field.
RHP Corbin Burnes: B
Despite turning in a formidable effort with a 3.39 ERA (3.81 FIP), a 1.069 WHIP, and just shy of 200 innings pitched, Corbin Burnes' 2023 performance wasn't quite the encore Brewers fans were expecting. Sure, he earned his spot in the All-Star game, but his ERA took a noticeable uptick from his Cy Young campaign in 2021, where he boasted a career-best 2.43 ERA, followed by a 2.94 ERA in 2022.
Burnes showcased more inconsistency on the mound this time around, resulting in a mediocre 18-14 record for the Brewers in his 32 starts—an unexpected outcome when your ace is on the hill. One could try to argue that run support played a part in that, however Milwaukee average a solid 4.68 runs per game in his starts, so that's not exactly the case. Add to that the offseason contract disputes that rubbed some fans the wrong way, and whispers of trading Burnes began to circulate.
However, even though Burnes' 2023 season may have fallen short of the sky-high expectations, it still qualifies as an above-average performance. Considering the high bar he set in previous years, I'd say Burnes deserves a B for his efforts.