Burnes was optioned to Triple-A San Antonio on Saturday. Burnes has an ugly 8.85 ERA in 40.2 innings for the Brewers this season. He can blame a 39.5 percent HR/FB rate and a .394 BABIP for much of that number, as his 29.8 percent strikeout rate is more than enough to offset a slightly high 10.1 percent walk rate. He's expected to mostly pitch out of the bullpen in San Antonio, Adam McCalvy of MLB.com reports, indicating that he's not likely to return to the rotation if he returns to Milwaukee at some point this season. Burnes hasn't been good in either role at the big-league level this season, posting a 10.70 ERA as a starter and a 7.43 ERA out of the bullpen.
Burnes notched his first save of the season in Sunday's victory over the Pirates. Manager Craig Counsell wanted to avoid using his three top relief options -- Josh Hader, Jeremy Jeffress and Junior Guerra -- in Sunday's game, so he turned to Burnes to close out the contest, and Burnes got the job done. Despite Sunday's result, Burnes figures to continue working mainly in middle relief while the other three aforementioned pitchers see the bulk of the late-inning opportunities.
Burnes picked up his first win of the season in Monday's victory over the Twins. Cron retired all three batters he faced, two via strikeout, and was credited with the win when the Brewers turned a 4-3 deficit into a 5-4 lead in the top of the eighth inning. Since giving up nine earned runs over 2.1 innings across two outings earlier this month, he has gotten back on track with three scoreless innings over his last two appearances, in which he gave up no hits and posted a 4:1 K:BB.
Burnes allowed two earned runs over 1.2 innings in Wednesday's victory over the Reds. Burnes allowed zero earned runs in seven innings over five appearances between May 4-14, but the results were quite the opposite in his last two outings, over which he was tagged for nine earned runs over just 2.1 innings. Burnes' ratios this season are not pretty, and his recent numbers make it tough to include him in lineups even in deep leagues. Burnes is clearly going through a rough stretch, but he was exceptional out of the Brewers' bullpen last year, and if he can stop serving up so many home runs -- he has allowed a whopping 14 long balls over 29 innings -- he should gradually bring his 10.24 ERA back down closer to his 3.62 xFIP.
Manager Craig Counsell said Wednesday that Burnes will pitch out of the bullpen for "a little while," Robert Murray of The Athletic reports. Burnes was a late addition to the roster Wednesday to cover the move of Chase Anderson (finger) to the injured list, and ended up taking the loss as he allowed three runs on three hits and two walks over two innings versus the Rockies. The young right-hander was originally expected to work out the kinks as a starter in the minors after giving up 11 home runs in four major-league starts, but will instead move back to the bullpen following the signing of veteran lefty Gio Gonzalez. Burnes had a 2.61 ERA, 1.00 WHIP and 35:11 K:BB over 38 innings out of the bullpen for the Brewers last season, but he clearly still has some work to do in order to regain that form.