Burnes was confirmed as a member of the Brewers' starting rotation Thursday, Todd Rosiak of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel reports. Milwaukee elected to go with all of its young arms, sending Chase Anderson to the bullpen. Burnes had some success as a reliever last season and will look to carry that through to this year as he transitions back to his preferred starting role. In 47 innings (including his work in the postseason), he recorded a 2.49 ERA and 46:12 K:BB.
Burnes is now working with a five-pitch mix, adding a changeup and sinker, in an effort to win a rotation spot out of camp, Robert Murray of The Athletic reports. "The most exciting part is getting through a lineup three times," Burnes said. "It'll be nice to work through an order, have to think through pitch sequencing. It'll be good." He showed last season that his fastball/slider combo was deadly in relief, but he is going to need more than a couple pitches to turn a lineup over multiple times. The plan will be for Burnes to use the fastball, slider and occassional curveball the first time through before introducing the changeup and sinker. He apparently had an excellent changeup in college, but lost feel for the pitch after altering his mechanics in pro ball. Eight Brewers pitchers are competing for five rotation spots, but Murray concludes for a variety of reasons that it is highly likely Burnes wins one of the five spots.
Burnes allowed three hits over three scoreless innings in a spring game Tuesday. He struck out four batters and did not walk any in the outing. Burnes got off to a rocky start, throwing 27 pitches in his first frame, but he did hit 98 mph with his fastball that inning and managed to escape without allowing any damage on the scoreboard. He was much sharper over the following two innings, throwing a total of 22 more pitches before leaving the game. Burnes remains in the mix to break camp with a spot in the Brewers' rotation, and he certainly helped his chances Tuesday.
Burnes took the loss Friday against the Mariners, allowing five runs on six hits and one walk across 1.1 innings. He struck out one. Burnes struggled in his second spring appearance after firing a scoreless inning in his Cactus League debut earlier in the week. Three of the six hits he allowed went for extra bases, including a pair of solo homers and a run-scoring double. The young right-hander did strike out Mitch Haniger on three pitches before exiting. Burnes will look to get back on track in his next outing as he competes for an Opening Day rotation spot.
General David Stearns said Burnes will enter the 2019 season as a starter, Tom Haudricourt of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel reports. Burnes appeared strictly out of the bullpen after earning a promotion to the big club in July, posting a 2.61 ERA, 1.00 WHIP and 35:11 K:BB across 38 innings. One of the team's top young arms, the Brewers view Burnes as a starter moving forward despite his big-league success as a reliever. The 24-year-old posted a 4.96 ERA and 9.3 K/9 across 13 starts with Triple-A Colorado Springs last season before transitioning to a relief role. Burnes should enter spring training with a chance to break camp in the starting rotation.