Burnes (oblique) lands on injured list

Righty out for rest of regular season, potential Wild Card Series

September 25th, 2020

The Brewers placed right-hander  on the 10-day injured list Friday with a strained left oblique, dashing any faint hope that he’d return for an inning or two of relief for a team still pushing for the postseason.

Burnes left his start against the Cardinals on Thursday with what the club described as lower back tightness, but an MRI scan on Friday morning confirmed the more serious injury. Even if the Brewers buck the percentages to make the postseason, Burnes would not be available for the Wild Card Series, and he probably would not be available for the National League Division Series, either, manager Craig Counsell said.

Burnes said he had "no regrets at all" about trying to pitch through tightness, which first presented after his previous start. He underwent treatment, threw a between-starts bullpen session, and believed he was close enough to 100 percent to make his final regular-season start.

"Everyone's asked me after, 'Do you still think you should have gone last night?'” Burnes said. “Absolutely. I [thought] I could get out there and get after it. For the most part, I was able to, up until the very end."

The Brewers replaced Burnes on the active roster with utility man Ryon Healy. The club also called up reliever J.P. Feyereisen on Friday to serve as the 29th man for a doubleheader against the Cardinals.

Burnes finishes the regular season at 59 2/3 innings, one out shy of the necessary amount to make the list of qualifiers for the ERA title (one inning per team game). That’s a shame, considering that Burnes ranked second among NL qualifiers at 2.5 fWAR, second with 13.4 strikeouts per nine innings, third with a .174 opponents’ average and third with a 2.11 ERA entering Friday.

“I didn't realize until after it was said and done that he was one out away from being qualified. I mean, that is so unfortunate,” said fellow starter Brandon Woodruff, who is scheduled to start Saturday at St. Louis. “It sucks, quite frankly. It sucks because he pitched unbelievably this year and has been one of the best starters in the National League and around baseball. And just coming back from last year to this year, you know, with big improvement, and going out there and pitching so well.

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“It's kind of heartbreaking in a way, you know I mean? I know Corbin, and I know he's a fighter, so he'll continue to keep trying to get better and come back out and try to help the team.”

The injury denied Burnes an opportunity to burnish his resume for the NL Cy Young Award, for which he entered his final start as a legitimate contender with the Reds’ Trevor Bauer, the Cubs’ Yu Darvish, the Mets’ Jacob deGrom and others, despite trailing those pitchers in innings, since Burnes made a series of early-season appearances in relief as part of a tandem with Brewers left-hander Brett Anderson.

“It didn’t end the way you necessarily wanted it to. He had a great season,” Counsell said. “We’ve talked about it many times -- he should be happy with what he accomplished. One, you’ve got to heal up and see what happens. But regardless of what happens, he should be really pleased with what he’s been able to accomplish in the regular season.”

Asked whether Burnes could still pitch for the Brewers should the team manage to make a deep October run, Counsell said: “We don’t know. We know we’re 12 hours into this. We know it’s severe enough that we would not expect him for the first round at all. Second round’s probably doubtful. But we’ll kind of see as we go here.”

Burnes said he had already spoken to Woodruff -- who missed approximately six weeks in 2019 with a strained oblique -- about his rehab from the injury.

Was Burnes able to see the positives in his 2020 season, despite its disappointing end?

“Looking back, it’s been a pretty successful year,” Burnes said. “I came out and did what I wanted to as far as preparation each week, mentality, pitch mix. Those are all some positives to take away from it. Obviously, the ultimate goal is to get into the postseason. I’ll do my best cheerleading from the dugout to try to get these guys going and hopefully at least get into the postseason.”