MILWAUKEE -- A day after he threw his firmest pitch of a trying season, Corbin Burnes landed on the 10-day injured list Monday with what the Brewers termed right shoulder irritation.
Milwaukee recalled righty Burch Smith from Triple-A San Antonio to take Burnes’ roster spot. Smith had just been sent down eight days earlier after his most recent stint in the Majors.
Burnes hit 99 mph during a four-batter stint against San Francisco on Sunday in which he inherited a 2-2 tie and was charged with four runs on four hits, boosting his ERA to 9.00 in 46 innings this season between the Brewers' rotation and bullpen. The 24-year-old began 2019 as a starter but was demoted to relief after allowing 11 home runs in 17 2/3 innings in the rotation between March and April.
“It’s definitely tough,” Burnes said. “No one wants to go out there and throw the way I’ve been throwing, and not feeling good, especially when you have the excitement around this team that we’ve had the last couple of years. You want to be out there on the field at your best, helping this team win. It’s definitely tough, but it’s something that every person goes through in their career.”
Burnes said Sunday’s outing against the Giants marked the first time he felt discomfort while he was on the mound, particularly when he threw breaking balls. That could help explain why he lacked finish on his slider. He said he went through a similar issue in April while he was in the rotation.
The Brewers don’t expect the injury to sideline Burnes for an extended period of time.
“There’s something funky going on,” he said. “It’s something that 4-5 days off probably could have taken care of it, but with the crunch we have right now, and needing the arms, the stint on the IL is something that’s best for myself and the team.”
In the bigger picture, his troubles are prominent on the list of disappointments this season for the Brewers, who remain very high on Burnes based on his performance in the Minor Leagues and as a big league reliever during the second half of last season. Burnes earned high-leverage work down the stretch and into the postseason by posting a 2.61 ERA and holding opponents to a .199 average in 38 regular-season innings.
Burnes thought he’d turned things around after settling into a bullpen role. In a run of 10 appearances from June 11 to July 4, he logged a 2.00 ERA and had 13 strikeouts against two walks in nine innings. But in two games against the Giants over the weekend weekend, he was charged with six earned runs on six hits and recorded just three outs.
“It’s never a good time to get hurt. You’re going to get better by pitching,” Brewers manager Craig Counsell said. “We will take some time while we’re doing this to spend a little more time on figuring out what’s next for him and how to attack [his performance]. We weren’t having success, there’s no question about that. Maybe there was a little health issue related to that, and we can clear some things up. We’ll also try to figure out any other things we can address.”
Smith had already begun warming up to start for Triple-A San Antonio on Sunday night when he was told the Brewers were calling him back to the big leagues. It’s his third stint in the Majors this season; he was charged with six earned runs on nine hits over his first 7 2/3 innings for the Brewers but has a 2.53 ERA in 13 Triple-A starts.