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MVBrewers #3: Corbin Burnes

For the third straight year, Corbin Burnes led the Brewers’ starting rotation.

Wild Card Series - Arizona Diamondbacks v Milwaukee Brewers - Game One Photo by Stacy Revere/Getty Images

Since the 2020 season, Corbin Burnes has been a foundation piece for the Brewers starting rotation. He’s regularly among the team leaders in pitching stats, and can be counted on to start any major game. This year, he finishes at #3 in our rankings of the most valuable Brewers, as well as the top pitcher in the rankings.

The 2023 season didn’t start out well for Burnes. In four of his first five starts, he pitched less than six innings and gave up at least two runs in each start. This included 10 earned runs allowed in his first two starts of the season. However, sandwiched in the middle of those five starts was an eight shutout inning start, which helped even his ERA to 4.01 in March and April.

From there, Burnes looked more like himself and was much more dependable. In his remaining 27 starts, 20 of them were quality starts (6 IP, 3 ER). He allowed no runs in nine of his starts and three or fewer in 23 of them. His best start came against the Yankees on September 10, when he pitched eight no-hit innings. Unfortunately, the Brewers would lose the game in extra innings.

Overall in 2023, Burnes stats were still excellent, even if they took a small step back. He led the team in innings pitched and starts. While he didn’t quite hit 200 innings, he did pitch 193 23 innings and made 32 starts. He also got to 200 strikeouts for the third straight year, hitting the mark exactly. This earned him votes for the Cy Young award for the fourth straight year.

One point of concern for Burnes is the drop in some of his numbers. Though he hit the 200 strikeout mark, his strikeout rate (9.3 K/9) fell for the fourth straight year. In addition, his walk rate (3.1 BB/9) rose for the third straight year. He also saw a higher ERA (3.39) and FIP (3.80) in 2023 as well. All of his pitches had a drop in velocity, with his fastball dropping from 96.2 to 95.5 MPH. Despite that, he still posted a 3.4 fWAR in the 2023 season.

What comes next for Corbin Burnes is still up in the air. The Brewers have team control of him for one final season of arbitration before he becomes a free agent. Burnes seems committed to going to free agency, so the question is if the Brewers will trade him or not before the 2024 season. The Brewers could move him for a big trade package to help improve the team. However, that’s far from certain. If Burnes is still on the team in 2024, he’ll be leading the rotation again.

We’ll continue the rankings of the Most Valuable Brewers each Monday and Wednesday through December. Come back on Monday to see who we have at No. 2.

  1. Corbin Burnes
  2. Devin Williams
  3. Freddy Peralta
  4. Brandon Woodruff
  5. Wade Miley
  6. Hoby Milner
  7. Mark Canha
  8. Willy Adames