MILWAUKEE — Brandon Woodruff and Freddy Peralta have been hurt. Eric Lauer and Adrian Houser have been inconsistent. Corbin Burnes has been Corbin Burnes.
With everything going on around him, that’s exactly what the Brewers have needed.
In a 5-4 win over the Blue Jays at American Family Field on Saturday, Burnes became the first Brewers starter to pitch into the eighth inning this season and looked the part of the reigning National League Cy Young Award winner. He scattered five hits including a pair of solo homers and teamed with Devin Williams and Josh Hader on a victory to keep pace with the Cardinals atop the NL Central standings.
“It’s a stopper. It’s length in the game. It’s zeros,” Brewers manager Craig Counsell said of Burnes. “When you have a guy like that, you know when his turn is coming up that you’re going to get a really good effort and you’re going to get deep into a game and you’re going to get zeros. He’s picked up right where he left off last year and is just pitching wonderfully.”
Burnes was charged with three runs on those five hits, along with two walks and nine strikeouts. He was one whiff shy of matching Yovani Gallardo’s club record for double-digit strikeout performances; Burnes has 17 such outings, including in his other start on this homestand against St. Louis. Gallardo had 18 double-digit strikeout games during his Brewers career.
Since the start of last season, Burnes has 20 starts with at least nine strikeouts. No Major League starter has more.
“It’s huge to have a guy you can fall back on every fifth day,” said Brewers infielder Mike Brosseau, who hit one of two Brewers home runs on his second day removed from a stint on the injured list. “We know he’s going to give the bullpen a rest and go do his thing for seven or eight innings. It’s funny, you can almost expect it at this point with what he has.”
Andrew McCutchen and Brosseau homered to back Burnes, who has won three straight starts and…