In October of 2018, Milwaukee Brewers pitcher Corbin Burnes watched the World Series. He had been on the mound just a week prior, pitching two hitless innings in Game 6 of the National League Championship Series.
The next night, his team was one win away from playing the Boston Red Sox for a chance at the title.
After they lost in Game 7, Burnes took a “significant amount of time off” before starting his off-season training program.
“Going deep in to the post-season, not having done that much before, I took some time to have the body regroup,” he said.
The approach was vastly different in 2019.
This time around, when the World Series was being played, Burnes’ off-season schedule was already underway.
“It was one of those things where it was a little different of an off-season, but we had a pretty plan of what we wanted to attack,” he added. “Coming in to spring we feel like we are in a pretty good place.”
As a reliever in 2018, Burnes posted a perfect 7-0 win-loss record, striking out 35 batters in 38 innings pitched.
After transitioning into a starter in 2019, his record fell to just 1-5, surrendering 70 hits, 17 home runs and 20 walks in just 49 innings pitched.
“Corbin did take a different path this winter, for sure,” manager Craig Counsell said. “Probably, the season caused that.”
Despite the significant drop-off, Burnes said that the plan for him this spring is to be “stretched out” and competing for a spot in the team’s starting pitching rotation. Refusing to be deterred by one disappointing season.
“I had a different focus this off-season,” he said. “The previous year was more of just getting the body physically ready, getting the arm ready.
“This off-season was more of taking a mental approach, along with getting the body physically ready and pitching shape ready. But, the main focus this off-season was the mental side of things.”
Counsell just wants his 25-year old pitcher to stay calm and confident.
“There are no evaluations going on right now,” Counsell said of the potential pitching staff rotation. “So for Corbin, just a lightness to him is what I want right now.
“He is fired up about what he’s doing, and that’s the best part, because he should be. He has definitely put in a lot of work and he’s made some adjustments all over for himself as a player and right now he’s rolling with that and it’s all good.”
Burnes will throw live batting practice sessions during spring training, and will also be part of the starting pitching rotation when the team starts to play Cactus League games.
This off-season the team experienced hefty turnover, especially on the pitcher’s mound. Zach Davies, Chase Anderson, Gio Gonzalez and Jordan Lyles are just a few of the names who are no longer on the roster.
Josh Lindblom, Eric Lauer and Brett Anderson are all new faces who are expected to contribute.
“Kind of in the same spot that I was in last year,” Burnes said about the competition in camp. “That guy coming in looking to make one of the rotation spots. That’s the focus.”