burnes photo

Brewers starting pitcher Corbin Burnes throws during the first inning against the Dodgers on April 12 in Los Angeles.

MILWAUKEE — Two days removed from another rough outing, right-hander Corbin Burnes is headed to Class AAA San Antonio, where the Milwaukee Brewers are hopeful he'll return to the form that made him one of the franchise's top pitching prospects in years.

In turn, the Brewers recalled left-hander Donnie Hart, who allowed just one run in six innings for San Antonio.

Burnes, 24, dazzled as a rookie last season. He went 7-0 with a 2.61 ERA in 30 appearances out of the bullpen and struck out 35 batters over 38 innings then allowed just two runs in six postseason innings.

Brewers president of baseball operations David Stearns and manager Craig Counsell made it clear after the season that Burnes — the team's minor league pitcher of the year in 2017 — would return to a starting role in 2019 and be given a chance to make the rotation out of spring training. 

But Burnes couldn't command his fastball the way he did last season and allowed three home runs in each of his first three starts then two more on Wednesday for an MLB-leading 11. His 21 earned runs also led the majors while his strikeout numbers declined in each of his four starts, from 12 to three.

"I know I have a good fastball so I'm going to work on command," Burnes said. "Being in that atmosphere will allow me to mix in the curveball and changeup more. That should help me get back to my full repertoire of pitches that will help me get out big league hitters."

The Brewers could have left him in the rotation to work though his issues, a less-than-ideal solution for a team with legitimate postseason aspirations. They also could have shifted him back to the bullpen, where he excelled a year ago, but Counsell reiterated Friday that Burnes' future is in the rotation.

"Putting him in different routines and switching him back and forth didn't seem to be the right thing to do," Counsell said. "We discussed a number of options and this was the option we thought was best for his development and the best for us long term."

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A fourth-round pick in the 2016 draft, Burnes is in just his third full professional season and had only 13 starts in Class AAA before coming to the majors.

"Going down is tough, especially when you get a taste of (the big leagues) and have had some success," Burnes said. "It's just about going down and refocusing. I have full confidence in myself."

How long Burnes stays in the minor leagues depends on his performance. Both he and Counsell said they expect it to be a short stint and both expect Burnes to be back in the rotation in a couple of weeks.

"They emphasized that they're sending me down there to get back on track and as soon as they think I'm ready, they'll bring me back up," Burnes said. "It could be the 10 days, it could be two weeks. "We'll be in constant communication."

Burnes was one of three young starters in Milwaukee's rotation to start the season, along with Freddy Peralta and Brandon Woodruff. Peralta was placed on the injured list earlier this week with an SC joint injury, leaving the Brewers with two holes in their rotation.

Counsell said after Friday's game that Chase Anderson, a starter who moved to the bullpen this season, would start on Saturday in Peralta's place.

What the Brewers do Monday in St. Louis, when Burnes' spot comes up remains to be seen. Junior Guerra, another starter-turned-reliever, could get the nod.  

Right-hander Adrian Houser was slated to start Friday for San Antonio but was pushed due to weather, then removed from the list of probables all together. Houser is 1-0 with a 1.10 ERA in three starts for the Missions this season with 18 strikeouts in 10 innings.


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