On a hot summer day at the ballpark, there’s nothing quite like having Corbin Burnes on the mound. He helps provide some nice cool breeze.
Entering Tuesday’s play, the Milwaukee starting pitcher leads the major leagues in strikeouts, with 175. He also is tops in the National League in strikeouts per nine innings (11.6) after topping MLB in that category last season (12.6), becoming just the second Brewers pitcher to be the K/9 leader (Zack Greinke in 2011 the other).
It’s not just the strikeouts, though. It’s the swings and misses.
Burnes has induced 381 swing and misses in 2022, 20 more than Dylan Cease of the Chicago White Sox and 60 more than the closest National League pitcher, San Francisco’s Carlos Rodon.
The Brewers ace also, unsurprisingly, leads the majors in whiff percentage at 37.1%. In 2021, he also topped MLB with a 36.5% whiff percentage. Since 2015, the beginning of the Statcast era, those are the fourth- and sixth-best whiff percentage rates. Cleveland’s Shane Bieber and the New York Mets’ Jacob deGrom both had a 40.7% rate in the shortened 2020 season while Gerrit Cole, then with Houston, had a 37.2% whiff percentage in 2019.
But when it comes to nasty stuff, Burnes is right at the top of the conversation.
How do we know he’s nasty? Take a look at how hitters swing at pitches out of the strike zone.
In 2021, Burnes had 294 out of zone swing and misses – 10th highest since 2015 and 32 more than the 2021 runner-up, Robbie Ray.
Burnes leads that category again in 2022 – and by a wide margin. He has 250 out of zone swing and misses this season. No one else has reached 200. Cease has 199 and Cole 192. Rodon has the next most in the NL – with 161.
The raw numbers don’t tell the entire story.
Burnes’ out of zone swing and miss percentage in 2022 is 59.0% -- it was also 59.0% in 2021. In the Statcast era only Bieber has a higher rate on such pitches (64.0% in 2020 and 62.2% this season).
Of course, Burnes is also pretty good at getting swings and misses on pitches within the strike zone, too. His 21.7% rate is fifth best in MLB this year and tops among all National League starters.
Little wonder Burnes is having another outstanding season – his 2.45 ERA is just .02 higher than last year and his 0.934 WHIP is .006 lower.
Come for the refreshing breeze, stay for the Cy Young performance.