How Corbin Burnes stacks up with other MLB hurlers since the 2020 season

When 29-year-old right-hander Corbin Burnes takes the mound today to start the first spring training game for his new team, the Orioles will get a look at their new ace in action for the first time in the 2024 season.

They hope he is the quality workhorse and clear No. 1 pitcher that the Milwaukee Brewers saw since his rookie season of 2018. He moved into a big league rotation for good in the pandemic-shortened 2020 season.

Burnes is no doubt worthy of being called an ace, and you can make a case that he is the best pitcher in baseball since that 2020 season.

In 2020, he went 4-1 with a 2.11 ERA and was sixth in the National League Cy Young voting. The next season he won the NL Cy Young Award, going 11-5 with a 2.43 ERA. In 2022 he was 12-8 with a 2.94 ERA and was seventh in the Cy Young vote, and last season he was 10-8 with a 3.39 ERA, finishing eighth for the top pitching award.

Between them, Max Scherzer, Shane Bieber and Gerrit Cole have five Cy Young awards (three by Scherzer himself), but they all trail Burnes in ERA since that 2020 season. So does every other pitcher.

MLB leaders in ERA since 2020:

2.86 – Corbin Burnes

2.94 – Max Scherzer

2.98 – Shane Bieber

3.06 – Zack Wheeler

3.08 – Gerrit Cole

Burnes also leads the majors since 2020 in batting average against at .197, with both Cole and Scherzer at .211. He leads the big leagues in OPS against in that span at .571, with Wheeler at .620, Cole at .626 and Scherzer .628. He leads the majors in WHIP (1.00), with Cole and Scherzer at 1.01.

Just impressive stuff, and certainly one can make a strong case he is the best in the bigs over that four-year run.

Other MLB rankings for Burnes since the 2020 season:

1st – in swing-and-miss percentage at 33.7

2nd – in strikeouts (765) and K per nine (11.06)

2nd – in FanGraphs WAR behind Wheeler

4th – in homers per nine (0.78)

5th – in innings (622.1) and quality starts (62)

The guy has been pretty good, and I don’t imagine anyone in the Baltimore organization is too worried about how his stats might look this spring as long as he gets his work in and is ready to roll for Opening Day on March 28 at Oriole Park.

For what it is worth, Burnes pitched to an ERA of 4.74 last spring in five games over 19 innings. For his career in spring stats only, he is 8-4 with a 3.57 ERA in 85 2/3 frames.

Burnes told reporters in Sarasota this week that he's ready to get into some game action for his new club, which acquired him from Milwaukee on Feb. 1.

“It’s exciting to get games going, and getting the first one gives me a chance to get an extra outing this camp just to get to know these guys and better prepare for the season," he said.

The process of learning and working with his new catchers in Baltimore is ongoing.

“The most important relationships are with the catching staff,” he said. “Next is with just the pitching group in general, whether it’s the starters, relievers, the coaches, analytics group. Just to get on the same page with all those guys as far as game planning goes, because how I gameplan and pitch game one affects who throws game two and game three, just how we attack hitters.

“You’ve just got to have that relationship with those guys so that you can kind of convey to them what you’re going out there to help them better prepare for their start, as well.”

Today's game at 1 p.m. against Boston airs on MASN and also on O's radio.

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