Corbin Burnes had vacation plans for his birthday in two weeks, but those have been put on hold for good reason.
The Centennial graduate, in his rookie year with the Milwaukee Brewers, will be part of the National League Championship Series beginning Friday against the Los Angeles Dodgers.
It’s been a whirlwind season for Burnes, who was the 2017 Brewers Minor League Pitcher of the Year.
He began the season with the Colorado Springs Sky Sox, the Triple-A affiliate of the Brewers, and was not having the year he anticipated statistically — a 3-4 record and a 5.15 ERA in 19 appearances, 13 of which were starts. Things turned around, however, with the Brewers calling Burnes up in July. He went 7-0 in 30 middle relief outings, with a 2.61 ERA and a save as a member of the big league club.
“It’s been awesome,” Burnes said. “To start the year in Triple-A and have some struggles and work through it, to getting the call and playing well, it's been a special moment.”
Burnes was even more effective to start the playoffs, giving up just one hit in four innings of work in the National League Divisional Series. That performance included Game 3 on Sunday during a 6-0 victory over Colorado in which Burnes recorded the win. He came off the mound that day with a clenched fist after striking out D.J. LeMahieu swinging to end the eighth inning. It was the series-clinching win for the Brewers.
“All I know, I was pretty emotional and it gets the best of you,” Burnes said. “People were saying they were caught off guard not knowing I had that much emotion in me.”
Now Burnes has the chance to help the Brewers advance to the World Series for the first time since 1982 against the team Burnes said he watched play in person 15 to 20 times growing up.
There will be a lot of hype surrounding the series. For Burnes, it will turn into something even more knowing the third game of the series on Monday will be in Dodger Stadium, where plenty of friends and family will be in attendance.
“Right now as we prepare, you try and take the extra hype out of it,” Burnes said. “But when the pregame introductions come, that’s where it will all come. Growing up, you always want to play in the playoffs. But now living it and seeing how crazy it is and knowing I am playing in a such a big game is crazy.”
Burnes pitched two innings this season at Dodger Stadium, but the stage is much bigger and the crowd will be much louder this time around. With that said, Burnes is trying to keep it all in check despite all of the hoopla.
“Why are these games any different? I prepare the same and have the same mindset,” Burnes said. “Now it’s just a few more fans, and a lot louder.”