Corbin Burnes sounds locked in to face old team for first time with Orioles

Baltimore Orioles v Boston Red Sox
Baltimore Orioles v Boston Red Sox / Maddie Malhotra/Boston Red Sox/GettyImages

Baltimore Orioles' ace Corbin Burnes did not have to wait long - a mere 15 games into the season - to face his former team, the Milwaukee Brewers, who ended their tumultuous relationship by dealing Burnes to the O's in a stunning three-player (and a draft pick) deal in early February.

Burnes is slated to start the final game of the three-game set between the Brewers and Orioles on Sunday. This start is not only important to Burnes, personally, but to the Orioles as a team, as they seek to avoid their first regular-season sweep since May 13-15, 2022 against the Detroit Tigers. As if Burnes did not already have enough on his plate with this start.

But the big right-hander, who sat down with podcast Foul Territory this week, is taking his start against his former team in stride.

Baltimore Orioles starter Corbin Burnes delivers cold quote about facing Brewers

Burnes called the start "business as usual," stating, "I am just going about my five day plan as if I would, if I am making a start in July against the Yankees, Red Sox, whoever it may be." As with any start, Burnes will be "picking apart scouting reports and looking at numbers" to prepare to face the Brewers, the only team he played for in his career before February's trade to the Orioles.

Despite Burnes' cavalier attitude, it bears noting that he was teammates with many of the players in Milwaukee's lineup, including catcher William Contreras. Indeed, Contreras caught Burnes' pitches for a year, and should be more familiar than anyone with Burnes' pitch repertoire.

Burnes spent the first six years of his Major League career pitching for the Brewers. He won the Cy Young Award in 2021 with Milwaukee, and was a three-time All-Star. But the Brewers' relationship with Burnes soured at the beginning of 2023, when they took Burnes to arbitration over his salary for the 2023 season and won. In general, teams and players try to avoid going to arbitration over salary, as the hearing typically involves a player's team explaining to an arbitrator why that player is not as good as he thinks he is and, therefore, does not deserve the salary he seeks. Burnes was blunt in describing how the process affected his relationship with the Brewers, stating that “there were other ways that they could have gone about it [which were] probably been a little more respectful with the way they went about it."

The Brewers' problem became the Orioles' solution to their own problem of trying to find an experienced ace to anchor the team's rotation following a 101-win 2023 season.

The two players the Brewers acquired in the trade, DL Hall and Joey Ortiz, have already played against their former Orioles' teammates. Ortiz started on Friday night at third base and went 3-5 with a triple, two RBI, and a run scored in Milwaukee's 11-1 win over the Orioles. Hall started the second game of the three-game series on Saturday and struggled, allowing five earned runs on eight hits over only 3.1 innings. Hall surrendered home runs to former teammates Ryan Mountcastle, Jordan Westburg, and Adley Rutschman, and did not pitch long enough to qualify for the win.

But for the second straight game, the Brewers' offense scored 11 times, with a three-run home run by Jake Bauers off of Dean Kremer putting Milwaukee ahead for good in the fourth inning and placing the Orioles on the brink of their first sweep in nearly two years. Standing between the Orioles and that sweep is Corbin Burnes, who faces his former team for the first time only 15 games into the season.

For Burnes, it may be "business as usual." But for the Orioles, they need their ace to shut down his former club to avoid a sweep and keep their early-season momentum going. Fortunately, there is no one the Orioles would rather have on the mound than Burnes, who is 2-0 with a 1.93 ERA in three starts this season.

Burnes' first pitch against his former team is at 1:35 PM on Sunday.