Brewers: P Corbin Burnes wins NL Cy Young Award

In this Year of the Pitcher, both Robbie Ray and Corbin Burnes completed their own kind of comebacks.

Ray rebounded from a dismal season that saw him take a rare pay cut to win the AL Cy Young Award with Toronto while Burnes returned from an early bout of COVID-19 with Milwaukee to win the NL’s top pitching prize Wednesday.

“Everyone has their story,” Burnes said during a conference call.

Burnes led the majors with a 2.43 ERA and edged out Philadelphia’s Zack Wheeler. They both got 12 first-place votes from members of the Baseball Writers’ Association of America, but Burnes drew 14 seconds to Wheeler’s nine.

Burnes pitched 167 innings, the fewest for a Cy Young-winning starter in a non-shortened season, and struck out 234. Wheeler struck out 247 — one shy of Ray’s big league-leading total — and topped the majors with 213 1/3 innings.

“Everyone’s case,” Burnes said, “was different.”

And in a sign of just how much voters have moved past simply win-loss records while crunching new-era stats, Dodgers lefty Julio Urías posted the most victories in going 20-3, but finished a distant eighth and didn’t get a single top-four nod.

Max Scherzer, who pitched for Los Angeles and Washington, finished third in the NL and Dodgers ace Walker Buehler was fourth.

Burnes became the first Brewers pitcher to earn the NL honor — Pete Vuckovich in 1982 and Rollie Fingers in 1981 won the award when Milwaukee was still in the American League.

Ray got 29 first-place votes and became the first Toronto pitcher to win since the late Roy Halladay in 2003. Yankees ace Gerrit Cole drew the other top vote and finished second and Chicago White Sox righty Lance Lynn was third.

Ray went 13-7 in 32 starts and helped keep Toronto in playoff contention until the final weekend.

Burnes was 11-5 and an All-Star for the NL Central champion Brewers. His innings count was lower than his competitors, owing to him missing two weeks in early May after testing positive for the coronavirus.

In his first season as a full-time starter, Burnes struck out a record 58 before issuing his first walk. He tied the major league mark by fanning 10 in a row against the Cubs in August.

Burnes combined with closer Josh Hader on a no-hitter against Cleveland in September. Burnes struck out 14 over eight innings in that game — it was the record ninth no-hitter in the majors this season, topping the eight set in 1884 when pitchers began throwing overhand.

Burnes had an 8.82 ERA in 28 relief appearances and four starts in 2019, then was 4-1 with a 2.11 ERA during the virus-shortened season when he was hampered by an oblique strain. He came back to lead the majors with 12.6 strikeouts per nine innings this year.

“You always have to evolve,” he said.