NL Notes: Brewers, Kimbrel, Burnes, Braves, McCann, Giants, Austin

Multiple reports over the past few weeks have linked the Brewers to free-agent closer Craig Kimbrel, though there have also been indications that the team doesn’t have the payroll available to sign the seven-time All-Star. However, owner Mark Attanasio didn’t slam the door shut on a potential Kimbrel signing Saturday, telling Tom Haudricourt of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel that whether the Brewers pursue the 30-year-old is up to general manager David Stearns. “He would help any team,” Attanasio said of Kimbrel, who’s reported asking price looks sane in light of his vast career accomplishments and current skill set.

  • Meanwhile, in the Brewers’ starting staff, right-hander Corbin Burnes is yielding home runs at a historic rate, Adam McCalvy of observes. Burnes surrendered three homers in each of his first three starts, making him the ninth pitcher since 1908 to be victimized to that degree, per McCalvy. Although Burnes owns a a ludicrous 64.3 percent HR-to-fly ball rate across 14 1/3 innings this season, manager Craig Counsell said the Brewers aren’t planning to pull the 25-year-old from their rotation. Rather, they had Burnes meet with members of their analytics department to determine whether his fastball, which has left the yard eight times this year, has become too predictable, Haudricourt tweets. The hard-throwing Burnes’ sudden homer proneness is particularly unexpected given that the former top 100 prospect seldom allowed HRs in the minors; further, the long ball didn’t haunt Burnes to an alarming extent during his 38-inning major league debut last season.
  • Braves catcher Brian McCann is aiming to come off the 10-day injured list April 17, the first day he’s eligible to return, David O’Brien of The Athletic reports. McCann landed on the IL with a right hamstring strain, temporarily derailing his homecoming season in Atlanta after just 19 plate appearances. Fortunately for the Braves, fellow backstop Tyler Flowers has come roaring out of the gates this year, which has helped offset McCann’s absence.
  • Giants first baseman/outfielder Tyler Austin may be heading for the IL, per Henry Schulman of the San Francisco Chronicle. Austin, whom the Giants acquired from the Twins on Monday, suffered a right elbow injury in a throwing drill on Friday and will go for an MRI. The 27-year-old has gone 3-for-9 with two walks at the outset of his Giants tenure.

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