Burns to start; Villanueva to bullpen

Burns to start; Villanueva to bullpen

PITTSBURGH -- Brewers right-hander Carlos Villanueva is being bounced back to the bullpen.

With rehabbing right-handers Dave Bush and Jeff Suppan still working their way back from the disabled list, the team is tabbing Mike Burns over Villanueva to start Saturday at Washington. Barring a setback for either of the injured pitchers, it should be the last time the Brewers need a fill-in starter.

Villanueva last pitched Monday against the Pirates, when he lasted only four innings and surrendered two home runs on the way to his 10th loss this season. Burns last started on Saturday against the Astros, and allowed just two runs in seven innings for the win.

"It's just the way the season's gone," Villanueva said. "I think I've been all right stepping in. By my count I went 3-for-5 [in terms of] actually giving the team a chance to win. I'm going back to where I started, eat some innings up, and hopefully I can help there more than I am right now.

"Burnsy earned it," Villanueva added. "His schedule has been as tough as mine, having to stop, start. I have to go wherever they need me, and I'm not going to complain."

Manager Ken Macha said there was no consideration given to bringing back Bush, who is scheduled to test his right triceps in a final rehab start for Double-A Huntsville on Saturday, to face the Nationals. Bush struck out four in three scoreless, hitless innings on Tuesday at Class A Wisconsin but topped out at 86 mph, and the Brewers would like him to build more strength in another Minor League outing. If it goes well, he could take Burns' spot in the rotation on Aug. 27.

Suppan could return two days earlier. He pitched for Wisconsin last weekend and is scheduled to start for Triple-A Nashville on Thursday. That lines him up to return Aug. 25 for the opener of a series against the Reds at Miller Park.

By Friday, Villanueva will be back in the bullpen. He entered the year with a 3.94 ERA in the big leagues but is 2-10 with a 6.25 ERA, including 2-7 with a 6.18 ERA in relief and 0-3 with a 6.38 ERA as a starter. He's eligible for salary arbitration for the first time this winter.

Will he take anything positive from this season?

"I helped some games," Villanueva said. "Obviously, you look at the numbers and it's not pretty. This is the first time in my career that I've struggled, that I haven't been able to be consistent for a long period of time. It's something that I obviously don't want to go through, but it's been a learning process.

"I honestly can say that I haven't beat myself too much. I hate losing. I hate going through what we're going through. But at the same time, I've been able to bounce back. I haven't shut down and said, 'The season's over. I'm done.' I haven't even thought about that."

Adam McCalvy is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.