Issues with the Brewers starting pitching and where they may find help


It’s pretty obvious simply looking at the list of eight pitchers who have started for the Milwaukee Brewers in 2016 that quite a few things weren’t quite right. While some teams have used more than eight starting pitchers this season, it’s still a number most clubs would rather not have to see.

Moreover, every single pitcher that has started for the Brewers in 2016 has been a right-hander. While it’s not too common to hear of lefty-heavy starting rotations which usually indicates that three to possibly four of the starters being left-handed, it’s a bit more rare to find a five-man rotation without a single one. Having eight right-handed starters this season did not help the, already rebuilding, Brewers win any extra games.

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Chase Anderson. Getty Images.

Jimmy Nelson, 28, and Chase Anderson, 27, have been the team’s two most consistent starters this season starting 25 and 23 games, respectively. Neither starter had an ERA under 4.00. Both also had high walk rates with Nelson leading the National League in batters he’d hit by pitches with 16.

Twenty-three-year-old Zach Davies has been the team’s best pitcher overall, starting 21 games and posting an ERA of 3.80. His strikeout to walk ratio was a considerably better 3.20 compared to Nelson’s 1.67 and Anderson’s 2.17.

Junior Guerra, has been a complete surprise for the Brewers. Guerra, 31, was drafted in 2001 and is in just his second year in the big leagues after being picked up and later released by several teams until finally landing in Milwaukee, being selected off waivers from the Chicago White Sox in 2015. He’s posted a stunning 2.93 ERA, however, he’s been limited to just 17 starts due to inflammation in his elbow that currently has him on the 15-day disabled list.

An injury to veteran starter Matt Garza’s right lat muscle has kept him out most of the season and in the 12 starts he has made, he has an ERA over 4.00. Wily Peralta, who is the second most experienced pitcher on the starting staff next to Garza, has quite frankly had an abysmal year with his ERA currently at an inflated 6.00.

The other two starters Taylor Jungmann and Tyler Cravy have both made five or fewer starts and have astronomical ERA’s. Jungmann, who pitched well his rookie season with Milwaukee has a 9.15 ERA in just five games, all starts, this season.

Cravy, a rookie, has appeared in eight games for Milwaukee, seven of which were out of the bullpen. His one start was likely a spot start for Guerra. He’s allowed seven earned runs in those eight appearances leaving him with a 4.97 ERA over just 12.1 innings pitched.

Milwaukee is currently in rebuilding mode, trading away most of their star players – most notably left fielder Khris Davis to the Oakland A’s for their top catching prospect Jacob Nottingham and veteran catcher Jonathan Lucroy to the Texas Rangers for three minor league prospects. It is something which they will likely continue to do over the offseason (see post on Yasiel Puig and Ryan Braun).

It is easy to see them at least attempting to get Garza and his four-year $50 million contract off their books, but it may not be all that easy to do considering his injury history. Plus, the club would likely have to absorb some of his salary. Regardless of what happens with Garza, there will be a lot of changes within the next two, possibly three seasons for the entire team and most definitely for the starting rotation.

When you are rebuilding stockpiling prospects is the only way to go, unless of course you are the New York Yankees. Milwaukee has quite a few pitchers on their top 30 prospect list who will all be big league ready by 2018 but unfortunately for the time being there will likely only be one or two that we may get a look at in September once the big league rosters expand.

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Josh Hader. Getty Images.

Luckily the first prospect that is all but guaranteed a September call-up is the team’s number four ranked prospect and a left-handed starter. Josh Hader has electric stuff, being able to consistently hit the mid-high 90’s mark with his fastball. He also has a plus slider and can work both sides of the plate, especially since moving to the first base side of the rubber this season.

Hader does have the tendency to get a bit wild at times and will have to work a bit more on his off-speed offerings in order to be successful as a starter in the big leagues. Still, one thing is for sure and that is that help for the rotation in the form of a left-hander is mere weeks away for the ball club.

Don’t expect all of Milwaukee’s starting rotation issues to be solved over night or even in 2017 but within the next few seasons new troops will arrive to make their MLB debuts and hopefully help put the Brewers back into a place where they can contend for a postseason berth.

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