If you are keeping track at home, that makes four Brewers currently on the Disabled list. Marco Estrada underwent tests yesterday after he had to leave his last start after only one inning after what he described as a “pop” in his quad.
Milwaukee trainers originally said it appeared to be a hip flexor strain, but it turned out to be a strain in his quadriceps muscle. He was placed on the 15-day Disabled List and is now slated to return in mid-June. This means that he will miss a few of starts and, possibly, that the fifth starter slot on the Brewers rotation is cursed.
So where does Milwaukee go from here? Well, earlier today pitcher Mike McClendon was called up from Nashville to take his spot on the roster. So far in Triple-A, McClendon is 2-2, with a 4.19 ERA and four saves in 19.1 innings pitched. Early speculation from Brewers sources and talking heads is that Manny Parra will take over as the fifth starter, though Roenicke and company will have a little time to cement that in. Parra is the obvious choice as a fifth starter on the Brewers roster right now, but he is likely to give us fans little more comfort than if Estrada had stayed in the slot. Estrada wasn’t fantastic by any means, but he ate up innings and gave a decent performance in most of his starts this year. Parra, by contrast, has had a very rough go at it of late out of the bullpen. He is beginning to strike more batters out, and maybe a move back to the starter’s role will help him get in a rhythm.
All of this has gone to prove that the Brewers are not nearly as deep as anyone thought, and surely nowhere near as stocked as they were during their 2011 championship run.
Even though the Brew Crew has strung together some successful campaigns, and the fans are coming in droves, Milwaukee still struggles financially to hold on to talent due to the constraints of a small media market. Players like Hairston, Hawkins and Saito proved that they were worth holding on to – and shelling out for – when you look at the general disarray of the team right now. Veteran talent like that, especially in the bullpen, can go a long way in settling a team’s nerves and that’s something Milwaukee just doesn’t have.
The real problem is that our farm system is currently stocked with decent relief pitchers, and the
players who will become starters – like Fiers, Jungmann, Thornburg, Bradley and Peralta are simply not ready yet. I do expect to see both Fiers and Peralta up again to Milwaukee at sometime this year, but they will likely remain in limited roles with the team. By the time they come up it might be too little too late regardless of how they fare.
While the Brewers still have a lot of games to play and they are far from out of contention, the injuries and poor bullpen performance certainly aren’t doing them any favors. McClendon is a solid call-up choice in my opinion and I think he may help settle that bullpen down. If he doesn’t, it’s going to make a steep climb even harder.