With Randy Wolf’s departure from Milwaukee, the Brewers will now have to turn to guys who haven’t had the experience that Yovani Gallardo and Shaun Marcum have. This year, Mike Fiers and Marco Estrada were basically thrown into their respective starting roles and for the most part, have done well. Estrada has looked incredibly strong lately and Fiers on the other hand has been tagged for 12 runs in his last seven innings pitched. With these four pitchers, this leaves a fifth and crucial spot open for the rotation. Do the Brewers give it to Chris Narveson? What about Tyler Thornburg? Going based on what we know as fans, most are willing to plead for Narveson, but in all honesty, he’s not the better option. Sure, Narvy has four years of experience in the MLB (which has been extremely lack luster), but coming off of a torn rotator cuff, he poses as a liability. Thornburg on the other hand is much younger and shows a lot of promise for this ball club.
Thornburg’s debut was really different. In my mind, Ron Roenicke let Thorny go a little too long in the game even though it was evident he was running out of gas after five innings. Even though the Brewers went on to lose that game, Thornburg did not get a decision. Since then, Thornburg has mainly pitched out of the bullpen when he’s been up here. Now he’s expected to join the rotation sometime soon to replace Wolf’s void. Thornburg’s role will be the fourth man until Marcum comes back then Thorny will probably be knocked back to fifth, where I expect him to be next year if he starts.
Looking at his minor league stats this year, Thorny was actually promoted from Double-A Huntsville to Triple-A Nashville. In Double-A, Thornburg was 8-1 with a 3.00 ERA and he had 71 strikeouts in 75 innings pitched. What’s also impressive is he held batters to a .212 average. When he was promoted to Triple-A, he went 1-1 with a 2.25 ERA and had 27 strikeouts through 24 innings pitched. Thornburg’s role in Triple-A also seemed to be more or less what I think the Brewers should do with him, have him pitch four to five innings each start until he’s confident and ready to go longer.
Fighting for that fifth spot in the rotation is a little more crucial now. The biggest thing about Thornburg’s role will be whether or not Marcum is resigned. If he is resigned, then I assume we will see Thornburg, Narveson or even Mark Rogers fight for that fifth spot. If Marcum is not resigned however, then both Thornburg and Narveson make the rotation. Making Thornburg a bullpen guy is not an option and it’s something I would hope the Brewers know. He’s a guy who can fill in for the rotation and perhaps earn himself a regular job.
Now, is Thornburg perfect? Hardly, he’s young and he’s had virtually no MLB experience. He’ll be facing some powerful NL line-ups, but hey, you’ve got to start somewhere right? However, Thornburg makes a difference, and a huge difference at that. He’s only 23 and is the youngest pitcher in this rotation behind Gallardo. Thorny has a lot of time to settle down and establish himself as a pitcher. If he’s not quite ready yet, then there are guys to temporarily hold the fort down. Going into next year and perhaps seasons beyond 2013, Thornburg needs to be prepped to be an eventual two or three in the rotation. Fiers has become more human in his blow-ups lately and Gallardo can’t do all the work himself. Thornburg is the guy that the Brewers should turn to because there’s a lot of positives about this young kid.