Despite all the hoo-ha of Zack Greinke making a comeback with the Milwaukee Brewers, the reality of the situation has set in. GM Doug Melvin has acknowledged that the Brewers aren’t the frontrunners for Zack, nor will they be for any huge free-agent. That said, the Brewers do need a second starter in this rotation. Yovani Gallardo is currently the only pitcher in the rotation who has a year or more experience starting. Guys like Mike Fiers, Mark Rogers, Wily Peralta and Marco Estrada haven’t had the same experience so on paper, it’s hard to make any of them a solid number two in this rotation. The Brewers have also said they will be rather quiet at the Winter Meetings which are currently going on, but that doesn’t mean they’re going to roll over dead either.
Explore the free agent options
The biggest name associated with the Brewers as of late is Ryan Dempster. We’ve talked about Dempster before on here and how his veteran presence, alongside his success at Miller Park, would bolster this rotation in many ways. Lately, Dempster has made it know that he wants a three-year deal, something that Melvin has been somewhat leery about before.
Brandon McCarthy is also another known free-agent who needs a home. Before his terrifying injury on September 5th, McCarthy was having a pretty tremendous year in Oakland. Unfortunately he was unable to finish the season, but had he not suffered that head injury, he would’ve ended the season the same way he started it, strong. In 2012, McCarthy had an 8-6 record with a 3.24 ERA, a 1.25 WHIP and had 73 strikeouts in 111 innings pitched. He was a solid number one in the A’s rotation and could do wonders as a two in the Brewers’ organization.
While there are many other options out there, such as Dan Haren, Anibal Sanchez or maybe even Daisuke Matsuzaka, the other pitcher the Brewers should consider is Edwin Jackson. What Jackson can bring to this rotation, especially as a number two, is varying degrees of success. That isn’t to say that Jackson is a bad pitcher, but he’s had seasons back to back that have been all over the place. He’s only made three starts in Miller Park, but was impressive in those starts. In 2012, Jackson was a part of the pitcher-heavy Washington Nationals and had 10-11 record with a 4.03 ERA, a 1.22 WHIP and 168 strikeouts in 189.2 innings pitched.
Make a trade or two
Let’s get one thing straight, going forward, the Brewers aren’t going to be noted for huge block-buster trades. Still though, if the price is right and the deal is solid on both sides, then why not try for one? There a few options out there that the Brewers could indeed trade for, but it’s how much do we give up, that will ultimately make our decision in the end.
Two pitchers in particular that the Brewers could consider trading for in the future are Jeremy Hellickson and Derek Holland. What both pitchers offer are young, successful arms that have pitched in the thick of some pretty close division races. Hellickson, a 2011 Rookie of the Year recipient, has dominated hitters ever since his arrival and was in the trade talk earlier this off-season. The Tampa Bay Rays need offense and bad, so perhaps a pitcher or two may be traded to achieve that. With the Rays surrounding themselves mainly around David Price, Matt Moore and Alex Cobb, that makes Hellickson or even James Shields, potential trade bait targets and who knows, maybe the Brewers can peak some interest.
With Holland though, his stuff has sometimes been all over the place, despite being well over .500 in the past two seasons. Maybe it’s the fact that with the Texas Rangers‘ heavy powered offense that they can back-up a pitcher’s mistakes, but Holland has some, but not too many, issues. However, he did throw a total of four complete game shutouts in 2011 so he’s got some good stuff. 2012 showed the MLB a 12-game winner in Holland, but he had a 4.67 ERA to boot. He has postseason experience as well and that’s always a valuable asset.
Go from within
This option may be the most realistic if the Brewers are unable to come to terms with say Dempster or any other free agent. This road presents not only a better insight into our organization, but also we run the risk of rushing guys through the minors up to the majors. If Fiers’ wacky season is any indication of what may come, then perhaps the Brewers should go with who they have for now and just bear it until something new happens.
Out of the pitchers we saw this year, the one the Brewers should feel comfortable using in a bigger role should be Peralta. Even in the minors, Peralta was thought to be a dominant starter someday in the majors and the fact that he pitched well in the time allotted in September shows us something positive. Fiers will probably be right there alongside Peralta, but both will more than likely be at the back-end of the rotation.
For guys like Tyler Thornburg, Rogers and Estrada, depending on how full the bullpen is, they may see their roles go in between relief and spot-starting. All three became somewhat familiar with the concept this season, so there’s some hope for this pitching staff.
Looking down the road, guys like Johnny Hellweg, Ariel Pena, Jimmy Nelson and Nick Bucci present interesting cases to make a splash. Now whether their roles will be suited for the bullpen or starting rotation may be a little unknown at this point, but Nelson in particular shows a lot of promise as a starter.
The Brewers have options to work with, it’s just a matter of how they deal with them that will spell out the future of this team.