Tyler Thornburg's delivery has been compared to that of Tim Lincecum. Mandatory Credit: Benny Sieu-USA TODAY Sports

The Brewer Rotation Battle Royale: Part Two

In part one of this topic, I discussed Wily Peralta and Mike Fiers‘ chances of making the rotation. In part two, I will finish up this discussion by bringing up three more candidates who have a shot to get into the rotation. The Milwaukee Brewers are team heading into 2013 that will need a lot of cohesion to happen. Can guys who pose a better shot at spot starting become a regular in the rotation, or will they be placed in long relief?

Catch part one here.

Chris Narveson hopes to rebound after missing the 2012 season. Mandatory Credit: Matt Kartozian-USA TODAY Sports

Chris Narveson – LHP

For the left-hander, 2013 looks like a year in which he can prove himself to be a huge part of the rotation. As Narveson missed 2012 due to an arm injury, his replacement in Marco Estrada found his niche easily. In 2013, Narveson looks to match what his replacement did, but will it be that easy for him? As the only left-handed starter on the team, and really one of the few in the entire pitching staff, his arm will be valued tremendously. That said, Narveson isn’t exactly what I would call a successful pitcher. Sure he’s a career 26-18 pitcher, but with a 4.67 ERA and 1.37 WHIP to boot. At 31, Narveson is heading into some rough territory especially as a starter with limited success.

Looking back at his past two full seasons (2010 and 2011), while he saw a decrease in his K/9 ratio (7.35 to 7.01) and an increase of his BB/9 ratio (3.17 to 3.62), he also saw a surprising drop in his FIP rating which went from 4.22 to 4.06. While a 4.06 FIP still is very average on a major league scale, it explains why Narveson also saw a decrease in opponent’s batting average (.261 to .253) and BABIP (.301 to .292). What does this exactly mean? Well, it means that Narveson wasn’t getting tagged as much as he let fewer balls be hit for homers in 2011 than he did in 2010. What does this say for him in 2013? Nobody knows, but I expect him to be a part of the rotation and so does Bill James.

Mark Rogers has a lot of versatility for this Milwaukee pitching staff. Mandatory Credit: Benny Sieu-USA TODAY Sports

Mark Rogers -RHP

Rogers presents an interesting case for this Milwaukee team. While he hasn’t exactly made a huge impact on the major league level yet, Rogers’ versatility was the key to keeping the Brewers somewhat afloat last season. In 2012, Rogers pitched in and only started seven games, but with that, he went 3-1, had an ERA of 3.92 and struck out 41 batters in 39 innings of work. What’s also impressive about Rogers was his opponent’s batting average of .240 and that he struck out 24.9% of the batters he faced while walking 8.5%.

Does Rogers fit in the 2013 rotation? Probably not unless there’s a significant injury or someone is slumping. He’s a great pitcher to fall back on and perhaps his biggest strength lies in the fact that he can pitch long and do it from a relief role too. James has Rogers’ pegged as a starter of 12 games in 2013, but Steamer Projections has him starting in 19 games but pitching in a total of 23. Regardless, Rogers is going to make some noise this season, especially if he can become a dominant long relief pitcher.

Tyler Thornburg – RHP

The thing about Thornburg is despite pitching in eight games last season, I still feel that we haven’t seen enough of him yet. No, I’m not proposing Thornburg be sent to the minors, but I just don’t get that same vibe for him that I do with Rogers. Out of those eight games, Thornburg started in three of them and was rather successful. Despite his first outing against the Toronto Blue Jays, where I felt he was left in too long, Thornburg did a nice job in the relief efforts that he was given. July was his biggest month in which he pitched 8.2 innings overall with a 4.15 ERA.

I don’t see a starting spot opening up for Thornburg, but it’s definitely not out of the realm of possibility either. He has three pitches in his arsenal, a fastball in which he used 63.8% of the time alongside a curve-ball and change-up. He was able to strike out 21.1% of the batters he faced, but to throw anything at these stats is hard to do with such a small sample size. I’m not sure how much we’ll see out of Thornburg in 2013, but I’d expect him to still be on the 25-man roster.

My prediction for the 2013 rotation in order:

Stats courtesy of FanGraphs.

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Tags: Chris Narveson Mark Rogers Milwaukee Brewers Tyler Thornburg

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