Earlier today, Milwaukee Brewers’ manager Ron Roenicke named right-hander Tyler Thornburg as the front runner to be the fifth starter in 2014. However, he did say Thornburg would ultimately be competing for the job, but for now has been named into the rotation.
With Thornburg, 25, being tentatively named the fifth starter in the 2014, it will be interesting to see how he fares in the role. Throughout his short career, Thornburg has only had 10 starts in his first two years. Will Smith, Johnny Hellweg and others will be competing alongside Thornburg for the job next season.
This past year, Thornburg was 3-1 in 18 games (seven starts) and had an ERA of 2.03 in 66.2 innings. He posted a K/9 of 6.5 and a BB/9 of 3.5. Obviously his low strikeout rate compared to his rising walk rate brings room for concern, but some FanGraphs projections for 2014 see him at least increasing his K/9 to 7.72. The projections also see Thornburg as a primary starter, pitching 111 innings with an ERA of 4.31 in 17 starts.
One concern many scouts had regarding Thornburg was his 5’11”, 190 lbs build as a starter, but that has not seemed to phase him yet. Thornburg was an effective plug-in option for the Brewers this season and will try to remain that way heading into 2014.
He doesn’t offer a huge variety in his arsenal, just a fastball, curveball and change-up. His fastball had an average velocity of 92 mph in 2013, so some fine tuning during this current offseason and into Spring Training should help him improve the speed.
Roenicke’s announcement of making Thornburg the fifth starter for now, more than likely solidifies the fact that the Brewers are probably not in the market for a starting pitcher. Their interest still remains with first base and in the bullpen.
What do you make of Roenicke’s decision? Should Thornburg be the fifth starter, or should it be someone else? Let us know your thoughts in the comments.