Well, as of lately, it became more and more apparent that Zack Greinke’s Milwaukee Brewer days were coming to a close. The few teams that had a heavy interest in him were the Atlanta Braves, the Texas Rangers and the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim. In the end, the Angels won, sending shortstop Jean Segura and two Double-A pitchers in Ariel Pena and Johnny Hellweg to the Brew Crew. From what I’ve heard from the Angels’ side, they apparently gave up way too much for a rental player in Greinke, but hey, that benefits us right? Now our focus is how does our rotation rebound from this? Obviously Mike Fiers has been pulling more than his fair share of the weight. Yovani Gallardo’s season has had its ups and downs. Randy Wolf has been below average all season, getting tagged sometimes for five or more runs a game. Shaun Marcum had another setback in his bullpen session last Tuesday, so his return is up in the air. The last piece of the rotation, Marco Estrada, just does not look comfortable in that role. So going into next year, how do the Brewers piece this rotation together?
In his outing last night, Fiers absolutely shut down the red hot Washington Nationals. Ever since he was called up this season, Fiers has looked impressive. His 4-4 record is really unfair, and should be more like 7-1 considering his 1.77 ERA and 67 strikeouts. Will he perhaps be a Brewers’ ace in the years to come? It’s hard to tell, because at 27, Fiers was always considered an older prospect and at this age is when guys are typically in their prime. However, much like Jamie Moyer said, age is a mental thing. So there’s the possibility that in years to come, Fiers may turn into that dominant pitcher that we had in Greinke.
So, what about the rest of the rotation? Well, Gallardo obviously will retain his first spot in the rotation without question, but beyond that it’s a mystery. Do the Brewers try and keep Marcum after the season’s over? Well, at this point, you’ve got nothing to lose and Marcum’s experience with starting is only a positive for the rotation. As for Wolf, unless you feel the need to resign a veteran arm, his days may be done in Milwaukee. If so, it was great to have Wolfie, but the Brewers must rebuild with younger arms.
For Tyler Thornburg, I think he’s done a pretty decent job outside of his debut. To send him back down to the minors isn’t really a viable option at this point and really, who else are you going to turn to? Another minor league player? Even if Thornburg is in the rotation, he might be a fourth or fifth guy depending on keeping Marcum and how Chris Narveson will do.
I do have a speculated 2013 rotation, but it’s more ideal than anything:
I don’t think Estrada should be a starter. He’s needed in that bullpen, which is also another area of concern. The Brewers must get rid of Manny Parra and Jose Veras. We’ll see how Livan Hernandez and Jim Henderson do, that is if we even decide to keep them. We do have options like Mike McClendon to go to or even Wily Peralta, but personally, I don’t think Peralta is quite ready yet.
There’s also the two pitchers we received from the Angels, Hellweg and Pena. Both pitchers are currently in Double-A and may just be a short time away from making an MLB debut. I think for now if they do, it has to been in the bullpen. Resigning Marcum is one of the biggest priorities now and if he’s back in the rotation, well then I think you have four out of the five rotation spots set in stone. With that possibility, there would be no room for Pena and Hellweg in the rotation.
So, can the Brewers rebound without Greinke? Yes, and with guys like Fiers, it definitely builds hope. It’s been a different type of season in Milwaukee and maybe another rebuilding off season is what we need. Can this be a contending team? Certainly, but it depends ultimately on the pitching. Our offense has been stepping it up ever since June and the pitching hasn’t. With one of our best players now gone, the rotation falls on the shoulders of guys who must follow in the footsteps, or even better, create their own dominant path as the team goes forward.
Until next time, go Brew Crew!