Marco Estrada must step up in 2014


If the Milwaukee Brewers want any shot for the starting rotation to work out next season, Marco Estrada has become the center piece for that vast improvement, should they re-sign him through arbitration. 2013 had a lot of inconsistencies from Estrada, but if he irons those out, this rotation may stabilize.

That said, Estrada doesn’t have a lot of time to figure how to work out in a rotation.

Marco Estrada has been absolutely brilliant  since coming off of the DL. Mandatory Credit: Benny Sieu-USA TODAY Sports

The main problem Estrada faced in 2013 was pitching consistently. Sure, he was out for a good chunk of the season, but the first half and second half numbers show us a completely different pitcher.

At the beginning of 2013, Estrada was a wreck with an ERA of 5.34 in 12 starts before being placed on the 15-day disabled list after his June 3 start. Since his return on August 7, Estrada has been much better, posting a 2.65 ERA in only seven starts. Yes, there’s a five start different, but the point is Estrada showed the classic “tale of two pitchers” this year.

When Estrada went on the DL, he was 4-4 with an ERA of 5.32, just absolutely getting torched in most outings. After his return, Estrada not only picked up two more wins with no losses, but lowered his ERA to 4.26, which is rather impressive considering how battered the Milwaukee pitching staff had been this year.

Estrada has the stuff to be a solid three in a starting rotation, but in order to prove that, he must become more consistent once 2014 hits. The futures of starters Yovani Gallardo and Kyle Lohse may hang in the balance if the Brewers try to shop both of them this offseason, which is why Estrada has to become a guy that manager Ron Roenicke can depend on to give him seven or more solid innings.

Looking at the rest of the rotation, it’s certainly a mystery how they’d work if the Brewers were to lose both Gallardo and Lohse or just one of the two. Wily Peralta now just got his first full year of starting under his belt this season. Tyler Thornburg seems to thrive in the starter’s role, but hasn’t been given much of a chance. Any other spots in the rotation are absolutely blank, which is why going forward, Estrada needs to iron out his inconsistencies to help steer the rotation in the right direction.

The one positive Estrada has going is the increase in his K/9 of 1.17 to 1.50, because he has been mowing down a fair share of batters in 2013. It’s not extremely hard to compare Estrada’s 2012 to 2013 as he’s currently only 24.1 innings behind last year. In nearly every category across the board, Estrada saw dramatic rises which mainly can be attributed to his dreadful first half. Beyond that, the reason why these numbers came down to Earth was because of the tremendous second half he’s been having.

With the season nearly over at this point, Estrada will have at least two more starts and by the way he’s pitched since August, he’ll look to continue with his dominance. He’s not going out there with “ace like” stuff, but if he can carry over the success from this second half into 2014, that could be one silver lining for a starting rotation still so full of mystery.