I will be the first to admit that I never expected this from Michael Blazek. While I was thrilled that the Milwaukee Brewers were able to acquire him for John Axford back in 2013, I never expected that Blazek would ever become a strong starter.
My vision of Blazek was that he would become a solid mid-to-late inning reliever who possibly had potential to become a future setup man. But this spring he has proven to be much more. Given a chance to start, Blazek has opened eyes this spring and as he enters Sunday as the starter he still has an outside shot of making the opening day roster.
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The turn around for Blazek started last season. While he struggled coming out of the bullpen during the first half of the AAA season, he excelled as a stater in the second half. Coming out of the ‘pen, Blazek went 0-3 in his first 20 appearances, allowing 18 runs (16 earned) in 25 innings of work. But as a stater things rapidly began to change. Starting in 17 games, he went 4-1 with a 3.62 ERA. During this time he also saw both his WHIP and opposing batting average drastically fall. These great numbers allowed him to finish the year with a much more respectable 4.13 ERA.
The 26-year-old prospect has continued to roll this spring. In six games (one start) Blazek has gone 13.2 innings while posting a 3.29 ERA and a 1.024 WHIP. He has pitched so well that he is not only being given the start for tomorrow’s game, but as Tom Haudricourt tweeted, he is also still an option for a roster spot as the season begins.
I don’t see Blazek making the opening day roster, but his solid spring has helped to give confidence if he is needed at some point to pitch on the major league roster this season. No longer is he just a bullpen option, but he has also proven that he can be contributor in the rotation as well. Blazek didn’t look to be an option as the spring began, at least in my opinion, but by excelling all spring he has turned me into a believer. With a big final start of the spring approaching, I now fully expect him to be on top of his game.