When the season began, Ariel Pena was converted to the bullpen and I thought it was a great move. With the make-up of a late inning reliever, he looked to be the perfect fit in the midst of the Sky Sox bullpen. But after not getting the results they were looking for, he was moved back into the starting rotation and things have clicked again. Now a starter, Pena is putting together an impressive stretch that has turned him into one of the team’s best pitchers.
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The last year has been a wild ride for Pena. After being taken off of the 40-man roster this winter, Pena remained with the club and after a strong showing in spring training, he was set to Colorado Springs. There, like many of his teammates, Pena has struggled to put up strong numbers for much of the season.
Through the first month of the year, two lopsided outings spiked his ERA up to 6.17. Though he pitched better in the following months, he finished the first half with a 5.13 ERA and a 1.46 WHIP.
Since then however, Pena has been outstanding and a major reason for that shift has been his move to the starting rotation on July 30. As a starter Pena has gone 0-1 in six starts before tonight, but he has posted a 1.85 ERA. His August has been even better as he has a 0.84 ERA and a 0.84 WHIP. This strong finish has left a glimmer of hope that Pena can still be valuable piece on a future Brewers staff.
His biggest struggles so far in his minor league career has been his command. While he has been able to average nearly a strikeout per inning in his time in the minors, his 4.4 walks per nine innings has been the biggest issue. This season in his 76.2 innings of work he has walked 30 batters (a rate of 3.5 per nine innings). Though these numbers are not great on the surface, they are much improved from past seasons.
Pena’s stuff is electric. While I still see him as a future bullpen arm, his recent success being back in the Sky Sox rotation should help to boost his confidence and continue to push towards his future in Milwaukee.