The Milwaukee Brewers had some decisions to make in their rotation when the series winds down in Miami on Wednesday. After removing Matt Garza from the rotation Saturday, the team has announced that, Ariel Pena has earned his first major league start Wednesday.
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This year in Colorado Springs, Pena had an up and down season. Starting the year as a reliever, Pena went 2-1 with a 5.20 ERA. While several big innings helped to inflate these numbers, he struggled mightily pitching at home in the hitter friendly Colorado Springs. At home in 21 appearances (4 starts) Pena put up a 5.52 ERA compared to his 2.81 ERA on the road.
Recently, the hard throwing righty has been stretched out in the Colorado Springs’ rotation and he has done quite well. In seven starts he has a 2.37 ERA with 33 strikeouts in 30.1 innings of work. This has helped to lower his season ERA to a more respectable 4.20.
On the roster currently, there were not many intriguing options. Tyler Cravy has already struggled in several opportunities and Tyler Thornburg has bounced around as a starter and reliever for years. With Biloxi Shucker stars, Jorge Lopez and Tyler Wagner set to begin their AA championship run, Pena was the best option.
I still believe that with strikeout stuff, Pena still has a big future in the Brewers’ bullpen, but by getting some starts he will have a golden opportunity to get major league hitters out. After gaining confidence as he finished the season in Colorado Springs and earning his first big league win on Saturday night, this start can help him to build towards an even better 2016 as a possible flame-throwing arm in the backend of the team’s bullpen.