Coming into the 2015 season, perhaps the biggest question mark surrounding the Milwaukee Brewers was a lack of starting pitching depth. The rotation was led reliable veterans Kyle Lohse and Matt Garza and was filled out by the relatively inexperienced trio of Wily Peralta, Jimmy Nelson, and Mike Fiers. The last place Brewers obviously didn’t compete as hoped, and now with a little less than two weeks remaining in the season the starting rotation looks completely different.
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The first starter we said “so long” to was Mike Fiers, who had been the Brewers’ most reliable pitcher before being included with Carlos Gomez in the blockbuster deal with Houston. Lohse, who was the worst starting pitcher in the National League during the first half of the season, was removed from the rotation in early August and sent to the bullpen. The Brewers removed Garza from the rotation in the beginning of September after his own horrid season, but he refused an assignment to the bullpen is no longer with the team this season after going home to be with his expectant wife. Jimmy Nelson was hit in the head with a line drive last week, and was shut down for the rest of the season as a precaution. Finally, yesterday we learned that Wily Peralta won’t pitch again in 2015 due to oblique tightness.
The numbers on the Brewers’ Opening Day starting rotation read like this:
30 G || 11-13 W/L || 177.1 IP || 148 K || 65 BB || 18 HR || 4.11 ERA || 3.90 DRA || 2.4 WARP
21 G || 5-9 W/L || 118.0 IP || 121 K || 43 BB || 14 HR || 3.89 ERA || 4.08 DRA || 1.9 WARP
20 G || 5-10 W/L || 108.2 IP || 60 K || 37 BB || 14 HR || 4.72 ERA || 5.92 DRA || -1.15 WARP
26 G || 6-14 W/L || 148.2 IP || 104 K || 57 BB || 23 HR || 5.63 ERA || 5.38 DRA || -0.64 WARP
35 G || 5-13 W/L || 148.1 IP || 107 K || 41 BB || 29 HR || 5.95 ERA || 5.61 DRA || -1.11 WARP
The Brewers announced through a series of tweets yesterday what the plan for the starting rotation would be for the rest of the season. Recently promoted Tyler Wagner will take the ball on Saturday against the Cardinals. Tyler Cravy, who made a spot start on Tuesday in place of Jimmy Nelson, will be the starter for Sunday afternoon’s series finale against St. Louis. After an off day Monday, the Brewers minor league pitcher of the year, Jorge Lopez, will make his debut on Tuesday starting in San Diego against the Padres.
The Brewers will employ a six man, all rookie rotation from here on out through the rest of 2015. Starting tonight in St. Louis, the rotation sets up like this:
1. Taylor Jungmann – 19 MLB starts
2. Ariel Pena – 3 MLB starts
3. Tyler Wagner – 1 MLB start
4. Tyler Cravy – 6 MLB starts
5. Jorge Lopez – 0 MLB starts
6. Zach Davies – 4 MLB starts
All six of the Brewers current starters are currently or have recently been ranked within the team’s top 30 prospects, so we’ll be getting a glimpse at the future over the next 11 days before the season ends on October 4th. I’m most excited about seeing Jorge Lopez, who Kiley McDaniel referred to as a top 50 prospect and Adam McCalvy called a “premium” pitching prospect in an interview on 105.7 in Milwaukee. He posted a 2.26 ERA and 54% ground ball rate in AA Biloxi this season, added some velocity on his fastball, and was hailed for the developments with his command and changeup to add to a devastating curveball.
After last night’s win behind Zach Davies, the Brewers now sit at 64-88 and are tied with Oakland for the fifth worst record in the MLB. As our friend Vineet Barot of Disciples of Uecker pointed out last night, it’ll be interesting to see how starting six rookies will affect the “tank standings” for the rest of the season as teams jockey for the best draft position (and bonus pool) as they can possibly get.