Right-handed starter Jimmy Nelson was selected in the second round of the 2010 draft by the Milwaukee Brewers, and although it took the better part of four-plus years of seasoning in the minor leagues, Nelson has arrived as arguably the top starter on the Brewers staff.
The 6’6″ 245-pound hurler made 12 starts in 2014 and got rocked in several of those, limping to final marks of a 2-9 record, with an ERA of 4.93 in 69 innings.
Adding a curveball to his repertoire, Nelson began the 2015 campaign in Milwaukee and pitched well at times, and not so well in other starts.
He had 11 ‘quality starts’ and allowed no earned runs in three straight starts in late July/early August spanning 20 2/3 innings.
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Nelson fared very well against right-handed batters, allowing a slash of .202/.275/.293. Southpaws were a different story, as they hit .302/.381/.495 against Nelson.
The University of Alabama product pitched well in three months, and fair-to-middlin’ in the other three, accounting for his ‘average’ final numbers of 11 and 13, with an ERA of 4.11.
Nelson made 30 starts, with his last coming on September 17 as he lasted only two innings, giving up five hits and four earned runs in a 6-3 loss to the St. Louis Cardinals. He left the game in the third inning after being drilled in the head by a line drive off the bat of Tommy Pham. After a few scary moments, Nelson walked off the field.
A CT scan later showed a contusion, meaning Nelson got off lucky. Very lucky.
He was shut down for the season by the Brewers brain trust and will pick up where he left off in Spring Training next year.
Nelson pitched 177.1 innings–the highest season total in his professional career. He finished with a WHIP of 1.286, a K/9 rate of 7.5 and a BB/9 rate of 3.3. With some seasoning of his newest pitch (the curve), that walk rate could drop off and his whiff rate could climb.
After going 0-for-59 at the plate in the minors, Nelson has helped himself out a bit, getting three hits in 2014 and going 6-for-55 last year, including a double and two RBI.
Nelson fielded his position well, making only one error in 30 total chances (.967), but allowed 24 steals in 30 attempts, making his catcher work a little harder.
Overall, Nelson had a solid season, with the ups and downs expected of a young hurler.
He should make a full comeback next year to anchor a young staff that has tons of potential.