The addition of Chase Anderson via trade from the Diamondbacks has added another piece to an already crowded group of Brewers starting pitchers. I’m going to take a look at possible rotation scenarios and reasoning behind who will likely begin the season in the Brewers starting rotation.
For starters, here are the people who appear to be locks heading into spring training barring any injury or trade:
Jimmy Nelson– Returning for his second full season as a starter, Jimmy Nelson will look to improve on a season where he went 11-13 with a 4.11 ERA. The former top prospect has performed at every level, and with another year of experience should be able to top his number from 2015. Things to look for would be how he returns after being hit in the head by a line drive late last season and also if he can lower the number of batters he hits. He hit a league high 13 batters last season.
Wily Peralta– The big right hander had his worst season as a full time starter last year when he went 5-10 with a 4.72 ERA. The good news is he’s still young (will be 27 this season) and has above average pure stuff, so there’s still plenty of time for him to turn it around. Maybe a new coaching staff will help him get back to the level he was in 2014. There’s too much talent here for the staff not to give him another year to stick in the rotation, even after a down season. Look for an ERA in the upper 3’s this season.
Chase Anderson– Anderson finished last year with a 6-6 record and 4.30 ERA for Arizona, and his career FIP of 4.17 suggests something similar to his 4.18 career ERA is a reasonable expectation. At 28 this season he’s not at an age where numbers should begin to dip, and it’s possible that change of scenery and new approach could improve his numbers (See Jake Arrieta between the Orioles and Cubs). He does seem to give up a decent number of home runs though, which may not play as well in Miller Park.
Here are people who have a foot in the door to the starting rotation and would have to perform poorly in spring training to lose their spot:
Matt Garza– Yes, Matt Garza is almost a guarantee to begin the season in the rotation despite going 6-14 with a 5.63 ERA last season. He is still owed 12.5 million this year, and will be the only starter on the 40 man roster with more than 3 full years of experience. Prior to last season he had gone 8 straight years with a sub 4 ERA, and at 32 years old should still have plenty left to give.
Taylor Jungmann– The tall righty was the bright spot of the season in 2015, outperforming his AAA numbers upon getting to the bigs. His number started to dip towards the end of the year and finished at 9-8 with a 3.77 ERA. It’s possible that the year end performance drop could be attributed to the increased number of innings he pitched over the course of the year. Look for the staff to give him another long look this year.
People who have an outside shot at a rotation spot if someone falters, gets traded or gets injured:
Zach Davies: The lanky righty gave a 6 start sneak preview last year and performed admirably, going 34 innings with a 3.71 ERA. Given that he’s had the most time in the majors he will likely be the first fill-in should one of the starters go down. Look for him to begin the year at AAA.
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Jorge Lopez– As the Brewers top pitching prospect, Lopez will compete for a spot during spring training, but will likely begin the year at AAA to continue his development. His domination of AA last year did lead to a late call up in which he gave up 6 runs in 10 innings.
Pitchers destined for the AAA rotation barring the dramatic include Tyler Cravy, Adrian Houser, Josh Hader and Chris Capuano (Also a potential bullpen candidate).
Do you agree with my predictions? Let me know your opinions in the comments!