As Matt Garza’s rehab shows good signs he’ll be back next month, the question remains which starting pitcher will have to get the bad news and possibly get demoted?
When it was announced in late April, SP Matt Garza was going on the 60-day DL with a strained lat muscle, the Milwaukee Brewers knew they had time to find fill-ins for the starting pitcher position. But if all goes right for Garza, soon comes the tough decision for any GM to make the right call on who to give the bad news of a demotion, so let’s take a look at who would be the right choice at this point.
First, we can certainly say Jimmy Nelson is the ace of the staff and deserves even more credit for being a young 26-year old without being around a stable pitching unit. Then, there’s Chase Anderson. Although, he’s not like Matt Garza in any way with a heavy contract (4-year, 50 million), he’s still a veteran presence for the Milwaukee Brewers and someone like Jimmy Nelson to take advice from. (Plus, a near no-no doesn’t hurt.)
So, it comes down to the next 3 starters for GM David Stearns and manager Craig Counsell to decide on and I’ll rank them from least to most likely to be demoted (and most likely how most Milwaukee Brewers fans feel).
3. Junior Guerra – The word “ace” (by some on Twitter) to throw on any 31-year old who is just making his first appearance as a SP is pretty funny, but nonetheless he’s been very impressive. For sabermetrics fans (myself included), what he’s done to lead the team is very impressive. A 0.6 WAR, 3.80 xFIP, 8.64 K/9, and so on leads all the starters. Shutting out the Padres is one thing, but a solid 7 IP, 3 ERs, and 11 Ks against the Cubs is another. So, I can in no way argue against downgrading him back to AAA, but with such a small sample size, Milwaukee Brewers fans can’t get too excited as the more innings will give you more proof if he is indeed that good as 63.2 IP is the most he went with the White Sox in 2015 with just 8 starts included.
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2. Zach Davies – I wrote about him after his 2 starts hoping he would settle down and he did just that. He had 3 straight starts pitching at least 5 innings and giving up 2 ERs. But, in his last start, he gave up 4 ERs in 5.1 IP on the road against the Mets. It’s all about location for Davies and if he can continue to stay consistent during his next couple of starts, the Milwaukee Brewers might have to consider looking at other options on the rotation, but on the flip side he’s a young one that can always be called up later in the season.
1. Wily Peralta – Even after his start against the Mets, I expect most Milwaukee Brewers fans to think easily. “Umm…Wily Peralta. Duh.” But, don’t be so quick to think he’s for sure the option. First, Craig Counsell does have his back, wanting him to stay in the rotation. And his start was solid enough to keep the team in the game (5.2 IP, 3 ER, 6 Ks, 2 BBs). Not to say one start shows he’s back as other writers at RtB, Steven Jewell, have pointed out he might be suited well to go to the bullpen. But, if he turns in a few more solid outings right as Matt Garza is about to get back on the roster, GM David Stearns and company might have a tougher call then they thought.
To be honest, this is one of the toughest calls I think there is as today it might be easy to say Wily Peralta, but a few weeks from now when Matt Garza is ready to come back, Milwaukee Brewers fans might end up trying to flip a coin. When a team is winning like the Chicago Cubs, the roster moves can be fun to watch and considered minor, but these, not so much. I wouldn’t be surprised if the Milwaukee Brewers give Peralta another chance and Zach Davies ends up in AAA for awhile. But, that’s the only plus side to rebuilding is being able to let players take their time to get back what they once had (2014 for Peralta). I’m sure GM David Stearns has all cards on deck for the decision coming up.