September baseball brings with the the ability to expand rosters. The Milwaukee Brewers have done so by adding seven players.
Five of the seven are pitchers. Many of the September call ups have already seen time with the Milwaukee Brewers this season. Some faces bring happy memories and the promise of future talent, while others have a bit of a shakier past associated with them.
One of these call ups is Junior Guerra.
After a great showing in 2016 , Guerra entered the season as the Opening Day starter. That unfortunately did not last all to long. He eventually went down to the minors, but not before a 4.96 ERA through 13 starts. As a call up he will most likely slide into a long relief role out of the bullpen. But he could slide into the back of the rotation as well. That decision will be left up to Craig Counsell.
It was not a surprise to see Guerra back on the Milwaukee Brewers. He can be a huge help or a end of year push to October. It isn’t as if he lost his ability. The strikeout rate remained essentially the same. His control failed him. 2016 campaign was masterful, but through about half the starts in 2017 his walk rate was up and he has hit more batters.
He looked like a completely different pitcher in triple A. His walk rate was down to 3.6 from 5.7 south Milwaukee. Less walks put his ERA at 2.10, That type of success, and hopefully adjustment, will bring confidence back to Guerra on the mound. If he performs in the MLB like he did in Colorado Springs, then the Brewers pitching staff will immediately improve.
To be fair, there were injuries that sidelined Guerra for a good portion of his time with the Milwaukee Brewers. It is not easy to be pitching in and out of injury. So, the minors was the right call. It was a chance to see if he could be consistent and healthy. The strikeout rates show he can still be a successful big league arm.
Fangraphs shows no real difference in his pitch usage. He is throwing his fastball a bit more in 2017, but that is only a fiver percent increase. The compensation is that he is throwing his splitter less. But with control issues it is natural to revert back to a fastball dominant mindset.
Looking back to last season, September was the strongest month for Guerra. He compiled a monthly low 1.88 ERA while allowing batters to hit only .219. That kind of late season success has the potential to pop up again in 2017.
The role for Guerra is still a question mark. If he can be the pitcher he was in 2016, and in Colorado Springs, he very well could be back in the rotation. I am sure he will at least get a shot. However, if he struggles again in a starting role, he may be limited to the bullpen. Either way he is back and has the potential to be very helpful for the Milwaukee Brewers pitching staff.