Milwaukee Brewers: Who will replace Jimmy Nelson?
By Isaac Buttke
Milwaukee Brewers starter Jimmy Nelson is expected to miss the remainder of the season after partially tearing his labrum and straining his rotator cuff in his right shoulder.
Although there are a number of candidates to start for the Milwaukee Brewers already in the big leagues. However, Adam McCalvy of MLB.com reported that General Manager David Stearns may opt to have a minor-leaguer fill the void.
As of now, the Brewers’ Triple-A affiliate in Colorado Springs is competing in the Pacific Coast League playoffs. This is keeping a number of their players from coming up to the majors for a September call-up. However, the Sky Sox’s success this season does signal that there a few viable options to head to Milwaukee and help with another playoff push. Who are the realistic candidates to come up to the big leagues?
Remember him? Jungmann turned heads in his first stint in the big leagues, producing a 3.77 ERA in 21 starts for the Brewers. However, the Milwaukee Brewers bumped him off the active roster after struggling in 2016 and 2017.
After all that, the former first-round draft pick is excelling in the Sky Sox’s rotation. In 17 appearances (15 starts), Jungmann possesses a 2.59 ERA while holding Triple-A batters to a .216 batting average. He’s still walking too many hitters, but a strong showing in such a hitter-friendly environment is hard to ignore.
Most people remember Blazek for one thing: serving up six homers against the Nationals in a big-league start back in July. What everyone fails to remember is how great he was out of the bullpen prior to that start. In four relief appearances for the Brewers, the hard-throwing right-hander didn’t allow a single earned run or a walk. He’s been working both in relief and in the rotation for the Sky Sox, which could help him fill a role similar to that of Brent Suter.
Derby was a relative afterthought in the trade that sent Khris Davis to the Athletics. However, after a rough first year in the organization, Derby is settling back in as a starter. Better yet, his strong starts are coming in the one of the most hitter-friendly environments in the minors.
The 23-year-old became a cog in the Sky Sox’s rotation by producing a 3.55 ERA and a 49:17 K:BB. He has little prospect pedigree and doesn’t have much upper-level experience, but this performance certainly would warrant a call-up.
Wilkerson had an outstanding season in Double-A Biloxi’s rotation, producing a 3.16 ERA and an 11-4 record in 24 starts for the Shuckers. His showing even got him a promotion to Triple-A in time for the PCL playoffs. The excellent performance could be attributed to his advanced age, though, so it may be time for the Brewers to get him to the big leagues and assess what they have in him.
His lack of success in Triple-A last season is a bit of a knock on him, though. However, the Brewers have had glimpses of success with previous age-advanced rookies. Just see how that worked out with Junior Guerra and Paolo Espino.
Ok, so maybe this one is a bit of a stretch. The 22-year-old split time between High-A Carolina and Double-A Biloxi this season, so a jump to the big leagues would be significant. However, Burnes’ performance alone warrants a long look.
In the Carolina League, he pieced together a 1.05 ERA in 10 starts. He followed that up in the Southern League by posting a 2.10 ERA with the Shuckers. His FIP and K:BB numbers suggest that much of this success is sustainable, so riding his hot hand into October may not be the worst idea for the Brewers.