As the hot stove heats up, Milwaukee Brewers GM David Stearns has decided to stay off the radar, and hasn’t made any noticeable moves. With the Winter Meetings next week, the Brewers could find one or two new starters. But they already have a starter that most have forgotten about.
Many people like the Brewers as Jake Arrieta’s new home, but his asking price is high. He’s 32 years old, and since his marquee Cy Young season, he has regressed. However, instead of looking at the free agent market, we can look at a player that hasn’t received a lot of his attention since his 2016 rookie season, That would be right-hander Junior Guerra.
How did Junior Guerra’s career start off?
A late bloomer, Junior Guerra was signed all the way back in 2001 by the Atlanta Braves. He actually started as a catcher, but a failed PED test five years after his professional debut resulted in Guerra heading back to Venezuela.
He earned another shot at the Majors with the Chicago White Sox in 2015. The Brewers eventually claimed him off waivers. He started his 2016 season in Triple-A, but he earned a call up and immediately impressed.
Guerra, a primarily a fastball pitcher who mixes in a curveball and a splitter, dazzled with a 3.71 FIP. An unsustainable BABIP of .250 and an astounding ERA- of 66 meant that he was a legit starter. He had the potential of being major trade bait or an ace for the Milwaukee Brewers for years to come.
Big Expectations for Guerra
Guerra was the 2017 Opening Day starter. As a 31-year old sophomore, he had big shoes to fill for a young starting rotation. However, on Opening Day disaster struck. Guerra had an oblique strain that caused him to miss six weeks.
Guerra was never the same pitcher. He got demoted to the Minors later in the year, but got called up in September. As the Milwaukee Brewers were in a playoff chase, manager Craig Counsell never had the trust to put Guerra in. Guerra mainly worked in a bullpen role in September.
Can Guerra start again?
Junior Guerra has become a forgotten man. He was a great feel good story in 2016, but due to injuries, the odds are against him. With the Brewers having younger players that they feel confident with, Guerra could be one of the pitchers left out this off season.
As we all know, starting pitching is the number one priority for the Milwaukee Brewers this off season. Zach Davies and Chase Anderson are really the only two pitchers guaranteed to start. Stearns is looking to make a trade or a free agent acquisition. That means Guerra has an uphill path to a rotation spot.
With a team-friendly contract the Brewers have nothing to lose, but in the coming months we will know if Junior Guerra is part of the team’s future. Will his short career in the Majors abruptly end or will he sneak into a rotation spot? The answer remains to be seen this Spring.