The Milwaukee Brewers could have left-hander Wade Miley ready to return by the first week of May. Could Miley bump Brent Suter out of the bullpen?
Wade Miley appeared to have a spot in the starting rotation locked up. He was diagnosed with a slight tear of his left groin muscle. Miley chose to stay with the Milwaukee Brewers and work his way back instead of opting for free agency. Miley made his first Minor League rehab start last week, and is on track for a return to the Majors in a few weeks.
When he’s ready to return, someone has to get bumped from the rotation. Right now, it looks like Brent Suter is the most likely candidate. Should Suter head to the bullpen or down to Triple-A when Miley comes back?
How close is Miley to a return?
He threw 37 pitches at Double-A in his first rehab start. Miley struck out two, gave up four hits, and was tagged for a few unearned runs. He still needs to build up his arm strength, but he could return in the first week of May.
Why bump Suter from the rotation?
There are a few reasons why Suter is the most likely candidate to move out of the starting rotation.
First, he owns a 5.68 ERA after five starts. Suter does have a 19:6 K:BB ratio, but he gives up a ton of hits. Some of those hits are just balls finding holes in the defense instead of gloves, but they have really added up.
Suter also isn’t getting ground balls like he did last year. In his first 25 1/3 innings of work, his ground ball rate is only 28.2%. He posted a ground ball rate of 45.2% last year. Part of that is a small sample size, but it also indicates that hitters have changed their approach to Suter, and he needs to adjust.
Suter also has experience in coming out of the bullpen. He worked eight games out of the bullpen last year, and 12 in 2016.
He’s also simply the most logical candidate to move out of the rotation right now. Chase Anderson and Zach Davies aren’t going anywhere. Jhoulys Chacin was the Milwaukee Brewers biggest free agent signing during the off season. He’s not leaving the rotation for another month or so. Junior Guerra has looked solid in his first two starts, and has earned a longer look in the rotation.
Miley is still a few weeks away, but Suter has to notch a few quality starts if he wants to stay in the rotation past Cinco de Mayo. He’s moved away from his fastball, and thrown his change up and curve more often this year. While his fastball only averages about 86 MPH, it was his most effective pitch last season. Perhaps returning to the usage patterns he used last year will improve his results.