Jhoulys Chacin has clearly separated himself as the best starting pitcher in the Milwaukee Brewers rotation. But behind him are a bunch of question marks. Who is the next best starter?
This is going to be an important question during the final month of the season. Jhoulys Chacin can’t start every single game for the Milwaukee Brewers. There needs to be a second reliable pitcher for Craig Counsell to go to when he needs to win a big game.
So far, no one has really stepped up as that clear No. 2 starting pitcher behind Chacin. Someone is going to have to during the month of September or the Brewers don’t stand a chance of making the playoffs.
Let’s take a look at the candidates.
Anderson was the Brewers’ Opening Day starter and signed a four year extension last offseason. He was supposed to be the go-to guy this season, but his struggles left the door open for Chacin.
Overall, Anderson has a 4.04 ERA through 26 starts this season. His 2.74 ERA performance last year is looking more like an outlier than a career turnaround.
Also, this season Anderson has the unfortunate tendency to groove a couple fastballs right down the heart of the plate in each game. He’s allowed nine home runs in his last five games. His 28 home runs allowed are most in the NL this season. Pitching in Miller Park as a fly ball pitcher has not been favorable.
Make no mistake, Anderson is a fly ball pitcher, and his home run/fly ball ratio this year is at a career high 12.9% compared to 7.1% last year.
While he’s been able to limit the damage for the most part, if the offense doesn’t score a ton of runs, the Brewers could be behind very quickly.
Guerra hasn’t been bad this year. After struggling in 2017, Guerra’s split-finger looks to be more effective in 2018 and it’s improved his results. He actually had a sub-3.00 ERA for a decent chunk of the season back in June.
But lately, Guerra has struggled. He’s allowed five runs or more in 4 of his last 7 starts. His ERA has jumped from 2.79 all the way up to 3.72 in that time.
The Milwaukee Brewers have also lost Guerra’s last three starts and five of his seven starts post-All Star break. The Crew is now 12-12 in Guerra’s starts this season.
With the way he’s pitching right now, there’s no way he can be considered the second best starting pitcher in this rotation.
Miley has been a pleasant surprise this season. A spring training pickup, not much was expected of Miley coming over from Baltimore, where he struggled mightily in 2017. But his 2.32 ERA over 10 starts has been a shot in the arm for this rotation.
However, regression is coming for Miley. In his last start, Miley allowed 10 hits but only gave up two runs. He was lucky to get through that outing with as few runs as he did. He only throws strikes about 61% of the time, which is the lowest in the rotation. He isn’t walking as many this year, but with that low of a strike percentage, that’s bound to change.
Miley is also benefitting from a .276 BAbip against him. That’s 36 points lower than his career average and indicates he’s been extremely lucky so far.
Miley is a ticking time bomb. If he’s the Crew’s second best starter behind Chacin by the time we get to October, I would be extremely surprised.
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The youngest member of this rotation is 22 year old Freddy Peralta. He’s shown bouts of inconsistency through his 13 starts this year. One game he could walk five batters and allow seven runs while only pitching three innings, and then he’ll go out and throw seven shutout innings, walking only two.
While his inconsistency is frustrating, he may be the only pitcher currently in this rotation with a ceiling of a No. 2 starter. But is he someone that the Milwaukee Brewers can depend on during the last month. As much as everyone would like to believe Peralta can handle the pressure of a playoff race in his age-22 season, it’s not a sure bet.
If Peralta can get around his issues in the first and fourth innings, he can become that consistent starter. He showed that in his last outing against the Reds, and he’s going to have to continue to put up performances like that and keep his pitch count down.
He struggles with his command and doesn’t throw many strikes. Patient teams will exploit that during September and potentially October.
Who is the second-best starter?
As difficult as may be to see, Chase Anderson appears to have the best chance to be lined up behind Jhoulys Chacin as the best in the rotation. Freddy Peralta is the other option. He has the stuff but his early struggles and command issues are worrying, especially when he would have to face high powered offenses.
With a Jhoulys Chacin-Chase Anderson 1-2 punch at the top of the rotation, the Milwaukee Brewers face a daunting task as they try to make it out of the crowded NL playoff picture. There aren’t any especially great teams, but there’s a lot of good teams with really good offenses that this pitching staff will need to shut down.
With more experience, Freddy Peralta could become that No. 2 starter, but with only 13 career starts under his belt, I’m not ready to declare Peralta the second best pitcher in this rotation. For the time being, it’s Chase Anderson, despite his gaudy home run totals.
The Milwaukee Brewers would have liked to have Jimmy Nelson back for this playoff run as it would have given them that frontline starter to pair with Chacin that they really need. But he’s not going to be able to contribute this year.