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Milwaukee Brewers: Jimmy Nelson Healthy, Wants To Be Opening Day Starter

MILWAUKEE, WI - SEPTEMBER 01: Jimmy Nelson #52 of the Milwaukee Brewers pitches during the first inning against the Washington Nationals at Miller Park on September 01, 2017 in Milwaukee, WI. (Photo by Mike McGinnis/Getty Images)
MILWAUKEE, WI - SEPTEMBER 01: Jimmy Nelson #52 of the Milwaukee Brewers pitches during the first inning against the Washington Nationals at Miller Park on September 01, 2017 in Milwaukee, WI. (Photo by Mike McGinnis/Getty Images) /
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The Milwaukee Brewers can finally expect Jimmy Nelson to be healthy and ready to go for the 2019 season. And he has his eyes on the prize.

Brewers On Deck was on Sunday, and as usual, there was a decent amount of information that came out with nearly every player and executive in the same building. One of the big storylines for the Milwaukee Brewers for the past year has been the health of Jimmy Nelson.

Last year at Brewers On Deck, pitching coach Derek Johnson got our hopes up about Nelson, saying he could be back in the rotation as early as June. That obviously never happened as Nelson ended up missing the entire season.

This year, there was still optimism in the air about Nelson, but now he’s expected to be ready for Opening Day with a clean bill of health.

Jimmy Nelson Wants Opening Day

Not only does Nelson expect himself to be ready for Opening Day, he wants another task.

Jimmy Nelson wants to be the Milwaukee Brewers Opening Day starter. An admirable goal for sure, but it’s going to be an uphill battle for him since he missed all of last season. Not to mention the apparent curse Brewers Opening Day starters have been under the past couple years.

In 2015, Kyle Lohse started Opening Day and finished the year with a 5.85 ERA and was demoted to the bullpen. In 2016, Wily Peralta was the starter and he ended with a 4.86 ERA. In 2017, Junior Guerra started the first game of the year and was put on the DL before the sausages could race, missed six weeks, and finished with a 5.12 ERA. In 2018, Chase Anderson earned the nod and ended up allowing a league-high 30 home runs before getting pulled from the rotation at the end of the year for ineffectiveness and not appearing on either playoff roster.

So what could await Jimmy Nelson if he starts Opening Day? Hopefully nothing like his predecessors.

But He Is Healthy

Nelson is ready to go for spring training. He was cleared last October after throwing a few simulated games to some Brewers minor leaguers before being allowed to go through a regular offseason program.

Prior to his injury in September 2017, Nelson emerged as the Milwaukee Brewers ace starting pitcher, but now, after more than a year off the field, that title is in question. It remains to be seen how he’ll return from this injury, but he’s attacked his rehab well and with how competitive and intelligent he is, there’s little reason to doubt that he can get back to where he was. Perhaps he could be even better than before, who knows?

Nelson posted a 3.49 ERA in 2017 and if it weren’t for his injury early in September, the Brewers probably would’ve made the Wild Card that season.

As for who will end up being the Opening Day starter, it’s anyone’s guess at this point. Craig Counsell doesn’t even know and even if he did, he wouldn’t tell us right now. The leading candidate is probably Jhoulys Chacin, given his strong 2018 regular season and postseason.

It depends how spring training goes for all of the Crew’s starting pitchers, but don’t count Nelson out, either for the Opening Day gig or what he can do for the whole season. He’s hungry after missing a whole season and he’s ready to help take this team to the next level.

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The Milwaukee Brewers could’ve really used Nelson last year in the regular season and especially the postseason. But now, he’s ready to go for 2019 and beyond.

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