Sitting in first place in the NL Central coming out of the weekend, the Brewers have done a pretty good job of navigating the number of injuries that have continued to pile up in 2021. In a couple days, they will face a new type of test when it comes to replacing one of their main contributors.
Last Friday against the Cubs, starter Brett Anderson was pulled just eleven pitches into his fourth start of the season. Later in the weekend, it would be announced that not only would he be headed to the injured list, but the pitcher who replaced him in that game, reliever Josh Lindblom, would be joining him.
With the Brewers in the middle of a stretch of 17 games over 17 days, they won’t be able to get by without a temporary replacement for Anderson’s rotation spot. Lindblom likely would have been the pitcher to cover for Anderson, but that plan is out the window.
Here are three potential options to cover Brett Anderson’s No. 4 spot in the Brewers starting rotation.
1. LHP Brent Suter
When evaluating spot start options, why not look back to the king of spot starts for the Brewers in 2020? Brent Suter received four such opportunities last season and he excelled, putting up a 1.38 ERA and a 0.769 WHIP while leading Milwaukee to wins in three of the four games.
Suter is off to a solid start again in 2021, currently sitting at a 2.63 ERA and a 1.171 WHIP through 13 2/3 innings. He also last pitched on Saturday and could probably be ready to go for what would have been Anderson’s next start this coming Wednesday.
The risk here is pulling one of your most important relief arms from the bullpen when the Brewers will need as many of those as possible during this long stretch of games. But as long as he works a short start in tandem with another reliever, the plan could still work for Milwaukee.
2. RHP Drew Rasmussen
Sticking with the same theme, Milwaukee could instead go with another spot starter out of their current bullpen mix. Hard-throwing righty Drew Rasmussen doesn’t have a big league start to his credit yet, but he has experience doing so in the minors.
Rasmussen started 23 of 27 games back in 2019 during his only season in the Brewers minor leagues. Granted they were shorter outings, never longer than four innings, but Milwaukee was in the process of stretching him out in his return from a second Tommy John surgery.
Rasmussen pitched two innings of relief on Monday night against the Marlins, so he might be hard pressed to cover Anderson’s turn on Wednesday. But depending on how things shake out, the team could consider using him for a start farther down the road if Anderson ends up missing multiple starts.
3. RHP Jordan Zimmermann
With a lack of other starting options at the big league level, there’s a good chance Milwaukee taps into the minors to fill Anderson’s spot. Why not do that by adding a second Wisconsin native to the 26-man roster?
The Brewers took a flyer this offseason by signing Jordan Zimmermann to a minor league contract. He would be released by the Brewers before the regular season after being unable to win a rotation spot of his own, but then signed a new minor league deal shortly thereafter.
Zimmermann showed flashes of potential during Cactus League, but has had a rough go of it the last few years with a 5.83 ERA from 2017 to 2020. His long pedigree as a starter, however, could lead Milwaukee to lean toward deploying the two-time former All Star in the rotation.
We’ll see who the Brewers chose to fill Anderson’s shoes. Hopefully it only ends up being a one-time deal.