You could practically see this coming. With the Brewers starting rotation being full of dominant performers right now and a glaring hole in the back end of the bullpen, the Brewers are moving pitching prospect Aaron Ashby to the bullpen for the time being.
Nashville Sounds manager Rick Sweet made the announcement Tuesday night that Aaron Ashby will be moving to the bullpen for the first place Sounds. This is not a demotion, as Ashby has been pitching well, to the tune of a 2.93 ERA in six starts with 39 strikeouts in 27.2 IP.
The Brewers move of Ashby to the bullpen is reminiscent of Corbin Burnes in 2018 and Josh Hader in 2017.
Back in 2017, Josh Hader was a starting pitching prospect. He was brought up on June 10th for a multi-inning bullpen role. He did well in it and ended up staying there going forward.
Corbin Burnes, was a starting pitching prospect and was brought up on July 10th, 2018 for a multi-inning bullpen role. He did extremely well there and then was moved to the rotation and he’s found quite the home there.
Now, this will be the Brewers plan for Aaron Ashby in 2021.
In talking about Aaron Ashby’s move to the ‘pen, Rick Sweet referenced Josh Hader, Brandon Woodruff and Corbin Burnes, all of whom made the same move to relief under Sweet before getting called up.
— Adam McCalvy (@AdamMcCalvy) June 9, 2021
The Brewers bullpen currently has a need for a high-leverage arm in the “A” group, and with Josh Hader being in just a one-inning role now, having someone else who can pitch in high leverage for multiple innings will be key for this group’s success. If Ashby can take that role, the need to acquire a reliever at the Deadline will be much less.
Aaron Ashby’s future role with the Brewers should still be in the starting rotation.
The viability of Ashby as a starting pitcher has not changed. The Brewers simply believe he is just about big league ready and this is a way to get him on the big league roster much sooner. The starting rotation doesn’t really have an opening for Ashby to slide into right now. The bullpen, however, does have an opening.
Brett Anderson is a free agent at the end of the 2021 season and Ashby can slide right into his spot in the rotation in 2022. He’ll also have to compete with Eric Lauer and Ethan Small for that role, though.
This is great news, and a great plan from the Brewers. Ashby can be a huge arm out of the bullpen and will likely pitch in high leverage innings. If the Brewers are going to succeed in the postseason, they need an arm like Ashby’s in their bullpen.
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Look for Ashby to get called up in the next few weeks after he gets acclimated to pitching out of the bullpen.