Since the start of the David Stearns era, the Milwaukee Brewers have been very good at finding and developing pitchers.
Manager Craig Counsell has also made a name for himself with the unique ways that he utilizes his pitching staff. With that being said, it does make one wonder what the plan for Aaron Ashby is and if he can carve out a role for the remainder of the season or not?
Currently, the Brewers have three legit Cy Young candidates atop the starting rotation in Brandon Woodruff, Corbin Burnes, and Freddy Peralta. With this being the first full 162 game season following the shortened 60 game season, a six man rotation has been in place throughout a large portion of the season. Aaron Ashby initially was supposed to be a part of this rotation.
In the bullpen, Brad Boxberger, Devin Williams, and Josh Hader are the pitchers of choice from the seventh inning and on. Hunter Strickland, Jake Cousins, and Brent Suter have all been incredible as well. In four major league appearances, Ashby most recently made his first appearance out of the bullpen.
Where is the best spot for Ashby on the Brewers staff, in the starting rotation or in the bullpen?
A bullpen role is likely the ultimate end game for Ashby this season, but in the short term you might see him make a few more starts. With Freddy Peralta currently sidelined with a minor injury, Ashby could slide back into the rotation short term.
Ashby could also piggy back with Adrian Houser, Eric Lauer, or Brent Anderson. Houser and Lauer have each made just one start since returning from the COVID IL and may need a few more outings before being fully ramped up. The good news with this is that it will allow the Brewers to keep Ashby’s arm extended.
Keeping Ashby extended and working multiple innings may be important for the Brewers not only for the remainder of the regular season but postseason as well.
There is a lot of speculation about who the teams fourth starter would be should they need one in the postseason. A sneaky option would be to use Houser as a decoy and then pitch Ashby. Yes that idea should bring strike as a deja vu moment for when Craig Counsell used Wade Miley for one inning before inserting Brandon Woodruff as the “true starter” in a playoff game.
The more realistic option is to keep using Ashby in more low pressure situations and allow him to attack hitters and get comfortable in the big leagues. Ashby’s pitches dance all around the strike zone. This results in a lot of swings and misses but also command can escape him as well at times.
The hope right now is that Ashby can get hot and finish the season strong. The fact that he can be used as a starter or bullpen arm certainly will allow him to find playing throughout the remainder of the regular season.