Brandon Woodruff is on a rehab assignment and is on track to be back in the Brewers rotation soon. The man filling in for him, Jason Alexander, has done a fantastic job in his four starts in place of Woodruff, but what should the team do with Alexander when Woodruff eventually makes his return to the starting rotation?
Should they send him back to AAA or keep him up? I think there are at least three compelling reasons to keep him in MLB.
Why the Milwaukee Brewers should keep Jason Alexander: Six man rotation
The Brewers employed a six man rotation nearly all of 2021 and heading into the 2022 season looked prepared to do so again. In 2021, it helped the starters have extra rest in between starts and stay healthy for the most part for the entire season.
Beginning this year, Aaron Ashby was, on paper, the Brewers sixth starter/long reliever. With the season being shortened by a little over a week and some early weather issues, they ended up having a very compressed schedule in the first month of the season and, after an injury to Freddy Peralta, Ashby became part of the rotation.
After a double header that saw the debut of Ethan Small and an injury to Brandon Woodruff, the Brewers were in need of another starter, prompting the Brewers to call up Jason Alexander.
When Woodruff returns to take his place in the rotation, the Milwaukee Brewers could keep Jason Alexander in the rotation and go back to employing a six man starting rotation that allows some extra rest to the starters and hopefully protect their health.
This is an option that could help the Brewers as they await the return of Freddy Peralta. If Peralta is able to return to his place in the rotation later in the season, then what do the Brewers do with Alexander?
Why the Milwaukee Brewers should keep Jason Alexander: Long relief
The Brewers have not only dealt with injuries to several key players and starting pitchers, but also to several relievers. Jake Cousins has been hurt, Trevor Gott is on the injured list, as is Jandel Gustave, Justin Topa, and Luis Perdomo.
Some of the starters have made some uncharacteristically short starts lately, which has taxed the bullpen a bit more. They have to have reliable pitchers to keep games in place to get to the Boxberger 7th, Williams 8th, and Hader 9th innings.
Brent Suter (4.62 ERA), Miguel Sanchez (3.86 ERA) and Trevor Kelley (6.92 ERA) have all had their fair share of struggles, prompting the Brewers to add reliever Chi Chi Gonzalez off waivers to fill in while Josh Hader is on family leave. The best middle relief the Brewers have had this season has been from the fantastic job Hoby Milner has done this season. Putting Jason Alexander (2.42 ERA) in the bullpen, could help the Brewers from having to potentially trade away prospects to acquire bullpen depth.
With Freddy Peralta out for a good chunk of the season, Alexander can fill that long relief/spot starter role that Ashby initially had once Woodruff and Ashby are activated from the IL.
Why the Milwaukee Brewers should keep Jason Alexander: Ground balls
Not only could the Brewers benefit from Jason Alexander being a starter that could give long relief from the bullpen, but they could also use Alexander in a pinch. In situations where there are runners on base and potentially one or zero outs and you want to save other high leverage relievers for late in games or maybe they pitched the day before. Bring in Jason Alexander to get a ground ball and close the door on an opponent’s rally.
Jason Alexander came up from AAA as a pitcher with a 63 percent ground ball rate. In his four starts, Alexander has generated a 56.6 percent ground ball rate, according to baseball savant. In addition to the high ground ball rate, Jason Alexander allows an average exit velocity of just 72 MPH, meaning Alexander is generating a ton of soft contact by employing a sinker, the same pitch Adrian Houser uses to generate a lot of soft contact and outs.
There are several situations where a player like Alexander could be useful and his performance through four starts should at least earn him the opportunity to continue contributing and I believe the Brewers could benefit from keeping him around.