The Milwaukee Brewers announced Saturday afternoon that they have locked up another part of their starting rotation for the foreseeable future.
The team extended Aaron Ashby through the 2027 season, with club options for 2028 and 2029. According to Joel Sherman of the New York Post, the deal is worth $20.5 million and possibly up to as much as $46 million through the next five years. This deal feels similar to the one that the Brewers signed Freddy Peralta to in 2020.
Ashby is just 24 years old, so the Brewers have essentially locked up the hard-throwing lefty for his entire prime, at least until he’s 29 and possibly as long as through his age 31 season. Ashby made his Brewers debut last summer, which didn’t go great as the Chicago Cubs jumped out to a big lead and cut Ashby’s start short, but the Brewers offense exploded and came back to win.
Ashby was among a mix of several All-Stars and high performers on the Milwaukee Brewers pitching staff to begin 2022. So, he started the season as a swingman and made three relief appearances in April and three in May with a few starts sprinkled in between.
But since his start on May 25th, with the Milwaukee Brewers dealing with injuries to Brandon Woodruff, Freddy Peralta, and Adrian Houser, not to mention Ashby himself, the lefty has been part of the starting rotation and looks poised to stay there for the rest of the season.
Ashby’s numbers don’t jump off the page. His ERA currently stands at 4.57 but doesn’t really do justice to how talented Ashby actually is. So far in 2022, Ashby has pitched 69 innings and, in those innings, has dealt 83 strikeouts and 32 walks.
So, what is so enticing about Aaron Ashby and his stuff that the Brewers decided to lock him up?
Ashby is a five-pitch thrower and, as a lefty, has very good velocity on his fastball. He primarily employs a sinker-slider combo but also throws a four-seam fastball, curveball, and changeup. Ashby’s sinker has an average velocity of 96.1 MPH but at the end of May, Ashby was throwing 98+ mph. His fastball velocity is in the 85th percentile in all of Major League Baseball.
While the sinker is Ashby’s most used pitch, his slider is not far behind and makes for a deadly combination when paired with his high velocity fastball. At an average speed of 83.5 mph, you get a big change of speed which might be why opponents bat just .178 against the pitch.
While Ashby’s four-seam fastball hasn’t been super effective for him in 2022, his changeup has been ok and his curveball has been nearly untouchable. In 2021, Ashby only threw curveballs 3.9 percent of his pitches, but in 2022 that number is up to 12.2 percent.
His curveball average speed drops even lower than his slider at 79.8 mph, a huge contrast to his fastball. Ashby’s curveball has generated a 44.2% whiff rate and an opponent batting average of just .126, so look for more curveballs from Ashby as he continues to develop.
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Aaron Ashby has great stuff and great velocity, though he needs work is on his control. But the Brewers have done a great job of helping pitchers develop control and become successful in the big leagues. This extension is a clear indicator that they believe they can do the same with the talented southpaw.