One of the Milwaukee Brewers' key priorities this past offseason was to create more depth in the starting rotation after a season that saw it get picked apart by injuries. While they did end up doing that, injuries once again nullified the actions they took.
Aaron Ashby went down before the season began and injuries have since taken out Brandon Woodruff, Wade Miley, and Eric Lauer as well, forcing the Brewers to get creative in order to patch their rotation while awaiting some of them to return. One of those rotation patches came in the form of right-hander Colin Rea.
Prior to this season, some Brewers fans may have remembered Rea for the one appearance he made in relief for the team at the very end of the 2021 season. After becoming a free agent that offseason, he would play overseas in Japan in 2022 before signing back with Milwaukee on a minor league deal for the 2023 season.
Just a couple weeks into this season, Rea was added to the Crew's major league roster again, this time as a starter. He held his own in his first outing on the road against the Padres, giving up just a run on two hits and a walk in a 4-3 Brewers victory. His next two outings would be a little rockier as he would give up four runs over five innings in each of them.
Results have varied in his starts since then. But even though things haven't always been perfect, Rea has more than held his own as an MLB starter and has had things go well more often than not for the team in games in which he has pitched.
Brewers starter Colin Rea deserves some credit for how he has filled in for the rotation so far in 2023.
Rea has now appeared in 11 games for the Brewers in 2023 with 10 of those appearances being starts. While he has a 4.47 ERA, he has a much more decent 1.223 WHIP and has compiled a 3-3 record on the season.
By and large, Rea's starts since those two four-run outings in April have gone well more often than they haven't. Of his seven starts since then, he has given up three or fewer runs in five of them and has even thrown two scoreless outings. As a result, the Brewers are 6-4 in games started by Rea.
Perhaps as importantly, Rea has been reliable in the amount of innings he's been able to cover in 2023. Though he has only completed a full six innings twice this year, of his 10 starts, he has failed to complete at least five innings only once.
That's likely due to manager Craig Counsell trying to limit his exposure to batters reaching their third time through the order against him. While Rea has faced 90 batters in both their first and second time though, he has faced just 33 in their third time around. It could actually be time to consider stretching him out a big more, though, as those batters facing him for a third time aren't faring vary well, slashing just .161/.212/.258 in those situations.
If Rea could do one thing better, it would be to limit the long ball, which honestly is something that could be improved upon as a whole staff. Rea's rate of 1.57 homers given up per nine innings is the second highest among regular Brewers starters, trailing only the injured Lauer.
But overall, Rea has performed slightly above expectations as a starter for the Brewers in 2023. He may not continue as starter when some of the original ones return from injury, but he should be given some credit for what he has accomplished in the interim.