Brewers: Is it Too Early to Give SP Robert Gasser a Shot in the Rotation?
By Matt Carroll
To say the Milwaukee Brewers' starting rotation is in a pickle is a bit of an understatement. They are currently down Brandon Woodruff and Wade Miley, not to mention Aaron Ashby who may miss the entire year, and the current replacement options for those spots don't inspire much confidence.
Eric Lauer returned to the rotation yesterday after being moved to the bullpen for one outing to reset and he ended up surrendering six runs and three homers over just three innings. Colin Rea is back in the majors, and though he isn't confirmed to fill in for Monday's game which currently doesn't list a starter, he is 0-3 with a 5.52 ERA in seven appearances (six starts).
Down in the minors, the only true starter on the 40-man roster is Janson Junk. He got one spot starter earlier this season and gave up five runs over 4.2 innings and currently sports a 2-3 record and a 3.86 ERA in seven outings (six starts) with the Triple-A Nashville Sounds.
So if the Brewers truly want to stabilize the rotation, they may have to start getting creative. That could mean possibly trading for another starter. Or, it could mean looking to a talented minor leaguer that fans are itching to see in the majors at some point, despite being drafted only two years ago.
Should the Brewers consider promoting starting pitcher Robert Gasser, or is it too early?
As far as prospects go, the only one not on the 40-man roster who is anywhere close to contributing any time soon is left-hander Robert Gasser. Acquired at last year's trade deadline in the infamous Josh Hader trade, he has spent all of this season so far at Triple-A Nashville.
Gasser was drafted two years ago by the San Diego Padres and hadn't pitched above High-A before the Brewers acquired him after having eyed him up for a while. They immediately placed him in Double-A where he dominated in four games for the Biloxi Shuckers and then saw his season end up at Nashville.
Looking at his numbers on the surface, one would easily question why you would consider promoting Gasser quite yet. In eight games (seven starts), he has gone 2-0 with a 4.74 ERA and a 1.395 WHIP, not exactly awe-inspiring numbers.
But looking deeper, there are reasons for optimism with Gasser's performance so far. For one, he is holding batters to just a .204 average on the season. The reason for his high WHIP is a 5.9 BB/9 rate that would be the highest of his career. If the Brewers could have him reign that in, there might be something there.
He also has had no issue piling up strikeouts. Gasser has put up seven or more strikeouts in half of his appearances on the season. On top of that, he has limited the long bombs as all three that he has given up came in one bad outing. Speaking of, his high ERA is basically the result of two rough appearances. He has given up three earned runs or fewer in his other six.
Sure, 23 is awfully young for a player to be making their first major league start. But the Brewers have already been rolling with some youngsters this season in Garrett Mitchell (24), Joey Wiemer (24), and Brice Turang (23), albeit the latter of that trio has gotten more seasoning in the minors having been drafted out of high school.
The bottom of the Brewers 40-man totem pole is full of relief pitchers who may or may not still be there by the end of this season. Would it really hurt to add Gasser at the expense of one of them, see if a spot start works out, and then option him back down if it doesn't? That's the worst case scenario, while the best case is having it work out and then solving at least one rotation spot going forward.
Odds are the Brewers consider it too early to have Gasser anywhere near the major leagues. But with the rotation in a tight spot, it's an option they should probably at least consider.