On the surface, Chris Narveson's 2011 numbers were good but not incredibly impressive. He posted an ERA in the mid 4's (4.45), only pitched 161.2 innings and his walk and strikeout rates actually regressed a bit this season, from 3.2 and 7.4 in 2010 to 3.6 and 7.0 in 2011. But when we voted for the Brewer Blogosphere Awards a few weeks ago I listed him as my #1 choice for Unsung Hero.
I don't think you can overvalue what Chris Narveson added to this team in terms of stability. The Brewers entered the 2011 season with serious questions regarding their starting pitching depth. If Narveson had struggled this year the Brewers would have had a hard time replacing him. But because he was strong and durable it didn't become an issue.
There were only two teams in all of baseball this season who had five pitchers throw over 160 innings each: the Brewers and AL Champion Rangers. Eight teams only had one or two pitchers reach 160. This is also only the third time in franchise history the Brewers have done it:
|2011||Yovani Gallardo, Zack Greinke, Shaun Marcum, Randy Wolf, Chris Narveson|
|1979||Mike Caldwell, Moose Haas, Jim Slaton, Lary Sorensen, Bill Travers|
|1974||Bill Champion, Jim Colborn, Kevin Kobel, Jim Slaton, Clyde Wright|
Narveson made $442,000 in 2011 and has two years and 102 days of major league service time, so he won't be arbitration eligible for the first time until after the 2012 season. He's under team control through 2015.
On July 20, the Brewers, Pirates and Cardinals were all neck-and-neck for the NL Central lead. The Brewers were in the middle of a tough west coast road trip when they sent Chris Narveson to the mound in Arizona, and he was dominant. Narveson needed just 87 pitches to get through seven shutout innings, allowing just four hits while striking out four and walking none. The Diamondbacks went on to tie the game in the eighth off Francisco Rodriguez, but the Brewers scored three in the tenth to win 5-2 and retake first place.
Here are the highlights from the game: