Estrada went from afterthought middle reliever to top half of the rotation starter in 2012.
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He wasn't the most heralded or perhaps even the most notable Brewer to have a career year in 2012, but that doesn't make what Marco Estrada did this year any less notable.
I know you've heard it before, but it's worth noting again that Estrada has raised his career from the ashes in the last two years. After making just seven appearances in the majors in 2010 and finishing the season on the DL, Estrada came to spring training in 2011 as a minor leaguer who wasn't even invited to major league camp. He seized an opportunity to make the team, though, and all he's done since is post a 3.82 ERA over 72 appearances while striking out nine batters per nine innings.
Estrada finished second on the Brewers with 143 strikeouts this season, and was the only Brewer to finish the season with less than two walks per nine innings and a WHIP under 1.2. After making just nine major league starts between 2008-2011, he made 23 this year.
For a while this year the long ball was Estrada's only real weakness, but by the end of the season even that had been corrected. Estrada allowed 15 home runs in his first 16 appearances (2.12 per nine innings) but just three over his last 13 (0.36 per nine). Opposing batters hit .332 on balls in play against him in the second half but Estrada still posted a 3.40 ERA during that stretch.
Estrada's best performance of the season might have been his last one: Facing the Astros on September 29 he pitched eight scoreless innings, walking just one and striking out eleven in what was eventually a 9-5 Brewer win. Here are the highlights from his night:
Estrada made just $486,000 in 2012, but is arbitration eligible for the first time in 2013. MLB Trade Rumors predicts he'll receive roughly $1.6 million in his first arb season.