I've always wondered what it's like to be a manager in the high minors. You may have a great team full of excellent players, but you're entirely at the whim of the parent club. An injury strikes in Milwaukee, you lose your starting shortstop. Bullpen having problems? They'll send you their dregs and take a couple of your best starters.
Then, worst of all, just when you get your rotation settled, the organization sends you a rehabbing starter, with detailed instructions on when to pitch them and the exact pitch count they must reach. If that guy is Roger Clemens or Ben Sheets, it's probably good for business, but what if it's Jorge de la Rosa?
As y'all probably know, the Brewers are imposing on four of their farm clubs at the moment. I suppose that makes sense: you can hardly send three starters to Nashville and except Frank Kremblas to figure it out. Instead, you have Tomo Ohka doing a rehab in A-ball, which may not exactly be the best test of his readiness to face Major League batters.
I promised an update: here's an update. As John reported this morning, Sheets gave up 3 runs in 3 innings, walking 3 and striking out 2. Not the type of numbers you like to see from our ace, but not a total disaster, given that he hasn't pitched to a live batter for a couple of months. He threw 40 of 65 pitches for strikes; again, not great, but not awful, either. Sheets will make his next start in the Arizona Summer League. He's on schedule with Jeremy Jeffress--wouldn't it be cool if Sheets and Jeffress pitched in the same game?
Tomo Ohka is doing better, but again, it's again Florida State League batters, so I'm not sure how much credence to give it. Yesterday, in his second rehab start, he pitched six innings, allowing six hits, a walk, and no earned runs to go with five strikeouts. Apparently he was supposed to make his next start in Arizona, as well, but his planned rehab was rained out on Saturday, and he and Ben can't both start the same game for the AZL Brewers.
Jorge De La Rosa pitched well a couple of days ago, much improving on his previous start for Double-A Huntsville. JDLR makes for an interesting conundrum: if Sheets and Ohka come back, he won't be needed in the rotation, but given his inconsistency, is there a spot for him in the bullpen? If I had my druthers, I'd probably get rid of Dan Kolb and give Jorge his spot. More likely, Geremi Gonzalez will have a bad outing or two and he'll be DFA'd to make room for Jorge.
So, let's review the timetable. If Ohka makes another rehab start on Friday the 14th, as schedule, he should be ready to return to the big leagues on Wednesday the 19th. If Sheets needs only three rehabs (I can't imagine him needing less), he'll be ready to go by Monday the 24th. Something's gotta give there, because right now Ohka and Sheets are on the same schedule, but that's the basic idea.
JDLR is the wildcard: if Tomo or Ben have a setback, especially if Zach Jackson struggles, Jorge could come back into the starting rotation at just about any time. If everyone stays on schedule, he could be the odd man out, to the extent of spending a couple of extra weeks in the minors. To make things even more complicated, the Crew has two offdays in the first two weeks back, reducing the need for some 5th starter starts.
Go gimpy Brewers!