The starting rotation was part of the reason the Brewers were much improved in August and September, but I think it's also important to remember it was a big part of the reason they went 6-22 in May.
Even though he did win two games that month, Estrada posted a 5.40 ERA in five May starts, including a meltdown to open the month against the Cardinals. He got lit up again against the A's on June 3 and when he went on the DL with a strained hamstring it didn't seem like a major issue.
If that had been how Estrada's season had ended, he'd probably be spending the winter wondering if the 2014 Brewers would even have a job for him. Instead, he bounced back after two months on the DL and had one of the hottest streaks of any 2013 Brewer.
Estrada held the Giants to a single hit over five shutout innings in his first game back, and his turnaround from that point on was remarkable. He posted a 2.15 ERA over his final nine starts and allowed two hits or less in five of those games. After allowing 14 home runs in his first 12 starts, he gave up just five in the season's last two months.
So the question now becomes: Who is the real Marco Estrada? Can he be as dominant in 2014 as he was down the stretch? If he struggles, will it snowball again? For the second straight season injuries held him under 150 innings in 2013. Can the Brewers count on him to provide more next year?
Estrada and Caleb Gindl were a two-man show as the Brewers beat the Reds 3-1 on August 25. Gindl hit a two-run homer in the second inning to give the Crew a 2-0 lead and Estrada made it stand up, allowing a single first inning hut and no runs over seven innings. He walked two and struck out nine, which was a season-high for the team.
Here are the highlights from his day:
2013 was Estrada's first arbitration season, and he made $1.955 million. MLB Trade Rumors projects him to receive $3.5 million for 2014. He's eligible to become a free agent for the first time following the 2015 season.
Previous MVBrewers posts can be seen at the links below:
#1: Carlos Gomez
#2: Jonathan Lucroy
#3: Jean Segura
#4: Kyle Lohse
#5: Norichika Aoki
#6: Jim Henderson
#7: Brandon Kintzler
#8: Yovani Gallardo
#9: Wily Peralta
#10: Scooter Gennett