No less than 12 pitchers started a game for the Brewers in 2013, but arguably their best performance came from one of the last guys to get an opportunity.
Yovani Gallardo, Kyle Lohse, Marco Estrada, Wily Peralta, Tom Gorzelanny, Donovan Hand, Johnny Hellweg, Hiram Burgos, Alfredo Figaro and Mike Fiers had all already started at least one game when Thornburg, who had been pitching in long relief, got the ball to start for the first time in a doubleheader on July 30. He pitched six scoreless innings against the Cubs, launching a pretty impressive run.
Thornburg allowed just one earned run over his first three turns in the rotation in July and August before getting a more permanent opportunity in September and posting a 2.16 ERA over four starts. All told he struck out 48 batters over 66.2 innings while walking just 26, and allowed just one home run all season.
Thornburg's MLB success was a pretty stark contrast to his minor league season, where he had a 5.79 ERA over 15 starts for Nashville before getting the callup. He also stuck out 10.5 batters per nine innings in AAA, though, a testament to his MLB-quality stuff.
While his long-term role with this team remains up in the air, Thornburg has proven he's capable of getting batters out in the big leagues. Now he just has to wait and see if the Brewers will give him an opportunity to continue to do so.
July 30 could've been a disaster. The Brewers were playing a doubleheader against the Cubs and Yovani Gallardo had to leave the first game early, forcing five relievers to fill 4.1 innings. Thornburg was scheduled to pitch the second game in his first MLB start of the season, and another short outing could've forced the Brewers to further tax a worn-out bullpen.
Instead, though, Thornburg pitched a gem. He worked six shutout innings in what would eventually be a 3-2 victory, walking three and striking out six to complete a doubleheader sweep.
Here are the highlights from his day:
Thornburg's stints as a Brewer over the last two seasons add up to about a year of MLB service time. I haven't seen the exact number. If it's more than a year, he'll be due for arbitration for the first time in 2016 and free agency in 2019. If it's less, you can push both notes back to 2017 and 2020.
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
Honorable mentions: Marco Estrada, Ryan Braun, Khris Davis