Last night, Andrew Gruman of Fox Sports Wisconsin had a couple of updates on Brewers' pitchers. Ron Roenicke said that the team is shooting to have Kyle Lohse return to the rotation during the next road trip while Matt Garza is eyeing an early September return.
Neither is a huge surprise. Lohse has not been placed on the disabled list, so a return was expected to come sooner than later. He left his start one week ago after three innings with a right ankle injury. The next road trip will begin the 25th, with Lohse likely either starting then or on the 26th. That would mean he missed 12-13 days, or just less than a 15-day DL stint would have required.
The Brewers have been able to get by without placing Lohse on the disabled list by utilizing off-days to go with a four-man rotation. Upon Lohse's return, the staff will contain him, Yovani Gallardo, Wily Peralta, Mike Fiers and Jimmy Nelson.
When Garza returns (within the first week of September, Roenicke says), one of those players will have to be removed from the rotation. That will either be Nelson or Fiers, and the choice has suddenly become tough.
Nelson was the first pitcher called up when the Brewers' needed a starter due to Marco Estrada chasing his career goals of controlling missile launches. Nelson, named a top-50 prospect nationwide by Baseball America earlier in the year, has been great since being called up, with a 3.86 ERA in his first seven starts. One poor start has hurt his overall numbers -- he has five quality starts in seven attempts, with a sixth seeing him pitch 5.2 shutout innings.
However, Mike Fiers has been unstoppable since being called up with Garza on the DL. After his outing last night he now has allowed just two earned runs in 28 major league innings, with a 30:6 K:BB ratio. Batters are hitting for just a 443 OPS against him this season. It's remarkable, and every passing start seems to make the Brewers decision as to who to remove upon Garza's return more difficult. Fiers has bullpen experience, so it seems likely he'll move there in September (especially with roster expansions), but the way he's pitching that's become less of a certainty.
Meanwhile, Jim Henderson had successful shoulder surgery after a few failed comeback attempts. He last pitched for the Brewers on May 1 and had a 7.15 ERA in 14 games this season.