We've reached mid-January, and we're officially closer to the next Brewers game than we are to the last one. Though it may be difficult to imagine as the temperature in Southeast Wisconsin has dipped below Carlos Gomez' walk rate, we're less than three months away from Opening Day.
Though David Stearns likely has a few cards left to play this off-season, we thought it was high time we took a look at the state of the major league depth chart. Let's kick it off today with the Brewers likely starting rotation on Opening Day along with their Steamer projections.
1. Jimmy Nelson (27) - 4.28 ERA, 188 IP, 20.2 K%, 8.1 BB%, 2.4 fWAR
2. Matt Garza (32) - 4.49 ERA, 163 IP, 17.6 K%, 7.4 BB%, 1.4 fWAR
3. Wily Peralta (27) - 4.50 ERA, 173 IP, 16.2 K%, 7.5 BB%, 1.6 fWAR
4. Taylor Jungmann (26) - 4.68 ERA, 138 IP, 19.3 K%, 9.8 BB%, 1.1 fWAR
5. Zach Davies (23) - 4.30 ERA, 120 IP, 18.1 K%, 8.5 BB%, 1.3 fWAR
As the off-season draws ever closer to it's conclusion -- just five short weeks remain until the Brewers' pitchers and catchers report on February 19 -- it's starting to look more and more like this is the rotation with which the Brewers will enter the 2016 season. Milwaukee is almost certainly not going to be involved in any of the pricier options that remain available like Wei-Yin Chen and former Brewer Yovani Gallardo, each of whom carries the additional price of draft pick compensation since they rejected qualifying offers (while Milwaukee's first round pick is protected, they would still have to surrender their second round choice). While lower-priced reclamation projects remain available, as Spring Training draws closer, the likelihood that the Brewers will add to the major league dips.
A number of options lie in wait at AAA-Colorado Springs to slot into the rotation during the inevitable Matt Garza disabled list trip or if a trade is made. Top pitching prospect Jorge Lopez, who started two games for Milwaukee last September, could be one of the first in line to get a spot start. Ty Wagner and Tyler Cravy also made starts for Milwaukee last season, though the former also spent time in the bullpen and could wind up there again. Adrian Houser--acquired from Houston in the Gomez deal--is another interesting depth option. Another swingman-type that could provide a spot start if needed is Ariel Pena, who is very likely to begin the season in the major league bullpen, since he is out of options.
Hiram Burgos remains with the organization and could be an option, as might a cadre of left-handers in Pat Misch, Brent Suter and Hobbs Johnson. If any of them did make a start, he would become the first lefty to do so since August 28, 2013, when Tom Gorzelany got lit up by the Pirates. Misch, 34, was acquired by the Brewers just last week after spending the most of the past year in the Chinese Professional Baseball League, where he helped lead the Lamigo Monkeys to the championship with a 99-pitch no-hitter in Game Seven. 21-year-old Josh Hader, the Brewers star of the Arizona Fall League, is another lefty that might be in the Sky Sox rotation, but he's not likely to receive a call up to Milwaukee before September at the earliest.
All stats via FanGraphs