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Opening Day Countdown: Taylor Jungmann #26

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Twenty six days until really real baseball!

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The last two days we took a look at two of the Brewers top pitching prospects in Jorge Lopez and Zach Davies. Today we take a look at another young pitcher in Taylor Jungmann. He was a first round pick by the Brewers in the 2011 draft. Hopes were high but they were never fully realized. When once fans hoped for a mid-rotation innings eater, after a couple years of struggling, many questioned if Jungmann's future was in a rotation at all. But after a successful first showing last year, hope has returned.

Jungmann began the season in AAA pitching in 59.1 innings. It wasn't pretty if you were just looking at his results. Judging by his 6.37 ERA one might have assumed the wheels had completely flown off. But the 3.89 FIP reflected more favorably. And when you factor in the park effects in Colorado Springs, perhaps we should have expected what was to come.

Taylor Jungmann received his first major league call-up in June and made his first start on the 9th of that month. He held the Pirates to just one run in seven innings that day. Then he strung off a series of mostly good starts before tapering off towards the end of the season. In total he pitched in 119.1 innings with a 3.77 ERA and 3.92 FIP. Good but not great production, it was better than people would have predicted a year ago.

Towards the end of the season Jungmann was appearing in more innings than he had in his career to date. It is probably no coincidence that's when he started struggling. Though we can't assume that's the only reason. Jungmann primarily threw his fastball and curveball. He has a changeup but he only used it 6.7% of the time. He claims to be working on it this spring with an eye towards getting more comfortable with it. It was always his least effective pitch, but I had heard he made significant progress with it last year. If he even get it to fringe average and use it enough, it could really help him keep hitters off balance.

Coming into 2016 Jungmann's place in the big league rotation is secure. What he does with it is the question. I'm not entirely sure what to expect. I think a lot of it will depend on how well he can utilize his changeup and the effectiveness of the pitch itself. But even if he's never more than a league average starter he could provide value to the club by covering 200 innings a season.

Statistics courtesy of FanGraphs