With the regular season opener now just eight days away for the Milwaukee Brewers, the team has a limited amount of time remaining to determine who will break camp with the big league ball club. The list of players left to choose from got another name shorter today, as the club announced that left-hander Brent Suter was optioned to minor league camp. The move leaves just 32 players, including 15 pitchers, remaining in the mix for a roster spot on the major league team.
Suter, a former 31st-round pick out of Harvard, made his MLB debut with Milwaukee last August. He worked as both a starter and reliever, posting a stellar 3.32 ERA across 21.2 innings pitched covering 14 appearances (2 starts). ERA estimators like FIP (4.43) and DRA (7.89) saw Suter as fortunate to produce the run prevention numbers he did last season, however. The 27 year old throws one of the slowest fastballs in baseball, topping out around 85 MPH, and relies on mixing up his pitches and inducing soft contact rather than missing bats (15:5 K/BB ratio last season). Suter allowed four runs in 9.0 innings pitched this spring with an 8:2 K/BB ratio.
Brent had been competing for a spot in the bullpen, but his departure means that there are now essentially 10 pitchers competing for either 7 or 8 remaining spots on the Opening Day pitching staff (depending on whether the team starts the season with a 12 or 13 man staff). Starters Junior Guerra and Zach Davies along with ‘pen arms Carlos Torres, Neftali Feliz, and Jhan Marinez all have spots pretty well sewn up, leaving the following 10 players to duke it out during the final week of spring training:
Tommy Milone is the only remaining southpaw in the mix, meaning that if he fails to crack the starting rotation he could function as Craig Counsell’s lone left-hander in the bullpen (though historically Milone has been about equally as effective against lefties and righties in his career). Rob Scahill is the only non-roster invitee remaining among this group, so that could diminish his chances, as well. Barnes, Garza, Milone, and Nelson have struggled in terms of their ERAs this spring while the rest have prevented runs rather well. More than just spring results will ultimately go into the final decisions, of course, and the two pitchers who fail to crack the starting rotation will assuredly be in consideration for spots among the relief corps.
Statistics courtesy of Baseball Prospectus and MLB.com