Jimmy Nelson won’t be ready to begin the regular season on the active roster for the Milwaukee Brewers.
Jimmy Nelson will not be on the Brewers’ Opening Day roster, Craig Counsell just told us. But Nelson bounced back nicely from yesterday’s Cactus League debut and will get on an every-five-day schedule.— Adam McCalvy (@AdamMcCalvy) March 12, 2019
That shouldn’t really come as a surprise to anyone who pays attention to the team, but Craig Counsell felt compelled to make that official announcement earlier this evening. Nelson made his first appearance in a game setting in 549 days on Monday, tossing an inning against the White Sox while allowing two earned runs. He missed the entire 2018 season while rehabbing from an intensive shoulder surgery that required repairs to his labrum, capsule, and rotator cuff. With only 16 days remaining until Opening Day, it would be a lot to ask of any starting pitcher to get fully stretched out in that short time, let alone one who is trying to come back from what Jimmy has endured.
But while Nelson won’t be ready to break camp when the team heads to the Cream City, he does appear to be on track to returning to the team at some point in the first half of the season. His fastball velocity sat in the 91-92 MPH range while reaching as high as 94 in his initial outing and all three of the outs he recorded were via strikeouts - two on curveballs and one on a slider.
“He threw the ball great,” manager Craig Counsell said. ”It’s not a day to evaluate how he threw, regardless. It’s a day for Jimmy to realize he is getting there. I’m happy for him, and happy how the whole inning went. It couldn’t have gone better.”
Counsell indicated that Nelson will be placed on an every-five-days pitching schedule, with his next Cactus League appearance scheduled to take place on Saturday. The plan is for him to go three innings in one of the team’s split squad contests. On an every-fifth-day plan, Nelson would make one more Cactus League appearance on the 22nd against the Reds.
It stands to reason that he would then begin the regular season on the Injured List, likely in extended Spring Training to continue building up his pitch count. Once he’s fully stretched out, it would make sense for the team to send him out on a rehab assignment, which can last up to 30 days, to make some minor league starts and work his way up the ladder. If all goes well, that timeline could set Nelson up for a return sometime in the middle of May. All of that is my own personal speculation, though.