It felt like for much of the spring, at least one of Corbin Burnes, Brandon Woodruff or Freddy Peralta would be the odd man out in the Milwaukee Brewers’ starting rotation picture.
After all, Zach Davies and Chase Anderson were veterans of the rotation, and knowing how much general manager David Stearns values roster flexibility and using options, it felt like at least one of the three would find themselves in San Antonio to stay stretched out as a starter.
Then those three proceeded to pitch out of their minds during Spring Training. Burnes looks the part of a big-league ready starter after excelling in the bullpen last year, Peralta added another two or three ticks to his fastball, and Woodruff looked like the Woodruff who was a big factor in the postseason last year.
It got really hard to deny any of those three a rotation spot, and today, Craig Counsell told reporters he won’t — while the exact order behind Jhoulys Chacin is yet to be decided, Burnes, Woodruff and Peralta will all be in the rotation, with Zach Davies serving as the team’s 5th starter. Anderson will be shifted to the bullpen.
Brandon Woodruff, Corbin Burnes, Freddy Peralta and Zach Davies will round out the Brewers’ rotation to start the season, Craig Counsell says. Chase Anderson will open in the bullpen.— Todd Rosiak (@Todd_Rosiak) March 21, 2019
“It’s time for those young guys to start,” said Counsell of Woodruff, Burnes and Peralta. Davies will start the fifth game of the season in Cincinnati. Game 2-4 starters are TBA.— Todd Rosiak (@Todd_Rosiak) March 21, 2019
This feels like the best starting five the Brewers could possibly put together, whether you want to base it on spring performance or ceiling and projection. As Counsell noted, the time for stashing the young arms in the bullpen is over — and it’s time to see what they can do. That’s potentially scary for a team with eyes on another playoff spot, but in the spring it’s hard not to dream on the potential.
Anderson’s move to the bullpen comes as he’s had some mixed results with reworking his pitching mechanics this spring. He’s occasionally looked like his old 2017 self...and occasionally looked like the same guy who struggled to get going in his starts last season. While there isn’t a spot for him at the start of games right now, it does sound like the Brewers plan on starting him at some point this season:
Counsell said Anderson will start games at some point this season but acknowledged it will be a transition for him to begin relieving.— Todd Rosiak (@Todd_Rosiak) March 21, 2019
Davies will start the team’s first road game of the season, and the setup of having Davies at the 5th starter may help put everyone in the rotation in a better spot to succeed. In this arrangement, Burnes, Woodruff and Peralta each get to make their first start of the year in front of a home crowd. Meanwhile, Davies — who has struggled at Miller Park (4.77 career ERA) and against the Cardinals (4.72 ERA in 8 career starts) — gets a road start (3.08 career ERA) and a matchup against the Reds (3.29 ERA in 10 career starts — although none against this current Reds lineup).
If last year is any indication, there will be plenty of shuffling with the Initial Out Getters this year, but at least to start the year it looks like the future of the Brewers’ rotation may be here.
Statistics courtesy of Baseball-Reference