It is safe to say that through the first month of the Major League Baseball season, David Stearns’ decision to have the Milwaukee Brewers begin with the three ‘young guns’ in the starting rotation has been an unmitigated disaster. The Brewers currently own the worst collective ERA (5.23) in the National League, due in large part to the acute struggles of that trio. Brandon Woodruff has been the ‘best’ of the three, working to a 5.17 ERA in six starts. Corbin Burnes has already been demoted to the minors once and will now be pitching as a reliever for the foreseeable future. And, after his four-inning, nine run debacle yesterday (six earned), it sounds like Freddy Peralta is on his way out of the rotation:
Now Freddy Peralta’s spot in the rotation isn’t safe. “We’re going to have to have a conversation about that,” Craig Counsell said.— Adam McCalvy (@AdamMcCalvy) May 2, 2019
Over the years, when Craig Counsell says that they need to have a conversation about a guy’s status in his role, it has usually been the kiss of death. Just ask Corbin Burnes, who was the subject of such a conversation before getting told to pack his bags for San Antonio. After choosing not to add any additional depth to their cache of starting pitchers, and spending all spring harping on the need to be patient with the young guys and allow them space to develop, Counsell and Stearns appear about ready to pull the plug on a second initial out-getter merely a month into the season.
The problem now is that the Brewers don’t have any obvious candidates to turn to when Peralta’s spot in the rotation comes up next. They’ve already gone outside the organization to sign Gio Gonzalez, who took Burnes’ place among the starting five. Chase Anderson is currently on the injured list with his finger laceration and won’t be eligible to return until after next week. The same goes for Aaron Wilkerson, who was placed on the IL with a foot injury on April 29th. Jimmy Nelson had his scheduled assignment to San Antonio pushed back when his wife gave birth to twins earlier this week and he remains at least several weeks away from a return to the big league level.
Here's a couple of lists, for no reason in particular... pic.twitter.com/Ar2fSL5EX7— Brew Crew Ball (@BrewCrewBall) May 2, 2019
So unless Stearns goes out and signs Dallas Keuchel and he’s ready to jump into the rotation immediately, that means dipping back into the minor league well for yet another unproven option for Peralta’s next scheduled start, which would be on Tuesday against the Mets. They could go with Adrian Houser again, who owns a 1.27 ERA in four Triple-A starts and is on the 40 man roster. But he already made one spot start this year and coughed up five runs — and two dingers — in four innings. They could go with Burch Smith, who has posted a 1.37 ERA in five starts for San Antonio. But he’s not on the 40 man and has previously pitched to a 6.77 ERA in 114.1 MLB innings with Kansas City and San Diego. They could allow someone like Zack Brown, Thomas Jankins, or Trey Supak in Double-A the opportunity to come up and make their big league debut, but any one of those guys would be just as much of a wild card as Peralta.
Milwaukee’s pitching situation is a mess. It is becoming abundantly clear that Slingin’ Stearns will need to acquire someone for the rotation if this team is serious about competing and defending their NL Central division title, but any move like that isn’t likely to take place until later on in the summer, closer to the July trading deadline. That means that our Menomonee Valley Nine will have to keep pushing forward with a patchwork rotation and try to simply tread water until someone — anyone — can come in and help stabilize what has been one of baseball’s most volatile pitching staffs.
Statistics courtesy of Fangraphs