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Milwaukee Brewers recall Burch Smith, designate Deolis Guerra for assignment

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Sometimes you only get one shot.

MLB: Washington Nationals at Milwaukee Brewers Michael McLoone-USA TODAY Sports

Once a top-100 prospect, Deolis Guerra never reached the lofty potential that scouts thought he possessed when he was a centerpiece in the Johan Santana trade more than a decade ago. He didn’t make the big leagues until his 10th year in professional baseball and put together parts of three seasons between the Angels and Pirates that added up to a 4.17 ERA and 4.41 FIP in 95.0 innings from 2015-17. He was an org arm, a last-man-in-the-bullpen type of pitcher who didn’t miss enough bats and had long ago aged out of prospect status when he first incorporated a slider into his arsenal in an attempt to generate more empty swings and combat a wicked reverse-platoon split.

The results, at least against Triple-A competition, were immediate. Guerra posted a 1.98 ERA against Pacific Coast League in 2017 while with the Angels’ affiliate, punching out 41 against 8 walks in 41.0 innings for an outstanding 35 DRA- (meaning, 65% better than league-average by Deserved Run Average). He spent all of 2018 with the Rangers’ Triple-A club, logging 71 whiffs against 16 walks in 59.1 innings while earning a 57 DRA-. That led to a minor league pact with the Milwaukee Brewers for 2019, and after 27 games and 41.1 innings with a 2.61 ERA, 48 strikeouts versus 10 walks, and a 35 DRA-, Deolis had finally earned his ticket back to the big leagues at age 30.

And now, after one nightmarish outing for the Cream City Nine, it’s over.

Craig Counsell called upon Guerra to protect a five-run lead in the ninth inning of last night’s ballgame against the Pirates, but he was undone by a few softly-hit singles and then a towering home run off the bat of Josh Bell. It added up to 4 earned runs in only 23 of an inning, and now Deolis figures to hit the waiver wire. Should he make it through unclaimed, he will have the option of electing free agency instead of accepting an outright assignment.

In place of the departed Deolis Guerra comes Burch Smith, who himself is working on a former-top-prospect-redemption-story. He has previously appeared in three games for the big league club this year, logging 5.2 innings out of the ‘pen while allowing only one earned run. In 13 starts and 67.2 innings for the Triple-A San Antonio Missions this season, Smith owns a 2.53 ERA and 42 DRA- with 77 strikeouts, 34 walks, and only six home runs allowed.

Statistics courtesy of Baseball Prospectus and Fangraphs