The starting rotation for the Milwaukee Brewers was in disarray when Gio Gonzalez fell into their lap on April 24th, four weeks after the start of the regular season. The veteran southpaw quickly became a stabilizing force for the staff after re-signing on a one-year deal; he started six games and delivered 31.0 innings with a 3.19 ERA and 82 DRA- during his first month back with the team, and the rotation as a whole settled in with a 3.19 ERA — seventh-best in baseball — during that period of time. But after his start on May 27th against the Twins, Gonzalez was stricken with the dreaded “dead arm” and he has been on the injured list ever since.
In his absence, the overall work from the starting five has taken a sharp downturn. Milwaukee’s group of initial out-getters has put together an ugly 5.35 earned run average beginning May 28th, fifth-worst among all MLB teams during that stretch. Seven different pitchers have made starts for the Cream City Nine over their last 34 games as the club has struggled to get consistent production out of anyone not named Brandon Woodruff or Zach Davies. But after nearly six weeks on the shelf, Gio appears to be nearing a desperately-needed return to active duty:
Gio Gonzalez threw another extended bullpen today of 40+ pitches. He’ll do a minor league rehab assignment next Wednesday with @CarolinaMudcats.— Sophia Minnaert (@SophiaMinnaert) July 6, 2019
Manager Craig Counsell already stated that Gonzalez will need multiple rehab starts in order to get stretched back out and return to the starting rotation, and his first will come on Wednesday the 10th, the day after the MLB All-Star Game. Depending on how he responds and how many minor league outings the club thinks are necessary, Gonzalez could be lined up to rejoin Milwaukee sometime around or after July 20th.
Even if Gio is able to return in short order and immediately get back to the form he showed pre-injury, it will still likely be necessary for David Stearns and company to pursue additional help in the starting rotation. Regardless, the team will surely welcome Gonzalez back with open arms when once he is deemed ready.
Statistics courtesy of Fangraphs and Baseball Prospectus