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Eric Lauer to begin regular season on Injured List with shoulder impingement

The fifth starter battle is down to two.

MLB: Spring Training-Milwaukee Brewers at San Francisco Giants Rick Scuteri-USA TODAY Sports

The competition for the final spot in the starting rotation for the Milwaukee Brewers has gone from three candidates down to two. Earlier this afternoon, manager Craig Counsell revealed that left-hander Eric Lauer has been dealing with a shoulder impingement. He will not be ready for Opening Day and is expected to begin the year on the Injured List.

The injury is not believed to be something that will sideline Lauer for the long-term, and for his part the southpaw is downplaying the issue. He told reporters that “(i)t’s just a little fatigue kind of thing. It’s nothing serious. I’m hoping to play catch tomorrow, see how it feels and go from there.” He also suggested that it is something that he has dealt with during previous springs while ramping up for the season. Prior to the injury, Lauer had allowed just one earned run in three appearances covering 5.1 innings during the spring, posting a 9:1 K/BB ratio. He owns a career 4.40 ERA in 261.2 innings over two years as a big leaguer.

With Lauer on the mend, Counsell told the media that the fifth starter spot is now a competition between Freddy Peralta and Corbin Burnes. CC has previously stated a couple times during camp that Peralta is “ahead” of Burnes in terms of the depth chart based on their results in 2019, but Burnes has been superb so far in Cactus League play and could be forcing the manager to re-think that stance. The freshly-extended Peralta has posted a 3.52 ERA in 7.2 spring innings with seven strikeouts against four walks, while Burnes owns a 0.90 ERA and 13:3 K/BB in an even 10.0 frames.

In other injury news, reliever Ray Black was also revealed to be dealing with some back soreness. Black, a flamethrower capable of reaching 100 MPH who arrived with Drew Pomeranz in the Mauricio Dubon trade last summer, is out of minor league options and competing for a spot in the bullpen. He has made only two appearances so far in Cactus League play, allowing a pair of runs with three walks and three strikeouts in 1.1 innings. His back issue is believed to be relatively minor. But my own personal speculation is that it could become a way to stash him on the IL to begin the year and avoid exposing him to waivers, if necessary.

Statistics courtesy of Baseball-Reference