With an obvious need for a starting pitcher, when will the Brewers call up top prospect Jimmy Nelson?
Sitting in first place by three games in the NL Central, the Milwaukee Brewers have the best record in the National League but are in the midst of a 10-game stretch that is bringing the rest of the division closer to them. Having lost 7 of their last 10 games, the Brewers need to do something, and that something seems like a pretty easy something.
The Brewers score–6th most runs in the majors–with the best of them. It’s tough to find a deeper lineup than the Brewers, who have a middle-of-the-order combination of Ryan Braun, Carlos Gomez, Jonathan Lucroy and Aramis Ramirez. Mark Reynolds and Khris Davis each have pop at the bottom of the lineup. Scooter Gennett is an above-average second baseman and Jean Segura used to be really good for a year.
The bullpen has been pretty good, too. Led by the MLB saves leader in Francisco Rodriguez, Will Smith and Zach Duke have also been effective in the bullpen, as has Tom Gorzelanny albeit in just eight appearances.
The starters, however, have been a little suspect. The rotation is solid across the board, but no one really stands out as that shut-down ace.
Kyle Lohse is the ERA leader on the team with 3.18. Yovanni Gallardo has been much better this season regaining his form a little bit with 13 quality starts in 18 chances and a 3.45 ERA. Matt Garza was off to a rough start, but has eight quality starts in his last 10 games.
The glaring hole in the team is the No. 5 spot in the rotation. Marco Estrada has allowed more home runs (27!!!) than Kyle Lohse has allowed walks (23). His strikeout rate is high, but that doesn’t make up for the balls he’s allowing over the wall. His ERA on the year is cutting it close to 5.00, at 4.96.
Most teams would have to search the trade market for a starting pitcher, but the Brewers have one waiting and wasting away in Triple-A Nashville.
Jimmy Nelson has been untouchable all year in the minors. He’s striking out 26 percent of the batters he faces and walks just seven percent of them. Start after start Nelson dominates, as shown by his 1.46 ERA in 111 innings.
Start after start, Estrada gets shelled.
Nelson is 25, so it’s not like they have reason to be overly cautious with his arm. He’s not 20. Bringing Nelson up would allow Estrada to move to the bullpen, where his high strikeout rate might translate better. The Brewers bullpen is a little thin after the top three guys until Jim Henderson comes back. There would absolutely be a spot for him there.
But Nelson would improve the rotation immediately. He probably slides Wily Peralta down to the No. 5 spot in the rotation, and then gives you a four-man rotation that you can take your chances with in the playoffs. The Athletics knew their starting pitching wouldn’t scare many in a five- or seven-game series. That’s where the Brewers are right now.
Nelson already has one start with the Brewers this year. He threw 5.2 innings, scattering five hits while striking out six and allowing zero runs in the win.
The Cardinals are in on David Price and scouting the trade market. Here come the Pirates and the Reds. If the Brewers want to hold on to the NL Central, Jimmy Nelson better be coming, too.