Baseball season is now starting to get back into full swing as pitchers and catchers reported last week. Although it’s way too early to make projections on anything, why not. The rotation has been the biggest question mark over the offseason. Will Jimmy Nelson be back? Do the Brewers need an ace in the rotation? These questions, and more, have circled the Brewers all offseason. A lot can happen from now to opening day, however, if it was today, this is how I would see our pitching staff.
Jhoulys Chacín, Chase Anderson, Zach Davies, Corbin Burnes, Brandon Woodruff
Chacín is a fairly obvious choice for the rotation, and also my choice for the opening day starter. Anderson and Davies are in very similar positions. Both struggled last season especially down the stretch. Davies battled a nagging injury and Anderson just couldn’t seem to find it. However, these two are still proven winners and definitely have the potential to do that again.
When you look at Burnes and Woodruff, you can’t help but be excited for years to come. Both are very young, talented, and flexible. They spent most of their 2018 tenure in the bullpen, but seem to be slated for the rotation (Initial Out-Getters). For Burnes, we have been reassured many times by Stearns and Counsell that they plan for him is to start. For Woodruff, he is a very solid option, but one who also adds long relief as an option.
Josh Hader, Jeremy Jeffress, Corey Knebel, Taylor Williams, Alex Claudio, Junior Guerra, Jacob Barnes/Adrian Houser
Hader, Jeffress, Knebel, and Williams all seem to be locks in the bullpen. After all putting up very impressive 2018 seasons, it seems that these guys are no doubters. Alex Claudio, who was acquired during the winter meetings, seems to be a solid lefty option. He looks like he will take the position of Xavier Cedeno or Dan Jennings.
When it comes to Junior Guerra, he will be a great long relief option. If Counsell’s pitching strategy is anywhere near to what it was last year, Guerra will be a necessity. When it comes to Barnes or Houser, I really couldn’t decide, and I could make a case for both. It will be dependent on what Counsell needs in the pen. Barnes is a really solid arm, and will give you a strong inning and pretty consistent use. As for Houser, he is a young arm who would be able to go for multiple innings, similar to Guerra. Again, it will really depend on how Counsell will want to use the bullpen. Either way, both pitchers will get innings this season.
Throughout the offseason, there has been so many questions regarding Nelson’s health. I didn’t put him in any category, because his placement for the start of the season is all dependent on his health. He hasn’t pitched a major league game since 2017, which makes me think that he could start off in long relief. However, he has come out and said that he feels that he is ready for the rotation right away. Obviously, if he would enter the rotation from the beginning, one of the guys would have to get kicked out. If that would be the case, a possibility would be having Woodruff or Anderson enter long relief. That would probably put Barnes in the pen, and Houser to the minors. All this is really dependent on how he is feeling as spring training continues into games. What seems to be forgotten is how severe his injury was, therefore leaving a lot of questions on his position to enter the season.
Minor League Options
Freddy Peralta, Aaron Wilkerson, Josh Tomlin, Bobby Wahl
You can’t go through a major league season only using roughly 13 pitchers, that is just unrealistic. That is where all of these arms find their value. Peralta was another pleasant young surprise from last year. After a very strong debut, over time he seemed to become less effective. I see this being one problem, no secondary pitch. If he is able to get his curveball more developed and consistent in the minors this year, he could be unstoppable. However, that doesn’t mean he will be off limits for a mid season call up.
Wilkerson is a great option for a bullpen pick me up. He brings a good arm, and will be a great call up for a bullpen revamp. Tomlin is a veteran guy who was signed to a minor league contract. Although, he could be the next Wade Miley, it does look like he will starting off in the minors. Lastly is Bobby Wahl, a very young and potential filled arm. He also has a lot of options, which will be great considering this year it seems he will be an up and down pitcher.
Well there you go, way too early pitcher projections for the 2019 season. As I mentioned before, it is way too hard to pick out where pitchers are going to be for the season. Lots of things can happen between now and then, like injuries, or maybe an acquisition. However all we can do now, is enjoy baseball entering our lives again, because baseball always seems to work itself out.