Jimmy Nelson hasn’t pitched in the majors since September 9th, 2017, when he suffered a season-ending shoulder injury that cost him all of 2018 as well. However, this is the closest he’s been since that day. He’s now made 2 rehab appearances this season. The results may not have been perfect as he’s given up 6 earned runs in 8 2/3 innings pitched. These are a bit discouraging, but at the same time let’s keep in mind he’s had very little game experience before this and his rehab stint is not yet over. However, let’s still look where he could slot back in with the big-league team.
Jimmy Nelson was probably the Brewers best starter in 2017. He posted a 3.49 ERA over the span of 175.1 innings. He also struck out an eye-popping 10.2 per 9 innings. It’s not a secret that the starting pitcher hasn’t been strong this season. Corbin Burnes has already been removed from the rotation because he had a homerun problem. Chase Anderson is on the shelf with a callus. Those aspects in mind slotting him in the rotation right away seems like a great idea. However, its been so long since he’s faced a major league hitter it may be better to ease him in. At the same time if he can be 2017 Jimmy Nelson right away, he could be just what the doctor ordered.
The bullpen has been better lately, but most of April was like pulling teeth for this team. Jimmy Nelson could be this seasons Brandon Woodruff. He features a firm fastball and a plus slider which is what Woodruff featured out of the pen last year. This way Nelson isn’t expected to do too much at once. He also won’t burden the team as much if he has bad outings out of the bullpen rather than short starts. If Nelson is featured out of the pen he could turn into another high leverage at the end of the season. The ultimate bonus to him pitching out of the pen is the lack of baserunning opportunities and lower the chances of him sliding back to first base.
The final option for Jimmy is to be an opener. This way he can stay with his regular routine, but still not expected to do too much. Freddy Peralta has proven he still can’t get through first innings successfully, hurting the Brewers by not being able to give them length. He is averaging less than 5 innings per start. The Brewers tried this strategy against the Nationals. Using Adrian Houser as Freddy’s “Opener”. It worked to perfection as Peralta was able to go 5 strong allowing no runs. A role like that could be perfect for Nelson at least at first.
No matter how we use him or when he gets back to the major leagues the Brewers will be ecstatic to get Jimmy Nelson back. There is something to be said about a major decision like this. It has the potential to change the course of the Brewers season for worse or for better. Bringing Nelson back into the fold could be liking adding a frontline starter or shut-down reliever out of the bullpen. The Brewers will have tough questions to answer once Nelson comes back. However, it’s possible there is no wrong answer to this question and Nelson flourishes in any role they put him in.