There is some doubt as to what the pitching rotation will be going into the season, especially with the current ace Jimmy Nelson hurt from a base running injury. But the Brewers have already made some moves to help in his absence, Jhoulys Chacin, and the return of Yovani Gallardo.
I think it will be tough, but here is what I think the 2018 rotation will look if the season started today.
Ace: Chase Anderson
The 30-year-old Chase Anderson is coming off a great 2017 season in which he finished 12-4 with a 2.74 ERA in 25 starts. With those numbers, and finally being back to full health, Chase is looking like the clear-cut ace without Nelson unless a move is made.
2: Zach Davies
Coming off a season finishing second in the NL in wins, Zach Davies is heading towards a promising future with Milwaukee. The 25-year-old finished 17-9 last season, with a 3.90 ERA in 33 starts, in what fans hope to be his coming out party. It seems like a lot of days he pitched, he got a lot of run support, but maybe the team just likes him more..?
3: Jhoulys Chacin
After signing with the Brew Crew as a free agent in December, Chacin, 30, is looking like a much needed back end rotation guy. Last season with the Padres, Chacin had a team high 13 wins with a 3.89 ERA in 32 starts, if he can duplicate that this season, it will be a win for the Brewers.
4: Brent Suter
The 28 year old drafted from Harvard, has really put his own spin on pitching in todays MLB- no pun intended. His unorthodox speed just frustrates batters to the point where they make mistakes. In 2017 he went 3-2 with a 3.42 ERA, but his downfall is that he usually does not last long into games. I think because of his effectiveness, he will be in the rotation, but he could easily get out played in spring training. If that happens, he will be an excellent guy to have coming out of the pen due to his speed changes.
5a: Yovani Gallardo
If Jimmy Nelson was not hurt, I don’t think Milwaukee brings in Gallardo, but here we are. Yo has gone off to have a pretty decent career after leaving Milwaukee, but he certainly has been declining. In 2017 he went 5-10 with a 5.72 ERA, he was horrible in Seattle, but if he can somehow return to his old self, he’s worth it. With that said, I also think there is a good possibility Milwaukee cuts Gallardo before spring training ends to make room for a young guy. Time will tell.
5b: Brandon Woodruff
For me, Woodruff made enough of a case last year when a couple guys went down to get a crack at the rotation. In 8 starts he went 2-3 with a 4.81 ERA but really showed he belongs on the MLB mound. It is a toss up here for me, but I did hear rumors of a 6-man rotation to begin the season for Milwaukee, for Woodruff that might be his savior.
Odd men out: Aaron Wilkerson, Junior Guerra
Wilkerson looks like he is ready for the bigs, but with the additions, and the current rotation, he just isn’t quite there yet. Wilkerson was 11-4 in the minors in 2017 and is definitely a guy who is hoping to work towards a starting spot in Milwaukee. If someone goes down, or he dominates spring training he certainly could see time in Milwaukee, but as of now I think he will start the season in the bullpen.
Junior Guerra was possibly the best 31-year-old rookie in Brewers history. But unfortunately, it looks like teams have figured him out, and his age is already showing. Although he started on opening day, and injured himself out of the batters box, he doesn’t look like he will be in the rotation. But after all those years in the minors, being in the bullpen is still an upgrade, and he will be a good long inning guy to have out there.
All in all, the Brewers will have a tough time figuring out who to put where, but that is a good problem to have. I really think they will still make another move to bring in an ace, or compliment to Nelson, which could really elevate the Brewers to the next level, but we will see.