Milwaukee Brewers: Assessing the 2019 rotation options

MILWAUKEE, WI - SEPTEMBER 04: Miller Park scoreboard during the second game of the final home series between the Milwaukee Brewers and the Chicago Cubs on September 4, 2018, at Miller Park in Milwaukee, WI. (Photo by Lawrence Iles/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)
MILWAUKEE, WI - SEPTEMBER 04: Miller Park scoreboard during the second game of the final home series between the Milwaukee Brewers and the Chicago Cubs on September 4, 2018, at Miller Park in Milwaukee, WI. (Photo by Lawrence Iles/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images) /
facebooktwitterreddit
Prev
2 of 7
Next
Milwaukee Brewers
SAN FRANCISCO, CA – AUGUST 22: Jimmy Nelson #52 of the Milwaukee Brewers pitches against the San Francisco Giants in the first inning at AT&T Park on August 22, 2017 in San Francisco, California. (Photo by Ezra Shaw/Getty Images) /

Jhoulys Chacin

The Milwaukee Brewers were aggressive in their pursuit of at least one high-end starting pitcher (Yu Darvish) during the 2018 offseason. Although the team ultimately didn’t sign any “top-end” starters, it was a lower-profile signing that paid the largest dividends for the Crew during last season.

General manager David Stearns struck gold with the two-year pact Jhoulys Chacin signed during last Winter. Chacin quickly emerged as the ace that the Brewers rotation needed during this past season. His impact goes beyond the numbers, but let’s take a look at those quickly anyway.

The Maracaibo, Venezuela native started a career-high 35 games for Milwaukee finishing the season 15-8 with a 3.50 earned run average. He also set a career high with 156 strikeouts en route to being a central figure in helping Milwaukee reach the NLCS for the first time in seven years.

His true impact was the stability that he provided Milwaukee’s rotation. While the Brew Crew scrambled to fill rotation slots for the majority of the season, Chacin was there making his starts at every turn. Not only was he reliable to start every five or so days, but he was also reliable in his performance.

Although Chacin had just 12 quality starts (six or more innings pitched with three or fewer earned runs allowed) on the season, he allowed four or more runs during only seven of his starts. With a chance to win the NL Central, manager Craig Counsell turned to Chacin.

As expected, the right-hander delivered a solid 5 1/3 innings pitched while allowing just one earned run as Milwaukee went on to win the division crown. Chacin has earned his place within the rotation during 2019 with his solid performance during this season. The next player we’ll look at didn’t throw a single pitch during the 2018 season.

Jimmy Nelson

Milwaukee Brewers fans waited all season long to see Jimmy Nelson take the mound. Unfortunately, that day never came as Nelson didn’t appear in a game at any point during last season.

Nelson injured his shoulder, while on base, diving back into first base on a pickoff attempt late during the 2017 season. Although there was some early optimism for his return during the 2018 season, he wasn’t able to progress through his rehab as quickly as some had hoped.

The big right-hander turned the corner for the Brewers during the 2017 season and expectations are high heading into 2019. Nelson will look to build upon his strong numbers in ’17 and is expected to be ready for Spring Training.

The 29-year-old turned in his best season to date en route to helping keep Milwaukee surprisingly competitive during the ’17 season.  Although the Crew ultimately fell short of reaching the postseason that year, the stage was set for success heading into 2018.

Nelson finished 2017 with a 12-6 record and a 3.49 earned run average while starting 29 games. He finished with a career-best 199 strikeouts across 175 1/3 innings pitched to go along with 10.9 K/9 (strikeouts per nine innings).

Following a league-worst 86 walks during the 2016 season, Nelson cut that number almost in half with just 46 walks in ’17. That has given fans hope that Nelson has turned the corner in his development and could take his place in the top spot of this rotation.

Nelson has ace potential and coupled with Chacin and a hopeful resurgence from the next two players on this list, the Milwaukee Brewers rotation is far from a weakness. Let’s take a look now at a couple of returning arms with a good chance to be in the 2019 rotation.