Get ready Brewers fans! The season is FAST approaching, and the biggest story, for the most part, is a YOUNG ROTATION. You'll read about it, you'll hear about it on the radio, and you will see the coverage on TV. With Brewers GM Doug Melvin focused this off season on improving a struggling bullpen, it is pretty clear to this point, that the organization is content to run 4 young starters out in 2013. It's somewhat risky, as the Brewers have one of the best offenses in all of baseball. You have to ask yourself, is this the right year to go with the youth movement on the mound? Could the organization wait just one more year to do that? Corey Hart is on the last year of his contract. Aramis Ramirez will have only one year left on his contract following the 2013 campaign, thus making him prime trade bait. Nori Aoki will be nearing the end of his deal as well. Point being...maybe wait one year, make one more 'go for it' attempt, and then re-tool.
As spring training approaches, it is becoming clear that the young pitchers are going to be given the ball every 5 days. That being said, Brewers GM Melvin and the organization have somewhat of a rule that they try to follow. When 'grooming' a young pitcher, the Brewers do not like a pitcher to increase his 'innings pitched' from one season to the next, by more than 20%-25%. I thought I would take a look at when some of the Crews’ younger pitchers would reach that point. I base these numbers on an average of 6 innings per outing. But, is it that simple? You have to look at experience, and innings to find out. It's not just about 5 starters, as most MLB teams will use 6, 7, 8, or more starters each season. Let’s focus on the principle pitchers for the sake of this blog.
Yovani Gallardo: No problems in terms of 'innings pitched' as he has seasoned his arm to carry the workload of a top of the rotation starter.
Marco Estrada: In 2012 Marco pitched 138 1/3 in the majors and 8 at triple A for a total of 146 1/3. An increase of 20% is roughly 175 innings. Averaging 6 innings per start he would hit his 'increase mark' around mid September.
Mike Fiers: In 2012 he had 127 2/3 in the majors and 55 at triple A for a total of 182. With the 20% increase, there is no concern about workload.
Wily Peralta: 29 innings pitched for the Brewers big league club and 146 2/3 in the minors for a total of 175 2/3. Workload should not be a concern in 2013.
Chris Narveson: Chris is coming off an injury, however, the 20% rule shows no concern, as he has pitched over 160 innings in both 2010 and 2011.
Mark Rogers: Rogers pitched 39 at the big league level last season and 95 at triple A for a total of 134. Again, basing this on an average of 6 innings per outing, he would reach his 'increase point' in late August.
Tyler Thornburg: In 2012 Thornburg pitched 22 for the Brewers, and 112 2/3 in the minors for a total of 134 2/3. He would reach his increase point in early September.
The 2013 Brewers will need more than 5 starters in 2013. There is no doubt about that, based on the numbers above. A young rotation can win, as the 2012 Oakland A's proved, but with the Brewers offense as good as they are, a re-tooled bullpen, is 2013 the year to go with the young rotation? It’s going to be a TON of fun finding out. I can't wait for the season and the Rupena’s Baseball Post Game Show to get underway. I'm not calling myself old, but the years are flying by. It’s my 8th season of Post Game Show coverage, and I have loved EVERY minute of them. 'Smile Milwaukee, the World WILL Smile Back'!
Hey Brewer fans! As I do each year, I don't consider the Brewers season to "officially" start for you, until the Packer season is complete. Well, it's complete, sorry to break the news to you. The bright side? Well, we can focus on the Milwaukee Brewers Championship season of 2013. Note to 'board operators' at WSSP...hit the Bart Scott sound effect..."CAN'T WAIT"!! Are we all ready to invest some attention to our Brewers? Let’s do it.
Rotation: Yo, Narveson, Estrada, Fiers, and well, pick a youngster for the fifth spot. On paper, this rotation does not jump off the page at you, however, it's just going to HAVE to do. Unless Brewers GM Doug Melvin signs/trades for a veteran starter, the crew may have to hit their way to many, many wins.
Bullpen: Give Melvin an 'A' already, for taking care of business. Quite frankly, the reconstruction of the bullpen does not surprise me. He HAD to do it. Along with the offense, this indeed is a strong part of the 2013 team. Will they be flawless? No, but they will be a huge factor in the team’s success. This will be fascinating to watch this year.
Offense: Chicks dig the long ball? Yeah, and they will dig the 2013 team once again. This offense was one of, if not the best in the NL last year, and returns intact. In fact, some say it can get even better. Either way, Miller Park will be electric this summer. They can hit for power, their averages are respectable, and they play an aggressive style of ball while stealing bases at will. Yeah, occasionally the team will run themselves out of an inning, or a rally, but an aggressive team will have that happen to them.
Coaching: Manager Ron Roenicke will get better as a big league manager. If you think he's good now, then like any other line of work, one gets better with experience, and I'm CONVINCED Ron will. The team seems to be comfortable with Ron and the rest of the staff, so no changes, or even problems here.
Bench: With younger players trying to get in the mix, this may be an advantage for the crew. Watch for Logan Schafer, Taylor Green, Mat Gamel and more to improve this area.
So, we're off and running with the 2013 season. Here's to a season in which I have a total of 0 "rants". None, not a one. Nothing about the bullpen 'wheel of doom', nothing about mental errors on the basepaths, and no rants on missing signs. Those are all in the past, right? Right? Tell me they are...