Starting a fairly important series in Houston tonight, the Brewers have called up right-handed flamethrower Jesus Colome. To make room for him on both the 25-man and 40-man rosters, Milwaukee have designated R.J. Swindle for assignment. Swindle, who still has a minor league option left, was quickly snatched up by Tampa Bay on waivers.
While it’ll be nice to have another flamethrower coming out of the bullpen — Todd Coffey is the only other guy who can touch the mid-90s — it’s tough seeing the Brewers give up on Swindle after a very small sample size of just 6 2/3 Major League innings. To me, it’s reminiscent of a couple years ago, when the Brewers gave up on Grant Balfour after a particularily ugly outing in Cincinnati (Swindle’s downfall came in Los Angeles). Ironically, both players were claimed by the Rays — and Balfour played a huge part in Tampa’s bullpen success last year, posting a 1.54 ERA in 58 1/3 innings (he’s since come back to Earth a bit with an ERA over 4 this year).
The Brewers signed Colome to a minor league deal just a couple weeks ago, and the former National turned in four solid outings for Triple A Nashville. The 31-year old Colome was let go by Washington after putting up an ERA over 8 in 15 innings. He has proven to be a fairly solid middle reliever despite playing on some poor teams, though, pitching in 61 games in each of the past two seasons with the Nats.
Swindle, a Triple A All-Star for the Sounds this year, once again struggled to get big league hitters out despite fooling quite a few with his deceptively slow curveballs and eephus pitches. I still have hopes of him becoming a serviceable MLB reliever, but it looks like he just got caught up in a numbers game in Milwaukee, much like Balfour did. He just needs some time to figure things out, but unfortunately the Brewers aren’t in a position to give him that time right now, they needed to clear a 40-man roster spot for Colome, and they have a left-handed reliever who’s easily outproducing him (Mitch Stetter, who easily could be considered this year’s bullpen MVP).
Colome should be available to pitch tonight against the Astros if needed. At the very least, this means Chris Smith won’t have to pitch in many close games. Here’s to hoping that Colome can be that solid 7th inning guy Ken Macha has been looking for, leaving Coffey and Trevor Hoffman for the 8th and 9th innings, respectively.