…AAA affiliate, Nashville, in a 4-game series in Des Moines against the Iowa Cubs. The Sounds are now 5-0 due to solid starting pitching:
* Cameron Loe, (1-0, 1.50), won the opener on Thursday, 6-3, allowing 1 ER over 6 IP while fanning 6;
* Chuck Lofgren (1-0, 3.18) won Friday’s game, 5-2, giving up 2 ER over 5 1/3 IP while fanning 6;
* Marco Estrada (0-0, 0.00) started the 2-1 win on Saturday, allowing 0 ER over 6 IP, giving up just 2 hits while fanning 5;
* Chris Waters (1-0, 3.60) won Sunday’s finale, 4-2, allowing 2 ER over 5, allowing just 3 hits while fanning 4;
* Chase Wright (0-0. 4.50) started Monday’s win over the Omaha Royals, giving up 3 ER over 6
While still very early in the season, the Sounds’ starters have gotten off to a better start than their Milwaukee counterparts. Still, if Suppan (0-0, 0.00) does indeed start Thursday’s game, as has been reported (most lately on FSN Wisconsin during Monday’s game), the Brewers will need to make a roster move, most likely sending Carlos Villanueva to Nashville and releasing a current Sounds’ pitcher (probably Tim Dillard).
Speaking of Suppan…having him start on Thursday against the Cubs seems like a strange move. It could be argued that having the right-handed Suppan go against the Cubs’ predominantly right-handed hitting line-up (including Derrek Lee, Aramis Ramirez, Xavier Nady, Marlon Byrd, and Alfonso Soriano) is playing the percentages (especially given how the Cubs’ smacked around southpaw Doug Davis on Monday), but Suppan, in his one rehab start for the Timber Rattlers in Appleton, allowed 7 hits and 3 walks against low-A hitters in just 4 1/3 IP. Perhaps Suppan dominated the Cubs (Chicago Cubs) last year? Nope–he went 0-3 over 4 starts. His ERA was a relatively low 3.80, but he walked 14 Cubs’ hitters versus just 10 K’s last year. 2008 wasn’t any better–1-1, 6.60 but just 4 walks over 15.0 IP.
Manny Parra (0-0, 0.00) or Chris Narveson (0-0, 1.93), both lefties, have been successful out of the pen, but seem to be slated to remain there due to the Brewers’ already having two lefty starters (in Randy Wolf and Davis). But once David Riske is ready to return to Milwaukee (probably sometime in May), Brewers’ GM Doug Melvin will have to make another roster move…speculation is that he’ll try to get either Parra or Narveson through waivers; the only other three possibilities at this point would be to release Riske outright, release Suppan, or release the third lefty in the pen, Mitch Stetter (0-0, 0.00).
Still, it seems like Suppan should get another rehab start in the minors before throwing him to the wolves…or at least having him wait until the series against the Nationals. But, perhaps, the Brewers want to prove a point to Suppan–to make him prove that he can be tough against good teams in the division, especially given the right-handed line-up he’ll face (Fukudome will probably start over Byrd or Soriano, so he’ll see a few lefties). The big question is–“if Soup does struggle against the Cubs, how long a rope are they going to give him?” My guess is three starts–tops–before he becomes a reliever.
Bottom line–the Brewers appear to have other options for a 5th starter should Soup be cold on Thursday.