As the Brewers get ready to play in the bright lights of the Bronx, they shuffled the roster around a bit on Monday. Zach Braddock and Mat Gamel make their respective returns to the big leagues, replacing Mark DiFelice and Sergio Mitre, who was designated for assignment.
None of this should really come as a shock. The Brewers need a left-handed reliever against the Yankees, whether it’s to face Curtis Granderson or flip Mark Teixeira around. Plugging Gamel into the DH spot or at first base is a better option than putting Mark Kotsay in those spots. DiFelice was the last pitcher up, so he’s the first one down. And Mitre is a dime-a-dozen long man.
Apparently, there are some people who are surprised.
The decision to designate Mitre was a bit curious because of his 3.27 ERA in 22 outings. But he had allowed seven hits and six runs in six innings over his last three outings and Melvin said he wanted to keep long relievers Tim Dillard and Marco Estrada in the bullpen.
I got at this earlier on Twitter, but what exactly is so curious about cutting loose one of the worst relievers in your bullpen? The only thing “curious” about Mitre is that 3.27 ERA, considering he was carrying a K/9 of 3.82. His FIP through 33 innings was 4.28. He wasn’t fooling anyone by throwing mid-80s without a good out pitch, and was at the mercy of his defense. He was basically a replacement level pitcher for the Brewers (his fWAR was -0.1; his rWAR was 0.3). He won’t exactly be missed.
Most of those against designating Mitre for assignment seem to prefer the option of sending Marco Estrada down to Nashville, so he can be stretched out to start. While that’s not a terrible idea, it seems like the Brewers are making these moves with their sights set on taking their best possible team into New York. It might be short-sighted, but the Brewers’ bullpen against the Yankees looks a bit better with Estrada and Tim Dillard there soaking up innings rather than Mitre.
Plus, as Doug Melvin told Tom Haudricourt, Takashi Saito looks like he’s finally ready to return in the next week. Perhaps Estrada gets sent down to be stretched out once Saito returns (although my money’s on Dillard). Even if Estrada never gets sent down to start, it’s not like the Brewers don’t have options. Frankie de la Cruz has been surprisingly effective for the Sounds, Amaury Rivas would have a chance of not being terrible over the course of a few starts, and there’s always Wily Peralta in Huntsville. Sure, none of those options look all that attractive, but all of them have a chance to at least be as effective as Estrada was while he was filling in for Zack Greinke.
In the end, losing Mitre and choosing not to send Estrada down likely won’t hurt the Brewers, and isn’t worth getting worked up over either way. There are rumors that the Brewers are getting a few calls on Mitre already, so who knows — maybe Melvin can flip him for a utility infielder/shortstop with a pulse.