As the season winds down, the Brewers’ offseason plans and the outlook for the 2013 club are starting to get more and more attention. There isn’t expected to be as much turnover as last year, but there are some parts of the roster that will probably look significantly different next season. Among them is a unit that has been in the news a lot lately: the starting rotation.
With the loss of Zack Greinke and the impending departure of Shaun Marcum, what exactly the 2013 rotation will look like is still very much up in the air. Yovani Gallardo will almost surely be Milwaukee’s number-one starter, and Marco Estrada and Mike Fiers can probably be penciled in for two of the remaining spots, but there isn’t much certainty beyond that: Wily Peralta and Mark Rogers have both shown promise in limited duty this season, and will definitely get an audition for a job next spring. Tyler Thornburg doesn’t have the brief major-league success that Peralta and Rogers have enjoyed, but the Brewers still like him a lot and seem eager to give him a chance. If his rehab continues according to plan, Chris Narveson could enter the picture as well.
As of right now, the Brewers have at least seven in-house candidates for five spots. That doesn’t include Shaun Marcum, who probably won’t be re-signed unless the club winds up losing a contractual game of chicken with him, a la K-Rod last year. However, at this point, it looks much more likely that the Brewers will go after one of the numerous free-agent starters on the market this winter.
This year’s free-agent class is pretty deep in starting pitching, and it wouldn’t be a surprise to see the Brewers get involved, especially after Ron Roenicke indicated that he’d really like a veteran starter for next year. It’s possible that this is just wishful thinking on the part of Roenicke, but the Brewers should have some money coming off the books with the loss of Greinke, Marcum, and K-Rod. Fans hoping the Brewers can make a run at reacquiring Greinke are probably going to be disappointed, but there are a number of second-tier options who might make sense – depending on how things work out with their current clubs, Anibal Sanchez, Carlos Villanueva, Gavin Floyd, Francisco Liriano, and Ervin Santana could all be included in this list.
I already mentioned Narveson in passing, but he recently took a step forward in his rehab and will return to the Brewers at some point next year, if not to open the season. The lefty, who had rotator cuff surgery in April, threw a 20-pitch bullpen today, his first work off of a mound since the procedure. Narveson will continue to throw in North Carolina and Arizona this winter, and will hopefully be ready to assume a normal workload in spring training. There are a lot of things that could go wrong between now and his eventual return, and it’s unclear if he will retain all or most of his former effectiveness, but a healthy Narveson could potentially work wonders for the back of the rotation.