(Photo: Mike McGinnis/Getty Images North America)
As of this writing, the Brewers pitching staff is last in the league in earned run average, as well as runs allowed. While the bullpen has had its ups and downs, the starting pitching has been remarkably ineffective – with the notable exception of Kyle Lohse. Although he’s cooled down somewhat, Lohse is still the only starter with an ERA under 4.00. Also, Lohse has pitched only 2.2 fewer innings than Yovani Gallardo, and Gallardo has had one more start.
A couple months ago, some Brewers fans were less than thrilled that Lohse got a three-year contract, but where would they be now without him? At the beginning of spring training, the starting rotation was supposed to be Gallardo, Marco Estrada, and some combination of Wily Peralta, Mike Fiers, Chris Narveson, and Mark Rogers. It seemed like the Brewers were going to ask a lot of several untested pitchers, but you never know with pitching.
As it turned out, Rogers never made it out of spring training when his velocity dropped. Last week, Rogers was pulled from his latest minor league rehab start after nine pitches with “tingling in his arm.” Narveson has also been on the DL, only pitching two innings out of the bullpen this season. Fiers never got going and was optioned. Peralta has been perfectly acceptable, considering this was the first time he made an opening day roster. Including today’s loss to the Reds, he’s had five quality starts. Of those early starting rotation candidates, it still feels like Peralta has the most upside, but who knows where he’ll be at the All-Star break?
Still, even if Brewers pitching hasn’t been inspiring so far, it’s easy to imagine how it might have been even worse. Lohse does have two victories against the Giants and Padres. Would those have gone in the “W” column if it was Fiers holding down that spot in the rotation? And even though they’ve lost games they “should have” won, the Brewers have also had a couple of questionable victories. They outslugged the Giants on one occasion when Brewers pitchers gave up seven earned runs. Then there was that game against the Pirates when Milwaukee gave up eight earned runs, but the offense powered them to victory.
If those games go the wrong way, and the Brewers could be 11-24, at the bottom of the division, well behind the Cubs. Five games under .500 don’t seem like such a big hole by comparison. There’s always a bright side in baseball if you’re willing to look hard enough. Would it be crass to mention that it’s still early?