Brewers Rotation Looks To Rebuild….

Last year the Milwaukee Brewers made the post-season for the first time since the “Harvey Wallbanger” Brewers of 1982 made it all the way to the World Series. A lot of the Brewers success last year was fueled by their starting rotation. The Brewers finished 3rd in starters era in 2008 and were led by staff aces, CC Sabathia and Ben Sheets.

2009, however poses a new challenge for the Brewers rotation. Sabathia took the Yankees money and ran and Sheets is a free agent still looking for a team. So can the 2009 Brewers starting rotation replace those 24 wins Sabathia and Sheets left behind? Let’s take a look at the Brewers 5 man rotation headed into 2009.

1. Yovani Gallardo Gallardo missed most of the 2008 season with a torn ACL he suffered during a May 1st start against the Cubs. Gallardo was able to make it back in September and started 2 out of the 4 games against the Phillies in the NLDS. Fully healthy headed into 2009, Gallardo will be counted on to replace Ben Sheets and be the staff’s ace. That is a lot to ask a 23 year old.

If there is one thing Gallardo has done in his brief time in the majors, is prove that he can pitch. In 20 starts in 2007, Gallardo was 9-5 with a 3.67 era and in just 4 starts last year, Gallardo had a 1.88 era. If Gallardo can give the Brewers 30 starts in 2009, then 15 wins and an era in the mid-3’s is very attainable for this young superstar.

2. Manny Parra – Parra is probably best known for his August scuffle with teammate Prince Fielder. That is unfortunate because Parra is a very talented young pitcher. The Brewers 2007 Minor League Pitcher of the Year will be asked to have the same success in 2009 as he did in the first half of 2008. Parra was 8-2 with a 3.78 era in the 1st half before he suffered a 2nd half swoon which resulted with a trip to the bullpen.

The key for Parra is to harness his control (75 BB in 166 IP) and stay ahead in the count. When Parra was ahead in the count he had a 3.25 era and when he had a batter either 0-1, 1-2 or 0-2, they hit .214 against Parra. I think inconsistency still might plague Parra in 2009 but 10-13 wins and an era in the high 3’s is doable

3. Jeff Suppan – Suppan turned a miracle performance as the 2006 NLCS MVP into a 4 yr $42MM contract with the Milwaukee Brewers. What have the Brewers gotten in their 1st 2 years of this investment? A 22-22 record and a 4.79 era. This should be surprising to no one as Suppan has always been a mediocre pitcher as his lifetime record of 128-123 indicates.

Suppan at this point in his career should be a #4 or #5 starter. Unfortunately for the Brewers he is their #3. Expect Suppan to put up 9-10 wins, 10-12 losses and an era hovering around the 5 mark for 2009

4. Dave Bush – Bush has been a pretty serviceable pitcher for the Brewers going 33-31 in his 3 years with the club. Bush’s biggest moment as a Brewer came in Game 3 of the NLDS against the Phillies in a must win game. Bush hurled 5.1 solid innings only allowing 1 run on 5 hits and got the win to keep the Brewers alive for at least one more day.

Bush has more potential at this point in his career than Suppan so a surprise year could always happen. But I doubt it. Bush will most likely go his usual 12-10 with an era of 4.20 in 2009

5. Seth McClung –This is where the Brewers could use some help. McClung belongs in the bullpen but because of lack of depth, McClung will the be the #5 starter headed into 2009. McClung shined down the stretch for the Brewers in 08 posting a 1.10 era in 16 innings in Sept and Oct. Of course most of those innings were tossed from the pen.

5-8 wins should be expected from McClung in the #5 spot in the rotation. If the Brewers are in contention come July, Doug Melvin wouldn’t be shy about pulling the trigger. That would allow McClung to be back were he excelled in 2008…..the Bullpen

As you can see the Brewers starting rotation isn’t as in shambles as everyone makes it out to seem. While there is no denying they will miss Sabathia but if Parra continues to develop and Gallardo becomes the ace everyone think he can be, the Brewers might be in contention for a playoff spot yet again in the National League

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