COMMENTARY | Because trading for starting pitching is beginning to get a little repetitive for the Milwaukee Brewers -- although it seems to be the only way to ever bolster this rotation -- we'll take an approach general manager Doug Melvin typically doesn't explore, and rightfully so.
What are the best options inside the organization to help this abysmal starting five?
Let's be real here. There is certainly some trade bait on the current roster, but it's May and Milwaukee is several games below .500, so those discussions can wait for another day. And while the farm system is rather depleted from past trades, there are some bright spots in terms of pitching.
You just have to look a little harder.
Some options are on the disabled list, some are on the current big league roster and some are merely prospects, but the waiting game is getting a little old for this club. Something's got to change, and maybe one (or more) of the following hurlers could be the shot in the arm -- pun absolutely intended -- that the Brewers are looking for.
Mike Fiers (1-2, 5.93 ERA)
Making his first start since April 6 when he allowed six earned runs in five innings against the Arizona Diamondbacks, Fiers will fill in for Kyle Lohse (elbow) on May 25. He has put together 4 1/3 scoreless innings to lower his ERA by nearly three runs, but Fiers still sports the worst FIP (6.77) on the club.
Chris Narveson (Disabled List)
The current rotation features no left-handed arms, and manager Ron Roenicke is considering inserting Narveson into the rotation upon his return from the DL. That could be sometime in early June, as Narveson is set to embark on a rehab stint on May 27. Injuries have troubled him over the past few seasons, but Narveson served as a formidable No. 5 starter in 2011, which would make him something like a No. 3 on this year's team.
Tom Gorzelanny (1-0, 2.30 ERA)
Since Gorzelanny landed on the DL with shoulder irritation, the bullpen has flourished. It's not as if he was pitching poorly before the injury, but some late-inning roles have become more defined in his absence. Realistically, Gorzelanny will return to the bullpen seeing how he hasn't started a game since 2011, but if the Brewers needed to stretch him out -- hey, things are getting rather desperate here -- he would likely oblige.
Mark Rogers (Disabled List)
Rogers has been on the DL since the start of the season and suffered a bit of a setback earlier in May when he was pulled from a rehab start at Double-A Huntsville. It's been a few weeks since this occurred and we haven't received an update on Rogers' status, which isn't good. Maybe he works his way back to the parent club eventually, but it's also a possibility that the Brewers shut Rogers down.
Jimmy Nelson (5-3, 2.98 ERA with Double-A Huntsville)
You may have noticed we completely bypassed Triple-A Nashville on our way to Jimmy Nelson at Double-A Huntsville. There's a reason for that -- no starting pitcher on the Sounds has an ERA below 4.33 through May 23.
This leads us to the 23-year-old Nelson, a 6'6" righty and top five prospect who throws mid-90s heat. He's been in Milwaukee's system since 2010 and currently sports an impressive 4.58 K/BB ratio, meaning Nelson has excellent control. Is it realistic to think he could make a jump to the Majors this season? Before September, no, but Nelson gives the Brewers some hope down the road.
Ariel Pena (3-3, 2.95 ERA with Double-A Huntsville)
Coming over in the Zack Greinke deal last summer, Pena isn't quite as polished as Nelson, but has been just as impressive this season nonetheless. He and fellow Greinke trade member Johnny Hellweg (2-4, 4.33 ERA with Nashville) have been two of the better starters down on the farm, but that isn't saying much. The 24-year-old right hander still needs some seasoning if he ever wants to crack the big league starting rotation, but it's not like he could do much worse than Wily Peralta or Hiram Burgos.
Dave Radcliffe is a resident of a little known Milwaukee suburb who is a strict follower of Wisconsin sports. He has contributed to JSOnline, as a featured columnist on other sites and publications, and been a guest on multiple sports talk radio shows.
You can follow Dave on Twitter @DaveRadcliffe_ .
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