COMMENTARY | Over a span of six years, the Milwaukee Brewers doubled their amount of postseason appearances in franchise history.
You know why? Pitching, that's why.
Names like C.C. Sabathia, Zack Greinke and Shaun Marcum in recent years helped lead the Brewers back to the Promised Land, and back in the early 80s, it was Rollie Fingers, Don Sutton and Pete Vuckovich paving the way to glory.
There is something these six players share in common -- none of them were drafted by Milwaukee. Each pitcher was acquired by trade, and when you look at the current rotation, three of the five pitchers in the starting five were selected by the Brewers in the MLB Draft.
There's also this little tidbit of information -- the Brewers have the worst starting rotation in the National League.
Certainly, Milwaukee has parted ways with some young arms to bring in some of the pitchers listed above, but the Brewers' abysmal history of developing pitchers can't solely be blamed on this fact. Whether it comes down to pitching coaches, scouts or just plain old bad luck, injuries have derailed several careers and many first-round picks simply haven't panned out.
Entering the 2013 season, the starting rotation was a major concern as the Brewers chose to ride it out with some inexperienced pitching. Even after the signing of Kyle Lohse -- he has received the least amount of run support in baseball -- this risk has not paid off.
Mike Fiers (5.93 ERA) only lasted one start before being demoted to the bullpen and has bounced between the minors and big leagues this season. Mark Rogers landed on the disabled list with shoulder fatigue before the season even began. Called up in Fiers' place, Hiram Burgos allowed ten earned runs against the Cincinnati Reds and has a 6.44 ERA through six starts.
But the most prized young arm on the big league roster is Wily Peralta, which is exactly why the Brewers need to send him down to Triple-A Nashville in the near future.
Peralta just turned 24 on May 8, and while he may be performing better than Fiers and Burgos, it isn't by much. He has five quality starts this season, but he's also allowed at least five earned runs on three different occasions and has a 5.94 ERA through nine starts.
The last thing Milwaukee wants to do is diminish the confidence and mechanics of Peralta, one of the most promising young arms in its system. The case can be made that Peralta has already been in the Brewers' system for seven years, but the Dominican has a bright future. He's a hard thrower with a nasty slider, but it's all about location right now for Peralta, who is allowing more than 1 1/2 walks and hits per inning.
The only problem here is that there isn't a legitimate candidate to take Peralta's spot -- at least not yet. Once Chris Narveson, who is set to begin his rehab stint next week, and perhaps even Mark Rogers, whose status is unknown these days, come off the disabled list, there is a strong possibility both join the rotation considering the struggles of Peralta, Burgos and others. Fiers' recent turnaround also makes him a candidate to return to the starting five.
For those wondering about options in the minor leagues, the only starter on Nashville with an ERA below 5.00 is Johnny Hellweg (3.72), but he has only one more strike out than walk in 2013. Down at Double-A Huntsville? Jimmy Nelson (5-2, 3.04 ERA) and Ariel Pena (3-3, 2.95 ERA) are turning some heads, but it's unlikely either would make a jump straight from AA to MLB.
Oh, and by the way, both Hellweg and Pena were acquired in the Greinke trade.
The bottom line is that pitching reprieve isn't in Milwaukee's immediate future, but Peralta will be important to the Brewers eventually. It doesn't benefit either party having Peralta with the parent club, so upon Narveson's return from the DL, the right-handed hurler should be sent down.
Dave Radcliffe is a resident of a little known Milwaukee suburb who contains an unhealthy amount of knowledge about Wisconsin sports. He has contributed to JSOnline and as a featured columnist among other sites and publications.
You can follow Dave on Twitter @DaveRadcliffe_ .
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