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Aaron Ashby joins Brewers in Philadelphia as team continues hunt for pitching reinforcements

PHILADELPHIA – Just how uncertain is the Milwaukee Brewers' starting pitching situation at this point?

Enough so that left-hander Aaron Ashby was at Citizens Bank Park on Tuesday as part of the taxi squad as the team figures out how to best navigate its latest injury issues.

Rookie left-hander Robert Gasser is unavailable and awaiting a second opinion from Dr. Keith Meister on what's being described as tightness and soreness in his elbow. It appears highly unlikely at this point that Gasser will make his next scheduled start Friday in Detroit.

Aaron Ashby rejoined the Brewers on Tuesday in Philadelphia, with a start likely looming on Wednesday.
Aaron Ashby rejoined the Brewers on Tuesday in Philadelphia, with a start likely looming on Wednesday.

The Brewers also declined to name a starter for Wednesday's series finale at Philadelphia.

But with Jared Koenig opening for the second straight game on Tuesday and Colin Rea following Koenig to provide the "true" starter's innings, it's shaping up to be Ashby against the Phillies and then perhaps back to Freddy Peralta for opener against the Tigers with an off day Thursday.

"We're getting to the bottom of it," manager Pat Murphy said of Gasser's situation. "That's why Ashby's here today, on the taxi squad. We'll get more information and figure out what's going on with Gas."

Gasser was shut down during the second half of spring training due to a similar issue with his elbow, and he didn't pitch his first game at Class AAA Nashville until April 24.

He made his major-league debut on May 10. Gasser's last start came on Saturday against the Chicago White Sox, a game in which he struggled but threw 77 pitches over five innings. There was no mention of a potential injury until Monday in Philadelphia.

Murphy said Tuesday that Gasser's first MRI looked "pretty normal." Through five starts, Gasser is 2-0 with a 2.57 ERA and WHIP of 1.04. He hadn't been generating his normal swing and miss with 16 strikeouts in 28 innings, but that hadn't been considered as any sort of red flag.

"Anytime a pitcher has throwing elbow soreness (it's taken seriously)," Murphy said. "Now, the fact that he finished the five innings and his stuff was pretty close to what it's always been is encouraging.

"But you can't take chances."

Through a team spokesman, Gasser declined to comment on his injury situation until he receives his second opinion.

As recently as last week, the Brewers had been planning on keeping Ashby at Nashville as he continues his road back from 2023 shoulder surgery. He was 1-3 with a 6.80 ERA and WHIP of 1.97 in 10 appearances (nine starts) with 43 strikeouts in 43 ⅔ innings.

Should he start Wednesday, Ashby will be coming off his best performance of the season: Seven shutout innings with two hits, three walks and five strikeouts in a win at Memphis on May 31.

No doubt, that played into bringing him up as opposed to rookie right-hander Tobias Myers, who didn't pitch well this last time out against the White Sox.

Ashby made one start for the Brewers earlier in the season, taking the loss after a 3 ⅔-inning outing at Cincinnati on April 8.

To this point, three of the five pitchers in Milwaukee's starting rotation to open the season are on the injured list (DL Hall, Jakob Junis and Joe Ross). Wade Miley, who made two starts, is out for the season after undergoing Tommy John surgery.

But Junis began a minor-league rehab assignment with Nashville on Tuesday and Ross is likely to go out on a shorter rehab assignment of his own next week. Right-hander Taylor Clarke, who's been on the IL since spring training after undergoing knee surgery, has six appearances with Nashville under his belt – including a four-inning outing – and could make his Milwaukee debut soon.

"The front office has done a remarkable job – nobody can plan for this many injuries – truly, of acquiring (pitching depth)," Murphy said. "And our pitching coaching staff has done an incredible job giving these guys roles and understanding. Because they really are hanging by a thread.

"Hopefully the Gasser thing is going to be okay in a couple of weeks and we're back at it."

This article originally appeared on Milwaukee Journal Sentinel: In wake of Robert Gasser injury, Aaron Ashby joins Brewers in Philadelphia