The Milwaukee Brewers playoff hopes took a major hit on Saturday as the team announced right-hander Jimmy Nelson will miss the remainder of the season with a shoulder injury.
Nelson was diagnosed with a right rotator cuff strain and partial anterior labrum tear, which he suffered while diving back into first base after a single during Friday’s 2-0 win against the Chicago Cubs.
Nelson, 28, had been up and down over his first three full seasons in Milwaukee, but had taken a huge step forward this season to arguably become manager Craig Counsell’s ace in the rotation. Nelson will finish the season with a career-high 12 wins and a career-best 3.49 ERA, while compiling 199 strikeouts over 175 1/3 innings.
Nelson showed his value in Friday’s critical win, striking out seven and allowing four hits over five scoreless innings. His final inning actually came after he suffered the injury, making his finale all the more impressive and devastating at the same time.
Extent of Nelson's injury surprised Brewers officials b/c he reported such limited pain last night. He pitched an inning with a labrum tear.
— Adam McCalvy (@AdamMcCalvy) September 9, 2017
Friday’s victory pulled the Brewers to within four games of the Cubs in the NL Central. Milwaukee also entered Saturday three games behind Colorado for the second wildcard. If the Brewers are to overcome that deficit and make their first postseason appearance since 2011, they’ll have to do it behind a rotation led by 16-game winner winner Zach Davies, veteran Matt Garza and breakout pitcher Chase Anderson.
There’s some talent and experience in that group, but losing Nelson really tightens that rotation up. Considering the Brewers were being built to win in another year or two more so than right now, they can’t afford to be down a man at any position for the stretch run. Their depth simply doesn’t measure up to most of the NL’s contenders.
That’s the reality from a talent standpoint. As the Brewers have shown all year though, baseball isn’t always driven by talent. Their confidence and resilience has been strong all season, and there’s no reason to believe that will change any time soon. Just check out Saturday’s game for evidence. They were all over the Cubs, winning 15-2 to chop another game off their deficit.
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