WASHINGTON -- It was move-in day in the visitors' clubhouse at Nationals Park on Saturday, as the Brewers welcomed the three players they picked up in trades the night before plus a quintet of September callups.Besides Giovany Gonzalez, Curtis Granderson and Xavier Cedeno, the Brewers promoted pitcher Brandon Woodruff, catcher
WASHINGTON -- It was move-in day in the visitors' clubhouse at Nationals Park on Saturday, as the Brewers welcomed the three players they picked up in trades the night before plus a quintet of September callups.
Besides Giovany Gonzalez, Curtis Granderson and Xavier Cedeno, the Brewers promoted pitcher Brandon Woodruff, catcher Jacob Nottingham, infielder Tyler Saladino and outfielders Keon Broxton and Domingo Santana from the Minor Leagues. On Sunday, they will add former closer Corey Knebel to that list. On Monday, they will add Zach Davies to start the opener of a critical series against the Cubs at Miller Park.
Brewers equipment manager Jason Shawger was busy.
"It's Sept. 1, and you expect changes then," said manager Craig Counsell. "Acquiring three players from outside the organization is a rare day for baseball, that's for sure. We felt like we've made the team better. We've added some pieces, although it's just a month left in the season, that are going to have a chance to make some pretty sizable contributions."
Cedeno is a left-handed relief specialist, so he figures to see the field a lot. Granderson is slated to make his first Brewers start on Sunday so hard-working outfielder Lorenzo Cain can have a day off.
Counsell did not, however, have a clear plan for Gonzalez, who last started for Washington on Wednesday in Philadelphia and has a 6.55 ERA in eight starts since the All-Star break. The Brewers' starting rotation is set through the Chicago series, so Gonzalez -- who has a 3.06 ERA in 10 career starts against the Cubs but has not faced them this year -- could make his Brewers debut as a reliever.
Besides taking on the remaining $2 million on his contract, the Brewers gave up a Top 30 prospect (KJ Harrison) and a former prospect they invested more than $3 million to sign in 2014 (Gilbert Lara) to land Gonzalez and $250,000 in international slot money.
"I spoke with Gio today. Like I told you guys last night, he will start games for us," Counsell said. "Our rotation is set through Wednesday. He will be available out of the 'pen in the Cubs series. Then, we'll play it by ear and see how it rolls. We're at the point of the season where it's all hands on deck for a lot of this. It's about how we can get 27 outs."
Of the decision to not immediately slot him into the rotation, Counsell said, "He's going to get outs for us. Gio will get outs for us. If he gets outs for us, that's pitching. He will play a role on this team going down the stretch. I'm glad we have him. He started [three] days ago. He's not available to pitch right now. As he becomes available, he'll get outs for us."
As for the players promoted from the Minors, Counsell predicted they would play complementary roles. Woodruff, who has been starting at Triple-A, joined the bullpen. Santana, who recently rediscovered his power, is a potent bat off the bench. Broxton brings speed and terrific outfield defense. Saladino and Nottingham provide insurance on the infield and behind the plate.
"We have more choices in every decision," Counsell said. "We have to define where these guys are going to help the most. In a way, it's scripted a little bit."
Guerra gets another chance
With Davies' pending return from a long rehab for shoulder and back injuries plus the addition of Gonzalez, the Brewers could have reconfigured their starting rotation to remove Junior Guerra, who has allowed 14 earned runs on 27 hits in 10 1/3 innings over his last three starts. After Guerra was charged with six earned runs in 1 1/3 innings in Cincinnati at the start of this trip, Counsell said the staff would look at making a change.
But Guerra remains scheduled to start Sunday's series finale against the Nationals, Counsell said.
"We feel Junior has pitched well for us this year," he said. "I won't tell you his last start was a good start. I will tell you the starts before that were much better than they looked. There were a lot of indicators that say those were not bad starts. He had very bad luck in the Chicago start and the Cincinnati start. That's why Junior is getting the ball still. We still think he's throwing the ball well."
Santana thrilled to return
The most satisfied returnee Saturday may have been Santana, who was demoted to Triple-A in June with three home runs and a .354 slugging percentage in 211 plate appearances to search for his power stroke.
He found it in August, posting a .930 OPS to seal a September callup.
"I was trying to drive the ball and get on top of the fastball, stuff like that," Santana said. "I think that really helped me a lot. I didn't really change anything. I just went down there and did my best to get back on track."
Of the sting of being demoted after hitting 30 home runs for the Brewers in 2017, Santana said, "It was tough at the beginning, but at the same time I know I had to do my job and help the team win. And help myself and my self-confidence. I'm just glad it happened and glad I was in there every day and can come back."
Adam McCalvy has covered the Brewers for MLB.com since 2001. Follow him on Twitter @AdamMcCalvy and like him on Facebook.