Inbox: What are Brewers' plans for rotation?

Beat reporter Adam McCalvy answers fans' questions

September 14th, 2017

Prediction for the rotation the rest of season?

-- @Cohete009 on Twitter

I predict unpredictability. The Brewers waited until Friday morning to say that Jeremy Jeffress would start that night's game against the Marlins at Miller Park. It was to be another "bullpen day," which the Brewers have already pulled off twice in recent weeks, piecing together innings behind as he builds back to full strength from a stint on the disabled list.

Here's how manager Craig Counsell explained it:

"We're not trying to hide anything from anybody. We're playing the game, seeing where it leaves us and that kind of determines the next day in some of these spots," Counsell said. "So, Zach [Davies] will pitch Saturday, [Brandon] Woodruff will pitch on Sunday."

Isn't the uncertainty unsettling for the pitchers involved?

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"It's not unsettling, we just have to make a plan," Counsell said. "When you get into this mode, I think it's all hands on deck. That's the mode we're in. The players have completely bought into that, I think. Things change. That's what this time of year produces. It's not unsettling at all, it's just the mode we're in.

"I like it. It's a 'now' mode; a react-a-little-more-quickly mode. It means these games mean something. You have to deal with the hand you're dealt. We had a major injury [to Jimmy Nelson] that's caused a lot of this, so we'll just keep rolling with it. The guys have done a great job understanding they may be put in a different spot, and there might be a little less notice for it. But also, why that's happening is because we're playing really important games. The ability for us to be flexible this time of year is created by some extra people on the roster, and we'll take advantage of that."

I asked Nelson's agent, Nez Balelo, on Wednesday, when Nelson was scheduled to be in Los Angeles for a second opinion, and I asked Brewers general manager David Stearns on Thursday. No answers from either party as of Thursday afternoon on a plan for Nelson, who suffered a partially torn labrum and a strained rotator cuff in his right shoulder sliding back to second base last week at Wrigley Field.

He is out for the remainder of this season, and potential postseason, and the big question remains whether he will miss the start of the 2018 regular season. That depends on whether he undergoes surgery, and how invasive that surgery is. Davies told reporters that Nelson did mention to teammates the possibility of missing some time next year.

But Nelson was feeling optimistic before departing for the second opinion.

"The position where [Brewers physician William Raasch] said he saw the partial tear, the surgery procedure is a lot more successful than just a regular labrum procedure," Nelson said. "He said that this certain procedure is 90-plus-percent success rate. So that's definitely good news, that part of it."

The Brewers have not disclosed any injury for Braun, who has five home runs and a .434 slugging percentage in the second half. Thanks to Statcast™, we've been able to note the unlucky nature of his season, with Braun consistently making solid contact not reflected in his stat line.

On Wednesday, Braun had one of his scheduled days off, and remained off after right fielder was scratched with a right trapezius strain. Why didn't they put Braun into action after Santana went down?

"I thought it was best to give Braun a day, basically," Counsell said. "He'll be back in there Friday. I thought it was best to give him a day to get what we need for the rest of the year."

Many have asked this, and it's difficult to answer without being privy to the conversations ahead of the Brewers' decision to call up . Jungmann had a strong season at Triple-A Colorado Springs, going 9-2 with a 2.59 ERA in a terrible place to pitch. But my best guess of why he was passed over is that he is something of a known commodity at the Major League level. Jungmann is 0-8 with an 8.64 ERA in his last 50 big league innings over the past three years.

Whatever the reason, it had to be a tough pill to swallow for Jungmann when he was sent home this month without a ticket to Milwaukee.

He's Ernest Riles in the Brewers' media guide, so that's good enough for me. The Brewers' rookie of the year in 1985 was eventually traded to the Giants for Mr. One Flap Down, Jeffrey Leonard. Today, you might find Riles visiting the campus of East Carolina University, where his son, T.J., is on the baseball team.