While Gasser seeks opinions on elbow, another top prospect set for MLB debut

June 11th, 2024

MILWAUKEE -- As one Brewers pitching prospect faces the possibility that his promising rookie season may be over, another is on the way up for a team thriving with a patchwork starting rotation.

delivered seven innings of one-run ball and Willy Adames homered as part of a two-RBI night in the Brewers’ 3-1 win over the Blue Jays on Monday night at American Family Field. Rea isn’t exactly a household name, but he has a 3.31 ERA after 70 2/3 innings and the Brewers are 9-4 when he sees the mound -- one reason they’re seven games up on the rest of the National League Central.

Now there’s another new name to know. With left-hander (MLB Pipeline’s No. 4 Brewers prospect) seeking a third opinion on his injured elbow, the Brewers will promote right-hander , Milwaukee’s No. 6 prospect, per MLB Pipeline, to start Tuesday night against Toronto, manager Pat Murphy confirmed.

When Rodriguez gets the call, the 22-year-old Nicaraguan would already be the 12th pitcher to start for the Brewers through 67 games.

“I think that’s a lot,” Murphy said.

It is a lot. The Brewers’ franchise record for a single season is 17 different starting pitchers, a mark set by the 1969 Seattle Pilots. The Athletics hold the modern Major League record at 24 different starters, first in 1915, when they were in Philadelphia, and then in 2023 in Oakland.

Rodriguez would slot into the rotation position vacated by Gasser, who is seeking a consultation with Dr. Keith Meister after getting two divergent opinions on his troublesome left elbow. The initial assessment was that Gasser could recover with rehab. But a second opinion from Dr. Neal ElAttrache, one of the foremost orthopedic surgeons in the country, was that Gasser should consider reconstructive surgery for his ulnar collateral ligament.

It’s a complicated case because Gasser already spent time on the injured list in March and April because of a bone spur in his elbow that was putting stress on the UCL.

“You’re probably not going to see” Gasser for the remainder of the season, Murphy said, putting Gasser in the same category as Brandon Woodruff (shoulder) and Wade Miley (elbow), two veterans who are out for the year.

“He had an elbow injury early, rehabbed it, came out and pitched very well, and [five] starts later, it’s back,” Murphy said. “One doctor says ‘get reconstruction.’ I don’t think you say something that serious if, in fact, there wasn’t something wrong.”

And if Gasser opts for the rehab route like he did in March and April, Murphy said, “then what are we going to get? And how do we know? And where’s the kid’s mental state going to be? He’s a rookie. So I’m a little more pessimistic about that.”

To be clear, that’s only Murphy’s sense. Gasser still has not made a decision about whether to undergo surgery and indicated Monday that he was remaining optimistic pending his visit with Meister.

Murphy and the Brewers, meanwhile, must prepare as if Gasser won’t be available. After an off-day later this week, the team has 13 consecutive game days. It’s a difficult stretch with eight pitchers currently on the IL, including starters Woodruff, Miley, Gasser, Joe Ross (back), Jakob Junis (shoulder) and DL Hall (knee).

Here’s a rundown of where those pitchers stand:

• Woodruff and Miley won’t be options the rest of the year. Gasser is working through his options, but even the best scenario has him sidelined for several weeks.

• Ross recently had a setback, Murphy said, and won’t be available to come off the IL during the team’s Southern California road trip as previously hoped.

• Hall departed the Brewers clubhouse on Monday afternoon and will travel to Triple-A Nashville to resume a rehab assignment. He’s been on the IL since the third week of April and was making progress before tweaking his knee during a May 23 outing in Nashville.

• Junis’ velocity was down during a June 8 rehab start with Triple-A Nashville, so the Brewers sent him to their complex in Arizona, where he is scheduled to throw four simulated innings on Wednesday. Pitching in a controlled environment, Murphy said, will allow Junis to implement several mechanical adjustments.

Murphy credited his coaches and players for keeping the ballclub atop the NL Central.

“We’re piecing it together the best we can,” Murphy said.

Rea did that job Monday by throwing first-pitch strikes to his final 21 opposing hitters after missing the zone with the first two batters of the night. Joel Payamps and Trevor Megill extended that streak to 28 straight first-pitch strikes to finish the game.

The rookie Rodriguez will attempt to pick up where they left off.

“I guess it goes to show how deep we are as an organization,” said Rea. “We can bring guys up like Carlos and fill in and do a good job. Everyone who has come up here has pitched well.”