On Saturday, Milwaukee announced that Ashby will make his fourth start on Sunday in Minnesota, filling another open rotation spot with Freddy Peralta still on the injured list.
“Awesome,” Ashby said when asked for one word to describe his season. “Yeah, it’s been awesome. This is the season where I’ve had the most fun. Even down in Nashville, it’s an awesome team down there, really cool city. And then, of course, being up here with these guys -- incredible, incredible clubhouse we’ve got. It’s been a lot of fun. I guess 'awesome' is the best word I could think of.”
Ashby’s rookie season didn’t start out well. He gave up seven runs -- four earned -- and got just two outs in his debut against the Cubs on June 30. He was immediately sent back to Triple-A Nashville and returned on Aug. 10 to start the second game of a doubleheader, also against the Cubs, during which he bounced back with two scoreless innings.
Ashby was sent back to Nashville before returning for another doubleheader start on Aug. 14. This time, he threw four scoreless innings and allowed just three hits while striking out four against the Pirates. Despite the success, Ashby again returned to Triple-A after serving as the 27th man for both doubleheaders.
He returned to Milwaukee on Aug. 22 and threw two scoreless innings of relief against Washington, setting himself up for Sunday’s start.
“We've asked him to fill in where we've needed help and he's done a good job of that,” Brewers manager Craig Counsell said. “The last three times he's pitched have been under different circumstances and he's done the job well. We'll just try to keep building on that. In the end, it's about when you're on the mound, just trying to get hitters out and trying to make the routine part of it. Between when you're going to pitch, trying to develop some sort of normalcy with that and when you're on the mound, just try to get hitters out.”
The standout relief appearance showed Ashby something, and perhaps demonstrated he could have a relief role down the stretch.
“The success I had last game out of the bullpen was eye-opening for me,” said Ashby, a fourth-round Draft pick of Milwaukee in 2018 and the nephew of former Major Leaguer Andy Ashby. “Obviously, it’s a little bit nerve-wracking doing something that you’ve never done before. To have that success there, was awesome for me.”
While the Brewers held off announcing Ashby’s start until Saturday, he said he knew a few days prior, allowing him to prepare. He’s become accustomed to being ready.
“I think I’ve gotten into a routine of not being in a routine,” Ashby said. “It’s actually kind of nice. I like the unpredictability of it. It kind of keeps me on my toes. It’s not really frustrating to me or anything. However I can help these guys win games and get to the playoffs and everything, it’s what I’m happy to do.”
After missing three games with a left quadriceps injury, Willy Adames made his return to the lineup on Saturday as the designated hitter in an American League park. Counsell said it’s unlikely Adames would return to shortstop during the series in Minnesota.
“He's got a quad injury, so he's comfortable with where he's at and how he's able to run,” Counsell said. “Quads are very slow healing. We'll see where he's at, but we haven't been able to recreate symptoms so he's in good shape.”