The No. 7-ranked prospect in the organization, according to MLB Pipeline, settled in right away, tossing four shutout innings.
In Game 1, the bullpen was called upon after just 3 1/3 innings from Anderson -- leading Jace Peterson to make his second career pitching appearance in order to not burn arms. Manager Craig Counsell hoped that Ashby would be able to pitch deep into the seven-inning game, giving him experience and the 'pen a rest.
Peterson, who spent time with Ashby at Triple-A Nashville and as a (kind of) pitcher himself, liked what he saw from the starter.
“He’s a good pitcher and I think that every outing he’s getting a little bit better, which is what you want to see,” Peterson said. “He has fun, he’s very under control. You can tell it’s not too big for him.”
The Brewers skipper was impressed with the 23-year-old's outing, but not surprised. Counsell knew that Ashby has the ability to get guys out at a Major League level, but he was impressed with his consistency on Saturday.
Ashby fanned four batters while tossing just 58 pitches. He held the Pirates to just three hits using a mix of three pitches -- slider, sinker and changeup.
“I think the changeup kind of got me back in the zone a few times when I got out of there,” said Ashby. “And I was able to get some soft contact early in counts and get some ground balls with the changeup. … It's something I always try to do is be in the zone and get ahead with my offspeed stuff. If you're able to do that, you're going to be successful, and it's something I put a lot of time into."
Rain on Friday night forced the Brewers to play two games on Saturday, but it gave Ashby the opportunity to pitch in the rotation -- last pitching on Tuesday in the second game of the doubleheader against the Cubs. Counsell had the young southpaw stick around in case rain would allow for a 27th man to be added to their roster. Lo and behold, that was the case in Pittsburgh.
“It was see how the game goes, pitch as long as you can,” said Ashby on the plan for his third career start. “Obviously, given the situation, we got three guys in the bullpen there who are really, really good late in the game, so it was time to turn it over to them and that's what we did, so that's good. … I feel great with where I'm at right now. Getting to be in that routine of things and, you know, get back on that five-day, six-day, whatever it may be, and looking forward to it.”
When you have a starting pitcher on the mound who is throwing strikes the way Ashby was, his team wanted to ensure a win. Pinch-hitter Rowdy Tellez smacked a Statcast-projected 445-foot home run into the Allegheny River in the sixth inning, giving the Brewers even more insurance runs.
The home runs didn’t stop there as Avisaíl García knocked a homer in the seventh inning in his first game back after being hit by a pitch in the game against the Cubs earlier this week.
“It feels amazing every time we can contribute for the team and win,” said García of the hit. “It makes me happy, it makes me proud. I have to continue to work hard and do my best every single day.”