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Suter latest starter to shine in tough stretch

MLB.com @AdamMcCalvy

MILWAUKEE -- The Brewers' starting rotation is a bit shorthanded, but has been surging, and just at the right time.

Brent Suter's seven quality innings in Friday's 13-2 win over the Phillies lowered the ERA of Brewers starters -- an alleged weak spot of the team with the National League's best record -- to 2.43 over the last 13 games. The run has come with last season's No. 1 starter Jimmy Nelson stuck in rehab mode, Zach Davies on the disabled list with a shoulder injury and Opening Day starter Chase Anderson searching for last year's form.

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MILWAUKEE -- The Brewers' starting rotation is a bit shorthanded, but has been surging, and just at the right time.

Brent Suter's seven quality innings in Friday's 13-2 win over the Phillies lowered the ERA of Brewers starters -- an alleged weak spot of the team with the National League's best record -- to 2.43 over the last 13 games. The run has come with last season's No. 1 starter Jimmy Nelson stuck in rehab mode, Zach Davies on the disabled list with a shoulder injury and Opening Day starter Chase Anderson searching for last year's form.

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"We're going into an important, tough stretch of the season and don't have a lot of off-days until the All-Star break. We're going to need our starting pitching," said Brewers manager Craig Counsell. "There's no rest for the bullpen with no days off.

"It's the time of the year you want these [starters] throwing their best, for sure, with how the schedule looks."

After three open dates in the past week and a half, the Brewers began on Friday a stretch of 30 games in 31 days into the All-Star break.

The Brewers' strength is their bullpen, which Counsell has used for 253 2/3 of the team's first 616 2/3 innings pitched, or 41 percent of the workload. A steady stream of call-ups from the Minor Leagues have helped keep everybody fresh, but with only one off-day in the next month, some of the workload may have to shift to the starting rotation.

It is currently led by right-hander Jhoulys Chacin, who signed a two-year free agent deal over the winter and is 6-0 with a 2.86 ERA over his past dozen starts. Junior Guerra, who starts Saturday against the Phillies, has delivered four straight quality starts. Anderson, who starts Sunday, shut out the Cubs on one hit for seven innings in his last start.

"Certainly, we feed off each other," Suter said. "We watch each other's 'pens, we watch each other try and get better all the time. I watched everyone go out and do well against the Cubs, and it fired me up, to be honest. The competitor in you wants to match what the other guys do, but once you're out there, you just try to make pitches.

"I'm proud of this group right now. We're on a good run. Our defense, our offense ... we're in a really good stretch."

The non-waiver Trade Deadline is six weeks away, and the Brewers are already being mentioned as a candidate to add a starting pitcher. MLB.com's Jim Duquette on Friday listed the Brewers among six teams that could cobble together a package for the Mets' Jacob deGrom, who would be one of the best available arms if New York makes him available.

The Rangers' Cole Hamels, Tigers' Michael Fulmer and Rays' Chris Archer are among the other established pitchers already seeing their names dangled as potential trade chips.

Does that sort of speculation seep into the Brewers' clubhouse?

"I'm hearing it all year, even last year, too. I don't take it as a diss or anything," Suter said. "Obviously, it's not my role to deal with that stuff, but all we can do is go out there and do our job when they hand us the ball. That's what we keep trying to do."

Adam McCalvy has covered the Brewers for MLB.com since 2001. Follow him on Twitter @AdamMcCalvy and like him on Facebook.

Milwaukee Brewers, Brent Suter