The Brewers placed Chase Anderson on the disabled list Thursday with a strained left oblique sustained swinging the bat in the second inning of Wednesday's 4-3 loss to the Reds.
"We're probably going to lose him for a pretty good bit of time here," said Brewers manager Craig Counsell. "He's certainly pitching very, very well and we'll have to cover in his absence. It's going to be difficult."
Anderson's 2.89 ERA is 10th-best among Major League qualifiers, fueled by extra velocity on his fastball and newfound confidence in his two newest pitches -- a curveball and a cutter. In his last 150 innings dating back to last season, Anderson owns a 2.76 ERA.
But his surge came to a sudden halt in the top of the second inning on Wednesday. Anderson had mowed through Billy Hamilton, Scooter Gennett and Joey Votto on eight pitches in the first before striking out swinging to end the top of the second. On the fourth pitch of the at-bat, Anderson saw a fastball to hit.
"I swung at it and literally felt like someone just stabbed me in the left side," he said. "Not a good feeling."
Anderson struck out on the next pitch and walked back to the dugout holding his left side. He was replaced by reliever Paolo Espino, who surrendered a solo home run to the first batter he faced, Adam Duvall, that tied the game at 1.
If Counsell had a pitcher in mind to take Anderson's spot in the rotation, he declined to say so after the game. Espino is one option. Top pitching prospect Josh Hader, who has worked exclusively in relief since a promotion from Triple-A Colorado Springs and pitched two hitless innings after Espino, is another.
Or, the Brewers could promote a starter from the Minor Leagues. Former Brewers reliever Michael Blazek, who has pitched beautifully since moving into the Triple-A rotation, including 7 2/3 innings Wednesday without an earned run, is one candidate. Taylor Jungmann is already on the team's full 40-man roster and has also pitched well of late.
In the short term, the leading contender to provide bullpen help is Jorge Lopez, No. 13 on MLBPipeline.com's list of Milwaukee's top prospects, who was recently moved to a relief role for Double-A Biloxi and is on the 40-man roster.
"It could be a month, it could be two months. Hopefully nothing longer than that," Anderson said. "Obviously, I hate sitting out. I don't want to be on the DL, I want to pitch. I'm throwing the ball well lately. … That's probably the toughest part. I've given the team a chance to win every time out. I feel like I have four good pitches to throw at hitters. You feel pretty confident on the mound when you have all those weapons."
He will be the third Brewers starting pitcher to hit the DL. Matt Garza began the season with a groin injury, and Opening Day starter Junior Guerra missed about six weeks with a strained calf. Like Anderson, Guerra was hurt while hitting.
"It's just weird, one of those things that comes out of nowhere," Anderson said. "I take care of my body as good as anybody does in the weight room and running and conditioning, and this thing happens. I don't know what to attribute it to, that's for sure."