Nelson's emergence a boon to rotation
MILWAUKEE -- General manager Doug Melvin mentioned Jimmy Nelson when discussing the trade he made minutes before Thursday's game against the Cubs, a 5-2 loss. Which might be considered odd, seeing how Nelson wasn't a part of the deal. But the emergence of Nelson, along with other young arms in the rotation, made packaging starter Mike Fiers with Carlos Gomez in the trade easier to digest.
Nelson backed up Melvin's vote of confidence, firing seven scoreless innings at Miller Park. He surrendered just two hits and retired 12 of the 14 hitters he faced from innings three to six.
Although Anthony Rizzo's three-run blast in the eighth off reliever Will Smith handed Nelson a tough-luck no-decision, he was satisfied with both the performance and his recent run of success.
"It was nice to string together some good outings and be more consistent," Nelson said. "I was able to get ahead, for the most part. Times when I went 1-0, I was able to make a quality pitch."
The trade overshadowed much of what happened on the field. Fiers, a teammate of Nelson's at Triple-A, was the odd man out in the rotation. Nelson, Wily Peralta and Taylor Jungmann will now be the building blocks moving forward; veterans Kyle Lohse and Matt Garza have proven to be too difficult to trade.
That didn't stop both Nelson and manager Craig Counsell from heaping praise on the departed Fiers.
"[Fiers] shows you don't have to have unbelievable stuff," Nelson said. "He competes and he gets after it. Sometimes guys who do that are more impressive than the ones who just blow guys away. [The Astros] got a good pitcher."
"Mike has been this under-the-radar guy who has established himself as a Major League starter," Counsell added. "He never took a back seat to anybody, and he had to fight for everything he got. He's earned everything he's gotten."
The trade is a part of a bigger organizational plan for the Brewers. Due to his team's position in the standings and the condition of the farm system, adding young talent was paramount for Melvin, who said it was difficult to part with Gomez.
"It was tough with Carlos, very emotional," Melvin said. "To have to tell Carlos this again after [the nixed Mets trade on Wednesday] was tough. All of the excitement that he brought to the organization made it tough. These [trades] aren't easy, but we felt there was too much momentum with Houston on this deal."
Nelson relayed a similar message.
"Everybody, at this point, by the time they get here, they understand it's just part of the game," Nelson said. "It's a business, and we understand there are moves made. We have to go about our business and take care of the game."