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Activated from IL, Lauer comes on in relief

@AdamMcCalvy
July 26, 2020

The Brewers activated left-hander Eric Lauer from the COVID-19 related injured list prior to Sunday's 9-1 loss in the series finale to the Cubs at Wrigley Field, and he immediately made an impact after a short start by Freddy Peralta. Entering in a 5-0 ballgame with one out in the

The Brewers activated left-hander Eric Lauer from the COVID-19 related injured list prior to Sunday's 9-1 loss in the series finale to the Cubs at Wrigley Field, and he immediately made an impact after a short start by Freddy Peralta.

Entering in a 5-0 ballgame with one out in the fourth, Lauer escaped a bases-loaded jam by striking out Kyle Schwarber. He would go on to pitch 2 2/3 scoreless innings, allowing one hit and one walk while fanning six batters.

“It was coming out well,” Lauer said. “My mechanics and everything felt good. I had been working on that a little bit during the offseason, then throughout spring and Summer Camp. I was really happy with my pitch shapes and the way the ball was coming out. I wish we would have had a different result with the game, but that’s how it goes sometimes.”

It is unclear how long Lauer will remain in the bullpen.

The traditional roles of starting pitchers and relievers have not quite applied to the Brewers for several years under manager Craig Counsell and president of baseball operations David Stearns, who have been among those at the forefront of the industry-wide blurring of the lines in favor of what Counsell calls “out-getters.” Last year, for the first time in franchise history, the Brewers didn’t have a single pitcher log enough innings to qualify for the ERA title, and Counsell warned before the start of this 60-game regular season, with 30-man rosters at the start and an expanded bullpen, “don't get stuck thinking this is going to be the traditional five guys and a starting pitcher every day.”

Lauer came to the Brewers as part of a trade with the Padres the day before Thanksgiving and was San Diego’s Opening Day starter in 2019. He will start for the Brewers at some point. So will veteran left-hander Brett Anderson, who opened the season on the 10-day IL with a blister on the index finger of his pitching hand.

But when would those lefties join the rotation? That remains to be determined.

On Sunday, all Counsell offered regarding a plan for Lauer was, “he’s available today. He’s ready to go.”

Lauer started a camp game at the Brewers’ alternate training site on Wednesday and worked two innings. He never tested positive for COVID-19, but came in close contact before camp with someone who did, so his arrival was delayed, and he was behind the other pitchers.

The Brewers’ opening rotation has gone Brandon Woodruff, Corbin Burnes, Peralta so far, and Adrian Houser, Josh Lindblom and Woodruff are currently listed by the team as scheduled starters for three games in Pittsburgh from Monday through Wednesday. Burnes and Peralta have experience in relief, and have at times thrived in that role. Burnes became a significant bullpen piece for the Brewers as a rookie in the 2018 postseason, and Peralta even picked up a save last July, when Counsell opted to use Josh Hader for the heart of the opposing order before the ninth inning of a win over the Reds.

To make room for Lauer on the active roster and on the 40-man roster, the Brewers designated for assignment reliever Mike Morin. He didn’t appear in either of Milwaukee’s first two regular-season games.

Holt sidelined by ankle
There was a reason that Brewers utility man Brock Holt didn’t see action in the first two games of the season and was not part of the starting lineup again on Sunday. He sprained an ankle prior to Friday’s Opening Day loss to the Cubs, Counsell said. He described the injury as minor.

“Right now he is day to day, is what I would say,” Counsell said.

Veteran Ryan Braun was also absent from the lineup on Saturday and Sunday after serving as the Brewers’ designated hitter on Opening Day. He was sidelined by left oblique, back and neck issues for much of Summer Camp, but improved just in time to make the opening roster.

When asked about Braun’s health on Sunday morning, Counsell said, “Ryan is available for the game. He’s available to play today.”

Up next
After playing an exhibition game at the White Sox and a three-game opening series against the Cubs, the Brewers were scheduled to board a plane for the first time Sunday to go play the Pirates in Pittsburgh. Monday’s 6:05 p.m. CT game scheduled to be the 2020 regular-season debut of right-hander Houser, who finished last season with a 3.28 ERA and a .641 opponents’ OPS in his final 12 starts.

Of the travel logistics, Houser said, “I’m not sure exactly how it’s going to go. I know they’ll have seating charts and stuff like that, and obviously we’ll all be wearing masks and doing everything we can to take care of our part, make sure we’re keeping everything sanitized and keep everyone healthy around here. Everybody is doing a great job of that so far. Our medical staff and everyone who is handling that has done a great job taking care of us.

“It’s starting to become the normal routine. It’s still real weird with no fans and all of the stuff we have to do, but I think everybody is focused on playing baseball. These are the things we have to do to be able to play baseball, and I think everybody is on board with it.”

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