Brewers unveil newcomers to rotation

February 24th, 2020

PHOENIX -- Day 1 of the Cactus League, and the Brewers’ starting rotation turnover was on full display.

A rainout Saturday meant all three newcomers pitched Sunday in the opener against the Padres at American Family Fields of Phoenix. The Brewers signed and in free agency and have them ticketed for the season-opening rotation, with and . The other newcomer is , who came in a trade with the Padres and is competing with for the fifth spot, manager Craig Counsell said.

is in the tier after that. Then comes a group of other candidates, including non-roster invitee , though Miller will probably have to pitch in the Minors to re-establish himself before the Brewers consider him for the rotation.

“I like the mix,” said Anderson, who inked a one-year deal coming off a healthy season with the Oakland A’s. “We’ve got some veteran guys at the top and Woodruff, whose stuff is upper echelon in the league. … Of the guys who are seemingly in the rotation or in the running for the rotation, none of us pitch the same. You’re going to see a different repertoire day in and day out. I think that’s a good thing.”

Anderson started the 7-2 loss to San Diego on Sunday and was charged with two unearned runs in the first inning after ’s catcher interference. Lindblom followed and allowed a run on a hit and a hit batsman in his inning. Houser and Lauer each struck out a pair of batters in a hitless, scoreless inning.

“Just following the team the last couple of years with a lot of games on in Korea, you know how good the bullpen is,” said Lindblom, who pitched in the KBO from 2017-19. “So, as starting pitchers as a staff, you want to get as many outs as you can. There are going to be some nights they take the ball from us. But the thing as a starting staff, you’re going to be able to give teams different looks, kind of be unpredictable as a pitching staff.”

Asked to assess his status in the Brewers’ roster picture, Lauer said, “If I take care of business and do my thing and produce, I think everything will fall into place the way it should. You don’t want to get complacent with thinking, ‘I have a spot,’ and then you relax. You want to keep your foot on the gas and show them what they’ve got.”

Gone from the Brewers’ rotation are and , who were traded away in deals that cleared payroll. They ranked 1-2 in innings pitched for the Brewers last season and combined for more than 20 percent of the team’s regular-season frames. Those departures came after the 2019 Opening Day starter, , was released in August.

“I think we’re in really good shape from a starting rotation perspective, as far as how we’re looking at the spring and the choice we have to make,” Counsell said. “We’re probably as solidified as we’ve been in a while, from my perspective. Innings-wise, we might be in the best spot we’ve been in in a while.”

Does Counsell second-guess the decision to go young last year and include Burnes and Peralta in the opening rotation?

“When we have openings and we have young starters ready to compete for it, the answer we want is always going to be for those guys to take it,” Counsell said. “It has to be. It really does. They’re hard spots to fill. I think the challenge, for us, the seasons have proven that every game means something and, unfortunately, we haven’t been afforded the patience with some of these guys, so it’s led to some back and forth. But if you look at Brandon and Adrian, they’ve got to a point where they’re in a really good spot, and I think both guys are ready to deliver [a lot] of innings.”

Last call
• Brewers catcher was struck on the right hand by the final pitch of a ninth-inning strikeout and stayed down for several minutes while medical personnel examined him. He was to undergo tests to determine the severity of the injury.

was ready to go as Cactus League play began this weekend after working hard to rehab from right hip surgery last year. He served as the Brewers’ designated hitter against the Padres and expects to man first base in one of the Brewers’ split-squad games on Monday.

“That was the whole plan,” Healy said. “I came here for a month before report day to show them I was going to be ready. I was taking ground balls, hitting on the field, running bases. … I told them when I signed, ‘I just want to be another name in the crowd when spring comes. I don’t want to be full of restrictions.”

• If you had utility man in the “first Brewers home run of 2020” pool, congratulations. The Brewers like Rodríguez’s power potential and ability to play all over the diamond, but he has competition with the arrival last week of similarly versatile Brock Holt. The Brewers’ other home run Sunday came from Minor Leaguer , who was the return from Toronto in the Chase Anderson trade.

• The Brewers have split-squad games scheduled Monday against the Angels at home and the A’s on the road at 2:05 p.m. CT. Woodruff, the presumptive Opening Day starter, is set to start the home game, set to air on MLB.TV and Fox Sports Wisconsin (a simulcast of the Angels' broadcast) and the Brewers Radio Network. Burnes has the call for the road game against Oakland at Mesa, Ariz.