May 23rd, another game, another injury. For Brewer fans, the injuries at this point can almost be considered comical. Estrada lines a double down the left-field line and comes up limping at first. No matter the situation, the Brewers cannot catch a break.
The last few days Brewer fans have been analyzing the bullpen and minor league system to compile a list of potential fillers. So today begs the question; who will be the Brewers #5 pitcher for the next 3-5 starts? Let's take a look:
· Manny Parra - Most likely the option Melvin goes with. He has shown some promise coming out of the pen this year tallying a 3.70 ERA, 1.36 WHIP, and 25 strikeouts in only 24.1 innings pitched. From the surface those numbers are very respectable, even encouraging. However, the past shows Parra has struggled in a starting role. Take 2009 for example, in 27 starts he compiled a 11-11 record with an eye sore of an ERA, 6.36. Even more alarming, he is allowing nearly two runners on-base per inning. The only thing he has going for him at this moment is big league experience.
· Michael Fiers - At this time last year I don't think anyone would argue the fact Fiers shouldn't be called up, even Melvin. Last year, Fiers, was without a doubt, one of the Brewers best minor league pitchers. In 126 innings, Fiers compiled a very impressive 0.94 WHIP (83 hits, 36 walks) while striking out 132 batters. Unlike his teammate Peralta, Fiers won't dazzle or blow anyone away with his pitch speed. He relies on finesse and control to get batters out.
Even though this year he is struggling to duplicate last year's performance, he still has some decent numbers.
· Wily Peralta - Peralta is currently the top prospect in the Brewers organization. His last two years have been consistent, and very impressive. With a plus fastball and curveball, Peralta keeps his hitters guessing. Last year he had an above average ground-out to air-out ratio of 1.39, to go along with 157 strikeouts and a 1.23 WHIP in 150.2 innings.
This year is a different story for Peralta. I wish I could say in a good way, but unfortunately not. His numbers this year are way out of the ordinary for Peralta. He has a compiled a 5.63 ERA, 1.44 WHIP, and 25 walks in only 48 innings pitched. About the only thing he has been able to keep respectable are the opponents' batting average (.249).
· Tyler Thornburg - Here is a name that all Brewer fans are starting to hear more and more. By far, he is putting together one of the better seasons of all our minor league pitchers. So far in 10 games this year, Thornburg has already put together 6 wins. Opponents are only hitting .200 while barely maintaining the ability to scrap together a runner per inning. Quite simply, Thornburg's ability to get batters out is very impressive.
We all know Doug Melvin doesn't like to take risks with his prospects. Understandable when there isn't a reason to rush them. However, this year the Brewers need some type of fire, consistency, and fresh blood. What better way to do this then bring up Thornburg? Even though I believe he can bring all three of those traits, Doug Melvin simply won't do it.
For whatever reasons, Melvin finds it more important to worry about a prospects service time rather than what he can bring to the big league club. At 23 years old, Thornburg will be in his upper 20's before we even have to worry about free agency. I expect Thornburg to be sent to AAA long before he is even considered in Milwaukee.
Fiers is also a strong and interesting candidate for a call-up. At almost 27 years old, he will be in his 30's before Melvin even has to worry about him becoming a free agent, or expensive for that matter. His numbers aren't nearly as impressive as last year, but he has the stuff to be effective.
In the end, don't be shocked if you see Parra given the chance to start with Estrada out. History has shown Melvin likes to play it safe. Then again, can you call it safe with Parra starting?