Brewers right-hander Jimmy Nelson is closing in on his long-awaited return to a major league mound. Nelson, still on the mend from September 2017 surgery on a partially torn labrum, tossed 5 1/3 shutout innings of eight-strikeout, 86-pitch ball in a rehab start for Triple-A San Antonio on Friday, Tom Haudricourt of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel relays. Having thrown 14 1/3 effective frames at the Triple-A level this year, it appears Nelson will rejoin the Brewers after one more minor league outing on Thursday.
““It’s just time. It’s four Triple-A starts, close to 30 innings with spring training and extended (spring training). He should be ready and healthy for us to make a decision,” said manager Craig Counsell.
Nelson was the leader of the Brewers’ rotation in 2017, a 175 1/3-frame showing in which he notched an impressive 3.49 ERA/3.05 FIP with 10.21 K/9, 2.46 BB/9 and a 50.3 percent groundball rate. But the shoulder injury, which Nelson suffered on the base paths, knocked his career off the rails and robbed the Brewers of a potential front-end starter. Now, after a recovery process that has included some setbacks, Nelson’s not a lock to immediately slot back into Milwaukee’s rotation. Counsell noted the Brewers haven’t determined whether Nelson will start or relieve when he comes back.
Though the Brewers boast the majors’ eighth-best record (27-21), they’ve done it despite lacking a lights-out starting staff. Zach Davies, Brandon Woodruff and in-season pickup Gio Gonzalez have succeeded over a combined 22 starts, helping keep the team in ontention thus far. Chase Anderson has also done well to limit runs as both a starter and a reliever, but he has walked too many hitters and hasn’t exceeded the five-inning mark in any appearance. The team’s other current starter, Jhoulys Chacin, has come up short after a strong 2018. Meanwhile, youngsters Corbin Burnes and Freddy Peralta have endured disastrous campaigns and are currently part of a bullpen that could add Nelson if the Brewers don’t think he’s ready to reclaim a starting job.