TODAY: Nelson has been officially recalled, as per the Brewers’ official Twitter feed. Righty Taylor Williams was optioned to Triple-A to create roster space.
SUNDAY: Jimmy Nelson will make his long-awaited return to the majors on Wednesday, as Brewers manager Craig Counsell told reporters (including MLB.com’s Adam McCalvy) that Nelson will be promoted from Triple-A to start the Brewers’ game against the Marlins.
Wednesday happens to be Nelson’s 30th birthday, making it double the cause for celebration as the right-hander will appear in a Major League game for the first time since September 8, 2017. At the time, Nelson was in the midst of a breakout season that saw him post a 3.49 ERA, 10.2 K/9, and 4.15 K/BB rate over 175 1/3 innings, numbers that earned him a ninth-place finish in NL Cy Young Award voting.
Labrum surgery put Nelson on the shelf, however, and the recovery process lingered long enough that hopes of a midseason return (or even a late-season return to boost the Brewers’ pennant run) in 2018 were dashed. Through the long rehab, a couple of setbacks due to soreness, extended Spring Training outings, and five recent appearances for Triple-A San Antonio to further regain his game-readiness, Nelson is finally set to take the ball for Milwaukee.
The return could hardly come at a more opportune time for the Brewers, who lost both Gio Gonzalez (arm fatigue) and Jhoulys Chacin (back strain) to the IL within the last two days. Needless to say, the team will surely be careful about managing Nelson’s workload, and return to his 2017 form may be optimistic, but Nelson should be a boost to a Milwaukee rotation that has been looking for consistent results. Brandon Woodruff and Zach Davies have been solid all year, with Gonzalez and Chase Anderson playing increasingly large roles over the course of the season, though the Brew Crew has again been leaning on its deep bullpen to carry the pitching load as the team battles for the NL Central title.
How Nelson holds up in the coming weeks will be a factor in the Brewers’ trade deadline plans, as pitching depth would surely seem to be an obvious need perhaps even if Nelson does perform well. It should be noted that the Brewers have been linked to Dallas Keuchel’s market, though Milwaukee will be one of many teams vying for the free agent starter once Keuchel loses the compensatory draft pick (via the qualifying offer) attached to his services tomorrow. If Keuchel proves to be too pricey, the Brewers could explore lower-cost options in trades.