Today, 1:00 pm: Nelson will indeed move to the bullpen, per mlb.com’s Adam McCalvy. The team has not yet announced a replacement.
Friday, 8:00 pm: Brewers right-hander Jimmy Nelson is back in action for the first time since undergoing shoulder surgery in 2017, but it hasn’t been a storybook return to this point. The team’s now discussing whether to keep Nelson in its starting rotation, according to manager Craig Counsell (via Tom Haudricourt of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel).
Nelson came back June 5 and has since endured a difficult three starts, all of which lasted between three and five innings and ended in defeat for the Brewers. The 30-year-old has thus far yielded 13 earned runs on 16 hits and 10 walks (against 13 strikeouts) in 12 frames during his major league comeback. Adding to the bad news, Nelson’s velocity is down across the board since 2017. He has lost around 3 mph on his four-seam fastball, slider and curve.
An emotional Nelson called his early season performance “frustrating, upsetting and disappointing” when speaking with Haudricourt and other reporters, though he’s still confident he’ll return to form. Nelson blossomed into a front-end starter two years ago, when he turned in 175 1/3 innings of 3.49 ERA/3.05 FIP ball with 10.21 K/9, 2.46 BB/9 and a 50.3 percent groundball rate. It’s far too soon to say that version of Nelson won’t reappear eventually. However, given that Milwaukee’s pushing for a playoff spot, it may not be in position to keep running Nelson out there.
The problem for the Brewers is that they might not have an obvious solution to replace Nelson. Brandon Woodruff, Zach Davies, Gio Gonzalez and Chase Anderson have been useful members of their rotation, though Gonzalez has been on the injured list for three weeks and may not return until July. Meanwhile, Jhoulys Chacin, Freddy Peralta, Corbin Burnes and Adrian Houser have each posted unattractive numbers as starters this year. Chacin’s the lone member of the group who remains in the Brewers’ rotation. The rest are in their bullpen.
With the Brewers not getting enough from their starting staff, the reigning NL Central champions have stumbled of late. Although they’ve lost six of seven, the Brewers are 40-35, in wild-card position and only a game behind the Cubs in their division. Still, barring an in-house fix, Milwaukee may have to address its rotation before the July 31 trade deadline in order to clinch another playoff spot.