Milwaukee Brewers – MLB Trade Rumors 2019-06-20T19:19:46Z WordPress Jeff Todd <![CDATA[Brewers Release Brett Lawrie]]> 2019-06-18T16:36:32Z 2019-06-18T15:44:22Z The Brewers announced today that they have released infielder Brett Lawrie. He had been attempting to work back towards the majors on a minor-league deal after a long layoff.

Lawrie, who’s still just 29 years of age, hasn’t appeared in the majors since 2016 owing to a variety of leg ailments. When he landed with the Milwaukee organization, the idea was to build him back up physically before setting him loose on the ballfield to see what was left in the tank. Though his contract contemplated up to $7MM in earnings, it did not include substantial guarantees.

Milwaukee GM David Stearns explains that things just did not progress as hoped, as Tom Haudricourt of the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel reports (Twitter links). Though he credited Lawrie for his effort, Stearns says that the former first-round pick was ultimately not able to achieve “benchmarks” that had been agreed upon at the outset. Lawrie did not advance to a point that he was ready for game action, as he was never sent out on assignment with a Brewers affiliate.

Jeff Todd <![CDATA[Rangers Acquire Jake Petricka]]> 2019-06-14T19:17:22Z 2019-06-14T19:17:22Z The Rangers have struck a deal with the Brewers for reliever Jake Petricka, per a club announcement. Cash or a player to be named later will go back in return. Robert Murray and Ken Rosenthal of The Athletic reported the news (via Twitter).

Petricka, 31, signed a MLB deal with a minor-league split salary. He is optionable this season but was outrighted off of the Milwaukee 40-man roster. The Rangers have assigned Petricka to Triple-A to begin his tenure with the organization.

While he allowed only three earned runs in his eight frames of big-league action with the Brewers, Petricka managed only three strikeouts to go with six walks. He has been much better during his time at Triple-A, where he carries a 1.89 ERA with a 22:4 K/BB ratio over 19 innings.

Connor Byrne <![CDATA[Who Will Win The NL Central?]]> 2019-06-14T01:20:34Z 2019-06-14T01:20:34Z The National League Central looked like a three-team race at the beginning of the season, and not much has changed two months into the campaign. The Brewers, Cubs and Cardinals – the most hyped clubs in the division coming into the year – are at the top. After winning the division a year ago, the Brewers are 39-29, a half-game better than the Cubs. The Cardinals are a less impressive 33-33, five games back, though they’re certainly not out of the race. Meanwhile, the Reds and Pirates are eight and nine games behind, respectively. Neither looked likely to challenge for the NL Central at the outset of the season. They haven’t done anything to change anyone’s mind yet.

Led by reigning MVP right fielder Christian Yelich, brilliant free-agent acquisition Yasmani Grandal and offseason re-signing Mike Moustakas, the Brewers boast one of the majors’ most valuable groups of position players.  Their pitching hasn’t been as useful, on the other hand, as a rotation that was devoid of an ace entering the season has dealt with ineffectiveness and injuries throughout the year. However, the team still features elite reliever Josh Hader, with Jeremy Jeffress and Adrian Houser among those supporting him.

The Cubs’ position player mix has been even better than the Brewers’ this year, largely because Javier Baez, Kris Bryant, Anthony Rizzo, Willson Contreras and David Bote have each offered strong production. Chicago’s rotation is probably better equipped, too, as Kyle Hendricks, Cole Hamels, Jose Quintana and Jon Lester are all proven commodities. Although, Yu Darvish hasn’t rebounded as hoped in his second year as a Cub. Darvish & Co. have handed off to a bullpen that hasn’t been lights-out this year, but it’s about to welcome all-time great closer Craig Kimbrel, whom the Cubs signed to a three-year, $43MM contract last week. Kimbrel would have been a match for the Brewers, making it all the more beneficial for the Cubs that they landed him (on paper, at least).

As for the Cardinals, they’ve fallen short of expectations after trading for ex-Diamondback Paul Goldschmidt, one of the premier position players in recent memory, and signing reliever Andrew Miller in the offseason. Both players have logged somewhat disappointing production to date, though Goldschmidt’s still an imposing presence and Miller has improved after a rocky start. Regardless, neither the Cardinals’ cast of hitters nor their relief corps is their most pressing issue. It’s their rotation, which hasn’t gotten high-end numbers from anyone. Jack Flaherty and Miles Mikolas have gone backward after impressive showings in 2018, while Dakota Hudson’s peripherals portend trouble. Adam Wainwright’s much closer to average than ace-like these days (and he’s now on the injured list with a hamstring issue), and nobody has nailed down the fifth spot in the Redbirds’ starting staff.

Considering the talent peppered throughout the Cardinals’ roster, it would be foolhardy to rule them out as potential division winners this season. Furthermore, with the trade deadline still yet to occur, St. Louis or anyone else in the division could put itself over the top with a shrewd acquisition(s) leading up to July 31. For now, though, the edge clearly belongs to the Cubs and the Brewers. FanGraphs currently projects the NL Central to finish in this order: Cubs (91-71), Brewers (87-75), Cardinals (83-79), Reds (78-84), Pirates (75-87). How do you expect it to shake out?

(Poll link for app users)

Connor Byrne <![CDATA[Jhoulys Chacin Nearing Return From IL]]> 2019-06-12T04:42:35Z 2019-06-12T04:41:06Z
  • Brewers right-hander Jhoulys Chacin is on track to return during their series in San Diego, which runs from June 17-19, Tom Haudricourt of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel tweets. Chacin has been on the IL since June 2 with a lower back strain. Before that, he struggled to build on last season’s quality performance, logging 58 innings of 5.74 ERA/5.75 FIP ball with 6.83 K/9 and 4.5 BB/9.
  • ]]>
    Connor Byrne <![CDATA[Brewers Agree To Deal With 2nd-Rounder Antoine Kelly]]> 2019-06-11T04:19:34Z 2019-06-08T04:42:28Z
  • Brewers second-rounder Antoine Kelly, the 65th pick, has signed for full slot value ($1,025,100), Callis reports. The development of the 19-year-old Kelly – a lefty from Wabash Valley College in Illinois – “will require a ton of patience and he ultimately may be more of a reliever than a starter, but he has a rare arm,” Callis and Mayo write. They ranked Kelly 90th overall going into the draft.
  • ]]>
    Mark Polishuk <![CDATA[Brewers Call Up Jimmy Nelson From Triple-A]]> 2019-06-05T20:25:11Z 2019-06-05T20:24:32Z 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’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.

    Jeff Todd <![CDATA[The Yasmani Grandal Contract Looks Even Better In Retrospect]]> 2019-06-04T18:07:59Z 2019-06-04T18:05:47Z Just because you get a nice price doesn’t mean you oughta buy something. And it doesn’t mean that the thing you purchase will deliver utility commensurate with its cost.

    That’s true for MLB teams considering free agents as much as online shoppers contemplating another splurge … except that ballclubs face a notable limitation in the form of roster rules. Teams can’t necessarily have that super-functional fanny pack and a designer handbag, at least without giving up some other much-needed accessory.

    In baseball, especially, the gold standard isn’t cost-efficiency standing alone. It’s getting (at least) good value for a premium asset that fulfills a need.

    Every so often, teams more or less luck into supreme value. The Tigers deserve credit for re-discovering J.D. Martinez, to be sure, but that’s also just an extremely good outcome on the sort of dice rolls that happen every winter on marginal roster pieces.

    Even more rare is the sort of opportunity that arose last winter for the Brewers: a chance to pick up an already-acknowledged premium player at a position of need for an extremely appealing price in free agency. Entering the winter, we predicted Yasmani Grandal would command $64MM over four years — a set of numbers that would’ve been higher had it not been for his stunning issues in the postseason. Instead, the Brewers picked up Grandal’s age-30 season for a measly $18.25MM. (Some of that is deferred as the buyout on a mutual option, but there’s no realistic shot of that being exercised.)

    That deal seemed like an exceptional value proposition for the Milwaukee club at the moment it was struck. Before the signing, the club was slated to go with Manny Pina and Erik Kratz. Sure, they only got one year, but that was an opportunity to add a nice chunk of his prime without taking on any long-term risk. There really isn’t even a premium on the cost versus the scenario we proposed; on any lengthy free-agent deal, a team reasonably anticipates much of the on-field to come on the front end.

    It’s somewhat anticlimactic to say that … well, the deal is working out exactly as it was drawn up. He’s doing just what he has done before, and then some. Grandal is drawing a lot of walks while striking out at a palatable level and hitting for good power. With his hard-hit rate up early, Grandal is also maintaining a higher BABIP (.310) and batting average (.277) than usual.

    The result on offense is a 133 wRC+. Grandal is on pace to set a personal-high in the long ball department, in no small part because he’s being run out in the lineup on a near-everyday basis. Since they aren’t obligated to him for the future, the Brewers don’t need to worry too much about long-term wear and tear. Of course, Grandal is also a strong defender. He continues to grade as a premium pitch framer. And he’s even running a little, having matched his single-season career-high with three stolen bases. Fangraphs’ BsR measure has long loathed Grandal’s work on the bases, but now views him as a neutral overall runner.

    Grandal is well on his way to matching or exceeding the roughly 5 WAR annual level of play he sustained with the Dodgers. Getting that sort of player for a one-year deal at the qualifying offer price is kind of hard to believe. What even happened?

    It certainly took somewhat unique circumstances for this deal to come together. Grandal turned down a substantial, multi-year offer that wasn’t to his liking. He also decided not to wait out a bigger contract at all costs, though waiting until early/mid-January to sign wasn’t exactly rushing into a deal. Even on a one-year scenario, this deal seemed like it came in cheap; the Braves spent $23MM in hopes of a bounceback year from an older player with a more significant injury history (but also more upside) in Josh Donaldson.

    It’s fair to note that things are working out thus far for Grandal as well. He obviously preferred this approach. He ought to have every chance of securing a larger and longer contract if he so desires this winter.

    Still, this contract was a fantasy scenario for the Brewers when the offseason started. And so far, the reality has exceeded the dream.

    Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

    Jeff Todd <![CDATA[Brewers Option Keston Hiura, Activate Travis Shaw]]> 2019-06-03T20:30:00Z 2019-06-03T20:17:16Z The Brewers have optioned second baseman Keston Hiura, the club announced today. He’ll leave the active roster to make way for the activation of Travis Shaw, who had been rehabbing a wrist injury.

    Hiura, 22, certainly hasn’t shown himself in capable of keeping up at the game’s highest level. To the contrary, he’s slashing a hefty .281/.333/.531 with five home runs in 69 plate appearances. While there’s much to be desired in his combination of 23 strikeouts and three walks, Hiura has largely confirmed that the Brewers and prospect watchers were right to expect big things right out of the gates.

    It’s tough to see that batting line leave the active roster, particularly given Shaw’s struggles to open the year. He’ll presumably return to his customary duties at the hot corner, with Mike Moustakas going back to second base. The defensive alignment is suboptimal, but passable; it’s the hitting department where this decision will likely be judged.

    Before he hit the shelf, the 29-year-old Shaw managed only a .163/.266/.281 slash in 154 plate appearances. That’s far shy of the output he delivered in his first two seasons in Milwaukee, during which he launched 63 home runs and batted a cumulative .258/.347/.497.

    GM David Stearns explained to reporters that the club made this move to “preserv[e] organizational depth.” (Via Tom Haudricourt of the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel; links to Twitter.) Of course, Shaw could have been optioned down instead of Hiura, but Stearns says the veteran has earned the right to step back into the MLB lineup. That doesn’t mean he’s guaranteed to stay there. The pressure will be on Shaw and struggling first baseman Jesus Aguilar, who is out of options.

    Stearns rejected the notion that service time played a role in the decision. Whether or not that was a motivating factor, there are implications for both players. Hiura’s initial promotion occurred on May 14th, meaning he could have run up 139 days of service by remaining in the majors all year long. That would have set him up for potential future Super Two qualification. Unless he comes back rather quickly, that’ll no longer be the case. On Shaw’s side, he’ll get the opportunity to reestablish his stock and boost his arbitration earning power by returning to the MLB roster. He has a strong starting point with this year’s $4.675MM salary, though that also means he’ll need to improve in order to be tendered by the Brewers (or command good money in free agency if he isn’t).

    Mark Polishuk <![CDATA[Brewers Place Jhoulys Chacin On 10-Day Injured List]]> 2019-06-02T16:06:17Z 2019-06-02T15:34:58Z The Brewers announced that right-hander Jhoulys Chacin has been placed on the 10-day injured list due to a lower back strain.  Catcher Jacob Nottingham is also headed down to Triple-A, while right-handers Jacob Barnes and Taylor Williams have been recalled from Triple-A to fill the two open spots on the 25-man roster.

    Chacin was an quietly effective staple of the Brewers’ pitching staff in 2018, posting a 3.50 ERA over 192 2/3 innings in the regular season and then another 12 1/3 frames of 1.46 ERA ball during Milwaukee’s postseason run.  That effectiveness, however, hasn’t carried over to 2019, as Chacin has been hit hard this season.  The righty has a 5.74 ERA, 6.8 K/9, and 1.52 K/BB rate over 58 innings, with ERA indicators and contact rates (.352 xwOBA to a .343 wOBA) suggesting that his poor ERA is no mirage.

    Never a hard-thrower or one to miss many bats, Chacin’s modest strikeout rate has dipped in 2019 while his hard-contact rate has rocketed up to 43.4%, a marked increase over his 36.6% total from 2018.  Chacin has also seen a decrease in grounders, and an increase in walks, fly balls, and home runs.

    The Brewers have now lost two starters to injury in as many days, after Gio Gonzalez was placed on the IL yesterday with a dead arm.  No timeline is known for either Gonzalez or Chacin, as both hurlers have the type of hard-to-diagnose issues that could linger beyond the 10-day minimum stay on the injured list.  The Brewers would fill that void with a major reinforcement in Jimmy Nelson, as the right-hander will return after missing over a full season to start Wednesday’s game.  Beyond Nelson, manager Craig Counsell told reporters (including Tom Haudricourt of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel) that Freddy Peralta is likely to receive a spot start in the coming days.

    Connor Byrne <![CDATA[Brewers Place Gio Gonzalez On Injured List]]> 2019-06-01T22:07:43Z 2019-06-01T22:07:43Z The Brewers have placed left-hander Gio Gonzalez on the 10-day injured list with a “dead arm,” according to Adam McCalvy of The placement is retroactive to May 29. Gonzalez’s roster spot went to catcher Manny Pina, whom the Brewers activated from the IL. Pina missed two weeks with a hamstring injury.

    Brewers officials believe Gonzalez’s arm fatigue may be related to an unusual past few months, per McCalvy. The accomplished 33-year-old unexpectedly went without a job until signing a minor league deal with the Yankees on March 19, meaning he didn’t participate in a normal spring training. Gonzalez then logged three starts with the Yankees’ Triple-A affiliate before opting out of his contract and inking a major league pact with the Brewers for a guaranteed $2MM.

    The Gonzalez signing has worked out so far for the Brewers, who have gotten six starts and 31 innings of 3.19 ERA/3.18 FIP ball from the former Athletic and National. Gonzalez, Brandon Woodruff, Zach Davies and Chase Anderson have been the only bright spots in a Milwaukee rotation that has gotten poor production from Jhoulys Chacin, Freddy Peralta, Corbin Burnes, Adrian Houser and Jacob Barnes in a combined 25 starts.

    Given the struggles of the Chacin-Peralta-Burnes-Houser-Barnes group and 32-26 Milwaukee’s realistic shot at winning a second straight NL Central title, free-agent left-hander Dallas Keuchel stands out as an obvious fit for the club. Keuchel could sign as early as midnight ET on Sunday without costing his next employer draft pick compensation. The Brewers showed interest in Keuchel during the offseason, but it’s unclear if they’re still open to signing him.

    Connor Byrne <![CDATA[Checking In On Last Year’s Toughest Outs]]> 2019-05-31T16:22:38Z 2019-05-31T04:59:59Z If you’re an offensive player in baseball, there is nothing more important than avoiding outs. Common sense indicates the more you get on base – whether with a hit, a walk or a hit by a pitch – the better your team’s chances are of scoring and ultimately winning. That’s why on-base percentage is more useful than batting average or slugging percentage, two other conventional stats that help define a hitter’s value.

    Just six qualified hitters reached the .400-OBP mark in 2018.  The group included the best player in baseball, another potential Hall of Famer, each league’s MVP, an elite hitter who helped his team to a championship and a potential star in the making. Let’s take a look at how that six-man club is doing in 2019…

    Mike Trout, Angels (2018 OBP: .460):

    Here’s the “best player in baseball” mentioned above. The 27-year-old Trout has reached 45.5 percent of the time through 231 plate appearances, putting him right in line with last year’s league-best effort. He’s also on track for his fifth straight season with at least a .400 OBP. Trout was a .312 hitter in 2018 who walked 20.4 percent of the time. His average has noticeably dropped (to .283), but his walk rate is up a bit and opposing pitchers have helped Trout’s cause by already hitting him six times. He wore 10 pitches last year in 378 more PA.

    Mookie Betts, Red Sox (2018 OBP: .438):

    Betts got on base a bit less than Trout last season, but the Boston superstar led the sport in fWAR en route to AL MVP honors. While Betts hasn’t been quite as sharp this year, he has still avoided outs at a phenomenal clip (.400 in 255 trips to the plate). The 26-year-old has walked 14-plus percent of the time for the second consecutive season, but a 55-point decline in batting average (.346 to .291) and a 54-point BABIP drop (.368 to .314) have hurt his OBP. Plus, Betts isn’t on pace to match the eight HBPs he totaled in 2018, having picked up only two so far.

    Joey Votto, Reds (2018 OBP: .417):

    Votto’s the “potential Hall of Famer” named in the opening. The hitting savant has managed a remarkable .424 OBP dating back to his 2007 debut, in part because he has drawn nearly as many walks as strikeouts. However, that hasn’t been the case in 2019. Now in his age-35 season, Votto’s walk rate is at a pedestrian-by-his-standards 11.6 percent – down nearly 5 points from his career mark –  while his strikeouts have soared. Putting the ball in play less helps explain why Votto, a lifetime .309 hitter, has only mustered a .242 average this season. Worse, Statcast credits Votto with a .229 expected average, indicating a rebound may not be on the way. Despite his newfound woes, Votto has still put up an above-average .340 OBP in 215 PA this year, but it’s nothing to get excited about in the venerable first baseman’s case.

    Brandon Nimmo, Mets (2018 OBP: .404):

    Nimmo’s far and away the least accomplished member of this list, but that doesn’t take away that the 26-year-old was a stupendous offensive player in 2018. As only a .264 hitter, though, his high OBP came thanks in part to a league-leading 22 HBPs over 433 PA. Nimmo has not been a magnet for pitches this year, however, having taken three in 130 trips to the plate. He’s also batting a mere .200 and has seen his BABIP fall from .351 to .288. Nimmo is collecting walks at a terrific clip (16.1 percent), but his .344 OBP is still a 60-point drop-off from last season.

    Christian Yelich, Brewers (2018 OBP: .402):

    We arrive at the other MVP on this list. What’s Yelich, 26, doing for an encore? Well, he ranks third in the majors in OBP (.425), in part because his walk rate has climbed from 10.4 percent to 15.1. Yelich has also logged a .314 average even though his BABIP has sunk 87 points since last year.

    J.D. Martinez, Red Sox (2018 OBP: .402):

    Martinez, described above as “an elite hitter who helped his team to a championship,” has been closer to very good than great this season. A .375 BABIP/.330 average helped drive Martinez’s OBP last season, but he’s at .315/.298 in those categories through 219 PA this season. Consequently, the 31-year-old has “only” reached base 37.9 percent of the time. But Martinez is striking out a lot less, which bodes well, and Statcast puts his expected average at .321. Another .400-OBP season certainly isn’t out of the question for Martinez.

    Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

    Jeff Todd <![CDATA[Reds Acquire Tristan Archer From Brewers]]> 2019-05-27T23:19:26Z 2019-05-27T23:19:26Z The Reds have acquired righty Tristan Archer from the Brewers, per a club announcement. Cash considerations will go to Milwaukee in return.

    Archer, 28, had been working at the Triple-A level in the Brewers organization, as he has for most of the past three seasons. This year, he carries a 4.32 ERA with 14 strikeouts and six walks in 16 2/3 innings.


    Jeff Todd <![CDATA[Brewers Reinstate, Option Jimmy Nelson]]> 2019-05-24T20:42:48Z 2019-05-24T20:28:35Z In something of a surprise move, the Brewers announced today that they have reinstated Jimmy Nelson from the injured list and optioned him to Triple-A. He is finally back to health after a long layoff but won’t come straight up to the majors.

    It seems that Nelson wasn’t deemed quite ready for the MLB rotation. It could be that the team also prefers to option him to maintain roster flexibility, though it’s tough to imagine they’d hold him down if he looked to be in top form. Nelson allowed ten earned in 19 rehab frames at Triple-A, posting a 22:9 K/BB ratio.

    There had been some suggestion that Nelson could be brought back in a relief capacity if the club decided not to plug him in as a starter. Instead, he’ll keep working at the club’s top affiliate — presumably as a starter, though that’s not yet clear.

    It’s surely a tough pill to swallow for the soon-to-be-30-year-old pitcher, who was closing in on a return to the big leagues after missing all of 2018 following labrum surgery. Before his injury, he had turned in a breakout 2017 effort, with 175 1/3 innings of 3.49 ERA ball on the back of 10.2 K/9 and 2.5 BB/9.

    Nelson entered the present season with 4.107 years of MLB service and has accrued 57 days this year while working back. That leaves him shy of topping five full years of service, which occurs at 172 days, though he’ll pass that bar rather quickly if and when he is called up.

    That’s not to suggest that the Brewers are acting with service-time motivations. The club spent $3.7MM last year and this year to retain the rights to Nelson and would surely prefer to see that investment turn into MLB results.

    Jeff Todd <![CDATA[Brewers Face Decision On Jimmy Nelson]]> 2019-05-24T05:16:37Z 2019-05-24T05:14:23Z The Brewers are deciding how to proceed with righty Jimmy Nelson after he completed his fourth rehab appearance at Triple-A today. Skipper Craig Counsell has suggested the club would reach its decision on how to utilize Nelson after today’s outing, Tom Haudricourt of the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel notes on Twitter.

    Nelson didn’t exactly finish with a bang. As Jerry Briggs of tweets, the rehabbing righty pitched fine until he was undone by a sloppy fifth inning. In total, Nelson has thrown 19 innings at Triple-A, allowing ten earned runs while compiling 22 strikeouts against nine walks. That certainly isn’t a dominant performance, but it’s encouraging to see that he has been generally effective against high-level competition.

    It seems likely that Nelson will celebrate his upcoming thirtieth birthday in the majors. Though he still has time on his rehab clock — having begun his assignment on May 5th, his thirty days won’t expire until June 3rd — Counsell says the time has come for a decision after a long road back. The next pitch Nelson throws in the big leagues will be his first since late in the 2017 season, as he has been working back from labrum surgery since going down with injury late in what had been a stellar campaign.

    Whether Nelson will work as a starter or reliever remains to be seen. The Milwaukee rotation isn’t desperate for reinforcement but also doesn’t have much in the way of roadblocks. Chase Anderson and Jhoulys Chacin appear to be most at risk among the current starters, but there are reasons also to keep both in a starting capacity.

    In a sense, the decision seems to be more about Nelson than it is the rest of the staff. If the club thinks he’s back to anything approaching his former self and can handle a starter’s workload (even a reduced version thereof), then there’s little doubt the space can be found. Anderson hasn’t worked deep in games and could be moved back to a long relief capacity, joining a few other converted starters in an interesting bullpen mix.

    Utilizing Nelson as a reliever would be something else entirely. Whether the lack of routine would be problematic is tough to guess, but he’d obviously be tasked with throwing fewer innings after a lengthy layoff.

    No matter the initial decision, the Brewers will surely keep their options open over the course of the season and beyond. Nelson is earning $3.7MM this year with one final season of arbitration eligibility still to come thereafter.

    Connor Byrne <![CDATA[Travis Shaw Nearing Rehab Assignment]]> 2019-05-20T18:36:41Z 2019-05-19T23:55:28Z Injured Brewers third baseman Travis Shaw is slated to begin a rehab assignment Wednesday, Adam McCalvy of reports. Shaw has been on the injured list since May 14 because of a wrist issue.

    Shaw’s injury led to the promotion of highly touted second base prospect Keston Hiura, who hasn’t gotten off to a dazzling start but did post a two-hit game with his first career home run in a win over the Braves on Sunday. Hiura’s already just three homers short of Shaw, a key Brewers contributor from 2017-18 who has come out of the gates slowly this year. So far, Shaw’s slashing a paltry .163/.266/.281 with four HRs in 154 plate appearances. After combining for 7.1 fWAR over the previous two seasons, Shaw has recorded minus-0.8 in that category to rank second to last among position players in 2019. He’s also second from the bottom in wRC+ (46), which is a far cry from the 119 mark he registered from 2017-18.

    While Shaw’s batting average on balls in play is an ultra-low .222, poor fortune’s certainly not the sole reason for his horrid numbers. Looking under the hood, alarming trends abound. Shaw’s running a career-worst strikeout rate (32.5 percent, up from 18.4 last season), a .119 ISO that comes up 120 points shy of the figure he recorded during the past two seasons, a skyrocketing swinging-strike rate (14.4 percent, compared to 8.2 in 2018) and a plummeting contact rate (67.7 percent, down from a personal-best 81.4 percent last season).

    Although the 29-year-old Shaw was a vital cog in Milwaukee during his first two seasons in the organization, the Brew Crew could relegate him to the bench if he doesn’t rebound upon returning from the IL. Veteran third baseman Mike Moustakas opened the season at second base to accommodate Shaw, whom he has easily outproduced, and now the presence of Hiura has sent Moustakas back to the hot corner.