Posted on June 2, 2019, by Bryan Zarpentine
Over a year and a half since his last start, Jimmy Nelson is finally ready to return to the Milwaukee Brewers. After missing all of 2018 following shoulder surgery, Nelson will be activated on Wednesday and make his season debut against the Miami Marlins. It will be his first start for the Brewers since September 2017 and Nelson will undoubtedly be a welcomed addition to Milwaukee’s rotation.
Nelson suffered the shoulder injury while sliding headfirst into first base while trying to beat out a single. In the process, he strained his rotator cuff and partially tore the labrum in his throwing shoulder. The injury ended up costing him the rest of the 2017 season and all of 2018. It also interrupted what was a career year for Nelson, who was 12-6 with a 3.49 over 29 starts in 2017. Nearly 21 months later, and after four starts and one relief outing at triple-A, Nelson is finally ready to get back on a major league mound.
“He’s certainly put in the work, and credit to him for that,” says Brewers manager Craig Counsell. “He aced that part of it. It’s more than he would have liked, but that’s the way it worked, and that’s the way he healed. I don’t think we’ve slow-played it at all. I don’t think we’ve rushed it at all. This is when he was ready to pitch.”
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While the Brewers say Nelson wasn’t rushed back, his return comes at a perfect time. Milwaukee placed Jhoulys Chacin on the 10-day Injured List on Sunday because of lower back soreness. Meanwhile, Gio Gonzalez went to the IL on Saturday because of arm fatigue. With those two out of the rotation at the moment, the Brewers needed a starter on Wednesday, making it the perfect time to bring Nelson back. Of course, the Brewers will also move Freddy Peralta back into the rotation to fill the fifth and final spot.
Naturally, it’d be unfair for the Brewers to expect Nelson to be the savior for their rotation. But there’s no denying the fact that he has a chance to be a big help. The club has already used nine different starting pitchers this season. With Chacin and Gonzalez going on the IL, Zach Davies and Brandon Woodruff are the only starters who haven’t had their season interrupted by injury. That has forced the Brewers to overwork their bullepn at times.
It’s also likely that Woodruff will have to move to the bullpen in the second half of the season because he hasn’t built up enough innings. Peralta and Corbin Burnes have also been unreliable starters when called up. In short, they could use someone like Nelson to help stabilize their rotation right now.
Obviously, Nelson’s health isn’t a sure thing right now. There’s also some uncertainty about his performance after being out for over a year. However, he was 3-0 with a 3.75 ERA over 24 innings at triple-A. That should give the Brewers a fair amount of confidence that he’ll be okay. If Nelson can somehow regain the form he had in 2017, he could be a big factor for the Brewers, who are neck and neck with the Cubs atop the NL Central right now. If nothing else, Nelson gives Milwaukee another veteran arm in their rotation, which is something they need right now.