Posted on June 29, 2017, by Bryan Zarpentine
A wrench has been thrown into the tight race atop the NL Central. The Milwaukee Brewers are set to lose ace Chase Anderson for the foreseeable future. Anderson is likely to land on the DL Thursday after suffering a strained oblique during Wednesday’s loss to the Reds. He suffered the injury swinging a bat in the top of the 2nd, forcing him to be removed after pitching just one inning.
“I swung at it and literally felt like someone just stabbed me in the left side,” Anderson explained. “Not a good feeling.”
The Brewers don’t have an exact timetable on how long Anderson will be out. But the club doesn’t appear optimistic about getting their best starter back anytime soon.
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“We’re probably going to lose him for a pretty good bit of time here,” Brewers manager Craig Counsell said after Wednesday’s game. “He’s certainly pitching very, very well and we’ll have to cover in his absence. It’s going to be difficult.”
In 16 starts this season, Anderson is 6-2 with a 2.89 ERA. He’s an all-star candidate this season thanks to an uptick in fastball velocity and improvement in his secondary pitchers. He’s been particularly dominant during the month of June. In six starts this month, Anderson has a 1.56 ERA, playing an important part in the Brewers climbing to the top of the NL Central.
“It could be a month, it could be two months. Hopefully nothing longer than that,” Anderson said. “Obviously, I hate sitting out. I don’t want to be on the DL, I want to pitch. I’m throwing the ball well lately.”
Despite Matt Garza and Junior Guerra also having extended stints on the DL this season, Milwaukee’s starting rotation has been a strength for much of the season. That being said, Jimmy Nelson is the only Milwaukee starter aside from Anderson who has an ERA under 4. That could make navigating a month or two without Anderson more difficult than the time the Brewers spent without Garza and Guerra.
If there’s a silver lining, it’s that the Brewers appear to have several candidates to replace Anderson in the rotation. Paulo Espino, who pitched in relief of Anderson on Wednesday, is one of the top candidates. Top pitching prospect Josh Hader is another option. However, he’s pitched solely in relief since getting called up earlier this month. Milwaukee could also call up Michael Blazek or Taylor Jungmann, who are both posting good numbers at triple-A.
It’s likely that more than one of those candidates will get a start while Anderson is on the DL. Whoever ends up taking that spot in the rotation will have big shoes to fill. The Brewers will also need pitchers like Garza, Guerra, and Zach Davies to step up with the team’s ace sidelined. However, no one in Milwaukee’s rotation outside of Anderson and Nelson has been particularly effective over the last month.
The Brewers are currently locked in a tight race in the NL Central. They hold a one-game lead over the Cubs, leaving little margin for error. Milwaukee just survived a stint with both Jonathan Villar and Ryan Braun on the DL for an extended period of time, so it’s not the first time this year they’ve had to overcome an injury. But losing their ace for an extended period of time will present a different kind of challenge for the Brewers.