In the past, the Milwaukee Brewers have gone outside of the organization to fill a void in their rotation and drive a playoff run. In 2008, general manager Doug Melvin shocked the baseball world by acquiring C C Sabathia. Sabathia then went on one of the most fantastic runs ever seen as he put the club on his back and carried them to the postseason. Three years later, Zack Greinke was acquired in a similarly unexpected offseason move. He helped to be a pivotal piece that took the Brewers to their first ever National League Championship Series. But this year is different. There is no reason for the Brewers to mortgage the farm and get a big-name pitcher. Top prospect Jimmy Nelson will be that driving force that will carry the club into postseason glory.
Many other pitching prospects around baseball get accolades, but Nelson has out-pitched each one of them this season. Through his first 16 minor league starts with the Nashville Sounds, he was nearly unhittable. He went 10-2 with a Pacific Coast League leading 1.46 ERA and also led the league with 114 strikeouts. His ability to attack hitters and overpower them with his mid-90s fastball was clearly evident each time out. Nelson was fantastic in Milwaukee when he filled in for the injured Yovani Gallardo.
At this point, the 25-year-old has done everything possible to prove himself in the minor leagues. In the midst of his fifth professional season, Nelson has compiled a 3.12 ERA and won 36 minor league games. There is nothing more he could do in Nashville to show his worth.
But after his promotion to the big league rotation this past week, he looked anything but unbeatable. To say Nelson got shelled in his first start as a permanent member of the Brewers’ rotation would be on understatement. While taking on Adam Wainwright and the St. Louis Cardinals, Nelson was destroyed. He surrendered eight runs (six earned) through 4.1 innings of work and was not even close to pitching like the dominant pitcher he had proven to be in the minor leagues. As Brewer Nation expected him to deliver, he struggled mightily.
When it is all said and done, this rough start will be a blip on the radar compared to what he will do. After being rocked, Nelson seemed unfazed. His ability to bounce back and command the strike-zone will allow him to succeed as he currently pitches in the major leagues.
As the trading deadline approaches there will be rumors swirling all around Milwaukee about pitchers who have the potential to take the Brewers to the postseason. But there is no need for such a move. The Brewers not only have an up-and-coming arm, but they have a potential X-factor down the stretch in Nelson.