By Nathan Petrashek (@npetrashek)
It’s been a interesting few days for the Brewers. Injuries to Ryan Braun (oblique), Aramis Ramirez (elbow), and Jean Segura (bat to the face) have left the team shorthanded on the bench, and heavy bullpen use has left it short on relievers, too.
Mercifully, Martin Maldonado returned from a 5-game suspension on Monday, only to find himself pitching on Wednesday in the final inning of a blowout loss to the Cardinals. After an abbreviated start from Matt Garza and another three-inning disaster for the seldom-used Wei-Chung Wang, there really weren’t many better options. Most of the high-leverage players had been used the previous two days, and it made no sense to toss them in for mop-up duty. The Wang story has been fun, but instinct tells me it won’t last the year.
Yesterday, the Brewers somewhat addressed their reliever crunch by adding Rob Wooten to the mix, but at the outfield’s expense. Utility man Elian Herrera was optioned to Nashville, leaving Carlos Gomez and Khris Davis as the Brewers’ only true outfielders. Mark Reynolds started in right field in the first game against Cincinnati. If you saw Herrera play right during the Cardinals series, you’ll probably agree he wasn’t missed much.
Wooten, for his part, was a mess yesterday. He inherited a bases-loaded jam from Jim Henderson, who also gave up a go-ahead two-run Great American shot before departing. Wooten walked the first batter, allowed a two-run single, and hit a batter before recording the final out of the inning. After the smoke cleared, the Reds had scored five in the frame.
Fortunately, Segura and Ramirez both returned to the lineup yesterday. Ramirez went 0-4, picking up right where he left off, but Segura had a pair of hits and a RBI. Braun remains out indefinitely, and my strong suspicion is that he will wind up on the DL tomorrow, when Logan Schafer is likely to be activated.
That doesn’t help much for tonight, though, so this afternoon the Brewers placed Henderson on the DL with shoulder inflammation and called up OF Caleb Gindl, who is starting in right tonight. If that seems a little too convenient for you, Disciples of Uecker does note that Henderson was again struggling with his fastball velocity yesterday.
The outfield crunch won’t be entirely solved when Schafer returns, as Gomez’s appeal of his three-game suspension for the Pittsburgh brouhaha remains pending. Word is that will be heard on or around next Monday (UPDATE: The Brewers say it’s Friday), so don’t expect lineup consistency any time soon.