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Milwaukee Brewers Juggle Rotation Heading into 4-Game Set at Washington

July 1st, 2013 at 2:42 PM
By Phil Watson

After Sunday’s 14-inning marathon loss at Pittsburgh, during which starting pitcher Kyle Lohse only worked 1.2 innings before being shelved by a rain delay of more than two hours, the Milwaukee Brewers said Monday, per the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel, that Lohse has been jumped up in the rotation and will work again on Wednesday night against the Washington Nationals at Nationals Park.

The Brewers open a four-game series tonight in Washington on a five-game losing streak. Rookie Johnny Hellweg was scheduled to make his second start on Wednesday, but will now be available for long relief if needed.

Milwaukee’s rotation has worked just 17.1 innings over the team’s last five games. Hellweg was knocked out after 1.2 innings Friday night in a 10-3 loss to the Pittsburgh Pirates.

That stretch of poor starting pitching has stretched out the bullpen considerably. The relief corps has worked 30 innings over the last five games, including a whopping 11.2 innings in Sunday’s 2-1, 14-inning loss.

Tyler Thornburg, just recalled from Triple-A Nashville Friday night after Hellweg’s short outing, worked five innings and threw 82 pitches on Sunday and Brandon Kintzler threw 38 pitches in his three innings of work.

Francisco Rodriguez (39 pitches) and Mike Gonzalez (31 pitches) also had longer-than-normal workloads on Sunday.

Yovani Gallardo (6-7) will take the ball in the opener for the Brewers against Washington’s Jordan Zimmermann (11-3). On Tuesday, it will be Wily Peralta (5-9) for Milwaukee while the Nationals counter with Stephen Strasburg (4-6). Lohse (3-6) is now set to go Wednesday for the Brewers against Washington’s Russ Detwiler (2-6). In Thursday’s finale, Milwaukee will either go with Hellweg (0-1) or Brandon Hand (0-1), provided neither is needed in relief earlier in the series. The Nationals are scheduled to counter with Taylor Jordan (0-1) on Independence Day.

The Nationals will also welcome back outfielder Bryce Harper from the disabled list for tonight’s series opener, per MLB.com. Harper has not played since May 26 with a knee injury he first sustained when he slammed into the wall at Dodger Stadium in Los Angeles on May 13.

Harper is expected to be back in left field tonight and is slated to bat third in the order.

The Brewers have struggled since the calendar rolled over to May. After exceeding expectations with a 14-11 April, the Brewers have gone 18-37 since May 1, including a 6-22 May, and Sunday’s loss in Pittsburgh put the lid on a 12-15 June.

The Nationals, however, have dealt with underachievement problems of their own. Picked by many to contend for a World Series title in 2013 after winning the franchise’s first full-season division title in 2012, Washington has had trouble gaining any traction. At 41-40, the Nationals trail the Atlanta Braves by 6.5 games in the National League East and haven’t been in first place since April 6.

Washington hasn’t been able to sustain much this season. While the Nationals haven’t lost any more than four games in a row (which they’ve done twice), they’ve also not won more than five straight. They were a season-high five games better than .500 on May 10 and a season-low two games worse than the break-even mark on June 18.

Reliever Tyler Clippard is still bullish on Washington’s chances to return to the postseason for just the third time in franchise history, which dates to 1969, when the team was the Montreal Expos.

We are not where we want to be, that’s for sure. The baseball season is funny. It’s a long season, a lot of things happen. We kind have been searching a little bit, but at the end of the day, we’ve had a lot of things not go our way as far as injuries, even on the field, little stuff, where last year, they went our way.

The series opener tonight and Tuesday’s game are set to start at 6:05 p.m. Central Daylight Time, with Wednesday’s game set for a 5:05 p.m. CDT first pitch and Thursday’s matinee slated for a rare 10:05 CDT start.

Tags: Bryce Harper, Jordan Zimmermann, Kyle Lohse, Milwaukee, Milwaukee Brewers, MLB, Nationals Park, Stephen Strasburg, Washington Nationals, Yovani Gallardo

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