Value in the Unkown: Is There Late Round Value in the Brewers Rotation?

by Will Overton

As I was working on my draft preparation I was doing some depth chart scanning, looking for some names that stood out. As I glanced over at the Milwaukee Brewers projected rotation I realized outside of Yovani Gallardo, there are a lot of unknown players in the mix. At the same time, though, there is also a lot of potential sleeper fantasy value, especially for those in deep leagues.

Now I am not going to spend time talking about Gallardo. We pretty much know what he ism and that’s a cut below the upper echelon of starters. He often times looks like one of the elite, but never seems to quite make that step into the group.

Instead I am going to focus in on the rest of the Brewers rotation, where the late round value may really lie. Outside of Gallardo I would argue there are really only two spots I would consider locked in. Let’s look at who those two are:

Mike Fiers: I’ve talked in depth about Fiers once this offseason already, and you can read that here, so I won’t go into much depth here. Up until the later part of last season Fiers was one of the best surprise pitchers in all of baseball.

At one point he had a nine game stretch in which he allowed one or fewer earned runs seven, the other two games in that stretch he allowed only two. Fiers recorded six or more strikeouts in ten of his 22 starts. He did a lot of his pitching in the minor leagues as a reliever, but he has a great track record in the minor leagues of being a high strikeout, low walk rate pitcher. There is certainly value to be had here.

Marco Estrada: After starting 23 games last season and finishing the year with a 3.64 ERA you have to assume that Estrada is a lock for the rotation this season. Despite being a starter for most of his five seasons in the minor leagues, Estrada never got a shot as a starter in the big leagues until last season . Estrada flourished in the role, finishing with a 3.64 ERA and a ridiculous 4.93 K/BB ratio.

Looking back at Estrada’s history both as a starter in the minor leagues and a reliever in the major leagues he has always had decent control, but not the exceptional level he showed last season with his 1.89 BB/9 rate. That number is highly unsustainable. There is a little more hope for Estrada to continue his 9.30 K/9 rate, but that too might trend downwards a little bit. Still if we’re looking at a 8.5 K/9 and 2.5 BB/9 pitcher that you can get in the last round of your draft, you’re looking at a potential steal. He has a history of giving up the long ball a bit too often, but if he can keep that at bay he’s got a shot at being one of the better surprises this season.

After these two you are looking at a tighter race for the last two spots in the rotation. There are three leading candidates, all of which possess a little bit of fantasy value in their own right. Here are three pitching vying for a spot:

Chris Narveson: The back end of the rotation was a pretty comfortable spot for Naverson a couple of years ago as he managed back-to-back survivable seasons as a number five guy in Milwaukee in 2010 and 2011. However in 2012 he missed essentially the whole season after tearing his rotator cuff. Now the question is what will Naverson have left when he comes back and will it be enough to win a job.

Working in Naverson’s favor is the fact that he was always more of a finesse and control pitcher than a power pitcher, so he should be able to get that back. The negative is that he doesn’t have as much upside as the others he is competing with. Narveson has the most experience as a starter of anyone in Milwaukee outside of Gallardo, but you might be better off waiting and adding him as a free agent in deep leagues if the arm looks good.

Mark Rogers: After a fairly long road through the minor leagues Mark Rogers got a crack at the bigs at the end of last season, starting seven games for the Brewers. Rogers was 3 – 1 with a 3.92 ERA. He struck out 41 in 39 innings pitched with a solid walk rate. He has a history of being a strong strikeout pitcher in the minor leagues with a pretty strong arm. His walk rate however has never been as low as his 3.23 BB/9 in the bigs last season. Of all the Brewers pitchers Rogers is the riskiest because he has the highest chance of implosion. He’s got upside, but he’s probably an NL only guy because of his control issues.

Wily Peralta: Of the guys vying for these two spots Peralta is the least experienced at just 23 years old, but also the most highly touted. He has been one of the top Brewers prospects for a few years now and could get his crack at the big leagues this season. He was promoted at the end of August last season and started five games making quite an impression. Peralta had only one bad outing and didn’t allow more than three runs in any game.

Peralta has shown some control problems from time to time in the minor leagues and it’s an issue of concern. He does a good job of keeping the ball on the ground, though, and keeps it in the park which helps. He also has a legitimate chance to be an 8 – 9 K/9 pitcher in the major leagues with an extremely live fastball and a nice slider. Peralta is going to need a nice spring to earn a spot, but he has more upside than anyone in this mix. If your draft is late keep an eye on him this spring and if he looks good take a shot. If you’re drafting earlier, he is worth taking a flier on only in deep leagues or keeper leagues.

What do you make of the Brewers rotation? Is there anyone here that you like for deep leagues as a sleeper?


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