The Milwaukee Brewers will have six starting pitchers for five rotation spots as soon as right-hander Matt Garza is activated from the disabled list, which could be as soon as next week.
Rookie right-hander Jimmy Nelson is open to the idea of moving to the bullpen in order to make room for Garza.
“Truthfully, it’s so cliche, but whatever helps us win,” Nelson told MLB.com. “Whatever helps us get to the playoffs and succeed in the playoffs. Whatever role it is, I just want to contribute to this team as best as I can, in whatever way that is.
“I just take the ball when I’m told to. It has to be [that mindset]. You can’t start thinking about the outside stuff. It will get to you and you’ll lose your focus. You have to keep your focus.”
Nelson made three relief appearances for the Brewers last September before making a start near the end of the season.
All eight of his appearances this season have been as a starter—one in May in place of injured Yovani Gallardo and seven since being recalled from Triple-A Nashville before the All-Star break when Marco Estrada was dropped from the rotation.
He is 2-4 with a 4.15 ERA and 1.343 WHIP in 47.2 innings, with 38 strikeouts.
In the minors, 91 of his 105 appearances were starts and he hasn’t worked exclusively in relief since he was at Rookie-level Helena after he was taken in the second round of the 2010 draft.
But Mike Fiers, recalled Aug. 8 to replace Garza in the rotation, has been remarkably good in his four starts—4-0 with a 1.29 ERA and 0.500 WHIP in 28 innings—and it’s hard to envision a scenario in which the Brewers remove him from the rotation as long as he is pitching as well as he has.
Garza has been up and down this season. He’s 7-7 with a 3.58 ERA and 1.133 WHIP—the lowest mark of his career—in 23 starts and 145.2 innings.
But after getting lit up for five runs and retiring just one batter at Washington on July 19, Garza allowed just two runs and eight hits in 21 innings over his next three starts before he was sidelined with a strained left oblique.
And Garza is the only one of the three with postseason experience—he was the MVP of the 2008 American League Championship Series when he was with the Tampa Bay Rays and he also pitched for the Rays in the 2010 playoffs.
Nelson was scheduled to start Tuesday in San Diego and his next scheduled start would be Sept. 1 in Chicago, which could allow the Brewers to reinstate Garza after the active roster expands to 40 players, with Nelson available behind him, as Garza would likely be on a pitch count.