The Brewers signed left-handed pitcher and former Brewer Doug Davis on Wednesday, continuing to bolster their starting rotation, and it’s nearly as much for which Brewers fans could hope.
It’s easy to dislike this platoon approach. One could easily point to last year, and say “Expecting Yovani Gallardo to be the ace and two other guys to have a great year won’t get the job done.” But the way the 2010 cavalry is shaping up, the rotation will have more clearly defined roles, which may help some of the guys at the back-end to break out.
Going into last year, the Brewers had Gallardo at No. 1, and then… it wasn’t clear. Braden Looper, Jeff Suppan, Dave Bush and Manny Parra created a log-jam. On their best day, any of those guys could be the No. 2 starter. On their worst day, they should be on a bus to Nashville. It was confusing and management didn’t want too much pressure on Gallardo, such that they started Suppan on opening day, and shut Gallardo down when the playoffs were out of the picture.
With the signing of Randy Wolf and Doug Davis, the front half of the rotation is at least set. Gallard, Wolf and Davis. One, two, three. Now you have Dave Bush asking himself if he can be the best damned No. 4 pitcher in baseball. And he could maybe pull that off. Then Parra and Suppan — and maybe even Capuano — can try to figure out their roles in the rotation at the No. 5 spot.
With the Wolf and Davis signings, the Brewers are neither trying “to catch lightning in a bottle” or to “find the magic bullet.”
Still, in town, there’s a lot of pining for Ben Sheets. “Would the Brewers be a World Series contender if they signed Ben Sheets?” No. Because he very well could not show up for the second half. In 2008, he was the best National League pitcher through the first half and into the late summer. But the Brewers would not have made the playoffs without C.C. Sabathia, because Sheets got hurt.
Part of what is appealing about Davis is his durability. He’s pitched at least 33 starts every year since 2004. Oh wait, except for 2008, when he only pitched 26 starts. Because he had thyroid cancer. That’s right, he came back after six weeks and pitched 24 more starts after having cancer.
Ben Sheets pitched a couple of simulated innings on Tuesday, throwing about 20 fastballs and topping out around 90 mph. Brewers fans must be more excited about Doug Davis starting the year as their No. 3 starter than the daydream possibility Sheets could return and they could spend each of his starts wondering if his next pitch is the last for the year.