Now that Jeff Suppan has been relegated to the bullpen (finally), there is an open battle for the fifth spot in the Brewers rotation. The two internal candidates to fill the void are Chris Narveson and Manny Parra.
It has been announced that Narveson will immediately fill in for Suppan. This was very surprising considering how both pitchers have looked this season. Here are there stats thus far.
Manny Parra: (0-0, 0.00 ERA), 7.2 IP, 7 hits, 0 ER (0 R), 6:1 GB:FB ratio, 8 K, 1 BB
Chris Narveson: (1-0, 7.20 ERA), 10 IP, 17 hits, 8 ER, (9 R), 1.4:1 GB:FB ratio, 6 K, 7 BB
Sure those number are an extremely small sample size, but Parra's numbers are very impressive. Parra has always been pretty good at keeping the ball on the ground, but has a relatively high HR's per FB %. This has led me to think he has been an unlucky pitcher.
I was shocked considering the future potential of each pitcher. Narveson isn't over the hill, but doesn't have the upside as Parra. Parra still has four years until he hits free agency. He is surely in the future plans of this club, but is being relegated to the bullpen. Narveson clearly has the talent to pitch in the major leagues, but so does Parra.
While Narveson has struggled thus far this season, he is capable of keeping the fifth spot in the rotation. He was very impressive last season while starting, an possess very good control. He walked just 16 batters in 47 innings last season, while striking out 46. That equated to a 3.83 ERA. He isn't able to keep the ball on the ground as well as Parra, but has managed to keep it in the ballpark. In over 1000 minor league innings, Narveson's career HR/9 is just south of one.
However you look at it, the damage has been limited with Suppan. Sure he was given two starts over pitcher he is clearly worse than, but the Brewers were able to split the games. He will head to the 'pen with a 0-1 record and an ERA of 8.68. At this point I can hope, but figure the Brewers will not release Suppan. Sure there are better pitchers internally than Suppan, but they aren't making $14.5 million this season. Doug Melvin said Suppan's two starts weren't financially motivated, but how else could they be justified? I just don't see them releasing Suppan and paying more than $20 million this season to players who aren't on the ballclub (the Brewers are currently paying $7.15 of Bill Hall's contract).
One reason Parra might not be moving into the rotation is the need for a solid lefty out of the bullpen. This is even more reason to release Suppan and free up a roster spot. That roster spot could be used for Mitch Stetter, who was sent down when Suppan was activated off the disabled list. Since his demotion, Stetter is yet to allow a run in four games. In those four games, he has logged 5.1 innings and struck out six, while walking two. If last year's strike out streak is any indication of what Stetter can bring, there is no reason he should be in Nashville. Anyone can be a long reliever. There is no sense in wasting a valuable roster spot on someone for fear of releasing his enormous salary and looking bad. Jeff Suppan is of no value to this club. It's time to just cut your losses.
Moving forward, this is an immediate upgrade to a rotation that hasn't performed thus far. Something tells me the combination of Manny Parra and Chris Narveson can outperform the -0.7 WAR Suppan posted in 2009.