As the Milwaukee Brewers struggled their way through the middle of the summer, they started losing their followers. Let's face it, there's not a ton to get excited about a team just 'playing out the games.' However, one very big reason to get giddy is the close to Chris Narveson's season.
On Thursday, Narveson held the Mets to one run over 6.2 innings. It was just another impressive start for Narveson, something that has become normal over the past two months. He fanned nine Mets and walked just three. Even more encouraging was Narveson's ability to keep the infield busy. Of the 11 in-play outs, eight were on the ground. It was a great way to cap a good season for Narveson.
Entering August, Narveson was 8-7 with an uninspiring ERA of 5.68. While advanced statistics suggested he deserved a better fate, there's not too much to write home about with an ERA in the high fives. His main problem seemed to come from his fly ball tendencies. While his HR/FB ratio wasn't out of the ordinary, Narveson was only able to keep the ball on the ground 35% of the time. Needles to say, with hitters consistently elevating the ball, home runs were going to be surrendered.
Then August came.
Narveson immediately seemed like a new pitcher. It started at Wrigley Field on August 3rd and ended tonight at Citi Field. Here are Nerveson's numbers over his final 11 starts.
64.0 IP, 53 Hits, 26 Runs (25 ER), 4-2, 3.52 ERA, 57 K's, 22 BB's
Although Narveson was never blessed with a triple digit fastball, he has shown a pretty good ability to locate the ball. That has been even more apparent of late.
Narveson was tagged in two of those 11 starts. In both outings, his control was missing (seven walks to just one strikeout). Even with those poor outings, Narveson was able to post a 2.5:1 K:BB ratio in the final two months of 2010. Very encouraging stuff to see from the young southpaw.
So just exactly where does Narveson's value stand for the Brewers? Despite his success of late, I'd say everyone can pretty much agree Narveson isn't an ace, but more a very good back end of the rotation type. He can strikeout batters regularly and doesn't walk too many. Just how good he will come down to how well he can get ground balls. In a stadium like Miller Park, flyball pitchers don't last too long. In 2010, Narveson's groundball rate was just over 40%. While that's not terrible, it's not that good. For him to succeed that will need to come down.
Despite his high flying frequency, Narveson was still able to post a FIP of 4.21 this season. That's exactly what the Brewers are going to need out of him next season. He wont be able to file for free agency until 2015 and isn't arbitration eligible until 2012. His value to this organization is immense. It's not too often good young pitchers can be had for next to nothing. A thanks has to be given to the St. Louis Cardinals for parting ways too soon with him. It's just a great find by Doug Melvin. How about instead of worrying about developing our own pitching talent, we just take other teams? I guess that's easier said than done.