Jimmy Nelson wasn't great in 2015, but he gave fantasy owners and Brewers fans reason to believe big things could be in his future if he could just harness his control. So much for that. In 2016, Nelson walk rate jumped to 4.3 BB/9, a rise of a full point over his 2015 mark. The result was a mediocre 4.62 ERA, as he paid dearly for each of the career-high 25 home runs he allowed. Nelson threw his curveball for a ball more than 40 percent of the time, making it easy for hitters to just spit on it and wait for him to throw the fastball. His sinker become too predictable as a result and couldn't do the job it was supposed to, as hitters managed 12 home runs and a .472 slugging percentage against it. The Brewers should be patient with the 27-year-old Nelson, but he's running out of chances to figure things out and prove he belongs in a major league rotation.
Nelson has thrown four scoreless innings over two appearances with the Brewers this spring. The spring schedule has limited Nelson to just two official outings, but he has thrown the ball when called upon, allowing just two hits and no earned runs over four innings while posting a 6:0 K:BB and throwing all 27 of his pitches for strikes. Nelson is not a lock to open the season in the Brewers' rotation thanks to his struggles later last year and a multitude of other options in camp, but if he avoids any major struggles over the rest of the spring season he figures to come away with one of the three remaining open spots.
Nelson (8-16) allowed five runs on four hits and four walks with three strikeouts over 5.1 innings in a loss Tuesday against Texas. Nelson's second half tailspin continues. He is now 2-9 with a 6.75 ERA over 65.1 innings in 13 starts dating back to July 22. Nelson's 83:50 K:BB in that span isn't pretty, but the real problem has been the home run ball. He has served up 13 home runs in his 13-start cold streak; he allowed just 12 in his first 19 starts, in which he posted a sharp 3.39 ERA.
Nelson (8-14) won after allowing three runs on eight hits and two walks with seven strikeouts in six innings Thursday in a 5-4 win over the Cubs. Nelson gutted out a win over Chicago, using his seven strikeouts to limit the damage to just three runs. The 27-year-old has just two quality starts over his past 11 outings, going 2-7 with a 6.55 ERA and 1.82 WHIP. He's endured a fair amount of bad luck during that stretch, however, with a .344 BABIP over his previous 10 starts entering Thursday. He'll take the mound against the Pirates next Thursday at Miller Park in search of another victory.
Nelson allowed four runs on five hits and a pair of walks across six innings in Friday's loss to the Cardinals. He struck out four. Nelson was undone by his third inning, as he allowed a pair of two-run home runs in the frame to account for all of the damage against him. He had moved past the fifth inning just once in the previous nine starts, so Friday's outing was positive in that regard, but he has still thrown just one quality start in the last 10 tries. He will next take the hill Thursday versus the Cubs.
Nelson allowed one run on four hits, struck out four and walked six over 5.1 innings, but took a no-decision versus the Pirates on Saturday. He yielded a run in the first, then shut the door the rest of the way. Nelson left with a one-run lead, but the Brewers bullpen allowed the Pirates to tie the game in the seventh. With six free passes, Nelson was fortunate to get out of this outing with only one run allowed. Pittsburgh stranded eight base runners and grounded into two double plays in the first six frames alone. His next start will be Friday versus the Cardinals.