Following a breakout rookie season as a 31-year-old in 2016, Junior Guerra was tabbed as the Brewers' Opening Day starter to kick off the 2017 campaign. Things quickly went south from there, as he was injured while hitting and missed nearly two months of action. He held his own for a few starts after returning from the disabled list, but he had trouble finding the strike zone, was dropped from the rotation by the end of July and started just one more game for the Brewers very late in the year. Guerra's control and fastball velocity fell off significantly last season, but his success the year before will earn him a chance to secure a spot at the back end of the rotation during spring training. At age 32 without much of a track record, though, he is seemingly a long shot to come away with one of the five openings.
Brewers general manager David Stearns confirmed Friday that Guerra has a minor-league option remaining, which may hurt the right-hander's case for winning an Opening Day rotation spot, Adam McCalvy of MLB.com reports. The Brewers named Chase Anderson their Opening Day starter Monday and Jhoulys Chacin and Zach Davies (oblique) are also penciled in as top-three options in the rotation. With Brent Suter seemingly on solid ground for the No. 4 role, it appears the fifth-starter gig will come down to Guerra, Brandon Woodruff or non-roster invitee Wade Miley. Guerra has made a compelling case for the rotation spot with a 1.80 ERA and 8:2 K:BB over 10 innings in Cactus League play, but the fact that he and Woodruff are still eligible for minor-league assignments likely leaves Miley as the top candidate to fill out the rotation. Miley has gotten off to a hot start to the spring with a 1.38 ERA and 1.00 WHIP in 13 frames, further dimming Guerra's hopes.
Guerra threw three scoreless innings in a spring game Friday. He allowed four hits, struck out three batters, and walked none. After a trying 2017 season Guerra is attempting to secure a spot in the Brewers' rotation this spring, and he is off to a good start, allowing just one earned run over six innings. His main priority during the exhibition is throwing strikes, according to Tom Haudricourt of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, and so far he has done that, issuing just one walk over his six spring frames.
Guerra is scheduled to start Monday's game against the Indians, Adam McCalvy of MLB.com reports. Over the course of spring training, Guerra is competing with Brent Suter, Brandon Woodruff and Yovani Gallardo for a spot at the back of Milwaukee's starting rotation. So far, Guerra has appeared in one outing, during which he threw a shutout inning. He'll have to be impressive this spring to enter the season as a starter after 2017's disappointing showing. Over 21 games (70.1 innings), he posted a 5.12 ERA and 1.48 WHIP.
Manager Craig Counsell said Sunday that Guerra will compete for a spot in the Brewers' starting rotation during spring training, the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel reports. The 2017 campaign didn't go quite as planned for Guerra. The 32-year-old was tabbed as the team's Opening Day starter after a breakout rookie campaign in 2016, though he injured his calf in the third inning and was subsequently forced to miss two months. Guerra held his own in a few starts following his activation, but poor control ultimately caught up to him (5.5 BB/9) and he was dropped from the rotation at the end of July as his ERA approached 5.00. Despite his struggles last season, the Brewers have a pair of openings in their rotation heading into 2018, and -- assuming Milwaukee doesn't add any additional pitching help via trade or free agency before spring -- Guerra will get a chance to compete with the likes of Brent Suter, Brandon Woodruff and Yovani Gallardo for one of the final spots in the rotation.
Guerra allowed three runs on two hits and two walks while striking out five batters over 2.1 innings in a no-decision against the Cardinals on Saturday. Guerra had pitched exclusively out of the bullpen since returning from the minors and made his last start July 29. As a result, it wasn't surprising to see him pitch so briefly Saturday. He was the Opening Day starter for Milwaukee, so it was a disappointing campaign for the 32-year-old righty, who will finish the season with a 4.90 ERA, 1.48 WHIP and 8.2 K/9 over just 68 innings. Guerra's fantasy outlook for 2018 is grim.