Diving into the depths: Milwaukee Brewers

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This is part of a 30-article series looking at each team’s depth chart headed into spring training.

Rotation
1. Zack Greinke
2. Yovani Gallardo
3. Shaun Marcum
4. Randy Wolf
5. Chris Narveson
6. Manny Parra
7. Mark Rogers
8. Amaury Rivas
9. Josh Butler
10. Sam Narron
11. Cody Scarpetta

Depth is a major issue, but the Brewers have a very strong top three and a solid fourth starter. I’m skeptical that Narveson will last: he has the strikeout rate, but he struggles pitching from the stretch. Ideally, Rogers would stay healthy in Triple-A and secure the fifth spot in the rotation sometime around the All-Star break.

Bullpen
1. John Axford
2. Takashi Saito
3. Zach Braddock
4. Kameron Loe
5. LaTroy Hawkins
6. Manny Parra
7. Sean Green
8. Mike McClendon
9. Brandon Kintzler
10. Justin James
11. Mark DiFelice
12. Mitch Stetter
13. Roque Mercedes
14. Tim Dillard
15. Dan Merkinger
16. Zack Segovia
17. Pat Egan
18. Robert Hinton

The Brewers will be just fine in the pen. Parra was very good in his relief stints last season, and I like Kintzler as a sleeper to step into a setup role as the year goes on. I doubt Axford will be quite so good again in the closer’s role, but he should be able to hold on to his job.

Catcher
1. Jonathan Lucroy
2. Wil Nieves
3. George Kottaras
4. Mike Rivera
5. Shawn Riggans

First base
1. Prince Fielder
2. Casey McGehee
3. Mat Gamel

Second base
1. Rickie Weeks
2. Craig Counsell
3. Edwin Maysonet
4. Eric Farris
5. Erick Almonte

Third base
1. Casey McGehee
2. Mat Gamel
3. Craig Counsell
4. Erick Almonte
5. Taylor Green

Shortstop
1. Yuniesky Betancourt
2. Craig Counsell
3. Luis Cruz
4. Edwin Maysonet

Even though Weeks has improved to the point at which he’s just about average at second base, the Brewers are going to sport one of the game’s weakest infield defenses after swapping out Alcides Escobar and bringing in Betancourt. At least the group should be good for 90 homers or so.

Left field
1. Ryan Braun
2. Chris Dickerson
3. Brandon Boggs
4. Jeremy Reed
5. Brendan Katin

Center field
1. Carlos Gomez
2. Chris Dickerson
3. Jeremy Reed
4. Logan Schafer
5. Caleb Gindl

Right field
1. Corey Hart
2. Chris Dickerson
3. Brandon Boggs
4. Brendan Katin
5. Caleb Gindl

The Brewers need Gomez’s glove in center, so he figures to be given every opportunity to win the everyday job. I like Dickerson, but he’s inconsistent and injury-prone and he’s probably best utilized getting three starts a week as a fourth outfielder.

Julio Urias to undergo season-ending shoulder surgery

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The news has gone from bad to worse for Dodgers’ left-hander Julio Urias, who is scheduled for anterior capsule surgery on his left shoulder next Tuesday and expected to be sidelined through the middle of the 2018 season. His MRI came back negative on Wednesday, giving the Dodgers some hope that the 20-year-old’s bout of shoulder inflammation wasn’t masking any structural damage, but the pain lingered several days later and prompted further concern from the club. The procedure will be performed by Dr. Neal ElAttrache.

Urias was optioned to Triple-A Oklahoma City in late May and placed on the disabled list with left shoulder discomfort several weeks into his assignment. At the major league level, he owned a 5.40 ERA, 5.4 BB/9 and 4.2 SO/9 through 23 1/3 innings, going 0-2 in five starts with Los Angeles. He made a brief rebound in Triple-A, posting three wins and striking out 17 of 67 batters in 17 1/3 innings before landing on the DL.

It’s a tough blow for the southpaw, who had yet to hit his stride in the majors before getting sidelined with shoulder issues. The Dodgers were especially mindful of this outcome for Urias, and had taken preventative measures to protect his arm by establishing a strict innings limit last season. According to club president Andrew Friedman, there’s a small silver lining here: while Urias’ injury will keep him out of work for at least 12 months, he doesn’t appear to have sustained any damage to his labrum or rotator cuff, and could be facing a much more streamlined recovery process as a result. Whether he’ll be able to rebound once he takes the mound again remains to be seen.

Tigers release Francisco Rodriguez

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Tigers’ right-handed reliever Francisco Rodriguez was released on Friday, per a team announcement. The club recalled fellow right-hander Bruce Rondon from Triple-A Toledo in a corresponding move.

The former closer got the boot after losing his closing role in early May, giving left-hander Justin Wilson a chance to impress at the back end of the bullpen. It’s been a rough year for Rodriguez, who manufactured six blown saves and a 7.82 ERA, 3.9 BB/9 and 8.2 SO/9 over 25 1/3 innings for the Tigers. The final straw, it seemed, came with Robinson Cano‘s grand slam in the seventh inning of the Tigers’ 6-9 loss to the Mariners on Thursday.

While the demotion to a clean-up role and an apparent lack of communication caused Rodriguez considerable frustration, he’s two years removed from his last dominant performance as a major league closer and has shown few signs of returning to form. His recent slump doesn’t diminish the impressive totals he’s racked up over his 16-year career — 437 saves and six All-Star nominations among them — but if he can’t break out of it soon, he may not receive the kind of high leverage role he’s seeking with another big league team, either.