After getting swept by the rival St. Louis Cardinals last week, the Milwaukee Brewers needed some help as they began their series against the Washington Nationals.
On America’s Independence Day, Junior Guerra lit up the nation’s capital with fireworks. Over the seven plus innings of work, Guerra struck out seven, only walked two batters and only allowed two hits. The Bullpen then finished the job as Will Smith and Jeremy Jeffress finished the job and closed the door on the Nationals.
Guerra’s start last Monday is indicative of what he has done all season for the Brewers: he has been a breath of fresh air.
Besides a few starts when he was first called up by the Brewers, Guerra has provided quality starts for a Brewers team often in need of one, as the bullpen gets overworked and the offense remains inconsistent. His best start came last week against the streaking Los Angeles Dodgers, as Guerra held them to two hits of eight innings while striking out seven.
At age 31, Guerra is among the MLB’s best rookie pitchers. He is ninth in ERA, fourth in wins and sixth in strikeouts. His 2.93 ERA also matches the likes of Chris Sale, Cole Hamels and former Brewer Marco Estrada. Quietly, the long time farm system journeyman is having one of the best rookie campaigns.
Guerra also represents something new in the Brewers organization. Under the David Stearns – Craig Counsell regime, the Brewers have been able to hit on alot of “stop-gap” players who were simply added to the team to hold a spot for a future player. Jonathan Villar was brought over to hold down the shortstop position until star prospect Orlando Arcia came up from Triple-A. Now, he is one of the best players on the Brewers. Chris Carter was signed to simply hit some home runs and maybe flip at the deadline for some prospects. Now, Carter has 20 home runs and has proven to be a leader on this young Brewer team.
Guerra is no exception. He was brought up to simply fill a hole left by the struggling Taylor Jungmann, but now Guerra has blossomed into one of the best starting pitchers the Brewers have.
*All stats from mlb.com