Nationals-Brewers Preview

The Milwaukee Brewers’ Mark Rogers has some pretty big shoes to

fill in his return to the big leagues.

Replacing the recently traded Zack Greinke in the rotation,

Rogers takes the hill opposite Gio Gonzalez on Sunday afternoon

when the slumping Brewers try to salvage a four-game split with the

visiting Washington Nationals.

Far from contention in both the NL Central and wild-card

standings, fourth-place Milwaukee (45-55) began its process of

starting to look toward next season by sending Greinke to the Los

Angeles Angels in exchange for rookie shortstop Jean Segura and two

minor leaguers Friday.

“We had to make a decision to turn the page,” general manager

Doug Melvin said. “These three players are players we feel good

about.”

With Greinke’s departure, though, comes another opportunity for

Rogers, who hasn’t pitched in the majors since compiling a 1.80 ERA

over two starts and four appearances near the end of 2010. The

26-year-old right-hander tried to win a job in Milwaukee’s rotation

the following spring, but he endured a setback with his surgically

repaired throwing shoulder and was later diagnosed with carpal

tunnel syndrome in his right wrist.

Rogers was also suspended for 25 games last August after testing

positive for a banned stimulant.

“In this game, there’s so much that’s out of your control that I

don’t want to get too far ahead of myself,” he told MLB’s official

website. “I’m excited about the opportunity to start (Sunday) and

to be back here and have this experience again. I just want to do

everything I can to make the most of it.”

“I finally feel healthy. Shoulder, hand, everything. I feel very

confident with where I’m at right now.”

While Rogers is understandably excited, he can’t be looking

forward to facing the Nationals (60-40). Tied for the best record

in baseball, Washington has won seven of eight following Saturday’s

4-1 victory.

Replacing fellow rookie Bryce Harper (stomach virus) in the

lineup, Corey Brown hit a solo homer – his first career hit – and

Tyler Moore and Ryan Zimmerman also went deep. Harper is likely to

be available Sunday.

Jordan Zimmermann, meanwhile, threw six strong innings and

helped limit Milwaukee to a 1-for-7 effort with runners in scoring

position.

“It’s a lack of the whole team getting together offensively and

defensively,” said Brewers manager Ron Roenicke, whose club has

dropped eight of nine. “When you are not consistent in those two

parts for a long time, it is hard to get on that winning streak.

Sometimes we’re pitching well and we are not scoring runs.”

Milwaukee could be hard-pressed to get much going again versus

Gonzalez (13-5, 3.13 ERA). After getting tagged for a season-high

six runs over 3 1-3 innings during a 9-5 loss to the New York Mets

on July 19, Gonzalez got back on track Tuesday in a 5-2 victory at

Citi Field by limiting the Mets to an unearned run and two hits in

seven innings.

“Just wanted to redeem myself from the last start,” said

Gonzalez, tied for the most wins in the NL. “You always want to

bounce back as a pitcher. You don’t want to feel down and out. A

lot of these guys came up to me and gave me some positive energy,

positive feedback. So the best I wanted to do was return the

favor.”

Getting his first look at the Brewers, Gonzalez has gone 7-1

over his last eight road starts while holding opponents to a .186

average. He has, however, struggled during day games, posting a

4.22 ERA over nine outings compared to a 2.35 mark at night.