MILWAUKEE — By now, Tyler Thornburg is used to an ever-changing role. He’s bounced back and forth between the bullpen and starting rotation quite a bit in his short major-league career, but the rookie right-hander is aiming to establish himself in the final month.
But because the Brewers aren’t sure how they will set up their rotation past the upcoming Pittsburgh series, Thornburg could have just Monday’s start or he could have the whole month in the rotation. For now, he’s taking it start-by-start.
“I haven’t heard what we are going to do, I don’t know what I’m going to do,” Thornburg said. “So that’s pretty much all I can do. That’s all I have been trying to do for the past couple of years. I think last year helped me and so far this year, I think I’ve learned to take it one day at a time instead of trying to look ahead. It’s a lot easier when you do that.”
Last year, Thornburg was up and down from Double-A and Triple-A multiple times. Not only was he flying around from Huntsville, Nashville and Milwaukee, but the right-hander was jumping from starting to relieving when he was in the big leagues.
He feels the experience he gained last season has helped him be better prepared for the shifting this season.
“I felt like I didn’t do bad given the circumstances of bouncing back and forth,” Thornburg said. “I didn’t do as well as I wanted to do obviously, but I take it as a learning experience. I think that’s one thing that’s helped me bounce back and forth this year.”
Despite having an 0-9 record and a 5.75 ERA in Triple-A this season, Thornburg has come up and pitched well for the Brewers as a starter and a reliever. He has a 0.50 ERA in three starts and a 3.04 ERA in 11 relief appearances.
While he’d prefer to be in the rotation next season, he’s hoping to give himself a head start heading onto spring training next season with a solid September.
“Hopefully whatever I’m doing whether it is starting or relieving, I can finish up strong and put myself in a position to definitely win a job next year,” Thornburg said.
Hand up: As expected, the Brewers made just one call-up when rosters expanded Sunday, as right-hander Donovan Hand was recalled from Triple-A Nashville.
Hand, who has started and pitched in long relief for the Brewers this season, was working as a late-inning reliever for the Sounds. He’ll return to Milwaukee’s bullpen as a middle reliever.
The 27-year-old is 0-4 with a 3.75 ERA in 21 games and seven starts for the Brewers in his first season in the big leagues.
In addition to Hand, minor-league hitting coordinator Sandy Guerrero has joined the Brewers coaching staff for the remainder of the season. Guerrero has coached in Milwaukee’s organization since 2003.
Any other September call-ups will likely come after Nashville’s season ends Monday.
Davis bumped up: It has been quite the month for Khris Davis, but the rookie left fielder added another notch in his belt Sunday when he hit cleanup for the first time in his career.
With usual cleanup hitter Aramis Ramirez getting the day off, Davis became the eighth different player to hit in the fourth spot for the Brewers this season. The new cleanup meant Brewers manager Ron Roenicke wrote out his 101st different lineup in the team’s 136th game of the season.
“It’s what we have this year with the injuries and everything that has happened,” Roenicke said. “It’s unfortunate when you have to change the lineup that much.”
Davis is hitting .296 with eight home runs and 19 RBI on the season, but has hit .317 with all of his home runs and RBI since coming back up on July 23.
“If anything, it’s like a boost of confidence,” Davis said. “Roenicke is going to put me in the best situation to succeed, so if he’s going to put me there then he thinks I can do it. It’s just a confidence thing.”
While he has yet to do it in the big leagues, Davis has hit cleanup in the minor leagues before. As a guy who doesn’t let any moment become too big for him, Davis seems as if he’d be able to handle the role.
“My approach is going to be the same, the way I go after this guy today,” Davis said. “It’s not going to change. I’m going to get a mistake and hopefully not miss it.
“When you start trying too hard, it never really works. I’ve never tried to hit a home run and actually did it. Everything is going to stay the same. I’m going to be chill and calm and as laid-back as can be.”