MILWAUKEE — Top pitching prospect Jimmy Nelson has made a season-long case to be called up from Triple-A, but the right-hander’s current 22-inning scoreless streak has offered further proof he’s ready to come to the big leagues.
Brewers manager Ron Roenicke said Tuesday there have been "a lot of discussions" about bringing Nelson up to the big leagues.
Nelson worked seven scoreless innings for the Sounds on Monday, lowering his ERA to 1.46 on the season. The 25-year-old hasn’t allowed a run in 22 innings over three starts. He made a spot start for the injured Yovani Gallardo in Miami on May 25, earning his first big-league win by pitching 5 2/3 scoreless innings.
"He’s doing great," Roenicke said. "He’s doing everything he can to make us want to bring him up and that’s why all the discussions.
"He’s shown now he’s ready to take on the challenge of this. That’s why there’s been so much conversation."
If Nelson was to replace anyone in Milwaukee’s starting rotation it would be Marco Estrada, who is 7-6 with a 4.96 ERA in 18 starts. Estrada leads all of baseball with 27 home runs surrendered but has a 3.64 ERA over his last three starts.
When asked if Estrada had stabilized his spot in the rotation by pitching better of late, Roenicke said, "We’ll see."
Lineup change: While the Brewers’ offense was going well, Roenicke didn’t have much of a choice but to stick with Carlos Gomez in the cleanup spot and keep Aramis Ramirez hitting fifth.
With Milwaukee struggling to score runs in a stretch in which it has lost six of seven and with Ryan Braun out of the lineup Tuesday with back spasms, the lineup was back to looking like it did earlier in the season.
Gomez hit leadoff Tuesday for the first time since May 21, with second baseman Scooter Gennett in the No. 2 spot and Ramirez back hitting cleanup.
"I was wanting to do something," Roenicke said. "The timing allowed me to do it because I needed somebody to fill in where Ryan’s spot was. I like Gomey leading off. I think it was a good way to start out. If he gets on base he can steal and it seemed like he was scoring a lot. I think it was a good time to do it."
Gomez made his first 42 starts of the season at leadoff, hitting .298 with 10 home runs and 23 RBI when in the top spot of the batting order. He’s made his last 39 starts at No. 3 or No. 4 in the order but isn’t worried about where his name lands on the lineup card.
"It’s the same," Gomez said. "The only thing that is important is that we make the lineup the most competitive and best we can make. When Braun is not in the lineup, it is a tough decision to make in the two hole. Putting me (leadoff) and Scooter in the two hole makes the lineup really good.
"I tell (Roenicke), ‘You are the manager. Any lineup you put out there, you don’t even have to tell me. I’m fine with it.’ All that I dream about is staying in the lineup. When I’m in the lineup, I’m the happiest man in the world."
Roenicke is unsure as to how long he will stick with Tuesday’s arraignment, as he expects Braun to return to the lineup as early as Wednesday.
"We’ll see how we do," Roenicke said. "I’m hoping the offense takes off and we want to keep it this way."
Injury update: Brewers reliever Jim Henderson is progressing well in his attempted return from right shoulder inflammation, as Roenicke indicated the right-hander will shift his rehab assignment from Milwaukee’s rookie team in Arizona to Double-A Huntsville.
Henderson went on the disabled list on May 2 and started a rehab assignment three weeks later. He was pulled off that rehab assignment when his right shoulder flared up on him after just a couple of outings.
The 31-year-old made two appearances for the rookie-level Brewers in Arizona last week, working a total of 2 2/3 scoreless innings with three strikeouts.
"Henderson is doing really well," Roenicke said. "His velocity was really good his last outing."
Roenicke said the Brewers do have a target date set for Henderson’s potential return to the big-league bullpen because he’s come along much faster than the club initially anticipated.
The same can’t be said for Tyler Thornburg, who seems some time away from pitching in a minor-league game. Roenicke said Thornburg has been playing catch but has yet to throw a bullpen session. A couple of such sessions would be needed before Thornburg would even begin a rehab assignment.
Thornburg was placed on the disabled list on June 7 with right elbow soreness.
"I didn’t think it was going to be this long and he didn’t either," Roenicke said. "I’m really surprised. I don’t know what is going on."