Before Milwaukee’s worst season in nine years officially came to a close, Marco Estrada provided one last glimmer of hope for 2014.
Continuing his impressive finish to the year, Estrada allowed just two hits and one run while striking out eight and not walking a batter in Milwaukee’s 3-2 loss to New York in the season finale.
“Outstanding,” Brewers manager Ron Roenicke said of Estrada. “That was a great way for him to finish the season.
“He gets strikeouts with the fastball, he gets strikeouts with the breaking ball and he got strikeouts with his change-up. When he’s on like that he can really go through lineups.”
Estrada’s future with the Brewers was at a breaking point when he was stuck carrying a 5.32 ERA on the disabled list in June with a hamstring injury. After missing two months, Estrada returned with a great performance against Texas on Aug. 7 and never looked back.
The right-hander went 3-0 with a 2.15 ERA in his final nine starts, putting his best foot forward to garner a spot in next year’s starting rotation.
“To come back and stay healthy and finish strong, it means the world,” Estrada said. “I hope I showed them enough.”
The run Estrada allowed Sunday was one Roenicke felt the Brewers shouldn’t have let cross the plate. Eric Young Jr. led off the bottom of the first with a single and then stole second and third base before scoring on a David Wright sacrifice fly.
“It was way too shallow of a fly ball,” Roenicke said of Wright’s sacrifice fly. “We didn’t get rid of it quick, and we didn’t hang in there to make a tag. We gave them a run.”
Estrada’s outing put a cap on a very good final month for Milwaukee’s starting pitchers. The Brewers got quality starts in 19 of 27 games and watched their six starters post an ERA of 2.94, third-best in the National League.
It’s impossible to predict what moves will be made in the offseason, but the Brewers can head into the offseason feeling better about their starting staff.
“All of them finished strong, which is very encouraging going into next season,” Roenicke said. “They should have a good feeling coming into spring training when you know you finish up that well.”
Despite losing many key players to injury and suspension and running out mostly makeshift lineups, the Brewers finished 15-12 in September. Though there’s no way to sugarcoat an 88-loss season, Milwaukee at least went down fighting.
“It was a good finish,” Roenicke said. “We hung in there. After the All-Star break I thought we did a nice job. We hung in there with all of the teams and we played everybody tough.”