MILWAUKEE — The Milwaukee Brewers may need to do a little more roster juggling Saturday before continuing a three-game series against the Chicago Cubs at Miller Park.
The Brewers have played a lot of close games through the first five on their schedule, leaving their bullpen — which covered five of the final 11 innings of a 2-1 victory Friday night — a little stretched.
“We’re playing very close games,” manager Craig Counsell said. “Any time you play a stretch of a bunch of close games in a row your bullpen is going to get it.”
Milwaukee was down a pitcher to start with Friday after right-hander Taylor Jungmann was optioned to Double-A Biloxi. That cleared a roster spot for utility man Nick Franklin, who was claimed off waivers earlier in the week from Tampa. But it left the bullpen with seven relievers.
“We’ll have to regroup on that,” Counsell said.
Counsell will look to Tommy Milone to eat some innings in his first start of the year. The veteran left-hander moved into the rotation when Opening Day starter Junior Guerra was lost to a strained calf just three innings into the season opener.
Milone covered two innings in that game, allowing two runs and three hits.
He appeared in seven spring training games — including three starts — and posted a 9.00 ERA with nine strikeouts and two walks in 14 innings.
Saturday will mark Milone’s first career outing against the Cubs, who will be looking to bounce back after a tough loss Friday night.
Manager Joe Maddon expects to have second baseman Javier Baez available in some capacity. Baez had to leave the game Friday after suffering a left eye contusion when he collided with right fielder Jason Heyward chasing down a fly ball.
“He’s fine,” Maddon said. “It was kind of like a boxing thing with a mouse over your eye. It looked like it was going to start swelling. He said he was all right but I didn’t feel good about it. There was a large divot out there. He insisted he was good but I wasn’t convinced. I’m certain he’ll be fine by (Saturday). But I wasn’t feeling really strongly about it at that moment.”
Right-hander Kyle Hendricks will start for Chicago, looking to improve on his 5-3 record and 2.11 ERA in 10 career starts against the Brewers, including a 3-1 mark and 1.82 ERA in five starts at Miller Park.
Thanks to scheduling and weather delays during the Cubs’ opening series in St. Louis last week Hendricks will be taking the mound on eight full days of rest since his last outing, when he pitched five scoreless innings in an exhibition at Houston.
“Sometimes you can use that reprieve,” he told the Chicago Tribune after the start. “There could be one day where I’ll throw a very long bullpen, almost like a start.
“There’s nothing you can do. There are so many off-days at the start. It’s weird. You make the most of it. You can get your throwing in, get your extra lifting in to keep you ready for that first series.”