Shades of Guerra in 30-year-old Espino’s debut

For the second consecutive year the Milwaukee Brewers are turning to an overlooked veteran to jumpstart their rotation.

Career minor-leaguer Paolo Espino will make his major-league debut Friday, 11 years after he was first drafted.

The 30-year-old, once a 10th-round draft pick of the Cleveland Indians, suddenly finds himself in the thick of a heated division showdown, and will face the Chicago Cubs at Wrigley Field.

Espino is one of the oldest rookie pitchers in Brewers history and the second 30-year-old, joining David Manning, who appeared in two games for Milwaukee in 2003.

Pitcher Debut Opponent Age
David Manning 8/2/03 Expos 30 years, 353 days
Paolo Espino 5/1917 Cubs 30 years, 129 days
Brian Givens 6/24/95 Tigers 29 years, 230 days
Teddy Higuera 4/23/85 White Sox 27 years, 165 days
Brent Suter 8/19/16 Mariners 26 years, 356 days

The move echoes Counsell’s decision to elevate former journeyman Junior Guerra last season, who entered 2016 with just four innings of major-league experience, coming with the White Sox in 2015 nine years after his minor-league debut.

Guerra eventually became a key part of the Brewers’ rotation, appearing in 20 games and finishing with a 2.81 ERA, before starting for the Brewers on Opening Day earlier this year.

Espino has had a productive season for the Triple-A Colorado Springs Sky Sox, and leads the rotation with a 2.54 ERA through eight starts.

The only undefeated regular in Colorado Springs’ rotation (with a 4-0 record), Espino is averaging a respectable 9.2 strikeouts per nine innings with the Sky Sox, and has a 1.026 WHIP.

The Cubs will counter with recent call-up Eddie Butler, a right-hander who pitched six scoreless innings against the St. Louis Cardinals last week.

He’ll face a Brewers offense that hasn’t been kind to opposing pitchers this season.

Milwaukee still leads the majors with 65 home runs, and now have 10 players with at least three home runs, joining the Arizona Diamondbacks, Houston Astros and New York Mets atop the league.

Team Players w/ 3+ HR
Brewers 10
Diamondbacks 10
Astros 10
Mets 10
Cubs 9
Rays 9
Tigers 9
Rangers 9

 

They could soon have one more.

Second baseman Eric Sogard has been on fire since joining the Brewers last week, and racked up four hits Thursday afternoon in a win over the San Diego Padres.

It’s his second four-hit game of the week, following a standout performance in the second game of a four-game set against San Diego.