The reigning Pacific Coast League Pitcher of the Year will begin his season back in Triple-A, as the Milwaukee Brewers optioned right-hander Johnny Hellweg to Nashville on Wednesday morning.
Hellweg appeared in three games this spring for the Brewers, posting an 18.00 ERA in three innings. The 25-year-old allowed six earned runs on six hits and one walk.
"I was actually happy with the way he threw the ball," Brewers manager Ron Roenicke said. "The last two outings he really got after it, and that’s what we’ve been trying to get him to do. Instead of pacing, and your good stuff doesn’t start to show up until the third or fourth inning, we tried to get him to come out and go after it and he certainly did.
The odds were stacked against Hellweg making Milwaukee’s roster, especially after the club signed Matt Garza and eliminated an open spot in the rotation. Hellwey had a fantastic season in Triple-A in 2013, going 12-5 with a 3.15 ERA in 23 starts with the Sounds.
Hellweg did walk 81 batters in 125 2/3 innings in Nashville, and his control issues carried up to the big leagues. He walked 26 and hit eight batters in his 30 2/3 innings with the Brewers, going 1-4 with a 6.75 ERA in seven starts and one relief appearance.
His first spring outing was rough, as Hellweg allowed three runs — including a walk-off home run — without recording an out in the ninth inning against Oakland on March 4. Hellweg’s second game was better, working two innings and giving up just one hit.
Hellweg was hit for three runs on four hits in his single inning against the White Sox on Monday.
"Two outings ago, he was outstanding. In those two innings, he really threw the ball well," Roenicke said. "I know the outcome didn’t look very good (in his last outing) but I liked the way he threw the ball. He’s trying to quicken his deliver and he’s done that."
Nashville is likely to have a pretty good rotation when all is settled with the Brewers, as Hellweg, Jimmy Nelson and Ariel Pena could be joined by Hiram Burgos, Tyler Thornburg and Taylor Jungmann.
Gorzelanny update: Brewers left-hander Tom Gorzelanny threw at 150 feet Wednesday, but the reliever is not looking like he’ll be ready for Opening Day.