Tom Gorzelanny endures another rough start, could return to bullpen

Tom Gorzelanny's days as a starting pitcher appear to be numbered, but he still has value in the bullpen.

With a strong showing down the stretch, Tom Gorzelanny probably would have locked up a spot in Milwaukee's rotation for 2014.

A few good starts led to an opportunity for the veteran left-hander to show he deserved to be a starting pitcher moving forward.

Now, after three straight poor outings, Gorzleanny's window of opportunity is likely closing.

Gorzelanny lasted just 5 1/3 innings and allowed four runs on nine hits in Wednesday's 7-1 lackluster loss to Pittsburgh. With rosters expanding Sunday, the Brewers may opt to go in a different direction for his next start.

"That's a discussion that Doug and I have had and will have again," Brewers manager Ron Roenicke responded when asked if Gorzelanny will continue to start. "Then we will make a determination. We have September coming up where we know there's a couple of guys we'd like to see. We'll discuss all of that."

Gorzleanny has proven throughout his career he's a better pitcher out of the bullpen, and this year has been no different. Wednesday's loss dropped him to 2-5 with a 4.81 in 10 starts this season, while Gorzelanny's ERA as a reliever is 2.45.

Signed through next season, Gorzleanny was valuable as a versatile reliever and should thrive again in the role next year.

The Brewers do have options, as Johnny Hellweg and Jimmy Nelson are top pitching prospects waiting at Nashville, while Tyler Thornburg has pitched well this year in a starting role.

"He doesn't have to (stay in)," Roenicke said. "We're OK if we want to do something. We've talked about how to do it. We have a lot of guys that can start and we probably need to make decisions on. He's one of those guys. Tyler (Thornburg), there's a case to want him back in the rotation so that's why we're talking about this.

One would have to imagine Hellweg will get another chance after making his final Triple-A start Friday. Though he didn't perform well during his first time through in Milwaukee's rotation, the Brewers seem better off evaluating young talent rather than running out someone with an established track record of struggling as a starter.

Roenicke and Melvin are still trying to win games on the field in the season's final five weeks, but evaluation of young pitchers going forward is just as, if not more, crucial.

"I don't think whatever direction we go, I don't think it's going to be where we are taking somebody who is just dealing out of there and putting somebody else in his spot," Roenicke said. "I don't see that there's going to be that much of a negative there, whichever way we go."

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