Brewers, Jays' injuries mounting on mound
MILWAUKEE — It wasn't something you see every day.
At the bottom of page one of the Brewers game notes — sitting in a pile in the Miller Park press box — was the matchup of probable pitchers for all three games of the Brewers series with Toronto. But Tuesday's pitching matchup was listed unlike anything printed in the notes all season.
TBA vs. TBA, it read.
That uncertainty on the mound was something many expected from the Blue Jays, as the injury bug swept swiftly through Toronto's rotation in a nightmarish week last week, knocking out three of their five starting pitchers.
Toronto manager John Farrell even announced before the game on Monday that one of those pitchers, Kyle Drabek, would need his second Tommy John surgery, a season-ending procedure.
The Blue Jays' three missing pitchers — Drabek, Drew Hutchison, and Brandon Morrow — have combined for 207 2/3 innings, 37 starts and 16 wins this season. That's a whole lot to be missing from your rotation, especially in the uber-competitive AL East.
In the same light, the Brewers are no stranger to that kind of uncertainty and rapidly sweeping injuries this season. Milwaukee has already lost two No. 5 starters to injury — Chris Narveson and Marco Estrada — with Narveson on the shelf for the remainder of the season.
But those injury woes had never lined up for the Brewers and their opponent like they did in anticipation of the team's second game of its series with Toronto, a battle of two teams desperate for a wave of good health. For a game that was supposed to feature former Blue Jay Shaun Marcum pitching against his old team, manager Ron Roenicke announced before Monday's matchup that Marcum would be scratched due to elbow tightness.
"Very disappointing," Roenicke told reporters on Monday. "He has pitched great for quite a few starts now. He's pitched great, so it really is disappointing.”
That's a pretty crushing blow for a team that desperately needs some momentum and expected one of its hottest pitchers to take the mound in a pivotal series. Marcum hasn't taken a loss in almost a month and has allowed just seven earned runs in four starts in that span, while carrying a 5-3 record with a 3.39 ERA on the season.
And while the injuries have been a bit more taxing and frequent in the past few weeks for Toronto, the Blue Jays were still able to sweep the Phillies in their last series, pulling themselves above .500. The Brewers, on the other hand, have watched injuries and sub-par play drop them to six games below .500, 8.5 games back in the NL Central race.
Farrell expects that kind of consistency from his Toronto squad. He said before Monday's game that the recent onslaught of injuries doesn't change any sort of expectations he has for his team.
“We need to continue to (step up),” Farrell said. “We have to take care of the issues within our own club health-wise. Every team goes through them. It can't be used as an excuse for a lack of performance on our part. Everyone that populates our big-league roster is a major league player. So the expectations stay the same. We can't put our tail between our legs and run from it.”
After the Brewers had won the first game of the series on Monday, 7-6, the Blue Jays promptly named Jesse Chavez as the starter of Tuesday. But when it came to Roenicke, he refused to put a name to the TBA label, despite bating from the media.
“We are going to make a move tomorrow,” Roenicke said. “We'll have someone here and make a move tomorrow to be able to do that. … I told John Farrell that Marcum was not going to start. I told him basically about him, whether he was right-handed or left-handed, just to give him a heads up."
Still, the media persisted for clues to the conspicuous absence of a named starter.
“Do you want me to spell his name for you?" Roenicke said.
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