Counsell turns to Brewers’ young guns for starting rotation

For the Milwaukee Brewers and their starting rotation, there’s no time like the present for the future.

On Thursday, manager Craig Counsell indicated who would be Milwaukee’s five starters to open the season and it has a decidedly young look. Joining Jhoulys Chacin, who it was previously announced would start the Brewers’ opener against St. Louis on March 28, are Corbin Burnes, Zach Davies, Freddy Peralta and Brandon Woodruff.

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Chase Anderson, who started 30 games last season, will be a reliever. Earlier in the week the Brewers released non-roster invitee Josh Tomlin, who was also battling for one of the five spots.

In the end, Milwaukee decided the 23-year-old Burnes, 22-year-old Peralta and 24-year-old Woodruff were ready.

“It’s time for them to start,” Counsell said.

Counsell wasn’t certain who would start the second, third and fourth games of the season, but Davies would start the fifth game of the year, a series opener in Cincinnati on April 1.

None of these pitchers is just being handed a job nor is this a way to get players some major-league experience.

“We’re in the mode of winning baseball games, this is not a developmental thing,” Counsell said.

Peralta made his major-league debut last year, appearing in 16 games with 14 starts. He had a 4.25 ERA but allowed just 49 hits in 78 1/3 innings with 96 strikeouts. In 7 1/3 spring innings he has allowed four hits with 12 Ks.

Woodruff had a 3.61 ERA in 19 games (four starts) for the Brewers in 2018, his second go-round with the team. He appeared in four postseason games, allowing three runs in 12 1/3 innings with 20 strikeouts. In 14 2/3 spring innings Woodruff has allowed just seven hits with 20 whiffs.

“Freddy and Woody have thrown the ball really, really well this spring,” Counsell said.

Burnes was a starter in the minors but used out of the bullpen for the Brewers in 2018, where he excelled both in the regular season and playoffs. He’s had some struggled in spring training, but Counsell said he’s seen progression from last year.

“Corbin, his stuff is up a notch,” Counsell said “He’s made some mistakes, but his stuff is up a notch.”

In other words: It’s time.