This probably isn’t the way Chris Narveson wanted to begin the 2012 season. In his first two starts, the lefthander allowed 8 runs (7 earned) in just 9 innings, walked 4 and only struck out 5. Considering Narveson was never much of a swing-and-miss guy (he’s struck out 7.43 batters per 9 innings for his career), the inability to fool batters was mildly concerning, even if it could have been attributed to small sample size.
Today, we found out the early-season struggles could possibly be attributed to something else:
#Brewers LHP Chris Narveson placed on the 15-day DL today with a tear of the left rotator cuff, retroactive to 4/16.
— Mike Vassallo (@MikeVassallo13) April 20, 2012
Details are scarce right now, but it possibly looks like the injury could have happened during Narveson’s last start, a 4-inning outing in Atlanta. Looking at the pitch f/x data from that start, there aren’t a whole lot of clues as to when something when wrong, at least when it comes to velo. His fastball was sitting around 86 mph by the end of his outing, but that’s in line with the 86.6 mph average he’s had to start the year (granted, that is over 1 mph slower than his average velo last year). Early in the start, he hit as high as 88.5 mph. If Narveson wasn’t injured during that start, it’s possible he could have hurt the shoulder in a bullpen session between starts.
The extent of the tear is unknown at this time, but any tear in the rotator cuff should be considered a serious injury for a pitcher. Gord Ash is saying Narveson will be out at least two weeks, which doesn’t tell us much — the DL designation would have guaranteed that, anway. The Brewers were very fortunate last season when it came to pitcher health, only having to use six starters the entire year.
For the time being, it appears Marco Estrada will slide into the rotation, as he’s alreay been named the starter for Saturday night. Mike McClendon, who was going to be with the team this weekend anyway while Kameron Loe was on the bereavement list, will join the team tonight. Wily Peralta will likely join the team tomorrow when Loe is deactivated, which is interesting because he was slated to start for Nashville tonight. It doesn’t look like he’ll be starting this weekend, however.
While Estrada is in the rotation for the time being, bringing Peralta up raises some interesting questions about the next few weeks. For example, will Estrada stay in the rotation while Peralta eats a few middle innings as Estrada gets stretched out? Are they only bringing up Estrada because he’s the closest to being on Narveson’s schedule?
There are worse things that can happen than your fifth starter getting hurt, but as a very solid #5, Narveson is not an insignificant loss. Luckily, the Brewers have more starting pitching depth in the high minors than they did a couple years ago, when such an injury could have resulted in some undesirable emergency starters.
We’ll update this post when more is known about the severity of the injury and what kind of rehab time will be required.