The post-All-Star Game moves keep coming, and more young blood will be joining the Brewers when the team reconvenes on Thursday. A day after Jeff Bianchi was called up to fill a bench spot, the Brewers announced Tyler Thornburg is back in the majors as a part of the bullpen…for the time being, at least. Tim Dillard was outrighted to Triple-A to make room for Thornburg on the 25-man roster, and the move also opens a 40-man spot for Bianchi.
Thornburg returns to Milwaukee, already making his MLB debut in a spot start on June 19 against a tough Toronto lineup. After five very strong innings, Thornburg ran out of gas in the 6th, ending up with a 5.1 IP 7 H 5 ER 0 BB 2 K line. He surrendered four home runs in the start, three coming consecutively in that 6th inning to Colby Rasmus, Jose Bautista and Edwin Encarnacion. Thornburg was sent to Triple-A after that outing, where he only made one start due to a minor wrist injury.
Dillard was outrighted after making 34 appearances for the Brewers in the first half, putting up a 4.38 ERA and 3.77 FIP in 37 innings. While the numbers weren’t great — he had a 10.9 H/9 rate, was only striking out 7.1 per 9 and saw his walks rise to 3.4 per 9 — he was perfectly serviceable as a longman/mop-up guy. Unfortunately for Dillard, having both him and Livan Hernandez on the roster is a bit redundant, and apparently the club would rather have Hernandez right now. Dillard has 72 hours to accept the assignment to Nashville or declare free agency. Dillard had to be outrighted because he was out of options.
Doug Melvin is saying Thornburg will go to the bullpen for now, with the possibility of starting down the road. While plenty of people seem to think Thornburg will become a reliever at some point (albeit a very good one), it doesn’t appear that the Brewers are going to let the starting pitcher dream die just yet. Right now, there just aren’t any available rotation spots (no, they’re not going to move Randy Wolf to the bullpen) and the bullpen is in need of a bit of a shakeup after a disastrous few weeks to close the first half.
It could be interesting to see how the bullpen evolves in the second half, especially if the Brewers are sellers at the trade deadline. It’s entirely possible guys like Francisco Rodriguez and Jose Veras are replaced with younger arms from Nashville or Huntsville, and heading into next year, the Brewers could be looking at a much cheaper — and cost-effective — bullpen.