Milwaukee Brewers Notebook: Pitching changes, Rhys Hoskins struggles

As the Milwaukee Brewers wrap up a four-game set in Denver, here are some thoughts on the NL Central leaders.

MILWAUKEE, WI - JUNE 29: Milwaukee Brewers pitcher Tobias Myers (36) delivers a pitch during an MLB game against the Chicago Cubs on June 29, 2024 at American Family Field in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. (Photo by Joe Robbins/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)

DENVER — It won’t take long for Aaron Civale to make an impact on the Milwaukee Brewers.

Milwaukee manager Pat Murphy announced before Thursday’s game in Colorado against the Rockies that Civale, acquired in a trade with the Tampa Bay Rays, will start on Friday in Los Angeles when the Brewers open a series against the Dodgers.

The right-hander will lead a new-look Brewers rotation in a battle of division leaders at Chavez Ravine. Freddy Peralta will draw the start on Saturday and Dallas Keuchel, purchased from the Seattle Mariners earlier in the week, will take the mound on Sunday.

With DL Hall wrapping up a rehab assignment and “trending in the right direction,” according to Murphy, Milwaukee’s rotation and pitching depth overall may have a completely different look in the middle of July than it did in the middle of June.

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“We’re getting there. One step forward,” Murphy said about his pitching situation and where it’s heading. “It really is interesting. There’s no way to predict this. Think of spring training and the guys that were on board.”

If you stretch that list out to Opening Day, it wouldn’t include Tobias Myers, who made the start on Thursday against the Rockies (more about that in a moment), as well as Civale and Keuchel. Yes, the rotation has shifted and could well keep transforming, depending on health and any additional moves that may be needed as the trade deadline approaches.

Milwaukee, leading the National League Central, has already used an MLB-high 16 different pitchers to start a game in 2024. When Civale takes the mound on Friday, the 2024 Brewers will tie a franchise record (with the 1969 Seattle Pilots) for most starters used in a season. Considering it is early July, the Brewers could make history in that department this season.

Myers continues to impress

Making his 12th start of the season (13th appearance), the 25-year-old right-hander continued his impressive run to open his big league career on Thursday night, recording his sixth outing of at least six innings, all coming over his last seven starts dating back to June 7.

Since the calendar turned to June (including the four runs he allowed over 6.0 innings against the Rockies), Myers holds a 2.17 ERA, the sixth-lowest among all Major League starters during that span.

Perhaps even more impressive about his start on Thursday was how he shifted his pitch mix after figuring out early in the outing that his cutter wasn’t working at altitude. Heading into Thursday, Myers used his four-seam fastball and cutter the most of any pitches. However, his slider was his most-thrown pitch against the Rockies, hurled 39 times with a combined 14 whiffs and called strikes.

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“It helped out a lot,” Myers said of his in-game move to the slider and away from the cutter. “The cutter wasn’t really cutting much. It was like a BP heater at 88 or 90 (mph), so being able to show the slider and execute the fastball at the top (of the strike zone), I think I did a pretty good job tonight. I think that was a good game plan. We talked there in the middle innings and stuck with it.”

Rhys Hoskins and his struggles

Signing with the Brewers this offseason after missing all of 2023 with a knee injury, Hoskins has struggled significantly as the season has continued. In the month of June, Hoskins slashed just .213/.289/.313 in 80 at-bats. That chill at the plate continued to start July as the 31-year-old went 0-for-12 during Milwaukee’s four games at hitter-friendly Coors Field.

Murphy believes that the year away from the game is catching up with Hoskins and could be one of the reasons behind his current issues.

“That’s a real thing. A real thing is missing a year and how different it is on your body, how different it is when you do struggle and how you handle that because you haven’t played in a year and you’re starting to question things,” Murphy said.

The Milwaukee manager, however, also said that Hoskins’ personality is a positive for the clubhouse but potentially a detriment during times when he is battling at the plate.

“He’s so conscientious and such a great teammate, sometimes that gets in the way,” Murphy said. “You’re not self-absorbed enough. You’re so conscientious that you don’t want to offend and you don’t want to anything for yourself as much as you should.”

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