Gorzelanny isn't flashy but could solidify the back of Milwaukee's starting rotation.
Gorzelanny signed a two-year, $5.7 million contract with the Brewers last month. Although he most recently has pitched as a reliever, his role could be filling in where he is needed most in Milwaukee—the starting rotation.
With right-handed ace Yovani Gallardo being the only lock for Milwaukee’s rotation, questions have swirled about how the team will address the rest of the unit.
MLB.com’s Adam McCalvy recently detailed who he believes will compete for the four spots behind Gallardo. Candidates include returners Marco Estrada and Chris Narveson; youngsters Wily Peralta, Mike Fiers and Mark Rogers; and the newly signed Gorzelanny.
A veteran of eight major league seasons with the Pittsburgh Pirates, Chicago Cubs and Washington Nationals, Gorzelanny has a career 44-45 record with a 4.41 ERA in 193 games (111 starts). His best season came in 2007 with the Pirates, when he went 14-10 with a 3.88 ERA.
Gorzelanny struggled with consistency earlier in his career but has been much more consistent of late. Since 2010, pitching both as a starter and in relief, he has a combined ERA of 3.79 and averaged 7.9 strikeouts per nine innings.
According to the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel’s Tom Haudricourt, Milwaukee’s general manager Doug Melvin likes the potential Gorzelanny brings to the pitching staff:
He's versatile. He has pitched in a larger role, can give you some innings. He can also start if you need him to. He protects you in a couple of areas. And he's familiar with the division, having pitched for the Pirates and Cubs.
Melvin indicated that Gorzelanny is currently slotted for the bullpen. However, given the team’s lack of solid starting pitching, allowing him to compete for a rotation spot would be a smart move.
In a separate article, Haudricourt wrote that the necessity of finding diamonds in the rough for the rotation comes from Melvin’s reluctance to give free-agent starters longer contracts because of previous signings that did not work out.
McCalvy reported that the Brewers had targeted Ryan Dempster earlier in free agency, but turned to finding more economic options after he rejected their offer and reached a two-year deal with the Boston Red Sox.
The 30-year-old Gorzelanny isn't a power pitcher, with FanGraphs.com indicating his fastball has averaged 89.7 mph for his career. However, he gets good movement from his two-seamer, and also throws a slider and changeup to keep hitters off-balance.
Should Gorzelanny be given a chance to start?
Starting experience in one of Gorzelanny’s best attributes. In his 111 career starts, he is 35-42 with a 4.61 ERA. The pedestrian nature of those numbers is influenced from having only played on two teams with winning records in his career.
He has also had success against some of the best players in the NL Central. Joey Votto, Brandon Phillips, Yadier Molina and Carlos Beltran have combined for just 13 hits in 67 at-bats against him, a matchup that could come in very handy in the competitive division.
Nobody should expect Gorzelanny to be an ace, but that’s not what Milwaukee needs. If the southpaw can earn a spot and pitch effectively at the back end of their rotation, he will go a long way in shoring up the Brewers’ most glaring need.
Statistics via BaseballReference