What to do with Gallardo?

Dave Bush will take the mound for the Brewers on Thursday in the finale of a four-game series at Wrigley Field. After that, Milwaukee’s starting rotation appears set for some changes.

The Brewers are re-visiting the idea of shutting-down right-hander Yovani Gallardo for the season, and left-hander Manny Parra remains sidelined indefinitely with a stiff neck. Chris Narveson will make a second straight start in Parra’s place on Friday, and recently-promoted prospect Josh Butler appears a strong candidate to make at least one start if the Brewers make a move with Gallardo.

“There’s a possibility there will be some jumbling, yeah,” manager Ken Macha said.

The most notable jumble would involve Gallardo, who complained of rust Tuesday night after waiting nine days between starts. It was a move by Brewers officials to limit the workload of a pitcher who missed all but four regular-season starts in 2008 because of a knee injury and has piled up innings — 180 2/3, most on the team — and pitches — 3,125, fifth-most in the National League — in 2009.

If he stays on a regular schedule, Gallardo would make three more starts this year. Now there is a chance he is done.

“Yes, we are discussing it and working our way through it,” Brewers assistant general manager Gord Ash said. “[Pitching coach Chris] Bosio and Ken will get their heads together and see what they want to do.”

Macha wouldn’t reveal his thinking on Wednesday.

The Brewers are also soliciting input from Gallardo’s agent, former Major League right-hander Bobby Witt, to “demonstrate that you have the long-term health of the player in mind,” Ash said. The Brewers’ medical staff will submit information to Witt and so will the team’s statistical gurus, in an effort to demonstrate that taking away Gallardo’s final three 2009 starts would not have significant implications for his bottom line in future seasons. Gallardo projects to be arbitration-eligible following next season.

“It’s not about money,” general manager Doug Melvin said. “If we were worried about money we wouldn’t have nine extra guys here with the team out of the pennant race.” 

Melvin was not interested in saying much more about Gallardo’s immediate future.

“If you’re going to do anything, you talk to the player first. We haven’t talked to him yet,” Melvin said. “We’re not addressing it today. We’ll let you know if we do. But if we do it, we would talk to him first.”

The decision would probably not be popular with Gallardo. He met with Macha, Melvin and Ash earlier this month and went along with a plan to skip one start while making it clear he wanted to play out the season.

“I don’t want to be shut down. I want to finish out the year strong,” Gallardo said. “We’re trying to find ways to make that happen.”
 
Were he to remain on schedule, Gallardo’s next start would come Sunday against the Astros. For now, the Brewers aren’t naming a probable pitcher for that date but it could be 24-year-old Butler, one of the team’s most promising pitching prospects. 

Asked whether Butler could start a game, Macha said, “That may happen. He hasn’t pitched in eight days, so we’re going to give him a couple of ‘sides’ here. … We’ve had some discussion of what to do. It will all become clearer as the days go on. It’s not etched in stone yet what we’re going to do.”

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