In something of a surprise move, the Brewers will option left-handed relief specialist Mitch Stetter to Triple-A Nashville on Thursday so Jeff Suppan can return from the disabled list to start against the Cubs.
Stetter was one of three left-handers in the bullpen but the others — Chris Narveson and Manny Parra — are starting pitchers who were beat out by Suppan in the race for the fifth starter’s spot. Stetter was the team’s top late-inning option against left-handed hitters, coming off a 2009 season in which he made 71 appearances and limited lefties to a .178 batting average.
The club’s decision was complicated by the fact that so few Brewers players have Minor League options. Narveson and Parra are both out, so the Brewers would risk losing either player on waivers if they tried to send them down. Likewise, fifth outfielder Jody Gerut and backup infielder Joe Inglett are out of options.
The only relievers with options were Stetter and right-hander Carlos Villanueva.
“There were only two choices,” said general manager Doug Melvin, who informed Stetter of the move following Wednesday’s 7-6 loss to the Cubs. “Nothing against Mitch, it’s not that he hasn’t done the job, but we feel that Carlos can give us some more innings.
“It was a tough call. We went back and forth on it. Obviously, we’re taking a little bit of a chance.”
The Brewers are set to wrap-up their series with the Cubs on Thursday behind Suppan, who began the year on the 15-day DL with a neck injury. Then it’s off to Washington for a three-game series. The Nationals’ most dangerous left-handed hitter is slugger Adam Dunn.
Stetter had made two appearances this season and retired both hitters he faced.