The 10 Brewers Critical to 2011 Success: #10, Chris Narveson

In the time leading up to the start of spring training, I’ve decided to make a countdown of the 10 Brewers that I believe are most critical to their success in the 2011 season. It starts today with number 10.

Hi folks. Behind door number one we find the one and only Narve-dog. Narveson is not more talented than many players left off this list, and he won’t make all that much of an impact as far as WAR or anything else like that. That being said, I would like to emphasize the importance of a solidified starting rotation. Keeping the Brewers rotation healthy must be a priority this year, as the team has very little in terms of a backup plan (please, please no more Manny Parra in the starting rotation…unless he has an epiphany).

Unlike the other pitchers in the starting rotation, Narveson does not have a lengthy track record of solid MLB success. While we can pretty much count on Greinke, Gallardo, Marcum, and Wolf to be reasonably effective while they are on the mound, we can’t necessarily take that for granted when it comes to Narveson. In Narveson’s first major league season, 2009, he made 21 appearances – 4 of which were starts. He performed very well down the stretch for a team out of the hunt, and after a strong spring training in 2010 he earned a spot on the Brewers. After some early season struggles from Jeff Suppan, Narveson was inserted into the Brewer rotation shortly into the season and stayed there for the rest of the year.

All in all, Narveson finished last season with 37 appearances, 28 of which were starts, with a 12-9 record, 4.99 ERA (79 ERA+), 1.378 WHIP, 7.4 K/9, and 3.2 BB/9. 12 wins is a very nice number out of your number 5 starter, and the K/9 number is good. The ERA+ is a little troubling, but considering the types of people the Brewers have thrown out there the past few years, any ERA under 5 is nice to see.

I think it is fair to say that if Narveson matches his 2010 numbers, then 2011 will be a success for him. Remember, Narveson was never a particularly highly regarded prospect, and he didn’t make it to the majors until he was 27 years old (apart from a 5 game stint with St. Louis is 2006). To expect Narveson to go 15-8 with an ERA around 4 would be far too much to ask.

The alternative is much scarier. What happens if Narveson loses his effectiveness? If he stops getting strikeouts? If he carries a Suppan-esque 6.00 ERA into late May? What then? Do we put Manny Parra back in the rotation, cross our fingers, and deal with the extreme inconsistency? Mark Rogers is an option, but the organization would want to keep a strict innings limit on him as he is still recovering from two missed years of shoulder trouble. There isn’t really another option at AAA that doesn’t make me want to run for cover. Maybe Ron Roenicke would go to an old-school four man rotation in that event (that would be fun, wouldn’t it).

I guess the point is, I don’t want to find out what would happen if Chris Narveson would be unable to hold his spot in the rotation, be it due to injury or a lack of pitching goodness. Certainly at some point this year, some pitcher will go on the DL for a couple starts, and then maybe we can give Rogers some spot starts, and I am excited to see what he can do – but I don’t think he’s ready to be a full time rotation player yet. Narveson’s ability to hold down the number five spot is pretty crucial to the Brewers this season, mainly for depth and consistency reasons, and that is what makes the Narve-Dog the 10th most important Brewer heading into 2011.

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3 Responses

  1. Liked for the
    – please no more Manny Parra in the rotation
    – old-school four man rotation if something goes wrong
    🙂

    Very well written!

  2. Nobel Prize!

  3. Stay tuned on the Facebook page link below for the latest Chris Narveson of the Milwaukee Brewers news and updates. Please feel free to add any information or photos of your own! http://www.facebook.com/chrisnarveson

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