Narveson could reach full potential as a starter in ’12

> Back in 2000, the Cardinals drafted an 18-year old left-handed starting pitcher out of high school in the second round of the MLB June Amateur Draft. Throughout all of his Minor League seasons, this lefty showed some promise, pitching to a career 3.89 ERA in the Minors, while bouncing around between Minor League affiliates of the Cardinals, Rockies, and Red Sox (but mostly Cardinals), before reaching his final destination.

In 2006, this left-hander was briefly part of the Cardinals club that defeated the Tigers in the World Series. But, it didn’t last, as he didn’t pitch in the Majors again until 2009.

This left-hander’s name is Chris Narveson, and, after spending the first nine years of his career bouncing around and never really finding success with the Cardinals, he’s found a home with the Brewers. He made his Brewers debut in June of 2009 out of the bullpen, and went on to go 2-0 with a 3.83 ERA between the bullpen and starting rotation.

In 2010, Narveson made the Brewers’ roster and was going to be used as a long reliever, and possibly a spot starter. But, an injury to Doug Davis and the inconsistencies of Manny Parra opened up the fifth spot of the rotation, and the Brewers handed that role to Narveson. He finished 2010 with a 12-9 record and a 4.99 ERA. In my opinion, his ERA doesn’t really reflect how he pitched that year, because he really picked up the pace in August and September.

The Brewers brought back Narveson as the fifth starter again in 2011. But, this time, he wasn’t part of a jumble of nameless pitchers who were simply there because the Brewers didn’t have good pitching, which was the case in 2010. This time, he was part of an elite rotation, consisting of Yovani Gallardo, Zack Greinke, Shaun Marcum, Randy Wolf, and Narveson- the best Brewers rotation in years.

Narveson was somewhat inconsistent in 2011, although some of his numbers showed improvement from 2010. He went 11-8 with a 4.45 ERA. He probably would have taken more decisions, but he was injured in late August, and, when he returned from the DL, he was switched between the bullpen and rotation constantly. This clearly screwed him up, as his ERA shot up in September. Note to Ron Roenicke- you don’t try to get a pitcher going again after a stint on the DL by switching him between the bullpen and rotation randomly.

So, as you can see by the numbers, Narveson isn’t at all a superstar pitcher. And, I doubt he ever will be. But, I think he can be a consistent back-of-the-rotation starter with an ERA around 3.90.

What I think would help him get to that point would be adding an extra pitch to his arsenal. Right now, he’s a three-pitch pitcher- a high 80’s to low 90’s fastball, a change up about 10 MPH slower, and a curveball that lives in the low 70’s. Some say he has a cutter, but I’ve really never noticed it (if he does have one, it doesn’t move at all). I know people say that starters can get by with three different pitches, but, from experience (I used to be a pitcher), it helps a lot to have that one extra pitch. Plus, every other pitcher in the Brewers’ rotation features four pitches- all of them have a fastball of some sort, a curveball of some sort, a slider, and a change up of some sort. So I think Narveson should add a slider at some point.

Anyhow, whether or not he does add that extra pitch (which I kind of doubt he will, although it would be nice), Narveson is a very important asset to the Brewers. I think he could possibly reach his full potential in 2012 after having most of two seasons as a starter under his belt. And, if the history of pitchers in the MLB is correct, that’s usually all they need.

> The Prince Fielder situation is getting stranger by the day. Who would have thought that one of the most coveted free agents on the market wouldn’t be signed by January 11th? I have two theories as to why…

My first one is that no one actually wants him. Well, teams obviously want him, but that doesn’t mean they’re going to go after him.

What I mean is that most teams already have a first baseman in place for 2012 and the years beyond, and the teams that don’t just can’t afford Fielder. Which leads me to believe that Fielder could wind up with the Brewers for one more year, then try and test the free agent market again in the 2012-13 offseason. Unless my second theory proves true.

That theory is that Scott Boras simply isn’t publicizing the negotiations, which he’s done in the past. There could be two or three teams competing for Fielder that we don’t even know about because Boras hasn’t said anything publicly.

I think the second theory is more likely, as much as I want the first one to be true. But I guess we’ll have to wait and see- this is a truly odd offseason…

> Anyone remember Seth McClung? The hard-throwing starting pitcher signed a Minor League deal with the Brewers yesterday. The deal doesn’t include an invite to Spring Training, though.

McClung was part of the Brewers’ playoff run back in 2008, but hasn’t found his stride since. He’s been signed and released by multiple teams, including the Rangers, Marlins, and Rays, over the past few years.

> And that’s about all I’ve got for now. It’s still early, so if anything pops up, I’ll have it here. But for now, thanks for reading, and feel free to leave your thoughts.

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