The road to rotation for Aaron Ashby
In Doug Melvin’s day, the Brewers weren’t exactly known as a franchise with a solid track record of developing minor league pitchers.
From 2008 to 2011, the Brewers won five pitchers in the first round: Jake Odorizzi, Eric Arnett, Kyle Heckathorn, Taylor Jungmann and Jed Bradley. Knocking over and over again – leaving the franchise with a revolving door in the spin.
Enter David Stearns, who reshaped this franchise in a way most fans couldn’t imagine. The Brewers have now made the playoffs for four consecutive seasons, equaling the total number of playoff appearances in the 46-year franchise history before Stearns arrived.
This is in large part due to the Brewers’ success in developing their pitching staff. With the addition of the Brewers Pitch Lab, pitchers were able to better analyze their throws and hone their businesses through a very forward thinking process. This has helped launchers identify what works for them and how to best use it in the future.
In recent years, the Brewers have produced internal successes such as Brandon Woodruff, Corbin Burnes, Freddy Peralta, Josh Hader and Devin Williams.
The Brewers’ big three at the top of the rotation all currently rank in the ERA’s top 5 among starting pitchers. What makes them unique is that they have all followed a similar path to where they are now. Milwaukee was able to identify when their top pitchers were ready for the major leagues, and instead of forcing them into a point of rotation, they moved them to the reliever box to help contribute into the majors.
This allowed pitchers to adjust to the difference in big league talent in a more controlled manner. Then, once they’ve established themselves, get them into the rotation more permanently after getting a few major league innings under their belt.
The Brewers have had great success deploying pitchers in this manner and Aaron Ashby is next in line.
The road to rotation for Aaron Ashby
Aaron Ashby was a 2018 4th round pick at Crowder Junior College. The following season, Ashby posted a 3.50 ERA in 126 crossover innings and earned the Brewers Pitcher of the Year in the minor league.
Ashby made his major league debut earlier this season and hasn’t gone as planned. In his first start against the Cubs, he allowed 7 points (won 4) while registering only two strikeouts, which isn’t exactly the beginning of a storybook.
As of, Ashby has a 1.42 / WHIP 0.75 ERA with 28 strikeouts in 25.1 innings. On these outings he has shown good things and an elite ground ball percentage. Simply put, it looks better than advertised.
Aaron Ashby, 3 other Ks. ?? pic.twitter.com/4HkGa5gXqr
– Rob Friedman (@PitchingNinja) September 18, 2021
One can’t help but notice that Ashby has been introduced to the majors in the same way as Brandon Woodruff and Corbin Burnes. The two had made appearances out of the bullpen until they eventually made their way into the starting rotation. While that may not have been the pitchers’ preference when called out, it’s hard to argue with the results.
In the short term, Ashby has proven to be a real asset in the Brewers’ relieving pen. His business has been nasty and he’s able to provide the Brewers with multiple innings when needed. This experience has undoubtedly benefited the young southpaw, but make no mistake, his time in the rotation is fast approaching.
Right now, the focus is on being the best possible player in the role that is asked of him.
Heading into 2022, I expect Aaron Ashby to join the Brewers’ already dominant rotation, continuing the club’s track record of developing pitchers that make a difference.
They might be a crowded squad, but Ashby has the means to force himself into the rotation and the Brewers have continuously said they see him as a long-term starter.