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Estrada pitching his way out of Brewers’ rotation

June 12, 2014

No pitcher has given up more home runs this season than Marco Estrada. And it’s not even close.

Estrada has watched 20 balls fly over the fence, five more than Rockies starter Juan Nicasio. And 11 of Nicasio’s 15 have come in the mile-high thin air of Coors Field.

So what’s the problem?

Command and aggressiveness appear to be among the primary issues. In addition to the home runs, Estrada’s walk totals are up as well, a sign that he may not be attacking the zone the way he needs to be successful.

The right-hander has issued 27 free passes this year, including 13 in his last five starts. Over that stretch, Estrada has given up 22 runs on 29 hits — including 10 home runs — with a 6.67 ERA in 29 2/3 innings.

Remarkably, the Brewers actually won two of those games.

After giving up two more blasts Tuesday, Estrada became one of just nine pitchers in franchise history to give up home runs in 10 straight starts, putting him on a dubious list that includes the likes of Jeff Suppan and Dave Bush.

Brewers manager Ron Roenicke indicated following the game that Estrada may be relocated outside the starting rotation soon. Given the success Jimmy Nelson has had both at Triple-A and in the majors this year, he’s the obvious choice as a replacement.

And Nelson should get that call.

At the very least, Nelson ought to make a start or two while Estrada tries to sort things out either in the bullpen or on the disabled list. Maybe an injury is causing his struggles. Maybe it’s a release point issue. Maybe it’s a mental thing.

Whatever it is, the home runs will continue to fly until Estrada figures it out.

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