If, at the beginning of the 2016 season the question was posed who would you rather have on your pitching staff in your starting rotation, Jake Arrieta, the 2015 N.L. Cy Young Award winner and the Cubs ace? Or, an unknown 31 year old rookie who who spent 2014 in the Italian League, and had only made three relief appearances in the big leagues for the White Sox by the name of Junior Guerra? Throw salary out of it, and I guarantee everyone would’ve answered Jake Arrieta, no question about it.
Well Brewer fans, your virtually unknown rookie from Venezuela is ahead of Arrieta in the N.L. when it comes to ERA, where he is ranked 9th with a 2.70 ERA. Arrieta who is no slouch is at 11, has a 2.78 ERA , but for this hypothetical, Guerra is the ticket … right now.
A “Maddux” in baseball is a rare complete game shut-out under 100 pitches, named after Hall of Fame pitcher Greg Maddux (who has 13 in his career). Brewers starter Junior Guerra entered the ninth inning with a good shot at pulling it off, only having thrown 87 pitches to that point, but, it wasn’t to be. Neither was the first Brewers shutout in almost two years, and the first complete game by a Brewer pitcher since last July.
Guerra again displayed his dominance and his “splitter” Friday night at Miller Park, when he allowed only 4 hits in 8 2/3 as the Brewers took the first game of a three game set from the Pirates 3-1. Guerra only walked one, while striking out 5, and at one point retired 21 of 22 Pirates. Once the Maddux was gone, so was Guerra. Brewer closer John Jeffress came in, threw one pitch to Jung Ho Kang for his 25th save on the season, and the game was over.
Guerra is now 7-2 on the season, with 11 quality starts. So Brewer fans, Lucroy, Jeffress, Smith, and Torres may not be the only ones on the trading block as the August 1st deadline approaches.
(Photos courtesy of: SI, AP, Getty, Chicago Cubs)