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Aaron Civale excited to join Brewers’ rotation


Aaron Civale excited to join Brewers’ rotation

DENVER — Perhaps under a different set of circumstances, the Brewers would let Aaron Civale settle in and meet his new coaches and teammates before he takes the mound.

But under these circumstances, with the Brewers still firmly atop the National League Central after Thursday’s 4-3 loss to the Rockies finished a four-game series split, and looking to stay there in spite of a chaotic starting rotation, Civale will get right to work on Friday when Milwaukee opens a big three-game series against a former and perhaps future postseason opponent, the Dodgers. He’ll be the 16th man to start a game for the 2024 Brewers — already one shy of the franchise record with 73 more games to go.

Speaking of chaotic, the outing will cap a busy series of days. Civale was with the Rays after their rain-delayed game in Kansas City late Tuesday when he learned he’d been traded to the Brewers. To stay on schedule for what Milwaukee officials had planned, he’d need to throw a bullpen session, so Civale traveled to the Brewers’ complex in Phoenix on Wednesday rather than join the big league team in high-altitude Denver. On Thursday, he spoke to reporters while waiting to board a flight from Phoenix to Los Angeles.

“‘Whirlwind’ is one way to describe it,” Civale said. “I went through a trade last season, so it’s not the first go-around processing all of the little things. Once you go through it once, it’s definitely easier. I’ve heard other players say that, but until you go through it, you don’t know. I’m excited to get out there and meet the guys and go to work.”

Putting Civale to work immediately allows some well-deserved extra rest for Brewers ace Freddy Peralta, who bumps to Saturday. He’ll be followed by another organizational newcomer, Dallas Keuchel, who will start Sunday.

It also allows the Brewers to strengthen and lengthen the bullpen by pushing swingman Bryse Wilson back to a relief role, where he has been so valuable in a variety of roles that he won the team’s “Unsung Hero” award last season.

“All hands on deck,” Brewers manager Pat Murphy said. “It’s kind of the theme of our club, ‘Let’s get it done somehow instead of worrying about all the stuff you get hung up on, whether I’m a starter or a reliever and how is that going to affect arbitration,’ and all of that kind of stuff.

“This is about waking up with a great attitude and seeing how you can contribute, and making sure your locker stays in there. That’s what it’s all about.”

Two of Civale’s new teammates have a hunch he’ll fit into that mindset.

Catcher Eric Haase played with Civale in the Minors and Majors with Cleveland, though he never caught him in the big leagues. And right-hander Tobias Myers, who absorbed the loss at Coors Field, pitched for Cleveland’s Triple-A club in 2022 when Civale made a series of rehab starts.

“He’s a competitive pitcher,” Myers said. “I think he’s going to fit right in. He’s out there to win.”

Myers competed better as the game rolled along. Burned by a cutter that wasn’t cutting in the thin air during the early innings, when the Rockies took a 3-0 lead by the second, Myers transitioned to his slider and settled into a rhythm until he caught too much of the outside edge of home plate against Jake Cave in the sixth. Cave’s first home run of the season proved the difference in the game.

The loss was Myers’ first since May 4, when he was still one of the new guys in a Brewers rotation that has been built and rebuilt all season long.

“It’s just a constant conversation with catchers and pitchers,” Haase said. “They throw their sides and their bullpens and know what they want to do. We have good game-planning meetings about, ‘If you’re going to get beat, get beat by your strengths.’ When you put it like that, it simplifies things.”

The timing of the trade surprised Civale, who’s been dealt in consecutive seasons. Last year, he went from Cleveland to Tampa Bay while the Guardians were in New York, and did his between-starts work in Central Park to stay on schedule.

Now, he’s headed from Tampa Bay to Milwaukee for one of the Brewers’ top infield prospects, Gregory Barrios. For Civale, it’s a chance to start fresh after he went 2-6 with a 5.07 ERA in 17 starts for the Rays.

“Milwaukee is definitely known for their pitching. They’re known for playing a good brand of baseball, which I’m excited to be a part of,” Civale said.

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