Aaron Civale excited to join Brewers rotation

DENVER — Under different circumstances, the Brewers might let Aaron Civale get acclimated and acquainted with his new coaches and teammates before he takes the mound.

But under the circumstances, with the Brewers still firmly atop the National League Central after Thursday’s 4-3 loss to the Rockies that ended a four-game series and looking to stay there despite a chaotic starting rotation, Civale will get right to work on Friday when Milwaukee opens a huge three-game series against 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 games remaining.

Speaking of chaotic, the outing will cap a busy stretch of days. Civale was with the Rays following their rain-delayed game in Kansas City late Tuesday when he learned he had been traded to the Brewers. To stay on schedule for what Milwaukee officials had scheduled, he would have to throw a bullpen session, so Civale traveled to the Brewers’ complex in Phoenix on Wednesday instead of joining the big team in high-altitude Denver. He spoke to reporters Thursday as he waited to board a flight from Phoenix to Los Angeles.

“‘Whirlwind’ is one way to describe it,” Civale said. “I made a trade last season, so it’s not the first time I’ve had to deal with all the little things. Once you’ve experienced it, it’s definitely easier. I’ve heard other players say that, but until you’ve experienced it, you don’t know. I’m looking forward to getting out there, meeting the guys and getting to work.”

Putting Civale to work immediately gives Brewers ace Freddy Peralta, who moves to Saturday, some well-deserved extra rest. He will be followed by another organizational newcomer, Dallas Keuchel, who starts Sunday.

It also allows the Brewers to bolster and lengthen the bullpen by moving swingman Bryse Wilson back to a relief role, where he has been so valuable in several 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 things you’re stuck with, whether I’m a starter or a reliever and how that’s going to affect the arbitration,’ and all that kind of stuff.

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

Two of Civale’s new teammates suspect he fits that mindset.

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

“He’s a competitive pitcher,” Myers said. “I think he’s a natural fit. He’s there to win.”

Myers improved as the game progressed. Burned by a cutter that didn’t cut through the air in the first innings as the Rockies took a 3-0 lead in the second, Myers switched to his slider and settled into a rhythm until he caught too many off the outside of home plate against Jake Cave in the sixth. Cave’s first home run of the season proved to be the difference in the game.

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

“It’s just a constant conversation with catchers and pitchers,” Haase said. “They throw their sides and their bullpens and they 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 that way, it simplifies things.”

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

Now he’s gone 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 going 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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